Pan and scan.
Five doors, evenly spaced out, on the left side. Two doors, also evenly spaced, on the right and a third door nearly three-quarters of the way down. All unmarked.
Two ball cameras sat behind and above me, occupying both corners. One halfway down the corridor in the middle of the ceiling. Two more at the far corners.
As if in response, the first door on my right swung open toward me and I saw someone's leg step out and hold the door open.
"That'll be the day, Smitty," the leg's owner called back through the door. "I'll whip your ass again and take your money."
"Only if you cheat, Wierzbowski," a voice replied.
"Tomorrow at your place," Wierzbowski said. "I'll bring the suds." He stepped out into the corridor, his back to me, and let the door swing shut.
Close-cropped hair. My height. Leanly built. Dressed in civvies. A duffle bag in his left hand.
Didn't notice me until Bonnie nuzzled his right temple.
"Shhh," I suggested.
"Drop the bag."
"Good boy. Now you're gonna answer some questions. Stay put, and you might live." I saw the faint line of his implant commo and touched it with Bonnie's muzzle. "Squeak, and I take your head off."
His eyes slid toward me. "Big mistake, lady."
"Where is she?" I said.
"You don't know who you're dealing with, do you."
"Yeah," he said. "Some bitch who's gonna get herself killed."
I brought Bonnie back toward my left ear and launched a hammerfist into the back of his head. His face cracked against the corridor wall with the wet crunch of blood and breaking cartilege and he dropped to his knees, moaning. Blood poured from his broken nose.
"One more time," I said. "Where is she?"
"Fucking slut," he said.
I slammed his face against the wall and heard the wet crunch again.
He made a small noise and doubled over.
I looked around.
Had to get out of the hallway.
Door across from me. I tried the handle with my elbow. It swung in. I holstered the Twins and grabbed the duffle bag then picked up Wierzbowski by the back of his shirt and dragged him into the room.
The overhead lights flickered on as we entered.
A conference room with a huge rectangular mahogany table dominating the center. Padded armchairs ringed the table.
I shut the door with my foot and shoved Wierzbowski into a nearby chair. He collapsed into it with a grunt.
"Ready to talk yet?" I said.
He craned his head toward me and spat.
I spun away and the blood glob narrowly missed my jacket.
"Had to pick the hard way, didn't you," I said.
He glared at me.
I pulled a gray and blue bandana from my back pocket and wadded it up into a fist-sized ball. Then I tapped his nose with it.
He opened his mouth to scream.
I jammed the bandana into his mouth, put my hand over it, then drew the KaBar and plunged it into his shoulder.
I let him scream.
When it started to die down, I pulled the knife out of his shoulder and looked at him.
He looked up, tears streaming from his eyes, and nodded.
I took my hand off his mouth and pulled out the bandana.
"Where is she?" I said.
"Burns's office," he said, his voice breathy and congested.
"That better be down here."
He nodded. "Next door down. Through it, down that hallway, through the door at the end. First door on your left."
"Better not be lying."
"Not lying. But you're gonna need a keycard."
"All taken care of. Zip-ties are where?"
"In the duffle."
I rummaged through the bag and found them. Used one to bind his ankles together. A second for his wrists, behind his back. Then I grabbed the soggy bandana from the table.
"Open your mouth," I said.
He did and I shoved the bandanna back inside, then used another zip-tie as a gag to secure it in place.
Then I took a step back and fixed him with Look Number Two. He flinched.
"You're not going to follow me," I said.
He shook his head and mumbled something.
"Nope. Don't believe you."
I pulled the baton from my belt, shucked it open, and whipped it across his kneecaps.
The snap-crack echoed in the room.
He screamed behind the gag and fell off the chair.
"Now I believe you." I collapsed the baton and put it back in my belt. I checked him and found what I wanted.
I let out a breath, adjusted the straps of the two wakizashis I'd slung across my back.
Then I drew the Twins and went out the door.
* * *
I found Mouse in Burns's office. Just like the guard said.
She grinned up at me when the blindfold came off. "About damn time you got here."
Her lip was cut. A gash ran across her left cheek, still showed blood streaks, now dried. A bruise had begun to swell under her left eye.
"Gonna be okay?" I said.
"I will now."
I unslung the wakizashis and passed them to her.
Her face lit up. "Wicked."
"Time to bounce," I said.
* * *
The two secmen came around the corner, not expecting us. They were reaching for their sidearms when the Twins barked twice. They folded.
"So much for stealth," I said.
"You gonna take all the fun?" said Mouse.
"Next one's yours."
We went around the corner and jogged down the hallway to the door at the far end.
I holstered Clyde, took out the keycard, and stood to the right of the door.
Mouse had both blades drawn. She nodded.
I swiped the card.
The door wooshed open.
A secman rushed through and into Mouse's blade, just below the solar plexus. Mouse shoved the rest of it into his chest, angling up. He groaned, shuddered, and died.
I yanked the dead secman off the short sword and shoved him out the door.
Small arms fire chattered. The body jerked and flailed as a hail of bullets punched through him, shoving him backwards.
"Shit!" said Mouse.
"Back!" I said. "See if there's another exit!"
Mouse took off.
I crouched low, shoved the Twins out the door in the direction of the gunfire, and let off several rounds.
Bursts replied, gouging out chunks of the door frame and the wall across from me.
I stayed crouched, Twins levelled at the door, and backpedaled the way we came. "Mouse!" I called out. "See anything?"
I turned, rounded the corner and skidded to a halt.
Jade held Mouse like a human shield, a pistol against Mouse's head.
"Hi, Kat," Jade said with a grin.
(to be continued...)