"Pop Quiz" - Part Ten

A haze of dust hung the air. Left over from the grenade blast. Down the corridor was the way we'd come through from the fake set of elevators. Spotted the intersection where I'd tossed the grenade and the door to the ceiling crusher room.

"Kat," Mouse said behind me.

I turned, Twins still up.

Five meters away, debris filled the corner of the passageway. Tangles of wire and cables jung down from the exposed ceiling like jungle vines and water dripped from busted pipes.

"Dreadlocks," I said.

"Think he's dead?" said Mouse.

"Only one way to find out," I said and started forward.

And Dreadlocks stepped around the corner, head down, staring up at us from beneath lowered brows, lips drawn back in a snarl. He held onto the wall with his right hand. In his left hand, he clutched a machete.

Blood soaked the entire left side of his white mesh shirt, coated his arm, and dripped off his fist onto the floor.

I popped optics to thermo.

Mods. Basic cyberhand clutching the machete. No implant weapons. Dermal sheath.

Explained how he was able to take the shots and not be splattered all over the wall.

"Hello, girlie," he said in his sandpaper voice.

"Where's your big gun?" I said.

"Don't need it. Just this." He held up the machete. "Time to die."

The Twins leveled themselves at Dreadlocks, felt them itching to play.

Heard metal sing out next to me, saw Mouse step forward into a fighting stance, wakizashis at the ready.

Dreadlocks glanced at Mouse. "Don't want you." He pointed the machete at me. "I want her."

"Sorry," said Mouse. "We're a matched pair."

"Drop the knife, choom," I said, "and no one gets hurt. I got no beef with you."

"I got one with you," Dreadlocks said.

And charged.

I side-stepped, the Twins still tracking.

Mouse met him halfway and parried his swing. Then her blades twirled in a flash of metal, slicing across his body, cutting huge gashes on his arms and torso.

He staggered back, machete slashing from side to side, trying to block Mouse's blades.

Mouse pressed forward, sent him crashing against a pile of debris.

He fell back on his ass, raised his machete in a block.

Mouse swung.

And machete and hand flew back toward the far corner of the hallway.

Dreadlocks screamed, blood gushing from the sliced wrist. He grabbed his forearm and tucked it against his chest.

I stepped toward him, Twins leveled at his head.

He fell over on his side, bleeding stump tucked under, sucking hissing breaths through gritted teeth.

"Are you done?" I said.

He glared up at me with slitted eyes. Saliva frothed at the corner of his mouth. "Fuck you," he said and his other hand reached behind his back.

The Twins roared and two rounds punched through his face, blood spraying a misty crimson halo around his head.

He dropped back in a heap, and the compact semi-auto fell from his right hand and clattered to the floor.

"Good riddance," said Mouse.

I holstered the Twins and gestured toward the elevator at the far end of the corridor.

We headed forward.

Halfway down the hall Mouse stopped. "Shit."

I stopped. "What?"

She looked at me, scowling. "The flamethrower wall and that goddamn hole."

"You'll do fine."

"You weren't the one who almost missed the other side of the hole."

"I could throw you across."

"Bite me."

* * *

We stood in the corner where two corridors met, just outside the room we'd started in.

I opened the door and motioned to Mouse. "Check in there for any fake walls or switches for fake walls." I gestured to the corridor on our right. "I'll check down here."

"Copy," said Mouse and stepped into the room.

I went down the corridor. Slowly. Hands feeling along the floor and walls, looking for hidden indentations or gaps or covered switches. Anything that would reveal the secondary entrance I knew was here.

Two meters down the hall, I stopped and checked my optic clock.

15:59:47.

Almost time.

I held my breath and silently counted down with the display.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

And silence.

Looked around the hallway.

Nothing.

The clock read: 16:00:08.

I let out a long exhale and grinned to myself.

I was right.

(to be continued...)

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