"Into The Woods" - Part Nine

After I told Kyle, I heard Cutter say, "Sleazy son of a whore!"

Kyle quirked an eyebrow at me. "When?" he said.

"About an hour ago," I said.

"You sure?"

"Pretty sure it was this Dylan."

"And the other guy?"

"Definitely corpsec."

"You could tell."

"Yeah, I could."

Kyle looked at me, brow furrowed, and I could tell gears were turning in his head.

Then he looked at Mouse, then at Cutter.

"Cutter," he said. "You flew them."

"Yeah," said Cutter.

"They on the level?"

"And then some."

"So this Beck isn't Capital."

Cutter snorted. "Not by a longshot. Their employer deals tech gear. The expensive stuff."

Kyle's brow creased further and he scratched his chin. He was about to say something when a knock came on the door.

We turned to look.

Tina had poked her head in and was looking at Kyle. "Mac wants to talk to you," she said.

* * *

It was another hour and a half before the door opened again.

Kyle came in with a large, filled plastic bag in one hand.

I got up from where I'd been sitting on the cave floor next to a crate stack. "Well?"

Kyle looked like his favorite pet had died. "No dice," he said, then held up the plastic bag. "Water bottles and some sandwiches."

"Real meat?" said Mouse, getting to her feet.

Kyle snorted. "Yeah, right." He set the bag on the ground in front of us and headed for the door.

"Did you tell Mac what I told you?" I said.

Kyle stopped and turned back to me. "I said no dice. Dylan is Mac's favorite. He can't do any wrong in her eyes. She wasn't having any of it."

"She that blind?"

"Dylan's helped her plan every raid on Capital for the last three months," Kyle said. "Every single one's gone off without a hitch. But after what you told me earlier, I got to thinking. It was too good to be true."

"What do you mean 'gone off without a hitch'?"

"No casualties. In any of the raids."

"None?" I said.

He shook his head. "None of ours."

"Doesn't make sense," said Cutter, seated again on the edge of the crate stack. "Capital's corpsec teams are Excalibur trained."

"And Excalibur's almost as good as military spec ops," Mouse said.,

"Which tells me there's something fishy," I said, "and Dylan's involved."

Kyle's eyes went to slits. "You're saying Dylan could be a plant."

"Yeah," I said. "Or one of yours who decided to sell out."

"He owes me a new aerodyne," said Cutter.

A thought struck.

"That cavern we were in before," I said. "There was a lot of activity."

"Getting ready for a raid tonight..." Kyle's voice trailed off and his eyes widened.

I was way ahead of him.

"He's setting you up," I said, then turned toward the door. "Aren't you."

Dylan stood just inside the cave, arms folded across his chest. Just behind him stood another Claw member, a giant solid Samoan man with close-cropped platinum blond hair and a scowl on his face.

"You're really nosy, aren't you," Dylan said to me.

"You fucking traitor," Kyle said reached for the pistol in his leg holster.

The Samoan was wired and he moved, fast.

A split-second later, Kyle flew backwards, arms and legs pinwheeling, and smashed into a pile of crates, knocking them over, spilling their contents onto the cave floor.

"Holy shit," said Mouse and darted toward Kyle.

Cutter hopped down from the crate stack and joined Mouse.

I turned back.

The Samoan stood where Kyle had been, tree trunk-sized forearm held up in front of his massive chest, his other hand clutching the pistol that had been in Kyle's holster.

Dylan shot me a humorless smile. "Stay here. Be good."

"Does Mac know you sold your soul to the corporate machine she's fighting against?" I said.

He fixed me with a piercing look.

I gave it right back to him.

He bared his teeth in a feral smile. "Let's go," he said.

The big Samoan grunted a reply, turned, and the two of them went out the door and it boomed shut behind them.

I turned to Mouse. "How is he?"

She was helping Kyle sit up. "Looks okay," she said.

"I'm fine," said Kyle, wincing. "Just a little sore."

I went over and knelt down on one knee next to Kyle. "We've got to warn Mac."

Kyle indicated the door. "We'll never get through that. It's fifteen centimeters thick. Besides, you heard her. She's not going to believe you. She didn't believe me."

"Then we have to tell someone else," I said.

"Like who?"

"Is everybody here a blind follower?"

Kyle scowled. "What that's supposed to mean?"

I held up both hands. "I'm just asking if you follow Mac without thinking."

"I know where she's coming from," Kyle said. "Her husband was killed by Capital corpsec when he and a bunch of others tried to fight back after being downsized. That's how the first Claw got started. After they got downsized, a bunch of ex-employees vandalized Capital property. Threw rocks and bottles. Graffiti. Pushed around some employees. Capital retaliated and went after them. Sent a team to a local bar. Rounded up ten of them. ID'd from security cameras. Mac's husband and my dad were in that group. Took 'em out back and shot 'em." His expression went dark. "I saw it happen."

"Shit," said Mouse.

"How many got downsized?" I said.

"Thirty people. After the bar shooting, Claw took in about hundred members. Ran a bunch of raids. Capital went out and hunted them down. Killed over eighty of them. The ones who got away stayed away. Stayed quiet."

"You said 'the first Claw'," I said. "This would be the second Claw, right?"

Kyle nodded. "Started up six months ago. We joined at the end of May."

" 'We'?"

He gave me a small smile. "Me and my sister. Tina." Then his eyes brightened. "We can tell her."

"Tina?" I said.


"How?" I said and gestured to the door. "Fifteen centimeters thick."

He grinned. "Morse code."

I blinked. "You know it?"

Kyle nodded. "You?"

"Yeah. Our old mentor taught us."

"Grandpa," said Kyle. "He learned it from something called a boy scout. Anyway, he taught it to me and Tina. We'd send each other messages when we were kids."

"How're you planning to send it?"

Kyle got to his feet and gestured at the door. "She knows I went back here after talking to Mac. She'll come to check if I'm not out there."

"And you're going to use the door to tap out the message," I said.

"Yup," Kyle said with a grin.

I returned the grin. "I like it."

(to be continued...)

"Into The Woods"
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Part 8 | Part 10

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