(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)
“Hurry up before the window closes,” Cassidy whispers as they dart across the street and into the open field. She slows down when they come to a toppled fence, which creaks with every step. “We have less than an hour before dawn, so come on. Eleri said the night shift is lazier around this time and only swings the spotlights once every five minutes. That’s not much time to get across the cleared space and reach . . . Stop humming that song. For the last time, I never played that video game, so it means nothing to me.”
“Just trying to set the mood,” Lloyd replies while he adjusts his backpack. Following his partner’s movements, he hunches over as he runs and holds his fingers like they are a gun. “I still think we’re unprepared as far as supplies go. We really need two cardboard boxes, cigarettes, a tranquilizer gun, sparkle grenades, and magic bandanas. Oh, and you really should grow some scruff to fit the part.”
Seeing a spotlight sweeping towards them, Cassidy tackles her partner behind a group of rocks that are near another fence. Creeping around the corner, she throws a stick at the barrier to make sure it is not electrified. Following Eleri’s directions, she crawls along until she finds a hole big enough for a child. After taking a quick look at Lloyd, Cassidy knows that he would get stuck and she would probably rip her black clothes. Using some small shears, she goes about making the breech big enough for both of them to fit. Her hands ache from the tension and rough metal, which cuts her fingers several times. Once she is done, the mercenary waves for her friend to follow and crawls through only to find Lloyd already on the other side. She scowls when he mimes climbing the fence, half of his movements resembling humping motions instead of shimmying up the stable support pole.
Not wanting to approach the building from the front, they run to the side and wait for a chance to sprint to the final fence. Spotting an open door with a sleeping guard nearby, the pair hurry inside and continue weaving their way toward the northwestern wall. The spotlights are focused more on the outer edges of the property, so the intruders reach their destination without having to stop and hide. A gunshot abruptly goes off above their heads, making them fear that they have been spotted. Pressed against the wall, they look up to see a pair of guards laughing and firing at a herd of deer in the field. Distracted by the animals, the two women pay no attention to Cassidy and Lloyd opening a recently added door that has a faulty lock. Even when the entrance bangs closed, the soldiers think it is only the wind and go back to their half-hearted patrol.
“Eleri wasn’t kidding when she said the security was terrible at this time of day,” Cassidy whispers as she feels her way around the room. Not wanting to turn on a light, she does her best to figure out where they are while her eyes adjust. “Most of the guards must be on the inside and they’re depending a lot on the fences and walls. A lot of shelves here, so I’m guessing a supply room and deliveries are made over there. Seems like bad planning since it means there’s another place to breech. A lot of bottles and paper towel rolls here. Why are you being so quiet, Lloyd? I really hope you’re in here somewhere.”
“Checking the lock here,” the serial killer replies from the other side of the room. Moving with less care than his partner, he bangs into a collection of empty canisters that he scrambles to keep from falling over. “Somebody sabotaged the thing, so it’s easy to undo. My guess is that our friend isn’t the first one to escape. Probably have a map hidden behind a bathroom mirror or something. Hope she’ll be okay in the jeep by herself. I know you childproofed all of the weapons, but she was a bit too happy to see our arsenal.”
“Kids aren’t what they used to be, but she’ll be fine,” the mercenary hisses from the other door. She opens it a crack to find they have to enter an enormous lobby with guards patrolling in every direction. “She didn’t mention this part. I count twenty-five enemies and they’re all armed to the teeth. They have bulletproof vests and protective helmets too, which feels like cheating these days. I see a freight elevator in the middle, but there’s no way for us to get there without being caught. Eleri said the Lawmakers live in the basement. How the fuck did she get out of here?”
Lloyd pulls out a flashlight and turns it on, his hand helping to mute the light. “She said they had her clean the tubes. Everything here is for cleaning, so she was probably allowed to come into this room without suspicion. Not sure why nobody would fix the door after she got out since that’s the obvious problem. It’s possible they don’t check this room when there isn’t a delivery, so it never crosses their mind. At least we have an escape route, but I’ve got no clue how we can reach the basement without collecting new orifices. It’s dawn, so maybe a shift change will happen.”
“Breakfast time!” a man screams over the intercom.
“Thank god, I’m starving,” a guard mutters as they pass the closet.
“Don’t complain because we get paid for doing nothing,” a woman points out with a laugh.
“Yeah, I still don’t know why those Lawmakers need security.”
“A bunch of paranoid fossils who think they’re still important.”
“Careful. Never know when the spineless one is listening.”
“Ah, he’s probably still asleep. If he wasn’t then he’d know we all take lunch at the same time and stop us.”
