We headed back into the hallway at a jog.
"On the other side?" said Mouse.
"Could be," I said.
Past the intersection where I'd thrown the grenade, I stopped and looked down the corridor.
Then looked again.
The corridor bent to the left at the far end, leading past the two intersections and toward the elevator that brought us up from the level below. Halfway down this section of corridor, a door stood in the right-hand wall.
I pointed. "That wasn't there before."
"The hell?" said Mouse.
I headed for the door at a quick walk, the Twins still tracking. Reached it. Stepped to the left side of the corridor, nodded to Mouse.
She went to the door. "Looks like it was hidden behind a panel." She felt around the edges and nodded. "Yeah. Flush with the rest of the wall."
"What opened it?" I said.
"Dunno," she said and reached for the door handle.
And Dreadlocks stepped around the corner ten meters away, a feral grin etched on his face, an FN MAG 7.62-caliber machinegun at his waist, leveled at us.
A subvocalized command and the world slid into slo-mo.
Dropped to a crouch and the Twins roared and bucked, sending a hail of .45-caliber slugs down the hallway.
Heard Mouse's MP5 join the chatter with a rolling burst of 9mm lead.
Dreadlocks managed three short bursts from the huge gun before our combined fire crashed into his left shoulder and chest, jerking him back, the machinegun flipping up, arcing fire into the ceiling, sending chunks of plaster and debris raining down in front of him. He fell back around the corner.
"Door!" I said, reloading.
The machinegun's barrel poked around the corner.
I let off several rounds in rapid succession.
Heard the door slam open.
Side-stepped fast and dove through the door, went sprawling across the tile floor of a dimly lit room.
The machinegun opened up again, taking out chunks of the door frame.
Mouse lunged past me, toward the doorway, and hurled something down the corridor, then slammed the door shut and jumped back.
Thunder exploded in the hallway beyond, and the room shook.
I sat up, trying to catch my breath.
Then a huge steel plate crashed down in front of the door.
Heard the distant hum of machinery.
"Now what?" said Mouse, looking around.
I looked up.
The ceiling moved.
"Crap and a half," I said.
Mouse looked up. "Oh, fuck!" she said and emptied a clip from her MP5 into the slowly descending ceiling. Plaster and dust rained down onto the floor.
"That's not going to help!" I said.
She whirled on me. "You got a better idea?"
I looked around. The room was empty. No furniture. Nothing.
What the hell kind of--
"There!" I pointed.
A door, standing on the opposite wall.
"Sonofabitch," said Mouse.
I scrambled to my feet and we ran for the door, skidded to a stop in front of it, almost crashing into one another.
Mouse grabbed the lever handle and turned.
It didn't move.
She rattled the handle and cursed under her breath.
I glanced up at the ceiling. A meter above my head.
Mouse rammed her shoulder into the door twice.
It shook but held.
"Let me try," I said. Mouse stepped back. I cracked a boot against it, just below the handle.
It shook again. And held.
Two more kicks.
The ceiling touched the top of my head and kept going.
I ducked my head, leveled the Twins at the same spot I'd kicked, and fired four times each.
The spot on the door cratered and blew apart in a spray of wood chunks, taking out a section of the door jamb.
I pistoned my boot into the same area and the door flew open.
Mouse and I ducked through and into a short corridor.
And the ceiling inside the room dropped with a crash that shook the floor and walls and reverberated up my legs.
"A little too close," I said.
"Yeah," said Mouse.
I looked around.
The corridor boasted the same lighting scheme as the rest of the complex and ended at a wall two meters to our left.
On the right, the corridor went about three meters then turned the corner.
I went to the bend, the Twins still out, and peered around the corner.
The corridor here ended at a door. From the looks of things, it went back to the hallway on the other side of the ceiling crusher room.
"Kat," said Mouse.
Mouse pointed at the wall directly across from the room we'd just vacated.
I stepped to one side for a better angle.
A section of the wall had slid open.
"What the hell?" I said.
"Opened up the minute you stepped to the corner."
"Sort of," said Mouse.
I went over to where she was standing and saw it.
The wall opened on an elevator shaft. Near the floor was the top third of an elevator car.
Stuck in mid-climb.
I holstered the Twins, stepped onto the roof the car, and looked up the shaft.
Ten meters above us: the opening to the upper level.
"We climb," I said to Mouse, grabbed the cable, and pulled myself up.
(to be continued...)