“While I’d love a shootout,” Boss Clawf said, “it’d be no fun cleaning your guts off the wall. My brother’s daughter deserves a better death. How about you all just give up your weapons and we can handle this without brain paint, huh?”
“You’ll regret it if I die,” Gerard said.
“No one’s left to mourn but me.”
“No one will mourn your business, but you.”
“You’ve got an angle, huh?” Clawf asked, half proud and half frustrated with his niece.
“Well, when I had access to your computers I found not only a wealth of data concerning your ‘legitimate’ dealings with central businesses, but a wide variety of incriminating evidence.”
“I’m a Ftharan boss. It’s not like that’s unknown.”
“Maybe out here in the aphelion worlds, but your central colony contacts might balk at supplying a known criminal.”
“Sam, my dear, remind me why killing you won’t solve my problem?”
“Because when I’m not available to stop it, all the data gets broadcasted.”
“All of it?” Toliver asked.
“Yup,” Gerard replied. “Including all those files Colonel Kilmer sent us to destroy. I like my head and I’d rather not have you or anyone else tell me what to do with it.”
“Do you care for the lives of your team?” A voice asked from the far side of the room. Colonel Kilmer had entered, flanked by his elite guards with weapons drawn.
“Because I’d be happy to take them out one-by-one.” Kilmer looked at the tablet in his hand and tapped something on the screen.
Fishmonger’s metal leg exploded.
“Son of a fish biscuit!” Cy said as Fishmonger screamed.
Cy pulled a Big Betsy from his pocket and held it high. “If I drop this, all of you die. Shoot me, blow me up, whatever, if I drop it, the blast radius will be large enough to take all of you out.”
“Enough with the ultimatums,” Boss Clawf said. “I don’t think any of you except Kilmer have the guts to go through with everything.”
Gerard smiled. She lifted her hand to her ear and said into her comm, “Pyrite, show them we mean business.”
“It’d be my pleasure.”
Gerard looked at Boss Clawf. “It seems the news media has just learned that both you and Kilmer provided some support to the rebels that just tried to attack the Grand Premiere. Nothing too incriminating, but a good place for any investigative reporter to start asking questions.”
Boss Clawf turned to the guard beside him and ripped the display screen from the man’s forearm. He tapped at it then dropped it in disgust. “It’s true,” he said, more to Kilmer than anyone else.
“What do you want?” Kilmer asked.
“Access codes to the explosives in me and my team and safe passage off world,” Gerard said.
“No million credits too?” Kilmer asked.
“I’ll take them if you got them,” she said. When no one said anything she said, “Agreed?”
“I’d be happy to,” Boss Clawf said. Then he pointed his gun at Gerard. “Except that I’d rather kill you.”
“Fine we’ll go public.” Then into the comm she said, “Pyrite, we’re a go.”
But only static responded.
“Sorry, honey,” said a female voice. “Pyrite’s just a bit indisposed right now. I guess those files won’t be going public after all.”
“The housekeeper?” Gerard asked as much to the comm as to Boss Clawf.
“And your colleague, Masq. Finest agent I’ve ever had,” Boss Clawf said and pulled the trigger.
To Be Continued…