I crept around the corner of the curtain, careful to remain in the shadow. Mouse stayed in the office as a lookout.
The room was sparsely furnished, with the furniture surrounding a large, empty fish tank in the center of the room. The windows were set on a track so they could slide open.
I lowered myself to my belly and shuffled across the floor to the window latch. It wouldn’t do for someone to glance up and see a shadow moving. I reached the glass and unlocked it, pushing it open far enough to slide the end of the rifle through. I waited for my eyes to properly adjust to the light and then scanned the tree line.
One of them had erected a platform in the foliage of a large tree. Upon it a sniper laid motionless, gun pointed at the car below.
I sighted him and drew a breath. It hissed past my teeth as I squeezed the trigger. His head slammed backwards.
Another sniper, to my right, caught my attention as he scrambled to identify my location. He lifted himself, giving me an easier target. Once again, I hit him straight on. A third gave himself away in the same manner, and I took out two more hiding in the undergrowth below.
After a few minutes of stillness, Mouse called quietly from the other side of the curtains, asking if I’d gotten them. I nodded, knowing that she’d be able to see me.
As I dragged myself from the room, I couldn't help taking a second look at the tank. That wasn’t for fish. Fish tanks don’t have soil and vegetation in them. I was sure the lids generally didn’t sit so tightly either. It was designed to prevent something from getting out. Fish weren’t exactly an escape risk.
I crouched beside the glass structure, much like the plastic cells far below. Little grooves marred the dirt and small brown scales littered the surface. A single word, Gale, was engraved on a plaque on the front.
“What are you looking at?” Mouse whispered.
I shook my head and kept moving. After one last scan of the room, we left.
The rest of the floor was uninteresting. I slung the strap of the bag over my shoulder and we ran down the stairs the way we came.
Guards still groaned outside the door, but I couldn’t identify any new additions. Their moans overshadowed their heartbeats so I couldn’t count how many waited for us.
I beat at the now-useless door handle with the butt of the rifle and it came straight out. I peered through the hole at the corridor on the other side.
There were two new men, using the fallen bodies as shields.
I poked the barrel of my gun through the hole, lined up the shot, and fired. It hit my target in the shoulder. My second bullet went through the other man’s chest. They both fell to join their colleagues in the pile of injured on the floor.
I opened the door and walked straight toward the men.
Mouse froze by the door. “What are you doing?”
I ignored her.
The man closest to me lay twisting on his stomach. I couldn’t see the wound from this position, but there was a lot of blood. I kicked him over and he screamed. Red flowed from his arm, but the bullet hadn’t gone all the way through.
I pointed my gun at his face. “Where’s my sister?”
He said nothing, just glared at me. His eyes glistened. Were they tears of pain or fear? I didn’t have the time or patience to find out.
I pressed the sole of my boot against his arm and repeated the question. A scream tore from his throat and ripped through my ears. I closed myself off from the guilt, transferring my weight to my foot.
“I’ll tell you!” he wailed.
I lifted my foot immediately.
“I don’t know where exactly,” he whimpered, “but they’ve taken her to a facility in New York. Somewhere near a mountain.”
“And what about the other one?” I said. “Is Briana with them?”
I motioned for Mouse to follow me. We climbed over the writhing and withering men, they were all that stood between us and the crumbling wall. We saw no one else en route to the gaping hole and no one appeared to be waiting outside.
Mouse stayed put to cover me, I left the bag and ran to Jake. He lay on his side with his arms tied behind him. His heart slumped along, but something about him smelled wrong, like waking up after surgery.
I dragged him into the back of the car with one hand, unwilling to release the grip I had on my gun in case we were surprised again. I couldn’t hear anyone else around us, but I wasn’t willing to trust my ears right now. I was still shaken that the scientists had been able to completely take my ability away without me realizing.
The keys weren’t in the ignition, but I found them below the driver’s seat. I pushed them into place and twisted them tentatively, half expecting it not to start, half expecting it to blow up, and hoping like hell it would run normally. Neither the first nor the second possibility came to pass and, to my surprise, the car roared into life.
Pushing the stick into first gear, I swung the car around as close as I could get to the side of the building. As I turned, I reached across the passenger seat, pulling on the door handle. It flew open.
Mouse vaulted in, tossed the bag to the floor at her feet and slammed the door shut.