Nike led the way from the room, once again executing the perfect dive into a silent landing onto the concrete below. I was a little more reserved; they had always tested us at the labs, but at the same time they had limited what we were allowed to do. I figured I would start small.
Bracing my hands on the hand rails, I vaulted over the bar, landing on the outside of the safe area with my feet still on the catwalk. I stepped off the edge, caught the catwalk with my hands, and a moment later let go and dropped to the ground feet-first. I landed, crouched and rolled forward before regaining my feet.
“You need to work on that,” she teased.
Looking up, I could see Jake at the end of the hall. He had been reading something but was now gaping open-mouthed at us.
“Just a sec,” I said to Nike. I jogged over to Jake and saw that the book was actually a weapons catalog. “You all right?”
He nodded, eyes still wide.
“You want to do me a favor and go read upstairs with Mouse?” I said. “She’s still asleep.”
He nodded again.
“You want me to get you anything while I’m out? A book or something?”
“Please—I don’t mind what. Anything’s better than this… It’s all I could find.”
“Sure, I’ll be back soon.”
He got to his feet and started for the stairs. There was one other man awake but he was too busy tapping away on his laptop to pay attention to us.
Nike led the way, her curls dancing wildly in the wind as she stepped outside. The heels of her boots clicked against the concrete as we crossed to the other warehouse.
The building was identical to the one we’d left, except there was no catwalk and no offices above ground level. There were also no men, nor any camp beds. Instead, vehicles of all descriptions were parked in lines up and down the huge space.
She seemed to almost skip as she made her way to the motorbike section against the far wall. I guessed right away which was hers. It matched her nails.
“What is it?” I asked, admiring the shining paintwork.
“Ducati ‘ninety-eight,” she said proudly. “Had to have the paintwork done specially for it.”
She lifted the helmet from the handles and handed it to me before shrugging on a leather jacket of her own. I squeezed it onto my head, a sense of security emanating from the comforting pressure. She slung her leg over the body and patted the space behind her.
“Don’t you want a helmet?” I asked.
“Nope. There’s no point.” Using an elastic from her wrist, she dragged her hair into a messy bun at the back of her head as I climbed on behind her. What did she mean, there was no point? If she was like us, she’d heal in a flash, but she couldn’t do that if she was dead.
Nike pressed a button on the wall and the door rolled skyward. When it was high enough, she revved the bike and brought it up to speed. She let out a whoop of excitement as we dipped around the corner.
The sun still shone, although it sat low in the sky. We rode for about an hour before we eventually stopped by the banks of the Hudson.
“So? What do you think?” Nike’s eyes were bright with excitement.
“I think I’m in love!” I pulled the helmet from my head and shook my hair free. “How much did it set you back?”
“Now that would be telling.” She tapped her nose. “Come on, come sit with me.”
She flopped down onto the grass and I lowered myself to sit cross-legged beside her.
“So, you’re the reason for this whole shebang are you?”
“I guess so.” My mood instantly lowered.
“So what’s happening?” Her tone was kind; she was probably one of the only people who really understood what we were going through.
“I guess I’ll copy you on this one… Long story short, we grew up in the labs, as you know. It was a bit different for us than the others, I think. Our birth mom was always around. We lived on the grounds of the complex, but then five years ago my mom was killed and things changed. They locked us into a room with the other girls, not letting us out unless we were under constant guard. And even then that was just for training.”
She didn’t say anything.
“We were sick of it. An earthquake hit the labs; we made the most of it and ran away. We were doing okay, but then there was a tsunami in California. Then they found us in New York and caught Nicole and Briana. Now we’re trying to get them back.”
“I think I know what happened five years ago.” Guilt crossed her face.
“Well, we think it was because mom was trying to get us out,” I said, explaining about James and the medical records.
“It probably didn’t help that it was five years ago that we escaped.” Her downcast eyes showed a little sorrow. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s no need to be sorry,” I scolded. “We would have done exactly the same.”
“But now your friends are in an even worse position than before.”
“And we will get them back,” I said, with more confidence than I felt.
Flicking her eyes to the black watch resting around her wrist, she stood. “You needed to get some stuff before we went back, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Is there a mall around here?”
We walked back to the bike, climbed on and sped off again. We were lucky not to pass any police.
Nike knew the area already. Apparently she’d been living around here for a while before she was called up by Matt; they’d met a few years ago when he'd still been in school. She'd done some sort of job for Marissa.
We came across a strip of stores and I found the bookstore easily. Brightly colored lights twinkled in the windows and a snowman had been painted on the glass, reading.
Nike had no interest in the books, but she had to pick up something else while I tried to figure out what Jake would like. I settled on two. One was about some army guy nicknamed The Scarecrow, the other about gladiators in Ancient Rome.
I chose a magazine about computers for Mouse and made my way to the counter. I paid for my purchases and turned to find Nike holding a carrier bag. I didn’t ask what was in it and she didn’t tell.
“Is there anything else?” she asked.
“Just one thing…”