Shen raised two fingers of his right hand waited. The dim interior of the vault was stifling. Add to the eye-holes spread around the room which glowed just a bit- an effect of the laser beams emitted by them. And the need of a breathing mask. And the spectre of instant death looming over him would have taxed any other human towards making a mistake. But Shen was the best of them- the best thief the CIA could find.
Major Royce Galian saw Shen giving him the signal and punched the buttons which would temporarily glitch the motion detectors. In a couple of seconds a yellow light blinked on- he had one minute to pull Shen up. Royce started to turn the winch and Shen began to rise towards the hole in the ceiling of the vault. An agonizing minute later the two thieves lay in the tunnel they had dug in to reach the vault.
Shen spoke as he felt Major Royce move beside him.
"You can't get out."
"Without me, you can't. The fans we shut down on the way in would have been locked in- automated response."
Royce palmed the mini syringe of deadly toxin and replied calmly.
"Don't play games with me. We need to get this prototype to Langley. Thousands of lives depend on that." He stretched out to hold Shen by the neck. Tightening his hold, he repeated.
"Just play fair. You scare me enough."
Shen sat up and without waiting, started to crawl away from the opening he was dragged up from. A small pouch strapped across his chest holding the much wanted prototype. Soon they reached the only fork in the tunnel they had taken to reach the roof of the vault. Shen turned toward the new path and reached a dead end. Shen pointed to the right side.
"Strip it right at the end. We need to blast into the pipe."
"They will go off anyway when the camera checks in...in three minutes. One end of the pipe leads to the unfinished basement."
Shen looked at his watch and pressed in towards the far wall and crawled a few feet back. Major Royce had the strip in place inside a few seconds and he gestured to cover the face and detonated the directional explosive. Sensors howled on but the two thieves waited for the dust to settle before they crawled into the pipe- an abandoned project extension. There was a slight grey glow at one end, just as Shen had promised; it was an unfinished basement of the abandoned project site, half open to the sky.
Shen felt the prick as Major Royce injected a toxin into his neck and before he could react he lost consciousness. He unbuckled the pouch but saw that the zip was locked by a combination. He flicked open his pen knife and started to saw the pouch open to get to the prototype and was surprised that the material did not give- armored fabric- Royce acknowledged. He strapped the pouch on and planted a tiny explosive device next to Shen's face and left.
Reaching the surface Major Royce removed his overall. He was wearing a guard's uniform. He took his time stalking a lone guard and laid him unconscious, taking his radio and gun, and started to walk the designated path. He looked for a flat rock and laid the pouch on the ground with the lock as flat as possible. He poised his pen knife at the loop and with the but of the gun he smashed down on it. The loop broke open. He opened the pouch to find a toy car inside. Cursing, he raised the radio to his mouth.
"Center, there are abandoned clothes here near the old project. Going in send back up."
Major Royce threw the radio away and sprinted to get away from the laboratory complex, before the dozens of security teams and the soldiers who would have been alerted by now, descended to secure the area.
At this same time Shen was being dragged back into the pipe. The old man doing this was an ex- Navy Seal who had hidden in the basement, waiting for Shen. He had a small amphibian craft waiting at the other end of the pipeline, half a mile away. He had first belted a harness onto Shen' s torso, keeping his hands pinned to the sides and kept his head tucked to his chest. The back had three small metal plates with wheels, so he could drag Shen much like an unwieldy luggage trolley. About two minutes in, a small explosion at the mouth of the pipe sealed entrance and the boom and quake woke Shen.
And the old man went sliding down the now sloping pipe, dragging a cursing Shen behind.
Only when Shen was safely on a small luxury sloop many miles away did he call Langley.
"Director Colwell. You were right. He ran for it."
PICTURE CREDIT: http://falloutmux.wikidot.com/vault:layout