I reached her in a knee-slide, just as she hit the ground curled in a fetal position, clutching her left shoulder, face twisted in pain.
"Mouse--" I began.
"Fucking son of a goddamn cock-sucking pus-nuts shit-for-brains asshole--"
I choked back a laugh and blinked away watery eyes. "You're okay."
She sucked air between gritted teeth and nodded. "You're the one who's supposed to get shot. Not me."
"I'll remember for next time."
"That was a warning shot, ladies," said a voice from outside.
We were three meters from and below the level of the windows so I raised my head high enough to peer over the edge of the broken window.
Two figures stood in the middle of the street.
One was medium-height, bald, in a dark blue suit. Armed with a pair of semi-autos.
The other was tall wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long brown duster, red and white kerchief around his neck, and a pair of old-fashioned leather gunbelts slung across his waist, each with a revolver. He stood to one side of Baldy, duster pulled back behind the guns, hands open at his sides, fingers poised. Like those gunfighters in Mouse's old vids.
"Next shots," said Baldy, "will probably be your last ones."
"Cocky shit," Mouse said to me.
"You're that good?" I called out to Baldy.
"Lady," said Baldy, "we're the best."
I said to Mouse, "He is cocky."
A thought struck. "I have an idea."
"Are you doing what I think you're doing?"
"Two against one, Kat."
"I know," I said. "They haven't got a chance."
"Easy or hard," Baldy called out.
A subvocalized command and the world slid into slo-mo.
The Twins, Bonnie and Clyde--my pair of Colt-Springfield M2001 .45-caliber high-capacity pistols--leaped into my hands from the double holster rig under my jacket.
I rose to a low crouch, the Twins tracking, stroked the triggers.
Both guns spat fire and thunder in an explosive stacatto.
Six rounds hit Baldy, walking up from gut to head, and a misty crimson halo erupting from the back of his skull. He crumpled.
Duster was already moving, side-stepping to my right, revolvers up and blasting, rounds slamming into window and building, a few whizzing past me.
I ducked back beneath the level of the window.
"Tell me you got one," said Mouse.
"I think so," I said. "How're you doing?"
"Round hit dermal. Didn't go through. But hurts like hell."
"Can you move?"
"We gotta go."
The warehouse door burst open.
I spun, the Twins rising to target, saw Duster in the doorway, his revolvers raised, leveled at us.
Thunder boomed, echoing off the warehouse walls.
The sledgehammer plowed into the center of my chest.
The Twins managed a roar each, then I was no longer holding them, and I pitched backwards, hit the floor, skidded.
White light exploded behind my eyes.
And everything went dark.
(to be continued...)