The entrance to the Pentagon is a fortress of security checkpoints and procedures.
A security guard pulls a large, floor-to-ceiling mesh gate, closing off the entrance. They’ve initiated some kind of emergency protocol. The commotion brought by Jack and the others distracts people in the line to enter.
Outside, a contingent of agents and officers approaches.
“How are we going to get through that gate?” Chris asks between heavy breaths.
“I’m thinking,” Jack says, his head ringing and his senses dulled after the confrontation with Kasym.
Chris plants his feet firmly and eyes the gate.
“Wait,” Jack says. “We need to coordinate this. If you pull the gate open, they’ll know something’s up.”
“Okay, right,” Chris says.
“Sabine, there’s three security guards. Do you have them?”
“That is easy.”
“Great.” He sets Sabine down. “You’re getting heavy.” Sabine takes his hand.
Maya puts her back against a wall, holding her head. “I need a minute. I’m really pushing myself with the . . .” she wiggles her fingers. “I think we all are.”
“Yeah, but there’s no time for that now,” Jack says.
“Right,” she says. “Let’s do this.”
“First, I’ll take the idea of the emergency protocol out of his mind, the guy closing the gate. Then Chris, you move the gate.”
“Are you sure you can handle that, Jack?” Maya asks. “You don’t look well.”
Jack is sure she’s right. He’s been pushing himself hard.
“And also, after what you learned about your power . . .”
Jack feels a pall drop over him. He hates that he has to be the one with a psychic ability that puts people in a coma.
“I think so. I just have to be careful how much I take out.”
“Make it fast, guys.” Chris says, looking behind them. Jack looks back, too, and sees more agents and police closing in.
He turns back to the security guard. He concentrates despite his aching head. He reaches into the guard’s mind and gently lifts the emergency order.
Chris stares down the gate. The guard continues to try to pull it, but it stops moving. He jiggers it like he thinks it’s jammed. Chris slips through the small crowd first. The others follow, and then hurry through the metal detectors. People in line protest, but the security staff is confused by their complaints.
“Nice work, Sabine,” Jack says. He marvels at her spirit. The journey here has seemed like play to her. Maybe she doesn’t understand how dangerous it is. He figures that’s for the best.
Behind them, the guard still acts as though he believes there’s no emergency, so he stands in front of the officers, puts his hand on his sidearm, and demands they show their credentials.
The kids’ sneakers squeak on the marble floors as they angle down the main hall toward a stairwell.
They reach another checkpoint, a single security officer at a podium next to a metal detector and conveyor.
“You know what to do, Sabine,” Jack says.
They run through the metal detector and pass the guard at the podium. An alarm goes off, something small and localized to that station. Someone ahead dressed in a military uniform steps in front of them. “Whoa, whoa,” he says as he steps forward and puts his hand on his sidearm.
“I see him,” Maya volunteers.
The man is moved aside as if by a lasso. They run around him.
Another two soldiers approach from the other side. A small pedestal with a white bust on it flies in front of them, blocking their path just long enough for the kids to run past them.
They jump up the stairs and down another hall. Behind them and closing fast is a bevy of agents, police, and Pentagon security.
Jack follows the doctor’s mind map as they sprint through the large hall and toward another set of stairs.
People on the stairwell stop, stare, and jump back.
As they turn from the hall onto the stairs, Jack loses Sabine’s hand. He feels something tugging at her around the corner. Before he can register what’s happened, he hears her scream.
A swarm of agents and officers rush toward him, blocking him from Sabine. Behind them, others wrangle her to the ground.
“No!” Jack yells.
Chris and Maya, just a few feet behind him, stop and look back.
Maya pushes her arm forward, sending two or three officers flying backwards off Sabine. She grips the stair rail to steady herself, clearly having expending the last of her energy to move them.
Officers draw their weapons. Others run up the stairs towards them.
Chris dives for Maya and hurtles them both across the mid-stair landing as a chunk of marble from above comes crashing down onto the stairs, blocking the officers’ pursuit.
“That’ll hold them for now,” Chris says.
“Sabine!” Maya yells.
Through the falling dust and pieces of marble, Jack watches in cold terror as Sabine struggles on the ground against the officers, screaming and writhing. As officers lose their grip on her and begin groping for her as if she’s escaped, more officers quickly converge. The seemingly unending onrush holds her down.
“If we try to save her, they’ll get us all,” Chris says. “We have to keep moving!”
Jack knows he’s right. He knows a rescue would be futile. There are too many men. If he tries to go into their minds and take out the order to apprehend her, he’d never reach them all, never reach enough. And his energy is tapped as much as Maya’s. Even if he succeeded with a handful of them, the act might leave him too depleted of mental energy to do what he must when he reaches the defense secretary.
They run forward, up the stairs, leaving Sabine behind.