Guy unlocked the cage door, keeping his hands in sight. From the cheerful expression on his face, he obviously didn’t think we’d shoot him, but he wasn’t stupid enough to test his theory. As we walked through the door, he tossed the bunch of keys to Nicole before lifting his hands again.
She plucked them deftly from the air and passed them to me, keeping her gun trained on him.
I unlocked the cages and cupboards within the armory and the general supplies area. Briana stood guard at the entrance, while Mouse and I set about collecting the items we’d need for our escape.
“Three minutes, thirty-three seconds,” I said, checking the remaining time on my watch.
We pulled four large packs from the wall and filled them with supplies. Each of us had an array of weapons, specifically crafted for our use. They’d given me my first handgun for my eighth birthday. I’d had plenty of time to learn how to use it.
“You probably have about ten minutes until they send this place into complete lockdown.” Guy sat but kept his hands in the air. “You need to be quick.”
“We’ll be long gone by then,” Nicole said. “We took down five in our room and one in the hall. How many more do you think there will be?”
“Not entirely sure,” he murmured, half to himself. “Maybe another two dozen hired guns in total. No clue how many tech staff, though.” He shifted in his seat. “You’re not gonna shoot me if I lower my arms, are you? They’re going tingly.”
“Go ahead.” Nicole didn’t lower her gun.
Ripping open the metal door of my cupboard, I peered at the contents. I extracted my sword and set it against the wall. It was too big for my bag. A sheath of matte black throwing knives fit, though, and couple of aerosol cans containing a concentrated knock-out gas followed. I tossed the guns I’d been using into the pack as I found my customized pair of .45 caliber SIG Sauers. I strapped holsters to my thighs and slipped my guns into place.
I tossed half a dozen magazines into the pack along with boxes of ammo. I lifted a tactical vest from the wall of the locker and tugged it over my head. There was no reason not to make use of the extra protection.
Guy watched, swinging side to side on the rickety computer chair, as I dropped a compact crossbow into the bag with a few bundles of bolts, a couple of holsters, sheaths and additional knives.
I moved to the next locker and started the process again with Briana's gear.
“Two minutes forty,” Briana called from her post. “Don’t forget my axes!”
We all had different weapon preferences; I liked my sword, but Briana carried a set of small axes for her bladed weapon. Nicole liked tanto knives and Mouse preferred three-pronged sai.
I left the axes at the very top of Briana’s pack before moving into the outer room again. I collected rope, a climbing harness, a L.E.D headlight and a blanket. I strapped the sword to my back so the handle protruded over my right shoulder, closed the top of the bag and fastened the clips. I lifted the bag over my shoulders, on top of the sword’s sheath.
“We’re good to go,” Mouse said.
We were halfway to the door when Guy stood up. “So, can I come too?”
I froze in my tracks.
“Why would you want to do that?” Nicole asked.
“I’ve known you since you were young,” he ground out. “You’re pretty much my kids and I promised your mom I’d look out for you. Why do you think I’m still here?” He waved his arm around the room. “This was the best I could do after they cracked down on you. They didn’t want anyone around who might actually give a damn about you.”
Guy was the closest thing we had to a father. He’d introduced us to candy after a trip to see his own little girl one day. It was awful when she’d passed away; Guy loved her and his wife more than anything. It took him a long time to even come close to how he’d been before the car accident.
“Hurry up and get what you need,” Nicole ordered.
A smile spread across his face. He reached under his desk and produced a bag. “I always knew I might have to make a break for it.” He slung it over his shoulders. “So, what’s the plan?”
“We’re following the tunnel that leads into the woods,” Nicole said. Her lip curled when Guy shook his head.
“Not a good idea. They caged it over and there’s a checkpoint before you even get there. Not to mention the time it would take to cover the distance between here and the nearest town. You need a car.” He paused momentarily to consider. “Why don’t we drive out?” His tone made it seem like most obvious thing in the world.
“We can’t open the garage door.” Nicole paused. “Well, we couldn’t.”
Guy said nothing, he just nodded at the keys I’d clipped onto my vest with a small climbing carabina.
“Let’s go,” Nicole ordered.
I fished the guns from my holsters, the weight of the cool metal comforting in my hands. Guy led the way to the parking lot. We let him set the pace so we wouldn’t outrun him.
“Shit!” he yelped, rounding the last corner.
He skidded to a halt. I caught hold of him as he tumbled over the edge of a gaping hole and yanked him back.
The fallen tiles littered the floor far below. Something moved beneath the rubble. Body parts were scattered among the debris, including a body whose head and torso was crushed by a block of concrete.
The body was devoid of clothing, deathly white, covered in wrinkles and oddly shrunken. Dark purple veins swirled below the surface of its skin. An arm lay on top of a heap of trash, but something wasn’t right; if someone had been crushed, the amputation wouldn’t look like that.
It seemed like the arm had been torn from the shoulder.
This didn’t add up, and it creeped me out. “Come on. We need to find another way.” I tried to hurry Guy and the others girls along. Our time was almost up and dust scratched my throat.
We turned back the way we came but, before we’d taken two steps, the elevator doors to our right were forced open from within. The screech shook my teeth.
I didn’t want to put whoever it was between us and our escape, but with Guy, our options were limited; he wasn’t fast enough to pass the elevator before whoever was inside emerged. I didn’t want to give them a clear shot at my back, either.
Retreating back to the hole, I raised my gun and waited to take aim. The other girls did the same. Mouse fished an extra gun from the holster at her thigh for Guy, while Nicole shielded him. There were a few guards who had been friendly. Most of those were removed from the facility before we’d been locked away. We couldn’t take any chances.
When it finally crawled out of the elevator shaft, I couldn’t squeeze the trigger.