8. The Betrayal
“No,” Yamamoto said.
“You’re not in a position to say no,” Matthews said.
The four deputies approached, hands resting on their weapons.
“Iota Omicron Seven-Two-Eight is a Federal prisoner—” Wood began.
“There are laws higher than human ones.”
Wood narrowed his eyes. “The Maker?”
Matthews nodded. “He who made the world also laid down his laws.”
Yamamoto barked a laugh.
“What?” Matthews said.
“Your Maker is but a twisted shadow of the One who created the universe. Even he shall bow to the Almighty.”
Wood froze. His face went pale. His jaw set.
Yamamoto stepped in and kicked him in the groin.
Gagging, Matthews doubled over. Yamamoto scissored his palms together, left hand striking Matthews chest, right taking his back, spinning the deputy around. Snaking his left forearm around the deputy’s neck, Yamamoto snatched up Matthews’ pistol and aimed at the deputies approaching him.
“Don’t move,” Yamamoto said.
Wood spun around, facing the other two deputies. They had their hands on their guns. With a ear-splitting roar, Wood lunged at the closer man. Wood’s left hand closed around the cop’s gun wrist, his right hand clawed at the deputy’s face. The cop shrieked and backed up.
Wood chanced a peek to his right, saw the other deputy trying to circle round him. Wood released his prey and backhanded the other threat in the face. As the deputy reeled, he slammed his head against the door and shoved him down.
Wood turned back to the deputy he had clawed. The man shielded his face with his left hand, and snatched up his pistol with his right.
Wood dashed in on the man’s left. Whirling around, he yanked his left arm clear and rammed his elbow into the deputy’s temple. He abruptly reversed his motion, jamming his forearm under his chin, and spun anticlockwise. The deputy went flying, slammed against the wall, and sank to the floor.
Wood stomped his gun hand and seized his pistol. He worked the slide, saw a round fly, scanned—both threats down—and looked behind him.
Yamamoto had the other two deputies at gunpoint. They had their hands raised over their heads, and stayed very still.
“Clear rear,” Wood reported.
“Roger,” Yamamoto said. Raising his voice, he continued, “Get on your knees and put your hands on your head.”
“You can’t do this!” Matthews said. “Everyone in the building is seeing this!”
Looking up, Wood spotted a security camera. As if on cue, a ear-splitting klaxon blared, reverberating painfully in the cramped corridor.
“Get on the ground,” Yamamoto said, “or I will shoot. Do it now.”
The deputies exchanged a glance.
“This is not worth dying over,” Wood added, training his weapon on the deputies. “Don’t give us a reason to kill you.”
Swearing, a deputy sank to his knees, slowly putting his hands on his head. The other one followed.
“I’m getting the cyborg,” Wood said.
“Go,” Yamamoto replied.
Wood burst into the interrogation room. The cyborg looked up with a blank expression.
“We’re getting you out of here. Follow me,” Wood said.
Wood hauled up the cyborg and walked him out.
“What’s going on?” Omicron asked.
“Shut up,” Wood said.
“We’re getting Santiago out of here,” Yamamoto said.
“Too late,” Matthews said.
“You shut up,” Yamamoto said.
Yamamoto forced the captive down the hall, weapon aimed at the surrendered deputies. As they passed the deputies, Wood pulled the guns from their holsters and jammed them into his pockets. The deputies didn’t do anything fatally stupid. They just stayed where they were.
“Sorry about this,” Wood said.
And slammed their heads together.
The deputies dropped. Matthews winced. Omicron smiled.
“Go see if Santiago’s still in his cell,” Yamamoto ordered.
“Roger,” Wood replied.
Wood burst into the cell block. To his sides, prisoners sat up and stared at him in disbelief. A couple shouted questions. He ignored them all and ran down the hall, looking for Santiago’s cell.
He looked up at the number. Right cell, but no one inside.
Wood spun around, weapon held in both hands.
In the opposite cell, a prisoner raised his hands in surrender.
“Hey, whoa, easy, easy!” he said. “I was just going to say your buddy’s gone!”
“Where?” Wood demanded. “Who took him?”
“I don’t know. I just saw a gang of suits, four, maybe five of ‘em, walk in there and drag him out.”
“I wasn’t looking too closely. They had long guns. Rifles and machine guns, you know? But your guy, he didn’t look too happy to see them. When they entered his cell, he was shouting and cursing up a storm, calling ‘em every name in the book. But I think they shot him up with something, and they carried him out.”
“Thanks,” Wood said.
“Hey, you gonna let me out?”
Wood dashed down the hall, returning to Yamamoto and the captives.
“Santiago’s gone,” Wood said. “Witness said four or five ‘suits’ took him away. Santiago was noncompliant; he was swearing at them, and they had to sedate him.”
“It wasn’t a rescue,” Yamamoto said.
“You’re too late,” Omicron remarked. “The Guild must have taken them.”
Wood turned to Matthews.
“Did you know about this?!” Wood demanded.
“No,” Matthews replied.
“We’re wasting time,” Yamamoto said. “We have to go.”
The operators stepped out into Booking, captives in tow. The desk sergeant poked his head above the table, steel glistening by his head, and cursed.
“DON’T MOVE!” Yamamoto shouted, jamming his gun against his hostage’s temple.
“DROP THE WEAPON!” the sergeant yelled. “LET THEM GO NOW!”
“Matthews is dirty!” Yamamoto replied. “He tried to abduct my prisoner!”
A pinprick of red light flared from under the barrel of the sergeant’s pistol. Laser sight, no doubt dancing across Yamamoto’s face.
