Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group) (17 page)

BOOK: Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group)
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Chapter
36

“Damn it.” Carter slammed the cell door against the bars.
The lock was mangled by the explosive and was still too hot to touch, but it
didn’t matter. Gina and Kell were gone. Droplets of blood on the floor outside the
cell evidenced an injury to someone, but to whom, Carter didn’t know.

“Maybe they were moved before the explosion,” Han said.

“No. That blood says someone was here. If the girls were
moved, there’d be no need for a guard.” Carter searched the floor for shell
casings, but found none. His heart unclenched at the possibility they hadn’t
been shot… yet. “All right. We’ll go room by room. They’re in here somewhere.”

Unholstering their tranquilizer guns, they returned to the
long hallway that ran the length of the facility. “There are too many rooms to
check. We don’t have that kind of time,” Jackie said.

Carter tried to put aside his desperation to find Gina. He
needed to be smart about this, and his current panic-stricken state was making
that almost impossible. Looking left and right at the multitude of possible
routes they could have taken, he shook his head.
How the hell am I going to
find you?
Then he saw it.

Running to where another hallway intersected theirs, he
knelt down and picked up a small white flower petal. “This way. She’s leaving
us a trail to follow.” At each hallway they came to, Carter slowed and searched
for another petal. When he saw one, they turned.

“Maybe we should have left ourselves a trail to follow. I
don’t know about you, but I’m completely lost.” Han’s smile didn’t hide his
worry. “Just how big is this place?”

Carter was asking himself the same question. They’d already
travelled at least a quarter of a mile, zigzagging the entire way, and were no
closer to finding the girls than they’d been at the start. The only good news
was that they hadn’t come across any more super soldiers.

A flash of light up ahead caused them to increase their
speed. Although there was no flower petal to be found at the corner where the
light originated, Carter made the decision to check it out. With their backs to
the wall, they used hand signals to communicate. On the count of three, Carter
turned the corner with his pistol raised.

Clear. It was yet another empty hallway. Carter took the
lead—with Han behind him and Jackie covering their rear—as they made their way
forward. When they came to another intersection, the sound of scuffling boots
wafted toward them.

Carter put his finger to his lips and pointed in the
direction of the noise. He chanced a quick look down the corridor before
reporting to his team. “It’s Hancock. Looks like he’s pretty torn up from the
explosion. He’s about twenty yards ahead,” he whispered.

“The girls?” Han asked.

Carter shook his head. “He’s got to know where they are. We need
him conscious. Any ideas?”

Jackie removed a tranquilizer dart from her pistol and
unscrewed the syringe. She poured two thirds of its contents onto the floor,
re-attached the needle, and loaded it into the chamber. “This will knock him
out, but with his advancements, it should only last a few minutes.”

Carter switched his pistol with Jackie’s and took a deep
breath. He hoped at least one thing would go as planned. When he turned the
corner he saw the captain raise his rifle just as a group of soldiers, and
their captives, came into view at the end of the hall.

Mirissa wrenched herself from her guard’s grasp and jabbed
her blade into his shoulder. The injured soldier raised his gun and shot.
Carter watched in horror as Mirissa fell to the floor, followed almost
immediately by the man who shot her. The other two soldiers collapsed seconds
later.

Carter stepped forward and aimed his pistol. His team was
already under attack and didn’t need to deal with Hancock, too. Before he could
pull the trigger, a hand grabbed his forearm and yanked it down. He swung
around to the now-open door beside him with his fist raised. “Gina?”

“He’s on our side. It would be better if you didn’t shoot
him,” Gina said with her usual smart-ass attitude.

Carter grabbed her in a tight hug, then quickly pulled back.
“Stay here with Han. I need to check on my friends.”

Carter ran down the hall with Jackie on his heels. “Coming
up on your six, Hancock. Don’t kill us,” he yelled.

“I’ve known you were coming for two and a half minutes already.
For a wolf, you’re not real stealthy.” Captain Hancock joined them as they
approached their team. “Don’t worry. They were under orders to use nonlethal
ammunition only on your group. She’s just knocked out.”

Relief washed over Carter. Mirissa, pain in the ass that she
could be, had kind of grown on him over the last few months and he wasn’t ready
to lose her. He grabbed a handful of zip ties from his pocket and shoved them
at Hancock. “Here, make yourself useful.”

