Rachel and Dog dashed past the dead guard to the heavy glass door of the room as John and Zemeck disappeared into the kitchen. Pulling the door open carefully, she waved Dog inside, followed him and quietly closed the door. The six women were all asleep, and even though they all needed to be awakened she rushed to Katie first.
As soon as she touched her shoulder, Katie’s eyes flew open and she turned to sit up.
“It’s OK,” Rachel said. “I’m here with John to get you out.”
Katie’s eyes went wide and shifted to the windows, looking for him.
“Rachel?” She asked when she didn’t see her husband.
“How do you know my name?” Rachel was surprised.
“Roach told me about you,” Katie said. “Said you and my husband were a couple.”
“Don’t believe anything that little shit told you. Here. Present from your husband,” Rachel said in a rush, pressing the pistol John had given her into Katie’s hand. “Help me wake everyone. We’re leaving now.”
Rachel didn’t wait for an answer, dashing to the far side of the room and shaking two of the women awake. Katie was on her feet by now, pistol in her hand as she began waking the others. They quickly had all the women up and ready to move and Rachel went to the door, pausing before she pulled it open.
“No noise,” she said, making sure everyone understood.
Exiting the room Katie was right behind her, Dog moving out ahead of them into the first row of slot machines. Rachel glanced around but John and Zemeck hadn’t come out of the kitchen yet. Where the hell were they? Turning to the front she checked on Dog, then glanced over her shoulder to make sure the women were all still following.
Movement in her peripheral vision caught her eye and Rachel turned her head, expecting to see John. She froze for a heartbeat when she recognized Roach, walking towards her with a weapon in his right hand coming up to target them.
Katie looked to her left when the tall woman paused, her breath catching in her throat. Roach was walking directly towards them, raising a pistol. The woman was trying to bring an M4 rifle around but she could tell Roach had the drop on them and would start firing well before the rifle could come into the fight.
Reaching out, Katie shoved the woman in the middle of her back as she spun to bring her pistol up. Before she could raise the muzzle high enough to fire, Roach pulled the trigger and the small Uzi began spitting bullets. Time slowed and Katie heard two of them zip past her head before something slammed into her chest and she was falling.
Martinez cursed when she heard the burst of automatic weapon’s fire. They’d been found and someone was in trouble. None of them were carrying an unsuppressed full auto weapon so she knew this was someone from the group occupying the casino.
Knowing what she had to do, she flipped the fire selector on her rifle to burst and aimed for the glass wall of the room to the right. Pulling the trigger twice she shifted aim and sent six more rounds into the windows on her left. The bullets shattered the heavy glass that crashed to the floor and left a wide opening into each space.
Dropping the rifle, Martinez picked up the first of four fragmentation grenades she had already lined up on the carpet. Pulling the pin she threw it hard at the right hand room, watching it sail through the opening she’d just created as she reached for the second one.
People in the two rooms were shouting and screaming now, struggling to get out of their sleeping bags. One enterprising soul didn’t bother to do anything other than pick up his rifle and start firing blindly. Martinez ignored the bullets that were sailing wide around her location and threw the second grenade into the left room, quickly following with one more to each room.
Snatching her rifle off the floor she rolled behind a slot machine and onto her feet. A second later the four grenades detonated in sequence. The sound and concussion was ferocious, even with room in the massive space for it to spread out. All of the remaining glass shattered and was blown outwards, becoming thousands of pieces of razor sharp shrapnel that peppered the slot machines around her.
Glass screens cracked and imploded. Dust billowed and somewhere a loud bell began ringing as the blasts ruptured a sprinkler pipe and water began flowing through the fire suppression system. Five seconds after the final blast Martinez looked around the bank she was sheltering behind, rifle ready to engage anyone that was still wanting to fight.
There were no targets, but not everyone was dead. Screams of pain were coming from both rooms, and as the dust began to clear Martinez could tell there was no one on their feet. Stepping around she walked towards the carnage, rifle up just in case someone was still capable of aiming a weapon at her, but she stopped halfway when she got a look inside. Swallowing bile, she turned and ran towards Rachel’s location when she heard screaming.
Rachel fell to her knees when Katie pushed her, cursing and rolling as she tried to get her rifle aimed at Roach. Then he fired and Rachel turned her head to see Katie fall backwards as a bullet struck her chest.
