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“You think I’ll let you get away with this?” Randall’s voice blasted out from the speakers of the mech armor under us. “This armory is mine!”

While Randall likely didn’t know I had set a countdown on the bomb in the armory, he seemed to have deduced that I was the armory’s current master. If he got his hands on me, he’d likely torture me until I did whatever he wanted. Thus, I couldn’t let that happen. However, he was in a mech armor, and I didn’t even think to grab a single weapon from the armory. It wasn’t like I had time to think about such things.

There was another issue too. Even if we could run and escape from him, we’d be screwed if he got out of the building as well. Randall had to fall with the building. It was the only way I saw Katarina, Kiera, and myself walking away from this predicament.

There was another thud, and even I had trouble keeping my balance. As for the bruised and battered Katarina, she was holding for dear life. The platform was moving up, but directly under it was Randall, who was climbing up the side of the shaft, and hitting the bottom of the escalator, forcing it up. His attention was clearly on me.

With the platform grinding and shaking, I managed to hastily plug my Perco into Katarina, load the master code, and then unlock it. With a snap, I tossed the thing to the side. Perhaps, if Randall had a mind, he could have given Katarina some kill order. Maybe he had resisted because he thought she was still useful. I recalled his other women mentioning that she would become one of his women after her other uses were over.

“Katarina… when we get to the service… run for whatever fire escape there is and get out of here. Kiera is a car across the street, grab her and go.”

Despite the noise of grinding metal and the thuds of the mech armor, I did my best to whisper into Katarina’s ear so Randall didn’t hear me. She gave me a pained look.

“What about you?” She asked through clenched teeth.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m going to keep him distract-” The platform was struck again by the mech armor.

This time, Randall succeeded in knocking it off of whatever track it was ascending on. One side of the platform went up while the other side dragged behind, instantly causing it to tilt. Thankfully, we were almost to the roof. I grabbed Katarina and pulled her up the platform toward the higher side. The platform continued to tilt, and I saw the mech armor hand wrap around the edge. He was now yanking it down. There was a loud clicking sound as the motor to the platform continued to try to pull it up while he yanked down on it.

My hand didn’t hesitate to grab Katarina’s butt as I shoved her up. “Climb!”

With my help pushing, she had just enough height to grasp onto the edge. She began pulling herself up the side of the edge. Her movements felt like they were taking forever, although it might have only been an instant. The clicking sound had stopped, and now there was a rubbing sound as well as a distinct smell of burning rubber. I could see smoke rising, although I couldn’t tell from where.

“I see you!” Randall laughed. His head poking over the side of the platform, the metal bent down to allow him more room.

He was crawling up through the platform now, his arms reaching to grab me. The mech armor had looked pristine only a short while ago, but it looked like the fight with Chief followed by my turrets had done a number on the mech. It was now severely damaged, with various holes and dents. There was significant blast damage too, and it looked a bit like the armor Chief had been in by this point.

“Daniel!” Katarina had her hand out.

She had finished climbing on the ledge and was now lying parallel to the edge with her arm hanging down for me. I put my foot on a rail and shoved up, jumping with all of my force and catching her hand. Had I had the physical prowess I had when I first came to this world, such a feat would have been impossible. However, I was a stronger person now. Our hands met, and she grabbed onto me. She rolled away from the edge, pulling with all of her force just as a hand lunged out and missed my foot.

Randall was still caught, but he was up to his waist now and was quickly freeing himself. As soon as I reached the top of the roof, my eyes spun around for an escape. To one side, I saw what seemed to be a ladder which must be the fire escape. To the other were several vents that were large enough to hide behind. Coming up with the only idea that I could, I fought the pain and exhaustion and got to my feet, pulling Katarina up with me.

“Go!” I shoved her toward the ladder.

She stopped, looking reluctant for a second, but when I showed her a desperate look, she slowly nodded and began limping in that direction. I ran in the opposite direction, ducking behind the vents. I heard a snap and then a series of banging, and I guessed that the platform had finally broken off.  My moment of hopefulness was crushed when I saw Randall’s hands grab onto the ledge. He was still coming.