The Captain raised an eyebrow and said, “You mean more
useful than taking these three guys out of the equation while you played kissy
face with your girlfriend back there?”

Han snorted a laugh behind him as he, Gina, and Kell
approached. “I don’t know why, but I kind of like G.I. Joe, here. Can we keep
him, Mom? Please? Can we?”

Myrine stifled a smile. “Sorry to be the voice of reason,
but we’ve still got work to do, boys.” She looked at Hancock. “I don’t suppose
you could lead us to the general.”

“I can try, but don’t get your hopes up. He and his boys
probably hightailed it out of here after the first explosion.”

“His boys?” Carter asked.

“Yeah. The true believers. Some of these guys”—he gestured
to the men he was tying up on the floor—“are unwilling participants. They’re
controlled by a kind of brainwashing technique and, if necessary, a computer
chip implanted into their brains. But there are a few that follow the general
by choice.”

“And exactly which category do you fit into?” Myrine asked.

“Neither, anymore. I was never overly susceptible to the
brainwashing, and my chip has been failing on and off since they implanted it.
A few weeks ago, it stopped working completely. Since then, I’ve been gathering
information about Persaud’s exploits and waiting for my chance to do something
about it.”

“The general doesn’t know about your chip?” Carter didn’t
try to hide his skepticism.

“Oh, he knows. They’ve been trying to fix it for months.
Every time I questioned an order, or even looked like I might, I was back in
Dr. Powell’s lab. The last time, I let them think their fix worked. Nothing but
‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir’ every day since.”

Myrine stepped forward. “What’s the general’s escape plan,
Captain? And how many men does he have with him?”

“Four, if he only took his lackeys. His chopper is kept in the
hangar where I took you guys yesterday. If he’s leaving, that’s where he’ll
go.”

Carter did the math. “We’ve got three here, six back in the
lab, four with the general, and Hancock. That still leaves twelve men
unaccounted for.” He wasn’t completely sold on the captain’s story but was
willing to give him the benefit of the doubt… for now. “We’ve got a team
looking for the Havasupai and Yavapai tribe members that were taken. Do you
know where they’re being held?”

The expression on the captain’s face deepened. “The holding
cells are along the south wall, but I need to warn you. Of the nine originally
taken, only six are still here.”

“Where are the rest of them?” Myrine asked.

“They died. The researchers ran into complications. I don’t
really know the details, but the first three men they took died early on.”

Carter’s jaw clenched. It was such a waste. He pulled out
his walkie-talkie and pressed the button. “Myrick, the holding cells are along
the south wall. There are six survivors.” Something Carter had almost forgotten
occurred to him and he asked Hancock, “What about the teenage boy they just
took?”

The Captain’s brow furrowed slightly. “I haven’t seen him.”

Carter spoke into the walkie again. “Myrick, be on the
lookout for a teenage boy named Lou. He may or may not be with the others. And
be careful. There are still twelve soldiers on the loose.”

“Aye, aye, Captain. We’ll keep you posted.” Myrick clicked
off.

Mirissa, still unconscious, was hefted over Hancock’s shoulder
with little effort. Carter couldn’t help but smile at the thought of her
reaction when she found out about that.
I am never going to let her live
this down.

Chapter
37

Myrick felt the gradual change in the air as they approached
the holding area Carter told them about. The farther south they went, the
higher the humidity level got.
We must be below the Colorado River’s water
line.
The corridor terminated at an oversize metal door. A thin sheen of
condensation covered steel that looked to be as old as the facility itself.

Myrick grabbed the handle and gently pushed. The door moved
smoothly, with no creaks or grinding. It was old but well maintained. He looked
to Asteria and Ken, received nods in response, and eased the door all the way
open on well-oiled hinges.

The space on the other side of the door looked as though it
was from another time. Gone were the white walls and tiled floor, replaced by
jagged rock. The room was only about thirty feet deep, but at least triple that
in length. The cells housing the prisoners, outlined in iron bars embedded in
the rock at eight-inch intervals, ran across the back wall.

Six men of varying age stood as they entered, grabbing hold
of the bars in front of them.

“Does anyone else think this has been a little too easy?”
Asteria’s eyes darted from side to side.

