End game, p.42
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       End Game, p.42

         Part #5 of Will Robie series by David Baldacci

  “You ever fired one?”

  “No. But I carried one at my old job.”

  She quickly showed him what to do.

  Robie said, “I’ve been counting clicks. We’ve got sixty seconds.”

  Reel handed Blue Man a pistol and an extra mag. Robie passed a pistol to Mateo and shoved another pistol into his waistband.

  He looked up as Malloy came over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. “I can’t believe it’s come to this.”

  “I can’t believe a lot of things about this place.”

  “If we get out of here alive, I’m going back to New York.”

  “Sounds like a good plan.” He handed her a nine-mil and gave her a reassuring smile. “For what it’s worth, Jess and I are pretty good in situations like this.”

  She returned his smile. “Something I already know.”

  Reel called out, “What’s our ammo count?”

  “All told we’ve got a few hundred rounds,” Robie answered.

  “Roger that.”

  She walked over and eyed the door they had used to enter the room. She hurried over to the shelf, ripped off a metal slat, placed one end on the concrete floor, and jammed the other end against the doorknob.

  “Good thinking,” said Blue Man.

  “Every second counts. Robie, any lights?”

  He had just opened a box and held up two plastic flashlights. When he turned them on they emitted weak streams of light.

  “They’re not NVGs but they’re better than nothing.”

  Parry said, “Hell, they’ll give them a direct line to shoot us, even without the damn goggles.”

  “That’s why we’re going to use them in a different way,” said Robie in a low voice.

  Blue Man said, “I can help tactically.”

  Robie and Reel stared at him expectantly.

  Blue Man continued, “Years ago, because of my professional status and due to some national security issues, I toured the silo and was even given some blueprints of the facility, which I kept in my cabin. I studied them when I realized that this place might be the center of what was going on.” He pointed toward the far door. “Once we leave this room there’s a long corridor to the right. The second door on the left will take us through a series of other doors and passages, to what was the maintenance wing of the complex. That’s also where crew quarters are located. It’s a rabbit’s warren of spaces, which might give us some tactical cover.”

  Reel looked at Robie. “And also the possibility of ambush.”

  “Right.” He looked at Blue Man.

  “Ready?” said Reel. “Let’s go.”

  She took point, opened the door, and slipped through it. The others followed in single file, with Robie bringing up the rear.

  “They’re gonna kill us all,” said Lamarre. “You know that.”

  Robie, who was directly behind him, gripped his shoulder and said, “Just so you know, they killed Beverly Drango. Shot her and threw her body in a Dumpster in an alley in Denver.”

  Lamarre whirled around. “They…they killed Bev.”

  “Yeah. So start thinking about how you’re going to kill them back.”

  Reel called out, “Robie, you want to test this thing?”

  “Just thinking the same thing.”

  Parry looked at Blue Man, who was walking beside him.

  “What are they talking about, Roger?”

  “I’m not entirely sure, but I would rather have them with me right now than an entire Army brigade.”

  “Works for me.”

  Robie dropped back after telling Lamarre to keep going.

  Malloy went with him even though he shook his head and pointed for her to continue on with the others.

  “No,” she said firmly.

  He used the flashlight to briefly illuminate where they had come from. Then he balanced the light on a broken piece of brick on the wall so that it was about eye height, with the weak beam pointed in the direction of where they had come.

  He stepped back and took aim with his pistol after motioning to Malloy to get down on her knees.

  He heard banging.

  They were breaking through the jammed door.

  Robie counted to five as he envisioned them crossing the room and then opening the door.

  He heard the squeak and waited a few more seconds, allowing them to recon the situation and conclude that it was safe to step out.

  But they didn’t wait. They stepped right out. That surprised him.

  He could see their silhouettes, darker against the dark.

  Robie opened fire, placing his rounds into legs, torso, and head. Ejected rounds from his pistol hit the floor.

  Not a single one of the men he had shot at fell. Instead, they opened fire. The light shattered as they focused on that target.

  But Robie knew with their optics that his hiding place would soon be uncovered. He did the only thing he could do. He grabbed up Malloy and they ran.

  Shots hit all around them, pinging off the walls and ricocheting like pinballs.

