STILL RUNNING THROUGH PHOENIX HALLWAYS
MAN, THIS MUST SUCK FOR REENA
“Come on, we gotta keep moving.” Reena said breathlessly. “I’ll be fine. The sooner we deal with this the sooner I get to medical and get patched up.” I knew she was right. We had to keep moving, or there was no way we’d take down whatever was going on soon enough to save Reena.
“Mac, call Matty. We’re almost to the TAC gear room.” Jack said. He threw an arm around Reena’s waist and we started running again as I called Matty.
“Mac, why is there so much shooting?” Matty demanded. “What’s going on?”
“Three hostiles, non-Phoenix gear. Reena’s hit.” I managed to huff out. “Headed to TAC gear room.”
“There should be some first aid kits in there. As soon as you’re secure, your next priority is getting Reena stable and okay to keep going.” Matty said firmly.
“You got it, Boss.” I said. I hung up as we rounded the corner into the hallway where—thankfully—the TAC gear room was. We slid to a stop and threw open the door. I yanked it shut and grabbed some zip ties, linking several together and attaching the door handle to a shelving unit that I knew was bolted to the wall. When I finished, I turned to see Jack with a first aid kit, its pieces strewn on the ground around him.
“Okay, Ree, we need to get you all patched up, alright?” Jack said as I ran over to them. I sat on the floor by Reena and gently placed her head in my lap. She reached a hand towards me and I took it, squeezing it gently.
“Sorry I had to go and get myself shot.” Reena managed, breaths short and face twisted into a pain-filled smile. Jack worked quickly to bandage Reena’s side, murmuring soft apologies when she hissed in pain.
“You think you’re good to start moving again?” I asked when Jack had finished bandaging the wound and we’d helped Reena sit up.
“I kinda have to be, Mac.” she said. “Don’t worry. I’ve powered through worse.” Reena gritted her teeth and stood up, leaning on me until she could get her balance. Jack handed her his gun.
“Jack, can you get comms hooked up to the War Room?” Reena asked. “I don’t have my rig, otherwise I could probably figure it out.”
“Matty has anyone on a TAC team memorize the War Room frequency for this very reason.” Jack answered. He grabbed some sets of comms that Reena and I pulled out of their cases. “War Room’s on channel 42.438, I’m assuming you’ve both got the app?” Jack said, pulling out his phone. Reena and I nodded, already pulling out our own.
“Matty, you copy?” I asked as soon as my comm beeped to signal the connection.
“Affirmative, MacGyver.” Matty answered immediately. “Reena, you there?”
“Affirmative, Boss.” Reena answered. “Don’t you worry about me.”
“Too late for that. Shoulda said so before you went and got a hole in yourself.” Matty answered. “Do you three know much about what’s out there?”
“Guys, I’ve got two signatures and they’re headed for the TAC room.” Riley interrupted.
“They’re friendlies.” Jack said. He was holding a walkie-talkie from his pack. “They radioed themselves in just now. Mac, let them in.” As if on cue, there was pounding at the door. “Identification?” Jack yelled as I worked on cutting through the zip tie door lock. Like clockwork, two different voices called out their field identification.
“Foxtrot Twelve-Seven!” Jack grinned with satisfaction.
“This is X-Ray Nine-One!” I called back. “I have Alpha One-Five and Sierra Six-Nine. Sierra Six-Nine is injured.” Once we’d finished call procedure, I opened the door and two very large men stormed in.
“Man, is it good to see you guys.” Jack sighed as I found some more zip ties to secure the door. The men were all in the middle of suiting up before I could even finish. Jack had suited up and was helping Reena get her vest on. I pulled a vest of my own on as everyone else grabbed their guns. Reena, despite being almost a foot shorter than me, looked pretty scary with a gun strapped to her thigh and an assault rifle in her hands. The blood coating her hands wasn’t doing anything to lessen the effect, either.
“Matty, do we have any locations on these guys or any information on what the hell they want?” Reena asked. Her breathing was still worryingly labored, but, unfortunately. I didn’t have time to worry about that right then.
“Well, Riley’s been following their signatures since you three ran into them, and it looks like they’re headed for the control room in the center of Phoenix. We’ve notified all of Phoenix, and gotten visual from security camera sent out to everybody, including you guys.” Right on cue, my phone buzzed in my pocket, along with everyone else’s. “You guys need to get to control before they do, because there’s a lot of highly valuable information in there.”
“Copy, Boss.” Reena answered.
“And Reena, after that, I have a special mission for you.” Matty said.
