Gunmetal Black 4 Chapter 6 - Break The Night
Kienan looked up at the figure now
grinding the point of her foot into his wrist. Her eyes were cold, emotionless,
and eerily glassy. The rest of her seemed equally unnatural--sleek blue and
black, framed by a cloud of mist that surrounded her as if she were a ghost.
Who's she trying to fool?
Kienan wondered. He would have tried to stall her, tried to rest a little more,
but whatever she was doing was sending numbing cold seeping through the
weatherproofing on his body armor, and the two knives she quickly drew behind
him told him everything he needed to know about how much time he really had.
Her eyes locked with his and Kienan
tried to pull his arm out from under her foot. She leaned forward, her body and
her two knives glittering in the city lights. They locked eyes for a moment,
the cold determination of both reflected in the other's gaze.
Then Kienan smiled, whipped his other
pistol from his holster and emptied an entire clip into her at point blank
range. She didnt draw back, but took some of the weight off his arm, allowing
him to slip out from underneath her grip and shove her backwards by planting
his feet against her chest.
She flew backwards off the truck,
heading for the edge, stopping herself at the last minute by slamming one of
the knives into the roof of the truck. Kienan rolled to his feet, guns at the
ready. His arm felt all right, just a little numb from the cold.
She drew herself up onto the roof of
the truck again, her lips curled in an icy sneer. "Nice," she said.
Her voice was like metal against an iceberg. "Tried to distract me. Well,
that won't work again. Just try."
Kienan did as she asked, firing six
shots at her heart. She smiled thinly, drawing herself up. The cloud of mist
around her seemed to coalesce and become more opaque, the bullets harmlessly
struck her skin, frozen to absolute zero by her ice-field, and shattered like
sleet against a car windshield.
"My turn," she said, rising
her knives. Her fingers rippled almost imperceptibly over the hilts and they
changed shape. They still looked like knives, but the shape was unmistakable.
Kienan felt the adrenaline surge within
him and went with his instinct, pushing backwards off the roof of the truck as
the rushing air was split by a screeching noise from the blades. The roof where
Kienan had just been standing bulged, then split. Kienan scrambled down onto
the hood again, spared the driver a glance as he begged for his life again and
took a longer look over his shoulder.
He shoved off the hood, somersaulting
backwards. The night spun in a wild blur around him as he fired downward. The
driver slumped against the controls of the truck, causing it to veer wildly.
Kienan landed on the edge of a
smaller car, his eyes still on the truck. The girl was hanging on, however
unsteadily as the truck lurched back and forth, swinging close to the side of
one building, then into the other lane. She attempted to right herself again,
and even from a distance, Kienan could see her eyes, still fixed implacably on
him. Kienan slapped two more clips into his pistols and clambered up onto the
hood of the car.
The girl leapt off the truck, grabbing
upwards for one of the sensor masts from a nearby light pole. She swung around,
vaulting onto another car. Kienan looked over his shoulder and leapt to a car
in the opposite skylane, trying to stay one step
ahead of her, the adrenaline rush keeping him going, but just barely.
"Control, this is Sweep 2,"
Harrison Long said, gently maneuvering the
manipulator controls to take the pod into his small maintenance shuttle.
"I found a discarded lifepod in Sector K. Taking
it aboard for inspection, but no lifeform or
radiation readings. Will advise, over."
"Sweep 2, this is Control,"
The neutral voice on the other end of the line said. "Take pod aboard and
return to base. Colony control has advised us to clear traffic pattern--we're
due to have company. We can do the decon and recycle
routines at base, over."
"Understood, Control," Long
said, tapping a sequence of keys to bring the pod into the secondary bay and
pressurize the hold. "I'm on my way back now."
He closed the communications circuit
and set the autopilot to take him back to the colony. A slow course.
Once that was done, he unbuckled himself from his safety harness and exited the
Colony Sweep was as dull and menial a
job as one could dream up, and it was just as low-paying as it was boring. So
every moment of excitement--and every bit of pay on the side for smuggling
cargo past the usual security network--was to be savored.
He took a small box from the
worktable at the forward section of the bay. The pod sat in the middle of the
hold, its dull, off-white surface streaked with dark smudges. He used a small
screwdriver from his tool belt to open a service panel on the side of the pod,
and once he had pried it open, flipped the bank of switches within.
There was a loud pop as the top of
the pod door opened. Long quickly tossed the door to the side and looked at the
cargo within, opening the toolbox.
