"Showdown" - Part Five

As Mouse and I geared up back at Steele's safe house, a thought struck.

I looked over at Mouse.

She was strapping on her wrist sheaths.

I frowned, turned away, resumed slipping extra mags into my gear belt, and turned the thought over in my mind.

After filling all four mag pouches and grabbing four more to stash in my jacket pocket, I turned back to Mouse.

"We can't kill Hiller," I said.

She whirled on me, eyes narrowed. "What the ever-loving fuck?"

"We can't kill Hiller," I said.

"You just said I could stab her in the head."

"Stab her," I said. "But don't kill her."

"Do you need a refresher course on stabbing and bleeding out and dying?"

"Wait," said Steele. "She's right."

Mouse gaped at the two of us. "Are you both out of your fucking mind?"

"You kill Hiller," said Steele, "and you lose your evidence that Kat didn't kill the cop."

Mouse looked at me, then at Steele, then back at me, and realization shone in her eyes. She craned her head toward the ceiling and screamed: "FUUUUUCK!"

Then she began to pace, stomping her feet, gesturing wildly with her hands, and spewing a stream of half-mumbled profanities.

Steele gave me a small grin and inclined his head at Mouse. "She gonna be okay?"

"She'll manage," I said.

"How do you plan to not kill Hiller yet?"

"Still working on that."

* * *

The Marquis Hotel occupied half a block along Midway and Waterman, an ornate forty-story building that rose twenty stories, turned into a step-pyramid for five levels before rising another ten to an arched rooftop structure that housed a restaurant with a wraparound view of the city. It didn't have the Old World class of the Ascot Arms but it was still loved by the glitterati.

An unnamed alley ran behind the hotel halfway down Midway, separating it from the two-story FitBod Gym next door and leading to a loading dock and service entrance. Mouse and I made our way down the alley, up the loading dock steps, and into the loading area. Besides a lone, chubby security guard dozing at a station just inside the opened roll-up doors, cap pulled low over his eyes, there was no activity in the area.

No delivery trucks. No workers.

Mouse grinned at the guard. "Guess they pay him the big bucks."

"He'll make employee of the month yet," I said and adjusted my earbud. "Val?"

"Here," she said. "I got you two. Hey--watch out for the guard--"

"He's asleep."

"I'll be damned," said Val. "Can't tell from my angle."

Quick scan.

Found the dome camera halfway up the wall behind the guard's station. Sketched a salute.

"Back atcha'," said Val.

"We good?" I said.

"Yup. Vid's on a loop at their end. And I show security just finishing a sweep of the fourth floor. You're good for another twenty minutes."

"Watch our six," I said.

"You got it. And remember: they're in adjoining rooms. 441 through 445."

"Got it."

We made our way to a bank of service elevators at the far end and the furthest car opened its doors.

"Service with a smile," Val said.

"Nice," I said, motioned Mouse inside, and we took it to the fourth floor.

Moments later the doors wooshed open and we stepped out into an alcove at the far end of a carpeted corridor.

I looked at Mouse.

"Let's do this," she said, drawing her wakizashis.

I drew the Twins and we started down the corridor.

We were ten meters from Room 442 when the opposite door opened and Hiller stepped into the hallway, an ice bucket in one hand.

Mouse and I stopped in mid-stride.

Hiller glanced in our direction.

Recognition hit.

Her eyes went wide.

Then she hurled the ice bucket at us, spun, and bolted in the opposite direction.

I stepped aside, letting the bucket sail past and go bouncing away.

"I got her," I said to Mouse and bolted after Hiller.

I heard a mad cackle from Mouse and then my focus was all on Hiller, a three second lead in front of me.

She ducked into the stairwell.

I followed, shoving my way through the doors as they crashed back toward me.

Hiller was a full flight of steps ahead.

I sped down, caroming off the stairwell walls as I went.

Hiller reached the ground floor first and burst though the stairwell doors.

I got there three seconds later, went through the doors, and emerged in the hotel lobby.

Spotted Hiller racing between hotel patrons, turning heads as she went, heading for the Marquis's front doors.

I sped after her, still a few seconds behind.

Then we were through the main doors and out onto Waterman Avenue.

Hiller ran south on Waterman, weaving between peds.

I raced after her.

Suddenly she darted out into traffic, toward the opposite side of the street. A horn yowled as a car skidded to a stop centimeters from her.

I followed.

Hiller crossed Midway. She glanced back over her left shoulder to look at me.

And the Range Rover cut the far corner at Midway, bounded up onto the sidewalk, and skidded to a stop in front of her.

Hiller had time to smirk at me and turn back before slamming full-force into the driver's side door of the SUV and crumpling to the ground in a heap.

She was out cold when I got to her.

Steele rolled down the Rover's window, looked at Hiller's unconscious form, then looked at me, a grin on his face. "Shoulda' looked both ways before crossing."

My earbud beeped.

"Go," I said.

"Me," said Mouse.

"You okay?"

"Five by. All done. Carter. The other three mooks."

"Carter still in 442?"

"Until they clean up."

"Good. Meet us in the alley."

"You got her?"



I cut the connection, pulled out my phone, and called Jade.

(to be continued...)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 
Part 6

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