He caught hold of the young soldier’s wrist before he could draw his pistol, then tackled the man to the ground. Cristophe struggled, trying to get his gun clear to shoot. Rather than risk him being successful, Lykos disarmed him and tossed the gun aside, then pinned Christophe to the ground. Then he bent until his nose was near the soldier’s neck, and sniffed deeply. “Guerin. Captain’s son.”
“Get off me.” Christophe struggled, but despite the soldier being his match in size he was nowhere near a match for Lykos in strength.
Lykos flipped the man over easily, then dragged his wrists behind his back. “Where are your cuffs?”
“I’m not —”
“Arms cuffed…” Lykos gripped Christophe’s left hand, then twisted hard enough to make the man cry out in pain. “Or arms broken. Choice is yours.”
Christophe panted through gritted teeth, and Lykos slowly began increasing the stress on the arm. There was a sharp exhalation, then Christophe gasped. “Left. Thigh pocket.”
One hand was enough to maintain his grip on the soldier’s wrists. He checked the pocket with his other hand, then rolled his eyes when he retrieved a half dozen zip ties. “Seriously?” He began securing Christophe’s hands. “Plastic is very bad for environment.” Lykos hauled Christophe to his knees and shoved him into the wall before frisking him for other weapons. He collected two knives and some ammunition, then retrieved Christophe’s gun.
“You won’t make it out of here.” Christophe shook his head as he got to his feet. From the look in the man’s eyes, he was trying to gauge if he could make it to the door before Lykos caught him. “If you cooperate, I can —”
“Which way to exit?” Lykos raised an eyebrow.
“Which way…” Lykos shrugged, then gestured at the corridor. “To exit?” He caught something crossing Christophe’s eyes. “Choice to make, little soldier. You can lead me out. Only one in danger then is you. You can lead me into a trap, and I can kill everyone. You will be in more danger, because I will be annoyed.” He smiled at Christophe. “Which way to exit?”
The man in front of him had taken him by surprise. Christophe considered his situation. Most of the people here had been doing special operations longer than he’d been alive, and even though the man had Christophe’s gun, all he had on was a makeshift loincloth. No bulletproof vest or flak jacket, while all the soldiers would be in tactical gear. Like he himself was.
“This way.” He jerked his head to the north. By now they’d be massing in the room beyond. The cameras were probably up by now; they’d know the situation.
“Interesting choice.” The man’s accent was strange. Everything about the guy was strange. He was a hell of a lot stronger than he looked. He smirked at Christophe. “Stay behind. Don’t want you dead.”
That was… Well, assuming that were true, it was something of a relief. Christophe swallowed. The fact that he’d been taken prisoner instead of simply killed was a good sign. “Alright.”
After a brief look around, the man’s gaze settled on the nearby workstation. He yanked the cable out of the machine, then yanked the other end out of the wall. A moment later, he’d tied it into a makeshift leash, and put the end around Christophe’s neck. Then he yanked Christophe after him. “Follow.”
He didn’t have a choice. The man was strong, and it was follow or be dragged. He had a few feet of play. Hopefully enough to duck out of the way when the shooting started. The man stopped near the double doors, then turned to look at Christophe. Then he leaned forward, and inhaled as though he was scenting something. “If that is way you want it…” The man shrugged.
Instead of opening the door, Lykos kicked it hard enough to take it off its hinges and send it flying. He let go of the leash as he followed it. The flying door sent the men on the other side ducking out of the way, and Lykos grabbed the first of them by the throat and flung him into the group trying to reposition.
In their disarray, they couldn’t shoot without hitting each other. He kept up the chaos, moving among them, flinging them into each other with brutal force. One man nearly drew a bead. Lykos caught the man’s arm and with a single, brutal twist, removed it at the shoulder. The man screamed in agony as blood sprayed over the scene.
Christophe scrambled backward, trying to get his feet back under him. He got his blade out and began cutting himself free. He had just gotten loose when something crashed down next to him. The man that had been caged flung a lieutenant back through the doors minus half his throat. The soldier thrashed and shuddered as he tried putting his hands over the ruin before bleeding out.
The fight, if he could even call it that, was over in moments. Men torn limb from limb lay, twisting in their death throes. Christophe stared in horror as the man walked back over to him and threw another man down next to him. Sorenson’s arm was clearly broken, and he looked terrified as he gazed up at the formerly caged man. The man’s foot came down on Sorenson’s neck. “So…” His smile showed sharp teeth. “Which way now?” He yanked Christophe to his feet. “Still your choice.”
“Oh god…” Christophe stared at where men he’d shared breakfast with that morning tried to push their intestines back in. “Oh god.” He tried to get his breathing under control as he looked at the struggling Sorenson.
“Christophe…” The man tilted his head. “Funny name. Missing an R.” He shrugged, then leaned forward, putting pressure on Sorenson’s throat. Sorenson began struggling harder. “Choose. I kill more, or you —”
“The garage.” Christophe shook his head desperately. “Please don’t kill him…” Christophe tried to get up. “Please, he’s got a wife. Kids.” He sent a desperate look at the struggling Sorenson.
“Secure him.” The man stepped back, but grabbed the gun off a corpse and pointed it at Sorenson.
