In the city of Ankara, life went on as it aways had. The capital of the state known today as Turkey was a bustling metropolis, not so much as the city that once held the title of center of the nation, but still impressive enough to warrant an appreciative look. It had and continued to see visitors from many places, chiefly Europe though in recent years there was an influx of peoples from nearly every corner of the globe.
In the outskirts of the city, the embassies of the numerous countries Turkey had established relations with were located in one heavily policed district. No one wanted an incident in a location such as this, even in times of peace. With the declining international situation, including a move to the immediate north that had brought a resurgence of an old fear within the nation, that applied doubly.
For one particular embassy, a three story plain looking brick building belonging to Country F, a meeting was taking place between a legal government representative and a woman who was part of a profession that was openly illegal in most of the first world. Inside, in a spacious yet spartan office, the representative, the woman, and one of the latter's nine bodyguards met for a quiet arrangement that's full implications would not be visible for some time. While claiming the future of the nation was decided here was exaggeration, its importance was not to be underestimated.
"Miss Hekmatyr" greeted the army colonel, extending a hand to the pale arms dealer. He was a veritable giant of a man, easily six feet tall and dusky skinned, currently clad in a simple desert camouflage fatigues instead of a formal dress uniform, topped by a red beret. With his sleeves rolled up and his friendly smile, she relied on the patches above his breast pocket to identify his rank.
"Colonel Salah" Koko Hekmatyr, the pale skinned arms dealer of HCLI, greeted back, wearing a normal smile while she shook his rough hand. Early twenties, pale skin, and white hair were the first things people tended to notice about her, which she didn't mind. Her plain female business suit was, as always, impeccable. Even after a gamut of deals made this week, she still looked the part of the cold professional.
Letting go, he gestured to one of the chairs in office. To the one bodyguard that the embassy official allowed in the same room as the official, in this case Lutz, he gave a polite nod. The blond ex-cop nodded back and stood by Koko as she took the thin leather seat. He wore polo and khakis suited for the warm building, his coat having been left in the waiting room downstairs. By his side was an undecorated metal briefcase, part of the trend that had his boss grumbling obscenities about the current market.
"I welcome you to my office today. I've heard so many good things about you" he opened.
"I'm sure you have" she smiled friendlily, as she tended to do for clients.
"So, shall we get down to business?" Colonel Salah offered.
"Lets" she agreed.
The woman's appearance was different to what she was several months prior, before the uncomfortable and increasingly insistent questions about the righteousness of her actions began to creep up on her. She had elected to get a haircut, reducing her shoulder length white hair to cover only her neck. Her suit was a different style than she was accustomed to, having far more blue than she normally went for, although with winter's icy grip finally weakening she was considering going back to her previous white ensemble for operations in Europe.
What hadn't changed was the spark of life in her eyes, a passion for life that had been dulled but could never be extinguished. Neither had her skills in making sure clients received exactly what it was they wanted, for the right price of course. Those skills meant a half hour was all the time she needed to fulfill this man's request, finishing by filing out a series of documents that made a phone based arrangement a reality. Upon the signing of the last paper Colonel Salah clasped his hands together, rubbing the one that had been busy writing with to relieve its soreness.
"Congratulations Colonel, five minutes from now I'll forward a message to HQ, and in five days a ship bearing one hundred FV510 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles with associated equipment and ammunition will be pulling into your port city" Koko finished proudly. The broad grin on the arabic man held nothing back.
"I'm sure you get this a lot Miss Hekmatyr, but you are a lifesaver" he complimented, which she casually brushed off.
"Its what I do Colonel" she replied easily. He nodded.
"I am glad that my country has these IFVs now, with the declining international situation our fleet of American M113s are simply inadequate" he commented, trying to draw her into a conversation. Though she would've preferred not to, Koko knew better and chose to play along.
"You're referring to the civil wars on the peninsula?" she started.
"Them as well. After the Americans withdrew from Iraq things there are continuing to get worse, and are threatening to spill over into my country. We've had several border incursions already, fortunately few of those have been serious. What troubles me most is the Neo-Soviet Union. Its been only a couple months since they've re-established and we've already had more than a dozen foreign agents attempt to infiltrate my country" he shook his head, a frown replacing his cheer.
