They kept walking until they entered a large, round concrete cistern. Their foot steps echoed loudly. Zack slowly let out a breath and felt himself relax slightly. In the larger space of the cistern he felt his sense of claustrophobia ease and the tension in his muscles ebbed slightly. The imaginary iron bands around his ribs disappeared. A metal staircase wrapped part way around the curved wall of the cistern. There was no other way out. They climbed the staircase and came to a nondescript looking door covered in dull grey paint. It was locked.
A little bit of Murphy’s Law would be helpful right now, thought Zack. Door knobs frequently came off in Milo’s hand as a result of his negative probability field.
Melissa started to say, “I don’t supposed anybody knows how to pick a lock?” but stopped. Phineas and Ferb were both patting their pockets, as though looking for something and Phineas produced a small tool kit. He extracted a screwdriver and proceeded to start jimmying the lock. After a couple of seconds it swung open with an audible click. They stepped into a deserted corridor. Fluorescent lights hung from the ceiling at regular intervals. Piping and thick bundles of cables lined the walls. A sign set amongst the tangle read “Sub-level 12.”
They all studied the sign for several moments, as though hoping it would reveal something more. When it didn’t, Melissa turned to Baymax. “Can you tell where on Sub-level nine Milo is?” she asked.
“I can not,”replied Baymax soothingly. “The building is blocking my ability to detect Milo.”
Hiro frowned. He had hoped that Baymax would have been able to provide Milo’s exact location. “So, we’re going have to do this the hard way.”
It was Amanda’s turn to frown. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she said.
Zack, Melissa, Cavendish and Dakota all stared at each other in confusion for several seconds. “I don’t hear anything,” said Cavendish at last.
Melissa figured it out first. “No, Amanda’s right,” she said. “Milo’s here somewhere, but there are no burst pipes, no flooding, no fire alarms, no nothing.”
Phineas nodded in agreement. Murphy’s Law had comprehensively wrecked one of Phineas and Ferb’s workshops the first time they had met Milo in about a minute flat the previous year. “So what do we do now?” he asked.
“We need to find a way up to Sub-level nine,”said Zack. “Maybe we’ll find something up there.”
They picked a direction and set of. They eventually came to a T-junction, turned left and came to a fire at the end of the hall. They went through a door into a large open space. A computer station stood in the middle of the room and a large screen occupied one wall. A workbench with equipment occupied the opposite wall. A red exit sign glowed over a door at the opposite end of the room. The room was slightly chilly and bathed in a harsh electronic green light.
The silence was broken unexpectedly by Fred, who shivered in the slight chill and said, “OK, this place is right out of Captain Fancy #192, and totally not in good way.”
Zack and Wasabi nodded in unison. “Yeah-,” said Zack
“-This is kind of creepy,” finished Wasabi.
“Well, Milo obviously isn’t here,” replied Melissa.
“Let’s keep going,” replied Hiro.
They quickly crossed the room, pushed open the door and stepped out into the hall. They were met with the same nondescript tangle of cables and piping. Another red exit sign glowed from amid the overhead tangle at the end of the corridor. They walked down the corridor and pushed open the heavy metal fire door. They entered into a concrete stairwell. There were stairs leading both up and down. A sign on the wall had arrows pointing both up and down.
Waste Water Reclamation
Building Dynamic Stabilizers
They read the sign and Amanda had a sudden moment of disquiet.“Do I want to know why Milo would be in an applied genetics lab,” she asked.
“Lets keep going,” replied Zack by way of an answer.
It didn’t take them very long the climb the three flights of stairs up to Sub-level nine. They pushed open the door and found themselves in another deserted hallway. There were no exposed pipes or bundles of fibre optic or electrical cables. Instead there were doors marching away down the corridor in both directions. They were all locked with biometric locks.
“Baymax, perform scan,” said Hiro, “see if you can get a fix on Milo.”
“I am unable to locate Milo,” replied Baymax calmly after he had complete the scan. “A section of the building is being shielded-,”
Hiro frowned again.
“-but I am detecting a strong negative probability field from the building’s southwest corner.” Baymax indicted the desired direction.
Zack hitched Milo’s backpack higher up on his shoulders, which were starting to ache. He had been wearing Milo’s backpack almost non-stop since they had arrived in San Fransokyo that afternoon. He looked his watch, it was close to midnight. “OK,” he said, “let’s go.”
They set off and eventually came to a heavy set of fire doors. They were made of dark grey metal and had no windows. Set in the wall next to the heavy looking double doors was a retinal scanner, a palm reader and a digital key pad.
“Hiro,” said Baymax, after yet another scan, “I am unable to scan beyond these doors.”
“So how do we open those doors?” asked Dakota.
Phineas and Ferb were both studying the multiple biometric locks preventing them from going forward. “We should be able to bypass these locks,” said the young genius, “but this is a pretty sophisticated set-up. This’ll take some time.”
Half an hour later, the heavy double doors swung slowly open. They found themselves in a large open room. In the middle was a medical examination table under a cluster of surgical lights. One wall was dominated by a large screen with a abstract corporate logo. Various pieces of equipment lined the other walls. Work carts with computers were scattered haphazardly around the room.
