With Extreme Prejudice, pt4
by Lee Hulme
Viscura stood in zir cell as the sound of raised voices grew near. Ze tapped on the bars, “Hey! That doesn’t sound good!”
The Sheriff stuck her head around the corner, “We’re covered, don’t worry. Your friends are here.”
Viscura nodded, “I know. I’d ask to be let out to help, but…”
“But you know I can’t do that.”
Viscura nodded again and sat down. Ze was beginning to regret zir snap decision to surrender. It sounded like more people would get hurt, or worse, because of it. But with Bonitas and Millie helping, maybe there was some hope of quelling the fire. And if not, then there was surely something ze could do. Anything besides sit on this concrete-hard mattress and listen to other people fight over zir.
Viscura stood, turning to examine the back wall. The bars were easy, but would take zir into the centre. To lead the group that wanted to kill zir away, ze needed to come from behind; but to get there, ze needed to get through that wall without anyone knowing. With any luck, Millie would come through with something that would cause enough noisy chaos.
Up in the first floor window, Millie was preparing to do just that. The traps placed around the front of the building weren’t well hidden, but they were remotely activated, and Millie was willing to bet the approaching mob was too drunk and worked up to see them anyway. She flexed her fingers over the holographic map on her comms device and waited.
Down below in the sheriff’s station, the Sheriff and her deputies had organised a small group into something resembling order. Each held a striking weapon of some sort. The only guns in sight were the Sheriff’s and the deputies, and these were in their holsters, though their straps were unsnapped. Just in case.
Hearing the mob approach, the Sheriff turned to the room, “I’m gonna say this one last time. Stay inside unless I say otherwise. One of you makes a violent move without my word, I’ll knock you myself. Clear?”
The assembled defence squad nodded.
The Sheriff turned next to Bonitas who held her hands up in surrender, “I’m here to help, you’re in charge.”
“And your friend up there?”
“I know, I know!” Millie’s voice squawked from Bonitas’ wrist.
The Sheriff grinned and shook her head, “I dunno. You two – three. I dunno. Come on, you can stand with me.”
Lily raised her arms as the mob approached, slowing at the foot of the steps. When they were as quiet as she judged they were likely to get, she spoke, “My friends – please. You know me. I know you. We both want what’s best for ourselves, for each other, for our town. The person in my cell surrendered -uh-” Lily turned to Bonitas who quickly stepped forward and supplied the words. Lily continued, stumbling only slightly, “-zirself to me. It is my duty to hand zir over for trial, and this is what I plan to do. I know you’re angry. So am I. But I won’t let my anger stop me from doing what’s right. Ze is my responsibility, and I will protect zir as I would any of you.”
Her piece said, Lily waited, harbouring the tiniest of hopes that the tide could still be turned away.
A mob elects its own leaders. This one had chosen one of the outspoken women from the bar and she stepped forwards, red-faced, brandishing a tire iron in one hand and a gun in the other. “We don’t wanna hurt you or any o’ yours. Just the Thing in there. Take a walk, nobody has to know.”
Lily shook her head, “I can’t do that.”
“You’d risk yerself to protect that killin’ Thing?”
“I’d risk myself to protect anyone or anything placed under my protection.”
Bonitas frowned as the woman spoke. The words were there, and the fire, but something was off. She reached out with her senses and felt something push back, as if by instinct, trying to keep her away. Bonitas probed gently, studying the mob, willing Lily to keep the woman talking a little while longer. Then she locked eyes with a man in a fleece jacket, who returned her gaze intently, a smile spreading across his face. She heard his words as if they had been planted right into her brain.
“You shouldn’t have interfered.”
Bonitas shook her head, projecting a single thought back, “Who are you?”
“No-one you want to fight. Trust me.”
A shout drew Bonitas’ attention back to the mob.
“Kill it! Now!”
The movement began somewhere in the middle. Before Lily had chance to pinpoint exactly where, there was a series of small explosions and puffs of smoke expanded to envelop the crowd.