Ryder didn't.


Smart man. No wonder he's a billionaire.


Monk grabbed the line, hauled himself over the rail, hooked his leg, and swung out on the wet rope. Controlling his descent with his prosthetic hand, he zipped down the rope until his feet hit the sling.


He faced the open balcony, swinging in the wind. The drapes were half closed, but the bright light inside revealed Lisa. A bear of a man had her pressed against the balcony doors, hand around her neck, lifted up on her toes.


Oh, this was already going well.


8:32 P.M.


Lisa hung from Tweedledee's arm, his hand clenched around her neck. His nose was in her face, spittle flew as he yelled.


"What the fuck were you doing with the IV lines, bitch?" The last word was spat at her in heavily accented English.


What Lisa had been doing was removing all of Susan's catheters—urinary, intravenous, her central line—readying her to leave as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the orderlies' movie had ended, and Dee had gone to relieve himself, passing close enough to sense something was amiss.


Behind his brother, Dum checked on the patient. He turned and spoke rapidly in Russian. Lisa didn't understand, but plainly something was massively awry.


Not good.


Still pressed against the balcony door, Lisa felt someone tap the glass at her backside.


Please, God, let that be Monk.


She reached behind her and just managed to stretch her index finger to the locking latch. She flipped it up.


The door slid open behind her, taking her with it.


Surprised and caught off balance by the move, Dee stumbled forward and dropped her. She tried to keep her feet, but ended up falling hard on her backside.


An arm burst through the open balcony door, grabbed Dee by the collar of his scrubs, and yanked him outside. A muffled shot followed, followed by a fading scream.


Dee was going for a swim.


Dum, on the other hand, was backing toward the foot of the bed, snatching at his shoulder holster, startled and too stunned to yell out yet. Lisa went for her weapon, but she was sitting on it.


Monk appeared in the doorway, lit from behind by a flash of lightning, soaked to the skin. He had his pistol raised. The shot would be heard, but there was no avoiding it.


Then a figure rose behind Dum, kneeling up on the bed, wobbly.


Susan.


The woman stabbed out with a scalpel, piercing the man's neck clean through from behind. Forgetting his gun, the guard clutched both hands to his throat.


Monk lunged forward, grabbed the man's belt, and hauled him straight out the door.


"Time to go check on your brother."


This time there wasn't even a scream.


Monk returned, wiping his hands clean. "So, who's ready to go?"


The next few moments were a rush.


Lisa ran to the cabin's door and threw the security bolt while Monk helped free the last of Susan's leads and wires—EKG, EEG, Doppler pulse— unchaining her from the medical equipment.


Lisa slipped off her sweater and helped Susan don it, along with climbing into an extra pair of scrub pants. Though unsteady on her feet, Susan proved stronger of limb than Lisa had expected from her after five weeks of catatonia.


Maybe it was adrenaline, maybe something else.


Either way they were soon out on the balcony and into the storm. A sling bounced at the end of a rope. Monk caught it and glanced over to Susan, surprise making him pause. "Mind telling me why your friend's glowing in the dark?"


Shying away, Susan tried to pull the sweater farther over her arm. Lisa had already demonstrated the effect earlier to Susan, by turning off the bedroom lights briefly.


Lisa waved Monk to the rope. "We'll talk about it later."


Monk frowned, but he clambered up, proving the strength of his upper body and the grip of his prosthetic hand.


Lisa helped Susan into the sling. "Can you hold on okay?" she asked the woman.


"I'll have to." Susan shivered violently.


After a bit of maneuvering, Monk and Ryder began hauling her skyward, using a ship's post as a brace.


Lisa waited, pacing a bit.


A loud knock reached her, freezing her in place.


It came from the cabin.


She stepped to the threshold. An angry shout greeted her.


Dr. Devesh Patanjali.


He must have tried to use his key card and discovered it was privacy locked. More pounding.


Lisa backed up, leaned out over the rail, and stared up.


Susan's feet kicked. She was being helped over the rail.


Lisa pulled out her pistol from her belt and yelled up. "Hurry! Someone's coming!"


The wind and thunder ate her words.


A splintering crack erupted from the cabin. They were breaking inside. A rifle shot followed. Loud as a cannon blast. Startling her.


A shout echoed down to her from above.


Monk at least had heard the gunfire.


The sling dropped at her shoulder, tossed, not lowered, It banged into her. She ignored it, rushed forward to the open balcony door, grabbed the inside drape, and swept it fully closed. She slid the door shut, too.


Let them discover the empty room.


