I grabbed the receiver clipped to my belt.
"Where?" said Mouse.
"Hallway," I said.
Eddie popped the disk from the portable, slipped it back in the small hardcase, tucked it into an inside pocket.
Mouse leaped toward the foot of the bed, scooped up the SMGs, and tossed one to Eddie. Then she slung the duffle with the plastic explosives, detonators, and magazines over her shoulder.
I drew the Twins, double-checked their magazines, then took up a spot to the inside left of the door.
Mouse and Eddie racked the charging handles of the SMGs and took up a staggered position on the other side of the door.
We watched and waited.
Several seconds later, the motion sensor on the door buzzed and the indicator light went red.
"I know you're in there," said a voice on the other side of the door.
Mouse and I exchanged looks.
"Jade?" I called out. "What are you doing here?"
"Guess the rumor's true," Jade said. "You two aren't doing very well these days."
"What do you want?"
"Kincaid sent me. I'm here to collect."
"You're early," I said.
You know what they say. Early bird kills the cat."
"Gets the worm."
"Whatever. Let's make this easy. Hand over the money and everything's wiz. I don't want to break down a door if I don't have to."
"You're all heart," I said. "But Kincaid knows we've got time. You don't want this right now."
"But I do. Tangling with the famous Kat and Mouse. Right up my alley."
"I'm telling you, Jade. For your own good, walk away right now."
Something slammed against the door.
"What--you think I can't take you on? You think you're that good?"
Mouse threw me a look. "You pissed her off."
"That's bullshit," said Jade. "Bull. Shit. I got a hundred grand says I can take you both."
"A lousy hundred grand?" Mouse said.
I shot Mouse a look.
She shrugged. "We're worth more than a hundred grand."
Glass shattered behind us and something metallic bounced into the room.
I saw it.
"Down!" I said and dropped to the deck.
White light and thunder exploded in the room.
More glass shattered and a pair of boots hit the floor.
I raised the Twins and emptied both magazines in the direction of the sound. A pair of submachineguns chattered nearby, joining the stacatto boom of my hand cannons.
Someone gave a muffled yelp.
Then something thudded to the floor.
I opened my eyes and spotted a pair of crumpled bodies in front of the window. Both in black fatigues and loaded tactical vests.
I reloaded the Twins and was turning to check on Mouse and Eddie when the door burst inward and Jade strode in, pistols blazing, stitching a line of rounds at the far wall.
When she got partway into the room, I slammed into the back of her legs, hitting low with my right shoulder and pistoning up, lifting her off the floor, and knocking her onto the bed. My momentum carried me with her. I hit the foot of the bed, tucked and rolled across the bed corner, hit the floor on the other side in a crouch, the Twins coming up on Jade.
And found her in the same position, her guns trained on me.
"Nice," Jade said with a grin.
I returned the grin. "This could get ugly."
Jade's grin widened a notch just before the ammo can clocked her in the temple. She grunted, staggered sideways.
I dropped Bonnie on the bed and slugged Jade, an right uppercut that tossed her backwards. Her head bounced off the wall and she folded.
Mouse leaped off the bed and landed beside me, a wakizashi in hand. "I got her."
I put a hand on her shoulder. "Nice throw, partner."
"Can we go now?" said Eddie from the doorway.
I scooped up Bonnie from the bed. "Let's bounce."
Mouse shook her head. "Hang on." She went over to Jade, rolled her onto her stomach, and sliced off her braid.
I rolled my eyes skyward. "And you said I pissed her off?"
Mouse held up the braid, grinned at me, then tossed it into the middle of the room.
I waved her to the door. "Let's go before--"
The motion sensor buzzed again. I checked the receiver.
"Kat?" said Mouse.
"Staircase," I said. "Go."
I herded Eddie and Mouse down the hallway just as the stairwell door near the room popped open. I glanced over my shoulder, saw a pair of secmen stride through, one high, one low in a crouch, both with SMGs at the ready. I skidded to a stop, pivoted toward the pair, the Twins tracking.
Their first shots went high.
The Twins responded with thunder and fire.
The low man took four slugs in the chest and fell backwards into the second man and knocked him off-balance.
A third stepped through the door, filling the spot the first two vacated, and swung his his weapon into play. Gunfire walked up the hallway toward me. I sucked wall.
Someone screamed behind me.
I whirled, saw Eddie on the ground, Mouse pulling herself out from under him.
Spun back toward the trio. The Twins roared and bucked in my hands. I emptied both magazines at the third secman. He jerked and flailed then crumpled. Popped the empties and reloaded. Swung back to target. The other two secmen raised their guns to fire but the Twins hit them first, slugs ripping them to ribbons. They fell back in a heap.
The Twins went to slide-lock.
"Mouse?" I said, trying to catch my breath, my heart triphammering in my chest.
"Eddie's hit," she said.
I reloaded the Twins, still watching the stairwell door. "How bad?"
"I can walk," Eddie said, his voice strained. "Sort of."
I started to backpedal, still keeping the Twins trained on the door. "End of the hall. Other stairwell."
Seconds later, we reached the stairwell landing and started down.
And two more secmen rounded the landing below.
Mouse yelped, raked her MP5 at the lead secman, and a hail of rounds blew his head open.
The other secman scrambled back down the stairs.
"Now what?" said Mouse.
I scanned the landing, then gestured with my chin. "Roof. I'll cover."
Mouse slung her MP5 over her shoulder and adjusted her grip on Eddie.
He grunted at her effort.
"Sorry," she said and they started up the steps.
I stepped back from the stairwell door and got halfway up the steps, the Twins at the ready, when chunks of the door exploded into the stairwell.
I returned fire through the door.
Another barrage came up the stairs from down below.
Return fire down the stairs.
Someone grunted and metal clattered onto concrete.
I turned and went up the steps, taking them two at a time, rounded the bend, and ran into Mouse and Eddie.
"What--" I said.
Then saw past them.
An aerodyne sat on the roof ten meters from the roof access door.
(to be continued...)