Then again, it was possible Pilcher’s people had no idea what he’d done.
The only camera feeds in the superstructure were in surveillance HQ and Pilcher’s office. Surveillance techs could be sealed off, locked up, bribed, killed. Pilcher’s inner circle no doubt held a delusional sense of loyalty toward the man, but Ethan couldn’t let himself imagine all of them just standing by while he murdered the last of humanity.
His ears popped.
He was getting close and still no sign of resistance.
If he had to bet, Pilcher was planning to make certain that every last resident of Wayward Pines had been wiped out and then tell his people there had been a terrible accident. A fence failure. Nothing to be done.
Ethan eased his foot off the gas as the entrance to the superstructure came into view around a long, gentle curve.
He rolled into the massive cavern and brought the Jeep to a stop.
Jammed the gearshift into first.
Killed the engine.
He picked the Desert Eagle up off the floorboard, tugged the slide back and let it reset so the gun looked loaded. Digging through his pockets again, he only found two boxes of twelve-gauge slugs and his Harpy.
Opening the door, he stepped down onto the stone. The ark was quiet, no sound but a soft hiss—the rush of forced air—coming from the blue-lit suspension center.
Ethan unzipped his parka and tossed it into the Jeep, shoved the impotent Desert Eagle down the front of his mud-smeared, bloodstained Wranglers.
Approaching the thick glass doors that led into Level 1 of the complex, it dawned on him that he didn’t have a keycard.
A camera pointed down at him from above the doors.
Are you watching me now?
You must know I’m here.
A voice behind him said, “Put your hands on your head. Interlock your fingers.”
Ethan raised his hands and turned slowly.
A kid in his early twenties with a bandage around his head stood fifty feet away beside the closest of the massive cylindrical reservoirs in the ark, pointing an AR-15 at Ethan.
“Hi, Marcus,” Ethan said.
Marcus moved toward him, and in the jaundiced illumination of the hanging globe lights, looked mad as hell. To be fair, he had cause. During their last encounter, Ethan had pistol-whipped him.
“Mr. Pilcher knew you’d come,” Marcus said.
“He told you that, huh?”
“He told me everything you did.”
“Everything I did?”
“And he also told me to shoot you, so—”
“People are dying in Wayward Pines, Marcus. Women. Children.”
Marcus had halved the distance between them and Ethan could read enough rage in his eyes to suggest he might actually pull the trigger.
The glass doors opened. Ethan glanced back, saw a big blond man enter, aiming a pistol at his heart. Ethan remembered him from that day in the morgue. Alyssa’s friend, Alan—Pilcher’s head of security.
Ethan looked at Marcus, the kid now shouldering the machine gun, preparing to shoot.
Ethan said to Alan, “You have orders to shoot me on sight as well?”
“You might want to hear me out first,” Ethan said.
Marcus was closing in. As Alan pointed his pistol in Ethan’s face, Marcus reached forward and tugged the Desert Eagle out of Ethan’s waistband, threw it across the stone.
“You have no idea what’s going on out there,” Ethan said. “Either of you. Last night, Pilcher turned off the fence and opened the gate. He let a swarm of abbies into the valley. Most of the town has been massacred.”
“Bullshit,” Alan said.
“He’s lying,” Marcus said. “Why are we even listening—”
Ethan said, “I want to show you something. I’m reaching slowly into my pocket—”
Alan said, “I swear to God that’ll be the last move you ever make.”
“You just took my weapon.”
Marcus said, “Alan, we have orders. I—”
“Shut the f**k up,” Ethan said. “Adults are talking.” He looked back at Alan. “Remember when we met in the morgue? Remember what you asked me to do?”
“Find who killed Alyssa.”
Alan fixed his eyes on Ethan.
“I found who killed her,” Ethan said.
Alan’s jaw tensed.
“It was your boss. And Pam.”
Alan said, “You come in here with an accusation like that you better be able to—”
“Prove it?” Ethan pointed at his pocket. “May I?”
Ethan reached in, fingers probing until he felt it. Lifting out the memory shard, he held up the square shaving of metal, and said, “Pilcher and Pam killed Alyssa. But first they tortured her. The head of surveillance gave this to me. It shows everything.” Alan kept the gun trained on Ethan, his expression unreadable. “I have a question for you, Alan,” Ethan said. “If what I’m telling you is true, where does your loyalty fall?”
“He’s playing you,” Marcus growled.
“One way to find out,” Ethan said. “What does it cost you to look at this, Alan? Unless avenging Alyssa isn’t something that interests you.”
Behind the glass doors, Ethan saw another armed man sprinting down the corridor.
He was dressed in black, armed with a Taser, pistol, machine gun, and testosterone. As he approached the glass doors, he spotted Ethan and raised his weapon. Alan suddenly wrapped his right arm around Ethan’s neck and held his pistol to Ethan’s temple.
The doors whisked open.
Alan said, “I’ve got him. Stand down.”
“Kill him!” Marcus screamed. “You have orders!”
The new arrival said, “Alan, what the hell are you doing?”
“You do not want to shoot this man, Mustin. Not yet.”
“What I want and don’t want doesn’t have a whole helluva lot to do with it. You know that better than any of us.”
Alan tightened his grip on Ethan.
“Sheriff says the town’s been overrun with aberrations and that the bossman opened up the gate. He also says that Mr. Pilcher and Pam are responsible for Alyssa’s death.”
“One thing to say it,” Mustin said. “Another to prove it.”
Ethan held up the memory shard.
“He claims it has footage of Alyssa’s death.”
“So what?” Marcus said.