Inside was a girl, a few years
younger than he was, clad in black and green. Except for the slow rise and fall
of her chest, she looked like a corpse. Her eyes were closed and her gloved
hands cradled a bottle of oxygen between them. He studied her face. Despite her
youth there was something about her eyes, even though she seemed to be
sleeping, her expression was one of rage.
He shook those thoughts away and took
the small patch from his toolbox, peeling the backing from it. He moved her
hair from the side of her neck and pressed the adhesive patch against her skin.
Then he waited. The stimulants in the
skin patch would soon bring her out. And by then they'd be back at base.
Kienan jumped clear of the car just
as Koriojo's weapon blasted through the windshield of
the sky-taxi he'd been standing on. He rolled to the side, just barely catching
a footrest of the cargo pod of another truck, and quickly hauling himself up,
hand over hand, and rolling onto the roof, strafing the car she was on with a
steady stream of fire.
This is stupid, Kienan
thought. Cant nail her, and she's good enough--and fresh enough--to keep up
with me. And I'm running out of cars and tricks to keep her off my back.
Another double shot from Koriojo blasted the cargo pod he was standing on. Kienan
growled under his breath and slammed another clip into his pistol. One of his
special types of loads, for when armor-piercers
didn't get the job done.
He waited, watching her leap from one
car to the next, her footfalls leaving small dents in the roofs as she moved
closer to him.
Come on, Kienan thought. He
was playing a dangerous game--the smart voice in the back of his head he was
presently ignoring said it was stupid to even think this would work; that he
should run as fast and as far away as he can.
On the other hand, he was gambling on
Koriojo's arrogance, and confidence in her
invincibility, and so far, she seemed to be doing exactly what he wanted.
He spared himself a look, to get his
bearings. Uptown, he thought. 800 block. I think I'm near enough a
place where I can make a stand.Koriojo skipped over to another car as the driver
pounded his fist against the roof, audibly voicing his displeasure. She raised
And Kienan raised his pistol and
The bullet struck her in the
shoulder, shattering the white-armored shoulder guard, then bursting into
flame. Kienan smiled as she dropped one of her gunblades,
nervously batting at the flame, her expression now uncontrolled panic.
He gave himself a second to enjoy it,
then leapt up for one of the sensor masts, grabbing it and leaping to the
windowsill of a nearby building, drawing his knife and climbing up as far as he
Behind him, Koriojo
was livid. She balled her hands into fists, willing her temperature back to
normal. She pointed her gunblade at the roof of the
car and fired repeatedly as she leapt to the cargo truck, then to the sensor
She looked up at Ademetria, and
smiled. He certainly wasn't making this easy, and frankly, she enjoyed the
challenge. It was amazing enough that he'd survived fighting with Tenma, but to
hold her at bay in a chase 50 meters off the ground.
The man was certainly as skilled
as advertised, she thought, leaping to the windowsill, her eyes fixed on
him. Incredibly talented, or certifiably insane. Perhaps both.He should have been one of us.
She sheathed her gunblade
and began climbing up the wall behind him.
Mao sat up in bed, pressing the
"respond" button on his night table.
"What is it Chang?"
"I have the information you
requested," Chang replied quietly. The tension in his voice told him
everything he needed to know.
"Very well," Mao said,
swinging his feet over to the side of the bed. He hadnt managed to get much
sleep, anyway. Too much on his mind, too many awful thoughts of what could have
happened to Kienan.
He sighed as he reached for his robe.
He'd gotten so wrapped up in his search for Kienan that he'd almost forgotten
about Wong coming to the colony, would have skipped the meeting later this
morning, had Chang not reminded him.
He tied the blue silk sash around the
dark red robe and walked to the door.
Chang stood before his lord, his
wizened face inscrutable and impassive as he handed Mao a data folio. "You
said you wanted this delivered immediately once Id finished compiling
"These are all his
"All that we were able to
confirm," Chang said, walking into the bedroom and shutting the door
behind them. "He has others in the colony, but they seem to have
"Do you think they've gone into
"I do not know," Chang
said. "But Kienan was an intelligent man. Surely he had a contingency plan
to protect himself and those he cared for should someone attack him here?"
"No doubt he did," Mao
said. "It's curious that he didn't ask me . . .ask the Syndicate to
intervene on his behalf."
"Perhaps he was trying to
protect us as well."
