"Go," I said to Donovan and Danny.
Donovan grabbed Danny's hand, then snatched the Benelli and shell bandolier off the table.
I grabbed the extra M4 rifle and held it out to Mouse.
She made a face but took the rifle and some spare mags and followed Donovan and Danny toward the safe room.
Jake was shoving spare M4 magazines into tac-vest pockets and the drop-leg pouch.
I grabbed six spares for the FAL, shoved them into a pair of open-top triple-magazine pouches, stuck those into a thigh pocket, then picked up the rifle. "I'm headed up."
Jake nodded. "I'm down here."
"Keep in touch." I pointed to the throat mics.
"You got it."
I bolted into the foyer, down the hall, and up the stairs, two steps at a time.
* * *
From my spot in an upstairs bedroom on the right side of the house, I peered out the partially opened window. I could see the main gate and the road beyond leading out toward the main highway.
"Mouse?" I said over the mic, still watching the road.
"They're locked in," she said. "I'm below you."
Then I saw them. A pair of vehicles rumbling up the road, kicking up dust in their wake. Dark SUVs.
"Here they come," I said.
"I see them," Jake said.
"Got a bead," said Mouse.
The SUVs closed on the gate.
"Gonna ram," said Jake.
The lead SUV lurched forward with a burst of speed and crashed through the gate, knocking it off its track, but still attached at one end. The second SUV followed a few meters behind, then shot forward until both vehicles were side-by-side.
"Light 'em up," I said.
And squeezed off a rolling burst of fire at the second SUV, walked it from the car's front grill, up the hood, into the windshield. Sparks, metal, and glass exploded from the car and the windshield shattered.
The SUV slewed to a skidding stop, angled toward the house.
From below me, another burst stitched holes across the exposed side of the car, then blew out the rest of the windows.
To my left, the dull whump of an explosion.
Jake's grenade launcher.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw dirt geyser. The lead SUV caught air, flipped onto its side, and skidded several meters across the dirt with a shriek of metal.
Movement from the second SUV.
A shape. Other side of the vehicle, near the hood, half-hidden by smoke and flames pouring out of the SUV's interior.
The shape slid out from cover. Mook. In black fatigues. Crouched. Assault rifle tucked into his shoulder, leveled toward the house. He started forward, staying low.
I caught him with a three-round burst, high in the chest. His feet flew out from under him and he dropped.
Spotted another mook coming out from around the back end of the car, sprinting for the house, rifle raised, muzzle flashing.
I swung the FAL toward him.
Heard a long burst of fire from the room below. Rounds caught the mook in the middle of the torso, stopping him in mid-stride. He jerked and flailed as bullets tore through him and shoved him backward.
Something crashed into the driver's side window of the second SUV and the top half of the vehicle exploded.
Then another explosion, to my left.
Looked, saw black smoke rising from the burning hulk of the lead SUV.
"They're down," Jake said over the comm.
"Here, too," said Mouse.
Then four distant peals of thunder.
Coming from inside the house.
Donovan and Danny.
Then a scream.
* * *
I bolted downstairs. Two steps at a time. Three.
Then Mouse crashed through the banister railing and slammed into the wall next to the stairs less than a meter in front of me.
Low ceiling. No clearance.
Shit shit shit shit--
I dove forward. Over Mouse. Hit the foot of the stairs, tucked into a shoulder roll, skidded to a kneeling stop, the FAL swinging up to target.
A figure in black fatigues, tac vest, and balaclava stood in the doorway leading to the saferoom, trading punches and parries with Jake in a flurry of arms and fists.
I checked fire.
A punch rocked Jake back several steps.
Then Mouse was there, in his place, her blades flashing, spinning.
The figure ducked and dodged every strike.
Then Jake dove in again, a combat blade in hand, flanking the figure, blade lashing out.
The figure bounced from side to side, parrying their strikes, the blades never touching him, still planted in front of the door.
No clear shot.
Dammit dammit dammmit dammit--
Then the figure spun, and a whirling kick hurled Jake into the banister, splintering wood, and a leg sweep sent Mouse crashing to the floor on her back.
I emptied the FAL magazine into the mook's chest.
He staggered back two steps, arms crossed in front of his face.
And took it.
All of it.
Then looked at me with blank eyes.
I popped optics to thermo and groaned.
Goddamned chromed mooks.
Popped back to normal.
He took a step toward me.
I was slapping a fresh mag into the FAL when something slammed into the mook from behind and sent him flying across the living room, arms and legs pinwheeling.
(to be continued...)