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.He tossed it to the man whose weapon had been destroyed in the helicopter’s earlier pass.Crouching in the darkness, Danielle listened as the roar of the approaching helicopter reverberated throughout the temple.“We’re trapped in here,” she said.“Would you rather be out there?”She didn’t get a chance to answer as cannon fire poured through the opening again.Out of frustration, Verhoven fired a burst up the stairs and out into the sky but there was no target in sight.The NOTAR had passed again, but this time the sound didn’t die away, it only dropped slightly, changing in aspect and then maintaining a constant volume.“Keeping us pinned down,” Verhoven said.“That means their men are coming up.”“We’re trapped in here!” Danielle repeated.“They still have to come in to get us,” Verhoven said.“And when they do we’ll shred them.Get back there with the others,” he said to Danielle.“That’ll give us two lines.” He turned to one of his surviving men.“Go with her.”Danielle moved to the other room and took a position to fire from.Behind her McCarter tried to help a violently coughing Susan Briggs, while Brazos, the only surviving porter, stood by.They looked at her accusingly.“Get down!” she ordered, then turned back toward the foyer.She was ready to fight—to the death, if necessary.But despite what Verhoven had said, their attackers didn’t have to come in to get them.They were trapped like proverbial rats and all their foes had to do now was close the cage.Instead of wading into a withering fire they could simply push the stone back into place and seal the temple.The NRI team would starve, or die of thirst, or probably suffocate long before that.Verhoven knew this of course, but what choice did they have? A charge up the stairs would be suicide.She hoped the enemy would be stupid enough to come in.The oppressive droning of the helicopter crept closer, like a monstrous swarm of bees.The wind from its downwash poured into the opening as heavy boots began pounding across the stone roof.“Get ready,” Verhoven shouted.In a minute there would be gunfire and flames and death.Danielle drew back behind the wall and gripped the rifle, gritting her teeth as she waited.For a moment nothing happened.Above them, the noise of the helicopter lessened a bit and the footsteps ceased as the men crowded around the opening.But still nothing happened.She began to wonder if there would be a chance of surrender or even the possibility of negotiation.Perhaps these men would be reasonable.Perhaps they could be bluffed or bought.And then she heard it: clunk … clunk … clunk—a metal object bouncing down the stairs, heavy, solid, relentless.She turned away and shut her eyes.A blinding flash came through her eyelids, accompanied by an earth-shattering explosion that slammed her into the stone wall and sent her sprawling onto the floor.She lay there dazed and almost unconscious, her ears ringing.She tasted blood in her mouth.She was dimly aware of the others in similar straits—Susan lying prone on the ground, McCarter crawling feebly on his hands and knees.She couldn’t see Verhoven or either of his two men.She looked for her rifle.It lay on the stone, ten feet away.It might as well have been a mile.With great effort she managed a crawling position and began moving toward it.But then she heard the sound again; another metal object tumbling down the stairs.It hit the bottom and rolled across the stone floor.She closed her eyes tightly and covered her head … waiting, waiting, waiting for an explosion.But there was only a soft pop and then a forceful hissing, like air escaping a tire.She looked into the foyer, to see white vapor spraying from a long, cylindrical can.She smelled some type of chemical.And then her eyes lost focus and she crumpled into oblivion.CHAPTER 26Danielle Laidlaw awoke to a soothing voice.“Can you see me?” the voice asked.She squinted against a blinding light and her eyes began to focus.She saw a face, with brown eyes framed by dark gray hair.She didn’t recognize it.“Can you see me?”“Yes,” she said.The details of the face sharpened a bit as a jolt of pain ran through her body [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]