Kate parked the car-jacked Lexus a little ways down the street from Russek’s place, but with a good view of the house. “Not bad for a love nest,” she said, her voice betraying her years in London. It was her relaxed or swanky voice; just then she was with a comrade and felt safe.
“How you know they’re doin’ it?” Helena in the passenger seat asked.
“I wired it for sound yesterday.” With black hair and the right attitude, Kate could pass her middle-aged Middle Eastern looks off as a Latina. That is, if no one looked too hard, and at her age, no one was ever looking too hard. “Russek uses a cleaning service. That bloody kid hardly noticed me as I cleaned around the little bastard. Didn’t even look away from his laptop. The audio’s been nicely steamy so far. Have a listen?” Kate held out an iPod and earbuds.
“Nah, not unless there’s something more useful in it than smut.”
“So far Miranda, Titania and Hermia haven’t heard anything of use,” Kate said, shoving the iPod back in her pocket. “But they’re getting an earful of rumpy pumpy.”
“Whatever that is,” Helena muttered, staring out the window shield.
“Sex,” Kate told her.
“Fucking Miranda!” Helena recrossed her legs and looked like she wanted to bite something or someone. “This is all her fault.”
“I blame Williams more.” Miranda had bailed Kate out more than once, so she was reluctant to go against her. “And this sodding Ryan kid. I detest smart kids.”
“Yeah, you right. Why didn’t you finish what Viola screwed up when she laid Ryan instead of killing him like she was supposed to?” Helena asked. She was pissed off that she had to be there to help clean up a mess not of her own making.
“It’s more complicated now,” Kate said with a sigh. “The little bugger had enough time to get away with more than the accounts and passwords. He grabbed some DARPA data we were using as well.”
“Sheee-yit.” Helena had lost everything to Katrina but her Ninth Ward drawl on certain words. “Can’t do nothing ’bout the DARPA stuff. I wish Titania and Miranda would stop fucking with people who are fucking scarier than us, it’s just fucking stupid. And can’t Miranda just change fucking the passwords or whatever the fuck she does on the internets?”
“I’m told that would tip off our funding sources,” Kate said, in a soothing voice. She was mildly amused by Helena’s rage and relieved she wasn’t holding it in. Helena didn’t have a rage meter; it was more like an on-off toggle. “And the DARPA stuff, well, they had the best possible toxin and plans to poison a small city. No sense reinventing the wheel, you know.”
“Only if your goddamn wheel doesn’t run over your goddamn self. Hey, girl, quit laughing.”
“Sssorry.” Kate could barely get this out between chuckles.
Helena stared into space while Kate collected herself. “How’d Williams get to DARPA before you?” she asked when her comrade was under control. “I thought this was supposed to be easy. Just get in, flip the switch and follow Miranda’s instructions on getting our footprints off the DARPA network or whatever you were supposed to do?”
“Fucking Miranda left a chink for the Ryan kid to get in and Williams had a way we don’t totally understand yet to wedge it open,” Kate admitted. “Miranda thought she was IMing me when she was IMing the kid.”
“Aw, Christ inna Cadillac.”
“Indeed. I was delayed by the chaos in Irvine, and then by Miranda not being able to get past the new DARPA security—because you know they’d never admit it, but DARPA knew right away what happened—and then I had no idea the building would be more or less empty, which I think was more Williams voodoo–”
“You just say voodoo, girl?”
“No offense to voodoo or even hoodoo, luv,” Kate said pacifically. “I didn’t know what kind of resistance to expect, so organizing the Samoan girls held me up a bit.”
“Your girl ganstas weren’t much help?” Helena asked. She preferred to work alone and looked askance at Kate’s teambuilding efforts. Of course Kate’s team members didn’t get to live very long after the mission, but it was still too many variables, too many trails to follow, for Helena’s taste.
“Oh, they’re appropriately vicious and they can shoot straight enough, but they have to see it coming at them.” Kate tapped on the steering wheel and stared into the middle distance. “But Williams has nearly the same training that we have,” she continued. “He hunted us through the building, picked the girls off one by one. It went pear-shaped. I couldn’t get a bloody thing done in there. But Russek’s too-smart-for-his-own-good boy-toy stashed the data he’d stolen somewhere and could screw us all if Russek gets it.”
“Why you think Russek ain’t got it already?”
“We’re still a going concern, aren’t we?” Kate said.
Helena sighed, drew her Mauser and screwed a silencer on it. “So, here we are. Let’s just kill ‘em both and get it over with,” she said, her voice softening in anticipation of action. “You know that’s what Titania will want eventually.”
“Ah, but Titania wants us to wait,” Kate said, sorry to disappoint Helena, who, like herself, was at her best when killing people. “She and Miranda don’t quite know what they’ve lost and the only way to get it is from Ryan. We might have to beat it out of the little beast.”
“Oh. Well, that might be fun.” Helena stared at a rectangle of light in the garden across the street from them.
“Thanks for coming to help,” Kate said, also watching the garden.
“It’s my pleasure to drop everything and come out to this hellhole for you, sugar.”
“Sorry things are so cocked up,” Kate continued, still watching at the garden. “Isabella might join us.” A medium-sized dog trotted to the fence and stared at their borrowed car, perhaps smelling the decaying owner in the trunk with its superior canine olfactory bulbs.
“It’s not a massacre without Isabella,” Helena observed. “Sit back a bit, hon,” she said when the dog began to bark. Leaning across Kate she shot the dog, which dropped without a sound. “I hate dogs. Let’s go.”
Part 1 of 7; Part 2 of 7; Part 3 of 7; Part 4 of 7; Part 5 of 7; Part 6 of 7; Part 7 of 7
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