The Parcel Express delivery woman in the brown uniform and matching ballcap had a thickly-wrapped package tucked under her left arm and was looking down at the datapad in her right hand when I opened the back door.
She raised her head, smiled, looked at me. "Delivery for--" she began.
Then her eyes went to slits and I heard a voice behind me bark out something in Japanese.
Air rushed past me and the delivery woman vanished in a blur of black leather.
A second later, Sakura and the delivery woman crashed into the side of a blue dumpster with thunderous crunch of metal, one corner folding into itself.
The woman backhanded Sakura, the sound like a detonation. Sakura skidded backwards, still crouched, gouging out a furrow in the concrete beneath her. She stopped three meters away then flew at the woman and shoved her back into the side of the dumpster with another clang and crunch.
Then a whirlwind of blows between them, moving faster than I could see, just a blur of limbs, feet, and fists.
Another detonation, and the woman flew at us.
I yanked the back door shut and Mouse and I ducked aside.
A dull metallic boom, and the door bulged inward at the center then ripped free from the hinges with a shriek of metal, bounced once, and fell at an angle against the inner wall.
Then Sakura was at the doorway, her face grim.
I got to my feet and made my way to what had been our back door.
And the delivery woman rose, brushed off her rumpled and partially torn uniform, took off the ballcap, and shook dust from her hair. "That was fun," she said.
"Ladies," said Sakura. "Meet Kitsune."
A chill formed at the base of my spine.
I popped to thermo and looked at the two women.
What I saw made the chill surge up my back.
Next to me, Mouse swore under her breath.
"They're meant to die," Kitsune said, indicating me and Mouse with a tilt of her head.
"Not going to happen," said Sakura.
Kitsune stiffened. Then her eyes narrowed at Sakura. "You're bluffing."
Sakura gestured expansively toward the door that led into the bar area. "See for yourself."
Kitsune looked first at Sakura, then at me and Mouse then back to Sakura. "If you're lying, I'll take you all down."
"You can try," said Sakura.
Kitsune grunted, stepped around the broken back door, and headed toward the bar. Sakura followed a few steps behind.
The two women passed Specs and Steele who were standing to one side of the back hallway entrance. Steele had dropped his pistol to low-ready while Specs looked around, saucer-eyed.
"Fuckin' armageddon back here," said Specs.
"This is nothing," said Steele and turned toward us. "You okay?"
"Fine," I said.
"What about those two?" he said inclining his head in the direction Kitsune and Sakura had gone. "We gonna have a problem with them?"
"Hope to hell not," I said.
Specs threw his hands up in the air. "Game over," he said, striding past the leaning back door toward us. "This is way past my pay grade. I'll be in the office. Call me when it's safe."
He disappeared into the Red Dog's back office.
Jake gave us a small nod, holstered his pistol, and went back into the bar.
I watched him go and realized I'd been holding my breath. I let it out.
"Shit," said Mouse. "Holy goddamn fucking shit."
"You saw?" I said.
"Damn right, I saw. High-end bioware bullshit. It's like David all over again."
"Yeah," I said. "Times two. This could get ugly."
"Real ugly," said Mouse.