  “Robie!” she gasped.

  “Keep going.”

  Robie knew that this was a shit show with a survivability rate hovering near zero. They were in a dark, narrow tunnel, and the people shooting at them had night optics.

  There were several outcomes to this, and most if not all were bad.

  Keeping a tight grip on Malloy’s hand, he banged off one side of the wall and then careened into the other. He followed no pattern because he knew the shooters behind him were looking for that.

  He let go of Malloy’s hand. “Forward roll, now!”

  As he came out of the roll, he felt the burn on his right calf and a similar sensation on his left shoulder.

  He’d been lucky.

  The bullets had grazed rather than entered his body.

  When he looked at Malloy he realized she wasn’t so lucky. Her left arm was dangling.

  “In and out,” she said between clenched teeth.

  He saw the blood flowing down her limb. He gripped her right hand and pulled her along. With his other hand he pulled his pistol and emptied his mag behind them.

  He was immediately answered with more rounds zinging his way. He slipped the pistol into his waistband and tightened his grip on Malloy’s hand.

  They passed one door on the right, then another on his left.

  Right before a barrage of bullets blasted down the tunnel, he pulled Malloy forward and down as the rounds passed overhead.

  They hit the floor and slid. Robie hooked the second doorway with his left hand, cantilevered his body around, and flung himself and Malloy through the open doorway.

  A hand reached down and grabbed his, pulling him up.

  Reel and Robie were eye to eye.

  Robie helped Malloy to her feet.

  “She’s hit,” he said.

  “What the hell happened?” she said. “Did you take some of them out?”

  Robie shook his head. “We’re screwed.”



  ROBIE PUT HIS finger in the muzzle and spun his digit around. Slowly something came out of the muzzle. He held it up as Reel shined her light on it.

  She muttered a curse under her breath. “Restrictor plug.”

  Robie nodded. “That explains the box of blanks you found at Randall’s cabin. The restrictor caused just enough blowback to make the slider functional and enable the ejector to kick the bullets out. That’s what confused me. I hit three of them with no result.”

  He popped the mag and pulled out a bullet. The end was crimped.

  “Gunpowder but no bullet,” said Reel.

  Robie rolled Malloy’s sleeve up and examined her wound. “You were right, in and out.”

  He tore a strip of cloth off his sleeve and used it to stanch Malloy’s wound and then wrap it.

  When he looked up Robie could see Blue Man and the others huddled near a doorway across the room.

  Blue Man approached. “Status?”

  In answer Reel raised her pistol and fired at the ceiling. Everyone jumped but when no bullet impacted the concrete ceiling Blue Man’s features indicated he understood immediately. “So much for a fair fight,” he said. “So what do we do now?”

  “We keep moving,” said Reel. “And we find or make weapons we can use against them.”

  “Let’s go,” said Robie. “I hear them coming.”

  They rushed out through the other door and Blue Man led them through a labyrinth of passages until they reached a steel door. They opened it and moved through.

  “These are the crew quarters,” said Blue Man as they looked around the dimly lit space. There were metal beds, some with rotted mattresses. Gunmetal-gray desks and shelving were aligned in another room they could glimpse through an opening. Cabinets were built into the walls.

  “They must have a generator down here,” observed JC Parry. “To make the lights work.”

  Robie and Reel weren’t listening. Reel was collecting all of the ammo from their guns.

  Lamarre said, “Why are you taking those? Guns are worth shit if you don’t have bullets.”

  “Don’t you get it?” replied Reel. “They’re blanks.”

  “Blanks! We’re in a shootout and we got blanks?”

  Reel didn’t answer. She took the mags over to a desk, set them down, and started searching drawers and cabinets. Blue Man helped her.

  “What are we looking for?” he asked.

  “Anything. Don’t care what it is, just anything,” she said tersely. “And look for a first aid kit. The medicine in there might not be any good, but there might be bandages for Malloy’s arm.” She called over her shoulder. “Robie, this is going to take time. We need to secure our flanks.”

  Robie nodded and said to Blue Man. “Is there any other way in here, other than through that door?”

