Sasha called her family and friends and said she wanted to spend time at Saya’s hospital. Then she found a place to sit on the Village green and pulled out her info slate. She needed to find out just what the terrorists had done.
The various news channels had only bits of the story. Sasha had to piece the information together and she could not be sure of much of it.
As best as she could determine, at noon in the large hotel dining room in the working hotel tower four to seven terrorists had entered the second-floor balcony above the room. They had fired automatic weapons into the ceiling to get everyone’s attention and issued an ultimatum.
Somewhere in the process they had shot a security guard to death and beaten down several people who they thought were resisting. Then they selected three or four dozen people from the diners, most of them wearing the blue jump suits of athletes. They herded them downstairs and entered the tunnel to the uncompleted hotel tower.
At some point Saya had resisted. Sasha guessed she had been grabbed or pushed and reflex, not Saya’s abundant common sense, had taken over. She had fought back and been shot. That only one shot had been fired into her suggested that the terrorists had reacted reflexively also but restrained themselves. And they had let one of the captives loose to take care of Saya.
That small mercy earned the terrorists no consideration from Sasha. She would crush any one of them who got in her way.
But there were others in the way, she found in her research. A crowd of spectators surrounded the second tower. A French security force had pushed them back quite far and out of any terrorist line of fire, but they were still an obstacle.
Then there were the security forces. They were all under cover around the tower, but they could see the outside of the tower which was well lit. The tower was also being observed by video cameras from several positions.
The complete observations was important. Sasha had discovered months before that she could climb prodigiously, by extruding a sort of super glue from her hands, belly, knees, and feet. It set and unset very quickly, so she could climb up sheer vertical surfaces. But she could not move any faster than a walk and during the hour or two she climbed the outside of the hotel she could be seen. And she left a thin but visible film on the wall.
The underground tunnel was blocked and watched also. No entry there.
She would need a parachute to get to the top of the hotel tower, and a plane ride, and training in parachuting that she did not have. And the plane’s pilot would not let her get on the plane with a chute even if he could be bribed to fly over the tower.
She sighed over the unlikely scenario. Then paused as a thought surfaced. Could she jump from the top of the occupied tower to the uncompleted tower?
Sasha returned her attention to her info slate. She had much research to do.
At twilight Sasha found an unwatched spot of the Olympic Village fence near the equipment and supply dump on the south side of the Village. A last glance around to be sure no one was watching, or could, and she ran a few steps and leaped upward, somersaulting slowly forward.
At the top of the leap she was upside down over the fence, a few feet above it. At what seemed like slow motion to her, she reached down to the top wire, grabbed it between barbs, and made a slight adjustment in the direction and impetus of her motion. Then down she came, rotating toward an upright stance, onto a cleared area a few feet inside the fence, bending to a squat to reduce her landing impact.
To an ordinary human watching it would have seemed an impossible feat. To Sasha it was nothing special. It was not even worth a conscious thought. She just did it.
Coming fully upright her lungs, squashed on landing, expanded deeply. A dozen scents jostled for her attention: the smell of the river, the concrete dust odor of the expanse beneath her, oil and gasoline and rust and aluminum oxidation and much more.
There. The crane would give her a good view of the site. She ran lightly forward and leaped up at a slant nearly fifty feet. Catching a crossbar on the open-work crane arm she slung herself upward another twenty feet. Thus ascending like some large monkey she ended up in the open basket at the top of the crane.
She glanced west, out over the fence and toward houses a half mile away nearly hidden by old trees. A few lighted windows were visible against the eye-straining half-light between day and night. Further west and over the residential area a few clouds glowed gold and red.
At this height the wind was stronger than it was on the ground. It was starting to chill her until she, without a thought, adjusted her skin to insulate herself better.
North she could see the entire Village laid out, including parts of the side streets where the village widened out to three and then five blocks. At the far end the domed stadium glowed white from interior lights — lights which shown on no events. The Olympics had shut down all competitions.
Halfway to the stadium were both towers of the hotel where the emergency had occurred which caused the shutdown. They were brightly lit by floodlights but none of the windows in the towers showed lights. They were either well-shielded on the inside or none of the outside rooms were lit.
