Six drove hard, sticking to quiet country roads, As it started to get light again, he skidded to a sudden halt. Without saying a word, he grabbed his phone and spent ten minutes tapping away at it with a frown on his face. Then he handed it to me, telling me to flick between a map and what looked like a live camera feed of the inside of a house. He drove on and a couple of hours later, parked in the garage of a cottage on the edge of a village close to London.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“Safehouse. Officially it’s a holiday home. No one will think it’s strange that we’re here. We’ll be safe for a couple of nights and we can plan our next move.”
I recognised the interior from the camera feeds I’d been watching.
“This belongs to your emplyers? Won’t they look for you here?”
“No. It’s mine. No one else knows about it.”
Six wouldn’t answer any more questions. He set about checking his many hidden security measures and reported that no one had been there. I knew we were safe – for the time being at least.
It was about twenty-seven hours later when I realised that someone had been in the house while I was asleep and left things for us. There was a laptop containing every note and every manuscript I’d left behind in our crashed car.
My eye was drawn to some material I didn’t recognise – titled “URGENT”
It showed what else ShadowAspect had been up to recently.
The first incident sent a chill up my spine.
Six turned and ran for it. I scrambled to my feet and followed. I felt dazed and a little delicate from being hit, but I just shook it off as I ran.
The farm was further away than it looked. Running in the darkness towards the shape of a group of buildings, I didn’t dare slow down. Glancing over my shoulder, it didn’t look like anyone was following.
Eventually we reached the farm and hid behind the wall of a barn. I collapsed to the ground, my lungs burning. My legs screamed in pain.
“Who the hell were they?” Six uttered. He wasn’t even breathing heavily.
“Dunno,” I gasped.
“They weren’t like ShadowAspect,” he thought out loud. “They were more like the woman who dodged my bullets.” He peered around the corner. “We need to get out of here before any of them see what car we’re driving.”
Six led the way and I staggered after him. He found a barn by the lane leading out of the farm and hauled the door open.
My phone vibrated in my pocket. Car doors unlocked in front of me. The lights came on inside the Ford Focus sitting in the barn.
Six jumped in the driver’s seat. I sank into the passenger seat. He accelerated and drove at breakneck sped out of the farm.
I landed on my back. Six jumped in front of me and fired a volley of bullets at the shield. None of them got through.
Our attackers inside the shield ran right at us. Six didn’t move. He kept firing. The shield was going to hit him.
A shadowy figure shot past Six and through the shimmering shield like it wasn’t there. The shield vanished. The new arrival punched the shield carrier to the ground. He leapt and grabbed the flyer’s leg, yanked him down, then kicked him, sending him flying back into the graveyard.
He turned and waved at us, then pointed to the farm, ordering us to run for it.
It was really good to see him again.
He couldn’t have timed his intervention any better.
The flyer couldn’t deflect our bullets himself. He had to stay behind the shimmering cloud to make sure he didn’t get shot.
Six and I turned and ran. Six looked over his shoulder every few steps and fired another shot. Then he reloaded so quickly I almost missed it.
We were getting away.
A second figure leapt in front of the flyer. I could tell it was a woman. Like the flyer, she wore a mask and was dressed in all black. The shimmering air burst out from between her hands. As she moved in front of the flyer, the shimmering air enveloped them both like a shield. Once they were both protected, she ran at us, the flyer hovering behind her.
Six gave up trying to shoot them and we ran for it. We reached the last rows of graves. I glanced over my shoulder. They were still right behind us. The one wielding the bulletproof shield pushed her hands together, making a bright burst of power. She flung a blast out of her shield. The force hit me in the shoulder and blew me off my feet.
Six and I backed away through the gravestones. The dark figure flew after us.
We changed direction, turned and ran, aiming for the back of the graveyard and the meadow beyond.
The dark figure veered in the air, sinking until his feet nearly touched the ground, then took off after us.
We ran hard, but the flying figure was catching us up with evey stride we made. Six pulled his gun, turned and fired two silenced shots at him.
The air shimmered in front of the flyer. The bullets zipped into the shimmering air and deflected into the night.
Six fired again.
The air concentrated into a glimmering, silvery cloud. The bullets ricocheted away. We backed away as Six kept firing. The bullets didn’t get near the flyer.
My eyes caught a shimmer to the flyer’s right. He wasn’t the one deflecting the bullets. Someone else was doing it for him.
The car was stuck. Six gave up stamping on the accelerator and scowled. My shoulder and ribs sang from where the seatbelt had dug into them.