"It's possible," Mao said,
paging through the information in the data folio. In a way it was hard to
believe Kienan was capable of anything that demonstrative. For the many years
he'd served the Blue Dragons, Kienan had asked for very little for himself, and
very little from Mao personally, and yet, Mao found himself fretting over the
fate of his chief assassin as he would a son.
He pondered it, and the answer came
I've never had to doubt his
loyalty. I never had to command his respect through fear or influence. I had it
simply as a matter of course.There was trust between us.
Chang stood before him, clearing his
"What is it?"
"I'm afraid there's more,"
Chang said. "One hour ago, and explosion was reported in a nearby city
block. One apartment was destroyed. Going from the information in the file, I
have surmised it was Ademetria's apartment."
Mao grimaced. Chang never made
educated guesses unless he was already sure the answer could be trusted. He
closed his eyes. "Has Colony command issued a statement yet?"
"Not yet," Chang said.
"It appears the explosion might be part of an ongoing disturbance, but my
people have not reported back to me yet."
Mao sighed and stood up again. He
took a deep breath, centering himself and calming his mind. "I'm going to
get dressed," he said. "What time is the meeting with Wong?"
"0900 this morning," Chang
said. "Youre taking tea with him in the garden."
Mao frowned. That only gave him a few
hours. "Let me know as soon as you've heard from your people," he
said, walking towards his closet. "We'll meet again in a quarter of an
hour in my office."
"Ademetria," Koriojo hissed. Her feet crunched into the gravel on the
dark rooftop as she busily looked around, one hand on the hilt of her gunblade. "Come out. Running didnt do you any good.
Hiding wont either."
"I'm through doing either,"
Kienan's voice came back. Koriojo
turned in the direction of the sound. She moved towards the only light on the
rooftop--a small skylight that glowed and pulsed with colored lights from
within, like a prism separating light into different colors.
"Youre giving up, then?" Koriojo asked, sliding her gunblade
quietly from its sheath. Where was he?
"I dont give up," Kienan
said. "I've already killed one of you Onikage.
And I'm going to kill you soon."
Koriojo smiled tightly, her head turning over her
other shoulder. He's moving.
"You know who we are, then."
"I know enough," Kienan
Koriojo looked back over her other shoulder. Of
course, she thought. He's trying to get behind me, perhaps damage my
regulator . . .
"I know you, too,
Ademetria." Koriojo said, deliberately turning
to look over her other shoulder.
She felt something strike her
shoulder and turned to look just in time to see the butt of a cigarette bounce
off her shoulder armor. Before she knew it, Kienan was moving towards her,
black shadows suddenly forming into a flash of blood red fury.
He had his pistol drawn, ready to
fire one of those incendiaries into her at point-blank range, no doubt.
But this time, Koriojo
was ready for him. She sliced at the gun, knocking it aside and slashing it in
two as she did so. Kienan drew his knife and blocked her follow-up strike.
His emerald eyes were no longer
radiating cold determination--no, this time they were blazing with fury. Koriojo struggled for leverage, slipped her head under his
chin and headbutted Kienan under his jaw.
Kienan's head snapped back and she punctuated his
backpedaling with a hard kick to his stomach. Kienan stumbled back, his grip
still on the knife, but his feet were barely holding him up.
Time to finish this,Korojo thought with cold satisfaction.
She reached for him, hooking her fist
hard into his chest. She found she couldnt freeze his blood--something about his
body armor made it hard for her cold generation to penetrate, but after all the
trouble Ademetria had put her through, killing him the old-fashioned way was
not without a certain appeal.
Kienan tried to block, but that lucky
shot Koriojo had gotten in had taken the last of the
adrenaline rush. The fatigue from the battle in his apartment--from all the way
back to confronting Karasu was weighing him down. His
arms felt like lead.
But he was determined to hold on.
Koriojo seized him by his red vest, widening the
tear Tenma's blade had started back at his apartment. She clamped one hand
around his neck, looking deep into his eyes, her blue lips parting in a smile.
"I like you, Ademetria,"
she said. "I like your spirit, your passion. It burns very bright indeed.
That's why I'm going to make your passing somewhat enjoyable. A kiss before
dying, you might say."
She pressed his lips against his, and
Kienan suddenly felt a shock go through him. The fatigue was gone, replaced
with a numbing cold, as if she were sucking the body heat out of him. He sucked
in a gasp of air from his nostrils as she pressed even closer, groping for
clarity, fighting the numbness that was grabbing him.