If Sasha could see much of the Village she could also be seen in her perch. But only if someone was looking directly at her with binoculars. Even then she would have been hard to see. Her bottom half was inside the basket.
Also, she had turned her skin dark chocolate and hair black, curling it into tight ringlets close to her head. She wore tight shorts and a matching athletic-bra top. The clothing was brown patterned with large dusky orange blossoms. She would be hard to see in dim light but in bright she would seem to be dressed to look nice, not to be secretive.
At last she gazed at the storage area below her. This was what she had come for. She knew she had the power to leap from atop one hotel tower to the top of the other. But she did not have the skill to gauge the distance well enough to infiltrate the tower held by the terrorists, nor to precisely control her leap. She was here for the next few hours to practice.
Sasha tightened the sash secured around her waist, re-positioned it minutely. Inside it around her waist were strung two sacks of marbles she had bought earlier today. Hidden in the sash they did not look like the deadly weapons they would be if she threw them with all the whip-lash force of her immensely strong muscles.
An instant’s study of the scene below her and she plunged out the door of the basket, descending in quick monkey-like swings and drops to the top of the nearest stack of supplies.
At 2:00 in the morning Sasha approached the completed hotel tower from the rear. No one was around. The rear parking lot was thinly populated, with only service vehicles and several police vans and cars.
Sasha idled through the lot. She would be thought weird to be out here at this hour but not dangerous if she were caught. But there was no one to do that.
She approached a service door and pulled on the knob. Good. No one had replaced the super-glued shim she had placed near the top of the door just where it would keep the lock from engaging. She had plans if the door was locked, but the result would be noisy.
She eased inside. The interior was a hallway which led to a storage area and further on to a kitchen. The hallway was dimly lit, the kitchen brightly lit.
A cook sat at a table near the doors into the dining room. He was half asleep, the odors of coffee and snacks coming from a nearby area the reason for him being here. From the dining room came subdued sounds. Many of the French police and SWAT squad were inside it.
Sasha ghosted up to him and placed a hand on his cheek. He had a moment to startle and begin to sit upright before the submicroscopic messengers from inside her skin passed into his blood. Some put him to sleep. Others would neutralize the biological tapestry which bore the most recent fifteen minutes of short-term memory. He would wake in a hour or two if he was not disturbed with no memory of what had happened before he dozed.
There were several exits from the kitchen. Some of them allowed servers to deliver room service discreetly. One led up to a second floor mostly dominated by conference rooms.
Sasha took that one to emerge into a half-lit hall. She walked casually along it to a four-elevator entrance, to all appearances just another of the severely depleted number of room dwellers still allowed residence in the tower. One elevator took her nearly to the top of the tower.
The floor she emerged onto was discreetly corporate. It would normally house some of the executive offices of the building. One side of the level was taken up with a security suite. She knocked on the door.
It was opened by a burly guard in a dark-blue uniform. He wore a badge and a gun and other equipment on a wide black belt.
“Yes?” His tone was just barely civil.
Sasha pushed her way through the door. For a moment it seemed as if he would block her entrance, but then he yielded.
Standing beyond him she looked around the room. Two other men sat before a wall of view screens, their chairs swiveled toward Sasha.
Sasha ignored them and looked at the scenes depicted on the screens. Five lines of screens on the video checkerboard showed hotel interiors. Three others showed exterior scenes.
She sped up her nervous system so that time seemed to slow down. She studied the screens. There was no guarantee that the security suite in the enemy tower would show complementary views, but it was worth studying the views for the general setup.
She returned her personal time to match the rest of the world and smiled at the two men. It was quite dazzling. She was back to being a blond, though of a gold bordering on red rather than her own platinum. Her hair curled and foamed sensuously across her bosom, which she had enhanced. Her skin was now a light tan. The skimpy clothing, picked because it gave her body maximum freedom, hugged every curve. And she exuded pheromones.
The youngest guard was most affected. But the two older men were not unaffected.
“I couldn’t sleep. I kept worrying that the, the … bad guys would come back.”
