The Insider – Part 4

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a serial by Joseph Benedict

When he spotted the knot of black-armored security guards trotting out of the elevator toward them, Hawkins dropped his smile and lunged at the guard by his window.

He jammed half-curled knuckles into the man’s throat, collapsing his windpipe. Snatching the man’s gun strap, Hawkins hauled him halfway through the window and twisted the weapon up and around to aim over the guard’s spasming back.

a serial by Joseph Benedict

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

 


 

When he spotted the knot of black-armored security guards trotting out of the elevator toward them, Hawkins dropped his smile and lunged at the guard by his window.

He jammed half-curled knuckles into the man’s throat, collapsing his windpipe. Snatching the man’s gun strap, Hawkins hauled him halfway through the window and twisted the weapon up and around to aim over the guard’s spasming back.

Fang stomped on the gas, barely missing the guard in front of her as he dove to the side. The troop of new guards in the polished, heavy armor aimed their guns as they marched forward. A storm of bullets battered the front of the car, whitened the reinforced glass of the windshield, and filled the garage with the thundering echoes of their reports.

The car shot forward. Fang edged the steering wheel left, then jerked it right as she charged the scattering cluster of gunmen. Two grunted and folded over the hood of her car, disappearing beneath the tires as she swerved to dislodge them. Then she pushed herself flat against the wheel and turned right—hard. Dave tore the pistol free and leaned over, sighting across her back as the view from Fang’s window slid past the four guards darting for cover.

Hawkins and Dave fired as the car slid past, aiming for vulnerable fingers, toes, or joints that could still be broken through the armor. Two of the guards dropped their weapons to fall, writhing, onto the concrete.

“Hart’s not coming down, but he definitely knew we were coming,” Dave shouted, turning back in his seat to watch the remaining guards through the back window.

“He knew we might come to get Melbourne,” said Fang. She braked hard halfway down the ramp and muscled the gearshift into reverse. “If we don’t get him today, before they hurt him, it’s not the same.” She called out to Hawkins. “Does that elevator lead where we want to go?”

“I don’t know.” Hawkins tapped off another burst at the guards rolling to their feet. With a shove, he ejected the guard from his window, stripping the gun from the man’s broad shoulders. “He’s never been in it. The elevator has to go past security though, and we can get where we want to be from there.”

“If we can get past the rest of their standing force,” Dave said, ducking lower in his seat as a bullet smashed through the windshield.  “Don’t expect them to let us move it either.”

“It has to have access.” Fang stomped on the gas.

The wheels spun against the smooth concrete, screeching.

“We don’t have time to find another way.”

 

 

“We either have all the time we need because they aren’t calling the police, or we need to be out of here in five minutes.”

 

 

The car rocketed backward. Fang turned the wheel completely and the car slid, bowling over the four guards who had just scrambled to their feet. One gripped the top of her hood, raising his gun until the car crashed into the far wall, pinning him against it.

Fang’s window came to rest right against the elevator doors; her side view mirror crumpled over the call button, activating the elevator.  Chiming, the doors slid open.

Dave and Hawkins were already kicking open the doors on the other side, firing at the two retreating guards. Fang rolled her window down. She peered over the door’s edge to make sure it was clear, then crawled out through her window.

She dropped onto the elevator floor. A row of buttons lined one side of the mirrored metal walls. She jabbed the lowest, but the light behind the numbered plastic went dim again when she removed her finger. Glancing up at the paneled ceiling, she spotted the prick of a pinhole camera in the metal frame. She reached to her side before realizing she wasn’t wearing a sidearm, or any weapon that would easily reach. The thought of biting her thumb and smearing blood across the lens came unbidden, with echoes of memories: lie-detector training, interrogation classes, rope burns around her wrists from being tied to a chair for days, and a woman who had seduced and betrayed her, holding a pair of clamps connected by long cords to a car battery.

She dismissed the phantom memories and turned back to the car. Reaching inside, she opened the bag of books, rummaged through the pockets, and pulled out a tin full of gum. The sound of gunfire faded away. She heard footsteps coming closer as someone approached the car.

Two people, she decided.

The tapping of their soles on the concrete sounded loud in the sudden quiet.

Fang chewed twice. Pulling the sticky wad from her mouth, she jumped and jammed it over the camera hole.  Dave opened the car’s passenger door and climbed through, holding a pair of submachine guns. He offered one to her as he slid through the window.

“What’s in there?” he asked, nodding to the bag.

“Homework.” Fang slung the weapon around her neck.

Hawkins came through next, carrying one of the guards’ guns and a pistol.