Screaming, Rachel finally got the rifle up and began pulling the trigger in burst mode. She kept pulling it until the magazine ran dry but didn’t manage to hit Roach as far as she could tell. When she’d started firing he had turned and ran, heading into the maze of the casino floor.
“Oh my God, no! No, no, no, no…” Rachel dropped her rifle and dashed to Katie’s side, Dog rushing up to stand guard next to her.
Katie had been shot in the upper right quadrant of her chest, the bullet entering just above her breast. Blood was welling out of the entrance wound and Rachel grabbed her shoulders and rolled her up to check for an exit wound. There was one just inside her right scapula. Putting her flat on her back she pressed both hands on Katie’s chest and screamed for John as Martinez ran up and dropped to her knees on the other side of Katie.
Zemeck and I were pushing deeper into the kitchen, searching for whoever had made the noise when the sound of weapons fire reached us. We exchanged a quick glance and he tilted his head at the door, telling me to go. I shook my head, hesitant to leave him alone to clear the room. No matter how good you are, trying to find a potentially armed opponent in a cluttered area by yourself is extremely dangerous.
He shook his head and we continued, but had only covered a few more cautious yards when I heard Rachel scream my name. Looking at Zemeck I yanked a grenade out of my vest and pulled the pin, palm holding the spoon in place. He nodded, pulled one out and together we tossed them in the direction we thought the sound had come from, turned and ran.
Blasting through the swinging doors I had my rifle up and ready, Zemeck on my heels as I made the turn towards where I had left Rachel. The twin blasts from our grenades sounded behind and I involuntarily ducked but kept running. As I rounded the corner I could see Rachel and Martinez bent over someone on the floor, a small group of lingerie clad women clustered tightly together watching them.
“No, no, no…” I began repeating to myself as I let my rifle drop on its sling and ran as hard as I could.
Martinez moved aside and I fell to the floor beside Katie. She was awake and looked up at me and smiled.
“I waited for you. Where have you been?” She asked with a weak smile on her face.
“I’m sorry, babe.” I said, leaning down and kissing her as tears began rolling down my face. “I got held up a little.”
“What happened?” Zemeck was squatting behind me.
“Hi, Andre,” Katie looked at him and tried to smile. She had always refused to call him Matt, preferring to poke him a little about his stature and call him Andre the Giant.
“Hi, pretty lady. Good to see you.” He said, placing a big hand on my shoulder.
“It was Roach,” Rachel said. “Came out of nowhere with a little machine pistol. She pushed me out of the way and took a round.”
“How bad?” I asked, holding Katie’s hand with one of mine and brushing a stray strand of hair off her face with the other.
“I don’t know, but I need to get her back to Tinker. Now. I can work on her on the way.” Rachel turned to Martinez. “Will that helicopter on the roof fly?”
“No,” Martinez answered. “I checked it out when we were on the roof. But there’s a field medic kit in it.”
“Osprey is twenty minutes out,” Zemeck said.
“Tell them to get the lead out,” I said without taking my eyes off my wife.
“I’ll take care of her,” Rachel said to me. “You go get that fucking psychopath before he turns up again.”
“He can wait,” I started to say, but Rachel cut me off.
“No, he can’t.” She said. “Every time we think we’re done with him, he shows up. This needs to end now. Trust me. I’ll take care of her.”
When I looked back down at Katie her eyes were closed. Leaning over her I kissed her lips, told her I loved her and stood up.
“Andre, pick her up,” Rachel ordered, adopting Katie’s nickname for Zemeck. “I’ll need to walk next to you to keep pressure on the wound, so don’t walk too fast.”
I stepped back as my friend kneeled and scooped my wife up in his arms. Rachel never took her hands off Katie’s chest and she looked back at me as they started to head for the stairs to the roof.
“You’ve got twenty,” Zemeck shouted, adjusting her in his arms. “We’re getting her back to Tinker as soon as our ride arrives. If we miss you, I’ll come back.”
“Kill that son of a bitch and cut his heart out so he can’t come back!” Rachel said, turning and yelling for the women to follow her.
I stood watching them walk away and let the tears flow down my face until they dried up and turned to a ball of white-hot rage seething in my chest. Roach. I’d let too many opportunities to kill him pass me by. Not again. Time to end this.