"Showdown" - Part Nine

Into the kitchen, Mouse still in the lead.


Still another with no boost?

Felt a knot in my gut.

Forward through an archway, the Twins sweeping and tracking, past the living room with its couches and entertainment center dominating an entire wall, into a marble-floored foyer and a grand staircase sweeping up from the left to the upper level.

The only warning was a barely heard displacement of air.

And the muscle materialized in front of Mouse, dropped to a crouch, and swept her feet out from under her.

Mouse hit the floor on her back.

A glint of metal from the muscle.

A knife, sweeping downward.

Mouse rolled away and the blade sparked off the marble floor.

The Twins tracked and spat fire and thunder.

Four rounds caught Knife in the torso, rocking him back a step.

And he remained upright.



Shifted aim.

And Knife was on me, his blade slashing.

Double goddammit.

Wired, too.

I dodged as best I could but he was even faster than me.

Skipped back but he kept coming.

Caught an opening and let the Twins go. They belched fire again, sending four more rounds into Knife.

And the bastard soaked it up.

Jesus Christ--!

He came at me again, the knife raised to strike.

Gave him eight more rounds, saw him recoil at the last two.

Bingo. Got through whatever anti-AP armor he had.

He staggered.

I brought a knee up and cracked my boot into the middle of his chest.

He stumbled backward and a wakizashi blade erupted from his torso. Knife looked at the length of metal sticking out of his chest, dropped his blade, and crumpled to his knees.

Mouse reached around with her other wakizashi and slit his throat.

Knife crumpled sideways onto the marble foyer, blood pooling beneath him.

I reloaded while Mouse withdrew her blade from Knife's limp form.

For the next few minutes we went up the stairs and cleared the rest of the house in silence.

Only the four muscle.

And the house was empty and still bathed in darkness.

We were back downstairs in the foyer when I cut boost, holstered the Twins, and leaned against the iron banister, waiting for the rush to die down.

Then I stepped over to Knife lying in the middle of the foyer and patted him down.

"What're you looking for?" said Mouse.

I told her and she nodded.

"I'll check the others," she said and walked off.

After a moment I found what I was looking for and waited for Mouse. She came back to the foyer a few minutes later.

"Anything?" I said to her.

She shook her head. "You?"

I nodded, pulled out my phone and dialed.

"Yeah?" said Val.

I told her.

"Wait one," she said.

A long pause.

Then: "Moving," she said. "Your direction. I make ETA forty-five minutes."

Popped my optic clock.


"Thanks, Val," I said and hung up.

Mouse quirked her eyebrows.

"Knife Guy called him," I said. "He's on his way."

She nodded. "All yours."

"I need a chair," I said.

Mouse started to nod, then whipped her head up, staring at something above us.

I whirled and looked.

The figure stood on the railed balcony above the foyer, gave us a short nod, and then moved.


Faster than my boost.


A streak of motion over the railing, then it was in front of me.

I didn't have a chance to go subvocal when the maglev train slammed up under my chin.

Light exploded behind my eyes and everything went black.

(to be continued...)

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