The explosion was deafening. Shattered pieces of glass flew at her from her left as the large, sixteenth storey windows collapsed inwards. Elizabeth was out of her chair in seconds and running towards the stairway. She was only halfway there when she saw the masked men enter from the stairway door. Screams alerted her to the presence of more men at the elevator doors. She looked back to the window to see three men standing in the once vacant area; guns up.
Elizabeth spun in a circle. They were everywhere! Every exit from the floor was covered.
A man stepped up to Elizabeth's face. "Move!" he yelled, motioning with his gun that she was to walk to her right.
She looked over. Already people were being herded into the centre of the room. They all appeared disbelieving.
"NOW!" The man poked his gun tip in her back and gave her a sharp push in the direction.
Her legs felt like lead as she walked over to the pathetic huddle. As she reached the group, the man spoke again, "On your knees, hands on your head." She did as he said with difficulty in her short suit skirt and low heels.
The lady next to her whimpered. "Libby, I'm scared. What's going on?"
Libby turned to look at June. "I don't know June. Just do as they say and-"
"Quiet!" the man yelled; his face next to Libby's.
She gave him a hateful look and returned her attention to the front of the group, silent. The three men from the window had moved to stand in front of them. Libby watched as the man in the middle stepped forward. Quickly he took in the situation.
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen," he said, addressing the group. "We are here for just a little of your time. Follow our rules and you remain unharmed. However, if you choose to disagree with us, you will meet a tragic end." As he spoke the threat, the man's eyes travelled to every face in the group, seeming to stop on her. Libby shivered at the strong menace behind those steel coloured eyes.
Even though his eyes chilled her to the bone, it also enraged a strong part of her. The part that rebelled against control. Anyone who knew Libby even in the slightest would agree to the danger in awakening her fury.
The man began to turn away just as Libby jumped to her feet and spoke. "And is there a reason behind this violence, or do you just get your kicks off from creating mayhem?"
Libby could feel every gun and every pair of eyes trained on her. However, she strangely did not care. The amount of blood pumping into her brain seemed to have drained out any rational thinking.
"Excuse me lady, but I don't think there is any reason I need to justify myself or my actions to you," the man replied coldly. "If you see, I'm the one with the guns and the control, so, lady; I think it wise that you sit yourself down again."
"Oh, really? Well I think I might stand actually. What are you? Terrorists? Or just knuckle heads, because you have to be, to attack a Department of Defence building?" she snapped.
It seemed that her words hit a core because suddenly the man was advancing on her. He reached her in seconds and wrapped a hand around her neck. Libby froze. The man moved close until his balaclava-covered face was inches from hers. All she could see was those steely eyes.
He spoke in a low tone, "I love my country and that is the only reason I'm doing this!" Libby continued to remain motionless as he squeezed slightly. "I doubt you would understand why I'm doing this Miss…"
Libby watched as the man's eyes widened in recognition. "Elizabeth Banning?"
She nodded awkwardly.
Immediately he released her with such force that she landed with a thud on her bottom.
"Tie and gag them," he said hurriedly as he stormed off.
Libby just sat there. What was it about her name that had set him off?
'What was she doing here?' was the thought that was plaguing him as he stormed into a closed off office room. He closed the door behind him and moved to sit on the desk.
She had really hit the nail on the head when she had asked if he was a terrorist or just crazy. He had known before he had made the decision to take action that people would obviously jump to that conclusion, but to hear it from that woman was another thing. How dare she go about spreading more lies?
"She doesn't even know me!" he mumbled. "Just like she didn't know-"
The door opened abruptly.
"What?" he snapped.
The man who entered was not at all fazed by the anger that was now directed at him. Instead he too closed the door and moved over to the desk. He sighed.
"Brant, what is she doing here? You understand that this creates problems, right?"
"Do you really think it wise to say my name?" Brant asked.
"In here it's fine. With the commotion out there I think it'll be safe. However there is a certain matter to discuss," he prompted.
