Her voice trailed off. Her shoulders shook as she tried to contain her grief, and Henriksen put a comforting arm around her.
“You told us you thought Henriksen had killed him,” Sully said.
“I would not do such a thing,” Henriksen said. “And if I had, why would I have done such a grisly job of it and then left him out in public in a way that would cause such an uproar?”
Drake hated to say it, but someone had to. “It’s a fair point.”
Jada looked at him as if he’d betrayed her.
But Sully nodded. “Nate’s right. I’m not convinced Henriksen would’ve let his secret project fall apart, but when you’re trying to keep a lid on things, you don’t draw that kind of attention. Whoever murdered Luka, they were trying to send a message.”
“I think we know the message,” Drake said. “We got it in the parking lot outside the restaurant back in Egypt.”
Jada looked at him, eyes alight with reluctant understanding. “ ‘Go home.’ ”
“In New York, we caught a glimpse of the man who killed Maynard Cheney. The guy who cut the video feed before doing the deed. Did he look like any of these goons to you?” Drake asked.
The goons in question stiffened, some of them intelligent enough to be insulted, but Henriksen gestured for them not to react, watching Jada. Drake studied him, knowing that nobody would have the patience to stand and listen to this if he intended to commit triple homicide.
Jada pointed a shaking finger at her stepmother. “You told us you were afraid of Henriksen! That you thought he’d killed Dad!”
Olivia seemed ashamed, glancing away.
“My suggestion,” Henriksen confessed. “We wanted to know what you know. We wanted Luka’s journal.”
Drake stared at him. He doubted the man had chased them down with murder in mind, but he had a hard time buying the level of innocence Henriksen was attempting to cloak himself in.
“So now what?” he said. “We’re here. You’re here. Maybe the answers you’re looking for are here. Maybe you can figure out the location of the fourth labyrinth—if Daedalus even designed one—and find the treasure you’re after.”
Henriksen frowned. “Treasure?” Then he blinked, smiling, and his eyes lit up. “It would be nice.”
Drake shook his head. Something was off. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Say you find it,” Sully put in. “What happens then? You try to hurt Jada and I will kill you.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Henriksen said. “And you have my word. We have no intention of killing any of you.”
Sully glanced at Drake and Jada. “Strangely, I don’t feel comforted.”
Neither did Drake. There were pieces that didn’t fit. The hooded men might have murdered Luka and Cheney. They might even have set Luka’s apartment on fire. But the van full of guys with guns who tried to kill all three of them at the site of that fire in New York? That wasn’t the spooky ninja dudes’ style—not at all.
Drake glanced at Jada, then at Sully, and he had a feeling they were putting it together as well. Maybe not specifics, but he figured they had their suspicions. None of them was in a frame of mind to join forces with a guy who had sent a hit squad after them, not to mention the thugs who’d tried to abduct Jada in Egypt. All along they had wanted the journal and whatever information Drake and Sully had helped Jada gather. Whether Henriksen had ordered Luka murdered and hacked apart didn’t really matter in the end.
“I’m glad to hear you say that,” Drake told Henriksen. He smiled at Olivia, making sure to put as much of a chill in his expression as possible. “Thing is, we’re not interested in partnering up. We’re doing this for Luka. And whatever we find at the end of the rainbow, it’s not going to end up in your pocket.”
For a long moment, Drake thought Henriksen would change his mind about killing them. The man stiffened, his smile frozen into a mask that barely hid his fury. But then Olivia touched his arm, stroking his bicep before gripping his wrist. The thugs all sensed their boss’s tension, and the promise of violence seemed to wake something in their eyes.
“Tyr,” she said.
Henriksen exhaled. Relaxed. The thugs seemed disappointed.
“If this ends in bloodshed, it won’t be because I didn’t attempt another way,” he said to Jada. Then he focused on Drake and Sully. “You’ve been doing such a good job of making your way through the labyrinth so far,” he said, nodding once at Sully. “Thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for so clearly marking the way with your initials. We might’ve gotten lost if not for you.”
“Bite me,” Sully growled.
