"Chance to kill us," I said. "At least for Dreadlocks. Other guys probably his cronies. Came along for the ride."
"We greased two of them. How many do you think he brought?"
"The more the merrier," I said.
"Damn straight," said Mouse and gave a cruel chuckle.
* * *
We rounded the corner and saw it.
The elevator bank.
At the end of another long corridor.
And just before it, another T-intersection.
"Shit," said Mouse.
"I know," I said.
"We're not gonna catch a break, are we."
"Do we ever?"
She barked a laugh and gave me a lopsided grin. "Good point. How are we on time?"
I checked my optic clock.
"A little over half an hour," I said and started forward, the Twins tracking.
"That intersection's gonna be a bitch," Mouse said. "How do we get across?"
"You know he's gonna be at the other end of it."
Crossing the intersection would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
And we'd be the fish.
* * *
Two meters before the intersection, I stopped and put my back to the wall on our right.
"Well?" said Mouse, doing the same.
A thought struck.
I holstered the Twins then groped inside the duffle bag and pulled out one grenade. Dug into my jacket pocket and pulled out another.
Mouse's eyes widened.
And she grinned.
Flashbang in my left hand. Frag grenade in my right.
"Blind 'im then bury 'im," she said. "I like it."
I grinned in reply and held them out to her. "Pull," I said.
She yanked both pins, her grin growing wider, and gave a small, guttural chuckle.
I held up the flashbang. "When this goes, run for the elevator. I'll be right behind."
I edged toward the corner, back still to the wall.
Counted three in my head.
Lobbed the flashbang around the corner.
A burst of automatic fire replied from the far end.
Then the grenade went off. A sun white blast lit up the corridor. Then a bone-rattling thunderclap that reverberated off the walls.
Mouse took off, sprinting across the intersection toward the elevator bank.
A second later, I leaped into the middle of the intersection, hurled the frag grenade down the hallway, then turned and bolted after Mouse.
We ducked into the alcove housing the two elevators and kissed the wall furthest from the entry. Dropped to a crouch and threw my arms over my head.
Simultaneous flash and thunderclap. The floor heaved and bucked and a wave of heat crashed into the alcove raining dust and bits of debris against the walls and floor.
After a few moments, everything was quiet except for my pulse thudding through my skull.
I looked up.
The alcove sat in haze and I could smell something burning down the corridor.
"Fuckin'-A," said Mouse, her voice cracking. She coughed up dust.
I did the same. "Leaves us one more frag."
"In the duffle," said Mouse.
I nodded and drew the Twins. "Elevator."
Mouse padded to the call button.
I watched the entry into the alcove, the Twins up, tracking.
"Shit," said Mouse.
I looked over my shoulder.
Mouse was scowling.
"What?" I said.
She tapped the call button.
It didn't light up.
"Broken?" I said.
Mouse put her hands on her hips, glared at me, then beckoned me over with a finger.
I glanced at the entry, then walked over to her. "What?"
"Press the button," she said.
I holstered the Twins and pressed the call button.
Then did it again.
Then put both hands on the wall.
Nicely done, Sakura.
The entire wall was a photorealistic depiction of an elevator bank. Either a painting or an enlarged image, enhanced by the dim lighting scheme from the fixtures overhead.
"I get to kill her first," Mouse said.
"First we get out," I said. "Then I'll hold her down for you."
"Let's find the real elevator," I said and drew the Twins.
(to be continued...)