The ruse might not last long, but it could buy her an extra few seconds. She dove back around, snatched the sling, and squirmed into it. A sudden gust of wind caused it to strike her hand, knocking her pistol from her grip.


The weapon flew off into the darkness.


Damn it. . .


Frantic, she cinched the sling, climbed up onto the balcony rail, and kicked out.


She felt the sling jerk under her arms as the men hauled her up.


She swung back toward the balcony, just at the drape was ripped open. Lightning flashed overhead. She saw Devesh's face widen in surprise, uncomprehending at the view of her swinging toward him.


He fell back.


In his place, Surina appeared in a dressing gown, her long black hair loose. She shoved the door open while her other arm snaked back and grabbed the cane from Devesh.


Lisa reached the end of the arc of her swing. She kicked at the woman, but Monk and Ryder had hauled her up, shortening her rope enough that the tip of her boot whished through open air.


The sling swung away again.


Surina followed, out onto the balcony, her hair whipped into a furious swirl by the wind. She grabbed Devesh's cane in both hands, twisted it, and whipped it wide. A sheath of polished white wood flew back into the cabin, revealing the length of steel blade hidden in the cane.


Surina flew to the balcony rail.


Lightning lit the sky, turning the sword into blue fire.


Weaponless, Lisa swung back toward the woman waiting with the blade.


8:46 P.M.


Monk had not waited. With the first rifle blast, he knew Lisa needed more direct help, so he left the big Aussie to haul her on his own.


Monk rappelled out on a rope. The other end was tied to a life preserver, jammed between two posts of the ship's rail. His prosthetic hand clenched the rope with the strength of a steel clamp. His other hand pointed his pistol.


He leaped out far enough to see Lisa swinging back toward a woman with a sword. He aimed his pistol and fired.


A gust of wind threw off his aim.


The round tore a chunk out of the balcony's wooden railing.


But it was enough to ward off the swordswoman. She fell back with a smooth twist of her body.


Ryder bellowed as he hauled hard on Lisa's line.


At the same time, with strength born of adrenaline and terror, Lisa pulled herself up by her arms. She now stood in the sling, rather than hanging. She was above the balcony opening now. She hit the hull hard and bounced away.


Ryder yanked her another three feet up.


Monk emptied the remainder of his clip, another three rounds, discouraging anyone's approach. That should keep everyone back.


He was wrong.


The swordswoman appeared again and leaped to the top of the rail, like a gymnast mounting a balance beam—then she leaped straight up, sword pointed high.


Lisa screamed.


8:47 P.M.


The blade slid past her boot heel, sliced through her jeans at her at the ankle, and bit deep into her left calf.


Then the sword fell away, succumbing to gravity.


Lisa stared between her toes. Surina landed on the balcony deck and stepped deftly away. She didn't even glance back up.


Ryder drew Lisa higher yet again.


Out of reach.


Lisa lost sight of the balcony, pulled beyond the curve of the hull. Hugging the rope, she trembled and shook. Blood poured down her leg and into her boot.


She spotted Monk to one side climbing back up to the railing.


Moments later, someone grabbed her shoulders and dragged her bodily over the rail. She fell to the deck, still shaking. Ryder appeared, unwrapping a head scarf that had fallen around his neck.


"This is going to hurt," he said, but it sounded far away.


He took the scarf, wrapped it around her burning calf, then swiftly tugged it tight. Pain bloomed through her, earning a strangled gasp from her. But the agony broke through the threatening shock.


Sound returned from out of the hollow well down which it had fallen.


Ryder helped her stand. "We have to go. They'll be up here any bloody moment."


She nodded. "Fine .. . go . . . yes."


It wasn't Shakespeare, but Ryder understood. He shouldered her up while Monk helped Susan. They were all drenched.


They set off toward the stern of the boat.


"Where .. . ?" she asked, hobbling as fast as she could.


"We'll never make my boat," Ryder answered. "They'll have the stairs and elevators covered."


Confirming this, an alarm began to wail, sounding deep in the ship, then exploding out to the decks.


Monk pointed over the rail and down. "The public tender dock," he said. "An hour ago, when I checked for any guards at your private launch, I spotted one of the pirates' blue speedboats tethered down there, unmanned and abandoned."


"The tender dock lies just as many decks down."


Monk drew them in a limping group to the midship rail. He leaned out. "Not if we take a more direct route."


He pointed down.


Lisa craned over. She could just make out the protruding end of the tender dock. A speedboat with an outboard motor was moored there. It must have been used to shuttle pirates between their small village and the ship.

***

***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com

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