Spike looked up, "I've matched up all our faces, seems like fifteen clear gangers and another two possibles. Things started moving yesterday about five, the party really got rolling at nine. During the day, they'd come in in twos and threes, and leave the same way. Always at least one guy inside at the door." He looked to Pet for her report.
"Not much happened until near the end of my shift. Then some of the gangers started going in and out. Like I said earlier, I made it around 7. Were you guys able to see how they were armed? I couldn't." Pet reported.
Lucy shook her head, "Nothing I could see from here." Spike nodded.
The RK were new enough that Pet hadn't heard much about their style, just the rumours that she'd mentioned to Shar-Chi about them sometimes seeming to be better equipped than your run-of-the-mill new go-gang.
Pet grimaced. Not very happy with how little she knew about their armament. "I still feel like we're practically going in blind," she grumbled. "But," she continue, " I'd say from what we've seen so far, that between an hour after the party ends and sunrise is our best window of opportunity. I'd suggest through the back since they seem to get most of their company through the front. I think I may stay up here. I have a pretty good line of sight front and back - a few bad spots - but likely good enough. I'll bring my long range rifle. I figure Lucy can probably take care of most problems in the house itself, or through the back , but I'll be able to help out there. And this way I'll see if anyone unexpected comes through the front, and possibly provide a bit of a distraction if we need it. Maybe you two could come at the back of the place from a couple of houses on the other side instead of from the near street side."
"Makes sense," said Spike. Lucy nodded.
She looked at Spike. "Two questions. Do you think you can get over those walls? And do you think this will be enough time?"
"I should be alright, and Lucy can give me a hand," said Spike.
To Lucy, she said, "Any other ideas, Luc? You're the banging machine."
"I'll pack some cuffs and tape in case we need to disable the gangers," she said. "And some narcoject ... if they've already nodded off, we might as well just leave them that way."
"We'll hole up early in one of those houses across the way," said Spike. "When you see the party empty out, you let us know and we'll go in."
Pet nodded. "I think I'd feel better if we continued to keep watch. We don't know if yesterday was typical. How about if I continue this shift while you two get some rest? I'll go home when one of you relieves me this afternoon, rest up a bit and switch out my weapons. When I get back in the evening you can pick your spot for the wait and then... well... we'll see what happens when the party ends."
They decided the other two would get some rest and Lucy would be back at four. Pet would be on duty again at midnight and the others would go to ground.
She watched, and by the time Lucy returned at four, had observed no significant deviation from the previous day's activities. Lucy sent her home to rest and took up position.
Pet returned home, spent a couple of hours doing katas, eating herself and feeding her kittens. She also cleaned and checked her pistol and rifle, as she did before any run. She slept the remaining hours, then returned to the roof exactly at midnight and settled down to watch and wait until things could commence across the street.
The party across the street was underway, and she switched her eyes to low-light and zoomed in. She noticed a slight hesitation in the zoom, nothing to worry about, but made a mental note to check when the eyes were due for recalibration. With her enhanced vision she saw Lucy slip out of the building she was on and head a block or two over to meet with Spike and get into position.
All was quiet for forty-five minutes, then her commo blipped, and Spike's voice came to her. "We're in position, two over in the basement. Waiting for your signal.
"I hear you. Same old here. Will give you a go when it's quiet."
The party wound down a little earlier tonight, breaking up about one-thirty. By two, the place looked quiet. Pet readied her rifle, looked over the area one last time - buildings, cars, streets, roofs - before saying into her commo "Seems quiet. Go." She began looking for movement from the area Spike had indicated.
Almost immediately, she saw the figures of Lucy and Spike moving from their hiding place. They were over the walls quickly and up to the back door in seconds. Lucy whispered, "At the door. Spike's working." There was silence for minute or so, then, "We're in."
All was quiet again for eight minutes, then three cars came swooping down the street, electrics running silent. Two parked in a "V" in front of the building and the third continued to the side where it could see the back. Each car disgorged two or three people, Pet counted seven total, all were dressed in what looked like plain black suits from this distance. Two of them popped a light machine gun on the hood of one of the cars covering the front of the building and another hunkered down next to them. The other four started moving toward the back. Pet hesitated only a few moments while she considered the odds that Luc had dealt with whoever might be inside the front of the building. She hoped she had. Then she spoke quietly but urgently into her commo. "Out through the front! Now! 4 in back. 3 plus machine gun in front. I'll take out machine gunner . Run!!"
