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"Why?"

"That's where they escaped from, there's a big hole in one wall, leading to an unfinished tunnel that ends under an animal clinic."

"Are there any weapons down here?"

"Yeah, in a separate room down there, opened with an access code."

---

Rob felt nervous and stood up straight against the cold metallic wall as he saw Sarah turn the corner. She shot a warm smile and stopped in front of the door.

"Anyone come out or go in?"

"Nope. Not a soul."

"Good.', she smiled more and opened the door slowly, walking in and shutting it behind her. Seconds later, she opened the door again, "Get in here!"

Rob quickly walked in and looked around, "Oh my...", he said in a surprised tone, "They're gone."

"How!", she stormed around the laboratory, looking in cabinets, behind stools, and under tables. "There's no windows! Other doors! No other way out!"

Rob shrugged, glancing nervously at the air vent as she ran over to it, looking under the table. "How...", she paused as she stood up, looking at the table's surface. Four bolts were scattered over it. She picked up one and looked up, into the vent, its grating staying up merely by a small ledge.

"They're in there."

"In where?", asked Rob, pretending to know nothing.

"The vent! She must have him as a hostage!"

"How do you know they're in there?"

"Look!", she held up the bolt.

"What's that?"

"A bolt!"

"A bolt?"

"Yes!"

"From what?"

"The vent!"

"Are you sure, Sarah?"

"Yes!"

"How do you know?"

"The grating is missing all its bolts!"

"Really?"

"Yes, damn it!"

"Ok, then."

"Damn it, Rob, don't be so slow!"

"Sorry..."

---

Max and Hope pulled at the grating of the vent above the laboratory until it creaked and came loose.

"Ok, down there is all the weapons you need. There's a scanner hidden by a control panel, since it's not necessary to get scanned there, just keep your eyes on the keypad. The clearance code is "R-A-R-I-T-A-N". I need to get into the control room and turn off all the security cameras."

"Ok. R-A...", she muttered the code to herself to try to embed it into her memory.

"Be careful. The hole to the tunnel is boarded up, but anything can be in there. Get the weapons and get out."

She nodded, "How do I get out?"

"I'll unlock the door that links the two rooms. By the time you're done, I'll get it unlocked."

Hope nodded again, then moved one leg through the vent, letting it hang over. Then, she put her other leg alongside it.

Max grabbed her shoulder, "Please. Be careful."

She smiled grimly, "You too."

"I'm sorry about that little scene in the lab... I wasn't thinking clearly"

"Don't worry about it."

Max smiled and slowly lowered his face to hers, kissing her softly. Hope blushed and looked away. Suddenly, the two were startled by a loud noise.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. We should get started."

Gently, he helped Hope down through the vent. Once he was sure she was ready, he crawled forward, towards the control room.

---

Sarah slammed her fist against the wall below the vent, causing the grating to fall off and land on the table.

"Darn it! There's no telling where they could be!"

"Well, in the vents, obviously.", Rob suggested with a slight mocking tone.

"I know that! But, where?"

"The vents."

"Jesus Christ, Rob!"

"Sorry, again..."




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