The kick-ass return of Kat and Mouse

The Devil You Know

A 6-Chapter Foray in Future-Noir!

by Abner Senires
About the author


Episode 6 (conclusion):
Senior V.P. Goes Bye-Bye

AIR BLASTED PAST ME as I sped down the line.

Forty meters.

Gray Suit pointed at the line hanging above them, yelled something I couldn't hear, and went for his pistol.

Thirty meters.

Bonnie spat at the closest muscleboy as he went for his gun.  He went down in a spray of blood.

Twenty meters.

The other two muscleboys started to spin toward their fallen comrade, hands moving toward their sidearms.  Bonnie roared four times. The second muscleboy fell back in a cloud of gore, arms flailing.

Fifteen meters.

I spotted Gray Suit, pistol in hand, moving in time with me.  Shit.  Bastard was boosted, too.

He disappeared behind the second ChrysFord sedan.

Ten meters.

The last muscleboy raised his pistol.  Bonnie cut him down.

Five meters.

Gray Suit popped up from his hiding place and unloaded, spraying bullets at me.

Damn.  Modified pistol.  Set for fully automatic.

Thank god for implanted dermal armor.  Keeps your torso from getting shot full of holes.  Only problem: doesn't work on your face.

I threw my right arm up across my face, hoping my armored jacket would be enough protection.

Rounds sledgehammered into my chest, knocked the breath from my lungs, and catapulted me off the pulley handle.  I tumbled to the concrete, dropping Bonnie, but managed a tuck and roll.  I came up in a crouch, gasping for air.

Bonnie lay two meters away.  In front of the first sedan.

I sprinted toward her, keeping low.  Gray Suit's pistol chattered again, bullets stitching the ground just behind my feet.  I closed on Bonnie, scooped her up, drew Clyde at the same time, and dove across the first sedan's hood.  I dropped to the ground on the other side, rolled to one knee, and put my back to the side of the car. 

Another burst of gunfire punched through the sedan's windows, spraying glass around me.  I popped a clip out of Bonnie and slapped in a fresh one from the mini-magazine tree at my belt.

Then I heard him.

Clatter of footsteps.  To my right.

Gray Suit bolted around the trunk of the first sedan at a dead run, pistol coming up to bear.  Fast.

I was faster.

The Twins belched fire in a thundering stacatto, ripping into Gray Suit's torso.  Blood geysered.  He stumbled in mid-stride, and went sprawling across the pavement.  The cry reached my ears then.



I popped out from behind the sedan.  She was firing at the Mitsubishi, rounds stitching along the opposite side of the car.  Then Mouse stepped out behind the car's trunk and her hand flashed.

A pair of slim throwing knives lodged themselves in Kelly's left shoulder.  She howled, staggered, but managed to swing the pistol toward Mouse.  She fired.

Pavement exploded around Mouse.  She dove back behind the sedan.

I was already moving, The Twins rising into position.  They each roared three times.  Kelly's chest exploded.  She gurgled blood and crumpled.  The pistol clattered away.

I kept The Twins up and did a quick scan of the area.

Blood pooled beneath the bodies.  The smell of cordite mixed with bay sewage hung in the air.  In the distance, a buoy clanged.

"Em?" I said.  "You okay?"

"Five by five, Kay," she said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mouse help Renaldi to his feet with one hand, another pair of throwing knives in her other hand.  Nothing else moved on the street.

I stood and holstered The Twins.  "Clear," I said to Mouse.

She nodded and resheathed the knives.  She walked over to Kelly, retrieved the first two, and wiped the blood off on Kelly's coat.  "Nice play," she said to me.

I grinned.

Renaldi looked at Mouse, then at me.  "She looks just like Natalia.  But that's not my daughter."

"This," I said, inclining my head at Mouse, "is my partner, Mouse."

Mouse nodded at him.

"Uncanny," he said.  Then his brow furrowed.  "But I don't understand--"

"Kelly was trying to kidnap Natalia," I said.  "To use her against you.  But she got Mouse instead."

"Figured I'd run with it," Mouse said.  "Let them think they had Natalia."

"But I knew Kelly would figure it out," I said.  "Run a scan."

Mouse nodded and held up her thumb.  "Print."

"Thought so," I said.  "Kelly probably figured she had me played."

The furrow on Renaldi's brow deepened.  He shook his head slowly.  "I don't understand--"

I bent down, reached inside Kelly's coat pocket, and found the recorder I knew would be there.  I stood and showed it to Renaldi.

He frowned.  "A vid recorder?"

"Kelly was going to document how you gave her control of AstraNova," I said.

"I could've denied it," Renaldi said.  "Say the vid was fabricated."

I shook my head.  "She had too many safeguards in place.  Fake memos.  Reports.  The good stuff.  All detailing how you handed over the reins of the company to her.  This was just a backup."

"But why?" Renaldi said, eyes narrowed.

"The Vittorio Family was interested in your company," I said.

"They sent Kelly as their mole.  Built up influence through her.  Those contracts she won for AstraNova?  Companies fronting Vittorio interests.  I'm pretty sure some of your employees are actually Vittorio plants."

He clenched his fists.  "My god..."

"When the time came," I went on, "they were going to buy you out.  But when your wife passed away three years ago and AstraNova's profits started dropping, Kelly saw an opportunity.  Play off your grief.  Force you to hand over the company and use your daughter as a bargaining chip.  Then, during the exchange, she'd grease the two of you.  Ransom payment gone bad."

Renaldi shook his head and made a dismissive gesture with his hand.  "Enough."  He exhaled loudly, unclenched his fists, and looked at me, his face suddenly tired. "Where is Natalia?"


Natalia burst around the corner of the warehouse, pulled off the ball cap, and sprinted toward Renaldi, catching him in a hug that nearly toppled him.  Renaldi just laughed, hugged her tight against his chest, and kissed the top of her head.  Then he raised a tear-streaked face at me.

"Natalia was with you earlier tonight," he said.  "When you were at AstraNova."

I smiled.

"Ingenious," he said.  Then he turned to Mouse, his brow furrowed.  "Remarkable.  Near perfect likeness.  Can I ask who your mother--"

Mouse looked away.  "No."

Renaldi started to say something, stopped.  Then he nodded curtly.  "I see.  My apologies."

I looked at my partner.  She continued to stare at the dark bay waters, her eyes distant.

After a moment, Renaldi cleared his throat and turned to me, still holding Natalia close.  "Thank you again," he said.  "I knew you'd come through."

I grinned.  "So did I, Mr. Renaldi.  So did I."

God, I love my job.

The End.

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

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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.)