First, read part one here.
“Who the hell does this sort of thing?” Robin spat as the door locked behind them.
“Someone with too much money,” Marian said disinterestedly, and she quickly began tapping on the computer.
“Are you going to do it?” Robin whispered. Utilizing the program’s output meant revealing that Marian did, in fact, know how to interpret the code – something she shouldn’t have known how to do. Only Nottingham was supposed to know how to translate the jumble of numbers the code spat out into a usable idea.
“He’s going to kill us!” Marian said.
“But what if we were actually innocent? He can’t just kill three innocent people.”
“Robin, Nottingham isn’t bluffing here. He’s doing this because he knows we’re guilty, and he wants to have a little bit of fun. Maybe he won’t let us suffocate, but playing chicken with him isn’t the best gamble to make.”
Marian pulled out a small disk. “It’s my translating program,” she explained to Robin. “I can hack into the system and unlock the door.” He nodded, not particularly caring. He knew nothing about how computers worked.
Five minutes later, Robin had paced a track into the floor. “Hurry up,” he said. “We don’t have much time.”
“Almost done,” Marian said, half-rising from her seat. She pounded a few quick keystrokes, then pulled out the disk and spun around. The door clicked open. “Let’s go.”
Of course, even if they now saved L.J., that didn’t mean they were safe. Robin knew Nottingham’s security guards could easily capture them again, innovation program or not. It passed unspoken between he and Marian that they weren’t just going to break L.J. out of the room; they were going to get all three of them out of the mansion.
“What, exactly, are we doing next?” Robin whispered to Marian as she led him through the labyrinthine halls and up a staircase. She paused by a window and ripped down the curtains.
“Innovating!” Marian whispered back. “Just follow my lead.”
She led them to a secluded Zen garden, where an artificial stream ran through a small lawn. Marian knelt beside the stream and pulled up one of the large rocks lining it. “Grab as many as you can!” she hissed.
Bewildered, Robin acquiesced. His shaking hands splashed the water. When they had about a dozen rocks between the two of them, Marian beckoned for Robin to follow her back into the building and through the halls.
Eventually, they ended up on the balcony overlooking the sitting room. There, twenty feet below them, were L.J. and a smattering of guards. They had blindfolded L.J., who was on the same couch as before, and cuffed his hands behind his back. Marian shushed Robin; no one below had noticed them.
She pantomimed throwing one of the rocks at the guards beneath them. Robin raised his eyebrows, but Marian encouraged him. He lifted one of the rocks and hefted it at a guard almost directly below him.
The guard went down. Instantly Marian pushed another rock into Robin’s hands and, like an automated machine, he knocked out all seven guards.
Robin glanced at Marian, who had stopped giving him rocks and was instead tying the curtain onto the railing. Once it was secure, she leaped over the railing and slid down the curtain.
She was about halfway down when Nottingham strode into the room and shouted at the sight of unconscious guards. Robin unceremoniously dropped another stone onto him. Nottingham crumpled like the others.
Marian dropped the last ten or so feet to the ground. Robin followed her. They made quick work of L.J.’s blindfold but couldn’t open the handcuffs, even when Robin tried smashing them with one of the rocks.
“No time for that!” Marian said. “We’ve got to get out of here before more guards arrive.” L.J. nodded and stepped through his legs to bring his hands in front of his body.
They ran, darting around a guard in the hallway, confusing him. He recovered quickly enough and began shouting. Marian swore. “I know a faster way, but with L.J.'s hands like that I don’t think it’s feasible,” she said.
“Leave me behind,” L.J. said. He was doing his best to keep up, but, without his arms, balance was eluding him. “I’ll fend for myself.”
“We’ll make it work,” Robin said. “Marian, take us there!”
She nodded and changed her direction. Soon they burst through a service door. The chillier nighttime air buffeted them, and a tall chain-link fence towered upwards as their eyes adjusted to the sudden darkness.
“You have to leave me behind,” L.J. repeated. But Robin jammed the door behind them with a loose branch from the ground, grabbed L.J. by the upper arms and started yanking him up the fence. Marian caught on and helped him. They had just rounded the top when a single cop appeared on the street, gun drawn, shouting for them to stop. But it was just a tranquilizer gun – far weaker than a regular one.
Robin didn’t think twice. He reached into his pocket and whipped his arm. The cop reacted a moment too late, and the gun backfired, its barrel clogged. He scrambled for another weapon as Robin, L.J. and Marian leaped down from the fence and continued running away.
“What did you throw back there?” Marian asked as they zigzagged through the streets, shouts rising up behind them.
“The screw from the warehouse shelf,” Robin said.
They ended up in the forest. Robin knew enough from camping with his father that they could get by, especially with help from their clients in the city. They picked the lock on L.J.’s cuffs and made a small fire.
The sun was just starting to rise when they finally leaned back against tree trunks to rest. “You know, Marian,” Robin said, “I don’t think that innovation program is very helpful. It really just told you to drop rocks on the guards?”
Marian grinned. “I was waiting for you to say something about that. I made it up on my own.”
“Then what were you doing that whole time?” L.J. cried. “I sweated out ten pounds waiting for you to get back.”
She pulled out the drive. “Nottingham didn’t input the complete plans of the house, so the program wouldn’t have given us anything useful. Rather than waste time translating the pointless information, I copied the program.”
“You’ve got the program yourself?” L.J. sputtered.
“Not just that,” Robin said. “Marian, you innovated to get us out of there – that’s why we were able to get past the guards; they weren’t expecting us to have any original ideas since the program wouldn’t have worked at all.”
“You innovated, too, with that screw and the cop’s gun,” Marian said. “No one else would’ve thought to do that.”
“So you’ve reinvented the art of innovation?” L.J. said.
Robin leaned back and pulled up his hood. “We have.”