Christophe grabbed a zip tie, and pulled Sorenson over to a pillar to secure his hands around it. “I’m sorry.” He nodded to the other soldier. A small nod answered him. Christophe looked up at the man. “He’s secure. We can go.” He shook his head. “There is no need to hurt him.”
The man looked down at the gun, then back up at Christophe. “You promise do what you are told, I leave him alive.”
“I promise.” Christophe nodded.
“You are liar.” The man shrugged. “Turn so I can bind hands.”
“Please.” Christophe turned and put his hands behind his back. “Look, I’m doing what you asked.”
“Until you think you are safe.” The man leaned in after fastening Christophe’s hands. “Best remember…” He reached for the leash. “You not safe.”
“He has a hostage.” Guerin stared at the screen.
“And he picked well.” Lieutenant Danvers nodded. “Sir…”
“I want my son back alive and in one piece.” Guerin indicated the hall. “Get snipers into position. Tell them…” Guerin exhaled. “Tell them to maintain their distance. We’ll get a road block set up. I want that thing back alive.” He growled. “So, I can kill it.
Lykos tilted his head as he tasted the air. There were guns outside, far enough away he couldn’t scent them, waiting for him to get into the open. They’d be trained, precise. Able to hit him without hitting his prisoner. He dragged Christophe after him. “Duck when I tell you. Will be annoyed if you dead.” Lykos patted his head. He had some plans for his prisoner. The captain had killed those he considered friends.
“What do you want with me?” Christophe’s eyes were wide, but he had his breathing back under control. He could hear the young man’s heart racing. A boy, playing at being a soldier. A warrior would have fought.
“Your vehicle.” Lykos gestured. “Which?”
“They’ll kill me to stop you.” Christophe managed to lift his head. There was even defiance in his eyes.
“Brave and wise men would.” Lykos rolled his eye. “Your father is neither.” He lashed out, catching the young man by the throat and yanking him close. “Which vehicle is yours?” He reached into the front pocket of the young man’s pants. It took him only one try to retrieve the keys. That was almost disappointing. He’d wanted an excuse to do more manhandling.
“I didn’t park in the garage.” The young man shook his head, but his eyes darted nervously.
“A lie.” Lykos leaned in and inhaled deeply. “I can smell it on you.” He half closed his eyes, scenting the garage. There. He dragged his captive down the line of vehicles. He sniffed again, then stopped. He looked at the bright yellow convertible, then back at his captive. “Really? On soldier pay?” When the young man just glared, he shrugged. “Nepotism and spoiling. Shameful.” He flung his captive up and over the trunk. Christophe crashed down into the backseat, crying out in pain.
Before Christophe could get any leverage, Lykos caught the cable serving as a leash. He looped it around the driver’s seat. Then he leaned in, shifted Christophe’s body into position, and fastened the seatbelt. Christophe rolled his eyes. “They’ll have snipers. If you surrender —”
“Your father will not order them to shoot with you in line of fire.” Lykos leaned forward. “That is why they are not already throwing grenades, boy.” He patted Christophe’s head, then hopped into the driver’s seat and started the car.
He managed to be a little grateful for the seatbelt. His captor accelerated the vehicle the moment he pulled it out of the parking lot, driving like he was the star of an action film. Christophe was thrown to the side, nearly hitting his head. He heard gun shots, but none impacted them or the vehicle. Rather than risk the gate, the psychopath simply gunned the engine and drove through the chain link fence. Christophe ducked to avoid getting hit with the pieces.
“Wheeeeee!” The lunatic behind the wheel shouted with glee. “Some fun now.” He hit the gas again, squealing the tires as they went out onto the road.
Christophe sent a frantic glance over his shoulder. Other vehicles were mustering, and he saw helicopters taking off. He sent a tiny thank you that his mother had bought him the brightly colored vehicle. The others could follow easily. And he hadn’t refilled the gas. There was barely an eighth of a tank left. They wouldn’t get far.
And they didn’t. They’d been driving only ten minutes when the madman suddenly whipped the car off the road and into the brush. He drove until the car was stopped by trees, then jumped out. “What are you…?” Christophe shook his head as the man unfastened his seat belt and dragged him out of the car.
“They know where road goes.” The man smiled. “But not feet. Move.”
They were running on foot. He’d be home for dinner. Reluctantly, Christophe followed. “If you…”
“You leave trail.” The other man suddenly whirled, catching him by the throat. Christophe struggled. With his hands secured behind his back he couldn’t push the man aside. He kicked instead, but the blows had little effect on his assailant. He gasped for breath as his vision started darkening. Then everything went black.
Lykos held on for only a few more seconds after his captive went limp, then released him. He listened for a few seconds, and heard a strong heartbeat. Then he tossed his prize over his shoulder and started running full speed through the woods. The enemy would not be far behind, so for now he ran in a straight line, putting as much distance as possible. He adjusted course only to avoid open areas. There were helicopters, and of course satellites, to avoid.
The real problem was that he wasn’t sure where he was. He’d been transported in an enclosed area, and transported by air besides. He was likely still in the US, but the trees were different. How long had he been a captive? That too, was hard to say. He doubted any of the times he had been unconscious were for long, and he could guess the passage of time from the shifts of his guards. It had to have been at least two months, but could be twice that.
He growled, then smiled. Last time, they had taken him by surprise. This time, he knew them. They would not catch him in the woods. At least, not until he wanted them too.