Ajki got Orde halfway down the stairs before two guards bolted up to take over. He recognized both and handed Orde over. More guards charging in, weapons at ready. Headed down himself aiming for what looked like field HQ. Foo in charge, excellent.
Shooting back in the building, A heavy machine gun, from the sound. Not good.
He looked back. The Black Horse Gurads were retreating, shields up, but all the hostages were out . . . no sign of Ice.
He couldn't shield. It was all fast talk and bluff to keep their attention off the rest of us.
He hardened his heart and turned back to Foo. "From their coordination, I don't think there are more than two or three Bunnies controlling things. We need to find them, and that means we need Rael conscious and un-methalformalined as quickly as possible." He looked to the side. A woman in a blue dress, clutching a suit coat . . . "Keiq! What . . . "
"If Ice left his wallet in . . ." She was poking through pockets . . . "Here! He carries . . ." She pulled out a short tube . . . "that wine."
"Right. Rael gets that dose, everyone else . . ."
Keiq was shaking her head. "You are all soaking wet with that . . ."
"Ah, shit." Ajki looked around, yes, of course the fire department was here. "Hoses, we're all getting hosed down. Now!"
"Damn straight!" Izzo and Urfa exchanged grins at their accidental chorus.
Rael got soaked first, and the wine administered. Jerked awake and staggered in an unsteady circle. "Everyone's out?"
"Except Ice." Ajki looked back at Government House. Then over at the Black Horse Guard strapped on armor, weapons ready. Ready to try again.
"Pity that heap was built to withstand a siege."
Ice reached and grabbed Afgu as the traitor jerked around to see his hostages on the way out the door. Spun him and threw him at the khaki-clad soldiers. Dived after, driving Afgu and a couple of soldiers off the top riser. He rolled as he landed, snatched a pistol and started shooting.
Shit! They aren't even turning to shoot back, let alone take cover . . .
Then they did turn . . . But there were at least ten down. He concentrated on a physical shield as he snatched a rifle and a spare magazine and bolted down the closest hallway, staggered as bullets hit his shield, fragmented and penetrated in a dozen stinging pinpricks.
An office he recognized as having a back door on a different corridor . . . He jerked at his shirt, pulling out shards of metal. Slowed them down enough . . . But anything heavier and I'd have been toast. How long before that stuff wears off.
He fingered his damp shirt and winced. I'm still getting dosed. I'd better find a bathroom and see if I can rinse everything out.
He opened the back door a crack and slid out. Around a corner . . . shot two soldiers . . . ran past them and dodged into the Human Resources office . . . Lots of desks to hide behind and surely someone's got a private bathroom in here.
Ten minutes later, dripping wet, he heard distant gunfire echoing down the hallway.
Did I say there were only a hundred puppet soldiers? They must have had a lot more, securing the building. Of course they still have to keep the Good Guys out, so maybe they'll ignore me, and maybe I can find that son of a bitch.
He heard running feet, damn near in order, and bolted down a short cross hallway. Kicked open the first office door and settled down to shoot anyone crossing the intersection.
Ten more down.
He abandoned the office and rounded the corner . . . bounced off a Khaki-clad trooper, came back with a punch, kick . . . grabbed his gun and started shooting in the general direction of the other three.
While holding the first trooper up as a shield. That they promptly filled with lead. Ice's physical shield was still weak and wobbly, but able to handle the few that hit. But he staggered as the bullets hit his human shield and shot back.
Why don't they ever duck?
Then they were down
That's twenty-six, roughly a quarter of the ones I know are here. Yippee!
He grabbed all the readily available magazines and found a good spot to shoot at the soldiers he could hear coming from the other direction.
Ajki steadied Rael as she squinted around . . . and pointed up at the Tower. "I think there are Bunnies on the roof."
"Damn that's almost two kilometers away." He looked around as Keiq returned, a box in each hand, a young man in civvies following her, similarly laden. Wine?
"Hope you kept that tube, Boss."
Ajki touched his shirt pocket. "It's empty."
A half-hearted giggled from Rael. "Straight from disaster to orgy? So long as it's not dry, it'll work. I need a sniper." She headed for the armored crowd, pretty much steady on her feet.
She returned with one of the Wrecking Crew carrying a long barreled rifle.
Ahfe looked up at the tower and shook his head. "Oh, the bullet will go that far, but the aim? No way. We'll need a team to go up . . ." He looked around startled as Keiq tapped his shoulder.
"I can do it. Now, what's it zeroed in for?" She held out her hands.
"Four hundred meters . . . miss." He clutched it possessively.
Ajki cleared his throat. "Hand it over. Now."
"Er . . ." Ahfe waffled, then decided against telling Ajki he no longer had authority. Reluctantly handed over the big gun.
Keiq took it in a professional grip and inspected it, ejected a round, nodded in satisfaction. She stepped up to a car and knelt, rifle barrel on the hood aimed high. Tucked in against the stock.
"I don't see anyone there."
Rael grimaced. "Must be behind something. I'm going to touch your shoulder. And try to show you . . . damn, I need a third woman for a triad . . ."
"I'll give it go." Fuyl stepped around Ajki and held out a hand to Rael, the other reaching for Keiq's other shoulder.
"Ah, they're down below the parapet . . . mostly." A low murmur from Keiq.
Ajki narrowed his eyes trying to look large. That little break in the line of the . . .
A deep boom. A figure running for the stairs. A second boom and he was down.
Rael sighed. "That feels better. I think that's all of them. Right here." She looked both directions.
Keiq rocked back to her feet and held the gun out to the open-mouthed Ahfe. "Nice gun. Haven't shot one of those since I graduated."
Rael shook her head. "Keep it. We need to check both ends of the building. And find out if there's another Bunny who might pick up the slack."
And suddenly the two Black Horse guards were stumbling to a halt and looking around.
Ice aborted his planned mayhem. "Bunnies let you go?"
"Yeah?" One of then looked down at the gun in his hands. He dropped it looking appalled. "I shot, I tried to shoot President Orde!"
The other one bent to put his gun down, snapped it up and fired . . . to the side. Ice looked around at the khaki form hitting the floor behind him.
"Right. I suspect someone has found your puppet masters and stopped them. So pick up your guns and let's go find Afgu." Ice paused. "Sorry, but I think you two need to stay in front of me."
They nodded, the first scooping up his rifle and pointing upward. "They've got something in the President's office."
"The fancy one. Afgu said something about going there." The second guard chimed in.
"Well, let's just go see." Ice stepped aside and let them lead the way. "Are there many more guards here?"
Double twitches. "The mentalists threw most of us at the guards trying to get through the main entrance."
"Shit. So who are all the soldiers in khaki?"
"No show Cyborgs. They're very programmed."
"Not from here?"
"No. They're mostly mentalists, trying to come up through the ranks . . . I guess they think if they shine they'll get the restrictions taken off."
"Damn. There are very few people I'd trust with that much control over me. Umm, I'm Ice."
"Yeah, we know. Man, they hate you. I'm Enno. He's Ettw."
The second guard nodded. "They risked it all, waiting to get you here to kill."
"Pleased to meet you. And I'm really glad they held off killing everyone to pull me in. So let's go make sure they really do lose it all."
They gave him feral grins and headed for the stairs and the fancy, official, Presidential office.