"You're not the only one. My contacts in the Baltic states have informed me that those nations militaries have gone on alert, as have Poland and Finland. The Neo-Soviets have repeatedly assured them that they're not interested in annexation, but they remember the same line being used in the nineteen thirties" Koko explained.
"Indeed, it seems trouble is brewing everywhere. Problems on the Korean Peninsula, tensions in central Africa, wars in South America, terrorism outbreaks in Europe, and so on. I pray daily that things won't escalate further, but the evidence in front of my eyes tell me otherwise. Odd to think our old enemy may now be our most reliable ally in these times" he spoke grimly.
"The world has always been dangerous Colonel" she reminded, which he nodded to once again.
"That is true. But these days, especially with...oh, I almost forgot. What about the second part of my order?" he said suddenly.
A flick of Koko's wrist made Lutz step away from his silent vigil to go to the official, bringing up the metal suitcase that barely made it through the embassy security. He unclipped the latches and opened it, presenting the contents to the man. The Colonel's eyes brightened at the sight, reaching inside without hesitation to withdraw the object held securely in supporting foam padding. He backed away to give the officer room to examine his new toy.
A fresh smile was on the man's face while he adjusted his grip, looking over the sizable submachine gun appreciably. Unfolding the plastic stock, he fitted the weapon to his shoulder to look down the sights, pointed away from either of his guests. Neither of them would've appreciated having a gun aimed at them, even knowing that it was unloaded. It was lacking a magazine in any case.
"Heckler and Koch UMP" Colonel Salah murmured happily, glancing at the woman "This variant is chambered in 45. ACP, correct?"
"That's right" Koko confirmed. He lowered the weapon, needing a second to find out how to release the clip holding the stock out, then folding it in to the side.
"I had the chance to try out several weapons of this type. Many of my fellow officers were favoring the type called a P90, but this weapon won the day" he explained, pleased with himself while he returned the empty gun to Lutz. Silently he placed the weapon back in position and re-latched the suitcase.
"There's an extra two cargo containers attached to your shipment containing these. One thousand units, requisite equipment to tend to the weapons, translated manuals, and around a million rounds of ammunition. And a direct line to H&K for any service questions. You're lucky, they were about to discontinue the production line" she outlined. The Colonel's smile lowered when he saw the faint displeasure on the woman's expression.
"Is something wrong Miss Hekmatyr?" Colonel Salah asked carefully.
"A year ago, submachine guns were generally purchased for one of two roles, either as backup weapons for vehicle crews or for special operations soldiers. These days, I can make a reasonable assumption to why your military wants these firearms" she said coolly.
"If you're referring to Witches, then I admit you are correct. Many of these weapons are already in service for our special forces, but it was decided that we needed guns like these for widespread usage to prevent attacks" he explained, the flicker across her features not going unnoticed.
"Have you had any Otherworlder attacks in your country?" Koko questioned.
"None as of yet, but a military officer that dealt with the recent event in Tel Aviv visited to inform us of what to expect. Weapons with a high rate of fire but low penetration are highly recommended" he explained, noting a hint of unease on the still smiling woman.
"So say others that have dealt with attacks in their own countries" Koko sighed "I don't like doing this, but this time I have to. Colonel, you overpaid for these weapons."
Colonel Salah blinked in surprise, blurting out an undignified "Really?" while Lutz snapped his head to her in alarm.
"Sadly yes. I don't make a habit of divulging this sort of information, but eight of the past ten deals I've done had a shipment of small arms attached, even when there was no real purpose to them being there. The last one was particularly egregious, since it was a shipment of missiles" she explained, unmindful of the two men's looks.
The officer frowned. "Forgive me, but I don't understand."
"So far, officials such as the one you spoke to reached the same conclusion that the GSG-9 unit in Hamburg and the SWAT team in Seattle did. The same line really, weapons with a high rate of fire with lowered penetration power are highly effective against Otherworlders, since with two known exceptions they appear in confined urban areas. Halfway around the world and it was almost word for word" she outlined.