Brant sighed. "I know – the girl. She wasn't supposed to be here. Her presence here changes everything. What should I do Jake?"
Jake, Brant's closest friend, hesitated before answering. "I've thought about this quickly and there's really only one option: to reveal your identity to her."
Brant sprung up from the table. "Are you raving mad? I can't do that! That'd be suicide. I couldn't give a person like her that kind of information."
"Well, what other options have you got?"
"Only one other: I have to force the information out of her. I have to make her tell me the truth," Brant declared.
"And how are you going to do that?" Jake demanded.
Brant took a deep breath and stood up from the table. "By low and dirty methods!"
Libby glared at the young man as he bound her hands together. She could tell he was younger than herself and the other men by the look in his eyes. A certain amount of uncertainty was visible under his baby blues.
"You know that what you're doing is against the law, don't you?" she whispered.
"Shut up," he hissed back.
"You can go to jail for a long time for this kind of thing," she said, trying again.
The young man stopped mid-tie and Libby's heart skipped a beat. It had worked! He looked at her and her heart sank.
"I said, shut up, bitch!"
The uncertainty had disappeared. Libby sighed, feeling defeated. She could not see a way out of this situation and that was wrong; for Libby had always been able to get out of bad spots. Although, when she thought about it, she had never been in a situation quite like this before.
Libby started as she saw the gag coming down to her mouth. She went to open her mouth to object but as she did so the man forced the material in and the words were muffled. He tied it tight.
She watched as he moved over to a huddle forming at the front of the group. There were twelve men in total she counted. All of them dressed in the same black combat fatigues, and each with some sort of machine gun slung over their shoulder. The way they moved gave Libby the impression that they had received some army training or another in their time. Of course, she could not be sure, as she had only ever really seen army soldiers in training on a few occasions. She had dated a sergeant once!
Libby paused. Had she really thought that? What was she coming to: a bumbling mess? No, she always prided herself with more strength than that! She focused straight ahead; she had to find a way out of this.
Just then, the door to the senior computer analysis's office opened and out walked the man that was obviously the leader. Libby watched as he flung a glance at her before he walked over to the huddle. What was it about her that enraged him so fiercely?
"Change of plans," he snapped. "Grab her and let's go."
Libby's heart stopped. They were leaving, and that was a good thing, but they were taking her. She just could not comprehend what was happening. There was nothing special in Libby or in what Libby Banning did for a living. She was only a journalist for the Department of Defence.
Two pairs of hands grabbed her from either side and hoisted her off the ground. The leader turned to face the group of terrified computer analysis'. He bowed.
"Thank you for your time. I'm sure security won't be far off now," he said smugly. He looked over to the men carrying Libby. "Strap her to me."
Libby was carried and placed in front of the leader. He gave her a look of such hatred that Libby's spirit quailed, but only for a second. She glared back.
He smiled deviously before speaking to the man behind Libby. "Suit her up."
Libby felt a vest being forced over her head. A man's hand moved over her quickly, clipping her up. His hands moved down and Libby looked to see him pulling two thick straps up between her legs. He then pushed her towards the headman.
The leader laughed. "Nice panties," he taunted as he began clipping her vest to his.
She reddened as she tried in vain to pull her bunched up skirt over her pink underwear. Libby soon gave up.
"Put your hands behind my neck," he commanded.
Libby shook her head in defiance.
"It's for your own safety. Even if you are fairly attractive," he flicked his eyes up and down her body, "you're not that attractive."
Libby's stance stiffened under his gaze and her fists tightened at his words. Still, she slipped her bound hands over his head. He placed a hand on her back and pushed her body against his. She felt incredibly uncomfortable in her proximity to him and tried to step away.
"I know you like it," he whispered in her ear. "Maybe later when we stop, we can get closer." He pushed his hips harder against hers.
She was still bristling over his implication when he jumped out the window – taking her with him!