Ronne readjusted the straps on her Kevlar vest before she did a final check of her weapon. Harry Johnson and Steve Bellon ran through the same routine.
“I don’t see why we’re taking all these precautions. The report said there are three unarmed people in that warehouse. Three thugs the Order hired off the street. While one of us keeps them covered, the other two grab the crate of the artifacts and scrolls.” Harry clipped the microphone to his collar.
Steve punched his friend in the arm. “Since when does the Order do anything we expect?”
“Never trust a report that you didn’t gather the information yourself.” Ronne slid four spare clips into her pocket. “Shado, you and the other ravens need to stay on the outside. Perch on the roof across the street and let us know if anyone heads for the target.”
“Why are you so nervous? You’ve led several of these raids and nothing has gone wrong.” Harry tossed an extra clip to Steve.
“I don’t know. Something doesn’t feel right about this one. It was too easy getting the information.”
“Relying on your women’s intuition now?” A grin crossed Steve’s face and he high-fived Harry.
“I’ll give you ‘women’s intuition’ at our next training session, Steve.” Ronne glared.
“Might be that time of the month for her,” Harry said.
“If the two of you are finished acting like assholes, it’s time to move out.” Ronne slid the van door open and entered the alley.
The three ravens flew to the roof. All joking aside, Steve and Harry followed her lead. At the door, brought out her picks to open the lock. Harry grabbed the knob and it turned without resistance.
*Shado, I don’t like this. The door was unlocked,* she sent to her raven.
*You have the authority to call it off.*
*But if the intel is right, we can get hold of some important documents and journals.*
Steve touched her arm and tilted his head at the building. A slight nod and the three drew their weapons and entered.
Harry moved ahead, weaving through the stacks of boxes. “Harry, get your ass back here,” Ronne whispered into her mike.
“There’s no one here. You were worried for nothing.” Three shots rang out, followed by another six.
Ronne and Steve dove for cover, unsure where the attackers were.
“Harry? Damn it, Harry, respond!” Splinters flew from the wooden crate Ronne huddled behind, one piece scratching her cheek. *Shado, tell the back-up crew to get their asses in here. We’re under fire and lost contact with Harry.*
*Fiona says they are on their way. Gina is with them.*
Two more shots rang out, allowing Ronne to get a general idea of where one of the shooters might be. “Steve, cover me, I’m going after one of them. Help is on the way.”
“What about Harry?” He replaced the clip in his weapon.
“He’s either unconscious or dead.”
Taking a deep breath, Ronne released it slowly, and then headed away from Steve. He began firing, as Ronne hurried along in a crouch. At the end of the crates, she pulled a mirror from her vest and slid it around the corner. Movement rewarded her patience, and she turned the corner, aimed and fired. The man dropped without a sound; blood streaming from a hole in the side of his head.
Ronne edged forward, ears and eyes tuned to her surroundings. A scrape and click sent her ducking for cover. Shots rang out and when they stopped, she popped up and fired four rounds. A scream and thump rewarded her action.
Wanting to take advantage of two out of action gunmen, Ronne made her way along the next corridor of crates. “Steve, you all right?”
“Affirmative. Tracking movement to my right. Any word on the back up?”
*Shado, ETA on the back up?*
*Five minutes out.*
“Five minutes away, Steve.”
A wheeled ladder in her path gave Ronne an idea. She ascended and crawled onto the crates. One row of crates over the room opened up for fifteen feet, before more crates and boxes filled the area. A door leading to an office stood off to the left. That must be where the objective is located.
Scanning the area, a man with a shotgun caught her eye. Sorry buddy, you picked the wrong side. A single shot sent him sprawling. In response, three other gunmen opened fire that kept her pinned down.
That wasn’t a good idea. I should have climbed down first, before killing the bastard. Steve returned fire and Ronne jumped to the ground.
With the idea of making her way back to Steve, the arrival of the back up team brought out the worst in the remaining gunmen. Flash bang grenades were tossed into the building without warning and gunfire resumed. Dizzy and temporarily deaf, Ronne found herself staring up at the ceiling, pain radiated from her chest and her stomach churned.
*Ronne? Ronne, are you all right? What happened? Back up has arrived.* Shado’s voice throbbed in her head.
*Think I’ve been shot.* She touched her chest and her hand came away covered in blood. *Shado, tell others to check the office for the crate.* Darkness encompassed her mind.
Consciousness returned, and Ronne found herself in a room with a white ceiling. “It’s about time you woke up, my friend. Two days being unconscious is long enough.” Caitlyn rested a hand on her arm.
“How bad?” Ronne licked her lips, finding them dry and cracked. “Thirsty.”
With Caitlyn’s help, Ronne sipped some water. “One of the bullets that hit you pierced your vest. The bullet lodged near your heart and it was touch and go there for a while.”
“Steve took two in the back and Harry took one through the eye. Steve will make a full recovery.” Caitlyn moved to the room’s door and peered out. When she returned, she picked up a large tote bag and brought it to the bed. Inside an Irate raven glared. “I’m sorry, Shado, but this was the only way to smuggle you in.”
He hopped out of the bag and onto the bed. “What do you carry in that bag? Rotten fish? It stinks.”
“Oh dear. It’s possible my tuna salad had leaked in there. I don’t use this bag very often.” She sat in the chair beside the bed.
Ronne’s hand trembled as she stroked Shado’s back. “What about the crate of journals and artifacts? Was it true or was this a trap to take out some of our people?”
“There was a crate containing the items specified in the report. However, instead of three people guarding the place there were seven. The head of the back-up crew has been placed on desk duty indefinitely. He decided against warning you about the flash bangs and their entrance.”
“Who was in charge?” She fought the sleep that wanted to claim her.
“Chadwick Masterson. A close friend of Ryon’s. He’s the one who gathered the intel for this mission.” Caitlyn smoothed the hair back from Ronne’s forehead. “Don’t fight sleeping. We can discuss what happened when you are out of the hospital. Right now your only concern is to recover.”
With a nod, her eyes closed and sleep swept over her.