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The scream echoed against the cinderblock walls of the urban cavern, climbing higher and higher and ending in a gurgling gasp.
"That didn't sound good." Mark, Kennedy Smyth's assistant, handed her a headset and tapped a few keys on his laptop. "Team's in motion."
Kennedy adjusted the microphone in front of her lips, her gaze tracing over the landscape, calculating possible locations of the victim and her abductors.
"Wolf, you have a bead on that yell yet?"
"Working on it, Kennedy."
"You're too slow." She leaned forward over the low wall on the rooftop where she stood, eyeing a black-clad figure moving quickly and silently down the street. He paused, held up a hand, then motioned forward with his fingers. Two matching figures joined him, and they continued down the middle of the deserted road. Kennedy shook her head. Why did rookies always make the same mistakes, no matter how much training they had first?
Mark flicked a glance her way, then back to his laptop. "You going in yet?"
Kennedy shushed him irritably, her brain clicking through the beats. There was the report of a rifle. Splatter appeared on Wolf's sweater and he dropped to the ground. His weapon fell out of his hand, the clatter punctuating his groan in Kennedy's ear. The other two "stealthy" operatives followed suit within seconds. None of the shots looked like kill shots, but her operatives were fully disabled, nonetheless.
"Damn it." Kennedy ripped her headset off and flung it at Mark. She turned and stalked down the roofline, grabbing a pistol from the kit as she went. At the far edge of the roof she paused to pull her sleeves over her palms and stuck the gun in the holster on her hip. She swung over the edge of the roof, gripped the ladder tightly, and positioned her booted feet on either side. Sliding down two stories took her four seconds.
She landed in a crouch, gun in her hand, and spun as two figures came around either side of the building. Dropping to her back, she nailed one in the chest while the shot he'd fired hit his comrade.
"Shit!" The second attacker stared at his torso before slumping to the ground.
Kennedy rolled to her feet and ran past, pistol ready. She stopped at the corner, going low to check around it. Nothing. But she knew someone had to be there. She waited, listening and watching, but still nothing happened. Okay, he was waiting for her. She took a deep breath and whirled around the corner.
Her gun went flying. Then she did, as the heel of the guy's hand caught her in the chin, snapping her head back and sending her reeling.
She caught herself quickly, reversed direction, and ducked under his swing to clip him with her elbow. Then she grabbed his arm, twisted, and flung him over her shoulder.
The victim's scream sounded again. The echoes made it difficultthough not impossibleto pinpoint her location, but Kennedy could tell the target had been moved from her original position. She was too exposed here, so she ran through the nearest doorway, pounding around empty counters and down the back hall to the rear entrance. She kicked the safety bar, paused, then burst through the open door. No one.
Turning right, she continued running. A tall figure loomed up from behind a dumpster, laughing, but she was faster than he'd expected and she reached him before he fired. Before he knew it she'd wrenched his rifle from his hands, tapped him on the temple with the butt, and was past, cocking the weapon.