“They’re not likely to do that. With all the police we have here. They are really dug in over there.”
Sasha kept them talking for several minutes, but they were interrupted by their supervisor. Sasha shut off her sexiness; she had gotten all the useful information she could and he did not anyway seem susceptible to her.
He followed her into the outer offices and to the elevator entrances, asking her who she was and why she was here. Sasha aged her face about a dozen years and looked at him coldly. When she refused to answer his questions he threatened her with jail.
Sasha grabbed one of his arms and ruthlessly put him to sleep and wiped his short-term memory. She was out of patience. She had to deal with the terrorists, not some official. She laid him down on the carpet and pushed the elevator Up button.
She had the elevator bypass the next-to-top floor, the tower-top restaurant, not in operation but (she had read) fully operational, only waiting for the personnel who would make it come live after the Olympics.
The very top floor contained a miscellany of offices and storage rooms, its most important function to her purposes a double-door which opened to stairs which led up to the roof of the building, where a small shed shielded the stairs from weather. There was a light for the shed but it was off. Stepping through the door marked by a dim red EXIT light, she saw why.
The top of the building was unlit, though a glance showed her floodlights on poles which normally would be on.
The roof before her had a rough concrete-like surface and several round metal ducts which housed fans turned on their backs so that they blasted exhausted air out of the hotel up into the sky. The noise from them was considerable, half hiss and half rumble.
The corresponding rooftop on the twin tower 120 feet to the east was also unlit. Below the top of that tower the sides were lit with white light. The contrast between the dark top and the bright sides made it hard for her to see if anyone was on the top.
Sasha tuned her eyes to the infrared spectrum. She still wasn’t very good at this, and could only see the high-infrared. But she could see two figures on the enemy tower-top as warm blotches. They were leaning on the waist-high parapet which kept anyone from walking off the roof. A cigarette tip was bright white in the infrared and dim red in normal light. To her it showed as faintly pink.
The terrorists stood just within the parapet surrounding their tower top, looking all about. They were out in the clear and could easily have been shot from her location.
Not so the two friendly soldiers, or policemen, on this tower top. They stood at the edge of one of the ducted fans, just barely able to watch the other tower.
They were clear to normal dark-adapted sight, what with the light reflected off the side of the enemy tower and from starlight and light from a crescent moon sailing above the western horizon.
Sasha stopped near a second duct, out of sight of the other tower and barely in the sight of the two men. She adjusted her throat so that she sounded like a feminine version of the Marine sergeant she had met months earlier at a gun show.
“Gentlemen,” she called quietly in English.
The two men jerked and swung their assault rifles in her direction. She stepped behind the duct and crouched. If they fired at her it would likely be at her chest height.
When no bullets flew she called out, just a bit louder. “I’m unarmed. I’m coming out.”
“Come out.” The answer was in accented but clear English.
Sasha stepped slowly back into view of the two men, hands out and up to show they were empty. She approached the two men.
One glanced away to ensure there was no one else visible on the roof. He kept looking away. The other looked at her, rifle pointed at her.
She came close to them. “Mind if I put my arms down? I think you can see I’m unarmed.”
The man watching her said, “Turn around. Slow.”
She did so. He deflected his rifle to the side and upward, asked who she was. She was back to her black-skinned tightly curled hair and black skin. She had adopted a stern Xulu warrior face with a knife-blade nose.
“I’m part of the team that is going to parachute onto that –” She nodded toward the other tower. “– and secure the hostages. Then we’ll call you and you can shoot Hell out of the terrorists.”
The second soldier glanced at her but kept his attention on the part of the rooftop he could see. Good training, Sasha decided.
“Who are you? Why haven’t we been told about this?”
Sasha slowly lowered her hands to her sides. She smiled, as a tiger might.
“Because none of your people know.”
He took a cell phone from his belt but before he could raise it Sasha had flashed forward and knocked it from his hand. He jerked his gun down to bear on her but could not. In an instant she had disarmed him, and had him in an unbreakable embrace shielding her from his companion with his body.
“If you don’t point that away from me I’m going to take it from you and stick it up your ass.”
