The Sheriff jumped, but half the rounds still caught her in the side and she dropped down to the floor.
Wu heard the shot and turned to look, but his attention was brought back to Brook by a flash of steel in the corner of his eye.
Bristol strode out of the corridor with his rifle raised at Wu. He was about to hit the trigger when Penny wrestled Mac’s gun from his hand and put her own hammer-shot at Bristol’s centre-mass.
The big man took the shot to the chest and faltered a step. So Penny pumped a second hammer-shot into him to put him down. Then she turned her pistol towards Brook and fired a regular double-tap into her. The two bullets interrupted her charge on Wu and with a startled yelp she fell.
Mac took this opportunity to throw Penny off him and dive off the edge of the loading ramp. As he did he reached down and pulled off his belt buckle, revealing a high tensile line spooling out from his belt.
Penny stared down the ramp where he’d been a moment before. She blinked. “Did he really just jump out on his own?”
“More importantly.” Wu said “Did we really just walk out of that alive?”
Penny looked at him. Suddenly even more aware of the weight of Mac’s gun in her hands. Now that they weren’t all going to die she had no idea what to do with him.
She was saved from having to make a decision by Sheriff Rose groaning softly as she tried to get up off the floor.
“Sheriff!” Wu ran to her side immediately. With growing curiosity Penny joined them. Her eyes as much on Wu as the Sheriff.
Wu pulled aside her bloody hand from where she’d been clutching at her chest and began to gently touch regions around the wound with intricate hand movements.
Penny took the time to head over the where she’d seen Brook’s knife land and used it to free herself from her bonds. Once her hands were out of the ties Penny reached behind her for her battle-dressing compartment, pulled out her spray skin can and began applying it to the Sheriff. Penny watched in horror as the spray skin, which came out of the can white as a sheet, turned red almost immediately.
Wu turned to Penny, his face pale. “I can’t stop the bleeding.”
Then with a heave of effort, Sheriff Rose lurched up and grabbed Wu’s bloody hand. Wu gasped but held firm, the Sheriff gripped his hand so tight it hurt.
“You look after my Jessy, you hear me.” Her eyes flicked towards Penny. “Both of you, keep her safe.”
Penny emptied her can of spray skin on the Sheriff’s wound, but each layer of spray she put down filled with blood before she could get started on the next one.
Sharon turned her eyes back to Wu. “You tell her… You tell Jessy Mommy loves her very much. And I’ll be watching her…”
The effort cost Sharon Rose her final breath and she returned to the floor of the cargo hold. Wu watched the light leave her eyes and choked up. He looked down at the blood drying on his hands.
Penny went to put a reassuring hand on Wu’s shoulder, but hesitated.
Then over the P.A. system came a young man’s voice.
“Uhhh, guys? Everything okay down there?”
Then across the room from them Elena made the first moanings of a person recovering from a nano-seizure. Penny looked at Elena for a moment, blinked and then was on the move.
She pulled a pair of cable ties from the dispenser on her armour and handed them to Wu. “Get her restrained. Then meet me on the bridge.”
Without a further word Penny activated her helmet and started up the corridor Bristol had emerged from. Pausing only to hit the switch for the loading ramp on her way out.
After the relatively open space of the cargo hold the corridors leading to the bridge were barely wide enough for two people abreast. Penny moved tactically, her shock baton out in front of her, Mac’s pistol still in her hand. They’d left her own pistol on its magnetic holster on her thigh, likely so they wouldn’t forget to put it on after they’d thrown her to her death. She never would have gotten to it in time with her wrists bound together anyway.
The sound of a door opening behind her caused Penny to spin around, gun and baton up and ready.
Standing in the doorway was a startled-looking Asian woman. Her face and overalls were covered in engine grease and her jet black hair was tied into a bun behind her head.
“Wh-whaat?” She stammered. “What’s going on?”
“Hands up!” Penny barked.
The woman dropped the toolkit she’d been holding and thrust her hands up so fast they hit the top of the doorway. She moaned in pain and brought them back down to rub them.
Penny took a step towards her. “I said hands up! Turn around slowly and don’t move. You’re under arrest.”
The woman did as she was told, but began to sob. “But I haven’t done anything, all I do is keep the engine running.”
Penny had no interest in the rest of her story. She closed the distance with her and grabbed her from behind while she gently tapped her ribs with the shock baton. As she let the writhing woman down gently, Penny turned her around onto her belly and cable-tied her hands behind her.
“Your arrest is being recorded.” Penny began automatically. “Anything said or done by you during this arrest may be used as evidence in your trial. While in custody you may request an unaltered copy of this recording for use in your defence. Do you understand?”
The woman began to cry. “I’m just the mechanic.”
Penny sighed. “Miss I require a ‘yes’ answer before I may proceed. If you like I can play a recorded message explaining your rights in the language of your choice. Would you like me to do that or do you understand the rights as I explained them in English?”
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