Wu’s hope paid off, much to the annoyance of the Federation Ranger watching the whole thing from the Recon craft. Penny grabbed the mic again.
“Captain. Casualty report.”
A pause long enough for the Captain to check his HUD broke out on the line. “Zero. But we’re taking a lot of fire down here.”
“There’s a platoon of you and only one of him Captain.” Penny growled down the line. “Get your men to manoeuvre around him, split his fire between you, just keep his eyes off the constables trying to open the fighter.”
“I can’t do that. Unlike you, Ranger, my men aren’t getting paid to die.”
“And unlike you, Captain, I’m not getting paid to sit on my ass.” Penny turned to the pilot. “I need you to buzz the tower, swoop in from behind and get as low as you can. Go slow, but once you’re right over the top, hit the jets and get away as fast as you can.”
The pilot looked back at her and grinned. “Yes Ma’am.”
As the pilot brought the recon speeder around in preparation for their charge Penny got back on the mic. “Captain, I’m about to draw the sniper’s fire, when I do, get your speeder to block his line of sight to the star fighter.”
“What about the other terrorist?”
“SHE’S IN THE FIGHTER.” Penny screamed. Had he really not grasped that by now?
Penny gave up, logged out of the speeder’s comms and unbuckled her safety harness. “Y’all ready?” She asked the pilot.
“You better believe it Ma’am.”
The pilot revved the throttle and the recon speeder hurried towards the sheriff’s office. Penny felt her heart jump and her stomach run for cover, but she reached out and grabbed the latch on the speeder’s door and readied herself regardless. The distance to the office melted away in seconds and Penny threw the door open and jumped out.
As soon as Penny was clear the Pilot jammed the throttle to max and blasted across the sky.
Penny careened through the air for a moment and threw herself into a dive roll as she hit the roof.
Penny bounced, grateful for the armour on her back. Two more bounces brought her to a sudden stop against the roof access structure in the middle of the roof.
A little sore, Penny unfolded herself from her rolling posture and took up a position behind the structure.
Peering around the corner Penny saw Wu kneeling behind the barricade. He’d emptied the rifle’s ammo cylinder and began loading fresh ammo from the pouches on his vest. Penny popped around and fired a warning shot beside Wu’s head.
Wu jumped when the bullet hit the barrier, he almost dropped the ammo in his hand.
“Wu Gang Shu.” Penny yelled, recognising his face from Seera’s mission data. “Throw down your weapon and surrender and you will not be harmed.”
Wu messaged Sifu through his nanoputer. [Sifu, how much longer do you need?]
[Almost there.] Sifu said. [Engines at 99%.]
Cautiously, Wu raised his head a little and tried to keep one eye on the Ranger and another on her fighter. The constables were back at the fighter’s lock.
Penny saw him hesitate and decided to take a gamble. “I know you’re not going to hurt anyone Wu. You haven’t shot anyone today and I know you don’t intend to start now. Give yourself up and I can see to it personally the courts take it easy on you.”
Wu glanced back at the constables. He looked down at his weapon. [Good luck Sifu.]
Penny watched Wu turn his back on her and raise the rifle to his shoulder. Penny broke from cover and sprinted towards him with her pistol up.
Wu hit the trigger, sending a dozen rounds in the cops’ direction. The rounds pelted into the side of the starfighter ricocheting off the weathered metal, the constables threw themselves to the ground as hot lead sprayed wildly in all directions.
Sifu fired up the engines and the star fighter began to leave the ground. The constables scrambled to their feet and fled as dust and detritus got picked up by the engine blast and thrown about anew.
Penny closed the distance to Wu and pulled out her shock baton with her free hand.
Hearing her footfalls, Wu spun to face her and set his rife to ‘spear’.
Penny aimed high and to the right and fired twice.
Wu finished his spin and squeezed off a shot from the hip. The ‘spear’ setting firing a half-dozen rounds from one of the rifle’s fresh barrels simultaneously. Resulting in a bright flash of metal that could almost be followed with the naked eye. The next moment Penny’s shots pelted into his right shoulder, destroying his hold on the rifle.
The spear tore into the armour on Penny’s bicep and kept going. Penny felt her shock baton slip from her fingers before she felt the pain. She stumbled for one step and then muscled through the agony to continue her sprint.
Wu fumbled with the rifle in his hands, trying to move it to his left when Penny caught up to him and kicked it out of his grasp.
Wu immediately jumped up at Penny and grabbed her in a clinch, blood flowing freely from his shoulder as the muscles bunched up. Wu brought his knee up into Penny’s ribs, Penny responded by butting her helmet into Wu’s nose. Already so high on adrenaline that Wu could barely feel his bullet wound he ignored the taste of copper slipping into his mouth and pressed on with his attack. Wu slipped his right foot behind Penny’s and hip threw her off her feet.
Penny hit the ground with a ‘thump’ and immediately brought her guard up, ready for Wu’s next attack. But Wu was already running. At full tilt Wu charged towards the side of the roof over looking the reception area.
Quickly, Penny rolled onto her front and lined up a shot with her pistol.
Wu jumped, planted one foot on the barricade wall and…
… the bullet caught Wu at the ankle, just as he was about to put all his weight on it. Wu crashed onto the barrier, his arms flailing to catch himself. But his momentum was already committed to the jump and he fell over the edge.
Desperately Wu grabbed at the barrier, a jolt of pain surged through his right shoulder as his fingers slipped off, leaving only his left hand to hold him. Wu gripped the edge of barrier with a strength he’d never felt before. He tried to raise his right arm again but the pain burst in his brain like a firecracker.
Then a firm armoured hand closed around his left wrist and held on tight. Wu looked up to see the Federal Ranger trying to keep him from falling. “Give me your other hand.” She shouted.
“I can’t.” Wu gasped. “I can’t lift it. Give me yours.”
Penny’s face fell, her left arm dangling uselessly by her side. “You have got to be kidding me.”
Just then the maintenance access door burst open and Sheriff Rose and a squad of her constables swarmed out with their weapons in every direction. One of them pointed at Penny. “Over there Sheriff.”
When she saw Penny valiantly try to save her suspect’s life Rose pointed out to her. “Give her a hand.”
Two constables put away their weapons and rushed to Penny’s aid. In a few moments Wu was safely back on the roof, his arms too tired or bloody to resist being cable-tied behind his back.
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