Doors slam shut around the lobby and Cassidy is about to sneak out of the closet when she spots a final guard. The man is on the far side of the room where he swipes his card through a reader on the wall and types into a keypad. An echoing beep starts and he sprints for the nearest exit, the sound getting more rapid by the second. The guard escapes the lobby an instant before a network of moving lasers turns on. Cassidy opens the door in the hopes of getting to a nearby desk, but leaps to the side when she spots a crimson beam coming toward them. She puts her back against the wall and waves for Lloyd to do the same, the pair flanking the door while they watch the security system occasionally sweep into the room.
“I’ll start talking in a Scottish accent while you try for Welsh,” Lloyd jokes as he keeps the door open. He leans around to get a quick look at the lobby, ducking back before a laser touches him. “On the plus side, they’re only sensors, so we can touch them without getting hurt. The pain comes when a small army barges in brandishing pancakes and assault rifles. You know, kid, this isn’t really our type of stealth. I can sneak around in the dark, but this is security that only a thief would know how to get through. One of those sexy, bendy acrobats that wear clothes that leave nothing to the imagination, but have that one loose part that they have to suddenly pull away from a laser.”
“Give me a minute,” Cassidy says, grabbing a nearby chair. She stands on it and peeks outside, the lasers angled too low to hit her. “I don’t see a pattern here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Unfortunately, we have to get moving or we’ll be back to figuring out how to kill twenty-five guards without dying. That’s if they don’t post more during the daylight hours. What about making a break for the elevator?”
The sound of screeching metal makes the mercenary jump and nearly fall into the path of a laser. A door jamb is keeping the door open and there is no sign of Lloyd beyond his shadow occasionally coming into view on the far wall. Climbing down from her perch, she walks along the edge of the room to avoid the probing security system. When she comes around to the other side, she finds the serial killer in the corner with a grating in his hands. Taking the flashlight off her belt, Cassidy pokes her head into the shaft and looks around for handholds. All she sees are cobwebs, rat feces, and the few places to grab are covered in rust. Wondering how far it goes, she points at a bottle of bleach for Lloyd to get and promptly tosses it into the air duct. They both listen to the bouncing that seems to go on for several minutes, the noise fading away instead of stopping abruptly. Putting the grating back in place, they both go back to Cassidy’s original spot and prepare for the inevitable.
“There’s only two desks and a potted plant in our way,” the mercenary says while moving into position. She gestures for Lloyd to get closer to the exit, stopping when he bends down to tie his shoe. “You go first since you’re stronger and the backpack makes you slower. Flip the desks out of the way and just kick the plant. Doesn’t look like it’s real anyway. I’ll be following with my guns ready in case there are guards hiding on the upper floors. Whatever you do, don’t slow down. Just run for the elevator, hit the button, and get inside.”
“Lucky for you, I’m out of jokes and have no better ideas,” Lloyd replies, drawing a slender knife. Once the doorway is clear of lasers, he steps out and hurls the weapon, which strikes the elevator button. “Just that one addition. Hike up your skirts and run for your life. Ugh, that was terrible. Can I get the knife back and try again?”
Cassidy shoves her partner into the lobby and the pair rush toward the elevator, the desks and potted plant having no effect on their speed. Bells and claxons go off throughout the building while the lasers move more erratically. The pair are surprised to hear guards shouting already until they realize that one of the walls is a one-way mirror. Not waiting to be attacked, Cassidy unloads a clip at the glass, which falls away to reveal the cafeteria. Only one luckless man slumps over, the rest of her shots doing more damage to a fully stocked salad bar than the confused soldiers. Their enemies are still scrambling for their guns when the elevator opens and the pair leap inside. Cornered and hearing pounding footsteps heading towards them, Lloyd bangs on the button for the basement while Cassidy repeatedly leans out to return fire. She grabs one of the two grenades off her belt and tosses it at the largest cluster of guards, who scatter before the explosive goes off. The pause gives her time to reload and get a few shots off before the elevator is struck by machinegun fire.
“Uh, the doors won’t close until you stop leaning outside,” Lloyd casually mentions. He yanks his friend back and kicks the button a final time, the gentle sound of swishing doors music to his ears. “That could have been better, but at least we’re alive, unperforated, and have no idea what’s next. Gotta love the power of the protagonist. Doesn’t matter what danger we’re up against. We’ll always come out unscathed.”
“Is your arm bleeding?” Cassidy asks, pointing at the serial killer.
“Ye literary gods have forsaken me! I must tell my life story while coughing and then my path shall come to an end.”
“It’s a flesh wound, dumbass.”
“You sure I’m not lung shot?”
“I might have failed my biology final, but I’m certain that you’re fine.”
“In that case, can you give me a pink bandage for my boo-boo?”
“Shut the fuck up, Lloyd.”