He refused to comply. Sasha pushed his fellow into him so hard both fell. She took his rifle from him, tripped him, and pointed the rifle at the two lying before her. The two looked up her in shock, frozen.
“Sleep tight.” She brushed a hand over each man’s face, putting them to a sleep she had calibrated to last an hour. Then she leaned the rifles against the closest duct and turned to her next task.
She surveyed the longest path across the rooftop toward the east, then duck-walked it below the line of sight from the other tower. The surface was clear of all but a few nondescript pieces of debris. Those she tossed aside.
At her starting point she slowly stood erect, waited. The two enemies after a few minutes strolled to another section of their tower and looked below. That was not a good move, but then she had already decided the terrorists might be good at terrorizing but not at soldiering. The bright lights below would have wiped away any dark adaptation they might have had.
Sasha took a deep breath, turned the world into slow motion, and began her run. In a few steps she was moving faster than a cheetah.
In one balletic motion she leaped up and forward. She flew in an arc toward the enemy tower, needing to windmill her arms and legs only a bit to keep her upright orientation.
She came down on the parapet top just long enough to see what was ahead of her. She adjusted her motion minutely to land in a cleared area. Ran a short distance, bringing her speed quickly down. Fished two marbles out of the makeshift belt around her waist. Swung her head toward the two guards. Targeted their skulls. Protected not at all by two berets jauntily tilted. Whiplashed one arm then the other. Heard the crack as each marble crashed through skull into a brain.
Sasha changed her motion into a run around the roof top. No one else was there.
She examined the two guards. They had a uniform of sorts, but not a very uniform one. Each had an assault rifle and a pistol and a knife on a belt. She took the belts and slung them over a shoulder in bandoleer fashion, then slung the rifles over the other shoulder.
She shrugged the weights into a balanced position, made sure she could easily reach the marbles in her belt, checked to make sure the belt was secure. With her abilities the marbles were as effective as pistols and much quieter.
Carefully she entered the shed over the stairs. No one was about. The next floor was abandoned, so was the next, the rooftop restaurant.
She moved cautiously but quickly. Silencing the two rooftop guards had started a countdown clock of unknowable duration.
The executive level was occupied, but no one was in the hall and open reception area. The security room was occupied.
Sasha unholstered a pistol, checked that it was loaded, jacked a round into its chamber. Repeated the process with the other pistol. Took one into each hand. Felt the knob of the security door. It was locked.
She knocked hard once, twice. The door was quickly flung open, a man ready with hard words stood in it. He never had a chance to speak. She pistol-whipped him to the floor, leaped in, leveled a pistol at the two men sitting in the chairs. They froze.
The pistol she had used as a club was undamaged by its rude use. Good. She loved a good weapon.
She closed the door with a foot, moving like a ballet dancer.
A side door to the room flew open. Sasha leaped, in mid-air killed him with a head shot. Landed. Re-examined the situation.
A glance at the door to the room convinced her that it had swung shut and locked. But she double-checked, moved to it, lifted a bare foot waist height, tried the door, her foot as nimble as a hand.
Then she relaxed to normal time and approached the nearest of the two men, still staring at her in shock. She must be an apparition, an African woman with the sharp hard face of a Xulu warrior, dressed skimpily in clothes matching her skin color and decorated with large dark orange flowers. She might have seemed to have come from a centuries-old savage tale. Except she was carrying and using modern weapons as if born to their use.
THEIR modern weapons.
Sasha scanned the checkerboard of TV screens. They showed two occupied rooms and a hall.
In the hall a lone guard sprawled in what seemed a plastic reclining lawn chair outside a double-door, an assault rifle laid over his belly. He was drinking from a bottle, seemed to have been doing so for some time.
In one large room, a meeting room apparently, a group of men were playing cards and chatting.
In a third smaller room, two women were being raped on a double bed by two men. Two other men stood, naked and aroused, watching, laughing, making comments.
The hostages had to come first though it shriveled her soul to decide that. But the two women seemed to be alive and she hoped would remain that way till she could get to them. The rapists were already dead, though they did not know it, and as horribly as she could arrange.
