"We're too late," muttered Peter.
"No, we're not. Firth isn't doing the procedure until tomorrow. She's just been ... deactivated."
The words drove firmly home the fact that Lizzy was, indeed, just an android. We stood and stared at her lifeless body for moments that dragged on endlessly. I felt guilty wanting to disturb it, but the urgency of the situation was gnawing at me. We weren't supposed to be there.
"We need to figure out how to activate her," I said.
Peter just gawked at me. The shock of seeing her like this had really stunned him.
"How?" he asked feebly.
I shrugged. I didn't know.
"Data had a switch," Peter suddenly announced.
"I don't know."
His voice echoed his despondency as he stared at her, but I was getting more and more edgy. We shouldn't be there and the longer we were, the more likely it was that we would be discovered.
"Okay, Peter, buck up!" I suddenly shouted, eager to get things moving. "We've got to get her activated and out of here."
"How!" he shouted at me, angrily.
"I don't know!" I shouted back, but quickly bit my tongue and recomposed myself. It wasn't really anger in his voice. It was frustration, so I shouldn't retaliate.
"Okay, let's search her," and I leaned forward, patting her down. Peter stood gormlessly to one side.
"Help me," I instructed him.
"I can't do that!"
"It's ... inappropriate!"
"She's not conscious."
"Which makes it even more inappropriate."
"If you want to save her, put your gallantry aside and help me!"
Awkwardly at first, he placed a hand under her neck and then gently wrapped it around her shoulder to raise her.
"She's warm!" he cried softly as he lifted her limp body. He sounded relieved.
Her head flopped onto his shoulder, her mass of long, dark hair curtaining her face. Gently, he swept it aside and gazed into her porcelain smooth face. The love in his eyes was humongous! Boy, did this guy idolise her!
I, meanwhile, continued to run my fingers over her body and under her arms, but I found nothing. Reluctantly, I broke the news to Peter. He bit down on his bottom lip, swallowing back tears, and pulled her closer to him. I heard him stifle a sob as he stroked her face, his fingers brushing her ear. Suddenly, I saw her jerk—a little hypnagogic jerk, and she let out a murmur, opening her eyes. The first thing she saw was Peter. She whispered his name loudly, beaming him a wonderful, happy smile.
"My hero! You've come to save me!" and she pulled him down so that her lips met his and kissed him long and hard. I waited a few moments.
"Yeah, I'm saving you too, but I hope you don't intend to kiss me like that."
"Jenny!" she cried, pulling herself away from Peter and wrapping her arms around me. "But what's going on?"
We quickly filled her in as best we could as we helped her off the table. Aware that she was barefoot, I hunted for some shoes but found none. It never occurred to me to look in the boxes in Steven Firth's office, which was probably as well. That would be another locked door. I did find a white coat though, and made her put it on.
As she pulled it around her, something in the pocket weighed it down. She pulled out a small reflex hammer which she handed to me for some reason.
"We have to get out of here now," I said, pointing towards the door with the hammer and chivvying them along. With our quarry in tow, I was painfully aware that if we were caught now, we couldn't talk our way out of it. We couldn't pretend that we had just wandered in accidentally, not with Lizzy standing next to us as evidence of our encroachment.
We tiptoed quietly. I took the lead this time, Lizzy was in the middle and Peter brought up the rear. We left the laboratories and proceeded down the corridor towards the main door. We reached it and Peter began to work on it. This had been the difficult one on the way in. The next two doors were the easy ones. Peter had them both open in just moments when we came, but moments could mean the difference between success and failure now.
A reassuring click resounded signifying his success and the door shushed open.
"Hey!" a voice suddenly shouted behind us. I turned. It was Steven Firth!
"Go!" I shouted, and we all ducked through the door. It shut quickly behind us and locked, but within seconds, Steven Firth was hammering on it. His face was angry and red through the glass. Lizzy's was filled with terror.
Peter grabbed her hand and took her down to the next door and began working on it. I hesitated. Steven was fumbling for his security pass to unlock the door between us. If he got through, he'd catch us. Suddenly, I became aware that I still had the reflex hammer in my hand. Urgently, I began smashing it into the panel beside the door. If I could break the system that would read his card, he wouldn't get though, or so I thought.
The panel suddenly clanged to the floor exposing a mass of electronic components and wires. I began attacking the inside of it.
"Come on," Peter suddenly shouted.
He'd got the door open and was standing in it waiting for me. I could see Lizzy's terrified face peeking out behind him. I dropped the reflex hammer and ran, but I also heard the door behind me open. Steven was through! I could hear his footsteps pounding up behind me. He was nearly upon me ... and I was nearly at the door. But if I got to the door, he'd be there at the same time! He'd have Lizzy again. There was only one thing for it. I turned and lashed out, barging into Steven and driving him into the ground. We struggled, a mass of arms and legs locked in combat. He was trying to throw me off, and I was hell bent on stopping him getting to Lizzy and Peter.
"GO!" I screamed. " For crying out loud, just GO!"
I heard Lizzy protest, but I also heard Peter arguing with her. Then, to my relief, I heard the door shut drowning their voices, but I couldn't relent now. I had to keep Steven here. Peter had another door to get through.
I felt Steven's hand on the side of my face trying to push me off, but I clung onto him like a limpet. He punched his fist into the side of my face. It stunned me, but still I held on. I felt another blow and everything around me began to swim. There was a third blow and, I think, a fourth but I didn't feel that one. I was out cold.