"You mean Witches" he prompted.
"I mean Otherworlders" she corrected "Those who don't have their heads in the sand at this point are taking notice of these attacks, and instead of looking for alternatives they're simply buying submachine guns en masse. Its simple economics, demand is far exceeding supply. Even with the production ramp up, its not going to improve for quite some time" she explained.
His brow furrowed. "So because there are so many customers..."
"They can and will charge far more. I did all that I could, but the per-unit cost for these UMPs is at least thirty percent higher than it would've been a year ago. The ammunition issue is far less pronounced since 45. caliber is significantly easier to obtain in bulk than the specialized munitions its competitors use, the P90 you mentioned for example. Even so, the cost in this order is roughly ten percent greater than normal" Koko said as simply as she could, knowing the actual topic was far more complicated than her basic explanation. She wanted to make a point, not educate him on the economics of the arms trade. Colonel Salah nodded unhappily.
"Its not all doom and gloom however" she added, making him pick up.
"As I said, most are not looking at the various alternatives. For starters, the venerable shotgun" she began. He frowned.
"Shotguns are unprofessional. And they typically have much less range than standard weapons" he countered.
"Unprofessional does not mean ineffective. For the range issues you're half right, but in a confined area the difference is negligible at best. In truth, they can actually outshine submachine guns. The wider spread can be lethal to agile targets, and can work against the rare cases of multiple Otherworlders" she answered.
"Are there other options?" he asked.
"Carbine type rifles are your best option, the American M4 or the French FAMAS for example. The downsides are a decrease in lethality compared to a standard battle rifles, as well as an increased risk of collateral damage. On the upside, their mechanisms are derived from standard rifles, making training far simpler and easing logistics. In the event of an armored Otherwolrder, you are going to appreciate the increased firepower" she answered.
He nodded thoughtfully. "I will take your options under recommendation."
"Excellent" Koko paused to look at her watch "My apologies, but I must be going."
Colonel Salah rose from his chair at the same time as she did, extending a hand.
"Again, thank you for your services Miss Hekmatyr" he said cordially.
"The pleasure was all mine" she replied in kind.
He gave Lutz one last polite nod before thumbing an intercom. Her bodyguard fetched the thin coat she brought along to hand it over, waiting on her to garb properly prior to going for the now unlocked door. He followed her out the door, past an embassy aide who wordlessly escorted them away from the meeting room. What occurred inside may have saved his nation or damned it, time alone would tell. Until it deigned to explain to a lowly individual such as him, the aide did his job.
For the walk through the building, Koko smiled, as she always did. Smile, so what she felt underneath wasn't visible.
Once they were close to the lobby, Lutz quietly spoke up "What was that?"
"An expression of my inner frustration" she answered evenly.
"Telling a client they overpaid? Not a good move" he commented lowly.
"So that man can start to think, unlike the rest of the idiots that are springing up lately" she replied. Lutz held in his reply when they entered the waiting lobby proper, since arguing with the boss in front of the rest of the men was a worse move than her choice. In any case, it was over and done with.
The first guest in the area to see the two arriving was a thin chinese man by the name of Mao. Picking up, the former artilleryman's move spread to the others, who each stopped what they were doing to look her way. Ugo, the main wheelman, looked up from a magazine. Tojo, the bespectacled japanese intelligence officer, closed his laptop to stuff it back in his carry bag. Valmet, the one eyed Finn and her lover, stood up and cracked her neck with a small smile. Wiley, the large yet friendly explosives expert, turned away from a television playing a local channel. R, a former bersaglieri (whom she still kept his secret), pushed his phone back in his pants pocket while he stood up. Lehm, retired Delta and her longtime friend, rose from his seat with a muted groan.
The last to get up from his chair was referred to by the moniker of boy, though nowadays he was in the teenager category. Brown skinned with white hair and red eyes, he wore a pair of khaki pants and a thick hoodie suited for the weather outside. His face, which tended to draw the eyes of females everywhere they went, was blank at the moment, as usual. As Koko watched, he finished placing his hands into the hoodies pocket. She had no doubt that the phone she bought him a while ago was in there was well, put out of sight when he sensed the others moving. Jonathan 'Jonah' Mar was someone that kept his thoughts to himself, and today was no exception.
