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"Hey, Greynolds?"

The voice, just about audible over the rotors of the helicopter, snapped Jim Greynolds from his reverie. Looking up, he gave the speaker; Richards, a cold, hard stare. The soldier held his gaze for a second, then dropped his eyes.

Greynolds was pissed. He'd had the situation relayed to him by Wilson, and from there, the decision had been his to make. Try to take out the boats? Make tracks back to base? Both paths had their pros and cons. In the end, Greynolds had tried to go for both and... so far it wasn't working out too well. The patrol boats he'd dispatched to intercept the rescuers hadn't got there in time. STAR hadn't even had to fight their way out - Danya's men had been left eating their dust.

That was a blow to the pride of pretty much everyone. Two versions running, students had made it out. Granted they hadn't managed it by themselves, but that anybody could compromise the security of the group made for a worrying pattern. If they somehow made it out of this mess, Greynolds was going to have to run a thorough check on any newcomers, maybe even the current roster, just to be safe. Fucking moles...

Greynolds keyed his microphone onto the pilot's channel.

"How long?"

"Hard to say, we're still a ways out from-"

"Fly. Faster."

"...Yes sir."


"You're all dead men walking."

Corey Maslakow looked almost amused at that. "Pretty big talk coming from a guy with a gun to his head, Danya."

Danya shrugged awkwardly, the movement difficult with the tight hold his STAR captor had on him. His eyes tracked Corey as he paced back and forth, back and forth. "You and your little crew are trapped in a room with only one exit, outside of which there is a group of my men that are more than capable of chewing you up and spitting you out. You've got balls kid, but balls alone aren't getting you out of this."

This time, Corey actually did laugh. Danya looked unimpressed as the STAR member held up a hand, still laughing.

"I'm sorry I'm sorry it's just - you sounded a hell of a lot like one of the guys we had to kill on the way to getting out of one of your hell holes a few years back."

"That was a fluke, just like this. You think you'd still be alive if you hadn't been lucky enough to run into me on the way here? You'd be six feet under a couple of hours ago."

"Two flukes starts to sound like a pattern to me, Mr Danya," Corey put deliberate emphasis on the 'mister'. "Talk about maybes if you want, but you're the guy who seems closest to dead to me."

Danya snorted. "Then have fun getting out of here. Difference between you and me is that I know that I'm staring down the barrel of a gun. You're smiling at it."

Corey turned away, unable to hide a smirk.

"Corey. Corey, you there? You getting this?"

He put a hand to his earpiece. "Yup. Loud and clear."

"Jaxon and Nate are pulling out. Greynolds and company seem to be heading back to you. Might be best to get moving."

"I understand. I'll pass that on," Corey fiddled with his headset a moment. "CeeJay, reading me?"

"I hear you. We're at the boats."

"Good. How's Kwong?"

"Holding up, just about. He's lucky to be alive."

"Aren't we all? Look, we'll talk more later, we need to get rolling."

"Good luck."

"Keep my seat warm," Corey looked over to the wall opposite the room's entrance. One of his people had been hard at work there ever since they'd busted in. "We're out of here. You'd better be ready."

A roll of the eyes told Corey everything he needed to know.

"Stand back everyone. Oh, and cover your ears," Corey shot Danya another cocky grin. "What do you do when the only exit to a room is blocked off? Make another."

The carefully directed explosives planted on the wall detonated, blowing it into rubble and leaving a conveniently placed gap, leading out into a corridor.

"Alright people, hustle!" Corey called. He turned back to Danya. "And as for you-"


Lourvey's plea was silenced by a gunshot.



Every eye in the chopper snapped to Jim Greynolds, whose headset had just erupted in a wash of explosions, yelling and gunfire. Cecily tuned her own radio into HQ's main channel, flinching at the ensuing cacophany. After a couple of seconds, there was a reply.

"Greynolds - don't exactly have time to explain here!"

"Give me a fucking status report!"

"I am being shot at! There's your fucking report!"

Sonia Nguyen cut in, far more calmly than Wilson. "STAR blew a hole in the wall, gave themselves a head start. We're trying to cut them off but they're running like hell."

Greynolds slammed a fist into the side of the chopper. "Fuck!" he spat.

"Oh... oh shit," it was the voice of 'Ace' Warren.

His tone was dull, filled with shock and horror. The leaden sound of it made Greynolds' blood run cold.



Dorian 'Jett' Pello lowered the pistol he'd snatched from the holster of his STAR captor and breathed out, long and trembling. He looked like he was on the verge of tears, but there was a defiant set to his shoulders.

There was a moment of silence as everybody in the room turned to look at the technician. A couple of guns were half raised, but with the singular shot out of the way with, Dorian apparently had no intention of firing again.

The quiet was broken by a strangled, bubbling laugh.


Danya, whose shirt was blossoming with a spreading red stain.

Danya, whose hand was clutched to his chest and whose words were strung out with pain.

"You," he looked Dorian in the eyes and smiled. "Of all the people that it could've been, it was you? Guess... you grew a spine... after all," Danya dropped to one knee and started to laugh again before slumping to one side with a thump. He lay on the floor, motionless.

Everyone stared at his body for a moment. Then, Corey snapped out of it.

"We've got to move. Now," he gave Dorian an appraising look. "You can come along, if you want."

Dorian nodded, headed through the hole in the wall right on the tails of the STAR members Corey had brought with him. The other entrance to the room imploded in a hail of gunfire. Letting off a burst from his rifle, Corey stepped back through the hole and headed after his people. The AT burst into the room in time to see him disappear through the wall, leaving a thoroughly trashed room and a couple of terrified technicians in his wake.



Victor Danya's cheek was cool against the floor. His eyes closed.

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