Transverse: Part 5 – In Deep

    Wyatt finds himself wounded, weakened, cornered, and on the edge of disaster.       The wind blasted our faces as the car raced up the incline of the tunnel, with Donovan behind

    Wyatt finds himself wounded, weakened, cornered, and on the edge of disaster.

      The wind blasted our faces as the car raced up the incline of the tunnel, with Donovan behind the wheel. Musset sat up front, pale and silent, between Refaeli and Donovan. With the car’s top down, I sat in the back seat and rested the machine gun’s barrel on the edge of the door.

      I shouted to Refaeli over the blast of wind. “Is it the government or the rebels dropping the bomb?”

      She shouted back over her shoulder, her voice edged with panic. “You have to ask?”

      “Their government started this whole mess, so why wouldn’t they be dumb enough to try nuking a city?”

      “Well, it so happens that it’s the rebels…I think.”

      “You think?”

      She looked back, her eyes slightly wild. “You want to try sorting through radio traffic all on your own? These rebels are their troops, using the same comms hardware and procedures as the government. Sorting things isn’t easy.”

      In a flash, we shot from the tunnel and caught air, landing with a squeal of tires and a trailing cloud of dust. We raced down a forested lane in dappled shadow as we passed under the trees. I looked back to see two massive doors, camouflaged to look like the rock face, sliding back into place over the tunnel mouth.

      I turned back to Refaeli. “Do you at least have an ETA on the bomber?”

      “Approximately forty minutes.”

      “With Murphy involved, I give us thirty minutes to Angstrom back.”

      Her voice went up an octave. “Thirty!?” She thumbed at Musset. “We have to get him to their government and warn them.”

      I shook my head. “If they’re lobbing nukes, this is a civil war, not a mutiny. We don’t know who to trust at this point, but I’d bet money the rebels are taking Angstrom to their leaders. We need to take them, or barring that, get Angstrom back and get the hell out of here.”

      “So you’re just willing to let all those people die!?”

      “It’s my job to get him home alive,” I nodded my chin toward Donovan, “not to clean this mess up. They have their own people for that. Besides, can’t you just transmit a warning?”

      “Not from this range.” She shook her head. “I can only receive.”

      “So, we’ll get you in range. I assume you can triangulate a signal?”

      She sniffed. “Of course.”

      I lifted my hands in a gesture of release. “There you go.”

      She frowned and turned back.

      Donovan swerved us onto a highway as the spray of gravel dinged off the fenders. If it weren’t for the impending nuclear fireball, this would’ve been a relaxing drive.

      That is, till the wing mirror came apart in splinters of glass and metal. The crack of a gunshot followed a moment later.

      The roadblock of armored cars and masked men was obvious to everyone, but only my eyes caught the man prone in the grass by the side of the road, his head behind a scoped rifle.

      I pointed past Donovan and shouted in his ear. “Go for the shoulder.” I aimed my finger at the sniper’s position. I lifted the machine gun rested on the opposite door.

      He nodded frantically and yanked the wheel, taking us onto the shoulder of the highway with another spray gravel as we slid past the roadblock. I sprayed the soldiers with gunfire. There was a loud thump and the car bucked. I smiled.

      Scrambling back onto the road, the soldiers returned fire. The car’s windshield exploded outward and holes ventilated the trunk lid. I stood up on the back seat, swung the machine gun around, and held down the trigger as I stitched rounds across their position. Hot brass landed around my feet and the stench of gunpowder filled my nostrils.

      Refaeli looked up at me and lifted an eyebrow. “You done?” Musset’s blank look made it seem like his brain was broken.

      I hefted the crew-served weapon with one arm, grunted, and then broke into a smile. “Might as well enjoy your work!” The adrenaline was getting to me, and having to stack up the bodies of these idiots was the last thing I wanted to be doing. Maybe I discouraged them from chasing us.

      Wishful thinking. After I settled back down, resting the machine gun on the edge of the car’s trunk, a convoy of vehicles came round the end behind us, throwing up dust in their wake.

      I finished one belt of ammo through the machine gun, spent a frantic half-minute fumbling with the unfamiliar weapon, and got another ammo belt seated and loaded. Their return fire took out the other wing mirror and I grunted as a round glanced off the armor on my shoulder.

      I aimed for the windshields, firing off long bursts. While I smashed them up, no rounds made it through—armored glass. But I slowed them as they swerved to avoid the gunfire.

      I was nearly dumped a couple of times as Donovan swerved, with a string of curses, to avoid the hail of bullets falling around us in puffs of dust.

      I turned back to shout at him. “Watch your driving!”

      “You want to switch places!?”

      I had to snort a laugh at that. Who knew it only took mortal peril to get him to loosen up?

      Soldiers leaned out from the vehicles to shoot at us and I spent more rounds persuading them to duck back in. A couple who were too slow on the uptake flopped to the road as I took them through the chest. Then my second ammo belt was spent.

      A stray round took out our back tire and Donovan nearly lost control of the wheel. He was practically standing on the brakes as the car slid sideways and smashed into a tree by the side of the road. One and all, we went flying. Refaeli went sailing out of sight. I didn’t see where Donovan and Musset landed. I tumbled, rolled, and came up on my feet, with the machine gun cradled in my arms…but the ammo belt was missing.

      As our pursuers slowed and stopped their vehicles, I dropped the machine gun and dashed toward the driver’s cab of the front truck, one with a smashed-up windshield. I wasn’t going to let them get the drop on us.

      I drew my monoblade as I yanked open the passenger-side door. I slit the throat of the man I found there, nearly taking his head off. I pulled his corpse forward, pulling his sidearm from the holster, and let his body drop to the ground. I leapt into the cab and used my momentum to thrust my knife through the driver’s eye. I then sliced sideways to take off the top of his skull and pulled his sidearm as I pushed his body out through the open driver’s door.

      With the engine still running, I remembered what Donovan showed me on the executive car and fumbled with the controls. Men would be leaping from the back of the truck, so I threw it in reverse and ran them over. I heard the cries and felt the thump of bodies under the wheels as I dropped and rolled from the driver’s cab and ran alongside to hide.

      Men disgorging from the second truck, now distracted by the horror in front of them, didn’t notice me until I was among them, slicing away limbs and putting bullets through their hearts. The gunfire drew the driver and passenger from the front. I rolled under the truck, shot them in the ankles, and finished each with a shot to the head.

      The soldiers from the third truck, behind the second, finally registered what was happening, but hadn’t seen where I went. I rolled out from underneath the truck’s front, putting it between me and them. Besides my monoblade, I had two pistols—each with one magazine—no backup, nowhere else to run, and I had maybe thirty minutes before we were all consumed in a nuclear fireball.

      And on feeling woozy, I looked down to see I had a hole in my gut, leaking blood.

      I fell to a knee and wondered what I would do next.

To be continued…

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