"Mouse," I called out.
I heard her come up behind me.
"Found it?" she said.
"Yeah." I inclined my head at the corridor in front of us.
"No," I said and stuck my hand out.
My palm touched a wall.
"Sonofabitch," said Mouse. "Like that elevator bank upstairs. A fake. So where's the real elevator?"
I drew one of the Twins and nodded at the door on our right. "Through there." I opened the door.
Inside was a short corridor that led to a waiting elevator car.
"Now that's what I want to see," said Mouse.
We walked down the corridor and stepped inside the car.
I pressed the only button on the control panel. The door closed. Distant machinery hummed.
And the elevator started up.
* * *
We stepped out the door and into a wide patch of sunlight that suddenly vanished behind a wall of gray clouds.
We were outside a single-story building half the length of a city block. Gray and windowless. Only the one door we'd just emerged from as far as I could tell.
Around us was flat, open space that stretched at least two hundred meters before ending at a tall razorwire-topped fenceline that ran the perimeter of the grounds.
We were outside the city. East. Essex, most likely. It was the only area aside from Lakeshore that had lots of open space for this kind of set up.
Felt a tap on my arm.
Mouse pointed to the far end of the building.
Peeking just around the corner was the back end of the white loaner from Specs.
"Let's bounce," I said.
"Right behind you," said Mouse.
We jogged toward the car, rounded the corner, and skidded to a stop.
The Twins leaped into my hands.
Mouse's wakizashis sang out from her back scabbards.
Three meters in front of us stood a semicircle of a dozen figures. Half carried AK-47s. The other half, MAC-10s and UZIs.
In front of the group stood a tall, leanly muscled man wearing a black leather vest over bare tanned torso, arms folded across his chest, studded leather bracers on both wrists. A black bandana covered his head. At his hip, a pair of Bowie knives in leather sheaths.
"Kat and Mouse," he said.
"Maybe," I said. "Who're you?"
"Gunner vetted you two."
Mouse and I exchanged looks. Gunner was the leader of the Wolfpack.
"Okay," I said. "Still don't know who you are."
"Johnny Thunder," he said.
"Wyld Boyz honcho," I said.
"Aren't you far from home?"
"Got a message one of mine is after you. And he's here."
He quirked an eyebrow at me. "Was?"
He gave me a brief smile. "Guess we're late."
"Works for me." He turned to leave, stopped, turned back. "We good?"
"I'm good," I said. "You?"
"Yeah," Thunder said. "Just for the record--I never greenlit this. Was all Tyson and his boys. Glad he got what was coming to him."
"Noted," I said.
He grinned. "Picked the wrong ladies to mess with."
"Damn right," said Mouse.
He inclined his head at us, then turned and signaled to the other Boyz.
They trooped back toward a trio of battered pickup trucks and climbed aboard.
Johnny Thunder got on a black Harley and started the engine. It rumbled to life. He gave us one final look, then turned the bike around and sped off.
The three trucks followed.
We watched them drive out an opened gate and disappear over the crest of a hill just beyond the complex.
I lowered the Twins and let out a long breath.
"I thought that was gonna get ugly," said Mouse, sheathing her blades.
"Guess we finally caught a break," I said then grinned. "And we scored fifty grand."
Mouse grinned back then looked past my shoulder and her grin morphed into a frown.
"What?" I said.
She gestured. "That would've been the exit, right?"
Behind us was a solid gray wall.
I thought back to the image on the wall-screen, the schematic of the complex Sakura had shown us.
"Yeah," I said and felt my stomach drop. "It would've been."
"Damn," said Mouse.
"Let's go," I said, turned away, and headed for the loaner.
My phone chirped.
Pulled it out, checked the display.
Mouse gave me a questioning look.
I put it on speaker. "Sakura" I said.
"Well done, ladies," came the reply. "Well done."
"You satisfied now?" I said. "We pass your damn test?"
"With flying colors."
"Now what?" said Mouse, eyes narrowed at my phone.
"Now," said Sakura, "I extend an invitation. I want you both to join me for a special assignment."
"Screw that, lady," said Mouse. "We've done enough for you."
"Not for me," said Sakura. "With me this time."
"What're you getting at?" I said.
"Before I tell you that, you need to do something first. I want you to get a message to Nicolai Medvedev."
"How do we do that?" I said.
* * *
Mouse and I perched on the bar stools inside the Red Dog.
Behind the bar, Revell stood with his arms folded across his barrel chest.
"It's true?" said Mouse.
"Da," said Revell. "Is true."
"You're Nicolai Medvedev," I said.
He nodded. "Once. Long ago."
I leaned forward, elbows on the bar top, fingers laced together. "What's going on, Revell?"
Revell's brow furrowed. He looked at Mouse. Then at me. Then let out a long exhale. "There is something you need to know. About this Sakura."
He paused, then added: "And there is something you need to know about Murphy."