“You worthless traitor!” Mac screamed. A fleck of spit hit Wat in the cheek.
“What was he supposed to do?” Elena yelled back. “We thought you was dead, the rest of the crew sure as hell are and that Ranger had a gun to our heads? You’d rather come back here and find six corpses instead of three?”
Mac never took his eyes off Wat. “At least then I’d know where I stood.”
“Mac I did what I had to do.”
Hae Lee stayed in the corner of the room, whimpering.
Elena physically stood between Mac and her husband. “You want to know where you stand? While my man did what he could to keep the rest of the crew alive and unchained you hightailed it out the door first chance you got and hung the rest of us out to dry. And now you want to come back here and start giving orders again?”
Mac saw Elena’s hand stray towards the gun on her hip. She’d been back to the armoury while Wat told his story. Seemed her intuition had been right.
Mac made a point of looking down at her hand. “You don’t want to do that Elena. After all we been through.”
“I always look after my own. Mac, you should know that better than anyone.”
Mac’s shoulders sagged, weariness filled his eyes. “Why you gotta do this to me?”
And then before Elena realised what he was doing, Mac shot out his arm at her and a four-barrelled derringer slid into his hand on a spring.
Mac fired the hammer shot into Elena. She barely cleared her gun from the holster.
Wat saw his wife fall and screamed in outrage. His face flushed with red and he went to stand but Mac’s bowie knife sailed through the air and caught him in the middle of the forehead before he could get completely to his feet. Wat staggered a step, attempted to catch himself on the railing and collapsed back into the pilot’s chair.
Mac stowed the surprise hold-out pistol into his sleeve again. “Anyone else got an objection?”
Only Hae Lee’s sobs broke the silence that followed. Wu stared at Mac, waiting for his next move.
Wu opened up his nanoputer and attempted to open a channel with Ranger Dreadful but the sheer volume of stone between them meant that Wu couldn’t even find her frequency.
Mac moved over to Hae Lee and hauled the terrified woman to her feet.
Hae Lee pitifully struggled against him.
She stopped struggling.
“Get down to the engine room and make sure this bird is ready to fly, we’re getting out of here.”
He let her go and Hae Lee bolted for the door. She passed young Jie on her way out. Jie stepped into the bridge and looked up at Mac. His face a mask of cold, dark rage.
Wu saw the murderous intent in Jie’s eyes and turned his attention to Mac so he wouldn’t give the kid away.
He sighed defeatedly. “What’s going to happen to me?”
Mac perked up a little, but the killing glint was still in his eye. “Don’t you worry yourself there friend. I’mma have you back with your Black Mask Society pals in no time. Provided they actually want to pay something to have you back otherwise it’s out in the cold of space for you.”
Rather than take this opportunity to sneak up behind Mac and crack him across the back of the head Jie squared his shoulders and announced himself. “Not if I can help it Mac.”
Mac whipped around in surprise. “Holy… How long have you been there?”
Jie took another step towards Mac. “Long enough. I saw what you did to your own crew.”
“Really.” Mac said, surreptitiously he reached for the sheath on his belt, but when he found it empty he kept talking. “Don’t you have bigger problems to worry about? Like a Federation Ranger tearing your dad a new one?”
Jie smiled hungrily. “That won’t be a problem: I get rid of you, take your ship out to the Black Mask Society and return Wu to them. Whatever happens to my dad doesn’t matter anymore.”
Mac stopped and straightened up again. “Get rid of me?” He said. “Just like that huh?”
Mac vaulted over the railing and landed right in front of Jie. Jie jumped back, expecting an attack, but Mac just drew himself up and loomed over the youth. He was easily a full head taller than Jie.
Mac leaned in a little and grinned. “I’d like to see that.”
Jie composed himself again and went into his stance.
Mac smirked and put up his dukes.
Penny sat at the head of the monorail and waited. While the constables checked over their weapons and steeled themselves, Penny opened her nanoputer’s menu and added each of their frequencies to her tactical network. She would need to be able to coordinate with any and all of them at a given moment.
Then the monotrack circled around a corner and the tunnel opened up. Immediately Penny’s chemical sensors warned her of unsafe toxin levels in the atmosphere. Penny closed her mouth and pulled her lips back as her breathing tube extended and fed into her mouth.
Sergeant Mohammad called out to his constables, his voice was rubbery, showing he too had his breathing apparatus on. “Helmets up people, they’ve still got the refinery going.”
Penny looked out the window at Lin’s operation. She saw androids everywhere. Carving away at stone with powered hand tools, breaking up seams of kerium and dipping them in plastic before they could crystallise and carrying crates of dipped kerium ore to the refinery in the middle of the enormous room.
The hand tools made the mining slow going, but the level of precision it allowed minimised the chances of Lin’s operation causing the environmental damage the other farmers feared.
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