I knew there were still five more men somewhere in the building. They were secondary in my mind as I worked to keep both me and Shawn from falling down the stairs. I had to give him credit. Shawn had to feel like Hell, but he didn't complain more than an errant groan of pain.
"Almost there." I muttered as we left the stairwell. I had my weapon raised and ready, but there was no one to greet us in the corridor.
I knew why when we reached the east exit. I cracked the door and saw six heads poking up from various points throughout the yard. They'd given up trying to find me inside and were waiting for an easy target when I came through the door. I had a feeling there were more of them at the south and west exits too.
"I see we have a welcoming party." I mused. I needed both hands free to deal with this mess. I helped my partner slide to the floor.
"Brian, go on. Get out of here." Shawn mumbled. "Leave me here."
"Not happening, pal." I snapped back. "We came together, we leave together. Got it?"
"Craziest Yank I've ever met." There was a faint smile on his lips.
I cracked the door again and saw all six men outside tense and shift their weapons. They were ready for me. If I opened the door more than a crack to even try for another frag grenade, they'd take my arm off. I could take out one or two with the door cracked, but after that, I'd need to lose my cover to get a clean shot. A dozen ideas raced through my head, none of them very good. Most of them ended with me and Shawn trying for one of the other exits in the hopes they were less guarded. It wasn't an idea I was all that thrilled to try.
Then, suddenly, I heard the voice of an angel, if angels came from Canada.
"Brian? Brian?" Joanna's voice crackled through my comm.
"Joanna, where the Hell have you been?"
"They jammed the signal. Took me forever to get it back. Are you okay?"
"Peachy." I said. "I've got Shawn. He's hurt."
"Where are you?"
"Just inside the compound, near the eastern exit. They're outside. We're pinned in here. I'm not really into the idea of trying to go back through to the south exit."
"How many of them are there?" She asked.
"A half dozen." If it was all of them, it was a good sign. But I'd seen vehicles in the yard I hadn't seen on my way in. There were either more of them lying in wait throughout the building or they were waiting at the south and west exits. "On the plus side, I managed to upload Juarez's contact list."
"Good." If nothing else, Joanna could tell Six we'd done what we set out to do. Not that it would do much good now. By this time tomorrow, the contact list would be old news. "We're taking off, Brian. Connors can take them out from the air."
"Small miracles." I muttered. I glanced at Shawn. "Hear that?"
He grunted. "Guess I still have to owe you that twenty."
"Guess you do."
The sounds of the chopper's rotors were always music to my ears when our missions were over It meant a hot shower, a cold beer, and the knowledge we'd just finished putting another chink in the bad guys' chains. Tonight, it also meant that Shawn and I were both getting out alive.
"Hold on, Brian." Joanna's voice was mixed with the sounds of gunfire, both from the ground and above. "Okay…Juarez's men are backing off. They're taking cover behind the building. We're setting down."
I didn't much like the idea of going outside knowing I could still be shot in the back.
""We're on the ground."
Shawn groaned aloud as I hoisted him up off the floor, but he didn't say more. He leaned against the wall as I kicked open the outer door and held it open against the wind generated by the rotors.
I heard loud cursing from the side of the building and shouted orders to stop us leaving. None of it did any good as Josh Connors, one of our backup operatives, sent bursts of gunfire towards the building to ward them off.
"Hey beautiful." I grinned at Joanna as we climbed in.
"Hey yourself." She looked as relieved as I felt. "Shawn, you look like Hell."
"Thanks." He said, trying to glare at her through his one good eye.
The chopper took off to a last few bursts of fire from Connors weapon. We left Juarez's men running in circles. Looking back down at the building, I let myself think about how close both Shawn and I had come to getting killed. I didn't let the thought linger for long. We were Rainbow Six. It was all part of the job.