“How the hell did that happen?” he grated.
My phone vibrated.
“What happened?”Silas texted. “Why did you stop?”
“Something took control of the car and crashed it. We’re fine.”
“Get out of the car now. Take what you need and run. Leave files and computer – I have copies of everything. Check the boot.”
I hated leaving my laptop and manuscripts, but I knew I couldn’t run with them. Six found guns, ammo and night vision goggles in the boot. With out night vision goggles on, we left the car and ran over the field we had crashed into, which rose up towards the silhouette of a church at the top of a small hill.
I reached the church gasping for breath and leaned against the wall before my legs gave way. Looking back towards the car, I could see three figures skulking around it. They were searching for us.
Six and I crept around to a graveyard at the back. It was like an army of stones standing to attention. Beyond the graveyard was a meadow leading a mass of buildings that was the farm.
We picked our way through the gravestones, staying close to the biggest ones. Then Six stopped and pointed. I froze. Across the graveyard someone was moving. I couldn’t tell if we’d been seen or not. It looked like a man in a balaclava.
He stopped and lifted his face into the air like he was listening for something. What happened next was so unreal, I don’t think I would believe it now – if Six hadn’t been there and seen it too.
The man in the graveyard spread his arms. He lifted slowly into the air and flew right at us.
Six swerved the Audi off the main road at the first turn and accelerated down a narrow country lane away from the streetlights and into pitch black. The headlights were on a low beam, sweeping over the road and hedges flying past on both sides.
We saw the turn late. Six skidded the car over the ground and jammed his foot on the accelerator, throwing us down the lane.
My phone buzzed. I opened the link Silas had sent. It was a detailed map showing our current location and every country lane around us. It gave a route to a destination 50 kilometres away.
“Isolated farmhouse,” Silas texted. “Change your car there.”
With me acting as navigator, Six took each turn like a rally driver, swerving down every turn at terrifying speeds. For once I was glad it was dark.
I shot a glance behind us every so often, looking for headlights following us, but there was no sign of anyone. I leaned back in my seat, allowing myself to relax a bit.
When we were less than a kilometre from the farmhouse, the headlights caught a dark shape moving ahead of us.
Six had seen it too. He pushed the brake.
The car sped up.
Six frowned and jammed his foot down hard on the brake pedal.
The car sped up again. Then it swerved violently.
Six gripped the steering wheel and hauled it back.
The car veered one way, then the other.
Six struggled with the wheel. I reached over and grabbed the wheel with both hands.
A force wrenched it out of our hands.
The car swerved. It shot straight off the road and ploughed through a hedge.
Bullets bombarded the windscreen and the bodywork of the Audi Six was driving.
They clanged and bounced off the car like it was bulletproof. The muzzle flashed. But Six ignored it and drove straight at the SUV. The gunman’s eyes widened in alarm, he ducked back in the SUV.
“Hang on,” Six uttered.
He accelerated. Then he heaved up the handbrake and hauled the steering wheel to the right. The car spun around. I clung on. As the SUV was about to hit us, the front of our Audi swung out of reach.
Then I was facing the opposite direction.
The car and the van had skidded to a halt behind us. It looked like they had just avoided crashing into each other. Then they turned around and set off after us.
We kept spinning until we faced the front again. The SUV screeched to a halt. It had just missed us.
Six accelerated and we sped away. My stomach lurched back into my spne. But for now, I was still alive.
We tore right at the van, seconds away from a head-on collision. Six swung the car right suddenly. I was thrown to the left. My face slammed into the window.
The van didn’t turn in time.
We shot right past it. I braced myself as we just missed the van’s front bunper. Six hammered his foot down and accelerated again, operating the gearstick like a rally driver, his eyes fixed on the road.
I opened my eyes and glanced at the road, thinking that danger was past, but another car, a Porsche SUV sped right at us. A guy heaved himself through the passenger seat window with an assault rifle in his hand and opened fire.
I stared in wide-eyed horror at the van tearing right at us. The car behind moved right up until it was almost touching the back bumper. We were heading for a collision. The bars on the front of the van would crush us inside the car.
Gripping the wheel, I froze. I didn’t know what to do.
Six grabbed the wheel. Before I knew it, he was driving and I was scrambling into the passenger seat.
He slowed right down. The car behind bumped into the back of us. Six swung left. The driver behind followed. The van altered its trajectory to charge right at us.
Then Six jammed his foot down and accelerated.