The Missile Strategy | Chapter 12
Tate shoved through people. He was losing speed because of the pain in his leg. Gwen was closing in fast. He crashed through an Authorized Personnel Only door and stumbled down a set of stairs, deeper into the metro. She leapt down the stairs after him. The lower floor was a set of narrow corridors leading to different maintenance areas. The lighting was sparse. Only a few dim bulbs lit corners and parts of hallways. Tate was gone.
Now that she was away from bystanders, Gwen drew her gun. It was eerily quiet on the lower floor. No one else was around. Occasionally, the trains above would rumble past, leaving only a soft drip to fill the silence.
She advanced cautiously. Several doors were only a few steps away. Tate probably slipped into one of these as soon as he hit the bottom of the stairs. She held her breath, straining her ears to pick out a sound that will give him away.
Landon came down the stairs, looked around the dark lower floor. She held her finger to her lips. He nodded. He mouthed, where is he? She shrugged. He pointed to the nearest door and she nodded.
He drew his gun and silently stepped towards the door. He put his ear to it. Nothing. He gripped the handle. Gwen stepped in position to shoot the moment the door opened. Landon turned the handle and pushed the door open. He stepped back as it swung open and raised his pistol. The metal door let out a little creak as it opened up, revealing an empty storage room.
They moved on to the next door. They followed the same procedure. Landon pushed open the door and stepped back. The small room was full of pipes, valves, and control boxes. On the floor was a few drips of blood and a broken lock pick. In the corner was the backpack, unzipped and empty. Landon cursed and stepped into the room. A new and long hallway led away from the room. A few red lights lit the hallway and revealed pipes lining both the walls and the ceiling.
“This way,” Landon whispered, starting down the hallway. Drips of blood lead a trail down the passage. Halfway down the hall, the blood trail ended. Landon realized the situation a second before it happened.
Tate jumped out from behind a thick cluster of pipes with his knife flashing in the red light. Landon jumped back as Tate slashed at him. Tate advanced with every swipe, while Landon ducked and dodged backwards trying to get some distance.
Gwen was fifteen feet away from the action. She tried to follow the fighting with her gun, ready to drop Tate the moment she had a shot.
“Get down!” She yelled to Landon. He threw himself backwards, falling to the floor and sliding away from Tate. Gwen opened up her gun, releasing a flurry of bullets at him. Tate anticipated this maneuver, and dropped to the ground at the same time as Landon. Several shots ripped holes in the piping on the walls. Bursts of steam jetted out of the pipes, concealing Tate and Landon in a cloud. She held her fire and searched the mist for her target.
Landon shielded his face from the initial blast of scorching steam. He looked down the hallway, hoping to see Tate in a heap. Instead, Tate materialized out the steam cloud with his knife held high. In an instant he was on top of Landon, ready to kill. He thrust the knife down at Landon’s heart. Landon reacted just in time to save himself. He grabbed onto Tate’s hands, holding the knife an inch from his chest. It took all of his strength to delay his own death. Tate leaned on the knife. His face was close to Landon’s, his vivid green eyes were blood shot from the struggle and the steam.
Landon felt the tip of the knife against his chest. He was loosing the battle. He twisted the knife to the side, aiming it harmlessly away from his heart. Tate cranked down harder and brought the blade back into position. Landon felt the cold edge again, and this time it pressed against his skin with every breath he took. His arms were burning with fatigue. He jammed his knee into Tate, hoping to open a window of escape. Tate didn’t even seem to notice.
At last, Gwen stepped through the fog and delivered a powerful kick to Tate’s side. He flew off of Landon and hit the wall of pipes.
“Don’t move!” She yelled, aiming her gun between his eyes. He stared back down the barrel defiantly. Landon got back to his feet, breathing heavily. His arms shook from the struggle.
Gwen took her eyes off Tate for a split second. He flipped the knife around in his hand and grabbed it by the blade. He snapped his wrist and threw it at Gwen. Landon saw it happen and shot his hand out, shoving Gwen out of the way. The knife flew past her head with an inch to spare. It clanged against the wall behind them. Tate was already on the move before it hit the ground. He vanished into the smoke.
Gwen and Landon tore after him. Tate was now unarmed, giving them the upper hand. They rushed through the lingering steam cloud in the hallway and caught a glimpse of Tate at the other end. He clutched a small case under his arm. It was the contents of the backpack that he had stashed further down the hallway. He disappeared around the corner.
They sprinted down the hall. Both of them rounded the corner with their guns ready. A door at the other end clicked shut. A bright red Emergency Exit sign hung above it. Their shoes echoed as they pounded to the door and blasted through it. The door led to a short and steep staircase, at the top was final door to the outside. It was still swinging from when Tate exited just seconds before them. They lunged up the stairwell and catapulted through the doorway. It led them the metro’s overflow parking lot. Tate was blazing through parked cars towards his own vehicle. Landon dug his keys from his pocket and threw them to Gwen.
“Get my truck!” he said as he took off after Tate. Gwen split away as Landon threaded through the cars. He jumped over hoods and squeezed between vehicles. He was gaining on Tate. The leg wound Landon had inflicted on Tate was opening up more from all the aggressive activity. The conversation with Gwen about Brad Lockman came to mind as Landon pursued. Brad showed signs of minimal training and strategy in combat. Tate, on the other hand, must be well trained. He constantly ducked and dodged, never giving Landon a line of sight to shoot his pistol. The way he threw the knife, how he ducked under Gwen’s gunfire, and how he could disappear in a crowd to gain the advantage. It all pointed to training and experience.
Landon could hear a car beeping as it unlocked. He ran out from between to vans to see Tate jumping into his black and red Ford Mustang. This was not a car chase Landon would win. He raised his pistol and unloaded into the car. Gunfire immediately returned from the car. Tate had a pistol stashed in his vehicle. Landon recoiled back behind the van. He heard the powerful engine of the mustang rip to life. Tires squealed and smoked as Tate jammed down on the accelerator. He drifted out of the parking space and Landon stepped out again. He fired the last few bullets into the car as it raced down the parking lot.