“Hostages. Where?” She said it in English and French. The men pretended not to understand her. But she had seen the minute facial muscles change as she spoke French.
She must have confirmation of her guess. She holstered one pistol, stepped close to the nearest seated man.
“Which screen shows where the hostages are?”
He stayed dumb, angrily looking back at her.
She placed a hand on his shoulders, twisted in a fake squeeze, just like that character on TV who used a nerve pinch to render someone unconscious. She also sent microscopic messengers into him targeting every nerve in his body. He screamed, jolted, writhed as liquid fire seemed to pour over and through him.
Then he collapsed. His heart had given out. Sasha fixed it, left him unconscious.
The second man also resisted. But he did not die, just fainted. Sasha glanced at the screen where the two women were screaming, woke the man. Repeated his pain. Twice.
On the third awakening the man begged her to stop. He pointed to the screen showing the hallway, frantically showed her on an onscreen map how to get there, how to get to the two rooms, assured her that was all the men in the building, told her of the two guards on the roof, which in his terror he had forgotten she must have dealt with if he had even figured that out.
She gave his body a command to feel fullness in his belly. “That is a demon. If you have led me false it will consume you from the inside out. It will always be with you. When the French come tell them everything, truthfully, or it will eat you alive.”
She told him to tell his companion what she had done and gave the comatose man beside him a fake demon in the belly. Then she put him to sleep. It would take much effort for anyone but her to awaken him.
Sasha looked at the rape scene. One man had finished. One of the naked men had taken his place.
She quelled her disgust. Soon, she promised. Soon, I’ll be there. I’ll fix you. I’ll fix THEM.
The hostages were down in one of the conference rooms, one floor up from the level where the majority of the terrorists were playing cards and otherwise socializing.
The power to the security room was protected by circuit breakers. She tripped the buttons, then with the butt of a gun broke the buttons off and with her steel grip bent the metal behind the buttons so that the circuit breakers could not be switched back on without repairs.
Sasha left the security room, her senses turned up to high sensitivity. Quietly she entered the stair near the elevators, descended them quickly but cautiously, her time sense sped up so that she seemed to float.
At the level of the hostages she took a deep breath, a bit nervous, deliberately so even though she could have turned her emotions off. It was unhealthy to go robotic for long; it could be hard to go back to being human.
Sasha left the stair. Around a bend was the hall where the guard lounged.
Just before the bend she placed all the weapons on the floor, six sets of them now. Then she stepped casually around the bend.
It was long moments before the guard even noticed her walking toward her. He fumbled with his rifle but did not point it at her. A nearly naked woman (now a blond not unlike Sasha’s birth appearance) did not impress him as scary.
She smiled at him as she neared him. He goggled at her, did not even stand — though he might not be able to. Two empty bottles lay beside his chair.
She reached down and plunged him into a deep sleep, nearly a coma. He would only awaken with much effort.
She left him exactly as he was, to anyone looking at him still on guard. Quickly she retrieved her weapons horde and returned to the door. As she did so she was returning her look to that of the Xulu warrior woman.
A key on a ring of keys was in the lock. She turned the key, opened the door, took the key, and entered, bringing all the weapons and ammunition with her except for the guard’s rifle. She had all the ammunition the guard had on his person and in his weapon, now useful only as a bludgeon. Even if it were reloaded it would not fire. She had the firing pin with her.
There was an internal lock. She locked the door with the key. Turned for a better examination of the room.
Harsh odors permeated the air. The prisoners had been left to urinate and defecate in their clothes. They lay on the carpeted floor amidst chairs and tables, their hands behind their backs. They clustered together, having apparently crawled to their friends and acquaintances.
The lights were on high. Sasha twisted a knob to bring it down to a more comfortable level.
Heads craned uncomfortably to see her. Sasha spoke conversationally.
“Speak normally and no one can hear your. I’ve knocked the guard out and the closest people are a floor away.
“Now, is anyone missing besides two women, one with red hair and one with black?”
She breathed with relief when an older grey-haired woman with a possessed air said, “There was a woman shot. Chinese, I think. They left someone with her.”
