“I think that went well,” Rachel said, as we left Zoe’s hideout together. “You’re a good actor. I’m impressed.”
I was completely serious, I was tempted to say. I didn’t, though. It was useful, her still believing I was the same naïve teenager.
“We needed to make it convincing. We have a reputation to maintain, after all.”
“Think you can manage a repeat performance?” she asked, twirling a modified pistol in her hands.
“Assuming we can actually capture Miss Murder, sure.”
I was surprised Rachel wasn’t more concerned about that, honestly. Miss Murder had one ability, and that was to teleport. How the hell were we supposed to capture that?
Rachel had a plan, though. She always did. I just had to have faith in her. Could I manage that?
For Veronica, I reminded myself.
We made our way to a warehouse on the other side of the city, one where Rachel assured me a Stars strike was going to go down. I didn’t bother asking where she got her information. She’d yet to be proven wrong, and that was good enough for me.
We arrived before the Stars did, and spent several minutes observing the current occupants, more soldiers. It seemed like the military were sending more and more soldiers in by the day, regardless of how many of them wound up dead or infected. I guess there isn’t much else they can do, is there?
The warehouse was being used as temporary storage for several trucks worth of weapons and ammunition, and guarded appropriately. I counted at least two dozen armed soldiers patrolling, and that many again inside. I was curious to see just how the Stars handled that.
As it turned out, they handled it with lethal efficiency. Ten of them emerged from the shadows, silenced weapons taking out half the patrolling soldiers before the alarm was raised. By the time the reinforcements were surging out to defend against them, the other half of the patrollers were down.
It was impressive to watch, honestly. They outmanoeuvred the soldiers effortlessly, like they knew exactly where they would be in advance. Just how detailed a plan had the Celestial given them? How specific was his power?
“Let’s go,” Rachel said, as the last soldier dropped. We raced towards the warehouse, covering the last of the distance. Rachel activated something in her boots, and some kind of blast sent her rocketing through the air in a surprisingly graceful arc.
She landed in the middle of the kill squad, immediately grabbing the closest gangster by the neck, spinning around and throwing him against the side of a truck. The others opened fire, but I barrelled into two of them, slamming them into the ground without stopping.
We dismantled the rest of the team with our bare hands, making sure not to critically injure any of them. A few of them had those same electric spikes that were designed to take down people like me, but now that I knew to avoid them, they were easy enough to deal with.
When they were all crawling on the ground, grunting and groaning, disarmed but alive, we started to unload the crates of weapons from the trucks. We didn’t actually need them, but if it looked like we were just waiting for Miss Murder, there was a chance they wouldn’t call her.
We’d unloaded ten crates before she showed up. I noticed her first, barely audible footfalls as she teleported slightly above the surface she landed on. Just like Rachel and I had agreed on, I kept unpacking, giving no indication I’d noticed her arrival.
She watched us for several minutes, and we managed to get another few crates stacked up before she made her move. Three quick teleports, edging closer each time, but just out of sight. Had Rachel noticed yet? Did that really matter?
As I was wondering which of us she’d go for first, she materialised behind Rachel, dragging her blade across Rachel’s throat in a savage motion, cutting right through the muscle. Rachel twitched, went limp, and dropped. Miss Murder vanished before I could respond.
I rushed to Rachel’s body, but Miss Murder appeared in front of me, a hand wrapping around my throat, and then the entire world moved.
We were in the air, falling. She vanished, leaving me to land on my own. The second I did, she appeared again, a vicious slash that carved through my cheek, blood spraying everywhere. Before I could respond, she was gone.
She’s been practicing. She knows how to fight someone as fast as me.
I considered changing forms, switching to Ami’s telekinesis. I’d probably have more luck with that, but it would mean revealing a power I didn’t want anyone to know about.
Not worth it. It wouldn’t help me capture her, which was the whole point. Without Rachel, I had no plan. All that was left was to run, really.
Miss Murder appeared again, running her blade across my back. A warm sensation began to spread as blood bubbled out of the wound. I turned, but she was already gone.
If she wanted a fight, I’d give her one. She could teleport, but she wasn’t as fast or as strong as I was, and she certainly didn’t heal as fast. She couldn’t even hurt me, not really. I only had to catch her once to turn the tables.
I whirled around, trying to watch every direction at once. Just try it, you psychotic mute-
She appeared again, but before I could react to her, she stopped suddenly, her eyes bulging. Her body began to convulse, and she dropped to the ground.
Rachel walked up to Miss Murder’s body, a satisfied smirk resting on her lips. Her throat was still cut open, but there was barely any blood flowing from the open wound. But how? The damage was undeniable. It should have severed her carotid artery. Why wasn’t there more blood?
“Scared you for a bit there, didn’t I?” she said, her voice raspy and weak. “Figured she’d try and trick like that.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, staring at her neck. “How?”
“Made a few modifications. Made the vital stuff a little harder to cut. Nothin’ complicated.” She coughed loudly. It sounded painful. “Anyway. Let’s get this one somewhere safe. Can’t keep her like this for long.”
“What did you do to her?”
“Electric dart,” she said. “Was hard work getting enough voltage in such a tiny package, lemme tell you.” Another cough. “Should release a charge every few seconds, enough to keep her from using her blinking.”
Rachel ripped Miss Murder’s sleeve, exposing the skin of her arm. She pulled out a little box with wires attached, and strapped it the exposed flesh, then pressed a button on the side. I assumed it was a more reliable way of executing the same concept as the dart.
“Let’s get her to the interrogation room, then,” I said, picking her up. Rachel picked the assassin’s knife up from the floor, pocketing it.
When we got to the interrogation room we’d prepared, a different one to the last one, we were both surprised to see Zoe waiting for us. There was an almost vicious look in her eyes.
“What’re you doing here?” Rachel asked, her voice still strained and hoarse.
“I didn’t want to miss the fun,” she said.
“So you’ve finally decided to help?” I asked, accusingly.
“Just with this bit,” she said. “I want to see just how this one works. I’ve never met a blinker before.”
“And you’re not about to,” Rachel muttered. “Unless we fuck up, she isn’t going to be blinking. Only talking.”
“That could be an issue,” Zoe said. “She doesn’t talk.”
“You know what I mean.”
“What happened to your neck, anyway?”
“Cosmetic damage, nothing more. I’ll fix it later.”
While they bickered, I strapped the now unconscious Miss Murder into the chair we’d prepared. Rachel ripped at her outfit, exposing more skin, and attaching wires. A constant current would prevent her from teleporting away.
I hadn’t seen her up close before. Curious, I tugged at the scarf that covered her neck and half her face. She was pretty, surprisingly so. Her features seemed Eurasian, and somehow familiar…
“Holy shit,” I said.
“Something wrong?” Rachel asked.
“I know her,” I said softly. “We went to school together. She’s… she’s my age. How did she end up like this?”
My gaze fell to her neck, and the blackened skin in the shape of a hand wrapped around it.
“What the hell happened to you?” I asked.
She stirred, her intense green eyes darting about the room. They settled on Rachel, and her expression shifted from determination to fear.
“Let’s talk,” Rachel said, grinning sadistically.
Next Week: You Want To Know What I Took From Charlie?