The inside of the old apartment building reflected the same dry and dreary personality as the outside. The walls were a faded, yellowish-brown, with paint peeling off in large chunks. The tiles, which had at one point been white with black speckles, were now dark, creamy beige with black speckles, and had bits and pieces broken off along the seams.
Kirsten pressed the call button on the elevator, and waited as it screeched to a stop, the doors sliding open shortly after. She selected the button for the eighth floor, and leaned against the wall. Though the main focus of her thoughts remained on the story and the new information she had gathered, the thoughts kept wandering to the young man. Though he had seemed to be straight-forward with her, she was positive he had been hiding something. His body language was slightly tense, and his eyes seemed to be continually searching hers for the answer to an unasked question; almost as if he suspected her of something.
"You're just paranoid," she said, shaking the thought from her head as the elevator chimed, and the doors slid open, revealing her floor. The door to room 807 was wide open, and she could see the shadow of its occupant, Garbs, as he liked to be called, swaying back and forth in the hallway. At 19, he was the youngest tenant in the building, and because of this factor, his strange behaviour was often disregarded by the other occupants. As Kirsten drew near, she could hear him speaking softly to himself.
"Just act casual, no-one will notice," he was muttering, sweeping the carpet just inside his doorway. When Kirsten approached he looked up sharply, and after checking to be sure no-one else was around, beckoned to her. His dark, curly, brown hair was matted to his forehead, which usually meant he had just gotten home from hockey. His brown eyes were filled with a strange look as he spoke. "Some odd looking men just left your apartment," he told her quietly, checking the halls again. "One of them said something about coming back shortly, and instructed the others to wait in the lobby. They took the stairs."
Kirsten frowned slightly. "Did they take anything?"
Garbs shook his head. "Not that I could see. I was going to call the cops when they first arrived, but I overheard them mention that the entire building was wired…"
"Shit…" Kirsten muttered. She glanced up at Garbs. "Stay out of sight. If you hear or see the men come back, call the police… you'll be safe."
"Kirsten, what's going on?" he asked, a worried expression on his face. He wasn't sure what to make of all this, and Kirsten's response was not helping.
"I'm not sure," she said. "I'm going to go see if I can figure it out though." Hurrying over to 818, she was not very surprised to find the door slightly ajar. She opened it cautiously, in case any of the men had remained behind. She was positive that whoever these men were, they were the same ones who had been by Chris's apartment earlier. She was not very surprised to find her apartment had been completely trashed. Drawers were pulled out of desks, dressers, and counters, and her clothes, papers and other belongings lay scattered on the floor. The computer however, seemed to have received the worst end of the deal. The screen had been smashed, and small, wiry, wisps of smoke rose from the back of the monitor. The hard-drive was shattered on the floor beside her desk, and all her disks which were usually kept on the far right corner of the desk, were missing.
Grateful they had contained nothing of great importance, she left the mess and headed to her bedroom, pulling out a small red duffle bag from the closet. Grabbing some of what she hoped was clean laundry from around the room, she stuffed what she could into the small bag. She took one last look through the apartment to be sure nothing important was missing that she had overlooked, then hurried to the fire exit that led down from her balcony.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, a small laugh managed to escape her lips as she began to climb down the rickety stairs. The last time she had done something like this was when she and Chris had tried to run away several years ago. When she was only four feet above the ground, she jumped off and landed on the ground with ease. With a satisfied smile, she pulled her car keys out of her pocket and made her way toward her car. She pushed the 'start engine' button when she was about halfway there, and as the engine began to roar to life, a strange sound came with it, and before Kirsten knew what was going on, the car erupted into a giant ball of flames and exploded. One of the doors flew off the car, and went soaring straight toward her. She managed to dodge the door, but unfortunately did not escape some of the smaller debris. Something hit her in the forehead, causing a wave of dizziness to come over her as she stumbled backwards.
The smell of burning rubber filled the air, causing Kirsten's stomach to lurch several times. Her mind was racing as the realization of what nearly happened dawned on her. Someone obviously wanted her dead, for whatever reason. She took a moment to catch her breath and calm her nerves before limping behind the large green dumpster located only a few feet away from where she had landed. The red duffle bag was still grasped firmly in her hand, a small hole burned in the top from where a piece of ash had landed on it.
Pulling out her cell from her purse, she sat still for a moment, unsure of whom to call for help. If these were the same men that had come after her brother earlier, getting him to come save here would put them at an even higher risk. Suddenly she remembered Damon's number in her pocket, and pulled it out.
A trickle of blood ran down her face, and she wiped it away with the back of her hand. This wasn't the time to start worrying about injuries. She punched in the number quickly and waited impatiently for Damon to pick up. A wave of relief rushed through her as he answered.
