Wu leaned his back against the body of the sleek fighter craft and glanced down at Sifu. She knelt in front of the starfighter’s main hatch, her mind focused on the dongle in its locking mechanism.
The lock on a tanker truck was one thing, cracking the combination on special forces-grade military hardware was a while-different, titanium-plated thing.
Sifu’s hunch had paid off. The Federation Ranger in charge of this raid had parked her starfighter at the Sheriff’s office. Good thing, it was probably the only craft capable of self-powered faster than light travel on this side of the planet.
Wu looked back at the door to the Sheriff’s office barely thirty metres away. So far they’d gotten by on no-one thinking to question two people who behave as if they’re supposed to be here, but now that Sifu was at work it was only a matter of time before that changed.
Wu sucked in a deep breath and stopped himself from clenching and unclenching his hands. He didn’t have the slightest idea what he could do when that change happened.
Sifu cursed under her breath. “The lock slipped an alert past me. Get ready, they’ll be onto us any moment now.”
Wu swallowed. “How long ’till it’s open?”
The sound of sirens broke out in the distance.
Wu locked his eyes on the Sheriff’s office and waited, maybe if he ran screaming at them it would buy Sifu some time while they gunned him down?
Wu frantically searched his mind for a better option.
“I’ve got it.” Sifu declared.
“Oh thank god.” Wu whispered.
Sifu pulled the fighter’s hatch open and climbed on in, Wu hot on her heels.
Then Wu heard a sound from the Sheriff’s office. Two constables had thrown open the front doors and were racing out to them.
“No.” Wu said.
While Sifu strapped herself into the cockpit Wu frantically looked for a compartment marked ‘munitions’.
“Close the door and strap in.” Sifu said.
“Can’t.” Wu replied, checking the labels. “If we turtle-up now they’ll surround us.” Wu found the compartment he needed and popped it open. An M22 assault rifle and an armoured vest full of ammo and grenades never looked so good. Wu grabbed the rifle and haphazardly threw on the vest.
“Wu.” Sifu pointed a commanding hand at him. “Stay here.”
“Someone has to draw their fire.” Wu replied. “You need time to warm up the engines or we’re not going anywhere.”
“Don’t be a fool Wu.” Sifu shouted. “There’s no way you’ll get back to the ship.
Wu clicked off the safety catch. “I know.”
Wu jumped out into the sunlight, his finger squeezing down on the trigger before his eyes had time to adjust. The two constables threw themselves to the ground as Wu’s opening barrage sailed high over their heads. Wu broke into a sprint straight at them and the two men scattered, one rolling behind a nearby speeder while his partner took cover behind a dumpster.
Wu opened fire on the speeder, squeezing off a series of short bursts in the rough direction of its windows. As he kept running he swung the rifle the other way to put some rounds into the dumpster.
As he ran, Wu noticed something he could use and changed direction to run straight towards a police speeder parked against the office wall. To keep the constables off him Wu pulled two flash bangs out of the pouches on his vest and tossed them behind him.
Just before Wu reached the speeder he slung the rifle over his shoulders, vaulted up on top of the car and used the extra height to make a jump for the roof of the office. Wu caught the edge and quickly pulled himself up and onto the top.
The two constables popped back up from behind cover and opened fire at Wu, forcing him to duck down behind the old barricades and dash towards the main tower.
[The Garrison troops are on their way.] Sifu messaged Wu over his nanoputer. The starfighter’s sensors showed her everything happening around them.
[Natch!] Wu whispered. [Now what?]
[Get to the roof. You’re too exposed where you are.]
Wu nodded and unslung his rifle. [Alright.]
[And Wu.] Sifu said. [Try not to kill anyone. Once I’m gone you’ll be alone against an army. They’ll get you eventually, but if they don’t have comrades to avenge they might try to take you alive.]
Another couple of rounds pelted into the barricade next to Wu. [I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t ready to die Sifu.]
Sifu let the line go quiet for barely a moment. Then said [The Black Mask Society has no use for ghosts.]
Wu swallowed and blinked back the saltwater from his eyes. [Yes Sifu.]
[Good.] Sifu said. [Now get to the roof.]
Another constable saw Wu from the third floor. Wu dived into a side-roll as the constable drew her pistol. Wu ended the roll on one knee and opened fire. The cop saw him point the big gun at her and ducked down an instant before Wu obliterated the window beside her. For good measure Wu drew a line through the windows on the third floor to keep anyone else’s head down.
When he finished the line Wu uncoiled his legs and launched into a sprint, shouldering his rifle again so he could jump up, kick off the wall and reach up for the third floor, Wu grabbed the edge, pulled himself up and immediately jumped up again to grab the barricade on the roof.
On the third floor the lady cop looked up to see Wu’s feet dangling in front of her window. She brushed aside the plexiglass crystals with her sleeve and grabbed at Wu’s sneakers before they could disappear.
Wu felt his shoulders strain as his weight effectively doubled. He tried wiggling his foot free but the extra movement only added more strain to his arms. Desperately Wu kicked at the hands that held him with his other foot and suddenly he was free again, with the last burst of energy he had in the tank Wu hauled himself up and dropped down on the other side of the barricade.
Wu collapsed onto the roof and rolled onto his belly so he could unsling his rifle again. His shoulders ached, but at least he could get his breath back.
Then he heard Sifu’s voice over his nanoputer again. [Wu. They’re trying to open up the fighter, I need covering fire.]
Wu gasped in another couple of mouthfuls of air and pulled himself back to his feet. This fight was far from over.
Wu took up a position behind the roof’s barricade and aimed down the rifle’s scope at the starfighter. As advised two more of the local constables were at work trying to crack the lock.
Wu put a few rounds on the ground beside them. He would have liked to keep up the pressure, but the other constables in the parking lot opened fire on him. Wu ducked back down behind the barricade and changed positions.
Another Whoosh roared above him and Wu felt as much as heard the troop transport speeder fly overhead. He looked up and watched the underbelly of the big craft sweep over and commence landing in the parking lot.
Then Wu heard a shout behind him. “He’s up here.”
Wu looked over his shoulder at the roof access door. The only other structure on top of the Sheriff’s office besides the barricades. The door was still closed, but Wu could hear footsteps rush up stairs.
Wu legged it towards the structure, covering the distance just in time for the door to swing wide open. A pair of constables in riot gear took one step out onto the roof before Wu’s foot slammed the first one into his partner and threw them back through the door again.
Wu grabbed the door, slammed it shut and lent his weight against it. His hands scrambled over the armoured vest for something to wedge the door shut. In the vest’s back pocket Wu found the shock baton. He slipped it out, extended it to full length and jammed it into the door latch.
By the time Wu got back to the barricade the garrison soldiers were rushing out of the speeder to take up positions in the lot. Wu opened up on the police speeders they hid behind, shattering windows and light bars in the hopes they’d keep their heads down.
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