The first sign something was wrong was when Delaney noticed Simms’s expression change from hatred to shock.
The second sign was the sound of QBZ Type-95 Chinese assault rifle bullets whizzing past his ears.
Instinctively, Delaney dropped to the floor.
Lena and Wells had already seen the four Chinese soldiers storming in through the entrance behind Delaney, and were now safely covered behind the walls of the Trojan Device.
The soldiers were four of the eight that had been sent down the tunnel by Colonel Pak. Their orders had been to secure the device in preparation for the transfer of troops from Giza and Uluru.
The rain of gunfire continued.
Simms didn’t stand a chance.
A swathe of hot metal rounds slammed into his torso, releasing a bath of blood from his ruptured back.
Spatters of red sprayed over Lena and she screamed out.
Delaney rolled sideways, dodging the next volley of shots. Then, suddenly there was nowhere left to roll.
He had run out of bridge.
In that instant, Delaney felt the bridge disappear beneath him. He realized with a mindwrenching shock that he had rolled off its edge. He flung his left arm out instinctively and caught hold of a downrail.
Now he was swinging out over the abyss by one hand.
Out of pure instinct he used the other hand to unclasp his second pistol and return fire blindly over the edge of the bridge decking.
Lena looked across at Wells, who was cowering behind a computer terminal workstation. She saw his weapon on top of the desk, only inches from his reach.
“Wells, do something!” Lena shouted. “Shoot back!”
Several bullets peppered the walls inside the sphere, and Lena ducked back. Wells had his head in his hands.
“They’re going to kill us,” he whimpered.
Lena’s lips thinned. “Jesus Wells, don’t be so pathetic!” she shouted over the noise of the gunfire.
Lena’s head spun. Her mind raced with a mixture of emotions—fear, anger, hatred. An odd sensation of energy coursed through her body. She was in a situation like none she’d ever been in before. It was a feeling Delaney had experienced many times himself. It was the adrenalin surge that hits during battle. The possibility that any second could be your last, and the instinctive and overwhelming will to live, to do whatever it takes to survive… and then the subsequent calm that washes over you as you focus intently on one single thought—the solitary action required to save your life…
It was then that Lena did something she never thought she could.
She took a deep breath and exploded from her cover across the small gap to where the MP5 rifle rested above Wells’s head on the desktop.
In one smooth motion, Lena rolled up onto the desk, grabbed the weapon, and spun around to face the oncoming Chinese invaders.
As she fired, one soldier fell off the bridge in a burst of blood that spewed from his chest. The three remaining soldiers returned fire, forcing Lena to take cover again.
An angry hail of bullets sprayed the inside of the sphere.
“Christ! What are you doing girl!” yelled Wells. “You’ll get us both killed.”
“I’m trying to save our arses, Wells!” Lena said, as she fired again.
Her gun stopped. She had used up all the ammunition in her frenzied firing.
Delaney was in the same predicament, only worse, as he was still hanging dangerously by one hand, without cover above a bottomless canyon.
The three enemy soldiers quickly realized their sudden fortune, and started along the bridge.
They stopped where Delaney was hanging a few feet below the bridge, and looked menacingly down at him.
Delaney was running out of options. In fact, he had only two—stay where he was and die, or let go of the bridge, and die.
The leader of the three soldiers said something in Chinese to the others and laughed loudly. He bent down and withdrew a sharp knife from a sheath on his belt.
Crouching low on the bridge, the soldier reached out with the knife and, smiling maniacally, he pushed the tip of the blade slowly into Delaney’s left hand.
Delaney flinched at the pain, but maintained his grip on the rail. Sweat beaded on his forehead.
The soldier twisted the knife, which was buried a quarter inch into the back of Delaney’s hand. Delaney grimaced and let out a stifled yelp. He could feel the point of the knife touching a tendon, grinding up against it. Then he heard a loud crack.
A thick spurt of blood erupted into Delaney’s face.
It took him a second to realize the blood wasn’t his own. He looked up and saw a gaping hole where the Chinese soldier’s face used to be.
The man toppled over Delaney and fell into the bottomless chasm.
A moment later, two more geysers of blood pumped out from above him—one from each of the remaining soldiers. They both fell silently to the deck of the bridge.
“What the hell?” Delaney looked around, saw nothing.
He swung his right arm up, then a leg, and pulled himself up onto the bridge.
Lena came out of the sphere and rushed up to Delaney, wrapping her arms around him.
Then a familiar voice in the distance said, “Hey, not in front of the enlisted men, you two.”
Delaney and Lena snapped around.
Standing on a bridge, three around from the one they were on, were two very welcome charcoal-clad figures. Delaney laughed out loud.
It was Sergeant “Buffalo” Bill Jackson and Private Lenny Sinclair.