Chapter 8. Nerve Center
Stepping out of the air-return shaft, he pressed a button in his pocket, the remote control was little more than a car door remote that sent a signal to the receiver in the fresh air duct above the ceiling.
With the patience of electronics, the signal activated a circuit that inflated the folded balloon, that obstructed the duct and blocked all fresh air from being delivered to the lower floors, becoming an effective cork.
Radio Check gently rolled two smoke canisters to each end of the hallway and pressed the button on a spray can, deploying a vapor that smelled like melting plastic and stood in the expanding cloud of thick smoke, pressing his back to a wall.
A dispatcher that was questioning the radio traffic, was turning to her supervisor to say there was something wrong when she saw smoke and smelled wires burning.
As one, the dispatchers all stood up and made for the smoke-filled hallway.
Suddenly blocked by a man in a mask and leather jacket.
“No fire, just attention-getter. Please, everyone lay down.”
In the far end where Officer Davies sat, she brought out an AR-15 that out on the first alarm of an attack.
The intruder lobbed three stinger grenades into the dispatch center, one detonated in mid-air, causing Officer Davies to duck and take stock that she was in pain, but still alive.
She could not see, and was too late to stop Radio Check who had plugged into a USB port with his equipment and pressed a button, recognized and allowed the tablet computer administrative access. Data transferred through the now-allowed hardware and rebooted the entire dispatch system.
Officer Davies, decided the grenades did not injure her permanently, picked up her rifle and took up a position behind her desk and attempted get an aim on the intruder through the smoke. But there were too many obstacles, the air was too murky to shoot at a shape with people sitting up when the monitors went dark.
Someone yelled “RUN!” and twenty people scrambled for the stairwell.
Officer Gwen Davies grabbed the phone and tried to call the watch commander’s cell phone.
“Lieutenant! He is down here in dispatch!”
“Shit! On our way.” The masculine voice broke the connection. Gwen looked at the phone for a moment, she thought Leslie Murrie was on duty.
Her radio on her hip buzzed on a person-to-person frequency. “…Davies.”
“Go ahead for Davies.”
“It’s Russ, I’m coming your way to back you up, this place is on fire,”
“No, we the subject is here! He’s smoke-bombed us.” She said quietly. “He is here in dispatch.”
“Enroute. I have contact with the watch commander, I’ll tell her.”
“Who is on tonight?”
“Leslie Murrie. Why?”
“There was a male voice that answered the watch commanders phone.”
“Could have been one of the other guys. Shit is going bad up there. We have officers down.”
“Okay, get here as soon as possible, I’m pinned down and he has explosives.” She looked again. “I can’t see because of the smoke, and I think he is moving so I can’t get a clear shot.”
“Copy, I’m at the end of the hall. He has to come past me or you to leave the floor. I can’t see shit with all this smoke, why is this floor not venting?”
Pops of gunfire sounded.
“He’s shooting! Small caliber!”
Gwen dove through the door, flashes of his weapon illuminated the smoke. She aimed about leg high and laid grazing fire down the hallway.
A scream from the smoke.
Boo-Ya! She bagged a bad guy! This gave Gwen a savage pleasure.
Shit! She knew that voice, she was just listening to it on her phone.
It was Russ!
Gwen got to her feet and moved from side to side of the hallway. The heavy smoke was acrid in her nose, it was military spec smoke. She knew the smell intimately from her time in the service and the smoke grenades are easy to get from the internet. She passed by the data center and tried the door.
Locked. It was always locked. The window was intact and it was clear inside.
As she stepped away, a movement caught her eye as she passed the window. She stepped back and looked again. Staring and tried the door once more.
Locked, positively locked. She looked up and down the door, nothing wrong with the door, no tamper marks, but, on the floor, something odd.
A bit of cardboard with bar codes on it. She left it alone, dropping a folded notepaper over it in the shape of a tent.
A few more steps in the smoke, the smell of burning plastic still faint in the thick haze, she saw paper bits on the floor with a few small paper cylinders that had not burst.
The asshole faked shooting and she shot Russ in the confusion and .
Russ was on the ground, blood had sprayed on the wall directly behind him. The bullet had grazed his calf, giving him a groove in his muscle the size of her index finger to fit in.
“You will be fine, it is just a flesh wound.”
“Oh yeah, they say that, but they never said that it hurts like a bitch!” Russ said, rocking back and forth, holding his leg up. “Damned thing throbs!”
“Russ!” She yelled at him by accident, surprising herself. “Did he come this way?”
“What?” The question distracted him from his pain for a moment. “No. I saw a shadow in the smoke, then he started shooting, but no one came this way.”
“He had to go back into dispatch and he is in there somehow.”
The elevator door opened and eight black-clad SWAT officers stepped out, seeing the bleeding brother on the floor, the leader motioned to one of the heavily armed officers who stooped next to him and applied a pressure dressing. It was a SWAT medic.
“You got him?” The masked swat officer asked Gwen, then pointed to the elevator. “Take him out of here.”
“Yeah.” And she pulled Russ towards the open elevator.
She smiled grimly, bad guy screwed the pooch now. His life was about to become harsh beyond any nightmare he may have ever had.
SWAT – the best of their best, pissed off and heavily armed.
Gwen would pay good money to see this bastard get taken down by the team of extreme trained professionals. She would have to fight the urge to kick the unsub in the testes when they led him out in cuffs.
If they let him live.