Schrader, stuck in stop-and-go traffic, was bored out of her mind. Gone were the days of flitting from scene to scene in an AFV, her people ready to do violence on her behalf. Now she had to drive herself, and since the government had yet to fully define her position, she had relatively few police powers, including the fact her car had no siren she could use to bull her way through dense afternoon traffic.
Her passenger was not all that great a conversationalist, despite being a relatively good guy. She supposed that, like her, he was working outside his training, and therefore his comfort zone.
The boredom was shattered by the explosion. Debris shot skyward less than ten car lengths ahead, closely followed by the teeth-rattling sound of the detonation.
She slewed the car sideways, dropped it into park and had her handgun out before her passenger could even ask, “What the hell?”
Larissa didn’t answer the doctor, just forced his head down and scanned for threats.
A smoke trail drew a faint line from the second story of a building ahead into the line of cars she’d just occupied. The silence which followed the detonation was eerie.
The usual screaming cut through the silence as people slowly began to react to the incident. Smoke began to billow, drifting back across the vehicles stopped by the sudden violence unfolding before them. The smell of burning plastics and hot metal drifting in through her open windows made her nose twitch, put her in the zone like nothing else.
Moments slid by without a second strike, which meant either the ambushers were out of missiles, had destroyed their target, or were displacing for another shot.
It went against all her trained instinct to stay put while an ambush went on, but the more time went by, the more certain she was that she wasn’t the target, ‘And you’re certainly not geared up for combat,’ she thought, trying to reinforce the sensible notion she shelter in place.
A coilgun went off. From her front. She couldn’t see the shooter.
Another shot, this one sounding like a handgun.
A man appeared out of the smoke ahead, firing a carbine into the line of parked cars as fast as he could pull the trigger. More screams. People were starting to flee their vehicles, fleeing the sudden war zone that had erupted in their midst.
Schrader ignored them, kept her eyes on the gunman, who stopped shooting, gestured in the direction of the parked cars, then turning his hand to point in Schrader’s direction.
Another gunman darted into view between the first one and Schrader’s car, the launch tube on his back explaining the lack of additional missile fire. He read his comrade’s hand signal, began sprinting her direction.
‘Shit,’ Schrader thought, ‘Their target is moving this way.’
“Stay down, Doc,” she said.
“Where the hell you going?” Doctor Z asked, raising his head.
“Nowhere, just don’t want you getting plugged ‘cause someone mistook you for a threat,” Schrader whispered, pushing him down again.
Only two cars in front of hers the gunman slowed and turned into the line of parked cars, weapon at the ready. The first gunman reared into view in the background, mounting the hood of a car.
The nearer gunman fired once as he reached the far side of the line, his shot drawing a flurry of return fire. One round got lucky, spreading a thick red mist for near a meter from the back of his head. Brain dead, the man collapsed like string-cut puppet.
Schrader blinked, saw the gunman atop of the car aim, fire. She heard a pair of shots that must not have come close, as the gunman didn’t even flinch. In fact he reloaded and sauntered closer, still using the cars for his path.
It was the casual, careless nature of his walk more than anything else that engaged Schrader’s rage, ‘Ambushing- No, murdering people in the street like it’s nothing? Fuck that!’
Fighting the loss of control the anger tried to drive, she dragged her attention from the man to look for any further accomplices. Seeing none, Schrader pulled her upper body atop her passenger to poke the barrel of her sidearm out the window. She settled her sights on the man’s head as he stopped moving.
She drew a breath, the smell of Zoltan’s cologne registering even as she released the air through her nose.
Empty, she squeezed the trigger.
Her sidearm discharging just centimeters outside the vehicle jabbed needles of pain in her ears. She ignored it, gave a feral smile as her target dropped lifeless atop of the car he’d been standing on.
Again she checked for further targets. Still none.
“Who’d you kill?” the archeologist asked from beneath her.
She noticed he didn’t try and raise his head to check for himself, “Damned if I know, Zoltan.”
“You mean you actually shot someone? Across my back?” his voice was high. Not panicked, but not happy either.
Sirens began to wail, adding their noise to that of the screaming bystanders.
She chuckled, the archeologist wasn’t a bad guy, just very civilian, “Yes. Thanks for staying still. Stay here. Call the police.”
Schrader checked again for shooters before sitting up. Still seeing no threats, she popped the door and exited the car in a fast crouch, ‘I know the gunmen are dead. Now to check on their target.’