Pet took a deep breath and lined up her shot on the guy behind the machine gun. She spoke into her commo again. "Com me when you are at the front door."
Seconds ticked by. The four in the back moved to the wall, then over and approached the back door. Lucy's voice sounded in her ear. "At the door." In the intervening seconds Pet had made sure she was ready to move. When she heard Lucy, she took the shot.
Pet fired. The machine gunner slammed forward, then bounced back slumping to the ground. The door flew open and Lucy walked out, Uzi in hand. A whirling counterweight had popped out of her cyberarm and was stabilizing her fire as she sent a burst at each of the two remaining targets in the front of the building. One of the men was hit and groaned, while the other ducked behind the car. He popped back up and cut loose with a shot from some hand held gun, Lucy didn't even slow down. Pet caught a glimpse of one of the guys from around back starting to move around, and then Spike came barrelling out the front door at top speed, unloading a roomsweeper in the general direction of the standing man as he did.
The man Lucy had shot clawed a gun out and fired at the fleeing dwarf, but could barely keep his gun raised. Lucy kept walking and put two bursts into the unwounded man and he flipped over backwards and was still.
Pet could see two men (or women) coming around from the back. Pet tracked the two guys charging in but they were zigging and sagging and she couldn't get a clean hit. The ran around toward the front, looking for the sniper as they ran.
Lucy walked around the car, "I think we'll take one of these." She saw the two coming at her and put a burst into each one. One took the shot and fell, the other dodged left. Even walking, Lucy was a blur of movement.
Through the open front door, two more men came racing out, one snapped a pair of quick shots at Spike, while the other made a snapping motion and a long object appeared in his hand as he charged Lucy. Lucy engaged and barely managed to deflect the attack. She fired the Uzi again, two bursts into her attacker and he flipped backwards. The last of the original men out front, flicked a weapon into his hand and closed on Lucy, again Lucy somehow managed to avoid being struck. Pet decided that the guy with the gun shooting at Spike was the biggest problem, sighted carefully and blew the top of his head off.
That was enough for the wounded guy from out back and his buddy, they turned and started to run back down the street. Spike threw his carryall into the back of one of the cars, as Lucy aimed her Uzi at the last man. "You can run, or you can die," she said.
The man looked at the carnage, took a step back and retracted whatever it was he had in his hand, backed off towards his fleeing comrades and the took off running. Lucy whispered, "Good thing he didn't realize I was empty." She reloaded the Uzi, tossed the machine gun into the car, "Let's jet," she said as she got in.
"You have to drive," said Spike. "Pet, where do we meet after we ditch this car?"
Pet was hurrying down the stairs from the rooftop. "Lots of empty buildings," she grunted out. "Pick one that's not near here... unless you've got a safehouse."
"Hold on." Pet could almost see Spike jacking in. "OK, try this." He rattled off an address. "Give us ..." Lucy cut in, "Ninety minutes." "Got it, Pet?" asked Spike.
"Got it!" she responded, still moving. "I'm sure you'll search that car before you dump it, but thought I'd mention it anyway," she finished with a hint of laughter in her voice. She had perfect faith that Luce could probably not only search it, but strip it and sell it for parts in the next 90 minutes.
Her grin faded as she made it to the ground floor. She took a quick look in the direction of what she suspected was now an ex-gang house and snapped a couple of pix, then took off in the direction of her bike. Pet made it to her bike unobserved, at least so far as she could tell. She took a roundabout path away from the site of the massacre, wondering how long it would take the cops to show up. Everyone had been using silenced or supressed weapons, so the fight had been fairly quiet.
