To Kacie, the sound of the killshot sounded an awful lot like a burst of radio static. In fact, it sounded like two bursts going off at the same time, one from the gunman’s walkie talkie and one from hers. The gunman hesitated as the voice of his partner hailed him.
“Any luck finding the heroes?”
The gunman grabbed his walkie and responded, his other hand still leveling the gun at Kacie’s head. “Affirmative. I’ve got the girl. She’s no longer a concern.” The tendons on his gun hand tightened.
“Hold it. We might need her. Mulgrew’s inside man was actually the one who knew the location of the target; it seems the lunatic didn’t know his disciple was double-dipping. But the little shit has up and disappeared. We can use her instead.”
The gunman hesitated. Kacie noticed that they were careful not to use names unless the names were already known to belong to expendable members of their team. Mulgrew, she surmised, was the madman in the rat lab. But who were the others? And who was the inside man?
Michael, she thought. Of course. But why would they need Michael if they already had access to the lab and the viral stock?
“Can’t we just take her keycard? I don’t like loose ends.”
“She knows the layout better than we do. Bring her here. That’s final.”
“Understood,” the gunman said at long last. His gun never wavered however. He used it now to steer Kacie toward the chemistry department. She bent down to pick up her phone and the gun rang out. The bullet dug a little trench in the tile before skittering off to plant itself in the wall. “Boss says we can use you; doesn’t mean I can’t hurt you if you don’t play nice. Now come along.”
He ushered her ahead of him. They went through the doors that exited from the offices and into the small lobby outside the chemistry wing. Kacie had only been here during her tour and on the occasional interdepartmental visit. She had no clue what they expected from her. As the gunman had her stop outside the door that opened into the lab complex, he radioed someone else.
“Have her try it. Should work now.”
That second voice was almost familiar, she just couldn’t place it. The gunman holstered his walkie and prodded Kacie in the back with his gun.
“Use your keycard.”
Kacie pulled her lanyard out; the keycard dangled from the end of it. To her surprise, it opened the chem lab door. She stepped into a small vestibule with a hand-sanitizer station, a control panel mounted into the wall, and another door that allowed keycard access into the main lab area. It had one rectangular window that looked into the long hallway beyond it. Labs split off from this corridor on either side.
“Now that one,” the gunman said with a nudge. As Kacie reached up to unlock the door, three things happened at once: the ketamine darts finally kicked in and caused the gunman to see three Kacies in front of him instead of one; he stumbled and reached for an insubstantial one while the solid one shoved him backwards out of the vestibule; this Kacie wrenched the gun from his grasp.
As he fell backwards, another man, who looked every bit as hard and capable as this one, came out of the chem lab offices and locked eyes with Kacie. Before he could close the distance, she entered through the second door and slammed it shut. The sound of the locking mechanism engaging was music to her ears. They stood there staring at each other through two inches of safety glass. He actually smiled. If he wasn’t trying to kill her, Kacie might have admitted that it made him seem almost handsome. Almost.
He watched her as she retreated into the safety of the lab. Kacie didn’t know just what she was looking for, how long she had to find it, or how soon the gunmen would find a way through the doors. And of course, she thought, the one person I might be able to get answers out of is locked in a freezer…