The kick-ass return of Kat and Mouse
in
...

The Devil You Know

A 6-Chapter Foray in Future-Noir!

by Abner Senires
About the author

******

Episode 5:
Daddy's Double-Crossing
 Senior V.P.



"YOU SURE ABOUT THIS?" NATALIA SAID, her voice echoing in the empty office.

"Yup," I said.

"How do you know?"

"Worked once."

"Worked once?  And you expect--"

I gave her The Look.

"Okay, okay!" she said, sitting back in her chair.  "Don't freak."  

I turned back out the palm-sized clean spot on the dirt-caked window of the abandoned office building. 

Two blocks north of us loomed the southeast towers of Winn Town, Southside's three square mile collection of 23-story residential housing projects.  Six stories below me sat abandoned storefronts and the occasional gutted metal hulk that would've passed for a car in a nicer part of town.

Not here.  Not in Southside.

I swallowed, fighting back the gnawing in my gut.  My stomach had been doing flip-flops since we drove in ten minutes before.  Unfinished business in the 'Zone.

But that would have to wait.  I had other things to worry about.

I looked back out through the clean spot.  At the end of the block a hundred meters away, Renaldi's BMW sat half-on, half-off the curb at the corner of the intersection, its trunk angled toward me.  In the front seat, a pair of figures.

Good.  Everything in place.

"So where--?" Natalia began.

Then I felt it.  A dull thrum that rumbled up from the floor and through my legs.

"Right on schedule," I said.

The aerodyne swung around the corner at the other end of the block.  It hovered above the intersection, level with the tops of the other buildings along the street, two stories above me.  I could see the faint outline of the pilot in the cockpit, lit by the dim glow of the instrument panel.  Its searchlights raked across the outside walls and finally swept up the street and found the sedan.

The aerodyne's chaingun swung into place and howled, spitting fire into the sedan.  The car bucked under the impact, spraying chunks of metal into the air.  Then the gas tank caught and a fireball rocketed out of the trunk with a dull whomp, flipping the car up and over.

I squinted against the flash and made a mental note to pick up flare compensators for my optics when this was over.

The sedan fell back to the street on its roof, flames licking the chassis.  A moment later, the aerodyne dropped altitude and started up the street toward the car. Bingo.

The first time around, these guys assumed Mouse and I were dead.  They weren't going to make the same mistake twice.  They would make sure they had prepared for every possibility.  Of course, they'd never dealt with me.

I tugged at the window latch and yanked.  It slid open, grinding along its runner, and a blast of cold air whipped at my face.  The aerodyne passed under the window.

"Stay here," I said to Natalia.  Then jumped out.

A vertical fall is one thing.

A vertical fall onto a moving object is another.

I could hear Murphy's voice in my head:  "What the hell are you thinking?"

Murphy preferred simpler approaches.  But I was never a simple kind of gal.

I landed on top of the aerodyne in a crouch.  It shuddered under me and suddenly came to a stop.  I heard a door slide open to my left, saw a pair of gloved hands grip the edge of the roof and a helmeted head pop up.  The secman went saucer-eyed -- not everyday that a meter-ninety of dark-haired Amazon lands on the roof of your aerodyne.

He stared.  I cracked my boot into the middle of his face.  His head snapped back and I heard his scream fade as he plummeted to the street below.

I swung into the cabin just as another helmeted, black fatigue-clad secman went for his sidearm.  Too late.

One of The Twins, Bonnie, leaped into my hand and spat four times, thunder echoing in the enclosed space.

He crumpled in a heap against the bulkhead.

The other Twin, Clyde, sprang into my left hand as I spun toward the cockpit.  Both Twins nuzzled up against the heads of the pilot and co-pilot.

"Hi, choom," I said.  "Come here often?"

"Fucking bitch--!"  The co-pilot reached for his gun.

They never learn.

Bonnie roared again, belching fire.  The co-pilot's head sprayed gore and gray matter onto the cockpit wall.  He slumped in his seat.  The pilot whimpered and threw his hands up.  The two-way radio at my belt crackled.

I slid Bonnie back into my rig, keeping Clyde trained on the pilot, and pulled the radio out.

"Oh my god!" Natalia said.  "It worked.  Those stupid mannequins worked."

"Told you," I replied.

I don't know what Fast Eddie was still doing with a bunch of department store mannequins.  Not my business.

At least he came through for me and Mouse.

"Meet us below," I said into the radio then clicked off and turned to the pilot.

He whimpered again.  I gave him The Smile.  Slightly less threatening than The Look.  It just makes people uneasy.

"Set us down," I said.

***

The pilot told me everything I needed to know.  He was surprisingly cooperative.

Then again, the threat of serious bodily injury from twin hand cannons and a scattergun pointed at your face can loosen just about anyone's tongue.

My cellphone chirped just as he finished talking.  I motioned for Natalia to keep the shotgun trained at him, holstered The Twins, then pulled out my phone and stepped into the aerodyne's cabin.

Renaldi.

