Jack West Jnr waited for the reverberations of the explosion to cease before he gingerly continued his journey towards the alter. A mixed path of dark and light stones marked the route, and Jack chose to tread only on the light ones, still following the clues that Lily had deciphered.
Once again he had to clear his mind of the noises from the battle that was now obviously raging below, his concern for his loved ones could cloud his judgment and he couldn't afford to be distracted.
The light stones were becoming further apart the closer he got to the alter, but Jack didn't want to risk straying from the path that had so far proven steady. He was so close to the alter now, only another couple of metres and he would reach his objective.
As he leapt to the stone that was next closest to the alter, he overbalanced slightly, his left foot lightly grazing the edge of the dark stone next to him. This slight error began a chain reaction as the circular pyramid began to implode on itself.
The time for caution had come to an end as Jack gathered all his strength for one final leap. He propelled himself forward, just managing to grasp the underside of the alter with his artificial hand as the stones that had supported him only seconds before crumbled in on themselves, leaving a gaping chasm below him, now filled with the rubble that had made up the top pyramid. The alter stood alone in the centre of the chamber, supported by a single stone column that descended deep into the bowels of the enormous structure itself.
Jack wearily hauled himself on to the top of the alter and reached for the stone tablet that lay at its centre.
"You ready for this?" Maddie grinned at Zoe after the last of the explosives had been laid in place.
"Ready as I'll ever be." Zoe grimaced.
"Ok, light her up then." The dark haired woman seemed to almost be enjoying their predicament as Zoe struck a match and lit the fuse that led to the small amount of C4 that she had stashed in her backpack in case of emergency.
"Get ready to catch Scarecrow. Over" Maddie yelled in to her mike as Zoe grabbed on to her and she fired the gas propelled maghook towards the far end of the bridge that led to the central structure the rest of the team were sheltering in.
The metal claws scraped against the stone as Schofield shot out from behind the wall to grab the end of the maghook and secure it around the wall and the first window, hooking it back on to itself for extra support while Pooh Bear laid down a volley of shots to provide him with cover.
"All clear Angel, just keep your head down. Over" He yelled in to the mike.
"Oh, he does care." Came the flippant answer as he hoped and prayed that the hook would hold their weight.
The C4 exploded in the crack between the ledge and the cavern wall that had been created by the RPG. Just then, a group of six enemy soldiers erupted from the entranceway of the tunnel, guns blazing. The ledge creaked and groaned ominously under the additional weight.
"Here we go," Maddie whispered to Zoe. "Hold on tight."
The stone ledge gave a final dying shudder, then tumbled in to the abyss below, taking with it the six hapless men, screaming in horror as they fell into the dark unknown. Maddie and Zoe tumbled headlong beside them, until they reached the end of the metal rope of the maghook with a sudden jolt.
Seconds later they crashed heavily in to the wall of the central structure.
The violence of the abrupt collision caused Zoe to lose her grip and she felt herself starting to fall again. Quicker than lightning, Maddie let go the vice like hold with one of her hands that she had on the maghook and made a grab for Zoe's wrist, just managing to snare it before the pretty blonde fell out of reach. The strain of supporting a dead weight was immediately evident, as Maddie felt her fingers begin to tremble.
"You're going to have to climb up me Zoe." She yelled through gritted teeth.
Zoe nodded in understanding, reaching up with her free hand to grip the belt around Maddie's waist, and slowly but surely made the perilous climb, grabbing the mag hook handle as soon as she could. She depressed the trigger and the winch mechanism started to slowly move them upwards towards the tower window.
Pooh Bear continued to lay down covering fire as what was left of the enemy contingent continued their assault from the tunnel entrance.
"Ok, we're almost there." Maddie yelled in to her throat mike as Scarecrow and Astro leaned out the tower window and grabbed both women, hauling them unceremoniously through the opening to safety.
Exhausted from their effort, they lay breathless side by side on the stone floor of the structure.
"That was close." Maddie whispered, a small grin forming around her mouth.
"You saved my life." Zoe stated, staring at her sister in law with a new found respect. "Catching me like that could have taken us both down, but you did it anyway, why would you do that?"
"You're my team mate." Maddie said with a slight shrug. "Besides, Jack would never have forgiven me if I let anything happen to you. I guess this is as good a time as any to call a truce?"
Zoe smiled at the dark headed woman and held out her hand to shake on the halt to hostilities.
"Well, are you two just going to lie there all day making nice or are you going to come and take turns at taking pot shots at our friends on the other side of the bridge." Scarecrow grinned down at the two women. He offered a hand to Zoe to help her up. As soon as she was on her feet, she rushed to Lily and engulfed the little girl in a big hug.
Schofield then bent and offered his hand to Maddie. As he lifted her to her feet, he pulled her in close to him.
"You are crazy, you know that?" He whispered to her, his eyes locked with hers.
"Maybe, but it's all part of my charm." She grinned at him. "Besides, it worked, didn't it?"
"Yeah, it worked alright. Just don't do it again." He muttered, giving in to the overwhelming urge that had been plaguing him since that morning back in Washington, capturing her sweet mouth in a kiss that was a mixture of pent up desire and immense relief.