Canyon:The Traveler Series Book TwoBy: Tom Abrahams
“I think so,” Pico said. “I ain’t never been in there, so I can’t be sure. I heard talk about that, though.”
“Anybody in the HQ?” Battle adjusted the pack on his back and walked back to the curb in front of the old hardware store.
“Shouldn’t be,” Pico said.
Lola rounded the bed of the Humvee. “Sawyer could be in there.” Her hands were stuffed into her pants pockets, her shoulders raised to her ears. Her teeth chattered. “They could be holding my son in there, right?”
“I don’t know. Guess I need to find out.” Battle stepped to the front glass doors. He took the butt of his rifle and jammed it into the door. Glass shattered and Battle used the rifle stock to clean out the remaining shards hanging to the frame.
“That was kinda loud,” said Pico. “I thought you were trying to surprise ’em.”
Battle looked back at Pico and shrugged. He stepped across the threshold and disappeared into the darkness.
He flipped on the night-vision scope mounted onto his rifle and pulled it to his eye, carefully working his way around the main space of the building. He bumped into a table on one side of the room and then crossed the room to a bar. On the far side of the room past the bar, he found a locked door. He stepped back and punched through it with his foot, blowing past the lock. The door shot open and bounced off the wall behind it, almost hitting Battle as he slid into the hallway behind the door. There was another door to the left and a side exit at the end of the hall. He stepped to the door and tried the handle. It was unlocked. He opened the door and stepped into an office. He checked closets, a bathroom, a storage locker. The place was empty.
Battle started to leave when he thought better of it. This was a private office in the HQ. There had to be some actionable intelligence lying around. He quickly crossed the room to the desk. He leaned the rifle against it and sat down, his pack hitting the back of the chair. There was a stack of papers on the desk and a tablet computer in one of the drawers.
Battle stood, slipped off his pack, and set it on the desk. He unzipped it, pulled out four grenades, and replaced them with the papers and tablet computer.
Battle closed the pack, slid it on to his shoulders along with his rifle, and took two grenades with each hand. When he reached the doorway of the office, he turned around, pulled a grenade pin with his teeth, and tossed it toward the desk. That gave him five seconds.
He marched up the hall to the second doorway, pulled a second pin, and rolled another grenade down the hall. Battle hustled into the main room, yanked out the pin on the third grenade, and tossed it as the first grenade exploded in the office.
Battle was using MK3A2 concussion grenades. Unlike fragmentation grenades, the MK3 was designed for blasting and demolition. The overpressurization it produced was far greater and was effective inside buildings or bunkers. The resulting blast wave produced external shrapnel from ripping apart anything within its effective radius.
The eight ounces of TNT exploded, destroying the office and shaking Battle’s balance. He nearly tripped as he bolted to the entrance. The second grenade detonated, blasting debris into the main room as Battle leapt through the glassless front door.
He spun, pulled the pin, and the noiseless fuse activated. He heaved the final grenade through the door. “Run!” he yelled to Lola and Pico, not aware they’d already crossed the street to the post office fencing after the first explosion.
Battle was halfway across the street when the final two grenades blasted shrapnel through the HQ. He looked over his shoulder, the backpack bouncing against his body as he ran to join the others. The Humvee rattled against the explosion.
Lola gripped Battle’s arm. “Sawyer wasn’t in there?”
Battle coughed and cleared the phlegm from his throat. “I wouldn’t have blown up the place if he had been.”
“So that was a big wake-up call,” Pico said. “I guess you wanted to invite them out to play?”
“No. We’re not sticking around.” Battle started back across the street and waved for Pico and Lola to join him. Thick gray smoke plumed from inside the HQ and through its aged flat roof. Battle slid off his pack, tossed it into the Humvee’s bed, and climbed in. He took the Inspector by the forestock and checked it for damage.
“Let’s go,” he said. “Pico, you’re driving.”
“Who’s the big boss?”
“Whatever. Captain. Boss. Who is it?”
“His name is Cyrus Skinner,” Pico said, pulling open the driver’s side door. “I don’t think—”
“You know where he lives?”
Cyrus Skinner heard the series of explosions and felt them vibrate the water glass in his hand. He dropped the glass and ran out to his front stoop. In the distance, a couple of blocks away, thin wisps of gray smoke spiraled into the air against the faint glow of a flickering streetlight.
Skinner tensed and he stomped his foot on a wooden plank of the stoop. “Son of a b—”