Diesel placed a finger against her lips and said, “Don’t speak again. Not until I say so.” And he quickly moved forward, giving her no choice but to follow, since they were still tied together. He heard the Chinese words firing rapidly up ahead and heard Jerricho respond.
He looked at her and whispered, “Do you understand Chinese?”
She shook her head.
So far, Jerricho was being treated with respect, so he must have said something, but Diesel didn’t have a clue what. His gear would have given him away if nothing else. But just one male was up against Jerricho and the two scientists with him.
As Diesel watched and waited, the lone man lifted his rifle and held it against Jerricho.
Diesel immediately drew his weapon, and, before the guy could fire, Diesel popped him.
Jerricho looked at him and asked, “What took you so long?”
“I was trying to figure out what was going on,” he said. “Anybody else around here?”
“No, I took two more down.”
“Good. Let’s go,” he said. He looked at the other two scientists. “Move it now.”
Paul struggled to his feet, and Diesel frowned, studying his weakened condition.
“We’ll head to the second floor, where there’s a balcony,” he said. “We’ve arranged to get out that way.”
“Good,” Paul said. “How far is it?”
“Directly above us,” Diesel said, “so not very far.” With that, he led them all back around up to the stairs. They cleared the hallway, moved across to the small sitting room, where the small balcony was, and stepped outside.
No alarms went off. No lights went on. No gunfire was heard.
He quickly dropped down the ropes, looked at Jerricho, and asked, “Do you want to go down, and we’ll take the other two between us?”
He nodded. Jerricho slipped over the balcony with Paul on one side and slowly lowered himself and Paul down.
Eva said, “I can go down on my own.”
Diesel untied the rope from her and quickly wrapped it around Marge. Diesel nodded at Eva to go first. Eva slowly climbed down the rope, keeping it wrapped around one leg, down from knot to knot, until she reached the pavement. After that, he picked up Marge and told her, “Put your arms around my neck, and hang as tight as you can.”
She nodded and buried her face against his neck, and he slowly lowered himself down with the older woman. When they hit the ground, Jerricho came up and helped him to release the hooks up above. They didn’t want to leave anything to show their exit passage.
As soon as they were on the ground and clear, they tied up the ropes and Diesel threw them over his shoulder. Grabbing Eva’s hand, he pulled her off to the side and whispered, “Stay close.”
She nodded. “We are.”
“I know, but what about those two?” He nodded in the direction of Paul and Marge. Diesel didn’t say anything, but Paul still worried him.
As they moved forward, Paul stumbled once and then again. Jerricho bent down, helped the older man to his feet, and asked, “Are you okay?”
Paul shook his head. “I’ll make it. I’ll make it.” But a desperate note was in his voice.
“You didn’t expect to make it out of there, did you?” Diesel asked Paul.
Paul looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean?”
“Just something in your tone, something that’s not quite what I expected.”
Paul frowned at him. “How could I possibly have thought I’d be saved? I’ve been a captive for a year,” he said bitterly.
“I get it.” But Diesel kept an eye on him. He glanced at Jerricho, frowned, and shook his head.
It was enough that Jerricho knew Diesel was disturbed.
As they moved forward ever-so-quietly, Diesel stopped short of a corner. As they came around the corner, Jerricho swept low and Diesel swept high, and then Paul stepped out. Seeing a vehicle, he raced forward. Then came a single shot, as Paul’s head exploded, and he dropped to the pavement.
Jerricho immediately rolled behind another vehicle, and, all of a sudden, he stood, leaned over the trunk of the car, raised his rifle, and he fired off three shots. There was a groan and then silence, before a heavy thud was heard. Jerricho immediately raised his hand and motioned for his partner.
Diesel swept the two women forward into the back seat of the car, as Jerricho jumped into the driver’s side, and Diesel too landed in the front seat.
“Is this your car?” Eva asked from behind them.
“No,” Diesel said, with a grin. “Not sure whose getaway car it is at all.”
“So how do you know it’s safe?”
“We don’t,” he said cheerfully.
“Jesus,” she muttered.
“You want to stay there and discuss it?” Jerricho asked her in surprise.
“No,” she said. She looked at him and frowned. “Did you get him? The man who killed Paul?”
“Good,” Marge said passionately. “Paul didn’t deserve that.”
Diesel looked at Jerricho and shrugged.
“What do you mean by that?” Eva asked him.
“Something was going on with Paul that I didn’t understand,” Diesel said.
Diesel sighed and said, “It crossed my mind that he might have been a spy. He might have been making his life a little easier by tattling on whatever conversations you guys were having in the lab.”
Eva just stared at him blankly.
Marge cried out, and then, in shock and anger, she said, “He wouldn’t do that.”
Diesel looked at Eva and asked, “Would he?”
She stared at him wordlessly, considering his question.
He nodded. “Think about how long he’s been here. Think about what his future looked like. Think about what the hope of actually being released would do for him.”
Eva nodded slowly. “Paul was very conflicted, and we never quite understood why.”
“You can’t surely believe him,” Marge said, motioning at Diesel.
“I don’t know what I believe,” Eva said, turning to look at the older woman. “You know Paul better than I do.”
“Of course I do,” she said passionately, “and he wasn’t the kind to do that.”
Eva nodded. “And again, in your case, would you have done something like that?”
The older woman looked at her in horror.
“Think about it. If you were promised to get out of here in a couple days or a couple weeks, would you have reported on our conversations?”
Marge stared at her, and her shoulders slumped. “I would have,” she admitted. “And honestly I would be very angry right now if that’s what Paul had had for a deal, and he hadn’t shared it.”
“He couldn’t have shared it,” Eva said.
“I hope he didn’t have that as a deal,” she said, “because then that freedom was taken away from him as well.”
“It’s pretty hard not to think about a deal like this,” Eva said to her.
“I really liked him,” Marge whispered.
“So did I, and I certainly wouldn’t judge him for trying to end this hell.”
“No,” Marge said, tears appearing in the corner of her eyes. “He was a good man. I refuse to believe anything different.”
“You don’t have to,” she said gently. “Even if he did whatever he needed to do to get out of here, we can’t hold that against him. You and I both know how terrible it was in there. And we haven’t been here as long as Paul was.”
Marge nodded slowly. “It was so awful.” And she started to cry softly, her tears painful in the silence.
Jerricho turned to check the rearview and side mirrors.
“Are we being followed?” Diesel asked.
“No,” he said, “nothing that I can see.”
“What a mess,” Eva said.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting the Russians,” Diesel said.
“We need to get the word out,” Jerricho said.
Diesel pulled out his phone and sent Shane a message. We are out plus 2. Gunfire in lab building. Probably Russians cleaning house. Need safe house. He turned to Jerricho. “What do you want to tell him?”
“That the Russian kidnapped scientist died a couple weeks ago.”
Diesel turned to Eva. “Do you know any of the details?”
She shook her head. “No, I don’t.” She looked at Marge, but she still sobbed in the corner.
“I’ve asked for a safe place for the night,” Diesel said, quickly reading the answering text.
“Good,” Jerricho said. “We need a place to rest, and I don’t know if the women need medical attention.”
Diesel looked at the other two. Eva shook her head, but then she nodded toward Marge. “Marge, are you okay physically?”
She looked up with tears washing her cheeks, still experiencing heavy sorrow. “I’m okay. If I can get out of here, I’ll be that much better, and I will recover,” she said a little more robustly.
Dale Mayer. Diesel (Kindle Locations 598-675). Valley Publishing Ltd..