C5

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C5 - EGRESS

It's supposed to keep people out of Hanford, but it can keep people in too.

Soon after Lilith and Robyn went their own way they came to a set of railroad tracks and Robyn suggested they walk along them. This was a good choice, because they would cross no sensors or trip wires, and there was no road paralleling the track, paved or not. Far across the sagebrush plain they could see sodium lights illuminating Hanford's sole remaining tritium production reactor. Within an hour they came to a major rail junction and a cluster of paved roads. But now in the west a few approaching vehicles could be seen by their headlights. The cars didn't seem to hurry, but Robyn and Lil still needed to find a place to hide very quickly.

I can hide us in a pinch, Lilith assured her. My own talent is shapeshifting. I can look like whatever I want. If it comes down to it, I can turn into a hollow boulder and you can hide inside me.

So let's do it, Robyn said. They'll be here in a few minutes.

There's still the problem of hiding my body heat. The boulder would be 98.6 degrees and if they use night vision I'll stand out like a marquee.

So instead they hid inside some abandoned rolling stock on a side track. Robyn chose a low, brown Burlington-Northern gondola car to climb into. With many other identical railroad cars sitting around it was a good place for them to hide, as long as they laid down flat and stayed quiet.

Out there in the night, true to Lilith's fears, the DoE police were setting up a tripod with an infrared camera so they could do a complete circular scan of the horizon. Once the camera was mounted they saw the dark boxes of many railroad cars creeping across the screen. There were two infrared sources out there in one car, but the cold steel walls shielded them extremely well. After two complete circles the guards bundled their nightscope into the trunk of a squad car and drove away.

After that Robyn decided to stick with the train tracks and continue south. If anyone came again, with any luck they could hide in another one of the scattered rail cars. But in a mile or two they reached a place where the tracks, a paved road, and a gravel road all came together. The two roads ran parallel to the train tracks here, making Robyn feel a little exposed. They could see a hint of the coming dawn in the eastern desert skies. Robyn felt her available choices were becoming fewer and fewer.

The rail curved southeast for a half mile, then due south for five hundred feet before coming to a dead end. Here was an old forgotten box car, forlorn in the dim gray light of 5 o'clock in the morning. The perimeter fence was tantalizingly close, but they only had two options now. They could hide in the box car and wait to be picked up, or they could hoof it across the sand and try to get out. Robyn still had no idea what to do at the fence.

They decided to run for it, and no longer following the rails they triggered a set of intrusion sensors. The DoE cops were right on it, and one of the responding cars had Doctor Earl Roland for a passenger.

When the road terminated near the box car, Roland and the cops got out and pursued the escapees on foot. Thus it was that Roland got a fairly good look at something he forever found impossible to believe.

Lilith leaned toward a ten-foot tall chain-link fence and turned into a ladder of bones and flesh. Robyn ascended this ladder to the top of the fence. Then the ladder sprouted fingers to grip the fence in many places at the top. Several rungs retracted briefly so Robyn wouldn't be hit as the ladder swung itself over the fence. Then Robyn climbed down on the other side, the ladder turned back into Lilith, and they both ran away.

A guard told Roland of sensor hits on the other two escapees. Roland re- covered from his shock sufficiently enough to tell them, Shoot to kill.

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