Revell had been shot, Mouse was gone, and I'd spent the last ten minutes pacing the back hallway of the Red Dog.
"Not helping," Jake said as he leaned against the wall.
"Helping me," I said.
Two meters away, behind the door of the office, Doc was working on Revell.
Jake said something.
I stopped and turned to himl. "What?"
"I said he's gonna be fine. We're talking about Doc here. Revell's in good hands."
Don't worry, I said to Mouse. Eddie's in good hands.
Eddie. How was Eddie? I wondered.
How was Mouse...?
A knock came from the rear door.
I reached for the Twins.
And Jake was suddenly there, holding my wrists, gently, pointing the guns at the ceiling. I never saw him move.
We locked eyes, his blues staring down at me, drilling deep into my head.
"Easy," he said.
After what seemed like forever, I nodded and he guided my hands back to the shoulder rig, guided the guns back into their holsters.
I realized I'd been holding my breath and I let it out.
Jake looked me over for a moment, then turned and went to the rear door and pushed it open.
Eddie hobbled through, saw me, and grinned. "Just the woman I wanted to see--" He must've seen my face. His brow creased. "What happened?"
Jake told him about Revell and Mouse.
"Bloody hell," Eddie said. "Who did it?"
"Don't know," said Jake.
"Kat?" said Eddie.
"Planning to find out," I said. "And then I grease them."
The door to the back office opened and Doc stepped into the hallway.
"Well?" I said.
The corner of his mouth twitched up into a small smile. "Meaning he's gonna be fine. Took two in the shoulder. Blew his rotator cuff. Dermal would've absorbed the damage but whoever shot him used AP rounds. Lost some blood. Lucky he got to the hemo pad when he did. Stopped the bleeding."
Relief flooded through me.
Doc's smile went up a notch. "He's a tough old bastard. Seen worse than this back in the day."
"I know. Can I see him?"
"He wants to see you."
I nodded and went into the room.
Revell was propped up on the couch, his left arm in a sling, bandages crisscrossing his shoulder. He looked at me and smiled.
I gave him a small smile, then grabbed the desk chair, put it next to the couch, and sat down.
"It was Jade," he said.
I sucked air through gritted teeth. "Mouse, too?"
"What happened?" I said.
Revell took a long breath and blew it out. "After you left, I went into bar to check on Mouse. Found Jade there. With secmen. They had cleared out bar and locked the front door. Had Mouse at gunpoint. Wanted disk. Mouse said you had it but Jade did not believe her. Had her searched. Didn't find it. Jade got mad. Took it out on Mouse."
"I know," said Revell. "Me too."
"Then she told me I was messenger."
Revell nodded and indicated his shoulder. "This was to make sure message was timely."
"What was the message?"
"Same time as you proposed. But you are to trade disk for Mouse."
I checked my optic clock. Just over an hour left.
I got up from the chair. "Better get ready." I turned to leave and Revell grabbed my hand.
"Wait. There is something else."
"It is about Murphy."
"Revell, not now--"
"No. Now. It has gone on far too long. It must stop."
"Katya, listen to me. You did not kill Murphy."
"I let him go, Revell. I tried to talk him out of it but he was stubborn. Last run, my ass..."
"There was nothing you could have done."
"He didn't have to go. He could've sent me and Mouse."
"Why did he have to go?"
"He had to."
"What do you mean, he had to?"
He motioned toward the chair. I sat down.
"Ten years ago," Revell said, "Murphy's wife and daughter were killed."
"I know," I said. "Bus accident over on--"
"No. There was not accident. They were caught in crossfire between two punker gangs. One year later, Murphy found out he was supposed to have been target of crossfire."
Revell nodded. "Da. We also found out who was responsible."
"We knew him as Daniel Anderson. Former Assistant Weapons Sergeant, Third Special Operations Group, Alpha Team."
"Murphy found out he had been selling arms on black market through some mobsters in Alliance. Reported him. But Anderson went AWOL. Changed his name and made new life for himself."
"Like you and Murphy."
"Like me and Murphy," Revell said.
I started to get it. "But Anderson was still looking to settle the score. Changed his name. New ident."
"Now James Burns," said Revell. "From Louisiana."
"Alliance. Why there?"
"That is where he had contacts in arms business."
"Okay. So Anderson--Burns--wants payback. He finds Murphy after, what, ten years?"
"Thirteen years. Sets up a fake gangwar to get to him. Instead, he gets to Murphy's wife and daughter."
Then it came to me. "Murphy went after Burns, didn't he," I said.
Revell nodded. "One year after Kim and Eileen were killed. But somehow, Burns found out about Murphy's plan. Ambushed Murphy. Gunned him down and thought that was end of it. He was wrong, of course."
"With my help. And Doc's. We patched him up. After that, he went under. Tried to figure out a new way to get at Burns. But never happened. Burns found Murphy again. Two months ago."
Realization kicked me in the gut. "Oh, Jesus. The meet in the 'Zone."
My shoulders tensed and I clenched my hand into fists. I said to Revell, "Why did you say Murphy had to go to that meet?"
"The package he was picking up had information about Burns."
"Katya, things happen for a reason. Nothing is by chance."
"You mean fate?"
"Not fate. Unless it is fate we make for ourselves. But wheel always turns."
"Of Fortune. Burns is the head of security at Lazlar Industries."
I jerked bolt upright in the chair, as if an electric shock had shot up my spine. "Lazlar. They're the ones after the disk."
"I know. Burns came by this afternoon. Wanted the disk. Actually requested it." He chuckled. "I told him what to do with his request." A small grin creased his face. "He did not care for that suggestion."
Fortune's wheel. It made sense now. I looked at Revell. "I'm supposed to set things straight for Murphy, aren't I."
His grin widened. "I always knew you were smart girl."
(to be continued...)