Especially a decent payout.
"Ten thousand easy," said Specs, everybody's favorite infobroker. "And they're already wiring half the funds."
"When and where?" I said, trying to wake up my foggy brain, my voice sounding like grinding gravel.
"At 09:00," said Specs, and gave me an address in Northwood. "Not far from the airport."
"Got it," I said. "We'll be there."
"Hot damn!" said Specs. "Funds are in."
I blinked. "That was quick."
Just another typical day in the life of a ronin. Street mercenary. Gun for hire.
Me. Name's Kat.
* * *
Revell, the bearded and bear-like owner of the Red Dog, met us in the bar's back hallway. He was leaning against the wall, a mug in one huge hand held at the level of his barrel chest, steam swirling up toward his craggy features. He quirked a bushy eyebrow at us.
"You are up early," he said in his Russian-tinged basso.
"Too early," said my partner and fellow ronin Mouse, a note of annoyance in her voice.
"Got us a run," I said. "Pickup and delivery. Should be cake."
His eyes narrowed. "You know there is no cake."
"I know," I said. "But Specs said half the fee is already in."
He grunted and gave a short nod. "Is looking gray out there. Be careful, da?"
"Da," I said.
* * *
The address was in business park two miles east of the Bay City International Airport, a three-block area of single- and two-story gray concrete and black glass offices.
I backed the silver ChrysFord loaner into an empty parking slot two doors down from the address and cut the engine.
My optic clock read: 08:22:44.
A little more than half-an-hour to go.
"Quiet out there," said Mouse, gesturing out the front windshield.
I leaned forward and looked.
We were the only car in the parking lot. Despite the hour, all the buildings around us were dark.
Nothing moved out there. Not even the leaves of the skinny trees evenly spaced along the sidewalk.
A chill gathered at the base of my spine.
"Revell might've been on to something," I said.
"I was thinking the same thing," said Mouse.
Pan and scan, along the tops of the nearest buildings.
Nothing. Just a dead channel sky.
The chill spread out and started to slither up my spine.
"Stay frosty," I said.
* * *
At a minute before 09:00, another sedan, a dark blue BMW, pulled around the far corner, rolled slowly toward us, and stopped in the middle of the parking area two meters away.
When the driver--square-jawed and dark haired, clad in a gray t-shirt, dark jeans, and black leather blazer--emerged from the car, Mouse and I exchanged looks and I nearly fell over getting out of the car.
Jake Steele gave a start. "What are you two doing here?" he said.
"I was about to ask you the same thing," I said, feeling a wave of heat blossom from the middle of my gut.
He started to reply.
And the rear driver's side window of his sedan exploded under a hail of bullets.
He dove back into his car.
We dove back into ours.
Automatic fire chattered and another barrage stitched a line across the roof of our car.
I got the engine started, threw the car into gear, and peeled out of the lot.
"What the fuck was that?" said Mouse as the loaner squealed onto the main road.
"That's what I'd like to know," I said and pointed us back toward Bay City.
"In The Name Of The Father"