“And that would be…”
“Get yourself to medical.” Reena laughed.
“Copy again, Boss.” Reena said. “Now come on, we can’t lose any more time.” We all nodded at each other. “Listen, if I go down from blood loss or another wound, you leave me behind, understood?” Reena demanded. I shook my head.
“Ree, that’s not happening, and you may as well give up, because you’re losing this fight.” I said firmly, opening the door and poking my head out. I motioned that it was clear and we all filed out, Reena directly behind me.
“Mac, I’ll slow you down.” Reena whispered. “Come find me when Phoenix is safe.”
“Or, we get one of the big strong TAC guys to haul your skinny ass around.” I whispered back. “You’re five foot one and you weigh a hundred fifteen soaking wet. I’ve carried a gear pack bigger than you.” I couldn’t see her face, but I knew Reena was probably rolling her eyes.
“This banter is adorable,” Matty said over comms, “but I need you guys to focus. And besides, I can settle this stupid argument.”
“And how would you do that?” Reena questioned.
“You’re not getting left behind. End of discussion, lightweight.”
“Ha!” I whispered. “It’s an official order now.”
“Guys, I have two signatures at the end of the hall you’re about to turn into.” Riley said. Reena yanked me to a stop and pushed around me. She peered around the corner briefly before turning it completely. I went after her, whisper-shouting her name.
“It’s Phoenix employees!” Reena called softly as I rounded the corner. She whispered something to two women, who ran off in the direction we’d just come from. “I sent them the way we just came. Bad guys shouldn’t cycle back through for a while yet, especially if they’re close to control.” We were back to moving quickly through the halls, coming across a few more employees who were still getting out on our way.
“Okay, you’re coming up on the control room. Only other signatures in the building besides our team belong to the hostiles, and they’re all in and around that room.” Riley told us. We came upon a corner that Reena peered around before pulling back so quickly she nearly nailed me in the chin with the back of her head.
“Mac, we’ve got a problem. There’s two guys outside, and it would be easy enough to just shoot them out, but according to the signatures I checked a couple minutes ago, there’s seven more inside. Using any sort of noise immediately alerts them to the fact that we found them.” Reena whispered to me. “So either you need a quiet plan, or we gotta shoot ‘em and move crazy fast.” I sighed.
“Riley, can you do anything to mess with stuff they’re trying to access, or the stuff they’re using to access it?” I asked. “That would theoretically scramble them enough for us to take out the two guys, get in, and take the rest of them out too.”
“I can lock up everything but basic functioning in there, and I can try to remote access the devices they’re using to get into the mainframe.” Riley said. “And I can lock the door once you’re in there since it’s electronic. You’d be stuck in there, though.” she added.
“Perfect.” I muttered. “Reena, you got two clean shots at those guys?” I asked. Reena peered around the corner for as long as she dared, then turned back to me and gave me a single nod. “On your cue.” I said. “Riley, you got eyes on us?”
“As soon as Reena starts taking her shots, you scramble anything you can. As soon as all five of us are in that room, you lock the door. We’ll signal you when they’re all down.” I told her.
“You got it. Good luck.” Riley answered. Reena took a deep breath before flying around the corner. She took two shots, then motioned to me as she sprinted towards the door. As we got closer, I could hear shouting inside the room. They sounded confused and angry.
“Whatever you’re doing, Riles, it’s working.” I said as I followed Reena through the door.
Almost as soon as I stepped inside, I was hit across the face with something hard. I went down fast, but I got up quickly, too. Reena was already engaged with a different man a couple feet away from me. I heard more sounds of fighting begin behind me.
“Riley!” I grunted, kicking the stomach of the man attacking me. “The door!”
“Locked right now, Mac.” she answered. “Please be okay.” she murmured. I wasn’t even sure I was meant to hear it, but I didn’t have time to ask about it. I was busy trying to be okay. Suddenly another guy, apparently having knocked out the TAC team member he was fighting, converged on me, joining the first guy who’d attacked me. Before he could get more than a couple hits in, a gunshot rang out and he went down, letting me knock out the first guy.
I turned to help Reena, but she knocked her guy out as I took a running step over and I slid to a stop right next to her. When I turned to look, all the hostiles were down and Jack was helping a guy from the TAC team stand back up.
“Nice try, Blondie, but I’m tougher than I look.” she said, smirking at me. I punched her shoulder lightly. Then her eyes widened. “MAC!” she screamed. She drew her gun, shoved me out of the way, and fired so quickly I barely registered it. I also barely registered the other gunshot.