She had been at the meeting site for about ten minutes longer than she was supposed to and was going to give it another five, when Lucy and Spike showed up. "Sorry," said Lucy. "The damn car wouldn't sink." She plopped a bag down on the ground. "That was a cock up. Still, kind of interesting ... those boys had some neat toys. I like this." She pulled a cylinder from the bag and flicked her wrist. The cylinder telescoped out, like a baton, but locked into a sword shape. "Kind of a nifty twist."
"May I?" Pet asked indicating she'd like to look at the "sword." She examines it eagerly and eyes the bag Luce has dropped on the ground wondering what other goodies might be in there. But what she said was, "What the frell happened in there Spike? And did you get enough to make our employer happy before you had to jack out??"
"Hard to say," said Spike. "We must have popped some security somewhere. That place was wired pretty damn tight for a bunch of go-gangers. I mean, I shouldn't have been caught, but that shouldn't have been there.
"As for your second question ..." he reached into his sling bag. "I just brought the damn thing. That should be enough to make him happy."
"Nice shooting, by the way," said Lucy. "I'm glad we didn't have to walk through this." She set the LMG on the floor and a Fichetti pistol next to it. "That's all. Except some ammo."
Pet continued swinging the "sword" around while she thought. "Hummmm.... Fichettis are a fave of security goons. And those apes weren't dressed like gangers. Did you learn anything interesting, meaning" she clarified with a tight smile, "likely to help us stay alive if they come after us, while you were jacked in, Spike?"
"Not yet, but I've got two days before we have to turn this over ..." he smiled.
"True. But the security is still there. Just a hired gun of very little brain here, but" Pet grimaced trying not to look concerned "won't they be able to find it... or you if you go mucking about in there again?"
"Nope. It's offline now, I won't be able to get to anything that's not in here," he tapped the box. "But they won't be able to do anything about it." He started to ramble on about physical versus virtual security, then cut himself short, "but you don't care about that."
"I don't understand about that," she corrected. "Well enough, where are you planning on doing all of this physical virtual mucking about? I think we should all stay together until this is completed. Safer that way."
Lucy spoke, "I think we got away clean. Nothing personal, but I'm going to ground. I'll fence this stuff," she gestured at the scavenged armaments, "and bring your split on Sunday. Good?"
"Fine by me,"' said Spike. "I need to get this baby into my shop if I'm gonna crack it before we hand it over. Although ... I think we should exchange phone codes, just in case." He fished around in his bag, "Here, I've got three pre-paids," he handed each of the others a phone. "If you want we can use these rather than your permanent phone. I'll bill you later." He smiled.
"So long as you don't get lost, little man," Pet replied looking a bit longingly at the "sword" as Lucy scooped it up along with the other loot. "Hold on a minute Luce," Pet said a little hesitantly "that baton sword thing... you know more about weapons than I do... is it rare? Rare enough to tie us to the run I mean... if not... well I'd really like to have it for my share of that loot... if you and Spike don't mind that is...?" Pet didn't know the two of them well enough to know if they'd mind an unusual split like this.
Lucy shrugged. "Fine by me, we can guess at a value and go from there."
"Great," Pet said with a smile picking up the weapon. "If I don't hear something else before then, I'll be at the bar Sunday around 3pm. Should give us a bit of time to chat if need be, and then we can call for pickup if it is still early."
The three runners met up at Toby's at 3pm on Sunday. Lucy slid a pile of scrip across to Spike. "I was able to unload the gear for 600Y. I did some asking around, and I think I could have sold the sword for maybe another 225Y. So that's maybe 275Y each. Pet, that means you owe me and Spike 112Y each for the sword, and we each owe Spike fifty for the phones. So you're even, Pet. Spike, your share is 275Y plus a hundred for the phones, and 112Y for the sword - 487Y. My share is 275Y less the 50 for the phone and plus the 112Y for the sword, that's 337Y. That makes 824Y - the other one can go to our girl here for a tip. Sound right?"
Spike nodded. "Here's what I got. Some corporation called FOG, Inc. is bankrolling the RK. Those were FOG goons that responded. Other than that ... not much to say."
"Too bad there wasn't more. Information is always valuable," Pet shrugged. "And if one was given to wondering, one might wonder why something that sounds like a big outfit is bankrolling some low life incompetents like the RK. But we aren't being paid for wondering. We did what we were asked to do," followed by another shrug. "Should we go ahead and call for the pickup."