"So, how'd it go?" Lehm asked, starting to go for his pocket but stopping himself. She knew what he was after; his ever present cigarettes and lighter, a nicotine habit which he had tried to break once in recent memory.
"Swimmingly, even with the small arms everyone wants these days" Koko answered dryly, slowing her walk but not stopping. Around her the others started to form a perimeter, a barrier between the woman and the endless threats of the world.
"That's good. Can't help wondering how old man Curry is doing though" Valmet commented.
"Probably still fuming that he got bought out" Tojo offered. Koko snickered, remembering the British arms dealer's face when he discovered she had purchased enough of his company's stock to effectively overrule anything he did. Such as protesting the acquisition of Curry's Company Aerial Transport by HCLI, then voting to retire the founder and owner, albeit with a sizable bonus; in the end she couldn't muster up enough cruelty to leave him with nothing.
A guard gave the group of ten a wary look, lasting until the last one was firmly out the door. She ignored him and the many others that watched, heading out of the warm building into the chilly late winter weather hanging on Ankara. Crossing the small property that was officially another nation, the party moved from one country's jurisdiction to another for their transportation.
The two SUVs they drove from Antalya twelve days ago were still exactly where they left them, parked by the curb in front of the embassy. Before Koko or any one of the HCLI employees could enter the vehicles however, there was a short procedure to do. Wiley and Ugo went to the first car, Mao and R went to the second. Along the way the large driver snatched a piece of paper out of the windshield wiper and grumbled an obscenity.
Koko stopped and waited for them to finish, feeling Valmet come close to her side. She was aware of Jonah's location, a few feet behind her. While his guarded eyes looked around for anything resembling a threat, he was feeling the phone in his pocket. He would wait until they were back in the hotel and off duty for the time being, then resume what he was doing in the lobby. A queasy feeling wormed its way into her gut, just like other time she ran the thought through her mind.
"Good" came the report from Wiley.
"Clear" Mao called.
The obligatory car bomb check completed, the lights of both SUVS flashed twice. Feeling a shiver coming on, Koko powered to the first car with everyone else following suit. Wiley opened the door for her when she approached, noting how Jonah was going to the other side. Valmet followed her in, creating a makeshift human cocoon with her in the center. Five people for one car, five for the other. She wasn't sure of the arrangement the second vehicle was going to have, only that Lehm was going to have a window seat.
Ugo started the SUV, put the reinforced tank that masqueraded as a civilian car in drive, an pulled away into the sparsely populated street. Behind him the second SUV followed, every one of the professional mercenaries having their eyes open. For the time being Koko wasn't worried much about an incident here, even after the recent wave of protests a mere handful of blocks away. It wasn't a concern at the moment.
What had her attention was Jonah beside her, who stared out the window to the cold day outside. The child soldier, who once murdered dozens of men in cold blood to avenge the pointless death of a friend, who had risked his life to save the life of his comrade, and had charged into a man made hell to stop a madman, was taciturn. Throughout all that he had been through, it was an aspect of his personality that had never changed.
"So, anyone hungry?" Koko asked to break the silence.
"I could go for some grub" Wiley agreed.
"What're thinking boss, takeout or something fancy?" Ugo asked. Valmet lit up, all but glowing.
"Hey, maybe we can find a good romantic place?" she suggested, hearing the bemused snorts of the two men. Months after coming out and she was still as sappy about her relationship as ever, which rarely failed to crack the rest of the men up.
Koko swiveled her eyes to the teen, seeing him continuing to stare out the window. "What about you? Anything in particular you're leaning to?"
"Whatever you want" was his simplistic answer.
"Oh c'mon, don't you have any preferences?" she pressed.
Ugo chuckled "Not picky, that's for sure."
