Three Wyld Boyz.
One at the alley mouth, big, black and dreadlocked, wearing a mesh shirt, a MAC-10 machine pistol leveled down the alley.
Two more further in, near each wall. One on the left, bald with tattoos up both arms. The other, leanly built with a red-orange mohawk, wearing a sleveless denim jacket. Both hefted a half-meter length of pipe.
At the far end, the alley ended against the back of a four story building. Mouse waited in a fighting stance, her back to the wall, a wakizashi--Japanese short sword--at the ready.
Two meters to her left, in the corner of the alley near a pile of flattened boxes and garbage bags, next to a big blue dumpster, the cat stood, fuzzed out. Ears flattened. Tail whiplashing.
Had to finish this quick.
These three had to be lowman or firsties because they didn't hear me walk up to them.
Doom on you, as Murphy would say.
I stepped up to the Wyld Boy at the alley mouth, set down the cat carrier, and shoved Bonnie--the other Twin--into the back of his neck.
"Hi," I said.
He stiffened. The other two Wyld Boyz whirled then froze in their tracks.
"Nobody move," I said. "Unless you really want to."
Lead Wyld Boy didn't.
Bald Tattoo on my left did.
Clyde leaped out of my shoulder rig, roared, and spat four slugs into his chest. He staggered back one step, surprise on his face, and crumpled, dropping the pipe.
Mohawk Guy started toward me, pipe raised.
Then yelped and pitched foward to his knees, dropped the pipe, and clutched the back of his leg.
Correction: his ass.
Mouse had put three throwing blades into one buttock.
I put Clyde into the back of Lead Wyld Boy's neck, pointed Bonnie at Mohawk Guy, and took off the top of the mohawk with one round.
He screamed and held up a hand. "Okay okay! I give!"
I prodded Lead Wyld Boy's neck with Clyde's muzzle. "Drop the gun."
He opened his fingers and the machinepistol clattered to the ground. I reached out with one foot and slid the weapon toward me.
"Good," I said. "Now take your girlfriend and fade."
He turned a pockmarked face toward me, eyes slitted, mouth working as if to say something. Then he saw something past my shoulder and his mouth became a thin line. He looked at me, then at the Twins. "Not over, girlie," he said in a sandpaper voice.
"Never is," I said.
Then he picked his whimpering companion up by the back of his denim jacket and they took off west on 47th.
Mouse walked up to me and grinned. "New friend?" she said.
"That's me," I said. "Miss Friendly-Pants. You okay?"
"Five by five," she said, bent down, and grabbed the cat carrier. She gestured past me. "You got an audience," she said, then turned and walked back to the end of the alley and the cat.
Across the street, three Razors sat astride their bikes, watching.
From the end of the alley behind me, I heard a protesting yowl followed by a pair of loud metallic clicks.
I holstered the Twins in the double-holster shoulder rig under my jacket and went across the street.
The Razor in front of the other two was a woman with close-cropped dark hair.
The woman from earlier.
The same woman from two months ago.
"Casey, right?" I said.
She nodded. "You remember."
"I'm good like that."
"You scare them off?" I said.
"Nah," she said. "We wouldn't do that. We know better. We just watchin' the show."
"Yeah," said one of the other Razors. "Mick would skin us if he heard we poked in."
I smiled. Good ol' Mick.
"'sides," Casey said, "Johnny and Mick got a treaty.
"Wyld Boyz honcho. Johnny Thunder. Razors get a free pass through Parkside if we need it. If those yobbos mixed it up with us, they'd have to deal with Johnny." Casey grinned again. "After they dealt with us."
The other two barked a laugh.
"Show's over now, Casey. We gotta run."
"Wiz." She pulled on her helmet and started the bike.
"Tell Mick we said hi," I said over the rumble of the rockets.
Casey nodded, dropped the helmet's visor over her face, and tore off down the street.
The others followed, the whine of their engines echoing off the surrounding buildings, then fading into the distance.
Mouse stepped up next to me, the cat carrier in hand.
I looked at her. "So what did you do?"
"One of them got in my way just as I was about to catch up to the cat," Mouse said. "Used him as a springboard. He didn't like that."
"No shit. Which one?"
I shook my head. "And I'm the one making friends?"
"They just chased me. You got threatened."
I thought back to Lead Wyld Boy, with his pockmarked face and mass of dreadlocks, heard his sandpaper voice in my head.
Not over, girlie.
Great. One more reason to watch my back.
I sighed. Deal with him when the time comes.
Just like I dealt with the Lightning rider.
"How we doing?" Mouse said. "For the cat."
Checked my optic clock. "Half an hour," I said.
Then gestured toward the cat carrier at Mouse's side.
"Good?" I said.
"Good," said Mouse.
"Mrowr," said the cat.
Never a dull moment.
NEXT TIME: "A Gathering Storm"
NEXT TIME: "A Gathering Storm"