Gideon took in the woman’s clothing (merc-for-hire gray), the way her hand rested on the hilt of her sidearm (crysto-plas pistol, very high-end and, last time Gideon was in the world, prohibited for civilian use), and her stance (balanced, forward on the feet, ready for action).
He was also forced to admit (later, and only to himself), he only registered the gun after he spent some quality milliseconds on her eyes (green) and face (deep, velvety brown, full lips, prominent cheekbones).
It was just enough time to note that face was very attractive, despite its all-business expression.
Or maybe because of it.
“When you say ‘we,’” Gideon said at last, “are you suggesting what I really hope you’re suggesting?”
Even as he spoke, her partner appeared in Gideon’s peripheral vision.
He studied the newcomer—male, slightly taller than the woman, but with the same gray clothing, same coloring, same eyes, even a similar facial structure—all making him, in Gideon’s estimation, her brother; probably a twin.
Of greater interest was the live shock baton he held, similar to those used by Morton’s guards.
“Guess not,” he answered his own question.
“You’ll come with us,” the she-twin said.
Gideon considered the statement. “Is that a request?”
“No,” the he-twin raised his ominously humming baton, “it’s a fact.”
“Yeah,” Gideon’s shoulders slumped, “I was afraid of that.”
Then he moved, ducking left while Elvis leaped right, and it didn’t matter the he-twin was already in motion.
It didn’t matter that his sister was drawing her weapon.
What mattered was they’d initiated their assault under the assumption that two armed and fit mercs against one underfed and unarmed ex-con meant easy.
It was an assumption that proved false.
It was also a very short fight.
Not even a fight, more an encounter.
An encounter Gideon controlled the moment the brother lunged with that baton, giving Gideon the chance to take hold of the he-twin’s extended wrist.
A catch, a twist, a push in just the right spot, and the he-twin’s harsh bellow confirmed his elbow was in a world of pain.
The baton dropped, sparking, to the tarmac. Elvis swooped down to claim the weapon in his hind claws, flapping off with it while Gideon swung its owner around to block the she-twin’s shot.
Lucky for her brother, she pulled the gun to one side in time for that shot to go high and wide, crackling in open air, and unnerving a pigeon roosting atop a stack of crates.
Gideon used the next half-second to bring the back of his fist to the brother’s temple, rendering the he-twin inert before throwing him into the she-twin with enough force to knock her to the ground.
Joining the prone siblings, Gideon placed a careful boot on her wrist, and applied just enough pressure for her to know he could apply more, if she didn’t release the shooter.
She released the shooter, and he kicked it across the tarmac.
“Backup?” he asked.
She grimaced, possibly because being weighed down by he-twin made it hard to breathe. “Right boot.”
Gideon nodded, checked the boot and, sure enough, found the knife she’d have thrown into him as he walked away.
He tossed the blade after the gun, checked the brother’s boot and found a (ha) twin to her own, took that and the short sword from he-twin’s belt, and threw both in the opposite direction from his sister’s.
“Tell the general I said hi,” he told her.
He then grabbed his pack, which he’d dropped during the not-a-fight, and started across the empty airfield towards the gates where, if he recalled correctly, there should be a mag-tram into the city.
Another time he might have enjoyed the exercise of the brief encounter. Here and now, he only had space to wonder how Jessup Rand knew he’d be arriving on the Ramushku when he, Gideon, didn’t know he was being paroled until about two hours before the air-barge lifted off from Morton.
He considered asking the twins, but if they were in Rand’s employ, any further interaction with the pair would be skating dangerously close to violating his parole before he was prepared to violate it.
So rather than attempt an interrogation, he made a slight clicking noise in his throat, waited for Elvis to swoop down to his accustomed shoulder perch, and left the mercenaries tangled on the ground.
He looked up as the soft rain began to fall, muting the airfield’s lights, and sheening the tarmac to a mirror finish.
It seemed the Ramushku’s crew had been right about the rain.
Gideon spared the glistening pavement one look—enough to see his own foreshortened image—before he strode off towards the airfield gates, shattering his reflection with each deliberate step.
* * *
Several minutes after Gideon’s silhouette passed through the main airfield gate, a third figure, cloaked and hooded, (against the rain or any watching eyes could not be determined) emerged from behind the crates where Rey (the female half of the mercenary twins) had lain in wait for Gideon.
“That could have gone better.” The newcomer looked down at Rey, currently crouched over her unconscious brother, whose name was Ronan, then to the airfield gate, where the city-bound mag-tram had just arrived.
“I can find him again,” Rey said. “I want to find him.” She laid a gentle hand over Ronan’s cruelly wrenched arm. “I want to hurt him.”
“Commendable, but unnecessary.” The hooded one gestured towards the gate, where another figure detached itself from the bulk of the control tower and made its way towards the waiting tram, which Gideon would already be boarding. “Nahmin will take it from here.”
“Nahmin.” Rey’s eyes narrowed. “And will he be serving in his capacity as valet or assassin tonight?”
The cloaked figure turned to Rey who, under that regard, ducked her head in apology.
“Neither,” she was told. “At least, not just yet. His assignment is the same as yours, to contain Quinn.”
“And once Quinn is contained?” Rey asked, though with sufficient respect. “What then?”
The hood turned back towards the gate. “Then, my dear, you may hurt him.”
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