Dieter touched his fingers to the wall.

And pushed, cracking plaster and crushing concrete, pushed with both hands then strode through the weakened barrier. Above him, the building groaned as it shifted, trying to settle with one of its load-bearing structures now fragments beneath steel-toed boots. From the basement, Dieter could hear the alarmed cries of the elderly and infirm on the upper levels and his steps slowed before regaining their regular stride.

Somewhere, among the utility rooms and storage closets, Uplis had hidden the Harmonic Serum, the catalyst that would free his species from their infant state. Two weeks as the scientist’s acolyte had taught him the value of agency, a gift worth a lifespan quartered, a gift he would bestow on the Others.

But now in the last room, Dieter raged -she had lied, lied for the life of her other pet whose neck he’d gripped and squeezed till she cried: he felt not the Harmony.

His eyes focussed on the last support wall and listened to the shrieking above. Uplis had sacrificed them all… for her dog.

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