Connor felt the tremor. The Thin Places shifting as a member of his pack was slain. The anger of Archmoore as his mind was banished from action into the world of between where there was no feeling.
Halling smiled. He felt for Archmoore—he had experienced the pain of nothing. His companion Marduk seemed to exude it. The emptiness…
Connor blinked. It wasn’t like him to be introspective. Not at times like this—with an operation in full swing.
He sat in a van across the street from the last subway station on the line. Monitors lit his solitary form, the blue light lining the edge of his clothes.
Turning his attention to the screen displaying the station where Tobias had been stationed. Tobias was down as he had suspected, his white shirt stained dark, his eyes visible even on the grainy screen of the camera.
He shifted his eyes to view the monitor two places down. Perfect. The next subway was just arriving. A single car.
Connor adjusted a reed mike that sat on the fold-down table before him. He spoke three words. “Team 1. Go.”
Amber started, her hand moving towards her pistol. A Glock 18
There were sounds on the stairs of the subway. Not the quiet steps of a late-coming worker. The unified tromp of boots.
She had heard it before, on the reservation. During dances, when the group of young men and women learned their culture.
But the dancers then had not been dressed in black SWAT armor.
Amber ducked as the three men raised their weapons and a hail of bullets struck the wall to her left. The three spread out, covering the angles. Amber finally managed to get her weapon from its holster and cocked it.
She poked her head out and fired twice, trying to clear a path. Another burst of bullets to the left forced her back…to the right.
What were they saying?
Amber closed her eyes. Sensing. Seeking. A way of escape.
Her head snapped around. A subway, one car. Possibly heading for maintenance. Her way out.
Amber set her weapon to fully automatic. Connor must have called the SWAT in. He certainly had the influence. He wanted to spread the team out. Kill them one at a time.
She would have to move fast. Really, really fast.
She feinted, firing a burst to the left. As she heard the three SWAT men swinging out to return fire she ducked to the right, sprinting for the next pillar. The men seemed caught off guard.
The tile wall shattered directly behind her, a large fragment of tile slicing a thin line across her cheek.
The blood was sucked back into her body almost as fast as it left.
“Faster…” came Iridess’ voice.
A new burst of energy—adrenaline—filled Amber’s legs. She first a long burst, finishing her clip, to keep the SWAT’s heads down.
She dived to the floor, her slick tan overcoat skidding her over the damp concrete. Into the closing doors of the subway car. She lay on the floor, gasping, as the car continued to the next station.
Then she remembered Francisco’s weapon’s training. Always have your gun ready. She loaded and new clip and cocked the weapon.
Francisco sensed the coming of the SWAT team long before he heard or saw them. The sounds of the outside filtered down into the nearly-abandoned station. It had been a rumbled of cars’ engine, horns, the footsteps and voices of passersby. Then it had changed tones.
The clip snapped into his weapon. It was a specially modified pistol—built by old comrades in the jungles. The clip was large—too large to be carried inside the weapon. He carried it in a separate part of his coat. He had another weapon, a small revolver, but he preferred to use it when he didn’t have to prepare himself. Now he did.
The SWAT team came down the stairs, covering each other. They headed towards the waiting area, obviously following whatever information they had been given.
Francisco smirked from behind the vending machine. Organized military always put too much stock in intelligence. They had to be looking for him. There weren’t any other fugitives in New York that warranted the kind of power that a SWAT team could bring.
Francisco knew. If there were he would have been in a bar sharing some tequila with them.
And the SWAT team was alone. No sirens or regular police for backup. So they weren’t on the grid—this was a special mission, unsanctioned.
They were looking for him.
“They are wearing standard-issue NYPD Kevlar SWAT armor. Your pistol will penetrate it easily. Assuming you are accurate, we will we able to end this…conflict…easily.”
Zerihun’s analysis of the situation was cold. “Drop them.”
Francisco raised his weapon, aiming at the back of the first man.
The policeman was probably as good citizen. Maybe an uncle. Maybe a father. Maybe an uncle. A man just following orders. But he was following the orders from the wrong man. The SWAT man was just unlucky. Wrong time, wrong place.
Francisco fired, his custom-made bullets blowing a hole in the man’s back, then his chest. The huge bullets tore through the armor like it was paper.
The second man fell before the last two could turn.
Zerihun steadied Francisco’s arm, calmed his mind. Helped to cushion the jerk of the gun.
The third spun away, his shoulder throwing up a red mist.
The last man got a burst of his weapon off before Francisco’s final shot took him in the gut. He keeled over, groaned.
Walking slowly over to his attackers, Francisco examined his handiwork. Two were dead—beyond saving. But the others might live.
He pulled a cell phone from his pocket and called 911.
Then, seeing the arriving subway car, entered it.