This had started off simple enough. It was just an easy little job; all we had to do was make a quick exchange. Trade one identical briefcase for another, one full of information, one full of payment. We’d done it several times before to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved. The regular job involved three people, one to make the transfer, and two to watch the transfer take place. Both parties were practiced enough that a guy really had to watch to see the switch take place. This time it had not gone nearly as smoothly. The thing that makes me the maddest is that it was going well until the gunmen showed up. Apparently the information was more valuable to the competition than we had expected. Not to mention the fact our competition was more informed than we thought. Normally the switch takes place in the main terminal of Central Station on the city bus line. We choose to do it during evening rush hour, no one is paying much attention to the other riders, everyone is thinking about what they are going to be doing in a half hour when they get home. That makes the transfer pretty easy, we watch our guy make the drop and then watch the other party’s guys watching us. Somehow both sides missed it, there were maybe a few more guys in rain and overcoats than usual but since it was raining I never thought about it. I should have.
They hit fast with almost no warning. It was nearly a perfect ambush. Freeman had just sat his briefcase down next to the end of the bench. His counterpart was walking over, fresh cup of coffee in one hand, case in the other, just like he always did. They hit right then, at least six of them. Freeman was killed before I could get my gun in my hand. I saw the impacts pucker his grey overcoat. It took me a second to see where they had come from. By the time I saw them, all wearing matching raincoats, the tan ones like you see on dime novel detectives, the crowd was panicked and racing for the exits. The tan-coated bastard that was supposed to shoot me lost me in the crowd. I was able to get close enough to him to touch him in the confusion. His eyes were wide behind his sunglasses when I triggered two shot into his ribcage at near contact distance. With one hand on his shoulder, I guided him to the ground, scanning for Allen. I found him on his way directly to me; there was blood on his pea coat.
“Don’t worry, it’s not mine We gotta go.” Allen turned and joined the running mob. I was a step behind him. We tried to blend is as much as we could. We caught a break as our counterparts started a full on gun battle in the lobby. Which only added to the panic. We had just about gotten out of the station when we ran into another bunch of the tan-coated gunman ready to ambush anyone from our side that wasn’t killed in the initial assault. Allen and I barely broke though, owing our success to violence of action, and the classic ambush-breaking technique of immediately attacking the attackers. Our aggression had caused some confusion. We’d both managed to make it out of the building, and in doing so cost them at least six. All was not yet well, as we had only managed to escape out the back of the station into the staff parking lot.
I took cover behind one of those hideous little plastic toaster cars, taking a second to refocus and evaluate the situation. On the pro side, we were out of the direct line of assault, and Allen had shimmed the door into the station closed with a doorstop that he carried in his vest for that very purpose. On the con side, we were in the parking lot, which we had not scouted, and they knew we were here. Parking lots are not good places for gunfights as the sight lines are either terribly long making a pistol shot dicey or very very short making reacting to a threat difficult due to the proximity. They also tend to be big and not terribly easy to get out of on foot without getting noticed. It really didn’t help that we were exposed to the weather. The situation wasn’t ideal, but Allen and I had been in tougher spots. I decided to take a second and evaluate myself. Allen would be doing the same, from where he’d had the sense to take cover behind a truck.
I’d been hit once in the forearm and once in the chest. The bullet creased my skin, destroying my watch, just above where I should have been wearing a glove. It hurt like hell and was bleeding copiously. The bullet caused a superficial laceration that I just wasn’t able to get a good look at through the blood. The other round had smashed into a spare magazine on my armor carrier. I was pretty sure my rib was broken, or at least felt like it, and now my armor was compromised. This meant that anything else that hit me had a much better chance of being very bad for me. I did have full use of my hand however, that’s always a plus.
I was struggling through a reload, fumbling the magazine change. If I’d been wearing gloves like I should have been, I wouldn’t be having all of these problems. Blood is slick to start with, and mixed with the rain, it made manipulating anything seem like picking up BBs with a boxing glove. I finally managed to get the fish slippery magazine out of my lap and into the pistol. I took a second to figure out how many rounds I had left: I’d fired two full magazines getting out of the ambush. I had one magazine ruined on my carrier; I had the partial in my jacket pocket, one full one in the gun, and one more full magazine on my belt. I hoped that would be enough.
I stood and zipped my jacket closed; it did a great job of concealing my armor and extra kit. As I stood up Allen came over; he had clearly finished the same self assessment that I had just done. He stood next to me watching the windows of the other floors We’d be in very real trouble since they had rifles, if they managed to get to the windows.
“That looks like it hurts, where are your gloves?”
“It does, and I didn’t wear any. This was supposed to be easy.”
“You should know better by now.”
“I’m well aware of my tactical shortcomings. Any ideas?”
“ I was going to ask you that.”
“Great Well, standing here bleeding can’t be real good. We’re going to have to get out of here. Think we can figure out how to steal a car?”
“No. Remember the Donovan job? We’ll be killed long before we get a car running. Besides, there doesn’t look to be anything that’s real easy to steal in this lot anyway.”
