By: Laurann Dohner

Shock held her immobile for precious seconds while the van tried to drive over the downed metal barrier. The guards along the top of the walls opened fire. Their bullets ricocheted off the sides of the vehicle. Rusty grabbed Kat and both of them hit the ground next to her rental.

Kat lifted her head and took in the unfolding hell. Two of the van’s tires were stuck in the damaged gate but it wouldn’t take long to get free. It backed up and then the driver shifted gears and advanced again. A bent part of the gate hung him up but he was almost clear of it.

The too-close-for-comfort view she had of the grill revealed no sign of more explosives taped to the front. The driver was probably intent on using engine power and force to breach the second gate but her rental car stood in his way. He’d have to skirt around it and that would slow him down.

She struggled to get out from under the New Species woman who’d taken her to the ground. One look revealed that Rusty was okay and not in the way of the tires that were about to be pushed forward when the van slammed into her rental. The engine was still running. She got to her knees and lunged through the open car door, grabbed the emergency brake and yanked it on. It wouldn’t stop the van but it would make pushing the car a bit more difficult.

She backed out of the car, landing on her ass, an instant before it was rammed. Her attention fixed on the van. Bullets were still bouncing off it, not doing any damage except for what appeared to be some faint scratch marks.

“MOVE!” Rusty yelled. “Follow me.”

Kat turned her head as the New Species got to her feet. She pulled her weapon but didn’t fire at the van. Kat reacted, her years of training taking over before she could think. She yanked the handgun from Rusty’s hand, rose and flipped off the safety.

“Shoot the tires,” Kat yelled.

She took a shot at the windshield where she saw two assailants sitting. Both wore tactical assault gear with full-face shields. The vehicle windows held, which meant she couldn’t do any damage but that went both ways. Movement in the back of the van assured her there were more of the bastards. She advanced, ignoring the gunfire, hoping the guards on the wall didn’t target her.

The driver turned his head as she stopped next to his door. She grabbed the handle but it was locked. She gripped the gun with both hands. He pressed on the gas, tires squealing, and the smell of burning rubber assailed her as he pushed her rental a few feet. She moved with it and scanned the door for a flaw. The lock was exposed so she fired into it. The hole that appeared seemed to surprise the driver and she might have hit him but the bullet wouldn’t do much damage with the chest rig he wore. She yanked open the door and aimed for the two inches of skin revealed at his throat when he looked her way and made the mistake of glancing up at the wall, lifting his head. She fired.

The passenger attempted to raise a military-grade assault rifle to shoot her but he snagged the end of it on the center divider, between the seats. She fired at him but the bullet didn’t pierce his face shield. He did lunge back. The driver choked, blood flowing over his vest. He wasn’t wearing a belt. She fisted one of the straps of his vest and yanked hard. She turned as he fell out, putting her side against the van, out of the passenger’s sight line. The driver fell to the ground and she released him.

Bullets tore into the open door next to her and she knew if she swung forward to fire at the passenger again, he’d hit her. She focused on the dying man at her feet. She bent, careful to keep out of the open door of the still-running van but it wasn’t moving forward anymore. Her car prevented it. She yanked his handgun free of its holster and spotted two objects that looked like grenades.

Holy fuck. They aren’t screwing around. She dropped the guns on the ground and grabbed the two explosive devices. They were handmade, by her guess, but looked deadly. She didn’t have time to ponder exactly how they worked or what they would do. She feared the other assailants would burst out at any second and attack. She saw the switches and used her thumbs to activate them, praying they wouldn’t instantly blow. She risked exposure when she threw them inside and leaned over to grab the door. She slammed it closed, spun and sprinted away.

“Run! Bomb!” she shouted at two advancing NSO officers.

One of them followed orders by diving behind some kind of barrier they’d set up near the guard house but the second one kept coming.

“It’s going to blow,” she got out. At least she hoped it would. It would be really bad if she’d just set off two chemical weapons, thinking they were explosive devices. She’d had mere seconds to examine them.

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