Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(75) by Jennifer Estep
That left two giants—the one with the power saw and the other with the welder’s torch.
Pfft! Pfft! Pfft!
Bria shot the guy with the saw in the chest. Even though the tool was on a low setting, it clattered to the floor and started whirring against the marble, making a horrible grinding noise and sending silver sparks shooting up into the air. But I didn’t have time to turn it off, so I sidestepped the saw, hoping that Deirdre and Santos would think the commotion was just part of the thieves working on the cash cages.
The guy with the welder’s torch realized that I was coming for him, and he slammed his protective mask back down into place and fired up the torch, brandishing the hot, blue-white flame at me. I cursed and ducked back out of the way, but my foot snagged on something, and I tripped and fell back on my ass. Something hard and flat dug into my hands, and I realized that I’d landed on one of the duffel bags and was now literally sitting on a pile of money.
The welder pressed his advantage, stepping forward and aiming his torch at my head, even as he cranked up the flame’s intensity. My knife had slipped out of my hand when I tripped, so I grabbed the only other thing within arm’s reach—a shrink-wrapped brick of cash—and threw it at him.
The brick wasn’t even close to being a real weapon, and my aim wasn’t all that great, but I managed to bean the guy in the chest, making him jerk back in surprise.
The open flame hit the wad of cash, instantly igniting it and making it explode like a bomb in the welder’s face. He yelped in surprise and dropped his torch, which clattered to the floor and kept right on burning, slowly chewing into the marble.
Pfft! Pfft! Pfft!
Bria and Owen both stepped up and fired at the welder, and he joined his dead friends on the floor.
As soon as the last man was down, I grabbed my knife, got back onto my feet, and sprinted to the door that led downstairs to the basement. I plastered myself against the wall next to the door, waiting for it to burst open and for giants to come pouring into the lobby from the basement.
No footsteps, no bursting door, no giants.
Behind the counter, the saw kept whining, and the welder’s torch kept hissing. The whirring machinery must have largely masked the sounds of the fight, and no one was rushing up the stairs to check on things. Good. The longer we had the element of surprise, the better our chances were of rescuing Finn.
Bria, Owen, and Silvio rushed over to me.
“Now what?” Silvio said, pulling a gun from against the small of his back.
I flashed my bloody knife at my friends. “Now we go downstairs and find Finn.”
* * *
Silvio turned off the power tools and stayed in the lobby to keep watch and make sure nobody else came into the bank and took us by surprise.
Bria, Owen, and I hurried back to the men’s bathroom. My sister and I did the same procedure as before, with me cracking the marble with my Stone magic, then her widening the cracks with her Ice power. Even though I wanted to blast the floor away as quickly as possible, I made myself work slowly and steadily, not making any more noise and not using any more magic than absolutely necessary, so that Deirdre wouldn’t sense us using our combined elemental power. But the process went much quicker this time, since Owen was here to help grab the jagged chunks of stone and move them out of the way.
As soon as we’d made a big enough hole in the floor, I dropped down to the basement level below, with Bria next and Owen bringing up the rear. Bria checked the bathroom stalls, but there were no blood and no bodies to be found. She nodded at me, and I crept up to the door, eased it open, and peered outside.
Just like on the lobby level, this bathroom also opened up into a hallway, which was deserted. Bria and Owen nodded and raised their guns. I opened the door, and we all left the bathroom.
As soon as I stepped out into the hallway, a cold gust of air swept over my face, which could only mean one thing. Someone was using Ice magic down here.
We tiptoed down the hallway in a line. Once we reached an intersection, the three of us crouched down and peered around the corner. Offices branched off this corridor, but it was still a straight shot all the way down to the main vault fifty feet away.
Big Bertha more than lived up to her name. The five-foot-thick marble walls, floor, and ceiling encasing the vault were the thickest in the entire building and reinforced with silverstone rebar. The vault itself took up a large chunk of the basement, the front of it fifty feet wide and the interior more than three times as long. Big Bertha’s rectangular shape matched the hundreds of safety-deposit boxes lining her walls.
A heavy metal door about ten feet wide was set into the center of the vault. That door had already been drilled and blasted open, judging by the tools and shrapnel littering the floor, the scorch marks on the surrounding walls, and the stench of hot melted metal that filled the air.
But another door lay behind that first one.
Well, it wasn’t really so much a door as it was a thick, tight mesh of silverstone bars that covered the entrance from top to bottom and side to side. Way too much silverstone to cut your way through with a power saw or a welding torch, unlike the cash cages upstairs. A keypad was attached to the right side of the mesh, the light on the front red, indicating that the mesh was locked down tight.
Several boxes were stacked to one side of the vault, each stamped with the words Property of Briartop. Deirdre and Santos had brought all the jewelry from the museum exhibit down here. Of course they had. They wouldn’t have wanted to let any of those precious stones out of their sight, not for one second.
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