Clint glanced into the hallway. No one. It would have encouraged him to find three black tie operatives and Doctor Destructo himself waiting for him. What he feared more than an impossible task was one that should have been impossible but seemed not to be.
A deep, almost subconscious vibration ran through the floor and walls of the Island. Clint only sensed it because he had spent so much time in this place. Weapons were being activated, generators running at capacity. Something was happening up above.
It made sense. Doctor Destructo wouldn’t have sounded the alarm for him. It would have been inefficient and unnecessary. Perhaps General Hugh had decided to act sensibly and sent forces to recapture the Island.
Clint entered the hallway, jogging. He avoided the movers. He’d had enough of them. It was too easy to box him in.
This block held a few dormitories. Clint glanced in ones with doors ajar. He found a dead body in one, a fellow soldier he had spent some time with. Most of the dead would be on the levels above the surface, where the battle would have taken place. Clint moved on with hardly a pause. The dead could take care if themselves. He had the living to worry about.
A retina scan gained him entrance to the neighboring block, what he liked to call the brain trust. Eggheads lived and worked in this sealed off area. Clint only had a pass because Professor Wells considered him a curiosity that spurred the mind to creative heights—like a Rubiks Cube. These passages were empty as well, though the door he had entered looked untampered with.
Of course, during an attack, the eggheads would be the first jettisoned out. He wondered how many of the personnel managed to escape.
Suddenly, Clint turned, diverting from his straight and narrow path to Molly’s lab. He found the Professor Wells’ room unlocked, as it always was. Inside, in the corner, waited his Segueway.
Soon, Clint was zipping down the halls. Leaning carefully forward, he balanced so that he could use his good arm to examine his bad, keeping one eye on the path ahead. It was mangled pretty bad. He tried to snap his joints into a better position, but liquid-filled ligaments had burst so that the metal pieces scrapped heavily against one another.
He passed out of the brain trust and into a block of miscellaneous storage and meeting rooms. Still, saw no one. It was making him nervous.
“What’s happening up top, Molly?” He still believed she could hear him. Clint was convinced he had once heard her thoughts; how could a connection like that be broken. “Molly?” There was silence on the other end. If he listened carefully, he could hear her breathing.
He concentrated his thoughts to her as he sped through block after block unhindered. When he reached the entrance to Molly’s block, he hesitated. They would be waiting for him. They must have guessed his destination by now. He decided to forgo a stealthy approach and instead pressed forward with the Segueway, mentally checking his weapons. The flares were a no-go. He was out of bullets and missiles. He had one good arm.
He had his ability to suffer immense amounts of pain still intact. That was something.
The lab was just around a corner. It had a large window on one side. The door would be guarded. He decided to break his way through the window.
Spinning about the corner, he launched himself off the Segueway, leading with his retractable fist. It smashed through the glass just before he passed through. He rolled and sprang to his feet, arms up, ready to block or attack.
The lab was empty.
He let his arms fall to his side. “Molly?”
He still heard the breathing in his head, quick and tense.
“Where are you?”
Suddenly, the idling logo on the lab table screen disappeared and Doctor Destructo’s face appeared. It was cadaverous, scarred, hairless, with pale eyes staring lifelessly forward, like a aborted clone still waiting for life. The view was close, so that Clint could see little more than the ravaged face surrounded by a thick salmon-colored liquid.
“You are alive because I need answers.” The voice came without any indication of motion.
“Doctor Hendricks is safe. I still need her. What is it they say—Your princess is in another castle. Enough pleasantries. Tell me, how did the Yang Brotherhood discover the location of the Island?”
“What are you talking about? I think you’re brain is as scrambled as your face.”
“The Yang Brother is attacking. They have discovered the Island. Did you tell them?”
“They found the Island the same way you did.”
“I spent months determining the position of this ingenious work of technology. Ships’ reports, satellite imagining, transmission emissions. No one in the world has leveled such resources to the discovery of this place. I planned and waited. Your transponder code was the last piece I needed. I waited until you were absent, and the personnel concerned with your mission, then I attacked.”
“Where did you get it from? My code?”
Clint laughed. The infamous Doctor didn’t know. Clint was happy to break the news to him. “Did you know your source approached others as well?”
Doctor Destructo did not answer. It was unnerving to look at him.
“Others know. Everyone knows. The Yang Brotherhood, the Gaians, terrorist cells, a whole slew of henchmen I usually don’t bother with. Even Arturo probably knows. You didn’t know that, did you?”
“That is all I needed to know. Thank you. You may die now.”