  Blue Man paused in his search and said, “Down that hall and to the left. It’s the space where the missile would be stored before it would be raised up to fire. There’s another door down that corridor coming off a hallway that runs perpendicular to this space.”

  Parry said, “Raised up? I thought there was a silo that the missile was lowered into.”

  “There is a firing silo, but the missile was kept on its side and then raised up into the silo for firing,” explained Blue Man.

  “Which doesn’t really matter right now, guys,” pointed out Reel as she grabbed things out of the drawers and piled them on the desk.

  Robie motioned to Camilla and Mateo. “Camilla, you help them look for stuff we can use. Mateo, we need to find things to secure the two doors, okay?”

  Mateo looked frightened but nodded.

  Robie looked over some of the things that Reel and Blue Man had pulled from the drawers and cabinets. An old first aid kit was in there. Blue Man took some of the gauze and a roll of tape over to Malloy, who was sitting on one of the beds looking pale and sick.

  Robie grabbed a roll of gray duct tape, then snagged some wooden boards that had formed the shelves of a storage unit against one wall.

  He broke two boards in half, leaving jagged edges on each one.

  He handed them to Mateo.

  Next, Robie stepped to the door they had come through. He listened at the metal and then cautiously opened it and did a quick turkey peek. If there was someone out there he couldn’t see or hear them.

  He wrapped the outside doorknob over and over with the duct tape. Then Robie closed the door and took a board from Mateo. He jammed it under the door’s bottom edge on the right side. He inserted the other board into the doorjamb and wedged the other end against the floor. He unlocked the door and tried to pull it open. It didn’t budge.

  He locked the door.

  “Okay, that’ll have to do. Let’s go take a look at the other door.”

  As they passed by Reel, Robie could see that she had taken Parry’s and Blue Man’s glasses and had broken the plastic lenses and filed them to a jagged edge.

  “Give me some of that duct tape, Robie,” she said.

  He did so and watched as she used the tape to secure a shard of the plastic to the end of a rifle barrel from which she had broken off the wooden stock. She handed it to Robie.

  “Best I can do right now. I hope to have more soon.”

  He nodded, and he and Mateo headed off.

  When they reached the second door into the space, Mateo said, “If we block off both doors, doesn’t that trap us in here?”

  “It could. But until we can equal the playing field we have to secure our flanks first. I’m hoping we get the chance to attack these suckers, but we’re not there yet. So we make them come get us.”

  Robie did another quick turkey peek out the door.

  This time the result was totally different.

  Robie’s hand moved faster than the eye could follow. It did so after years of training and fieldwork that demanded that he be able to do this or else die.

  The shard of eyeglass lens cut right across the throat of the man who was standing on the right side of the door.

  Blood spurted out from the man’s slashed throat. His hands went up to his neck and his rifle dropped to the floor. Before it could hit, Robie caught the rifle and with his other hand he grabbed the man’s collar and jerked him through the open doorway.

  He kicked the door closed as bullets slammed into it.

  Robie laid the man on the floor as he called out to Mateo to wedge the boards under the door and lock it.

  Mateo rushed forward to do so.

  Robie knelt next to the man, who was gurgling with blood in his throat. The man stared up at Robie, panic in his eyes, but also an emerging resignation.

  Robie took the man’s sidearm and held it against his temple. But he didn’t pull the trigger. He didn’t have to. The man’s eyes became fixed and his mouth sagged as he finished bleeding out.

  Robie looked back over his shoulder and saw Mateo frantically wedging the boards under the door and into the doorjamb.

  Robie took the man’s night optics, rifle, and spare ammo. He also took a sheathed knife from the dead man’s belt.

  “We’re starting to even the playing field,” said Robie.

  “He’s…he’s dead?” asked Mateo, slowly straightening.

  Robie headed off without answering. Mateo followed more slowly after giving a backward glance at the dead man.



  REEL AND THE others had been busy.

  Blue Man had fashioned a makeshift knife using a piece of wood, duct tape, and a long sliver of jagged metal he had found in an old toolbox.

  Reel had used a pair of rusty pliers and an old vise bolted to the top of a worktable to extract all the gunpowder from the blanks. She had placed half the powder into a canvas bag they had found under one of the beds. The other half she had put in an empty paint can. She then added to
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