I froze, so did Mouse. We backed away, guns at the ready.
My own heart accelerated, terror raced through me. I tried to concentrate on my breathing to control the fear.
They weren’t moving. Their breathing was steady but other than the slight shuffle as they readjusted their position they didn’t move. They were waiting for us; we’d walked into a trap.
Apart from the elevator, the stairs were the only way out. They’d fallen in on themselves, but attempting to navigate them seemed to be the safer option. With a new light filtering through the corridor above, our path was clearly visible, and I no sounds of life reached my ears.
The jagged bricks where the stairs had joined the wall left a climbing route for us. Some were quite a stretch for me to reach, and one move was almost impossible for Mouse with her shorter arms, but we made it.
We paused at the top of the stairwell. I tried to determine what sort of obstacles we’d be facing upon our exit. I could still hear the team near the elevators, but there were two other pairs of humans. I couldn’t tell where exactly they were, just a general direction.
I twisted the handle and nudged the door open. As the door moved from the frame, the building was engulfed in waves of angry sound; a siren so loud it drowned everything out. My ears couldn’t differentiate between the blaring noise and the thumping footsteps, undoubtedly sprinting in our direction.
We ran with our guns at the ready. At the first junction, we stalled to check our path was clear.
We’d always been trained to cope if one of our senses were removed, but it was like I’d cut off my own hand.
Three men turned the corner at the end of the hall, guns drawn.
“Freeze!” they chorused. I couldn’t hear them, but I could read their lips.
We didn’t. The bare hall offered no protection, not even a door through which we could duck for shelter. Instead of stopping, I ran at them as fast as I could, zigzagging as I went. Mouse followed. They fired and missed, shooting at where we’d been, not where we were going. Or should I say where Mouse had been. They all aimed at her.
I pulled her closer, the bullets slowed. Mouse shot over their head. The momentary distraction was enough. I holstered my gun and shoved the butt of the nearest guard’s gun into his face. He had no chance of avoiding it.
Mouse took care of another and I swept the third’s feet from underneath him. I slammed my hand into his back and sent him crashing to the ground. He flung out his hands to save himself. A horrible cracking noise reached my ears and he curled into the fetal position, clutching his arm to his body.
I dragged the assault rifle free of the unconscious man’s grip, took the ammunition magazine from the second man’s gun and collected the extras they carried. Mouse followed my lead.
The closer to the exit we got, the more light crept into the building. The siren cut out, a welcome quiet flooded my ears. We slowed, taking extra care not to make a sound.
It was almost as bright as daylight when we reached the outer wall. I peered around the corner and pulled straight back. The space between the building and the trees was illuminated by the bright, white glare of floodlights. In the center of the grass sat our car. Jake lay before it, his hands and feet bound, eyes closed. Nothing moved and I couldn’t see anybody else, but we weren’t stupid enough to make a break for it.
Jake was the bait and they wouldn’t hesitate to kill him to get to us.