I ducked behind the ledge as his robotic form pulled himself over the ledge. However, I was looking around desperately. When would that bomb implode? I saw a building next to mine. It was only one story, which meant I still was jumping down a two-story drop, but it was the only path I had left. Katarina was climbing down the ladder by the time Randall was standing and looking around. He naturally saw her and then started moving in her direction.

This was what I had come up with on the spot. I looked around and found a broken piece of concrete. Grabbing it and picking it up, I came out of my hiding. Randall was already at the ledge, and it looked like he was about to kick the ladder down. Running to get a good throw, I chucked the concrete with all of my might, and it just managed to hit his bottom shin, making a clanking noise.

“Hey, fuckface! Wrong way!” I snapped at him.

Randall’s mech armor turned back my direction, and I had an uneasy feeling run up and down my spine. I spun around, moving into a sprint. I had to jump off the edge of the building. It was the only way I could possibly escape. Would he jump after me? No, he’s carefully climb down. He wouldn’t want to risk his mech armor’s integrity anymore. Maybe I’d act like I was hurt in the fall, making him think he had plenty of time.

I had completely miscalculated the speed of the mech armor. It was slow to accelerate, but that was compared to its max speed. Compared to a human, it could reach a full sprint faster. I had only made it a few steps before a metal hand grabbed me from behind. I let out a cry as I pulled off the ground and picked up in a grip I couldn’t escape. Randall spun me around until I was facing him, or at least the helmet he was hiding behind.

“No more running.” He cursed. “Your mine now. If you want your little slave girls to live, you’ll do everything I want!”

“Okay! Okay…” I croaked, kicking wildly.

I wasn’t submitting. I was just buying time. I had been so close. In a few seconds, whatever I wanted didn’t matter. The building would explode, and we would both die. However, Katarina should have reached the bottom of the ladder. She would live. Kiera would live. I had succeeded, even just a little.

“Then, good night.” He lifted his fist, and I realized he was going to strike me unconscious.

Once I lost consciousness, I wouldn’t even be awake to realize I died. In that respect, his fist was as damning as a killing blow.

“Grraaaaa!” A murder dragon suddenly leaped onto my shoulder from one of the vents, and then directly onto Randall’s face.

“What the hell?” He cried out.

His hand let go of my shirt, and he stumbled back. At that exact moment, there was a booming sound. It sounded like rubble was falling rapidly. Randall was near the unstable elevator shaft, and as the implosion bomb went off, the edges collapsed. I turned to run to the edge of the building, but as I did so, a hand grabbed onto my ankle.

“You bastard!” Randall screamed. “You’ll die with me!”

He seemed to have quickly realized the building was being sucked into itself. Every second, the roof was collapsing an inch at a time out from under me. It had been slightly more resilient than the office building, likely because the armory was built of stronger stuff, but it was still giving in, seemingly in slow motion.

Another mech armor jumped out from behind Randall, grabbing onto his shoulders. This mech armor had no legs. It was Chief! She had climbed up this entire distance. She likely could have climbed out of the building and at least survived, but she climbed up here instead.

“You will die with me!” a female voice cried out.

Her hand grabbed onto Randall’s hand, peeling it off my ankle.

“Noooooo!” Randall screamed as he lost his grip, falling down the hole with Chief still clinging to his back.

As soon as my leg was free, I started crawling away, and as soon as I got to my feet, I started running. The implosion’s strength started to reach full volume, and the ceiling collapsed at a faster rate. I ran from the epicenter as the roof crumbled and collapsed under my feet.

“Ahhhhhhhh!” I let out a scream as I leaped off the edge of the building just as the side walls collapsed.

I felt a pulling at my back like the implosion wanted to suck me in as well, but I was just at the outside, escaping the event horizon. I fell ineloquently down two stories. When I hit the concrete roof below, the world went dark.

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