“Then I guess we have to leg it, you didn’t happen to bring your cell did you?”
“No, this was supposed to be easy, didn’t figure I’d need it. I left it at home.”
“Fine place for it, right next to my gloves.”
“What was that? You were mumbling.”
“ Nothing. Let’s go, I’m pretty sure they know which way we went, we’re going to run out of time if we stay here.”
“Hold it, you need to cover that.” Allen dug into his vest and came up with a wrap bandage. He worked quickly covering the wound and slowing the flow of blood to a trickle.
“I look like a butcher shop explosion, we’re not going to be able to stay out on the street very long.
“I think we’re only a block or so from the underground.”
“You got a better plan?”
“Works for me.”
We walked as quickly as could out of the parking lot onto the street. The police were just arriving, cars splashing water on us as they stopped. The crowd from inside was milling about, confused, in the rain. We just walked like we belonged there, hands jammed in pockets and collars turned up against the rain. We heard a couple of pops of rifle fire from inside, obviously they were trying to fight the police. That was even better for us; the arriving police now took no notice of anyone at all.
“We need to let the Boss know about Freeman.”
“We need to get out of here with our skins first.”
“There’s a phone right at the entrance of the underground, I’ll call the boss from there.”
“That’s not going to work. I have to get off the street now, people are starting to notice the blood.”
“All right, take this alley.”
I took Allen’s directions and turned left into the alley. I figured we were planning on trading my coat for some homeless guys. Only problem is there were no homeless in this alley. The weather must have driven them to shelters, or at least a better place to be out of the rain.
“So much for that idea.”
“Shut up, I’m thinking.”
“Let’s take a break, were safe enough here.”
I slumped down next to a dumpster. I’d lost the rush of the fight and was turning into a zombie, no more adrenaline, no more endorphins, no more dopamine, now I was dealing with the after effects of that dump. I could tell Allen wasn’t in any better shape than I was. I felt exhausted, liked I’d run a marathon while sword fighting. My arm and hand were starting to stiffen. I’d have trouble using it for anything. I was going to need to get it cleaned out, maybe a couple of stitches, and a round of antibiotics. When a bullet breaks the skin it can bring in all kinds of nasty crap, there would be no reason to risk the infection.
“I could sure go for a shower.”
“You’re sitting in the rain.”
“Not what I meant.”
I stood, checking down the alley as I did so. My view was obscured by the trash and boxes sitting on the dumpster I had been leaning against. I saw two men in tan raincoats come into the alley. They couldn’t see me through the trash, but I ducked down again anyway. Allen was looking at me liked I’d grown a third arm out of my forehead. I made the hand signals for approaching enemy. Allen looked really confused for another second, then made the signal for where. Since we were crouched next each other I told him, “Down the alley.”
“What’s your plan?”
“I say we just step out and shoot them. It has the benefit of being simple, and they won’t be expecting it.”
“I’m good with that. See if you can plant yours. I want to ask mine a couple of questions.”
“I’ll take the one on the right.”
“You call it.”
Allen was looking over my shoulder. He’d take an extra step out from the cover of the dumpster, all I would have to do is lean out far enough for a good sight picture. In a high stress situation the perception of time can be screwed up. The untrained tend to get tunnel vision, and there is almost always some kind of auditory exclusion. The scientists call it tachypsychia. I could feel it starting. I took a couple of easy deep breaths, and scanned the targets. They were clearly the same guys from before, or at least worked for the same people. They weren’t doing a very good job of paying attention to their surroundings, mine was smoking which ruined his night vision. The other had his head down not looking down the alley. I wasn’t real sure what they were doing there, they had either followed us, or just randomly picked the same alley for their escape. Didn’t really matter; they were about to be dealt with.
Allen and I moved at the same time. I found my front sight imposed over the nose of my target. I squeezed the trigger. If a bullet strikes inside the golden triangle formed by the eyes and the nose incapacitation is instant. My target fell like a puppet with the strings cut. Allen took a different approach, but he wanted his guy alive; he shot for the pelvis. If a bullet gets in and breaks the pelvis, the target will fall down as the structural support for the skeleton is removed. Allen was already advancing on his guy before I got clear of the dumpster and followed. He put another round into the upper chest of his guy as he approached preventing him from drawing. My guy didn’t need a follow up shot.
Allen kneeled the chest of his target, he was young and dark haired. And he looked scared.
“You’re dying; there’s still time to hurt you.” Allen stuck her finger into the bullet hole he’d put into the chest of this kid. “You need to tell me who sent you.”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re lying.” Allen twisted his finger.
The kid looked bad; he was starting to die. His skin was graying and his eyes were wild. “They never told me.” Blood was staining his shirt. His voice was straining. He was in a full on panic as Allen drove a second finger into the hole.
Half crying half choking the kid spat out the name Foster. Then he died.
“Who is Foster?”
“No idea, Allen, but it’s a start.”
“The Boss is really going to like this.”
“Yeah, he is, but now we really have to go.”
Allen and I ran.