The doors opened and the boots all surged out. Ephesus was left in the shaft, ten feet from being on the one floor he needed to reach to escape.
Then the elevator began moving back up again. Ephesus thought quickly. They had probably already got wise to the destruction of the other elevator, and would begin searching the shaft for him or for other clues at any moment. There was no way of getting cover in this shaft, except for one place.
Before the elevator could get too far up Ephesus jumped down to the roof of the one he had caused to free fall. He slid quickly across it and into side of the shaft. There the ladder was exposed.
It really was his only place to hide. With one pair of doors blasted permanently open and elevator lift chords swinging free, as well as a couple of bodies laying outside, the shaft wouldn't escape attention for long.
Up the ladder he climbed, hoping to find a hatch before he reached the roof. Only about twenty feet up he found his first option. A hatch in the side with a padlock. The padlock was old and rusty, Ephesus doubted that even a key would open it in such a state of disrepair. Ephesus tugged on the lock, creating as much tension as he could between it and the loop it's arc ran through. He drew the metal baton out of his pocket and rang on the lock's arc as hard as he could. It rang in his hand but only chipped away at some of the rust.
Again and again he smashed the two together against the walls, until finally the lock gave way. Ephesus carefully opened the door through which he could now pass. He figured the loud pinging and ringing of his attack on the lock might have been heard outside.
He was greeted with a most unusual sight. It was a regular office, complete with fancy chair and large screen computer. A few blue and red LED lights blinked silently, giving the room its only illumination besides the green glow of the power button on the computer tower. Ephesus hopped through the small opening and closed it behind himself. Looking at the door he saw that the door, from the office side, appeared to be a filing cabinet. It was an escape hatch.
Ephesus knew he had reached floor two, the floor for which he had been unable to get at the floor plans. All he needed was to get out of the building. Ephesus shed his lab coat and hung it neatly over the desk chair. He was dressed in regular clothes underneath. He had brought his over-stuffed jacket, but emptied its pockets. Now he filled them with all that used to be in the lab coat. Even with the slowed speed with the awkwardness of all the pockets, he might be able to escape by stealth.
He cautiously opened the door and peeked out into the massive room beyond. It was all cubicles, from wall to wall. The office into which Ephesus had crept was the only exception to the rule in what was otherwise nothing more than a massive room of office space.
The click of the door had attracted attention. There were no office workers in the room, wherewithal the fire alarm and the surge of soldiers to all floors after the fugitives. Ephesus caught sight of the shadow of a guard carrying a gun coming around a corner to investigate just in time to move away from the crack between the door and the wall.
The footsteps indicated that the patrol man was coming straight for the office. Ephesus thought of his metal baton. He positioned himself immediately behind the door with his hand on the knob. He drew his hand deep in his pocket and clasped it around something thin and cool as metal, but the baton was not there. He had put it in a lower pocket.
But it was too late. The guards shadow appeared under the door and Ephesus executed a different plan.
He jerked the door open, making a tenth of a moment's eye contact with the startled guard. Instantly Ephesus cast down one more of his explosive phials, then slammed the door in the guards face. Before the door was even shut the explosion went off, blasting the door open again. The edge of the door caught Ephesus full in the face and knocked him to the ground with a cracking sound.
Ignoring the pain in his jaw Ephesus got up and ran out the door. He threw each of the last of his exploding tubes in every direction, the smoke and fumes and blast keeping the other guards at bay as they rushed to the scene.
He took the last of his magnesium-acid explosives and threw it at the glass wall that made the outside of the building. The explosion shattered the glass like an intricate spider web, and shards of the tube flew back and caught Ephesus in the face and in his arm, with which he had shielded his eyes. The glass stood in its arachnid form.
Ephesus thought himself ruined for a moment, until he remembered the baton. Two steps before the door Ephesus grabbed the baton out of his last pocket and threw it through the glass, then jumped through it himself.
His jacket sustained innumerable tears from the glass spikes that had survived the explosions and baton, but thanks to clever folding and ducking his skin escaped the serrated edges. He only had to land a fifteen foot fall.
The next post is Philli: Part 27