Myrick felt the same way but saw no alternative than to move
forward. “Just be on the lookout for those soldiers.” He looked at the men in
the cages. They didn’t appear happy, but there were no outward signs of injury
or mistreatment.

“The keys are hanging on the wall down there.” A man in the
cell on their right pointed to the end of the room.

Myrick nodded and took a step to the left. Slight movement
in the cell with the man who’d just spoken caught his eye, and he stopped. The
man’s cellmate, standing a few feet to his rear, was slowly shaking his head.

Ambush.
Myrick inclined his head slightly to show the
man he understood, then turned to his team. “I guess we got lucky. Let’s get
these boys home.”

One corner of Asteria’s mouth curled upward. She’d always
been the impetuous one, facing every battle like it was a game to be beaten,
and this was no different. She almost looked relieved that they were going to
see some action.

Ken, on the other hand, turned serious. He wasn’t afraid of
a fight—he’d proven that many times—but he was pragmatic. Myrick could see his
brain ticking over the possibilities and designing solutions to every perceived
problem.

Myrick took a quick inventory of the room. If they were
going to be attacked, it would have to be from the outside. There were no
apparent hiding places for any soldiers and no visible doors other than the one
they’d come through. “Asteria, watch the door. Ken, check on the men. I’ll grab
the keys,” he said. With that, he trotted over to the hook on the wall. At
first glance, it seemed like a basic metal hook drilled into the wall. When he
grabbed hold of the ring of keys, however, a pressure sensor activated with an
almost inaudible click.
Bloody hell.

The light bulbs, strung along the length of the ceiling,
immediately went dark, and Myrick heard a loud clanging sound as the heavy
metal door slammed shut. He grabbed the flashlight from his belt, ran to the
closest cell, and fumbled with the keys until he found the right one. The two
men inside bolted out, ripping off their clothes as he moved to the next
chamber. Before he had the second lock opened, the freed men had shifted into
bears. Although Myrick had become accustomed to Carter’s wolf over the last few
years, having enormous brown bears padding around the floor beside him was a
little unnerving. The next two captives shifted into wolves as soon as they
were out.

When he got to the last cell, he paused. The man who had
pointed out the keys looked at him warily. Two bears and two wolves stood at
Myrick’s side, growling and pawing at the floor. As soon as the door was open,
the other man pushed the traitor out. He pulled a long knife from his pants and
swiped at the closest bear, but he was outmatched. As a group, they pounced.
Their claws tore at the man’s chest, and their powerful jaws ripped flesh from
his bones. When they were finished with him, his limbs were bent at impossible
angles and he was covered in blood and tufts of fur.

“Remind me never to get on your bad side,” Myrick said.

“He’s not one of us. He’s a soldier. When the alarms went
off, three of them came in here and took Jackson. That guy changed clothes with
him and took his place in our cell. I’m sorry we weren’t able to warn you.” The
man, who’d given them as much warning as he dared, looked humiliated.

“You did warn us. Thank you. Now, we need to figure out how
to get out of here.”

“About that,” Asteria called from the doorway. “I’m gonna
need a little help.”

Myrick lead the way to Asteria’s side and immediately saw
the problem. When the trap was sprung, she’d jammed her ring’s blade into the
frame to stop the door from closing. Now she was stuck. Both he and Ken grabbed
the handle and pulled, but the metal door didn’t move. “It must be mechanized. Can
you withdraw your blade?”

Asteria shook her head. “I already tried that. It’s jammed
too tight. Try shooting out the hinges.”

Ken pulled his rifle while Myrick used his body to shield
Asteria. The rifle’s blast was deafening, and shards of rock exploded in all
directions. The hinge, however, looked undamaged. “No good.”

“Something’s not right. What was their plan? To trap us in
here? Their man would have been trapped with us. What were they hoping to
gain?”

“I think I can answer that,” said the only captive who had
yet to shift. “A couple of months ago we tried to escape. When the guards came
to bring us to their lab, we attacked them. It was a stupid plan, really. We
just needed to try something instead of waiting for help that we thought would
never come. Anyway, before we got a few feet out of our cell, this door slammed
shut and gas poured in from the ceiling. When we woke up, we were all locked
back in our cells, with a few extra bruises.”

