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"Born of the Blade" - Part Eight

The Korean taco truck was gone by now so we found a Grill Palace several blocks away, picked up food, and drove back to a spot where we could keep an eye on the White Rabbit.
   
Popped my optic clock.
   
17:36:08
   
Two and a half hours until the White Rabbit opened.
   
Val had agreed to watch the area on cams and let us know when she had a fix on McCarthy and the Daimyo.
   
I called Revell and he gave us an update on Specs: he'd pull through. Massive internal injuries but Doc was able to patch him up. He'd be out of the loop for a few weeks. I told him what we needed and he said he'd make the call.
   
We finished eating ten minutes later and stretched out as much as possible in the Royale's seats to watch the club.
   
Two hours and we'd have to deal with McCarthy.
   
A knot formed in the middle of my gut.
   
"Kat," said Mouse and I heard the tone in her voice.
   
"I know," I said. "But it needs to be done."
   
"Agreed," said Mouse.
   
"And Mouse," I said.
   
"Yeah?"
   
"I need your head in the game."
   
"What're you talking--?"
   
"Going back to confront McCarthy in her office?" I said. "Making a move on Chen and the Jade Dragon?" I turned to her.
   
She was staring at the carpeted footwell.
   
"I need you to focus," I said.
   
After a moment she nodded and turned to me. "Got it," she said.
   
"You did it for me before," I said. "Now it's my turn."
   
She gave me a sheepish grin. "At least we didn't duke it out like last time."
   
"At least," I said.
   
A few moments passed.
   
Mouse said, "Hey Kat?"
   
"Yeah?"
   
"What we're doing. You think Murphy would...?"
   
I turned and looked at her.
   
She was staring out the windshield and frowning.
   
"I think he'd understand," I said.
   
She turned to me, the frown deepening. "You sure?"
   
"I'm sure," I said.
   
And really hoped that I was.


*   *   *
   
Ten minutes later, Miss Renée called.
   
"We can't find Brandi," she said, panic in her voice.
   
My gut tightened. "Is she working right now?"
   
"Not usually until 18:00," said Miss Renée. "Sam's at her apartment now and no one's answering. And we haven't been able to reach her."
   
"What about the other two?" I said.
   
"Starr and Rhianna are here. They're safe. But Brandi--"
   
A memory struck.
   
"We're at the White Rabbit now," I said. "We'll keep an eye out for her here."
   
"The White Rabbit?" said Miss Renée. "But why--"
   
"Trust me," I said. "Let me know if you hear from her." I hung up.
   
"Miss Renée?" said Mouse.
   
I nodded and told her.
   
"And you think she'll come here?" said Mouse.
   
"Absinthe said it's a meet up."
   
"And you have a hunch."
   
"I do," I said then frowned.
   
"No frown," said Mouse. "Frown is not good."
   
"I'm just hoping we get to her before McCarthy does," I said.


*   *   *

At 19:33, she approached the White Rabbit from 40th Street dressed in a form-fitting, knee-length, silver dress that sparkled under the nearby lights, her hips strutting as she walked.
   
Olive-skinned. Red-brown hair.
   
Copper Girl. Just like the trio.
   
Brandi.
   
"Kat," said Mouse, tapping me on the arm.
   
"I see her," I said, pulled out my phone, and dialed Absinthe.
   
"Kat," said Absinthe.
   
"One of the Copper Girls is here," I said. "Looks like our girls."
   
"Wait one," said Absinthe. A radio crackled nearby and she spoke away from the phone. Then: "Marco says it's Brandi. She's with a friend."
   
"Miss Ren
ée's been looking for her. Get her and her friend under cover."
   
"Trouble?"
   
"Big time."
   
"Oh it." She hung up.
   
My phone chirped.
   
Val.
   
On speaker and in the dash holder.
   
"Yeah?" I said.
   
"She's on Mason," Val said. "Passing 44th. Your professor."
   
Then the back end of the Royale dropped suddenly and the whole car shook.
   
Started to turn in my seat to look out the back window.
   
The roof buckled as something--someone--stomped across it, the metal creaking and groaning, and a pair of shoes landed on the hood, bouncing the front end of the car.
   
Black cloth slip-on shoes.
   
The owner of the shoes dropped to all fours.
   
Chinese male.
   
Mesh shirt over a leanly muscled torso. Red Bandanna.
   
Meat cleaver in his right hand, streetlight glinting off the blade.
   
The 108.
   
Sonofabitch.
   
A split second later a white paneled van squealed to a stop in the middle of Mason diagonally from us and disgorged three more 108 members, all armed with meat cleavers, twirling them as they approached the Royale.
   
"This is bullshit!" said Mouse.
   
"Kat?" said Val. "What's going on?"
   
"Situation here, Val," I said.
   
"She's passing 43rd."
   
Dammit.
   
The 108 mook on the hood leered at us, swaying from side to side like a cobra waiting to strike.
   
The other three mooks spread out and encircled the Royale.
   
One of them stepped toward my door and swung the cleaver in a downward slash. Metal sparked and squealed as the blade carved out a groove in the middle of the door.
   
I fought the temptation to drop boost.
   
"You assholes are asking for it!" said Mouse, jabbing a finger at them.
   
"On your block," said Val.
   
Shit.
   
Rearview.
   
Spotted the burgundy ToyoHonda Daimyo as it rolled up 41st, then slow to a stop twenty meters away.
   
Shit shit shit.
   
Then the Daimyo pulled a U-turn and retreated south.
   
"Goddamn fucking mooks!" said Mouse "She's rabbiting!"


(to be continued...)


"Born of the Blade"
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 9
 

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