Koko outwardly shared the sentiment the three others had, but her mirth was only skin deep. She knew better than trying to cajole him into something like that, but she made the effort regardless. It was better attempting to get him to open up than to leave him on his own, lost in his own thoughts. Once she could only guess what he was actually feeling, though she could read him well enough after a time. Now, she knew what he felt as well as he did.
Regret, and grief.
Jonah put on a solid act; after a week he resumed his normal duty. After a month he stopped crying himself to sleep. He could act like his old self again, for a time forgetting his broken heart (at least she hoped so). Strangely, the unemotional state he held himself in as a longtime habit helped him more than anything. The boy was no stranger to burying his emotions, the only real thing that changed afterwards was the type added to the list. But she knew the wounds were still there. Still just as real as the scars doting his body, such as the patch of torn up flesh on his torso.
The common saying went "Time heals all wounds." Koko's experiences made her add the line "The scars are forever." He was better now; in time he could start to look at other women again, perhaps finding a sweet girl whom he could love, like he did for her. Not now, not for a while yet.
"So, local place or do you want to find a chain?" Wiley said, bringing her out of her thoughts.
"I'm thinking a local place. Someone want to ring up the others?" Koko asked. Valmet had her phone out, doubtlessly hoping to get an evening alone with her. After five days and five deals, her daily romance needs were lacking.
Jonah didn't look away from the window, even while the two cars debated on where or what to eat. Koko had the assumption that he would be alright with anything they decided, which turned out to be a buffet in downtown. He abstained on the vote, even though he would likely eat the most out of the group. Simply devour his food, clean himself up from the light day's exertions, then go back to his phone.
Not for the first time Koko briefly entertained the notion of sneaking away his phone, and not for the first time she shot the idea down. The two dozen pictures saved there were only one copy, there were several backups stashed around her various data catches, but he could take them traveling with him far easier than other means. He would know who deleted the pictures, and the approval she worked so hard to obtain from him would evaporate.
While they drove into sight of the hotel she used as headquarters for the consecutive rounds of deals made this week, she went over the same thought. He would adjust in his own time, attempting to rush it would only make things worse. Patience was the key. She couldn't help feeling frustrated at him however, how he stubbornly refused to let her go. He didn't speak of her to anyone, but it was clear she never entirely left his mind.
The nice hotel (expensive, but she didn't want to skimp for the busy week ahead of her) was tall and imposing, hiding its accommodating nature. Tomorrow they would check out and move on, unlikely to ever return. From there, they would go to South Africa for a regular meeting with her old friend, then onto the next item on her calendar. In layman's terms, the usual schedule of her tumultuous life.
While they pulled into the parking garage, Valmet spoke up "So what do you think of tonight's outing?"
"Sure. We'll just have to invite Jonah along" Koko needled, snickering at her crestfallen expression with Ugo and Wiley. Outside, the bland overcast sky was suddenly replaced by the murky light of the parking structure built alongside the hotel. Rows of cars were visible on all sides, none of them quite like the twin SUVs.
"But-" Valmet whimpered, attempting a puppy dog look.
"Could have Jonah get his own table" Wiley suggested half seriously, seeing Ugo cover his mouth to hide his giggle.
"That sounds like a great idea. What do you think?" Koko asked.
"Don't care" he answered.
"Really? How many men would love to have dinner with two beautiful women?" she jabbed.
"Its your date" he replied, his voice unchanging. She sighed dramatically.
"Isn't this a bummer. I guess its TV dinners tonight, since mister party pooper doesn't like-GAH!"
Ugo slammed on the brakes, making the entire vehicle lurch. Wiley was already twisting his body around, alert for danger. Jonah moved up to cover her, lightning fast. Valmet had her hands on the pale woman while she huddled over, suddenly gasping. The cheer within the car was gone, like it had never been. Visible in the rear view mirror, the second SUV stopped as well, the doors swinging open for the now armed men to pour out.
Koko gulped in air, unable to get more than a shallow breath. A slight tremble was in her form, focusing intently on her right arm.
"What is is?" Valmet softly asked, not quite a whisper.
Slowly Koko rose back up, clutching her arm and clearly shaken.
