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Pinned down behind his car with someone shooting at him from across the street was not how Omega Sector agent Derek Waterman had planned to spend his afternoon. He wasn’t exactly sure how he had planned to spend his afternoon, but this was definitely not it.
Derek slid closer to the ground as a bullet whizzed past his head and shattered the concrete behind him.
Whoa. Too close.
The saving grace in this situation was at least the entire block was empty of any innocent bystanders. No upstanding citizen had much reason to be in this section of West Philly. The less upstanding citizens had exited when Derek and his team had shown up, obviously law enforcement, and the shooting had started.
“Uh, what exactly was the intel you got on this place again, Derek?” Jon Hatton asked from where he was also pinned down a few feet away. Although highly trained in weapons and combat as all Omega Sector's Critical Response agents were, Jon was primarily a behavior analyst in the Crisis Management Unit.
“What’s the matter? You having problems remembering how to use your weapon, Jon? Too much analyzing, not enough action in your life?” Liam Goetz, the other team member, smacked his gum and grinned. As a member of Omega’s Hostage Rescue team, no one ever asked Liam if he remembered how to use a weapon. Liam had pretty much been born with one in his hand.
“I’m just asking to see if there is any sort of plan here besides hide behind the car until the bad guys run out of ammo,” Jon responded. “Which, at the rate they’re shooting, should be sometime next week.”
True, the number of shots being fired at them seemed to be dwindling. The people in the building obviously weren’t trying to kill Derek and his team, just keep them pinned. But damned if this entire situation wasn’t starting to piss Derek off.
The empty apartment building across the street gave the enemy the tactical advantage. That advantage wasn’t something Derek, as the lead tactical team specialist of Omega's SWAT generally gave up.
But the intel they’d received on this location had required an immediate response. Time for tactical analysis hadn’t been available. Thus, the taking cover behind their SUV as the bullets flew by their heads.
Derek had moved in on this location so quickly because it had been the first substantial lead pertaining to a terrorist attack on Chicago two weeks earlier. A bombing that had killed or injured over five hundred people.
None of the leads Omega had followed up on until now—and there had been hundreds of them—had provided any useful intel. Each location had been totally cold.
Another bullet flew by. This location definitely wasn’t cold.
“All right, to hell with this.” Derek looked over at Liam, “Jon and I will lay down cover-fire. You head around to the back of the building.”
Liam was grinning like an idiot. He loved this sort of thing, danger be damned. “Now you’re talking.”
Derek nodded. “Remember, we need them alive, if at all possible.”
“Hey, it’s me!” Liam actually winked at them. “I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Derek rolled his eyes and heard Jon groan under his breath as Liam made his way down the line of abandoned cars parked on the street. Still using their SUV for as much cover as possible, Derek and Jon began firing their weapons toward the abandoned building, hoping to draw any return-fire back at them and away from Liam.
But there were no shots at all coming at them from the house.
Derek looked over at Jon. “Again.”
Using the hood to brace his arm, Derek fired three shots at the house while Jon did the same from the rear of the vehicle. Still no return fire. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Liam make it across the street at the side of the building. No shots were fired at him either.
The bad guys weren’t in the building anymore; they must be on the run. Whoever had been shooting at them just a few moments ago was Omega’s best lead in Chicago’s terrorist attack. They were the only lead. And now they were about to get away.
“Move in, but be careful,” Derek said to Jon as they made their way forward, weapons still raised.
Derek was reaching for the knob of the door, Jon covering him from a cross angle when they heard a rapid burst of gunfire from the back of the building where Liam had been heading.
Both men backed out of the doorway and sprinted around the building without a word. Each of them knew that getting inside was secondary to helping Liam if he was under fire. As they rounded the building, Derek was relieved to see Liam unharmed, chasing a suspect farther down the road behind the apartment building. Derek and Jon continued running to catch up with them. Helping capture a known suspect was better than sticking around for what may or may not be in the house.
“Stay with them,” Derek told Jon, then made a sharp turn. He would run down a parallel side street and try to cut off the runner. He forced more speed out of his legs.
As he made a sharp turn around the next group of buildings, Derek saw the perp slowing down with Liam only a few yards behind him, Jon just beyond that.
It was obvious Liam was going to catch the guy at any moment, and the perp knew it, too. He fired his weapon at the Omega agents behind his back in some haphazard fashion without even stopping his run, but the bullets didn’t come anywhere near either of them.
Derek turned again and began running toward them.
“Stop!” he called out to the man, and saw distress wash over his face. The man stopped running altogether, sliding to an awkward stop.
“You’re under arrest,” Derek continued between breaths. “Place the gun on the ground and put your hands on your head.”
The man turned around, frantically looking for another way out, but didn’t put his gun down. All the Omega agents gripped their weapons tighter. Nobody wanted to shoot this suspect, he was too important. But they would if necessary. Especially if he turned his weapon on them rather than where it currently lay in his hand pointing at the ground.
“Put your weapon down,” Derek repeated. He nodded toward the ground with his forehead, as the man turned back in his direction. “Do you understand? All we want to do is ask you some questions.”
That wasn’t entirely true, but Derek just wanted to get the man’s gun out of his hand.
The man nodded and Derek eased his finger off the trigger just the slightest bit. But then, almost as if it was in slow motion, and before any of them could react, the guy brought his gun up to his own temple and fired. He crumpled to the ground, dead instantly.
Derek’s curse was vile. Jon rushed up to the man and crouched down to take his pulse at the wrist, but Derek knew it was too late.
Their best lead—their only lead—had just blown his brains out rather than be taken into custody.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and four children to Germany (due to her husband's job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys traveling, long-distance running, movie-watching, knitting and adventure (obstacle) racing. Janie completed an Ironman Triathlon in 2014.