Part V – For Sarah, and Little Zoe
He scurries around the corner, keeping low and using the smoke and dust for cover. Kneeling behind the thick column, he checks his rifle. ‘The whole team,’ he thinks. ‘The whole goddamn team. Who the hell is he?’ He calls on his headset for backup, but gets no response. With the lift out and the stairs blocked, it looked like he had only one option. ‘Gotta get him before he gets me.’
He loads his last grenade into his rifle, and replaces the spent clip for the bolter. Lowering the multi-optic goggles on his helmet, he peers around the corner. He sees his target, across the large, smoke-filled room, hiding behind another of the large square columns. The target cautiously leans around the corner of the column, then steps out into the open.
‘Here’s my shot,’ he thinks, and pulls the trigger on his grenade launcher. The target dives to the floor in front of the column, shielding him from the blast on the wall behind it.
‘Damn,’ he thinks, as the bullet hits his helmet.
He opens his eyes to the barrel of an old Kolt 700 slugthrower, pointed at him by a scraggly, tall man.
“Don’t make me kill you,” the man says. “While you were sleeping, I took off your helmet, and took your rifle, of course. You’re lucky.” He holds up the dented helmet. “I checked your I.D. card, too. Twenty-five, City Security for five years, wife and daughter; nice pictures, happy family. Let me give you some advice. Your boss is crooked; the Company owns him. You seem honest, try to stay that way. And, if you don’t move for three minutes after I leave, you’ll go home to your wife and baby girl tonight. Any questions?”
“J-just one,” he spits out, quivering. “W-why?”
“I don’t want to kill you. You’re just doin’ your job. They probably told you I was a terrorist or a cyber-psycho. I don’t expect you to know the big picture. And, I’m feeling good today.”
“Th-thank you,” he says to the tall, bearded man.
The man holsters his old pistol, turns, and walks away.
“One more thing,” he calls over his shoulder. “When you get home, tell your wife and daughter that you love them.” The hint of sadness in his voice is almost lost in the large, smoky room. The young security guard thanks his God for this fortune.
As his partner gets into the aircar, the bald man lowers the volume on the stereo, and turns to him.
“What happened?” he asks.
“City Security Team. Had to flatline all but one of them.”
“Why not that one?”
“I just…” He stops, then starts again, “I just ran out of bullets, that’s all.”