The girder shuddered violently as the crane was hit with more shells. Alice held onto the support cable and Dark, swaying in time with the beam. She fought back the tears and suppressed her memories of burned corpses, but they kept coming back, filling her view. She could see them now, burned husks lying strewn across the battlefield, in the streets, along rooftops. She could imagine Owen being incinerated by the fireball, his lifeless body falling to the ground, bones protruding through his burnt skin, immolated after they’d only just reunited.
Another shudder brought her back to the present. Alice heard a creaking, and to her horror saw one of the support cables give way. The girder swung wildly, and as another cable broke free the beam dropped several inches and bounced. Alice knew the beam wouldn’t hold much longer, and looked for an escape route. They were far too high to survive a fall to the rooftops, so the only way was up, onto the crane itself. Alice groaned and stood up carefully. Dark hopped onto the beam.
“You sure you know what you’re doing?” she enquired. Alice looked down at her.
“Do we really have a choice?” she explained, then gestured to her shoulder. “Grab on”
Dark obliged, leaping up onto her shoulder and digging her claws into the fabric, being careful not to touch Alice’s burns. Alice looked up at the support cables, and grabbed onto the main cable, pulling herself up. Slowly but surely, she managed to get up the cable, wincing from the burns in contact with it, and they reached the crane arm. Dark leapt up onto it, and gave Alice room to pull herself up. As she was doing so, she heard another groan from the girder, much louder this time, and a few seconds later the beam dropped to earth. The arm juddered violently, jarring Alice, who just managed to hold on. She breathed a sigh of relief, then pulled herself up onto the arm. Sitting down on it, she rested, breathing heavily. Dark leapt onto her lap.
“Well” Alice started. “Wasn’t that fun?”
Stretching, Alice peered over the edge of the crane. The height was tremendous; she could barely see anything below. A small crater below hinted as to where the beam had landed.
“Thank God we weren’t on the thing when it went” she sighed. Dark mewled, and Alice stroked her back.
They rested for several minutes, the crane jarring every so often, before Alice stood up. She surveyed the area, looking for any sign of escape. All the buildings below were far too low for them to reach safely, but as her eye fell on the cab she realised one way they could escape.
“Come on” she called to Dark, who looked up sleepily. “I know how we can get out of here”
Alice broke into a run, neatly leaping between support beams on the arm, with Dark following carefully behind. She ignored the jarring of the crane, adjusting herself in time-worn fashion each time her target moved. Her training had done her well, and she reached the cab quickly. Turning around, she looked back at Dark, who’d almost reached her, but caught a moving object out of the corner of her eye. Her eyes widened, and she sprinted towards Dark, who was still carefully picking her way along the crane, oblivious to what was happening around her, until the object collided with part of the crane.
The rocket did its job perfectly, rocking the crane arm and blowing most of the supports out. Bending dangerously, the arm threatened to break away. Dark leapt wildly, and Alice grabbed her as she passed. She spun on the spot, and sprinted back to the cab, reaching the hatch. Behind her, the arm slowly broke away in pieces, falling to earth. Kicking the hatch hard, she dropped into the cab, clutching Dark tightly. Landing in the cab, she sighed, watching the majority of the crane arm collapse away. Looking around the cramped space, she could see the body of the driver, slumped over the control panel, blood coating the instruments. A small hole was visible in the glass, probably where he’d been shot. As she peered through the glass, another hole appeared and a bullet whizzed past her head. Diving down, she breathed heavily in the corner. She felt a furry object on her arm, and looked down to see Dark rubbing against it. Exhausted, she sighed, relaxed and let the calm of sleep envelop her.
“Bugger!” he whispered, cycling the bolt on his rifle. He turned to his partner. “Missed ‘er”
“Damn it, I told you: wait until they’re completely in view and aren’t moving” his partner had a lot more experience than him. “I don’t get why they’re getting you recruits in on this job anyway. It’s too risky”
The officer retrieved his radio, fiddled with the buttons, and then held it to his ear. “Command? This is Sniper Team 4; we have located the target but were unable to take them down. Request rocket support, over.”
The radio buzzed, before he heard a voice on the other end.
“Negative Sniper Team 4; all rocket teams are currently in use at the front lines.”
“But this is important! We’ve located target Alpha!”
The radio went silent for several seconds.
“We read you loud and clear Sniper Team 4; do you still have your target painters?”
The officer fiddled around in his pack before retrieving a small device.
“Yes sir, over”
“We’re sending in fast movers, paint the target. Over and out” The radio went silent.
The officer looked down at the device in his hands, then smiled menacingly at his apprentice. He pointed the device at the crane cab and pulled the trigger. After several seconds, it emitted a satisfying beep. He chuckled.
“Let’s see you escape this one you bastard”