Hunter found Chase in a crowd leaving the dining hall. “Come with me.” He led Chase through the main office area. The cubicles that had been occupied by the Saudi investigators were vacant but still littered with computers, radios, wrappers from hastily eaten lunches, and scattered paper. It was empty. Just like the hallway. The building seemed strangely quiet.
They entered the lobby where they had met with the Colonel Saccar less than an hour ago. Dead silence. The offices once swarming with police were now empty. The effect was unsettling.
“Where are they?” Chase asked.
“Saccar pulled out. We’re on our own.” Hunter glanced at his wristwatch. It was dark, and time was quickly running out on Michael Givens.
“There’s more. I just got word that we’re not getting that escort until tomorrow. So we’re left with two choices; caravan everyone to the embassy or stay here without police protection. Either choice keeps us from searching for Givens.”
“The roads are dangerous at night,” Chase said.
“For some,” Hunter said. “We’ll stay here.”
“What about Givens?”
“I’m still working on that.”
Jon appeared from the dining hall. Marcus and Alex, who was adjusting the position of the sling on his neck, were right behind.
“This is it?” Hunter frowned at the four of them. “Our defense? Alright, follow me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jon asked.
They followed Hunter down the south hallway to the stairwell, then down to the garage. Hunter cut across the polished concrete floor straight for his government-issued SUV. He popped the rear door and fished out a heavy black duffle bag. The others watched as he hefted the bag onto the nearby loading dock.
“We’re on our own boys,” Hunter said as he zipped open the black duffle. “The Saudis have left us to the sharks.”
He reached into the bag and pulled out an M4 Carbine assault rifle. “And the cavalry ain’t coming until tomorrow. So it’s up to us to make sure we make it through the night.”
“We don’t use weapons,” Marcus said. “That’s not how we handle things.”
“Let’s hope you don’t have to,” Hunter said. “But if we don’t defend this building, then you’re as good as dead.”
“What do you think, Chase?” Marcus asked.
“Let’s hear the man out,” Chase answered.
“What about Michael?” Alex said. “Who’s looking for him?”
“I will be,” Hunter said, “as soon as we get security squared away. Now, has anyone ever fired a gun before?”
Hunter scanned the circle. His eyes landed on Marcus.
“Yeah, I can handle ‘em. Served eight years with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Did two tours in Iraq before I joined up here. I’ve seen more action than I care to say. I thought those days were behind me. Guess not.”
Hunter handed the Car 4 to Marcus, who skillfully checked the magazine, worked the slide, put the stock to shoulder, and examined the scope. “SpecOps mods?”
Hunter grinned approvingly. “That’s a start. Anyone else?”
Alex spoke next. “My family’s big into hunting. Turkeys, elk, bear, you name it, I tagged it. I spent a lot of time up in a deer stand. But I never shot at nobody.”
“So you can handle this?” Hunter pulled a pistol grip Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun from his bag.
Alex took the shotgun and examined it with admiration. “Yeah, I think I can.”
“What about you, Dr. Chase? Know how to handle a gun?” Hunter extended a Heckler & Koch Mark 23 .45 ACP to Chase, who accepted it confidently.
“Can I handle a weapon?” Chase considered the weight and balance of the pistol, with its six-inch suppressor and laser-aiming module attachment. “I’m from Texas, Hunter. Of course I can handle a gun.”
Hunter gave Chase a cockeyed grin. He was beginning to think they had a shot at surviving the night. Then he came to Jon.
“Me? Ah . . . no, I’ve never fired–or held–a gun before. At least, well, not a real one.” He rubbed the hands together nervously. “But, I have beaten all the Halos.”
Hunter wasn’t sure how to respond, so he didn’t.
“They’re Xbox games,” Jon added.
“We’re going to need a spotter, someone on the roof to keep watch. That’s you.” Hunter dug two SELEX TACMIC CT5 radios out of his bag. Each radio had a wireless body microphone and a discreet earpiece. He handed one set to Jon. “Think you can work these?”
Jon grinned. “Ah, now this is something I can do.” He examined the radio with awe. “Tactical radios are so cool. And this is military grade stuff, just like in the movies. Should I put it on now?”
“Knock yourself out,” Hunter said. He turned to Chase. “Are there any secure places in this building for people to go when the shooting starts?”
“There’s a panic room right over there. But it has a twenty-person maximum capacity. There’s twenty-two upstairs, not counting us. And they’ll have to get everyone from the top floor down here, which might be difficult if there’s trouble.”
Chase pointed towards a darkened corner of the basement. There was a steel door set in the far wall. Hunter tried to estimate the distance from the safe room to the rolling garage doors in the loading bay. Maybe thirty yards. “If I were the bad guys, I’d come in through this door right here.” He pointed to the service door next to the loading bay. “It’s dark back here. No cameras. No reporters. Then I’d sneak quietly up those steps until I found someone to shoot. And I’d be blocking your only route down to the safe room. Easy killin’.”
“Yeah,” was Chase’s only response. He eyes grew distant as he considered Hunter’s scenario.
“We’ll guard these doors,” Marcus said, nudging Alex. “Just get us a couple of Red Bulls and some spicy Doritos and we’ll park here all night.”
“No, no, I want hot Cheetos and Jarritos—tamarind flavor, not that disgusting fruit punch.”
“These doors are yours,” Hunter said. “Make ‘em fight their way in. There’s extra ammo in the bag.”
“That puts me at the front door,” Chase said.
“Yes it does,” Hunter answered. “Ericson, if you see anything–anything at all–you radio it in immediately.”
“Are you leaving?” Chase asked.
Hunter buried the radio earpiece in his ear, pulled another gun from his bag, and stuck it in his waistband at the small of his back. “I’m here for now.”