"The Marina," he said.  "Pier 42."

"We'll be there," I said and hung up.

Then I picked up the equipment-filled duffle bag I'd found next to the body of the secman in the cabin.

"What now?" Natalia asked.

"We take the aerodyne."

Natalia nodded then gestured to the pilot.  "What about him?"

I thought a moment.

Through the cockpit windows, Winn Town stared back at me.  About as inviting as a trip to the bowels of hell.

I drew Bonnie and aimed it at the pilot's head.  He recoiled.

"You're going for a walk," I said. "But first, take off your clothes."

"What!" he sputtered.

I shot him The Look.

He peeled off his uniform.

***

Natalia and I finished prepping with less than a minute to spare.

Now, under a blanket of shadows atop a Marina warehouse, we watched as two black ChrysFord luxury sedans parked at angles next to a long row of rust-colored metal shipping containers in front of Pier 42.  The doors of the first sedan opened and a man in a gray suit emerged.  The contactman.

The sedan's driver and a second man followed Gray Suit out of the car.  Both wore dark suits.

Two more got out of the second sedan, also wearing dark suits.  Muscle.  Kelly's men.  Not impressed.  Not after what I'd seen so far.

A few seconds later, a silver Mitsubishi sedan pulled up and Renaldi stepped out.  I heard a gasp beside me.  I looked.

Natalia had clapped a hand to her mouth, eyes wide.  I put a finger to my lips.

She mouthed, "Sorry."

I nodded, glanced toward the pier, then turned to a duffel bag sitting next to me, something I'd lifted from the aerodyne.  I reached in and pulled out a parabolic mike.  I aimed it at the gathering below and pulled on the earphones.  I'd be taking my cue from whatever happened below but I needed to hear what was going on.

In this biz, timing counts.

As Renaldi started toward Gray Suit, the three muscle spread out.  One stepped back behind Gray Suit and stood to one side.  The other two flanked Renaldi.  Their jackets were unbuttoned.  Ready to draw.

When Renaldi got within three meters of Gray Suit, he said, "Far enough, Mr. Renaldi."

Renaldi stopped.  "Let's get this over with."

"Payment first."

"Where's my daughter?"

"She's safe."

"Show me."

"I assure you, Mr. Renaldi.  She's safe--"

"Show me," he boomed. His voice echoed off the shipping containers.

Gray Suit looked at him for a long moment, then glanced toward the second sedan.

The car's back door opened and Kelly stepped out.  She yanked a blindfolded Mouse after her, a hand gripping my partner's right arm.  Just as I thought.

"Not very trusting, are we, Phillipe?" Kelly said.

"Deborah?" said Renaldi, surprise in his voice.

Kelly pushed Mouse in front of her, still holding her right arm, and the two of them joined the others.  "Here's the little brat," Kelly said. "Satisfied?"

Beside me, Natalia sucked air in through clenched teeth.

"What's going on, Deborah?" Renaldi said.

"The money," Kelly said.

"I demand an explanation."

Gray Suit unbuttoned his coat, drew it back, exposing a pistol in a crossdraw holster.

"The money," Kelly said again.

Renaldi nodded and reached into his jacket...

"Slowly," Gray Suit said.

Renaldi pulled out a creditchip and held it up between his thumb and forefinger.

"Put it on the ground," Kelly said, "and take two steps back."  Renaldi complied.  Kelly nodded to Gray Suit.

He walked to the chip, picked it up, then pulled a chipreader from inside his coat.  He swiped the chip and studied the display.  "Ten mil," he said to Kelly.

Kelly smiled.  "Thanks, Phillipe.  You're a doll."

"You've got your damn money," Renaldi said.  "Now let my daughter go."

"Of course, of course," Kelly said, stepped to one side of Mouse, and kicked her in the back of the legs.  Mouse yelped and dropped to her knees.  At the same time, Kelly drew a semi-auto from inside her coat and shoved the muzzle against Mouse's temple.

"What are you doing?" Renaldi asked.

"Nice try, Phillipe," Kelly said.  "Thought you could pull a fast one on me?"

"What are you talking about?"

"This little bitch isn't your daughter.  Biometrics don't match."  She cocked the hammer.  "You set me up, you bastard." Shit.

I dropped the parabolic and ripped the headphones off as Natalia clipped a line to an anchor bolted into the warehouse roof.

I raised the grapnel launcher and fired the line at the shipping container behind the tableau.  The spear point hit home with a clang and the line went taut.

Everyone below turned toward the sound.

I reached for the handle of the speed pulley and caught a glimpse of Mouse ripping the blindfold off, and bolting toward Renaldi, her trenchcoat flapping out behind her.

A subvocalized command flooded my body with adrenaline stimulators and the world slid into slo-mo.

I drew Bonnie from my shoulder rig and jumped off the roof...

***



Back to Episode 4 : Daddy's Business
On to Episode 6 : Senior V.P. Goes Bye-Bye




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Babysitting Blues is copyright by Abner Senires. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)