"Damon, this is Kirsten," she said, trying to keep her voice calm. "Do you think you could possibly come get me…? I've been in a bit of an accident."
"Yeah sure," he replied. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," she assured him, ignoring the searing pain which had begun to shoot up her leg. Something must have hit her without her realizing it, due to her large focus on whatever had hit her in the head. "I just need to get out of here." A touch of worry lined her voice, though unintended. She had to admit, for the first time in her rather short, yet eventful career, she was frightened.
"I'm on my way." Damon's voice cut through her thoughts.
She placed her cell phone back in her purse, and turned her attentions to her pained leg. She blinked in surprise at the large gash which was bleeding profusely. How she had not felt this injury happen was beyond her, but she knew something had to be done to slow the bleeding immediately. Rummaging through her duffle bag, she found an older t-shirt, and tied it tightly around her leg. When she was positive the shirt was secured tightly around the wound, she moved her hand to the spot on her forehead where the pain was coming from. Much to her relief the blood was beginning to dry, meaning the cut must not have been too deep.
As she sat waiting, she realized that the parking lot was far too quiet for what had just occurred. Why weren't the occupants of the building rushing out to see what had happened? Unless the men had returned and were holding everyone hostage. But then again, why hadn't anyone called the police either? There was no possible way these men were able to monitor every single person. Someone should have called 911 by now. The station was only a few blocks away from the building, so she should have heard the sirens by now. She strained her ears to listen for anything, but nothing out of the ordinary city sounds could be heard.
Moments later, the sound of a vehicle entering the parking lot reached her, and she cautiously peered around the corner of the dumpster to see who it was. Much to her relief, it was Damon. She pushed herself to her feet, picked up her duffle, and hobbled out as Damon climbed out of his car and began to look around for her. A look of shock crossed his face as he surveyed the scene, and when he spotted Kirsten, he rushed over to her.
"There's no time to explain right now. We need to get out of here." Her voice was calm and collected, no traces of the worry he had heard slip through her voice earlier.
Damon looked at her in wonder. Whether this calmness was simply a façade, or whether it was real, she played it well, and seemed as unaffected by the situation as she was by her injuries. He looked over her wounds quickly as he took the red duffle from her. The bleeding on her forehead had nearly stopped, but bruising around the cut had begun. The white t-shirt she had tied around the gash on her leg was nearly soaked through with blood.
"I need to get you to a hospital," he said, as he took her duffle bag from her, and then assisted her over to the car. After tossing her bag in the back seat, he opened the passenger door, and was surprised at how quickly she climbed in, without his assistance. After making sure she was able to buckle herself in, he walked around to the driver's side and reached for the door latch.
Before he had the door fully opened, a gunshot echoed through the lot as a bullet whizzed past Damon's head. Damon ducked down quickly, drawing out his gun from the back of his pants.
Kirsten, who was already startled by the gunshot, was even more startled as she watched Damon draw his own gun. 'Who the hell is this guy?' Before she had time to actually ponder this question however, another gunshot sounded, and a bullet deflected of the window in front of her. An exclamation of surprise escaped her lips, and she ducked quickly below the dashboard.
Damon stood from his crouched position just high enough so that he could see through the door's window, and spotted the shooter standing at the corner of the apartment building, dressed fully in black.
The man took aim to fire again, but when nothing happened, his face twisted in shock.
Damon rolled his eyes. Obviously the shooter was not a professional, or else he would have checked his bullets before hand. 'Idiot.' Jumping to his feet, Damon pointed his gun and shouted "FREEZE! CIA!"
Kirsten bolted up in her seat, momentarily forgetting about the shooter, and looked at Damon in shock and confusion. 'CIA?' Her mind raced for a moment, until it dawned on her. He must have seen her at the shipyard, and thought she was involved in this whole mess.
Damon noticed Kirsten's sudden movement in his peripheral vision, but kept his eyes focused on the shooter. He'd face Kirsten once this was over with.
The man stood still for a moment, then turned and ran, disappearing behind the safety of the building, and an engine roared to life from behind the wall.
Without hesitation, Damon jumped into his car and started the engine. He put the car into gear, but before he could move, a large red Sunfire came flying around the corner toward them. "SHIT!" he exclaimed, throwing the car into reverse and slamming on the gas. The car shot backwards into the street, Damon incredibly thankful that there was no oncoming traffic. Making a sharp left as he entered the street, he threw the car back into drive, the Sunfire flying out after them hot in pursuit.
The sudden lurch of the car caused Kirsten to fly forward violently in her seat, bashing her leg off the dashboard. Ignoring the searing pain, she fumbled around in an attempt to put on her seatbelt.
As the two cars flew down the road, cars honked angrily at the high speed chase. Damon reached under the cup holders and pulled out a police radio. "Get their plate number," he instructed Kirsten.
