“<Shi.>” I said to Roark, with all the confidence I could muster. I can handle a couple of rich folks bleeding out on the cargo bay floor, dead bodies in front of me and gunfire overhead. Oh, yeah and you want Chem-plast on demand. I gotcha covered, there Hoss.
“Hey Doc, what do you want me to do? Prudence’s bleeding pretty bad from this wound….. Doc? Doc? Where’re ya going?” Imago looked a little sheepish. “I have to follow Brigid. She’s going into a gunfight. What if she gets hit? She’s –” Imago lowered her voice and crouched to my ear and paused. “I know.” I patted the Doc on the arm. “She pays the bills. You gotta dance with them that brung ya, Doc. But she’s not all bad. You know that.” She looked at me funny and smiled. “Just keep an eye on the wound. I should be back in 15 minutes.”
I swung my arms out and brought them in tight like I was huggin myself. I looked around. Yeah. Dead body. Dead body. Dead body. Check. Money. Wreckage. Spent cartridges. Check. <Rung Tse Fwo Tzoo Bao Yo Wuo Muhn.>
I sat down on a crate, crossed my legs real demure and turned to Mr. Wingate. “So you’re a big shot, is that right? Boss man? That must be excitin.” I smiled big.
More gunfight erupted overhead. Mr. Wingate seemed grateful for the distraction. “It is rewarding work, er, what was your name again?” I held out my hand. “I’m Swei. Shwie Swei. Folks call me Swei. I’m the mechanic.”
We didn’t know it, but upstairs Roark was getting the jump on a couple of the shooters. Later, as he told it, there were two prison guards shooting it out with a couple of hired guns. Roark shot one of the guards at point blank, practically.
The other guard, well, if he were still alive, I’d tell him he was a smart feller. He whirled around and unloaded a belly full of lead into Roark. Which, due to physics, made Roark fall down the stairs. Him falling down the stairs was one of the loudest things I ever heard.
I rushed over and dragged him away from the stairwell, in case the guard was smart enough to shoot down.
Roark removed his hand from his stomach. “Aw hell. This is bad, Swei. Where’s the Doc? I’m knockin on heaven’s door this time, for sure.” Mr. Wingate knelt beside him. “Buck up! It’s a flesh wound.” He snapped his fingers at me. “Hand me a bandage!” I cocked my head. “Well, yessir. Comin right up.”
Once more Miss V came up a winner. Those hired guns surrendered and she put ’em in the brig.The engine was still rolling along and we knew that someone was still in the cockpit. The question was Who?
She and Maggie crept up the far stairwell.
Roark struggled to his feet. “I’m goin with ’em. This ain’t nothin but a flesh wound.” Imago got up quickly. “Let me grab my bag.”
I leaned over for my stick of Chem-plast. “Well, count me in.”
Maggie was in the lead. The cockpit door was open. “Maggie!” I whispered. Roark elbowed me in the stomach. “Zip it, Cookie. We want us the element of surprise.” Imago leaned into my ear. “You aren’t really whispering, you know. That’s the problem.” She smiled. “We’ll practice whispering. Later. If we survive.”
We could see Black though the open door. He was hunched over the controls. Maggie light-footed it to the far side of the door and took a shot. It grazed Black’s shoulder. He sprung back and returned fire. Miss V tried to maneuver her rifle into line of sight and got hit for her troubles. I jolted forward to help but the Doc got there first. Roark grunted and hissed like an old Osprey 88 with a bad valve. “Just get outta my way” he said to no one in particular.
He took up careful position on the near side of the door. More bullets back and forth. It was near enough a stale mate and I was thinking about the Chem-plast — now that is a tie breaker if ever there was — when I heard Miss V let out a stream of cuss words that’d make a miner proud. Is that finishin school talk? I thought to myself.
“Prop me up, Imago.” Once in position, Miss V dropped Black with one head shot. Boom. Down. Dead. She leaned back in Imago’s arms. “Maggie, Swei. Get us the hell out of here.”
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