"The shock" she said hoarsely. Five eyes all but bulged out of their sockets, while two narrowed a minute degree.
A tap from the window made them jump, flipping to it dangerously. Lehm was outside, looking decidedly grim with his Magpul Masada in hand. A circular motion with his finger made Valmet fumble for a moment before rolling down the window.
"What's going on?" he questioned dryly.
"There's one of them in the building" Jonah answered for them. Lehm sighed, taking a moment to rub the bridge of his nose.
"An Otherworlder?" he asked simply. Koko shakily nodded, putting herself back together.
"This shock was pretty bad. I'm guessing its close, within two hundred meters" she said crisply, underplaying the feeling that was a legacy of her curiosity long ago.
"Alright, we'll take care it before it gets someone. Wiley, you're with me. All of you stay in this car" he firmly ordered before turning away, hearing the passenger door swing open then shut in quick succession.
Mao stood by the car with his rifle in hand, watching Lehm and Wiley jog back over. "What's going on?"
"Witch, within two hundred meters" Lehm answered, seeing the four other men react with concealed surprise. Behind him Wiley opened the back of the first SUV to fetch his own rifle.
"Oh damn" Lutz muttered.
"Damn indeed. Mao, R, you guys are coming with Wiley and me. Lutz, stay put, guard the cars" he commanded.
"On it" they chorused. Wiley slammed the door shut and went to the older man's side, weapon at the ready and a radio headset offered for him. An extra three magazines were stuffed in his pockets, a reasonable precaution these days.
When the two men had their weapons and ammo at the ready, Lehm nodded. "Let's do this slow and careful, I'd hate to lose any of you to something silly like an extra-dimensional killing machine."
"Not a chance. If a schoolteacher in China can take one out by herself, there's no way in hell we're gonna screw up" R boasted, slapping a magazine into place.
"Yeah, but she was paraplegic afterwards remember?" Mao reminded, adjusting his radio.
"Enough. You two head that way, Wiley and I are going this direction. Go very slow, and keep in contact. If you spot it, don't engage unless you have to. Now, move" Lehm ordered.
Taking off in a light jog, the leader kept his eyes wide open on the space in front of him. His ears, which had heard more gunfire than could be safely counted, were straining to listen for any of the telltale clues a berserker tended to make. He knew better than anyone just how quick and agile the little monsters were, how much faster they could react compared to a human. And the end result was almost always death. Gripping the gun tighter, Lehm was determined to not die today.
Taking cover behind a support pillar with the large man behind him, he tapped his headset. "Come in."
"Nothing in sight" Mao's staticky voice told him.
"Alright, you two head down one level, it might be inside a maintenance tunnel. We're going up" Lehm said.
"Rodger, be safe" he replied before clicking it off from his end.
"Ready?" Wiley asked tersely.
Lehm nodded, taking a short breath. He moved away from the pillar with his Magpul held up, sweeping it around. Internally he was hoping there wasn't a civilian in the area, unknowingly risking his life between the mercenaries and a creature who killed for no discernible reason. Mentally he recounted the various incidents that occurred over the past six months, since Thailand went public with a secret he and the men knew well beforehand. A short list of cities off the top of his head, along with a body count. Lyons, one. Seattle, sixteen. Mexico city, seven. New Delhi, twenty seven. Kabul, three. St. Petersburg, fifteen. Kyoto, nineteen. He counted to himself, adding a new marker and a goal: Ankara, zero.
Lehm sensed rather than heard the movement. Pausing before the driveway to the second, he noted Wiley pausing behind him. He stood stock still, unmoving except for his breathing. Desperately he searched, feeling the presence of someone close by. Unlike Koko's apparently mystical ability to feel portal openings nearby, he had his decades of experience to rely on. Those hard won instincts were telling him there was something dangerous close by.
"What is it?" Wiley whispered, loud in the silence. Lehm could only slightly shake his head.
The old man waited, alert for the first sign of danger coming from the path in front of him. He realized it was upon them a second too late.
