They crept forward, Elena keeping in the back line as per her orders. It was hard to tell who was leading, for they all wore dark clothes with their faces masked by balaclavas and dark facepaint, designed to help them blend into the darkness. "Geoff?" she hissed, tripping over something in the tunnel.
"What is it?" he replied. He could have been angry, but it was hard to tell when he was whispering. "We're supposed to be keeping silent."
"I wanted to ask you what you meant."
"Now isn't the time, Elena. This is dangerous, all right? Shut up!" The others carried on moving. Geoff was on her right - it was good to know that. So that had to be Mathew on the far left, because only the two of them were that size.
When they reached their target it was the domain of the smallest - Elena and James, a young boy who had joined them just a month ago. This would be his first real outing into the real world and she pitied him. He got the dangerous one, did he? Her first trip and they'd stolen a load of apples - hardly a criminal offense, even if they could have got fined for it.
"In you go," said Geoff, and they slipped through the slightly open gate, through the garden, up the steps, pushed open the door, Elena trying desperately not to breathe too loudly. It was too long since they'd last broken into somewhere.
But they had counted without dogs. Flashlights they were used to. Motion sensors were no problem. But huge dogs - Rottweilers, probably, although she wasn't sure - were not what Elena and the others had planned for, and they didn't know what to do.
"Run!" shouted someone. Was it Geoff? The lights were blinding Elena and she couldn't see what was happening. "Get out of here." As the others sprinted away, James close on their heels, Elena knew she wouldn't be able to catch up with them. Still, she leaped down the steps and did her best to chase them, her feet hitting the ground in a rhythm that was almost as irregular as her heartbeat.
"To the cars - quickly." Half of their group was waiting by the small vehicles that they had nicknamed 'cars' after some ancient form of transport. Suddenly Elena realised that they must have known this would happen, to take enough care to ensure a getaway. She wondered why they hadn't mentioned it to her.
They were almost at the gates. Elena put on a burst of speed and was almost through, just a few feet away from the rest of the group, when she felt hands grab her from her behind and pull her backwards. "No!" she tried to scream, not easy with their hands over her mouth. "No - let me go!"
"We've got one of them. A girl." The voice was deep and rough, as though the speaker smoked a lot. "I doubt we'll catch the others."
"Well, perhaps they'll come back for her." As soon as she heard the voice, Elena knew that this was the man in charge. Only somebody very important could sound so icy cold, so in control, when their house had almost been broken into. "After all, she's a pretty thing. I'm sure they wouldn't want to lose her."
If you're left behind, you stay behind. If you go down, we all get out of there before we go down too. Geoff's words rang in her ears as she felt herself behind dragged away. Well, at least the others escaped. At least I gave them the chance to get away ...
From the bumping of her feet against the stone, Elena deduced that they'd taken her back up the steps to the house. Now, nothing could help her. No one had told her what to do. No one was there to rescue her.