“Set down the weapon and we can talk this through!” the desk sergeant said.
“We don’t know who’s dirty and who’s not,” Wood retorted. “How do we know you won’t just shoot us?”
“It’s… a big…” Matthews began.
“Shut up,” Yamamoto said. He adjusted his position, using Wood’s head to shield him from the sergeant’s gun.
“Let’s slow this down,” Wood said. “We lower our weapons at the same time.”
“We can do this on the count of three,” Yamamoto added.
“Okay,” the sergeant said. “One…”
The sergeant screamed, dropping behind the desk. Blood splashed across the wall. Yamamoto extended his gun arm, waiting for the deputy to pop back up.
“Cover me!” Wood called.
Wood circled right, keeping his head below desk height. Yamamoto blasted away, pinning down the sergeant. A cloud of concrete chipped dust off the wall. The sergeant screamed in pain.
“Liftfireliftfireliftfire!” Wood chanted.
Yamamoto held his fire. Wood vaulted over the desk and raised his pistol.
The sergeant cowered against the wood, his face cut up and bloody. His right hand was a bloody mess, his left hand going for his feet. For the pistol lying at his feet.
The sergeant looked at Wood and—
One two three four times and the man went down on the side with a pained shriek. Blood pumped from his shattered left arm. Wood kicked the deputy’s weapon aside, then grabbed him by the collar and pressed his smoking muzzle against his neck.
“Where is Antoine Santiago?” Wood demanded.
“You’re going to kill me!” the sergeant replied.
“We don’t kill cops. Not unless we have to. Now tell me: where is Antoine Santiago?”
“You’re too late. A group of men… dark suits. They… took him away!”
“Who are they?”
“Don’t know. Sheriff said… let them take Santiago. That’s all I know!”
Wood swore. Was the entire Department dirty? How much juice did the New Gods have?
A faint sound caught his ears. He glanced above the desk, saw the main door crack open.
A stun grenade rolled in.
“BANGER!” Wood warned.
Wood shut his eyes, ducked, and opened his mouth.
The flash-bang erupted. A colossal roar attacked his eardrums. Staying low, he popped out behind the desk.
A quartet of heavily armored and armed deputies burst into the room. The leading deputy carried a large ballistic shield, his carbine resting on a cut-out. Two more deputies leaned out around him, and a third man followed. They must be the Special Response Team, and their armor would stop pistol bullets.
Aiming low, Wood fired at their legs.
A hail of lead scythed them down. He swept from left to right, right to left, knocking down the shield man, the deputy behind him, and when he turned to engage the other two he saw them fall. A small part of his mind registered Yamamoto cracking off a volley of his own. Wood scanned again, and saw four downed cops.
For a moment, there was only the screaming of the alarm klaxon.
Then Yamamoto cracked off four rapid shots.
“What the hell?!” Matthews exclaimed.
“I shot them in the helmets,” Yamamoto said. “They’ll feel it for a while.”
The cyborg laughed sardonically.
The sergeant groaned, bleeding all over the floor. Wood kicked him again in the head, then retrieved his gun.
The operators were breaking all the rules of gunfighting. Shooting someone in the arms and legs belonged to the movies. Not here. Any second now, they might rally and counterattack. But hell, even the STS only had so much juice, and it just wasn’t worth making war on an entire Sheriff’s department.
“We’re done here!” Yamamoto shouted. “Let’s go!”
The operators dragged their prisoners into the secure vestibule, covering the downed deputies as they went. They found no more surprises in the small chamber, and entered the sally port. At least their car was still waiting in the corner of the secure garage.
“Get your gun,” Yamamoto said.
Wood unlocked his locker, retrieved his sidearm and magazines, and shoved his confiscated weapons into his pockets.
“Ready,” Wood said.
Yamamoto pressed Matthews and Omicron up against a wall and slowly backed away.
“Do not move from that spot. If you do, we’ll blow your brains out,” Yamamoto warned.
“Got it,” Matthews said.
“Understood,” Omicron said.
“Cross your legs.”
The prisoners complied.
“Cover me,” Yamamoto said.
Holding the pistol low, Wood split his attention between the captives and the door. Any moment now, more deputies would—
The door unlocked.
Wood angled off from the doorway. The door swung open, admitting a burly deputy. Wood kneed the man in the thigh, then spun around and clotheslined him. The deputy stumbled back inside and Wood slammed the door shut. The lock automatically engaged.
“Reinforcements inbound!” Wood yelled.
“Hold them off!” Yamamoto shouted.
Yamamoto raced for the far end of the room and hit the gate button. As the gate slowly raised, Yamamoto unlocked the SUV and shoved the cyborg inside.
The door opened again. Another deputy stepped in and swung into Wood—
Wood kneed him in the groin and jabbed his left palm into his chin. The double blows drove him back inside. Wood retreated and shut the door. The door locked once more.
“Let’s go!” Yamamoto yelled.
The gate was up and the gravtruck’s engine was running. As Wood ran for the vehicle, he stole a glance at Matthews.
Matthews had uncrossed his feet, his right hand was snaking for his ankle, and he was turning to face Wood.
Down his front sight, he saw Matthews’ face. He saw surprise. Anger. Resignation.
Wood clambered aboard and buckled up. Yamamoto accelerated out the sally port. The gravity mirror hummed to life, and the truck soared into the sky.
“Did you kill Matthews?” Yamamoto asked.
“He was going for an ankle gun,” Wood replied.
Neither man said anything after that.
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