Whisky sprawled along the marble, springing to his feet in time to see the elevator doors lock closed. He checked above the doors. The elevator was express to the second quarter of the building, floors 25 to 49, stopping at every odd number. Access to the top half of the building was not available from the lobby except via Boss’s personal elevator - that was in use. He sprinted to the stairs, clearing two steps at each leap. The elevator would reach the 25th floor within 30 seconds; he would only be at the 10th. They had rebuilt Chips. Why was he disobeying? But they also rebuilt Whisky and he still disobeyed. The answer was paramount to knowing what his action should be but he had little time to focus on it.
He darted out at the tenth floor and watched the old fashioned dial above the elevator ticking over the numbers. 33. 35. 37. It stopped. He shot back to the stairs and began racing up again. Sam was on the 50th floor. Walter was on the 45th. Carrying two men it would be impossible for Chips to back track to Walter before Whisky would reach him. He must have been going to Sam. It was not safe to remain in the elevators for much longer but it would be worth risking it for Chips – and Chips was prone to risky behaviour.
He was at 25 floors when his legs began to feel a burn. He did not slow but he recognised that perhaps Chips was looking to exhaust him. Would they be fighting? Who was Chips working for if Whisky had the full confidence of Sam? Whisky had played too many sides and had trusted too many people. Now those that had trusted him were in danger, but it was Sam’s trust that meant the most now.
At the 37th floor Whisky burst through the emergency doors. Stevie lay against the wall clutching at his chest with one hand and trying to lift himself with the other. Whisky aided him to his feet. “Up.” He croaked. “Took Phil up.”
“Can you walk?” Whisky asked, wrapping Stevie’s arm over his shoulder.
“No!” Stevie pulled away, barely strong enough to release Whisky’s grip. “Go help Phil. He’ll kill him.”
“Walter is on the 45th floor. I need you to free him.” He helped Stevie back through the emergency doors. Boss’s express elevator had reached the 100th floor – the penthouse. There wasn’t much time.
The going was slow up the stairs but Stevie was gathering strength. He would need it. “Take this.” Whisky handed him his pistol. “The lab is down the end of this walkway. There will be one outside. You need to hit him from the end of the corridor. You need to kill him. A second will be inside. He will assume you will check your corners as you enter. Don’t. He will be behind a table at 10 o’clock. Spot the table through the window of the doors before you enter. He won’t come up until you have taken at least three steps. Shoot first; he won’t miss. Do you understand?”
Stevie nodded and clicked off the safety to the pistol.
“Use the tags on the agent’s neck to get in. Get Walter and escape. You can’t take the elevators. They will be down any moment now.”
Stevie was about to say something but Whisky had no more time. He took to the stair again and traversed the final five floors and exited again. Boss’s mid-tower office was the only room on the floor. The same place where Whisky had broken the man’s legs weeks earlier. He walked through the doors.
“Welcome, Whisky!” Sam greeted him. Next to him was Ricky Talk smiling, blissfully unaware. Phil was sprawled out in the corner, not moving but for the rhythm of his breath. Chips was to the side with two other agents. There was hostility in the air. A string of televisions were lining far wall with various feeds. He caught one or two – the girl in the penthouse, the testing centre – but he did want to linger.
“Chips attacked me in the lobby, sir.” He said bluntly to Sam. “Were these your orders?”
“I don’t understand.”
Sam gestured to the surveillance screens. Another showed the crowds outside, Tony Holdsworth’s show, the lobby – but Whisky fixated on Stevie rounding a corner at a limp. The background of the shot showed the elevators at floor 45. “I needed to be sure I could trust you, Whisky. A pre-emptive strike, if you will. Why didn’t you bring the second man to me?”
Whisky remained silent. He braced himself – he would need to take a bullet if he was to take down the three agents.
“Don’t worry they won’t harm you, yet. There is more to see.” Sam was strikingly confident. “Such a shame that you went to such great lengths to regain my trust. Poor Simon Tanenworth lying there, unaware that his misery is about to come to an end. And what did you need that trust for exactly? To free Walter? You always found him fascinating. I think he is overrated. But I should wait until he is here before I judge him too harshly.”
“Walter Wallet?” mumbled Ricky Talk.
“Yes, Ricky. You’ll get to see Walter soon. But he will be saying bye bye.”