Strings of Retaliation – 9a – Saskia

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The assassin stood stiff, and not ‘There’s a plasma gun pointed at my head’ stiff. Her left side was angled toward me which could have read like a way to face both me and Gail. But her right arm, the one that led most of her attacks so far, was half hidden by her body and bent slightly to bring her hand close to her hip. Since Gail almost dislocated that arm’s shoulder a few seconds before, whatever the assassin had hidden in her belt was worth the pain of keeping a hand close to it.
If she did her homework, she knew time was running out; the window breach triggered the silent alarm. Instead of panicking, she waited for the opportunity to escape.
The elevator bell rang.
Gail relaxed.
Damned!
The assassin lunged and stuck a bead to Gail’s neck.
Saskia!
As my bodyguard hit the floor, the assassin rushed toward me.
Why would she — Reflexes slammed the bottom of my pistol on Saskia’s forehead before I overcame my surprise.
Security stormed in while my opponent stumbled backward under the shock.
“No killing!” I ordered.
In the blink of an eye, the guns were down and the guards wrestle the assassin to the ground. It was weird to see half my team of ‘personal assistants’ go UFC.
We never met, but Saskia and her beads had a reputation of murder efficiency rivalling my own. She should have gone for the window.
I would have.
“Miss Beyer…”
She took a last shot at me even if it condemned her. Why? She wouldn’t have gotten this far if emotion clouded her judgement. And how did I become this special in her eyes?
“Miss Beyer,” the chief of the guard repeated, placing a hand on my shoulder.
“I’m okay.” The flow of thoughts in my head probably made me look as if I was in shock. What a joke!
“Good. I’m Gail’s second in command,” the man said. “What should we do with the prisoner?”
Right to the other cluster of questions buzzing in the back of my head. Saskia tried to kill me. She may have killed Gail — though I couldn’t really hold that against her. I had a chance to break her out of whatever ties she had with Merrilyn — if she had any — or learn about my other enemies.
I hope she’s a sister. I had enough forces stacked against me as it was.
Either way, letting Merrilyn have her wasn’t an option. I couldn’t bring her home without risking Vexx’s security and my own.
That left the FBI.
“She’s a Merrilyn Special Project.”
“You wish!” Saskia spat. The closest guard backhanded her.
“Hey!” I barked. “What part of ‘Special Project’, don’t you get?”
The guard opened his mouth, but a glare from his chief shut it.
I nodded. Though I wasn’t sure Saskia was indeed a sister, the label saved her life and would justify my secrecy; access to Special Project information was strictly limited.
“We’ll transport her to a drop site and another team will take it from there.”
Gabriel could set up a believable transfer in a jiffy. Kim, the head of Special Projects, would be miffed that I kept her out of it. Hopefully, the FBI would be too busy locking Saskia up to hold it against me.
“Call off the cops,” I ordered. “We’re keeping this one under wraps.”
“Understood.” Gail-Male nodded.
“What about Gail?” My cover necessitated some show of concern. Or maybe it didn’t; I had no clue if my father went for the ‘understanding’ or ‘scary’ type of management. Anyways, she did help me survive Saskia’s attack, which was more than a little insulting but deserved some thanks.
Saskia scoffed. “I only kill my prey.”
“She’s breathing,” a guard confirmed. He plucked the silver bead off Gail’s neck to examine it. “I’ll transport her to the infirmary.”
Seems like every building I spend time in as one of those.
“Good.” I left the guards to themselves, and headed to my private loft at the other end of the vestibule. Calling Gabriel from Merrilyn’s only landline, which I had installed in my office since I didn’t have a phone chip in my head, was unthinkable. I pulled the FBI-approved cell phone out of my purse and dialled one of the emergency numbers.
“Vibes Limousine Services, this is Ariel. How may I help, Miss Beyer?”
Merrilyn Tech had everything in place to trace every call, even if my line was encrypted. Unfortunately, calling a limousine company would look weird in the current situation. But then again, I had warned the guards I would use my own personal resources so as long as the transport went without a hitch, they shouldn’t read much into it.
“I have a peculiar request. Can I speak to your manager?”
“Sure. Just one moment.”
“Lorelei, are you okay?” Gabriel said a few seconds later. He sounded really worried.
“I’m fine.” There was more relief in my voice than I intended. “Someone tried to kill me.” And came too close to success. I would have to train harder. “I think she’s a sister of the silicon womb.”
“From the same project as you, you mean?”
“Yes. She’s alive.” I said before he asked. The FBI would want her either way. At the thought, I almost hung up.
“And at Merrilyn?” His elocution had slowed. He was in “full throttle planning” mode.
“I told the guard she was a special project and that another team would take over.”
“Nice.” His voice changed tone as he talked to ‘the outside’ instead of concentrating on the chip in his head: “Vexx, can you route one of ours calls through a Merrilyn number?” Beat. Contrary to the hold phones, I couldn’t hear the reply unless Gabriel repeated it in his head. “We want our team to look like a Merrilyn secret op.”
Jitters triggered a flow of unwanted doubts. The more this conversation went on, the less I liked giving Saskia up.
And why is Vexx with Gabriel? Whether they met up at the FBI base or at my manor, why would one man be needed at the other’s place?
“Good.” Gabriel’s voice refocused on my call and so did my thoughts. “I’ll ring in your office with a location for the meet.”
“Okay.”
Silence.
“You’re sure you’re alright?”
I let him have it too easy, didn’t I?
“A few bruises. It’ll be good for the press. I’ll give you hell about how to handle my sister once I can afford to raise my voice without blowing my cover.”
Gabriel chuckled and hung up.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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