Danni California, Part 25

Continued from Part 24, here.
Start the story here.

* * *

Inside the tower, the receptionist behind the counter was already rising to her feet.  The Organization didn’t pay a full Priest to sit behind the front counter and take messages, but every employee went through basic training.  Everyone was supposed to know how to fight back in an emergency.

For some people, however, that training was a while ago, and there’s been no call for that information in their head ever since.  They get rusty.

I put a hole in the woman’s head from across the lobby before she had taken two steps away from her chair.

The receptionist wasn’t the only person in the lobby, of course.  Two other men, businessmen from the looks of their suits, were also climbing out of their low chairs where they’d been waiting for their appointments.  I put them both down with a single shot each.

The gunshots would attract attention, of course.  I sprinted forward, for the doors that were just around the corner.

A second later, I nearly died.

Two more guards were thundering down the stairs, their own revolvers drawn and in their hands.  The only reason I survived was that they weren’t expecting me to be so close to the stairs already.

One of the men got a shot off, but it went wide.

I made sure he didn’t get to take a second attempt.

I jumped over the bodies and hurried up the stairs.  From each floor, I could hear shouts.  A minute later, a jangling sound of many bells ringing simultaneously assaulted my ears; someone had pulled the building’s alarm.

I didn’t let myself slow down.  My legs were already burning, but I mercilessly forced them to move faster, taking the wide steps three at a time.

Finally, the doorway for the sixth floor came into view.  I was glad to see it; already, other Priests were barreling out into the stairway both above and below me, their guns drawn and at the ready.  With my getup, it would be tough for them to instantly spot me as the intruder, but the building body count would lead them to me.

A man was stepping through the doorway to the sixth floor into the staircase as I reached it.  I slammed my knife into his throat and shoved him down the steps as the line left behind from the blade blossomed in red.

I was through the doorway before the dead guard’s body behind me hit the stairs.  There were more guards, of course, and I knew that my boss’s receptionist kept a sawed-off double barreled shotgun in a cubbyhole beneath her desk.  They weren’t ready for my entrance, however.

In the eyes of a Priest, unprepared is only a single bullet away from dead.

The receptionist fell last, and she at least managed to drag her gun out from its hole beneath the desk before she toppled backward in a spray of blood and brains across the wall behind her.  I stepped past her, reaching down and snagging the weapon out of her lifeless fingers.

One blast shattered the lock on my former boss’s doors.

Of course, I should have known better than to think that I’d catch my boss unawares.  He had his own gun drawn, pointing at the door as I blasted in.  I could barely see the little tremble in his hand as he pointed the weapon at me.

“Jaspers,” the man rasped, staring at me with eyes that looked bloodshot.  “Why?”

Did he deserve an answer?

“Because this is wrong,” I replied, watching him closely.  “We claim to be above the rest, but we’re just killers.  We may be the best, might demand the most money, but we still kill at the whim of others.  What right do they have, to choose who lives and dies?”

My supervisor shook his head.  “Our targets deserve-“

“Death?” I finished before he could.  “For disobeying, for petty theft?  And what do we deserve, for all the blood on our hands?”

The man opened his mouth, but no words came out.  Instead, he closed it again after a second, and I saw his eyes tighten ever so slightly.

I pulled the trigger first.  The pellets in the shotgun’s second barrel didn’t have much room to spread before they collided with my boss’s head, but the force was enough to shatter his face into fragments.

The man was fast, however.  I felt the slug from his gun punch into my shoulder, spinning me around and sweeping my feet out from beneath me.

The shotgun fell from nerveless fingers.  I shook my head, gritting my teeth against the pain, and tried to stand.  I couldn’t put any weight on my right arm, however, and felt myself collapse back to the ground.

“Need a hand?”

I knew the voice.  I looked up, my eyes widening in surprise.  For just a moment, all of the pain belonged to a different man, one far away from me.


Almost to the end, now – to be continued!

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