by Toni Walker
Phoenix reached up but a strong hand grabbed him pulling him back to floor level. He landed in a heap and could feel sudden painful aches all over his body but he had to overcome them.
He looked up and saw his adversary. It was Marcus.
"Leaving so soon?" Marcus snarled in his deep baritone. His voice was lower than normal and had an edge to it that was disturbing.
"Sorry to go without you," said Phoenix with surprising zest to his voice. "Sorry to go without you, but I am fond of my life. And staying here is a death sentence." Phoenix sucked in a staggered breath. He had a feeling he might have broken one or more of his ribs.
When Marcus lunged at him, Phoenix just hoped those Judo lessons he had when he was eight kicked in quickly.
Jenna West had nearly reached the top when she heard the commotion below her. Marcus had caught up to them and had Phoenix is a standoff. The person getting the worst end of the punches was Phoenix. Jenna winced each time Marcus landed a strong blow to Phoenix's mid-section.
"Leave him alone, you bully!" Jenna screamed as she began to climb down. Liz was too fast and grabbed her shoulder.
"No you don't. You're no match for Marcus. Come on!"
Liz pulled Jenna upward as she fought to return to ground level. Phoenix didn't seem to.be fairing very well. In fact, if she wasn't mistaken, it looked like she was letting Marcus win.
"Is that all you've got, tough guy?" Phoenix wiped blood from his mouth. He wasn't sure how much longer he could put up with this. But he had a plan, Liz was sure.
Jenna realized Liz was right. Even if she climbed down, she couldn't fight a man as big as he was. Phoenix was a man and he was having a hard enough time on his own. She closed her eyes and sighed. She had to think of herself.
Jenna grabbed the rung above her head and continued the climb upward.
Phoenix wasn't much of a fighter but he knew how to think on his feet. He used the objects at hand in the room to fight off Marcus. He grabbed the edge of a metal desk, put all his weight on it and kicked upward.
Marcus flew across the room like a rag doll smashing into the wall. It was the last thing Phoenix was expecting.
"What the heck!" Phoenix stared at his feet surprised they had performed such an action.
Marcus quickly recovered and lunged at him again. Phoenix dodged his advances and moved closer to a breaker box. Somehow, he could internally sense the electrical impulses. He'd been noticing similar sensations for days, but he hadn't realized what it meant.
The area was under renovation and exposed wires were hanging from the wall. Phoenix grabbed a live one paying particular attention not to electrocute himself. Marcus tackled him just as he got a good hold of it. The two of them slid across the floor. Phoenix managed to turn enough to touch the live end of the wire to Marcus. He stopped moving, was completely still for thirty seconds then grabbed his head, shouted in pain and slid to the floor.
Phoenix dropped the wire and ran for the metal ladder. Marcus groaned and called after him but Phoenix was too far away.
The evil Stepford-like glint had left his eyes and his voice returned to normal. "Wait! Help me."
But his cries weren't loud enough to reach Phoenix. Marcus watched helplessly as Phoenix disappeared into the ceiling.
Marcus struggled to sit up, his arms collapsed weak from shock. And he passed out weak and alone on the floor of the dark basement.
* * *
Farley studied the screen monitoring Marcus. One minute his vitals were at optimal levels and the next he was nearly flatlining.
"What happened," asked
His assistant Addie Parker. " Is he dead?"
"No," Farley said preoccupied. "But he's definitely injured."
Farley's signal for Marcus had been strong in the beginning. All signals in the facility were strong. But as time moved forward it became weaker and weaker until suddenly it winked out entirely.
"We lost the tracker."
"That means we lost him, doesn't it?" Addie said, her voice weary and emotional.
"We can't lose him." Farley ran from his office and down the hallways following Marcus' original tracker
signal to where Marcus was kept when he wasn't on assignment.
The room was a mess. He particularly noticed the blood on the floor and the sink.
Farley frowned. The tracker hadn't just stopped working. Marcus had removed it. They had no way to track them now. Addie rushed in behind him out of breath.
"Dr Farley? Jenna West's tracker has also failed."
These were words he didn't want to hear. "What about Phoenix Gray?"
Addie gulped and looked to the side in dismay. "We never had a chance to put one in. He escaped from the table in the lab.
Farley began shaking as he imagined what Esta would do to him now that he'd lost three assets.
"Mr. Farley!" Esta's voice roared over the loud speaker inside the base. "My office -- NOW!"
"How did she find out so fast?" Addie remarked. "That's just creepy."
"I'm pretty sure she has the entire place wired," Farley said. He sighed and left Marcus' room. Addie followed.
"You're just going to go in there?" Addie asked. "She'll crucify you."
"She can't kill me. She needs me. I'm the only one who completely understands and can create the ADP protocols. Without me, the program is useless."
Addie watched as he disappeared into the executive suite. She only hoped he'd come back out in one piece.