Ignited Online - Kaylea Cross

Chapter One

The noise of the growing mob outside swelled louder. A muted roar made by hundreds of angry voices chanting one of the only Urdu phrases he knew.

Death to America.

Hunter Phillips checked his weapon one last time and turned in a crouch to face the six other men now trapped with him in the burning Interior Ministry building. Three of his security contractor teammates, and three international diplomats who were scared out of their fucking minds and visibly struggling to hold it together.

The sound of more breaking glass shattered the tension in the room. Another fire alarm blared to life from down one of the hallways, signaling that the flames were spreading fast. Already the smoke was thick enough to make his eyes sting. “We’ve got a minute or two, max, before they scale the wall,” he said to the man on his right.

Scottie, the team leader and Hunter’s best friend, scanned their darkened surroundings, but they both knew there was only one way out. “Call again for an emergency exfil,” he told Hunter. “Tell them we’ll stay in the building as long as possible.”

It was their only option, since the place was completely surrounded by angry Pakistanis. Trying to escape out any of the emergency exits would result in them being shot or beaten to death, and their bodies dragged through the streets by the enraged mob.

“Fire’s spreading from the north side,” Gage, the retired Special Forces master sergeant reminded him as Hunter got back on the radio to stress the urgency of their situation. “All exits and staircases on that side are out.”

“We’ll have to get to the roof and wait there,” Scottie answered.

“What’s the story on that bird?” Hunter demanded to the man on the other end of his radio, shoving his finger into his other ear to hear the response over the chaos.

“Working on it, sir.”

Not good enough. “We’ve got two Pakistani officials and the American ambassador with us, and we’ve only got a few more minutes before that mob gets inside.” He and his teammates had already spent the last thirty minutes fighting their way through the rabble to get inside the place and secure the surviving diplomats. Getting out was going to be way harder.

Rounds started slamming into the window above them. Spider webs formed around the impact sites. Dozens of them. He ducked instinctively when the so-called bullet resistant glass finally splintered. They all hit the deck and covered their heads with their arms as chunks of it rained down. A split second later a hail of bullets peppered the far wall behind them, a few feet over their heads.

The roar outside intensified instantly. Two firebombs flew through the shattered window, hit the floor and exploded into a wall of flame. Hunter didn’t get a chance to hear what the man was saying to him over the radio. From the sudden rise in volume of that terrible roar, he knew the crowd had finally cleared the wall and were about to storm the building.

Fucking hell. He grabbed his rifle and rolled back into a crouch as the wall of noise pulsed against his eardrums. They were about to be overrun, and all because some dickhead preacher back home had decided burning the Quran would be a great publicity stunt to show how much he and the rest of America hated Islam. The incident had not only angered the Muslim world, it had already cost the lives of more than a hundred innocent people caught in the crossfire. Including an American philanthropist the Taliban had captured and killed in the tribal region of Pakistan for trying to promote female education. Then they’d used the Quran burning incident to justify the man’s brutal murder and incite the general populace to attack American interests in the country.

“Go,” Scottie shouted over the confusion, grabbing the white-faced American ambassador by the upper arm. He hauled the man toward the closest hallway, filled with hellish orange light from the fires while the other two team members took charge of the Pakistanis.

In a running crouch Hunter followed behind, covering their six. A few yards into the hallway the smoke was already noticeably thicker, making them cough as they raced to find a stairwell that would take them to the roof. They turned right and stopped short at the sheet of flame licking the walls and ceiling ahead of them, blocking their exit. Veering left, they ran blindly down another hallway just as the enraged mob breached the building.

Hunter could hear the