“She’s Japanese. She’s recovering well in the hospital.”
As she spoke she was moving quickly but without seeming to hurry among them. She went first to each of those unconscious, put her fingers on their throats and assessed them. Each of those in bad health she gave near-perfect health and left them to recover on their own.
Those with lesser hurts would have to get fixed later.
Of the ones awake and hurt or ill she also gave an esoteric treatment.
Then she passed among them with a handful of knives. As she cut each plastic bracelet she left the knife behind with instructions to free others — carefully.
“Your shoulders will be out of joint or nearly soon. Your circulation will hurt as you recover. Keep your screams quiet.”
She smiled when she said that. Wondrously to her, a few people chuckled.
“Who knows how to use these weapons?”
One tough-looking very young man came forward. He was rubbing his wrists and moving his shoulders and neck to ease them. Sasha assessed him. Israeli? Someone who knew weapons, from small clues she could perceive. She gave him an assault rifle. He quickly removed the ammunition clip and recycled the weapon. Sasha caught the cartridge flipped out and handed it to him.
He raised an eyebrow at her quick reflexes, pushed the cartridge into the clip, slipped the clip into the weapon, and cycled the action to load it. Without a word he walked to the door and stood to the side of it, ready if anyone came through the door.
Sasha handed out all the other weapons, the rifles to those who seemed most to know how to use them. Without more than a few sentences they went to the door, ready. No one was taking them prisoner again without a fight.
By the time the pistols were handed out all the people awake were looking well. The readiness of the soldiers and near-soldiers heartened them. Already they had organized themselves around a few leaders and were taking care of each other.
Sasha called for attention.
“I’m going now for the two women. I should be back with them inside a half-hour. Can you not use these cell phones until I get back with them? If you break faith with me, you might cause their deaths, and mine.”
The grey-haired woman, who had passed on receiving any weapon, said they could, and she would guarantee it. Several women and men who had clustered around her nodded.
“But in thirty minutes your time is up,” their leader said.
“Agreed. Make the first call to Emergency Services. Tell them all hostages are safe, and that the terrorists were all in the Grand Executive Suite at this moment. Tell them the hostage-rescue team has killed two rooftop guards, disabled or killed four terrorists inside the security center and disabled the surveillance system.
“I’m going to kill the four rapists now as horribly as I can and bring back the two women.”
The leaders of the former hostages seemed to understand. Sasha went to the door.
The young Israeli bit his lip as she approached and tried to offer his rifle and ammunition to her. She shook her head and smiled. He protested.
“I have weapons better than this. You just can’t see them.”
One of the other men with a rifle said in some heavy accent, “She didn’t come in with one of these weapons. They were all just luggage to her. Trust her. She can probably bend steel with her bare hands.”
That was uncomfortably close to the truth. She laughed.
“No. It’s just that my weapons are well concealed.”
Some of those standing around looked at her dubiously. One or two speculatively eyed her makeshift weapon belt with its concealed marbles.
The “guard” outside the door was still in a coma.
The executive suite where the women were being raped — Sasha prayed they were still alive — was halfway up the tower. She took the stairs. Using the elevators might have alerted someone.
No matter. Time slowed and with her powerful and precise muscles Sasha seemed to float upward.
At the door into the hallway she put her ear to the crack between door and jamb, turned her hearing high.
No sound. She slowly opened the door and peered out. There were no guards in the carpeted hall.
Quickly and quietly she approached the door to the executive suite. An ear to the door revealed one woman crying and the other breathing in gasps. There was laughter and comments from the men.
Sasha entered the room without haste but without delay. At first none of the men noticed. When the first one did all he saw was a bizarrely dressed African women throwing something. Very carefully. Sasha wanted the men alive.
Each fell from a marble to the head. One was not quite out. Sasha quickly ensured he was.
The women noticed her. The redhead was dull-eyed with shock. The black-haired woman stared, then pushed a man off her and began to claw his eyes out.
