Protocol Six: Episode Sixteen
by Alan Augustson
21 April 2017

With Lorelei back on point, they crept down the stairwell. The way was clear, but the four could make out the sounds of gunfire well before reaching the door to the first parking level. They held back at the landing midway between there and the lobby level, and David sat on the stairs, grunting in pain and looking disoriented. Blood loss, thought Lorelei. That round to the arm must have left some fragmentation behind, and indeed the field dressing over his bicep was nearly soaked through. There wasn’t a lot of time.

She reached for her radio. “Team Three Leader to all teams; talk to me.”

There was a pause, then: “Team Two Leader. We’ve got ’em pinned but they’re hanging tight. The elevators didn’t fool ’em; they’ve still got a good angle on the stairwell door.”

“Which direction from the door? As I’m coming out?”

“Three o’clock.”

“Okay, good. This door swings outward, towards them. Watch for me. I’ll try to draw them out of cover; the others’ll be sixty seconds behind. Out.”

Lorelei looked at the agents. “You caught that? Wait sixty seconds before following me out the door. If you’re still hearing gunfire by then, turn and get your ass back up the stairs fast.”

“We’re not leaving you,” David sputtered, breathing with difficulty.

“If it’s not quiet out there after sixty, I’m probably already dead. Someone wanna lend me one of the MP5s?”

Roger handed her his, and two of the recovered magazines. She readied the weapon and nodded a farewell. Opening the door latch, she dropped and pushed it open from a low crouch. A barrage pierced the heavy door in several places, all waist-to-head-high. Armor-piercing rounds, she noted, not that they were really needed here.

Lunging out at floor-level, she spread about half a magazine’s worth at full auto in the direction of their fire, then bolted from the doorway in the direction of a nearby dumpster. A trail of rounds followed her, and one caught Lorelei about mid-thigh. Cursing, she hopped several times further, with the injured leg dragging behind, but fell quickly and rolled behind the nearest car.

She didn’t dare take time to try to stabilize the wound; that car would be poor protection from AP rounds. Instead she switched her weapon to semi-auto and tried to find a target under the cars between them. Seeing among the shadows what might be several people’s feet, she calmed herself the best she could, sighted in and carefully squeezed off several rounds. Payoff: there was a sound of pained expletives, and the shadows expanded as if at least one person had gone down. She fired another salvo into the space, then grabbed her radio again.

“They’re down! Go! Go! Go!”

From seemingly everywhere, armed figures emerged, wearing everything from old fatigues to jeans and t-shirts, most carrying simple shotguns. They pumped heavy deer slugs into the vehicle concealing their targets, each punching gigantic holes through the frame as if a poor man’s AP round. There was already nothing left of the assailants by the time the ragged fighters reached. Another spotted Lorelei and rushed to help.

“How bad are you hurt?” he asked.

“I’ll be all right,” she grimaced, pulling off her belt and growling in pain as she tightened it around her thigh, above the wound. “How much time?”

“Forty-five seconds.”

Lorelei shouted towards the stairwell door. “Hey! Get your ass out here; we gotta go!” There was no answer, and in her annoyance she nearly didn’t notice she was being hailed.

“Team Three leader, what’s your position?”

She fumbled for the radio. “On my ass in the parking structure. What’s up?”

There was silence.

“Well?”

“…God damn it.”

She didn’t inquire further; she didn’t need to. Lorelei rolled onto her back and tried to breathe out the pain.

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Social scientist, public policy analyst, emergency management consultant and author. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former firefighter. Former candidate for U.S. Congress.

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