“Hell on Earth” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)
copyright 1992 by Esther Mitchell
In the shadows near the main building, Rick swore under his breath as Matt’s voice crackled through his earpiece.Damn, what was going on?He glanced again at the outside duct’s grate.What was taking so long?Tamia should have called in by now.The COMlink didn’t bear good news, either.The ghost is walking.Code – meant there was a sniper.Damn place probably crawled with them.Who was hit?Why didn’t Walter release the internal energy pickets and open the grates?Where the Hell was Tamia?Then, suddenly, his earpiece came alive again.
“Blind Man is at the window,” Tamia said.“When’re we gonna pull up the blinds?”
“Thank God,” Rick breathed to himself.
He heard her soft chuckle, and realized that his mouthpiece was on.
“Thought I’d ran away, huh?”
He couldn’t respond.He didn’t want to think about losing her.The force of how much he loved her was only just beginning to sink in.In the next moment, Walter’s voice cleared his mind.“Healing Hand here.Can the Blind Man see?”
“Oh, yeah,” Tamia’s answered.“Sun’s nice and bright, too.Good view.”
The COMlink went silent, and Rick tensed.The next few moments would make or break their entire mission.Tamia had only one bullet in her sniper rifle – a highly lethal, illegal Kriomite bullet.The kind of thing only a terrorist would use.Just the cover their undercover operation needed.
Time stretched, and Rick held his breath.What was taking so long?Then, suddenly, Tamia’s voice came to him, concerned.“I can’t do it, Ace.I can’t draw a bead on him.”
God, was she cracking?
“Try,” he murmured into his mouthpiece.“Just try.”
“I am trying.”She sounded frustrated, rather than indecisive.“The motherfucker’s playing hide’n’seek.Every time I get my sights on him, he moves out of the kill box.”
She wasn’t frozen.She had a worse problem than that.He swore under his breath.“Blade, listen to me.There should be a port in the duct, a little ways to your left.Can you see it?”
He heard her intake of breath.“Yeah, I see it.”
“Can you make it there?”
A pause.“Yeah, I think so.”
“Good.Listen carefully.That port will give you access to the panels above the room.There’s a gap there, in the center panel.Go slowly, and don’t touch the glowing ones.They’re pressure-sensitive glass.You’ll be in his lap if you do.”
Rick held his breath for a long moment as he listened to the sounds of movement from the COMlink.Then, Tamia’s voice again.“Hey, not bad!I’ve got a clear window here.”
A hiss-pop sound relayed the discharge of her silenced weapon, followed by a sudden wail of an alarm.Tamia’s voice came then.“Shit!What the Hell’s that?”
Rick’s blood congealed.The room was pressurized!That was why there were no exterior openings.Now, the whole damned building was getting ready to blow.In that instant, he forgot protocol completely.All that mattered was her life.
“Tamia, get the Hell out of there!”He ordered.“That place is going to—!”
A loud explosion cut him off, and his heart lurched into his throat.No!