Finder’s Keeper – Part Thirteen

Finder’s Keeper – Part Thirteen
by D. G. Speirs
Copyright (c) 2017

As I looked at Lonnie Briggs and her mercs (Thing Six and Thing Seven to my mind, interchangeable and indistinguishable), my thoughts went into overdrive. Boss was right, we needed to get off the train. But doing so between here and the next station would be nuts, finding resources in the middle of the Irish countryside would be next to impossible, even for him.

Engage and contain in an enclosed space for fifteen minutes. I could do that. I just need to think strategic—

My strategic thinking was interrupted by a battle cry in French from Ariana. In rapid succession, she let loose a pair of arrows that caught the mercs on either side of Lonnie just above the knee. Each screamed and went down as the shaft went clean through, metal arrowhead protruding from the back of their legs. Ariana quickly nocked another shaft and shifted aim to Lonnie.

My former partner already had her weapon up, a nasty looking heater with a laser sight. She flicked it on. A bright red dot bloomed on Ariana’s chest. Lonnie grinned. “Nice shot, Robin Hood.”

I crashed sideways into Ariana sideways, knocking her into the bathroom. The door slammed closed behind her. My head struck one of the supports for the seats, and I started to count the stars in Orion’s belt as they swirled in my vision when I hit the floor.

“Still the hero, hmm, Louis?” Lonnie walked over and looked down. “Your services are no longer needed for this case. We will take over from here.” She picked up my baton and jammed it in the door handle to keep it shut and trap Ariana inside. “That’s one. Where are the others?”

“Let me out!” The twin followed it with a string of colorful French invective as she slammed against the door. I gave it three minutes before she broke through.

Lonnie could cause a lot of mayhem in three minutes.

I managed to roll over in time to see Lonnie pull a small canister and a breathing mask from her pocket. She popped tabs on both ends and rolled it down the aisle toward the Boss even as she placed the mask over her nose and mouth.

Gas. I tried to yell something to Tomas, but the warning came out as a weak croak.

The Boss must have heard the can rolling toward him. He turned, then stood and faced Lonnie as she stepped down the aisle. A yellowish haze began to rise around him as the Boss reached around and pulled out from somewhere a small aluminum tube, about one-foot long. “My turn, Miss Briggs.”

Lonnie sneered. “Really, del Mundo? What do you think you’re going to do with that?”

Boss raised an eyebrow. “This, of course.” the Boss’s thumb moved slightly, there was a bright pop and something ejected from the end of one end of the tube that shattered the window on his left. Tomas flipped the device over and fired again before Lonnie could react, breaking a window opposite.

Lonnie stared in disbelief as the swirling wind rushed through the car and swept the yellow cloud of gas into the Irish night. Her gun swung back up, and she fired at Tomas.

He wasn’t there. The bullet impacted on the wall at the far end of the car. Tomas popped his head up over a seat. “Oops. Missed. And if I’m not mistaken, your last round.”

Lonnie Tried to fire, but the slide moved back on the pistol and stopped. She snarled in anger, tossed it aside and pulled out a 10-inch combat knife. “Lucky for me then, I usually bring a knife to a gun fight.”

The Boss wrinkled his nose. “Now I see where Louis gets it from.” He jumped in the aisle, tube held like a cudgel. “En garde.

Lonnie moved in and swiped left with her blade. Maybe she meant to Tinder-ize the Boss. He parried it with ease, metal clashing on metal.

Nicely played, Boss. I blinked back headache and grogginess as I staggered to my feet, determined to get back into the conflict. Isabeau took that moment to poke her head up as a spectator. I couldn’t afford her upgrading to participant class, so I motioned for her to get down and wobbled to the bathroom while Lonnie and the Boss continued their face off.

I pulled my baton out of the handle and opened the door. Ariana opened her mouth to start into yet another stream of colorful French invective. I circumvented that by direct intervention – one of my mitts over her lips – and shoved her back inside the bathroom, then stepped in after her. It was a tight squeeze, and, yes, before you ask, I was more than aware Warrior Princess was still wearing only the thin blue dress and metal mesh bikini from the glorified Ren Faire earlier. Even if she didn’t play for our team, she was still damn attractive.

Focus, Louis.

Ariana looked up, anger just two degrees below rage in her eyes. “Qu’est-ce que tu fais? Êtes-vous un imbécile complet? She’s out there with Isabeau and the twins. With Jennifer!”

I understood the tinge of hysteria she felt. “Slow your roll, Ariana. Tomas has Lonnie’s attention. Smarter than the average bear, that one. Let’s use that.” I shook my head. “I’m still fuzzy from the knock to my noggin. But if your hype is to be believed, your close quarter skills are pretty decent.”

Oui. I hold my own against men three times my size in Scadian events throughout the Seven Kingdoms.”

“I’m going to pretend I know exactly what that means.”

Ariana growled at me. Under her breath in French, she said, “Imbécile. Complète et totale.“ She stood taller. “It means I am very, very good.“

“Yes, but Lonnie’s an expert. Trained by the FBI, she taught hand to hand for a couple of years at Quantico. Think you can take her?”

Ariana’s smile grew wolfish. “The question is not if. The question is simply how quickly.”

“All right.” I moved to open the door, but Ariana stopped me.

“One other thing, Monsieur Bricke.”

“What’s that?”

Ariana glanced down. “I’m flattered, but calm yourself. Now is not the time or place.” She pushed past me and handed me her bow. “But perhaps later we can talk.” She stepped out into the aisle, leaned her head to both sides to loosen the vertebrae in her neck, then turned and moved toward Lonnie.

I blinked for a moment. Damn. Ariana doesn’t just play for the other team, she’s a switch hitter. I walked out into the aisle. To my left, Things Six and Seven had managed to yank the arrows out of their legs. They limped into the car, leaning against the walls for support.

“You two don’t look so good. Here, this might help.” I reached into the kitchen and grabbed the cups from the coffee makers I had prepped earlier, then threw the contents in their faces. They both screeched as they were scalded by a rich, velvety French roast. Without hesitating, I gave each a double tap with my baton on the back of the neck. They collapsed, out cold. Nighty night, Things. I hope you were paid in advance.

I looked back. Lonnie’s attention was still focused on Tomas, who had backed up to defend the children. Ariana advanced on her from behind.

Things were about to get interesting. I prepared to watch the show.