We were inside the lot and halfway to the middle office/warehouse unit when its door swung open toward us and a mook wearing a brown leather bomber jacket and carrying a pair of duffel bags emerged, heading toward the parked cars. The door closed behind him and he got a few steps from the unit when he spotted us.
His eyes went wide.
He dropped the bags and started to reach inside his jacket.
Then a pair of throwing blades erupted from his throat. He staggered back a step, then crumpled, blood gushing from his neck.
We sprinted for the door.
It started to swing open again.
I reached it first and slammed my shoulder into it.
Someone on the other side grunted and the door slammed shut, shaking the front of the unit.
I pulled the flash-bangs out of my cargo pocket, yanked the pins. Mouse pulled the door open partway and I rolled both grenades inside, ducked to one side.
Mouse shut the door and drew a wakizashi.
I drew the Twins.
A muffled shout, followed by a double clap of thunder.
A subvocalized commanded flooded my body with adrenaline stimulators and the world slid into slo-mo.
Mouse yanked the door open and we darted inside.
Two mooks stood in the middle of the open space taking up the front half of the unit. Both had one arm over their eyes, their free hands holding a pistol.
I closed the gap on the nearest mook in two long strides, swatted the pistol out of his hand, hit him with an elbow strike under the chin.
His head snapped back and he staggered.
I swept his legs and he dropped onto his ass with a grunt.
Behind me I heard metal whistle through the air twice, followed by a meaty thunk and a gurgled yelp.
Mouse loves her pointy toys.
Movement to my right.
Pivoted, the Twins tracking.
The back half of the unit had two offices, each with fixed windows facing the door. The one at ground level had lights on inside. The second level on top didn't.
Another mook was on a metal staircase heading up to the upper level office. He stopped, started to turn toward me, swinging the MP5 submachinegun in his hands into firing position.
The mook from the library.
I sidestepped left and fired twice, the Twins roaring.
The rounds caught him high in the chest, shoved him back against the wall. He bounced off, pitched forward, and toppled over the railing, and landed with a wet thud on the ground below.
Another subvocal command shut off the stims.
Turned back toward the mook I'd dropped.
He was still sitting on the ground, a dazed look in his eyes.
I shoved Bonnie against the side of his head. "Stay," I said.
"Mouse?" I said. "You okay?"
"Five by five," she said behind me.
I holstered Clyde and checked the floor.
"There," said Mouse and pointed.
The gun I had swatted out of the mook's hand sat in the far corner of the unit.
I turned back to the mook, took a couple of steps back, still keeping Bonnie trained on him. "Check the offices," I said to Mouse.
Mouse went to the window of the ground level office and looked in, then turned to me and shook her head.
She nodded and jogged up the metal staircase. Tried the door. Frowned. Then stepped back and kicked it in.
Through the window, I saw Mouse walk into the office then disappear toward the back. A few moments later, three women came out of the office. Twentysomethings, from the look of them. They started down the stairs. Mouse followed just behind.
Two were brunettes, medium height, a bit disheveled, red-eyed, and taking long shuddering breaths.
The third was a statuesque blonde, long hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, a grim set to her face.
"Raya," I said.
The girl nodded.
"Revell sent us."
Her body relaxed and she gave me a thin smile.
I said to Mouse, "Take them to the car. I'll be right there."
"Let's go, ladies," she said and started for the front door.
Raya followed last. When she passed the mook, she stopped, turned, and cracked a sneakered foot into his face.
He yelped. Cartilege crunched and the mook's head snapped back, blood flying. He fell back and bounced his head against the floor.
"That's for tasing me, you shit," said Raya.
Mouse snorted a laugh.
I shot Raya a grin.
She nodded at me, then followed Mouse and the others out of the unit.
I looked down at the mook. He lay curled on his side, one hand covering his nose, moaning. Blood covered his shirt front and dripped large splotches on the floor.
"Let's talk," I said. "What were you going to do with the girls?"
"Eat shit and die," he said.
I tapped the hand covering his nose with the side of my boot.
"Wanna try that again?"
"Once more," I said. "What were you going to do with the girls? I already know you were trying to get two more at the BCU library a little over an hour ago. Your buddies are dead. You could be next. So I'll ask again. What were you going to do with the girls?"
He was staring up at me with wide eyes. He swallowed visibly. "Waiting," he said, his voice croaking.
"When and who?"
"At 1900 hours. Guy named Dixon was coming to get them. Then he'd pay."
I said, "You working with Red Farrell?"
"Yeah. He'd point out the girls. We'd get them."
"Pretending to be sim producers."
"What was Dixon going to do with them?"
"Yeah. We just got the girls. He'd take 'em somewhere else."
"Thank you," I said. "Been nice talking."
I holstered the Twins.
"You're not gonna kill me?" said the mook, propping himself up on one elbow.
"No," I said. "You get to tell Dixon you failed."
"I don't think he'll be happy," I said.
I heard the chuff of propellant from behind me. The mook gave a start, looked down at the dart sticking out of his chest. He looked up at me, then his eyes rolled up into his head and he dropped back to the floor.
Mouse stood in the doorway, lowering the tranq rifle. She grinned and tossed me a pair of plastic restraints, then went back out.
(to be continued...)