Chapter Thirty: Mal
Through the Halls
"Keep a close eye on the guards," Mal whispered to Kaden before they headed off.
"I have your knife if I think one of them looks like he's going to betray us."
Mal nodded. He really didn't like the thought of Kaden having to use his knife, but he liked the thought of a bullet in the back of his head even less.
They had three guards and three medical personnel with them. Mal didn't really trust anyone but their friends after the events of the last week. They formed up, Mal and one of the guards in the lead, Kaden and a second guard behind them, then the medics with Aegeus and Edwige and a final guard at the rear.
The snail’s pace was chafing at Mal. They were unfortunately in a catch twenty-two situation. They needed to get Aegeus to the OR as quickly as possible or risk him bleeding out. However, they couldn't travel very fast as he was being carried on the stretcher, and any unnecessary jolts could cause him more damage. Plus there was the fact that Edwige was having to travel alongside Aegeus, hands pressed against his wounds trying to slow the bleeding.
Mal had picked up another gun from a fallen guard, he checked the clip and wasn't happy with the number of bullets left, but something was better than nothing.
The sounds of fighting could be heard in the distance in other wings of the castle.
Their party was too large for any kind of stealth mission, they also had to make their way through just about the entire castle to get to the lift that would take them down to M-Wing.
Mal could hear Edwige talking softly behind him to Aegeus. The pain in her voice just about broke Mal's heart.
The guards remained silent and on alert as they traveled through the richly decorated passages. The occasional gun shot in the distance breaking their silence. They'd so far passed three dead bodies. After a heated exchange between one of the guards and one of the medics in German, that Mal didn't have a hope in hell of understanding, they paused while the medic checked for a pulse on each body.
It didn't take them long, and they were soon moving again. They came to a curve in the passage. Mal and the guard, who he hadn't been introduced to, cautiously checked around the corner to see if the coast was clear.
The sound of a gunshot and the guard collapsing beside him had Mal pulling back immediately.
Fuck! He cursed silently.
Shocked gasps and an outcry from one of the younger looking medics had Mal turning to the assembled group. He lifted his finger to his mouth in the international sign of shut the fuck up now.
Thankfully everyone quieted down.
Mal quickly checked the pulse of the guard, but he wasn't hopeful. The bullet had entered right through the heart. Mal said a silent prayer that he and his friends would all make it out of this hell hole alive, he carefully closed the guard’s eyes, then took the man's guns and any extra ammo he found.
One of the guards looked like he was about to take exception to Mal taking the weapons. Mal turned to him and hissed quietly. "You want to stick your head around the corner and disable the shooter?"
The guard must have understood enough English to know what Mal had said as his face went a little paler and he shook his head emphatically.
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
Mal didn't glance at Kaden, not wanting to see the worry he knew would be plastered all over the wolf's face.
Mal checked his weapon, made sure it was ready to fire, then slowly and cautiously peeked around the corner. He spotted his targets twenty meters down the passage on the left. They were hunkered down behind an old couch which had been pulled out from its normal resting place against the wall.
The antique looking couch had solid wooden legs, leaving a good thirty centimeters of clearance from the ground to the bottom of the couch Mal took aim at the feet he could see and fired.
Sharp cries of pain were followed by the men falling to the side into the open, grabbing at their feet. Mal didn't waste any time, in quick succession he fired on the men and put them down. He didn't have time to waste.
"Wait here until I give the all clear," he told the men behind him.
Cautiously he stepped out from behind the wall, gun still held at the ready. When no bullets came his way Mal quickly made his way down the passage to the downed men. He kicked their weapons out of reach then checked their bodies. They were both dead.
Mal did a quick sweep of the rest of the area then called the all clear.
He waited for the others to catch up then they continued on.
Mal only knew this place vaguely, not enough to get them where they needed to go quickly, so the guard who had been with Kaden stepped up to point them in the right direction.
"How much further?" Edwige asked sometime later, her voice clearly showed the strain she was under, and the worry she held for her husband.
"The elevators are just up there," the guard replied and pointed.
"Thank god," she sighed.
Mal had to agree with her.
They were nearly to the elevators when half a dozen people stepped around the corner from a side passage.
Guns were drawn and pointed at the newcomers, people from both sides were yelling, Mal couldn’t understand what.
It took him a minute to realise one of the people was Akemi.
"What the hell, Akemi?" Mal didn't lower his weapon, not after what’d happened. He wanted to believe he could trust Akemi, but he was just a little too sceptical for his own good.
"Lower your weapons," Akemi told her guards.
"But Ma'am…" one of the guards protested.
"I said lower them, now! Akemi said, her voice sharp as a whip.
Her guards lowered their weapons. Once they did Mal gave the order for their guards to follow as well. He lowered his gun.
"Mal, I need to get Aegeus to the OR, or he's not going to make it," Edwige said a quiver in her voice.
Akemi spoke rapidly to her men and two of them broke off and headed to the elevator.
"My men will accompany you to see you are not harmed again," Akemi said.
"Thank you, both of you," Edwige said.
"Be safe, Edwige, I hope Aegeus pulls through," Kaden said as he stepped up beside Mal.
"He will, I won't have it any other way." She tried to smile, but Mal could tell it was forced. The medics and guards raced passed them to the lift the guards were holding for them.
When the shiny metal doors slid silently closed Mal turned back to Akemi.
"What the hell happened?" he asked. Kaden took Mal's free hand and squeezed it gently, reminding Mal he needed to calm the hell down.
"We were betrayed," Akemi said succinctly.
"No shit Sherlock. There are dead people from here to fucking Timbuktu." Mal squeezed the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. "Who betrayed us?" he asked.
"I'm working on that."
"You mean you don't know?" Mal growled.
One of the guards beside Akemi twitched, like he wanted to go for his weapon. Mal stared at the man and raised an eyebrow, daring the guard to pull his gun.
Akemi grinned at Mal. "You really would make an amazing addition to our ranks, you sure I can't convince you to join us?"
Kaden growled beside him and Mal had trouble holding back his own grin.
"I like the quiet life of a ranger, thank you."
"You have a strange definition of a quiet life, Malcolm." Akemi assured him. "Have you seen any of the others?"
"We saw Roly and Tibo round a corner heading in the direction of the castle. We haven't seen, Ashe or Jaxx, and Nootau disappeared sometime during all the gunfire. We were a little busy with trying not to get shot," Mal told her.
"I see you weren't very successful at that." Akemi motioned to his arm, which was still wrapped with a piece of Kaden's shirt.
"It's nothing that can't wait, I've certainly had worse in my life. The fact it fucked up my leathers is more upsetting to me."
Akemi laughed. “Of course, it is.”
The sound of footsteps down the passage let them know they were going to have company shortly.
"We must go, I have people to find before this turns into a full-blown war."
"Look around you, it's already war," Mal said.
"You might just be right," Akemi motioned to her guards and turned to leave. She took two steps then turned back to Mal.
"The quarry you seek can be found in the Administrator offices above the library on the third floor. Take care Malcom as she has one hell of a temper and won't come quietly." She then turned and disappeared down the passage at a run, her remaining guards surrounding her.
"You okay?" Kaden asked.
"Yep, I can finally see the end of this, you sure you want to come along? Mal asked.
"I've come this far, not about to abandon you now." Kaden leaned up and placed a fast hard kiss to Mal's lisps. "Let's go before we're used for target practice again."
They took off down the passage Akemi and her guards had come from. Thankfully they were on the right side of the castle, they just needed to find their way up, so Mal could finally get a chance to confront the person who ordered his sister's death.