"It's just a couple of hours, why not just have dinner?" said Spike.
"You actually eat here?" Pet asked, raising an eyebrow and looking around the bar with a slightly disbelieving look on her face. "Oh, what the heck, it'll be adventure! What do they serve here?"
"I always just have fish and chips," said Spike.
"Burger," said Lucy.
Pet decided that thinking too closely about what the "fish" or the "burger" was made out of would be counterproductive, so after a brief internal debate she went with the fish and chips. And ordered a dark beer to go with it, figuring the alcohol would kill anything in the food that wasn't... well... food.
It wasn't bad, all things considered. And it passed the time. They talked shop until about nine, then watched and waited. At 9:25, the same three cars (at least it appeared to be the same three) swooped into the parking lot and took up their positions.
The trio looked at each other and then rose to make their way out the door. Scanning as they went, they crossed to the car. It was anti-climactic.
'Yamota' received the deck and they commo gear, commented that the very action outside the clubhouse had been interesting, and handed over the rest of the payment. He started to roll up the window and then paused. "We are happy with the result. We'll remember you for the next time." The window rolled closed.
Watching the cars drive away, Pet commented, "well, somehow I had expected something... more." "I don't think I, or more specifically my stomach, is up for any more time at Toby's tonight." She looked at Luce and Spike. "I'm also "happy with the result." She smiled. "Remember me for the next time and I'll do the same." With that and a nod at each of them, she headed toward her bike for the ride home.
As soon as Pet walked in the door, her kittens let her know their opinion of how long she'd been gone. She took care of the important things first - their food and water - then spent some time playing with the two of them. Once they'd worked off some of their energy, she stripped off her clothes and showered. She was happy to get the stench of Toby's off her skin.
She went over her new sword again, looking for any identifying markings, then swung it around in a few passes. She'd practiced with her knives a great deal, and she'd been looking for a sword, and this one fascinated her. "It'll be much easier to conceal than a regular sword, and hopefully, will do as much damage" she thought. As she cleaned and put away her weapons, her eyes kept straying to the sword, now in its baton form. "I think I'll ask Madam Meeagi tomorrow if I can begin learning a sword form for the Coup. Or if there isn't any such thing - any sword form. Some of the rumors I've heard, I'm sure she knows at least one."
Thinking of her sensei reminded her that, in the last week, she'd missed a few days of instructions and the dinners she was committed to providing. Her sensei was no fool and she understood the realities of their world - the necessity for runs if one wanted to make a living, but that didn't mean she wouldn't continue to bring up the missed time and meals for the next little while.
Pet grimaced and decided she'd make Meeagi's favorite dish tomorrow. Of course that meant she'd have to get up even earlier than usual to make certain she got the freshest ingredients. Luckily real fresh fish was pretty easy to come by, and the sauce didn't take that long to prepare assuming she could find all the ingredients: chiles, onions, tomatoes, raisins. She was pretty sure she had some leaf oregano and cumin. Maybe she'd be able to find a few jalapenos as well to give it a little extra kick. "Darn it," she thought she'd also need a chicken to make the broth. She'd probably better see if she could find a live one, so she was sure of what she was getting. The up side was that she would be able to use the meat for another dish.
Whoever would have thought she'd be making recipes Big had taught her for a dangerous, little Oriental woman here on the other side of the country? And speaking of dangerous, little Orientals - she'd best pay Shar-Chi a visit, as well, with at least half a dozen canollis. Other than that little gun battle, things had gone pretty well. She paused a moment to wonder how he'd known a sniper might be a good addition to the run's team but then let it go. He seemed to know a lot of things that never got explained, although she'd likely ask when she did see him.
Maybe she'd wait until the day after tomorrow, and she'd be able to take him some of the fish and sauce as well. "Why," she wondered as she prepared to turn in, "do these little people like fiery sauces so well?" Laughing a bit, she decided, it was probably just another one of those mysteries of the universe that she'd never unravel.
Right before she fell asleep, a curse escaped her as she realized she still didn't know what that last ingredient in that tea might be!