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Step by Step

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“I can’t believe you’ve done this,” Alex groaned as she settled herself into the pilot’s seat. “I cannot believe you’ve done this.”

“You wouldn’t have done it?” was Adam’s reply and damn it if she couldn’t hear that accusatory note in his voice, like she was the one being unreasonable.

“Not without a plan,” she snapped, flipping the switches as quickly as possible, her hands so familiar with the layout that she could get this bird in the air blindfolded.

The engine rumbled into life and there came the familiar sense of that subtle vertigo as they lifted off from the facility’s landing pad. She didn’t want to think about how many alarms were going to go off once the staff realised what they had done, and she wanted to be long gone before they had a chance to start pursuing them.

Once they were high enough, she hit a breakneck pace, determined to put as much distance between them and the facility as possible. Within minutes the facility vanished behind them into the gloom, the last few lights dimming into pinpricks and then fading from view all together.

“I mean stealing tech or information, that’s one thing,” she continued. “But a baby ? They’re gonna to realise it’s gone, and then what?”

Right on cue she could hear the baby gurgling and she rolled her eyes. It was like it understood exactly the kind of stress this whole mess was putting her under right now and found it funny. Maybe it was still a bit young to understand what funny was, but that didn’t change how this all sat with her.

“You saying we should have left her there?”

She groaned, shaking her head.

“No man, I didn’t mean- I’m just saying that just grabbing it and running without a plan was maybe not the best way to go about things,” she said. “We shoulda talked to Janus. Come up with a plan to figure out how to go about all this.”

“Because Janus could whip up a replica baby, right,” Adam snorted derisively.

“Or find someone who could hide it from the Illuminati. You know they’re going to try and get it back, so it needs to be with someone who can keep that from happening. Janus could’ve found someone for us to hand it off to.”

There was a long pause and all Alex heard over the headset was the baby’s gurgling. It was tempting to switch it off, if only for a little peace and quiet. Baby noises had a way of irritating her. They had a way of itching in her brain, and they didn’t jive with her mental processes. One of the many reasons she’d never have one of her own if she could help it.

But she didn’t switch off the headset, just focused on flying the VTOL and waiting to see if Adam would keep up the conversation.

“It’s done now, Alex,” he said finally and was it just her, or did he sound tired all of a sudden? “Besides, even if we left and came up with a plan, there’s no saying she’d still be there.”

“You think they’d have moved it someplace else?”

“That or whatever they were doing would have killed her.”

Something icy dropped into the pit of her stomach. Not at the idea that the Illuminati would kill a helpless baby, of course they would if they thought it would serve their ends. No, it was the absolute certainty with which Adam had said that. Like he was speaking from personal experience.

She decided not to ask. They all had their skeletons.

“Okay, fair point.” She shrugged. “So what is the plan?”

“Figure out where to put her. You said Janus could find someone.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, so now you trust Janus?”

“No,” he said tersely. “But the only people I would trust with her aren’t exactly looking for a baby right now.”

She wondered who those people were, and how many of them might be within TF29. Miller seemed likely considering what had happened in London but, as Adam had said, he wasn’t likely to agree to taking on a baby.

“I’ll keep her with me in the meantime,” he went on. “Just get Janus looking for someone to take her on.”

“Okay man. Better you than me. By the way, you keep calling it ‘she.’ Did you check or something?”

She could practically hear him rolling his eyes.

“It was in the file they kept on her,” he said. “Better than calling her an ‘it.’”

“Whatever. That file have a name too or are we gonna have to give her one?”

“They called her Subject Eve.”

“Drop the ‘Subject’ and you’ve got a name. Not great for a baby though,” she mused, eyes flicking over to her scanner briefly.

Still no sight of a pursuit or any indication that anyone even knew they were there. They’d gotten out cleanly then, which was a small mercy considering how much trouble they were going to be in once the Illuminati realised that this particular asset of their’s was missing. She kept the stealth systems engaged regardless. And the guns too. Just in case.

“Evie any better?” Adam suggested.

She glanced around the back of her seat to steal a peek at the pair.

Adam had dropped his shades and was cradling the baby close to his chest, almost protectively, and even from her seat Alex could see a smile tugging at his lips. He had also evidently surrendered his left hand to the baby as she was clutching his fingers in her little fat fists, apparently enthralled by the sleek black and gold augmentations. She then stuck one of his fingers in her mouth. Typical baby. He didn’t seem bothered though. In fact she swore she could see that smile spreading over his face.

“Much,” she chuckled, turning back to the sky. “Just be careful Adam, or else I might start thinking you’ll get attached.”

He snorted, but a quick glance back over her shoulder revealed that he hadn’t shifted from his previous position, with the baby - Evie - still doing her best to chew on his fingers, even without the necessary teeth. Alex rolled her eyes and focused on getting them back to Prague in one piece.

She supposed it wasn’t the worst turn that this mission could have taken.