His fingers tightened around his
knife. It took all his willpower to be able to feel the hilt of the blade in
his hand as the cold took him more and more. It took even more effort to raise
his arm, but he was going to do it.
He'd been through fire, ice, and
death before. He wasn't going to give in and die. Not now. Not ever.
He slammed the point of his knife
against the white hexagon Koriojo wore on her back.
He was so weak the blade only cracked the housing but it had the desired
effect. Koriojo panicked and shoved him away. Kienan
rolled to his feet, tightening his grip on the blade.
One more second and she'd have
killed me, Kienan thought. Fortunately, it seems a dose of cold water
was just what I needed.
His eyes focused on Koriojo, even now raising her blade and shifting it back to
Once chance at this . . .
Kienan sheathed his knife and rushed
her, shoving her backwards against the skylight. It shattered under their
weight, sending Koriojo, Kienan, and several hundred
shards of glass raining down on the floor below.
Kienan threw his body outwards, his
arm catching on a metal rail. He tightened his grip and looked around. Behind
him, Koriojo landed hard on a table, destroying it on
her way to the floor.
They were in a club, Kienan realized
as he grasped the rail with his other hand. He grimaced as he heaved himself
over the rail, brushing whatever shards of glass that he could out of his
clothes and skin. As he wiped away the bits from his shoulders he saw thin
rivulets of blood, made worse when he pulled the larger chunks out of his
On the plus side, he thought
grimly pulling a large jagged piece from his left shoulder; the cold's gone.
He knew he should dress the wounds,
but there wasn't time. He had one more pistol and five shots worth of
incendiaries to finish her off.
Koriojo was below, throwing people, tables and chairs
in all directions, furious and more than a little out of control. Kienan ran
the length of the balcony, stopping just outside of the DJ booth.
He flicked on the heavy spotlight,
narrowing the beam and pointing it at Koriojo. Just a
little something to delay her.
She screamed as Kienan threw open the door to the DJ booth. The spotlight
exploded with a blast from the gunblade as he stepped
inside, gun drawn and pointed right between the eyes of the young man within.
"Out," Kienan said. "Now."
The kid didnt wait for the command
to be repeated, flipping open a trapdoor and shuffling down the service stairs
below as Kienan turned his attention to the mixing table.
He watched the meters as he slid all
but two of them down. Suddenly, the bass meter went all the way to red, as
status warnings popped up. Two minutes of this and the speakers would explode.
Kienan flipped two more switches on
the lights and opened one of the pouches on his gunbelt.
He slipped the earplugs inside the pouch into his ears, hoping that would be
He hit the floor of the booth and
rolled to the back just in time to miss Koriojo
explode the glass window. Kienan slithered down the service steps as quietly as
possible, hitting the ground ready. His eyes looked around to what was
The club had cleared out fairly
rapidly, only he and Koriojo remained within, their
shapes vanishing or distorting as the house lights shifted from red, then
green, then blue, then yellow.
A smile crossed his face seconds
before he felt the air near him displaced and leapt out of the way of one of Koriojo's blasts. The stairs and the rail were blown into
strange shapes as Kienan hopped onto a chair, a table, kicking over a table and
firing two shots over it in her direction. Then he broke into a run for the
dance floor, the abandoned drink glasses vibrating with the throbbing of the
Kienan holstered his pistol and drew
his knife again as he moved on her. She stood her ground, casually drawing her gunblade up to his head.
One pull of the trigger and the
hypersonic vibration would cleave his head like a guillotine. She offered him
an almost regretful smile as she waited for him to come closer.
Such heroic nonsense, she
thought. One last bold charge into the breach.
Kienan struck her outstretched arm
with the edge of his knife, hoping his hunch was going to pay off. As he spun
into her, drops of his blood hit her skin, freezing and turning black as they
Koriojo's arm shattered just below the wrist. Kienan
slashed at her again, this time cutting a cruel slash over her chest. Koriojo screamed in terror, kicking wildly at him to keep
She tried to steady herself, tried to
balance her temperature to compensate for the damage but she couldn't.
Something was making it difficult for her to concentrate. And it was getting
worse with every step she took.
She glanced over her shoulder,
reaching for her gunblade with her other hand. To her
horror, it was starting to show hairline cracks of its own.
Of course, she thought. The
sound. He's trying to shatter me.
She screamed, her cloud of ice
flaring like a sudden blizzard as she fired on the speakers. Four of them
exploded as she fired. There were two more, further away, but they were hard to
see with the light show.