“OK, Hamada,” said Cavendish, “where’s Milo.”
“Baymax,” said Hiro in response, “perform scan.”
“Hiro, there is a strong negative probability field twenty metres away,” replied Baymax after a couple of minutes.
“Can you be more specific?” asked Hiro.
“I can not,” replied Baymax.
“Why not?” asked Hiro.
“I am uncertain,” said Baymax, “I am detecting a field of positivity probability ions in addition to the pre-existing negative probability field.”
“Well, that would explain why we haven’t seen any signs of Milo,” said Melissa.
Zack nodded in agreement. “Yeah,” he said, “It’s like-,” he suddenly stopped, remembering how the Murphy’s Lawinator had left Milo in substantial discomfort after the Octalian Incident.
Melissa must have noticed the look Zack’s because she said, “OK, everybody spread out. Milo’s here somewhere and he may be in a lot of discomfort.”
They paired off and spread out down the various side corridors that radiated outward from the room they had initially entered.
“Are you think what I’m thinking?” asked Zack.
“Doof’s inator all over again?” asked Melissa in reply.
“Yeah,” replied Zack. He suddenly felt tired. They had had a long day. He suddenly realized that Melissa was looking at him.
“Are you OK, Zack?”she asked.
They were walking past what seemed to be endless rows of suspended animation pods. They were all empty, but they were lit from within by a faint green glow. Zack found the effect to be a little unsettling. “Yeah,” he said, “This place gives me the creeps, and I’m worried about Milo.”
Melissa put a hand on his shoulder and Zack was suddenly grateful for the gesture. “It’s going to be OK,” she said. “We’re going to find Milo, he’s going to be fine and go home.”
Zack nodded. “Right,” he said. They turned a corner and left the suspended animation pods behind. They were walking down a different row with what appeared to be cages on either side. Some of the had a metal cot and a stainless steel toilet. Others contained nothing at all. All of them appeared to be unoccupied. Except for two opposite each other at the end of the row.
“Milo!” exclaimed Melissa in relief.
“Zack! Melissa!” cried Milo, he looked a little dishevelled, but aside from a bandage on his neck below his right ear, he appeared to be unharmed. He spied something large and heavy hanging from Zack’s shoulders. “And you have my backpack!” he cried in relief. Milo nodded at Karmi. “See,” he said excitedly, “I told you my friends would find me.” He turned back to Zack and Melissa. “There should be-,”
“-a cutting torch and a pair of goggles in your backpack?” asked Melissa.
“Yeah,” said Milo, slightly mystified, “how did you-,”
“You might be out of propane,” replied Zack.
“We used it to cut through a storm grate to get it here,” explained Melissa. “Are you OK, Milo?” she asked. She motioned to bandage on his neck. “What did they do to you?”
Milo’s hand went subconsciously to the spot where the biochip has been implanted under his skin below his right ear. “Oh,” he said, “yeah, I’m not entirely sure.” He spent the next fifteen minutes quickly what had happened to him since had initially woken up here.
“So Baymax was right-,” began Melissa, when Milo has finished talking.
“Did you say that Baymax is here?” Melissa and Zack both turned. The holding cage opposite Milo’s was occupied by a girl who appeared to the same age as they were. Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
It suddenly clicked. “You’re Karmi,” asked Zack, “Hiro’s friend.”
For a second Karmi looked uncomfortable, as if no one had ever called her a friend before. Then she composed her self. “We are colleagues,” she said at last,”we go to SFIT together.”
“Right,” replied Melissa slowly. From the way Hiro had spoken earlier, she had gotten the impression that he and Karmi were close friends, but apparently Hiro’s friendship had gone unreturned. She turned to Zack, who had pulled his phone out of his pocket. He was tapping and swiping through his apps. “Zack you should tell Cavendish and Dak-,”
Zack nodded as he fired off several texts in quick succession. “Yeah, way ahead of you, Melissa,” he said. No sooner Zack spoken than Phineas and Ferb popped into existence as if the genius stepbrothers had been simply conjured out of thin air. Zack jumped slightly. “What the-how did you do that?”
“Our phones have features that are rather after market add-ones,” explained Ferb.
“Yeah,” said Phineas, “like voice activated teleportation. Oh, hi Milo,” he said, as casually as if they had simply run into each other over lunch at Slushy Dawg.
“Hi, Phineas,” replied Milo.
Melissa had opened her mouth and was about to speak when Cavendish and Dakota round a corner with Hiro, Wasabi, Fred, Go Go, Honey Lemon and Baymax in tow. Cavendish looked relieved and immediately went over to Milo’s holding cage.
“Oh, hi Cavendish,” said Milo.
“Hello Milo,” said Cavendish, “are you all right?”
“Well, I think so,” replied Milo and he quickly told them what had happened to him.
Cavendish’s face wore a look of outrage. “But that’s absolutely-,” he began.
Dakota cut him off, “hey Flynn,” he said to Phineas, “see if you can get this open.”
“Oh, right,” said Phineas. He turned to his stepbrother, “C’mon, Ferb,” and the two of them set to work on unlocking the holding cage.