“So, the gas isn’t released until the door closes. It makes sense.
They wouldn’t risk it leaking into the rest of the facility. When Asteria
stopped it from closing all the way, she stopped the gas.” Ken looked at
Asteria. “Nice job.”

“Thanks, but not helpful. How are we going to open this
door?”

Myrick grabbed the walkie-talkie, pressed the button, and
spoke. “Myrine, we’re stuck in the holding area. Can you send some assistance?”
He waited a moment for her response, then tried again. “Myrine, can you hear
me?” Still nothing. “Looks like we’re on our own.”

One of the bears nudged Myrick with his snout and started
nibbling on his belt. “Whoa, there lad. You haven’t been in prison long enough
for that.” The bear let out a loud snort.

Asteria laughed. “I think he wants you to remove your belt.”
The bear nodded and began tugging at Ken’s belt next. “And yours, too, it would
seem.”

Myrick started to make another quip until he realized what
the bear had in mind. “Good thinking, big guy.” When both men had their belts
removed, Myrick slid one’s end into the buckle of the other,
making
sure they were tightly buckled together. He then looped the other end through
the door handle. Once it was secure, he held the free end out to the bear.
“Have at it, boys.”

The largest bear gripped the end of the leather belt in his
powerful jaws, while the other clenched it a few inches up. Both wolves bit
down in the space that was left. Myrick looked to the last man who simply shook
his head. “I can’t shift,” he said. “They put something inside my brain that
makes it impossible.”

“That explains why the soldier chose you as his cellmate.
We’ll get the general for what he’s done to you. He
will
pay.”

The animals set their paws on the rock beneath their feet
and pulled. Myrick watched the formidable muscles in their backs go taught as
they growled with exertion. Asteria wiggled her blade and exclaimed, “
It’s
working!”

“Keep your blade where it is just in case they lose their
grip,” Myrick said.

The largest bear took a tentative step backward, followed by
the others. The gap between the door and its frame grew almost three inches,
allowing in a beam of light from the hallway. Myrick saw the progress but
wasn’t optimistic. Even if they could spread the gap wide enough to fit
through, there remained one serious problem. It was taking an enormous effort
from all four animals to even hold that door open. How would the bears and
wolves get out once they let go of the belt?

“What’s your name?” Myrick asked the man.

“Clive.”

“Okay, Clive. Where did the gas come from?”

Clive pointed to a vent in the ceiling in front of the
center cell.

“Grab all of the clothes on the floor. We need to block that
vent completely,” Myrick said. Without question, Clive did as he was told.
“Ken, I’m going to hoist you up to the ceiling. I need you to get that vent
cover off and stuff all of the clothes in there.”

Ken nodded and grabbed the knife dropped by the soldier.
Myrick knelt down while Ken climbed onto his shoulders and, with Clive’s help,
rose up until he was standing again.

The vent cover clattered to the floor a few moments later
when Ken used the knife as a screwdriver. Clive passed up each item of clothing
until they were all stuffed inside the shaft, and finally the vent cover to
hold it all in place.

Myrick stumbled as he bent down to let Ken off his
shoulders. “You really need to go on a diet.” He turned to the bears and
wolves. “I’m sure you boys have figured this out already, but you’re not going
to be able to get through that door. You don’t know us, but I need you to trust
me right now. I will get you out of here. We’ve blocked the gas pipe, so you
won’t be knocked out. It’ll take me a little bit of time to break you out, but
make sure you stay in your animal form. What I have in mind will be rough, but
in your current form, you should be fine.”

“I should stay with them,” Clive said.

“No, in your human form you’re too fragile. Don’t worry.”
Myrick put his hand on Clive’s shoulder. “I will not leave them behind. You
have my word.”

The largest bear eyed Clive and inclined his snout as much
as the belt would allow. He took another step backward with the rest of them,
and the door opened even more.

“Asteria, you can squeeze through now,” Myrick said.

She looked at the animals and said, “Thank you,” before
slipping through.

A moment later the gap was large enough for the men, and all
three squeezed through. Myrick stopped half way and looked again at the
shifters who had made this possible. “Hold tight. I’ll be back as soon as I
can.”

All of them watched from the hallway as the heavy metal door
slammed shut, locking four brave souls in the dark, harsh room.

BOOK: Rogue (Book 2) (The Omega Group)
9.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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