There were about five of them in the coffee shop: all quite clearly ready for business. A female holding a cup of double espresso sat by the entrance to the establishment, to stop me bolting I supposed, and there was a thick-set man by the bar nursing a muffin. The others were slightly less obvious, though it was always difficult to disguise the raw power they had brought with them and commanded at their fingertips. In truth I was quite honoured by all of the attention I was getting, it meant that they considered me at least noteworthy to send out the Interdiction like this.
I stood, mopping my hands with a napkin though there was really no need, and sauntered toward the toilets at the back of the building. They knew as well as I did that there would be a window in one of the stalls, but my game plan rested on the fact that they would not realise I had spotted every single one of them already. I did not have to wait long and no sooner was I safely obscured from view than I felt the breathing on my neck and stopped.
“I wouldn't, if I were you.”
It was the man I had seen near the back corner, keeping his eye on the whole proceedings, this was probably the field commander, his voice carried with it a tone that was used to being obeyed. Everybody had to learn sometime.
“You’re wrong, you know,” I protested as loudly as I could manage without drawing undue attention, “I’m not the one you’re looking for.”
“Heard it all before, the next thing you’ll be claiming is that we’ve made a mistake and how this must all be the result of a misunderstanding.”
He was right of course, and the reason was quite simple. They had made a terrible mistake and there had been a misunderstanding. Something told me that my explanation would neither be welcomed nor even consciously noted, the truth was simply not enough in this case. “Fine.”
“Do we have to read you your rights or will you save us that little pandering?”
“To be honest I’m just flattered there’s so many of you. Five? Plus one in the toilets? I am truly flattered it would take five heavily armed members of the Interdiction to bring down what you consider to be a simple thief.” Reasoning with them had broken down before it had properly begun.
A jolt in my back, I had the man rattled at least. “Your type are always flattered by the strangest things. Still, if that’s the way you want it then I must inform you of your rights under section 4 paragraph 7a of the Codex. You have a right-”
Despite the rough way in which I was being handled and my lack of sympathy at the best of times with those who would employ brute force where subtlety would be better suited to the situation I felt that it was only fair I offered them a warning, a chance to back off and leave me be this time. “If you must persist in this mockery of official business then I am afraid that I shall be forced to retaliate to protect myself and my interests. I hereby serve you fair warning that failure to let me be to continue my interests will result in my no longer being responsible for my actions.”
At first he started and I could imagine him shaking his head. This was clearly not what his combat oriented brain had told him would come next. I suppose I could understand that, they had the advantage of numbers, power and weaponry, there was little that I could do. Added to that, they would have read my profile before and would have been aware that I was unlikely to use force to resolve issues. In the event he began to laugh softly. He was a fool, a weapon jockey sent on an errand for someone else who was unwilling or unable to get their own hands dirty, I had expected no better. “As I was saying, you have a right to-”
Now I confess that my dander was up and that I was angry, to have a fair warning laughed at after all that I had been through was a little too much. Without warning I found myself growling and moving at speed. This took the commander behind me by surprise and he moved far too slowly to block the fist that suddenly appeared in his vision.
I connected. Blood sprayed from the impact, a square blow to the nose. A second blow caught him in the stomach, neatly crushing a kidney and dropping him to the floor. I did not have long now. The toilets were simply not an option.
One of them was moving, people were beginning to realise that something was going on. A staff member was moving to the telephone, no doubt to call in the pitiful excuses for law enforcement officials they had here. I grabbed the top of a table and up-ended it, stopping an attack from one of them to my side. The rest were fumbling to pull weapons.
The woman was close by now, launching herself into a two footed kick designed to take me unawares, the speed was incredible but time slowed as I turned and calmly took hold of her shins. That done I spun as if throwing a hammer and sent her head first into the cooling unit above the counter. Pandemonium had broken loose and at least one of the Interdiction had pulled a gun. They were shouting something but with the roaring in my ears from the effort I could not make out what they were saying. It didn’t matter, a shout in their direction burst their eardrums and prevented them being a factor any more.
Two more between me and the door, though the plate glass windows had shattered due to the shout so how I left was entirely up to preference. Most of the customers were cowering on the floor, a few were crawling toward the exit, who could blame them?
The first gunshots were wide, they were learning, and moved with agonising slowness to aim themselves at my head. Wood splintered and plastic shattered as the projectiles cut their way through the air. Shockwaves pulsed and fire spat from the muzzle, singing some of the fittings closest to the shooter. I threw myself backward and fired a plate in their direction. Pottery smashing and the firing stopped. Direct hit.
I rolled and stood quickly, projectiles impacting where I was a moment before as I made a dash to the door. My peripheral vision registered the final member of the team emerging from the corridor to the toilets, the commander was gradually regaining his composure and no doubt cursing the fact that he had come in too close and without immediate back up. Like I said, weapon jockeys.
It was all too late.