She dashed down the narrow hallway to the point where it opened into the mosaic pattern on the floor and walls. Here she slowed, carefully stepping around the pressure plates hidden among the ancient tiles. As she reached the far side, a bullet impacting next to her shoulder made her flinch. The two Nazis were rounding the corner, weapons aimed right at her.
The foot soldier rushed ahead heedlessly. The squad leader yelled and grabbed at him to hold him back, but it was too late: he blundered right down the center of the hall and onto a pressure plate. A cloud of short spears burst from the wall next to him. With a quick series of sickening thuds and a spurt of blood, he was pinned to the far wall, the rifle dropping from his limp hands.
The squad leader took his time, hopping from one safe square to the next. In between each hop, he fired one round at her. She ducked around the corner, out of the tomb and into the catacombs.
“Sie sindein dummkopf!” she shouted back down the hall, waving the skull so that he could see it one last time. “You didn’t really think I’d let you keep it, did you?”
She stepped back and triggered the stone slab to rumble closed, sealing the passage closed behind her. Then she held the skull up so that she could inspect it in the glow of her flashlight.
Suddenly, a gloved hand seized her wrist. She looked up to see Commandant von Wartenburg glaring down at her.
“You didn’t really think I would let you keep it, did you?” he said with a voice as cold as death.