Kirsten craned her neck around to look at the car behind them. Trying to focus on the numbers as the car moved from side to side, weaving in and out of vehicles just as Damon had begun to do.
"Attention all units!" Damon shouted into the radio, "This is Agent Damon McAdams! I am being pursued by a red Pontiac Sunfire, license plate..." he paused and held the radio out to Kirsten, who leaned over to it.
The street came to an end, and Damon made a sharp right turn before he began talking again. "We are currently heading West on Diamond Ave at 100 m/h." A bullet hit the back of the car and Damon winced at the sound of one of his rear lights shattering. Several more bullets followed moments after. "They have opened fire on us! Requesting immediate backup!" He dropped the radio and hit a red switch above the A/C control. A red light came up through the front of the dashboard and began flashing as a loud siren began to whine outside the car.
In the midst of hanging on for dear life, Kirsten couldn't help but be impressed with the hidden equipment in Damon's car.
Glancing quickly in the rearview mirror, Damon was pleased to see more flashing lights closing in behind the Sunfire. Two more sets of red flashing lights appeared not too far ahead of his own car. They were fast approaching the intersection at Mavis, and chances were more cops would be waiting on both sides of that street as well. Realizing the cops were beginning to create a road block, he covered the brake with his left foot and grabbed the E-brake. People and cars rushed to get out of the way as they sped by. The intersection was boxed off by several police cruisers as they arrived, and Damon slammed on the brakes, coming to a fast stop beside one of the cruisers. The moment they were fully stopped, Damon jumped out of the car and drew his gun again, aiming it, along with the other cops, at the Sunfire.
The Sunfire, came quickly to a stop and the two men inside raised their hands in surrender. Two officers ran over, guns still raised, and pulled the men out of the car, slapping handcuffs on them. Both men were dressed in all black outfits, and largely resembled some of the Mafia members Damon had arrested earlier in his career.
Damon sighed with relief and leaned forward, resting his forehead against the door frame. The fact that the men had surrendered so easily most likely meant that they wouldn't talk when questioned. That would prove to be very frustrating, but he wasn't willing to deal with that yet. He lowered his head slightly so that he could see Kirsten, who was currently watching him with a curious expression on her face.
"Probably mirroring my own expression," he mused as he studied her. It struck him as odd that she had remained so calm when she heard his declaration of being an agent. Although there had not really been much time for a reaction he had expected something from her. She was an intelligent woman; he knew it mustn't have taken her long to connect the dots on why he had attempted to speak with her in the first place. Yet still she sat there, saying nothing.
Kirsten of course had come to the total realization of what was happening, but wasn't quite sure how to react. She expected him to immediately place her under arrest, or to at least be doing so now instead of standing there watching her.
"I need to talk to the Chief for a moment," he said, breaking the silence. "Then I'm taking you to the hospital. I'll come back and give them a full report while you're getting stitched up." He waited a moment for Kirsten to speak, but all she did was nod. Offering her an encouraging smile, he hurried over to a large man with white hair, and a wiry grey moustache.
Chief Eric Langden was a man who trusted very few, and despised the CIA. He narrowed his eyes into a sharp glare as he saw the young agent approaching.
"Thanks for your help Chief," Damon greeted, ignoring the glare.
Langden made a noise which sounded like 'harumph', and crossed his arms. "I'm assuming the blame can be put on Kirsten Saunders?" He glowered at the woman through the car windows.
"I'm not sure. We were attacked at her apartment building after her car was detonated. I'm taking Kirsten to the hospital, where I'll get her full story, then I'll return to give it to you. Hopefully something can be figured out through all this. Whatever you find out from the men I need reported back to me."
"I'd really like a word with her personally," Langden told him commandingly.
Damon raised an eyebrow at the older man's commanding tone. "Chief Langden, I do not feel she is in a position to talk with you at the moment. I will speak with her, and return with the report to you." His own tone was cold, as he fought back the urge to tell off the older man. He and Langden had crossed wires several times, and the only thing which kept him biting his tongue was the harsh warning he had received from Cartwright after his first dispute with the man. He took a deep breath then continued. "Now, if you don't mind, I have an injured reporter bleeding all over my car. I will see you at the station once Miss Saunders is being safely looked after." He turned from Langden and walked briskly back to his own car.
"Something tells me Chief Langden really dislikes you as well," he said to Kirsten as he climbed into the car.
Kirsten smirked slightly. "Let's just say we met on the wrong foot."
"You got off on the wrong foot with someone?" he replied in mock surprise.
"Haha. Funny." She shrugged. "It's not my fault his officers lose focus of their job so easily," she said innocently. Ignoring the snicker from Damon, she looked down at the shirt around her leg, which was now fully soaked through with blood. "Well, I guess that shirt was at least good for something."