Any trace of amusement in Henriksen’s face faded away. “As I said, you’ve done well thus far. I’m inclined to let you continue.”
With the barrel of his gun he gestured them toward the left-hand fork, where the floor sloped steeply away, just as it had on the right. The gunmen moved out of the way to let them by. Olivia studied Jada as if hoping for some kind of acknowledgment, but Jada wouldn’t even look at her.
“Lead on,” Henriksen said.
Grimly, Drake and Sully exchanged a look, both well aware that moving forward was their only choice and only hope. Sully shone his flashlight down into the sharply sloped tunnel, and they began to descend.
A gunshot split the air like the crack of a bullwhip. Drake turned in a crouch and drew his gun, pushing in front of Jada and Sully. Shouts came from the split in the corridor behind them. Flashlight beams crisscrossed, blinding him for a moment, throwing shadows that separated a moment later to reveal a scuffle that sent echoes bouncing off the walls.
He saw Henriksen struggling with a black-clad hooded figure. The big blond man slammed the hooded killer against the wall and tore a long curved blade from his hands. A flashlight beam illuminated Henriksen’s back, and Drake saw the blood spreading from a knife wound there. Now the big man returned the favor, driving the blade into the hooded man’s gut.
“I wondered when those sons of bitches would show up,” Sully rumbled. He gripped his pistol and moved to pass Drake, headed toward the fighting.
“No, don’t,” Jada said, grabbing his arm. “This is our chance.”
“Chance for what?” Sully said. “To see who wins the right to kill us?”
More gunshots rang out. Men shouted in pain and grunted with the effort of their struggle. One of the Greeks lay on the floor of the corridor, throat cut, bleeding out onto the stone. Drake tried to make out how many of the hooded men were there and wondered if Henriksen had any other thugs waiting outside. Had the hooded men followed them as well, or had they already known the labyrinth was here?
“No!” Olivia screamed.
For a second, they could hear only her voice. Then she appeared ahead, framed in the mouth of the tunnel, running toward them down the steep slope with a flashlight in her hand. The light blinded Drake for a second, but when he blinked and his vision returned, he saw one of the hooded men rushing after her.
Drake raised his gun, aiming right for the tip of Olivia’s nose. “Down!”
She saw the gun, glimpsed his determination, and dropped to the ground just as he fired. The bullet took the hooded man in the chest, stopping him cold. He fell across her legs, both of them skidding down the steep tunnel floor, and Olivia screamed again as she extricated herself from the dead man’s burdensome weight.
“Who the hell are these guys?” Sully growled, shaking free of Jada.
He climbed the sharp incline and knelt to tear the hood away from the corpse, shining his light on the face he had revealed. The dead man’s eyes were already glazed and empty, staring forever into the void. His features were distinctively Asian, his eyes dark and almond-shaped. Whoever he was, he wasn’t Greek and he wasn’t Egyptian. Chinese or Tibetan, Drake thought.
“Thank you,” Olivia said, grabbing hold of Sully and rising shakily.
The fighting went on back in the corridor before the fork. Another gunshot boomed and the scuffling and cursing and grunting continued, but with the flashlight beams darting around, it was impossible to make out much detail. Shapes and shadows fought, and the copper stink of blood filled the air, along with the acrid odor of cordite from the guns.
Olivia grabbed Jada by the arms, unmindful of the gun in the younger woman’s hand.
“Do something,” she said, her pristine beauty tarnished by desperation. “If they kill Tyr and his men, we’re next!”
Jada shoved her with such force that Olivia slammed into the wall, skull thunking against stone.
“There’s no ‘we,’ Olivia,” Jada snapped. “You and me—there’s no we.”
Drake didn’t take the time to tell Jada that Olivia had a point, and he suspected she wouldn’t have listened if he had. But there was no doubt that they were in trouble. If Henriksen survived, he might stab them in the back at some point, but if the choice was that or death for him and his friends in the next ninety seconds or so, he’d take a knife in the back somewhere down the line.
“Sully,” Drake said.
