"Showdown" - Part Ten

I came to with my chin on my chest and my optic filters flickering madly.

Interior lights were on

I cut thermal, my vision swimming for a moment before sharpening to a view of my boots and the marble floor of the foyer.

I was seated on a padded metal chair bound around the arms and torso with duct tape.

Tried to play back what had happened.

We had taken out the muscle guarding the house--

The figure.

The figure on the landing.

Moving faster than us.

High end mods.

We'd missed him somehow. Where had he come from?

And then my chest went tight as I realized the weight was missing.

From inside my jacket--

The Twins.

The Twins were gone--

A pair of shoes moved into view. Black wingtips. Immaculately polished.

"I know you're awake," a voice said and my gut clenched as recognition hit.


"Caine can see your eyes," Sikes went on. "He just told me."


Must be the muscle with the high end mods.

I shifted my gaze toward the shoes and spotted one of the Twins--Clyde--on the floor a meter away.

Where was Bonnie?

Slowly raised my head and found Sikes standing half a meter away, hands folded behind his back, staring down at me, a sneer etched on his face. He wore a dark gray suit, jacket unbuttoned, tie loosened.

"We've disarmed you both," Sikes said and flashed me a humorless,closed-lipped smile.

Spotted a figure in a black suit standing three meters behind and to Sikes's right, a Colt-Springfield M4-A rifle tucked to his shoulder, barrel leveled at me.

Sikes caught my gaze. "That's Caine," he said. "He's watching you two. He's fast. And he never misses."

A creak of leather to my left.


Mouse. Just behind and to one side. Bound like me. Her blades arrayed on the floor in front of her, just beyond reach.

In Caine's line of fire.

I turned back to Sikes.

He stepped up to me and pulled a pistol from his waistband.


"Goodbye, Kat," he said, grabbed my nose, and pinched my nostrils shut.

I jerked my head away but he held tight.

Tried again.

And again.

But he continued his grip.

Felt my chest tighten .

"Let her go you shit for brains asshole!"


Sikes ignored her and held on.

My chest tightened further, pressure building.

Felt my throat spasm.

And I gasped for air.

Sikes shoved the pistol into my mouth.

Our eyes met.

His burned with hate.

Mouse screamed: "You fucker!"

A three round burst exploded nearby.

Sikes recoiled, pulled back, and looked away.

Glass shattered somewhere behind me.

I yanked my mouth from the pistol barrel, leaned back, then threw my weight forward and down.

The duct tape tore, momentum sending me forward off the chair. Got my balance, then pistoned up and cracked the top of my head into Sikes's chin.

We fell together.

Sikes toppled backwards, Bonnie flying from his grip.

I hit the floor on my hands and knees, spotted Bonnie, and dove after her, sliding onto my stomach on the marble floor, fingers curling around the pistol's grip.

Came to a stop, rolled onto my back.

Sub-vocal, and the world slid back into slo-mo.

Brought Bonnie up as Sikes started to rise from the floor and turn toward me, eyes blazing with anger.

Bonnie bucked and roared eight times in a harsh booming stacatto.

Six rounds walked up Sikes's torso, ripping through flesh, geysering blood.

The last two rounds punched through his face and a halo of pink mist erupted from the back of his skull. His head snapped backwards.

Then he crumpled.

Turned to Mouse.

Found her in a fighting crouch in front of Caine, several throwing blades erupting from his torso, her wakizashi embedded in his throat, a length of blade sticking out the back of his neck, a crimson waterfall down the front of his suit. He held that pose for two seconds, started to reach for the wakizashi's handle, fingers like claws, then dropped to his knees and fell over, blood pooling beneath him.

Mouse looked at me and gave a short nod.

Movement beyond.


Spotted Sam standing just beyond the entry, a shotgun at low-ready. He looked at me, then Mouse, then back at me and flashed an "OK" sign.

Subvocal, and cut boost.

Turned back toward Sikes's body.

He lay on his side, head canted at an unnatural angle.

Dead eyes stared up at me.

Bloody well done.


Way to kick ass, you two.


I let out a long, slow breath, felt my chest heave and the world misted over, like I'd stepped into the middle of a torrential downpour.

I had to blink several times before my vision cleared and my chest stopped shuddering.

Wetness covered my face.

I wiped it away with my free hand.

Then I walked past the body over to Clyde, scooped him up, and holstered both Twins at the same time.

Looked back at Mouse. She glanced at Sikes then back at me.

"Done," she said.

"Done," I said.

"Finally," she said.




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