A gunshot echoed up from below.
She scowled at the source.
The fleeing patrol.
First, what did the bastards think they could hit?
And second, f**k you very much.
But if they wanted to play that game, she wouldn’t mind eliminating a few worries.
“Kowalski! Do it!”
“Anything you say.” He still lugged Amanda over one shoulder, but he reached to a pocket as he ran. He let the pellets he collected dribble between his fingers, falling away like a trail of bread crumbs onto the steps.
She watched between her toes and waited until the shadows below reached the littered section of stairs.
“Now!” she yelled.
Kowalski pressed his transceiver, igniting the last of his C-4 pellets. The blast took out the point man, and the survivors retreated from the shattered gap in the glass staircase. They were trapped with no other way up.
Sorry, fellas. You started this war.
She continued her maddening flight up the steps. After a few more turns, she heard screams rise from below.
She used their cries to judge the distance to that drowning flood. Either the waters were rising faster, or their pace was slowing. Whichever the case, they were losing this footrace.
“Next level!” she shouted to Tucker. “Take that one. Find the shortest path to the outer windows.”
Reaching that floor, Seichan raced after the handler and his dog, a silent prayer on her lips. Tucker turned into a long hall.
“Over here!” he yelled. “A balcony at the end!”
“Shoot out the lock!” Seichan hollered back.
They needed every second.
She sprinted, trailed by Kowalski. To the man’s credit, he kept up, even burdened by Amanda’s weight. He was a veritable draft horse.
Gunshots blasted ahead.
She reached Tucker and Kane as the man hauled open the sliding glass door. A wide balcony beckoned. They all fled out onto it.
Seichan moved to the rail. The rising water churned one floor down. If they had to jump, she feared two things. If they didn’t leap far enough, the undertow caused by the plunging tower would drag them all down. And even if they cleared that danger, these rough seas had sharks—and not only the ones with fins.
A patrol boat drifted to the right, not far from the park.
They would never be able to swim fast enough to escape it, and their splashes would likely draw the crew’s attention.
Seichan searched the drowning city.
Where are you, Gray?
C’mon, c’mon …
Running out of air, Gray blindly sawed at the nylon strap with his knife. It had taken him too long to find the boat as it hung in the dark depths, still tethered to the trailer. The positive buoyancy of the vessel had locked the tie-downs tight. There was no unclipping them from their bolts.
He’d already cut the straps at the bow. Once free, the boat’s nose rose toward the surface, hanging vertical, still anchored at the stern. Keeping one hand on the transom, he worked at that rear strap of the tie-down. Pressure built in his ears as the island sank deeper, dragging him and the boat farther underwater.
As his air began to give out, he sawed frantically.
Stubborn piece of—
A light flared overhead, brightening the waters. A dark shadow idled into view on the surface, limned against the glow of its own lamps and accompanied by the slow putter of its engines.
Gray waited, despite the screaming burn in his lungs.
Once the shadow was directly overhead, Gray cut through the last of the tie-downs. Freed, the jet boat torpedoed upward, becoming a buoyancy-propelled battering ram.
Seichan watched the speedboat drift closer, coming within fifty yards of the tower. One of the crew shouted; another pointed a rifle. Her team had been spotted. A blast echoed over the water. The round ricocheted off the balcony railing.
She and the others were too exposed on the balcony, but where could they go? The waters roaring up the side of the tower promised only a quick death by drowning.
She took potshots back at the boat—then an antediluvian monster blasted out of the sea and rammed into the edge of the speedboat. The force cracked the hull and flipped the boat, tossing the crew out of their seats.
Nearby, the monster settled to its carbon-fiber keel, resting on the water.
It was the yellow jet boat.
Gray popped up beside it. He had his SIG Sauer in hand and fired at the floundering men, hitting three of them. The fourth already floated facedown. Nearby, the cracked hull of the speedboat flooded and sank into the depths.
“Gray!” Seichan shouted and waved an arm.
He turned to face her—just as a second speedboat flew around the tower to the left, drawn by the gunfire. It raced under the balcony, spraying machine-gun fire up at it.
They all flattened, but Seichan knew they weren’t the assault’s true target. The patrol was only knocking them back to pass beneath them and go after easier prey.
Move it, Gray!
Gray hauled himself over the side of the jet boat and sprawled flat on the deck, making himself a harder target. The second speedboat came shooting around the curve of the Burj Abaadi.
Gunfire shattered the marble off the balcony façade.
His teammates ducked away—except for one.
As the boat sailed under the sinking balcony, a sleek shape vaulted into view, back paws kicking off the railing for extra distance. Kane flew across the short gap and landed in the midst of the four patrolmen.
The effect was the same as if a grenade had been tossed into the boat.
One man flung himself overboard in fright and got chewed up by the frothing riptide of the sinking tower. Kane latched onto the throat of another. The driver screamed, yanked the wheel, and, in a panic, drove the boat at full speed into an uprooted, floating palm tree.
The boat hit the thick trunk, shot into the air, and flipped upside down before crashing hard into the water.
Bodies floated up seconds later, lifeless or unconscious.
The only survivor proved his skill at dog-paddling.
Before that deadly collision, a sharp whistle from Tucker had sent Kane leaping from the boat, tail high. The dog landed safely in the calmer water, but the currents were pulling him back toward the churning tide at the base of the tower. Kane fought against it, burdened by his vest.
No, you don’t.
Gray lunged into the captain’s chair of the jet boat. He searched and found the key in the glove box and started the ignition. He feared the depths might have damaged the engine, but he also knew jet boats were built for such abuse. As he hoped, a choking burble, a spat of water from the stern jets, and the engine roared lustily.