They started past the dead man, bent low to keep from toppling backward, and climbed back toward the split in the corridor. Drake caught a glimpse of the man he’d thought of as Buzzcut staggering past the doorway ahead, the hilt of a blade jutting from his back. One of the hooded men followed, intent on finishing the job he’d begun.
“Hey!” Sully shouted.
The killer turned.
“This is for Luka,” Sully said, and shot the hooded man three times.
“Overkill, maybe?” Drake suggested. “We don’t know how many bullets we’re going to need.”
They reached the door, sliding their backs along the walls opposite each other, guns raised. Drake studied Sully’s face, wondering how many times the two of them had been stuck like this, trapped somewhere they might be imprisoned just for entering, with merciless killers between them and the exit. But he didn’t bother to count. Once was once too often.
“On three,” Drake said. “One. Two—”
Olivia screamed again, even more frantic than before.
Drake and Sully turned to see Olivia scrambling up the sheer stone, climbing over the dead man, eyes wide with terror. Jada had her back to them, her flashlight aimed farther down the severe drop-off of the tunnel. More hooded men were coming up from deeper within the labyrinth, scrabbling up the stone slope like spiders.
“Damn it!” Sully shouted.
Jada shot one of them, tried to turn and flee up the steep incline, but slipped and fell onto her side on the stone floor of the corridor. The hooded men swept toward her. In the glow of Sully’s flashlight, Drake made out four of them, not counting the one Jada had just shot. They had swarmed over their wounded comrade as if he weren’t there.
“I thought they followed us in, like Henriksen,” Drake said.
“They flanked us,” Sully muttered.
Drake had wondered before if the hooded men knew about this labyrinth, if they were as knowledgeable about its secrets and hidden chambers as they had been about the one in Egypt, and now he had his answer.
Olivia kept screaming, and Drake wished she would shut up. He took aim and was about to pull the trigger, but then Sully blocked his shot. Drake shouted at him to get out of the way, but with Jada in danger, Sully wasn’t going to be able to be reasoned with. Drake realized he didn’t want to risk trying to shoot the killers unless he was right up close.
With a roar that managed to be warning and battle cry and profanity all in one, Sully hurtled down the sheer slope with his gun and flashlight both held out in front of him. One of the hooded men reached Jada, grabbed her leg, and brandished the curved blade they all seemed to carry. Sully shot him in the head, but Drake knew the shot was pure luck. At that angle and speed, careening out of control, Sully’s next move was no longer his choice to make.
“Sully, no!” Drake shouted.
The words echoed off the walls as Sully lost his footing, moving too fast, yet managed to lunge at the three remaining killers, passing right over Jada. He crashed into them, knocking two of them backward, and they all fell sprawling and rolling down the tunnel into the darkness, Sully’s flashlight shattering and winking out.
The scuffling from that darkness chilled Drake’s blood.
“Son of a—” he began.
Jada cried out for her godfather. Drake slid and skidded down the tunnel toward her, stepping over the man he’d shot and calling out for Sully, hearing only the whisper of movement below. Jada stood, recovering her flashlight and shining it down into the dark, and they both saw the figures twisted around one another. The three hooded men struggled with Sully, one of them clamping a hand over his mouth. His eyes were wide and gleaming in the beam from Jada’s light, and Drake wanted to look away, sure that any second a curved blade would slice Sully’s throat.
“Down here!” Olivia shouted behind them. “There are more of them down here!”
“Drake!” a low voice called.
He didn’t turn. The voice belonged to Henriksen, and he put together what it meant. The man was wounded but alive, and if he and Olivia and others—given the footfalls Drake could hear—were starting down the sloped fork, it meant they had won back there at the split in the corridor.
“Let him go!” Drake roared at the hooded men.
They did not, but neither did they cut Sully’s throat. Instead, they dragged him deeper into the tunnel, scrambling back into the darkness.
“Crap!” Drake barked. It was just like Welch. They had lost the fight and were retreating, but they were taking Sully with them.
Drake spun as Henriksen came down the slope toward him. The wounded man had lost his gun but still held a flashlight.
“Give me that,” Drake demanded.