20 March 2014
If you want to read the rest of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, and Part 10.
Doug quirked a crooked smile and adjusted his gun stance. "You're the one who's going to get shot, Ellie."
Pepper rolled her eyes. "Yeah, in front of at least six CCTV cameras, not counting the red-light camera at the intersection. You're going to have your close-up on every news outlet in the country, and half the US too."
Doug started to look for the cameras, then caught himself. "Just give me the data, Ellie."
"If it means you're not going to shoot me, or Sheila or Geoffrey — just to be clear — then sure. We can go pick it up."
"Pick it up?"
Pepper made a tutting sound. "You lost me outright for over an hour, Doug. Did you think I just rode the subway the whole time?"
Doug cocked his head at Cinnamon, who was looking down her nose at him. "She picked you up."
"Uh huh. And you followed the car the whole time, right? Got a tracker on it?"
"She's stalling," said the goon with his gun trained on Geoffrey's head.
"What the hell am I stalling for?" said Pepper. "What, I'm going to keep up this standoff until morning comes and the office drones show up and make this little meeting impossible to continue? I don't think so. Doug, your help is even stupider than you are."
"Where did you hide it?" Doug said. "The data."
"Queen's Quay Terminal," said Pepper.
"Bullshit," said Doug. "There's no way —"
Cinnamon sighed loudly. "Gardiner to Lakeshore, Lakeshore to Queen's Quay Boulevard, then Queen's Quay back to Lakeshore to go north on University Avenue. University to College, then south on Bay Street. Total detour time no more than fifteen minutes in light traffic, which we had." She glanced at Pepper. "We should have gone around back via Elizabeth Street like you said."
"Shit happens," said Pepper.
"So where is it then?" said Doug. His voice cracked.
"It's a microSD card," said Pepper. "You think I can just give you directions? I'll have to go there and get it."
The goon standing behind Cinnamon swung and arm around her neck and put his gun to her temple.
"Watch it, asshole!" said Cinnamon, grabbing at his forearm. "You're choking me!"
"We'll keep your friends here, with, ah, my friends, and then we'll come back once we get the data," said Doug.
"Not acceptable," said Pepper. "I leave, and while I'm getting you the data your goons kill them. No way. Either we all go, or you leave now empty-handed."
"We can't just march down Bay Street holding guns to your backs," said Doug.
"The rest of Canada would think it's an awesome metaphor for the national banking district," said Cinnamon. "Hey!" She fought to keep her balance as her guard almost pulled her down. "What, you got relatives who are stock brokers or something?"
"Let her go," said Doug. "All right," he said to Pepper, gesturing with his gun, "we'll do it."
"How do we know you won't just shoot us after you have the data?" said Geoffrey.
"We'll..." Doug stopped, flummoxed.
"You could trade your guns for the data card," said Geoffrey.
"These things weren't cheap," said Doug. "We... no, wait, if we do that, you can shoot us and get the data back."
"Trade two out of three," said Pepper. "That way you still get to have a gun, so attacking isn't risk-free for us, and you have leverage to get away."
"But then we won't have guns," said the thug holding on to Cinnamon.
"You can get more," said Doug. He flicked his gun towards the south. "Let's go. Don't do anything to make us use them while we all have them."
"Just make sure you keep up," said Pepper.
They trudged the five blocks to the lake, silent except for when Pepper turned west to walk the final block to the terminal and one of the thugs thought she was trying to escape.
"Watch what the hell you're doing," Doug shouted.
"Do you think," Pepper said in normal tone of voice, "that it's a good idea to shoot a gun when the only building that's not a condo tower around here is a hotel? The question isn't whether or not there'll be witnesses, but how many dozen. It's this way."
They walked up to a grey-painted wooden hut with a small dock behind it. "This way," said Pepper, leading them behind the hut and onto a strip of solid ground only a few metres wide.
Pepper stopped sooner than Doug was expecting, and he walked into her. She grabbed his gun hand with both of hers and twisted it. There was a cracking sound, and Doug screamed as the gun fell from his hands.
Cinnamon stomped on her guard's foot, then elbowed him in the stomach before he could react. She karate-chopped him in the neck and took his gun out of his hands, using it to knock him across the head. He fell unconscious to the pavement.
Geoffrey threw his guard against the side of the shed, forcing his gun hand into an odd, intricate position. Finger bones snapped, and Geoffrey gained control of the gun, which he used to knock out his opponent.
"Dumbass," said Pepper, giving Doug one last kick in the head.
"I haven't had to do that in ages," said Geoffrey.
"I haven't had to do that for six weeks," said Cinnamon. "So now what?"
"I don't know about either of you, but I need some time off the grid," said Pepper. "Let's get out on the lake." She flicked the padlock on the door of the grey hut. "You still remember how to paddle a canoe, Geoffrey?"