“They have it locked on this floor,” Fang said, pointing to the ceiling. “I took care of the camera, but we’ll have to climb on top and use the service ladder.”

“Let’s not waste anymore time,” said Hawkins. He slipped the pistol into his belt and crouched in front of Fang. “I’ll lift you.”

“No, I’m the lightest. We can boost Ling up together and let her pull us up.”

Dave shrugged and lifted his boot into Hawkins’ interlaced hands.

“Don’t mind if I do.” He chuckled, then dropped his hand onto Hawkins’ back for balance as Fang got into position holding his other foot.

“On three.” Fang counted and together she and Hawkins heaved Dave up toward the ceiling.

He pushed the flimsy tiles aside. The elevator’s exit hatch was hidden behind them. The red bar-handle latch squealed as he twisted it and shoved the hatch open.  Grunting, he pulled himself through. A moment later, he thrust his hand back down. Hawkins spared a moment to return Fang’s steady gaze, then reached up. Lifting and pulling, Fang and Dave muscled Hawkins up.

“Wait!” Dave whispered harshly over the banging sound of Hawkins’ knees on the metal frame.  “Do you feel that?”

Fang held still for a moment.  The whole elevator shook slightly.  Then, slowly, it began to rise.

“Come on!” Dave reached down and grabbed Fang’s hand, hauling her slender body up easily.

Hawkins was already climbing out of sight, down the service ladder set into the elevator shaft. The walls were spaced farther apart than she expected, leaving plenty of room for the elevator to pass through. In the distance above, flat metal walkways lined the outside each floor.

For maintenance workers, Fang guessed.  She ran to the ladder.

Dave leaped after her. As the elevator slowly rose past them, the open shaft was revealed below them. Three floors of walkways and metal doors marked the basement levels and only exits. One of the sets of doors on the lowest level was already opening, filling the distant metal flooring with florescent light. A single guard poked his head through, aiming some kind of rifle up at the three of them.  Fang tensed, ready to spring to the taut cables quivering slightly with the elevator’s motion, but Hawkins was already aiming his pistol.  His shot spun the guard backward like a top as it cracked into the dark polymer helmet.

“Slide down the cables!” Hawkins shouted, firing again as another silhouette darkened the bottom of the shaft.

Fang jumped. She closed her hands around the swinging metal just enough to stop her forward momentum. She plummeted down, wrapping the bottom half of her shirt around one hand. Hawkins fired again and again. The cable swayed wildly as Dave leaped and added his weight to it.

Even with the shirt between her hand and the cable, the friction burn made Fang wince as she clamped down on the cable to stop before she crashed into the floor. She dropped hard on the metal grating and rolled.

Dave landed harder. Instead of moving as he hit bottom, he bent his knees to absorb the shock and fired a half-second of bullets into the open doorway. The doors began to close.

“Don’t let them lock it!” Fang sprinted even as she shouted the command. She reached the doors in time to wedge her foot between them.

Bullets ricocheted off the metal inches from her face. The basement doors didn’t open as Fang expected, but they didn’t clamp down any harder either. Appreciating that Hart’s custom out-of-code security doors had probably just saved her life by staying shut, she jabbed the barrel of the submachine gun through the gap and turned it blindly. The thunder of bullets and screeching metal filled the hall beyond as she emptied the clip.

Something soft landed on her shoulder. Fang tensed, then saw Hawkins’ reflection in the door. He motioned her out of the way, pushing her shoulder a bit, and then grabbed one of the metal doors. Dave stepped up beside him and together they pried the doors apart. Fang rolled through, hoping to avoid the gunfire with her tiny frame and get close enough to use the gun as a club, but the three security guards inside were slumped against the wall, bleeding and still.

“Armor piercing rounds,” Hawkins said, scanning the bodies. He looked at Fang’s weapon. “No, that’s a different model. It could be the gun. What’s in the clip?”

“Nothing,” said Fang. She stripped the weapon off and tossed it to him, reaching for one of the guards’ assault rifles.

The hall was clear to both sides. Fang strode left, ignoring the aesthetics of the expensive marble tile and walls. Instead she looked hard into the vague reflections on its lit surface, checking around the corner without exposing herself. The hall bent left, and was clear past two doors until the next turn beyond them.

Hawkins bent quickly, snatched one of the casings that had dropped from Fang’s gun, and peered inside it. He handed the metal to Dave.

“Pocket,” Hawkins said. “We either have all the time we need because they aren’t calling the police, or we need to be out of here in five minutes.”

“The elevator’s already gone up,” said Dave. “That’s impossible.”

 

 

To be continued.

 


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