She exhaled, raising her arm. The
cracks were still there, but this was tolerable. The sound was still there, but
too far away to damage her.
Ademetria,however, I can
no longer tolerate, she thought. He's pushed me too far now. I'm going
She never finished the thought before
the bullet struck her between her shoulder blades. White-hot panic shot through
her as surely as the incendiary bullet erupted through her regulator pack.
Unable to do anything, she screamed,
and as she did, Kienan was on her. He kicked her other arm, breaking it off
just below the shoulder. He seized a chair and smashed her backwards, the wood
splintering as he bashed her again and again.
Perhaps her regulator would have
survived the fall, the sonics, even the bullet, had
Kienan not managed to crack the armor with his knife. Not only had that devil
Ademetria found her weakness, he'd created one to exploit, even as she'd nearly
Kienan's assault was unrelenting, even as the
flames from her regulator pack spread to her hair. He grabbed another chair and
shoved her backwards, the flames starting to melt the rest of her prostheses.
She tried to scream, but couldn't. The delicate circuits that compensated for
her paralyzed vocal cords had fused.
But she could still hear. She heard
Kienan walking towards her, slowly, deliberately, wounded but not even seeming
to be slowed down by any of his wounds, or the fatigue.
His eyes locked on hers with cold
fury. Slowly, as if time had slowed down to a crawl, his lips parted, and Koriojo heard the last words she would ever hear.
"Go to hell."
Kienan kicked her with all the
strength he had left precisely where he'd let the wound in her chest. She went
sprawling backwards and would have hit the floor, had she not been braced
Something that the fire on her back was
even now catching on.
No . . .
Kienan raised his pistol, taking aim
He squeezed the trigger, and the
liquor rack behind her disappeared, alcohol-fueled fire lashing out over her
like a wave from hell. She reached out with her rapidly melting stumps, trying
to silently plead with him to save her life.
Kienan watched her burn, his
expression cold and hateful as the ice queen was swallowed in fire.
As the sweep shuttle came into dock,
she finally came out of her stupor. She hadn't said more than ten words to
Long, at most she'd asked him for some tools and gone to work on the lifepod while Long had seen to parking the shuttle.
So when she appeared at the door to
the cockpit, smiling gently, he was more than surprised. She had wrapped a long
grey coat around herself, and the flush of life seemed to be back with her now,
well, everywhere but her eyes, which seemed to be picking him apart with
implacable darkness. "I owe you my thanks," she said. Long smiled.
Her voice was like honey. "Once I'm inside the colony I'll contact my
people and see you get twice what we promised you."
Long walked past her to the docking
hatch. "Twice as much?" He repeated, unable to believe his
The woman nodded, leaning against one
of the bulkheads. "You may use it to treat your wife to something
special," she said, smiling thinly.
Long keyed the door to open.
"I'm ah, not married," he said, the sound of embarrassment he made
afterward drowned out by the hiss of air from the airlock release.
"Not married?" the woman
repeated. "Not even a girlfriend?" Long shook his head and looked
sheepish. "That's a pity. Youre quite a catch." Her manner turned
serious for a second. "This hatchway leads out to the colony?"
Long nodded. "Just follow the
green arrows on the wall and you'll get to the exit. Since we're getting off
early there shouldnt be anyone about, and the monitoring system on that exit
is broken . . .you should be able to get into the colony elevator OK."
"Lucky me," she said.
"Thank you. You've been more than helpful."
"You're welcome, miss . . .ah,
Long stood at the door, watching her
walk past him, the grey canvas coat rustling as she moved by him. She walked a
few steps down the airlock, stopped, and slowly turned around.
He must be waiting for me to give
him my name, she thought.
she said. "Korin Xai Jian.
You know something?" She said, her lips parting into a grin far too broad
to contain any kindness in it. "I think I'll give you that bonus I
promised you . . .right now."
Korin's coat flared open, and her dark eyes shone
bright as she brought her weapon to bear on him. The gunsight
swiveled into position, and she squeezed the trigger. A brilliant orange line
burned from the tip of her gun, terminating at Long's
chest. The orange fire consumed his entire body before he could scream.
In the blink of an eye, there was no
trace of him at all. Korin smiled and holstered her
weapon again, walking calmly but quickly along the path he'd shown her.
In a couple of hours it'll be
daybreak here, she thought, the strange grin still on her face. I want
to be there to see it. I want to be there on the last day of Kienan Ademetria's life. His, and my dear father's.