Continued from Part 14, here.
Start the story here.
So, after giving her one last second to expel any outbursts, the man began speaking again.
I slid into the luxury car compartment across from Danni, making sure that she saw my pistol drawn and pressed against my thigh. “One wrong move, and I’ll shoot you before you can even think of standing up,” I warned her.
The girl barely spared the gun a glance. “I’m sure, Priest,” she replied back to me, tossing her hair back over her shoulder. She was the picture of carefree.
I waited perhaps a second longer, and then opened my mouth again. “What do you have to say?” I asked.
Danni pursed her lips for a minute before replying. “It just seems a bit cliche, doesn’t it?” she finally remarked. “I mean, I’m out here running around, living life, and you’re the plodding hunter, sent here to chase after me and put an end to my fun.”
“Fun? You’re stealing people’s livelihoods!” I exploded back, surprising even myself with the intensity of my reply. “Don’t you think this is the punishment you deserve?”
But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, the girl was leaning forward, her eyes alive with blazing fire. “I’m not stealing from anyone who doesn’t have enough to give it up!” she shot back, glaring at me. “The bank replaces all the money – and besides, if we all weren’t dirt poor, I wouldn’t be bothering with theft in the first place!”
“We?” I repeated.
Danni waved an arm around her. “What, you don’t think I’m hauling all my ill-gotten gains around with me, do you?” she asked, her tone making this remark seem cuttingly obvious. “Where do you think it all goes?”
To my surprise, it was a question I hadn’t considered. And as I tried to figure out the answer, feeling my brain squirm as it was forced down new and unexpected pathways, Danni leaned forward. She reached out, and I jumped slightly as her fingers landed on my knees. My gun was still resting along one thigh, but she ignored it completely. Her eyes burned holes straight through mine, into my soul.
“There are people, thousands of people, starving and dying out there,” she murmured to me, her eyes not blinking or pulling away. “There’s no one helping them. No one except me.”
For a long moment, I was paralyzed. I could do nothing but gaze into the bright, burning eyes of this young woman in front of me.
Finally, one of her hairs shifted a little, crossing her gaze, and the moment broke. “That may be,” I retorted, staring back at her, “but this isn’t the way to help them. You’re going to get caught, and they’ll be right back where they started.”
The girl didn’t back down. “Caught by you? Because this doesn’t seem so bad.”
I shook my head. “After I missed, that first time, the Company sent others after you,” I told her. “They’re probably hunting you, right now – I doubt they’re far behind me.”
“And what would they do? Storm the train?” the girl asked. Fortunately, she didn’t ignore the serious tone of my voice, and she glanced around.
Once again, I shook my head back and forth. “Trust me – I’m selective compared to some of their methods. They’re not above dynamiting the entire track, not caring about collateral damage.”
Leaning forward, I glanced out the window of the train car. “There – see that bridge, up ahead? A few sticks of dynamite at the base of that, and the whole train would go tumbling into the river below. A few hundred deaths, but you’re the only death that matters. That’s a likely choice.”
I caught Danni starting to open her mouth to reply, but before she could speak, a flash of orange lanced into my sight.
And just ahead of the train, that bridge I had pointed out was now disintegrating in a roar of flame…