As Tiffany followed the slasher through the tunnels in the walls she could hear voices moving around below them.
"You're going out there?" the older man sounded worried.
"Carly, stay with mister Evans. Make sure he doesn't wet himself."
"Anything we can do while you're out there?" a girl's voice interrupted.
"We haven't swept the whole of the ground floor or the basement. Have a look through them."
"Just the two of us?" the older guy asked.
"Have a gun. And Carl, you might as well stay with them as well."
Tiffany and the slasher were in the roof space now, high above the foyer and moving from beam to beam until he signalled her to stop and pointed down. As several pairs of booted feet headed out of the front door, three figures stayed in the middle of the foyer. Tiffany recognised the business suit from before, the other two were in fighting black- a large muscular man and a tall trim blonde. After a moment of milling around, they headed for the door to the kitchen.
The stalker pointed to a gap in the rafters, a black space which dropped down between the walls. Tiffany crawled over and slid down into it. It was only as she was committed to climbing down through the gap that she thought that she shouldn't be turning her back on a masked killer. No steel was slid between her shoulder blades, so she let the tension release and carried on down.
As she headed down Tiffany spotted an alcove which had been turned into a library. She couldn't make out the books in the darkness. The slasher was right above her, very carefully following her down so that he didn't step on her fingers. They passed through a space which marked the ceiling space of the ground floor and carried on until Tiffany found a gap and stared out at the dining room.
Meanwhile the two hunters and the suit had opened the kitchen door and stepped back, "Woah, gas." announced the boy.
"We should open the back door and let it vent." the girl decided.
"Can't we just close the door?" the businessman whined.
"And let it blow us up later? Don't be such a douche." the boy told him.
Tiffany lifted the latch she had found and slid the panel open. She was just around the corner from the hunters and the businessman, and not sure what to do next. She waited for the slasher to follow her out, but a glance back into the wall showed that he was nowhere near her. She pulled the stiletto and thought about heading back into the walls.
There was a crash from inside the kitchen, followed by a surprised yelp from the businessman which was cut short, probably by a hand clamped around his throat.
"Shoot him!" shouted the boy.
"Can't!" the girl called back.
Tiffany took this as a sign to enter the fray. She swung around the corner from the dining room and jammed her stiletto into the nearest body. The boy started falling forwards. She'd killed him with one lucky strike, but her stiletto was wedged in his spine and it slipped from her grasp.
The girl started turning toward Tiffany, whose left hand blocked her pistol. Tiffany thrust the flat of her right hand at the bridge of the girl's nose. Cartilage and bone broke and blood spurted out, but it wasn't the death blow Tiffany had been hoping for.
The girl was fighting to bring her gun to bear on Tiffany. Tiffany clasped both her hands on the gun and tried a swinging kick to take the girl's legs out. They both tumbled over, but the girl still had hold of the pistol.
Tiffany forced the slide of the pistol back, disabling it at least for a moment. She head butted the girl, but it was a weak blow. The girl twisted under her and managed to throw her off.
Tiffany found herself resting on the bulk of the boy as the girl rolled away from her. The girl stood, but she was obviously groggy. Swaying, she carefully cleared her pistol's chamber. Tiffany could feel something on the boy's belt pushing into her back. She reached down and found a sheathed throwing knife.
The girl raised her gun, an ugly grin breaking through the blood which now covered the lower half of her face. Tiffany had the knife out of its sheath and made a desperate throw. The knife cut through the girl's left ear. She wobbled, and couldn't keep her gun steady, then dropped to one knee.
Tiffany spotted, right behind the girl, the ice axe which had wedged in the floor earlier. The flat end of the blade stuck straight up, not as sharp as the main point, but just as deadly if she used it properly. The girl was getting her second wind, trying to stand and bring her gun to bear. Tiffany pushed herself up and managed to clear the gap to the girl just in time. She landed a kick on the girls jaw, knocking her over backwards to be impaled on the ice axe.
Tiffany picked up the girl's gun and gave it a quick check. Behind her there was the sound of someone choking. She turned to see the slasher holding the businessman off the floor. He was staring at the businessman's face as it turned purple, moving his head from side to side to get different views. Somehow sensing her gaze he looked at Tiffany. "I just killed two highly trained killers while you got your jollies throttling a fat man in a suit." The slasher dropped the businessman, who ended up on his knees with a dumb, dead expression on his drooped head. It was just possible to read embarrassment in the slasher's body language. "At what point were you going to help me? Or were you just going to let her shoot me?"
The slasher turned slightly away from Tiffany, as if hiding his blushes even though they were behind his mask. Then a distant red and yellow light cast strange shadows through the smashed doorway and windows. He pointed urgently at the ceiling. Tiffany nodded. She closed the door behind them as they entered the kitchen then followed him through yet another secret panel and started to climb.
* * *
Terri stripped the dead body and the unconscious one of their weapons and keys to the SUVs. The one she'd kicked in the head wasn't waking up any time soon, so she went looking for handcuffs.
The SUVs were definitely hunter issue. The older one was Fort specification, with the weapons cases Terri knew so well, though they were almost empty. As she'd hoped, it did still have a few pairs of handcuffs. Hunter cuffs were the same as those issued to law enforcement. Slashers were notorious for getting out of old fashioned cuffs, so there was a technique hunters used to make it trickier. Terri grabbed two pairs of cuffs and two bottles of super glue.
She had to have left the largest of the three alive, she cursed as she dragged him to the pumps. She clipped one of the cuffs to one of the pump nozzles, pulling it tight enough that a steady trickle of gas came out. She fastened the other end to the hunter's right wrist. Then she squirted glue all over the surfaces of the cuffs, paying particular attention to the locks. She laid the nozzle in his crotch so that the fuel soaked into his combat trousers. She used the second set of cuffs to jam the nozzle of the second pump on.
The pump island was set in a slight indentation, so the gasoline pooled around it. Terri spotted the low point the liquid would eventually escape from and moved the two new SUVs to be downhill from it. She didn't have keys for the panel van, its contents would have to remain a mystery for now.
The hunter was coming round, no doubt roused by the liquid lapping over him. He tugged at the cuffs and petroleum gushed all over him. "Oh shit!"
"Yeah, well you shouldn't try to kill me and my friends." Terri was stood back a little way from the shore of the gasoline pond, by the nearest of the new SUVs. She opened the door and tossed a gas soaked rag inside, followed by a lit match. It flared just as dramatically as she'd hoped.
"What.... What do you want?"
"I want to kill every last member of your team and rescue my friend, who's still up there in that damned house. Then maybe I'll want to find out what this is all about." Terri held up his pistol, ejected the magazine and cleared the chamber. Then she put it down beside the point where the gasoline was about to break free. She started walking along the pond edge to the far end.
"I can tell you!"
"Programming! We're.... We're programming slashers. It was supposed to keep us in business, but Jason thought we could turn them into weapons."
Terri stopped and looked sharply at him, "Jason?"
"Yeah. He's our leader now."
"Interesting." Terri took the last few steps to the end of the pond and put the magazine down. "Now, the gun and the magazine should each be about at the farthest reach of the pipe you're cuffed to. You should be able to get to them both before all this gas goes up. It'll give you an easier way out."
"No! No! You bitch! I told you what we're doing!"
"Yeah. Thanks for that." Terri got into the Fort and drove off.
She was about to turn onto the track up to the house when a fireball erupted down the road from her.