Soldier of Fortune: Chapter 40


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This time Ronan skipped the shock stick. 

Like his sister, he now held a live crysto-plas pistol, its grip thrumming reassuringly in his palm as they crept up to the decrepit boathouse where Gideon Quinn had supposedly taken shelter. 

“Movement,” Rey whispered, and both went still, their gray-on-gray clothing blending into the warped wood of the dock. 

Ronan peered up through the hood of his tunic to see the last hint of a shadow passing the cracked glass of a window. 

He checked their distance—twenty meters, give or take. “Door or window?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper. 

“Door,” she mouthed. “High and low.” 

He nodded, and pulled his left arm from its sling. 

He still couldn’t use it but he wanted the arm free for balance. And, he could admit, for the pain, because pain fueled anger, and anger would see Quinn dead at his feet. 

As one, the siblings made a fast, hunched-back dash for the crookedly hung door. 

Once there, Rey took hold of the knob, and on the silent count of three, yanked it open and ducked under Ronan’s arm as both dove into the room, he high and right, she low and left. 

“Eat plasma, Quinn!” he called recklessly, finger already tightening on the trigger. 

Except there was no Quinn to take out. 

What there was, was a robust-looking keeper, standing directly in front of the door, his teeth bared in something that could in no way be confused with a smile. 

There was also, Ronan realized, half a dozen coppers, weapons active and raised, spread throughout the room. 

One of these coppers was standing against the wall to Ronan’s right, close enough Ronan could feel the vibration from his pistol. 

“You know how this works,” the copper, a man of middle height in a cheap suit, said to the flummoxed mercenary. “Do the needful, or I will have you smoking on the floor before you can count to one.” 

* * *

As the two invaders, their eerily similar faces dark with fury, laid down their arms, Ishan heard Tiago’s whispered cheer from the other side of the boathouse, where he, the children, and the other keepers had been huddling behind the rubbish pile. This filial approbation was immediately followed by Mia’s in no way whispered, “Your dad’s a right badass!” 

Ishan suppressed a smile, and stepped back as Officers Prudawe and Stoltz put the two would-be killers in irons. 

Any day he could impress the youth of Nike was a good day, he supposed, though he still had no idea who these twins were, or why they should be wanting to kill Gideon Quinn. 

And then Donal cleared his throat. 

At least, Ishan assumed the noise, that came out like a mason’s power grinder, was the Hive Master clearing his throat. 

“Now it is time for the third part of the message,” Donal said, handing over a Stoli infantry radio that had seen far better days. “Mr. Quinn sends this, with his compliments, and asks you turn it on as soon as you are within range of the Rand residence, but that you not enter the house until he makes direct contact.” 

Mia, who’d already been impressed by DS Hama’s cool apprehension of the twins, was even more enamored by the detective’s varied and creative swearing. “I ain’t even heard some of them words,” she confessed to Tiago. 

“I think he’s inventing a few new ones, just for the occasion,” Hama’s son replied. 

“Cor,” Mia said, shaking her head in admiration.

* * *

Outside, a few dozen meters downstream from the boathouse dock, Nahmin watched a not insignificant procession make its way to land. 

The unusual parade consisted of an interesting mix of law enforcement—civilian and keeper—as well as a number of children, a young man of no obvious profession and, interestingly, a draco, flying over the lot. 

There were also Rey and Ronan Pradish, both being led away in shackles. 

More interesting still, there was no sign of Quinn.

Which meant Quinn was somewhere else. 

Nahmin had a terrible feeling he knew exactly where that somewhere else was. 

The procession was now moving further away from the river—no doubt their transportation was hidden somewhere in the warehouses scattered about the abandoned docks—so Nahmin also removed himself.

* * *

While Nahmin sped away, Erasmus Ellison hunkered in the wreckage of an old ferry left to ruin on the shore, and watched as the coppers and keepers waltzed off. 

Waltzed off with his loot, and his dodgers. 

With a stealth that belied his bulk, the fagin trailed the lot, and when they reached their cycles, clustered in the ruins of an old Tenjin Corp warehouse, he listened to DS Hama dispatching his officers like a general ordering troops, some to deliver the man and woman they’d nicked to the precinct, and others to attend him to some risto’s house near the city’s center. 

Ellison waited for the coppers to ride off on their cycles, again with Mia riding pillion behind Hama, and the draco flying off after them. 

Then he waited until the keepers and the youth, with his dodgers in tow, made their way out of the ruins of the old dockyards. 

Once the coast was clear, he made a beeline for the bridge where he’d parked the stolen Comet, which he then drove at a calm and considered pace to 16 Chaucer Street, which was the address Hama had announced as his next destination.


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