Interlude 7

Hanes looked over the crowd. Emergency vehicles' light bars cast the whole block in flashing blue and red. His shades dulled the glare to near non existance. Two other opereatives stood with him,both large men in dark tailored suits one negro the other caucasian. They looked around with predatory interest like attack dogs waiting for a cue. Shaking his head,Hanes climbed back into the car. A strip club? Why the hell would they be here? There was a man sitting in the rear of the car,tall and lean he was wore a loose tunic and sweat pants that made his slim form look postively skeletal. His eyes were closed. "They were here… we missed them by some… 15 minutes."

Hanes nodded, suppressing a smirk. 'paths were touchy,no need to piss this one off… The man's voice echoes hollowly,was utterly inflectionless.

"The woman Carrie's mind is open and held images of the one Jason… sexual fantasies…the memories are recent." A fly slowly made its way across the telepath's face,over his eyelid to his nose. He did not move in the slightest.

All right tell me something useful. Hanes picked up the cellular,starting dailing. "Anything in here on how they left, with who? something like that?"

Speaking into the phone he cancelled the back up team. Wonderful… just fuckin' great…spend all damn night chasin' this spook… Rubbing his sore ribs, he frowned I do owe that fucker Jim a shot or two. Waiting for the 'path to respond he lean back in the seat,watching a cute little asian talk to a fireman. Sweet… nice ass but the tits gotta be fakes…

"Nothing of note in Carrie's mind."

Hanes suggested. "Try the chick about 20 feet ahead… get a name… phone… anything you can…she looks to be in charge for now"

For the first time the telepath's face registered some emotion, slight surprise.

"Kurtia Ashiko 555-3456,address 134 45th street… She has memories of the mercanary Jim Smith…a. surpsing amout of background information on him in fact…her mind is very displinced."

"Psi trained?" Jesus… does this mean St Clair mixed up in this too… Jason you really screwed us good…

"No… merely organized and strong willed."

Good,that was one less bit of damage control. "I love my job… ",Hanes shook his head,"least I got a phone number out of this…anything on Belle Maverick?"

"A friend and lover… left shortly after the emergency with the gas lines." The telepath's eyes popped open. He was panting,paler now. "Must break for now… "

He felt embarrassed to be so shaken in front of this Blind guard dog but that woman's mind was stronger than he expected. Had he been detected…no imposible?

"Well well… I hope she ain't involved in this mess… there enough to deal with…" Like that crazy redhead at Akemi Tanaka's place,where did she come into this? She'd left one of his men in the infirmary nursing 1st degree burns over most of his face.

"Well nothing more here…let the Sensitive sniff around some more" He called in the others. There was pause. Jones didn't report. He had been sent to the rear of the club. Hanes climbed out of the car,snapping off the safty on his pistol. "Smith,come with me… Jones is down." he said to one of the black man. "Give us 10 minutes to report then ghost you got it?"

Getting around back was child's play. The crowd was still thick and emergency sevices was hard pressed to keep anyone back. In the alleyway,there was no sign of Jones or anyone. Hanes slipped a hand into his jacket… he did not like this… Smith took one side of the alley, Hanes the other. The club's rear door was slightly ajar. Where was… A sudden blur of motion from the shadows of a dumpster, a figure seeming to materilize from them. Smith whirled bringing up his pistol. A metal staff came down on his wrist with a solid crack and the gun fell with a clatter. Another swing connected with his face and he fell back,shattered sunglassese flying. The figure was slim and lithe as a cat,dresed in a black body suit and full face mask. Hanes had time to make out female curves,the metal bo staff and a leather webelt as he drew and fired… right into the staff…she had brought it up just as he pulled the trigger. The twang of the richochette was louder than the silenced pistol shot.

Lauren mentally cursed her sloppiness. She should have been in and out faster now she was revealed. Hoping to finish this quickly she closed with Hanes, thrusting her staff at his stomach. For his size he was fast and sidestepped, sezing her weapon and jerking. Lauren stumnbled forward into a punch that sent her reeling back half dazed. No I must not… a quick twist unsnapped the staff into a pair of short sticks. She struck him in the side her other strike to his head blocked by a forearms. He was staggered or seemed so until he charged her,using his body to slam her into a wall driving the wind out her. Next Lauren knew she was being heaved through the air then crashing,able to roll with it just enough to stay consious.

Shit! Hanes panted,holding his chest. He tasted blood. Bitch hit me the same damn place… She looked out but no sense taking chances chances. Retrieving his pistol he walked closer slowly,eyes narrowed. Lauren suddenly sat up,snatching up her stick and leveling it at him. There was a sharp pop and Hanes was knocked back, falling aginst the club door. His kevlar t-shirt took most of the punishment but it still felt like a mule had kicked him in the chest. Lauren scrambled to her feet,wincing as her weight came down on a spained ankle. Have to… make it Hanes could only watch her limping run,trying to bring up the pistol. He gave up and concentrated on standing and getting the hell out of this. One thought kept ringing in his head. what the hell was that all about!?