A mass of solid black swooped down behind Wiley, causing him to sweep around. A swing of a long limb, a leg, impacted him on the temple. A muted cry left him as he dropped, the rifle tumbling from his limp grasp. Lehm had time enough to line up his sights on the target before it charged him, inhumanly fast. He squeezed off one booming shot that hit the edge of the target as it bowled into him, feeling more like a speeding truck than a living creature.
Lehm's feet left the ground for half a second, making sure his landing was going to hurt much worse. All his breath left him when he hit the asphalt, the Otherworldler escaping his hurried grasp. Forcing himself back to awareness, he grabbed for the hidden SIG Pro sidearm he carried since morning to yank it out. He had the barrel pointed at the monster just as it created a weapon out of shimmering multicolored light. He blinked.
The Otherworlder in front of him had a black tinted sword out, held to the side in waiting. Evidently it recognized a gun for what it was, or perhaps it saw a similar tool in the hands of its own kind.
This one was mid height, shorter than him but not by much. She had the usual pale skin Otherworlders tended to have, an unhealthy alabaster tone. Her sable hair was done up in twin pigtails that were quite long, though one was significantly shorter than the other. She had a pretty yet unsmiling face, unlike most of them there was no sadistic smile or demented expression.
Her outfit consisted of several similar parts; black boots that went halfway up her calves, a pair of black hot pants with a loose white belt, a bikini top that didn't have much to hide underneath, also black. A large white lined black coat covered most of her, the two back flaps ending close to the ground. Without looking, he knew there was a white star in the center of the back. The hands, one still holding the black sword, were covered by a pair of gloves, black like everything else. A small choker was on her neck, a piece of glinting metal hanging off the front.
"-To be fucking kidding me."
The Otherworlder's blue gear inlaid eyes stared into his own, unresponsive to the words. No sign of recognition showed in her eyes.
"Either I'm having a fever dream, or you're her identical twin. Because there is no way you of all people are in front of me right now" Lehm snapped. The automatic response to pull the trigger was weakening by the second.
The Otherworlder tilted her head to the side a few degrees, staring blankly at him. It could understand him, but it did not comprehend the odd statement.
Her attention was focused on him, insuring she made the same mistake Lehm made. Two gunshots boomed, both of them nine millimeter pops. One hit the edge of her hip, tearing a chunk out of her leg and spraying some blood out, some of which splattered on him. The second punched through the coat to impact her torso, burying itself deep in the hard flesh. She jerked with both hits, her hard mask shattered in sudden pain. A silent cry left the girl's throat.
Lehm took the chance to fire twice himself, aiming carefully. His first hit the shoulder of the sword arm, causing it to fall. The second hit her other leg, completing the job of dropping her to the ground. Before she could recover he scrambled to his feet, struggling to make it over to her in time. The less injured leg threw a weak kick that off balanced him, but no more. The arm tried to form a new weapon, a cannon.
He made it over before it was more than half formed, curling his fist up and punching her in between the eyes as quickly as he could. Amazingly she was still conscious after the first blow, albeit dazed. A second punch solved the problem, leaving her out cold on the asphalt.
Rising up, Lehm sucked in a breath. As an afterthought he glanced over to Wiley, seeing him fumble for his glasses for a moment before putting them on. Just as Lehm did, he absorbed the sight of the unconscious Otherworlder, letting his jaw drop.
"Is...is that..." he was unable to finish the sentence.
"God I hope not. Because she has a lot of explaining to do" Lehm answered dryly.
"But...what do we do?" Wiley asked suddenly. Faint stomps on the ground reached them, he guessed it was Mao and R jogging to them after hearing the gunshots. Mentally he berated himself for not reporting in the potential threat.
"No dinner tonight. We're hauling ass back to Antalya, getting the hell out of Turkey as fast as possible. On the bright side, Jonah is going to be one happy fool" Lehm answered, giving the bleeding girl another uncertain look.
He knew the name of this one, recalled the last time he saw her. A burning field in southern Thailand, finally shedding the murderous form just to be rudely torn away from them all. Lehm could already feel a headache forming just at the thought of the trouble she was going to cause them.
The type of trouble only Black Rock Shooter could make.
Redemption is here.