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As Pierce cleared the room, he saw the walls were lined with metal filing cabinets of varying colors and sizes.

Maryanna was awake, but looked out of it. She turned her head and stared at him blankly as he walked in, closing and locking the door behind him.

"Maryanna Rivers," Pierce whispered. Her eyes lit up a bit. She probably hadn't heard her name for a while. "I'm going to get you out of here, alright?'

She gave a weak smile and nod. He cut the ropes that bound her, took off her gag, and tried to get her to stand up. She had trouble rising to her feet, as the ropes had restricted her circulation.

Pierce stepped back, examined his situation, and then hurriedly began moving the filing cabinets into a makeshift staircase up to the skylight. Although he tried to be silent about this, the larger ones were very heavy, and he could not help but make some noise. He climbed to the top of the staircase and reached up as far as he could reach, just managing to open the window and swing it inward.

The door suddenly burst open, kicked in by the guard that pummeled the old man, his gun drawn and ready. Pierce moved quickly for his pistol and smoothly drew it from his shoulder-holster with practiced ease before firing three rounds at the guard. Pierce felt a round whiz dangerously close to his head, and the guard fell to the ground dead and bleeding.

Another man peeked into the room, and Pierce fired a round, but just as the shot rang out, the head jerked back.

"What, are you crazy? Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

"I know what I'm doing. Let go of me!"

"No way! This was obviously a professional job! Sometimes you have to know your limitations."

Pierce, sensing that this might be his only chance, holstered his gun and quickly descended the stairs to put Maryanna on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Hold on tight!" She held on as tightly as she could manage, and he climbed to the skylight and pulled them both up to the roof. Pierce slid on his stomach to the roof's edge and let Rivers down gently, then hopped down to the ground himself.

The loaders who went chasing after the runaway horses and cart were now returning to the warehouse with their quarry. Pierce grabbed Maryanna's hand and pulled her along as he ran after the cart, which was just disappearing around the corner. When he reached its rear, he took down the tailgate and lifted Maryanna, placing her in between crates of probable contraband. The driver and his partner turned around at the noise.

"What are you doing? Get out of here!"

Pierce hopped up on the moving cart, closed the tailgate and made his way to the front.

"What's wrong with you? I told you to get lost!"

Pierce unholstered his pistol. "Get off the cart."

Both men enthusiastically complied.

As Pierce took the reins and brought the horses to a gallop, a bullet whizzed by his ear. He glanced back and saw the angry face of the man that had peeked into Maryanna's cell firing several rounds in his direction before the horses turned a corner and got out of the man's line of sight. Pierce weaved the cart in and out of different harbor streets and finally reached New Salem's main city streets. He slowed the horses to a trot and looked back in the cart. Maryanna was lying among boxes of likely illegal goods, eyes open but still glazed over. This would be tough to explain if he got stopped by a policeman.

When he finally made it through pedestrian-filled streets to the Terry Street Field Office, he drove the cart into the garage where he handed the cart over to some SSC personnel. Some medics on standby took a look at Maryanna. Alexis opened the door leading from the lobby and found Pierce answering a medic's questions. When he was through and the medics took Maryanna away, he turned to her.

She blushed. "thank God you're okay. I tried to get them to send backup, but they said they couldn't send anyone. You'd think they would want their men to have enough support to get the job done without too much risk."

"Yeah, but I'm still probationary."

"That's no excuse."

Pierce shrugged. "I have to go file my report now. Thanks for delivering the message."

Her face broke into a big smile, her arms behind her back. "It was no problem, really." She looked at him half-expectantly. He lingered, then turned away, leaving the garage for the lobby.

"See you around," she said as the door was closing behind him.

Next: What Are the Odds?

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