Sasha let her. She went to the redhead and laid cool hands on the woman which instantly shut off her pain. She helped her sit up, said “You will not get pregnant. Or a disease. I have fixed that.” Along with the verbal reassurance she sent messengers into the woman’s body to soothe her emotions, give her perfect or near-perfect health, begin rapid healing of her hurts, and kill any sperm.
She also administered a command which would soften the memories of what had been done to her. Not to make her forget, though. Worrying about lost memories would have only harmed the woman further.
The black-haired woman had to be interrupted at her mutilation of a second man’s genitals. Sasha though of the horrible harpies and Maenads of Greek legend.
She treated the woman the same way and with the same reassurances.
“Now we’ve got to go before someone comes to interrupt us. The rest of the hostages are free and worrying about you.”
“I want to kill them!”
“They are dying already. I’ll let you watch for just a minute. Then we have to go.”
The three women stopped at the door to the suite. Sasha listened at the crack in the door. The other two looked back.
The muscles of the men were writhing, tightening and un-tightening. Each of them was screaming silently; Sasha had esoterically cut their vocal cords.
“What’s happening?” said the redhead.
“I gave them a shot to cause tetanus. Their muscles are spasming. Their hearts will burst. But all their bones will break before that.”
“Good,” said the black-haired woman. She turned away, almost literally washing her hands of the events in the room behind her.
Sasha took a chance and escorted them downstairs in an elevator. If someone noticed, so be it. And chances are they would think the four men in the executive suite were using it.
At the hostage door the guard was still snoozing. Sasha knocked and the three were let into the room. Most of the women clustered around the victimized women. Soon they took the two into a bathroom to clean them up.
The grey-haired woman gazed at Sasha, who nodded back. Then the woman began making phone calls, the first as Sasha had requested, to Emergency Services.
Apparently the authorities on the end of the line were hard put to believe her. Sasha got impatient.
“Here. Everyone get as far from the window as you can. I’m going to break it.”
When the former hostages did as she said, and turned their backs to the window, Sasha picked up a metal chair and began bashing at the window. She used less than her full strength, which would have exploded the window outward, but did put into her swings all the strength a fit woman could. A half-dozen strikes later the window was clear of all but a few shards of glass. She broke off the chair back and used it to clean away shards of the tough glass from its frame.
“Now, someone stick their heads out and begin waving. Then someone else. We’re being watched by the other tower’s security cameras. They will know we’re telling the truth.”
The women and men took enthusiastically to the task. Then someone got the idea to tear down a long banner which decorated the back of the low dais from which conferences were sometimes conducted. Soon it was spilled out of the window and was being vigorously shaken.
Soon the people on the phone at Emergency Services realized what was going on. It helped that the grey-haired woman knew some Olympic officials who were quite high up in the hierarchy.
Perhaps fifteen minutes later someone at the window reported excitedly that a SWAT team was being deployed toward the building. Then another pointed out that a second team could be just barely seen at one extreme edge of the hotel tower they were in.
The tough young-looking man Sasha thought was Israeli said there were likely at least four teams, one for each side of the hotel. Others agreed. Perhaps they knew what they were talking about.
It was almost an hour before a SWAT team showed up at their door. By then the grey-haired woman was coordinating with officials at all levels and the police outside knew there were no hostage casualties who required quick medical treatment.
The med team that did arrive made up for their delay by showing up in force with much equipment. A number of rescued hostages were taken out on wheeled stretchers.
Sasha displayed injuries with fake bruises and actual dried blood oozed from her skin to get on one of the stretchers. Her ruse was endangered a bit by all the hostages who clustered around her as she was taken up onto a stretcher and out, thanking her. Some of the women were weeping, and several of the men looked quite upset too.
At the hospital Sasha quietly got up from the bed in the emergency room and walked out.
It was Saturday, the next-to-last day of the Olympics. The Olympic managers extended the schedule to make up for lost time. It was a great expense but they felt it was worth it.
The closing day ceremony on Tuesday was the most spectacular ever. The rest of the week was declared a holiday and the Village and the city and nation, indeed the world, celebrated.
Sasha celebrated too, with her family and Saya’s and Glenn’s and many more people than Sasha ever knew cared about her.
And thus was the ambition of a little five-year-old girl vindicated.