I came to with Mouse kneeling over me, concern etched on her face. Everything behind her looked fuzzy.
"Kat?" she said. "Can you hear me?"
"Yeah," I said, although it sounded like "Gahh" to me. I blinked a few times, trying to get the fuzziness to stop. After a few minutes, everything came back into focus.
Mouse was still looking down at me. "You home?"
Then I remembered: the other shooter.
I inhaled sharply and sat up.
Or tried to.
Mouse had a hand on my shoulder, keeping me down. "Whoa," she said.
"Shooter," I managed to say and sound vaguely coherent.
She inclined her head to one side and shifted.
I turned my head. Slowly.
Duster lay on his side, looking at us, wide-eyed. Mouse's wakizashi stuck out from his throat, Duster's hands hanging limply off the blade. Blood pooled around his head and shoulders.
"How'd you manage that?" I said.
"I'm skilled," said Mouse.
I shot her a grin and sat up, slowly. A dull throb pulsed in the back of my head and in the middle of my chest. Looked down, saw three bullet holes in my shirt. Pulled the collar out.
Thank god for dermal armor. I had enough implanted to stop a assault rifle round but the impact from the hit still hurt. The shots formed a trio of red and purple spiderwebbed impacts in the middle of my chest, each within two-and-a-half centimeters of each other.
Something wasn't right.
I let go of the shirt collar and stood up.
Mouse walked over and handed me the Twins. I checked them over. Bonnie was down four rounds. Clyde, down six.
Mouse must've seen my frown because she tapped my arm and nodded at Duster. "Had to make sure."
I looked back at the shooter.
The side of his head sported a pair of bloody craters.
I nodded and reloaded with fresh magazines, put the used ones in my jacket pocket. Slid the pistols back into my rig.
"Got one more out there," said Mouse.
"I know," I said and looked at Duster again. Then turned and looked over at Mask.
"Kat?" said Mouse.
I said: "Something's off."
"Something's always off. Wouldn't be normal if it wasn't."
"Why weren't they using AP rounds?"
Mouse gave a start and frowned. "Good question."
"They were trying to kill us, right?"
And a thought struck.
My gut dropped.
Herding. Like Sakura.
I saw Mouse's expression. She must've had the same thought.
And we spun and bolted for the far side of the warehouse, for the blacked-out windows.
Drew Bonnie and emptied a magazine, shattering glass and snapping metal panes.
Crossed arms in front of my face.
And dove through.
A distant crash of glass. Then a dull whump.
And the world exploded in a double flash of heat and twin roar of thunder.
The concussion wave pitched me across the street and I skidded to a stop lying sideways near the far curb, Bonnie no longer in my hand, clattering away beyond me.
Debris rained down around me and I got a quick look at the warehouse as fireballs blew out all the windows then punched through the roof.
And the building collapsed on itself with a ground-rumbling crash, spraying a thick plume of dust into the air.
She was propped up on her elbows, staring at the pile of smoking rubble that had been the warehouse.
"Coulda' been us," she said.
"Yeah," I said.
"You two should be dead," said a gravel voice behind us.
(to be continued...)