Colt felt a coat of bravery blanket him, and with it a zip of uncertainty. His fingers held feverishly the butt of his weapon. Beside him, Kim was cowering before the door, one of her arm entwined in his.
Outside, a shootout ensued between Mason and co. and Arabs. Heavy weapons grinding into bulletproof vests and throwing such recipients backward with a force so powerful Colt was certain he wouldn’t have survived. If he was out there.
Inside, Kim leaned against the door, not weighing the fact that a boot digging into the frame would send her splitting across the floor of the barn. She blinked rapidly, her face agleam by bulbs of light from vehicles parked outside.
“I can’t believe World War 3 is underway and I’m missing the juice of the action.”
Colt’s reaction was as that of a man hit by his mistress’s spouse – eyeballs withdrawing into socket, lower lip falling an inch off line, fingers clutching tightly whatever occupied the hand, nose taking a sniff.
Kim smiled. “What?”
“Nothing,” Colt said, not recovered to his full.
“You don’t go statue because of nothing.”
“Your idea of a world war.” He paused to let the latest rings of shot settle. “It’s startling.”
“I’m honored,” Kim said. “Can we go outside now?”
Colt crept to the window and leaned for a look. Bullets smashed into the window, where his head was stayed seconds back.
He returned to his vacated position. “Not a good time.”
“So what? We just stay in here and wait for the fight to end? Or pray that one of the sides wins the battle and we get rescued? From my side, we have no allies. Not Mason. Not Arabs. I’d say we shoot our way through.”
Her mannerism in uttering the words flattered Colt. She made use of we like she presently held a .9 millimeter and would take one side of the battle while Colt covered the other. Colt found himself looking at her hands, tiny flesh-covered fingers that was structured for holding a paintbrush, a hardcover crime fiction, the hem of a mat, a dress or jeans (and it was difficult picturing Kim in a dress), and …
She reached for him.
And a man’s hand. An agent to be exact.
The roof at the far end of the building caved.
“Huh. Seems we’re been compromised.”
“Don’t think.” Colt, not taking a step further, examined the hole. “More like something intentionally hit the thatch.”
A sudden interruption broke into the barn. “Agent 047, surrender yourself.”
Colt gave Kim what he was certain was the ‘told-you’ glance. Kim smiled. It was warm and fresh, like mountain scents, and awkward also. Colt had never thought a smile resembled scents.
“Agent 047, I repeat,” the voice said, projecting from the chopper hovering above the barn. The pfffts had quietened outside, with only two or so men still standing. Colt saw Mason, alright, marching towards the enemy’s zone, gun extended.
“Leave the girl to us. Give a retreat.”
“What do we do?”
Colt faced Kim. “Climb a ladder to meet the good guy? I’m pretty hazed as you are.”
Kim spoke, voice so low that Colt would not be certain but for the chilled air warming his ear, “And here I thought the agent was back.”
Colt squared her. “The agent is. The man is not.”
Silence. Kim’s voice got droned by a buzz. Copter landing. Her eyes darted behind Colt at the same time a crash filled the barn.
Kim yelled. “He’s at your…”
But Colt was already spinning, pulling Kim with one hand, as bullets drilled the upper section for the door.
The shooter stumbled back, fell on the wall, and slipped down.
“That was close,” Kim yelled.
Colt raced to the door. Mason and another MI6 were halfway to the barn. The garden, a former quiet grove housing pine trees, was now a mixture of blood and shell casings. Colt found Mason at the same moment he was found.
“Colt, Colt. Can’t run away from me now?”
So, it was Mason. Mason was with the chopper, not Arabs. The truth hit him and coiled his stomach. The copter came into view and spotted Mason. Mason signaled and the chopper disappeared into the woods.
A hand reached his back. “What does he want?” Kim asked.
How do you tell a lady you’ve promised to protect that she’s the one being sought when she’s fully aware she’s a high-priced target and she’s only asking to hear the words depart from your mouth.
Colt fumbled for his gun. Body count of dead Arabs totaled six. The moon above was bleeding orange.
“Kim Burton,” Mason said. “Too much trouble to get to you, you’d say.”
Colt sneered. “What’s stopping you from taking a shot, Mason?”
Mason reached a step forward. “Maybe because there’s no need for such a waste. Maybe, just maybe, someone wants you alive. Maybe I have other plans.” He jerked the side of his chin towards the MI6 with him.
Kim exchanged rapid stares with Colt. The MI6 was at Colt, stepping past him to grab Kim. Colt’s move was unprecedented. He connected with the agent’s torso, sent him sprawling forward, and stopped him in time to play shield in the event Mason was readying a shot.
“Well,” Kim said, all smiles. Innocent and childish. “Seems the odd side is facing you, Mr. Mason.”
Mason, in his uncharacteristic grin said, “Depends, Ms. Burton. Depends on Colt’s next move. Tell her Colt. Let her know what you intend to do next.”
The MI6 grunted. Colt hit him below the waist. His words caught in his throat.
“Told you, Ms. Burton. There’s no next plan.” Mason, surged with new confidence, stepped forward, not bothering with his gun. Colt considered leveling the man. Mason held the record for swiftness in the sum of MI agents.
The man continued his impish walk. “You are wrong to associate with Colt, Ms. Burton.” Mason stopped three feet away, just before the first of two stairs. “It’s over, Colt.”
Someone had another say…
The hit on Mason’s partner would not have been acknowledged but for a slight shift in the man’s leaning posture against Colt’s body. His body, especially at the point where Colt punched him seemed to add pounds and pushed in, having a slight effect on Colt’s stance.
In the dim glow, he saw blood dripping from the agent’s body.
Kim saw it too, for her mouth was parting.
Mason saw it too, for he was doing a pirouette towards the bullet’s angle. The self-imposed rules binding Mason required him to acquire his target before lining his shot, given that he ranked second on sharpest fingers.
It was a rule not applying to tonight.
Mason was collapsing before he knew what.
For some reason, Kim was static. Colt’s legs felt like an elephant’s.
The shadow belonging to John Doe loomed with each passing second, intent in Colt’s direction. Fifteen breaths after Mason was fallen, the man stepped out of the woods, arms strutting a rifle and a pistol.
“Whaddaya say, Colt. Isn’t it a sight you have here?”
Kim had recovered her tongue. “Colt. Colt.” She tugged his sleeve. “Who’s he?”
He was Jon Osback.
And wherever Jon Osback was, there was terrible trouble that made the past events feel like a warm-up.
The man stepped into full moonlight. He hadn’t changed appearance, save a trimmed diagonal beard decorating his jaw.
“Jon is the name.” Jon looked at Colt. “Answer the madam, Colt. Tell her who I am.”
“He’s Jon Osback,” Colt said. “We worked together on a stint.”
“The story doesn’t end there,” Jon said, apparently addressing Kim. “Tell her what became of the stint.”
One of the fallen men started to stir and got silenced with ease.
Jon faced Colt. “Man is waiting.”
The words didn’t make it.
Afterword: I’m surprised I’m posting this. It’s the sixth installment. And I’m enjoying it. Kindly share with others. Thanks for reading. Kindly visit the blog page for previous installments.