heather lin book

Lady of Mars: Chapter 32

“Get to the back of the truck and shoot whatever you can!” Colin yelled.

 Capri nodded, pulling her long hair back into a ponytail as she ran to join Leroy. She clutched her gun—no, Brody’s gun—feeling scared but surprisingly steady.

She was also angry. She’d agreed to do the last job with them, but she’d been unceremoniously thrown into this one. Jax had burst into Brody’s room, thrown a bulletproof vest at her, and explained in no uncertain terms that if she wanted to get paid for her work so far and have enough crew left to get her back home she’d get her ass up and armed.

She’d never heard him sound so urgent. He was scared for Colin. She might not like the situation, but there was no time to fight it. Leroy swung out around the truck to shoot and then ducked back for cover. He plastered his back against the metal siding to reload and gave her one of his easy grins.

He was so confident, seemingly invincible. Just like when they’d first met, she couldn’t help but smile back.

“You remember how to use that thing?”

She nodded. She’d shot the Guard Dog. She’d missed, but she’d hit him, and that was something. She hoped.

Capri clicked off the safety and swung out to shoot, just as he had, but she quickly realized that shooting a living, breathing person was very different from shooting a machine. She hesitated, and in that moment, a bullet whizzed past her ear. The sound of it was terrifyingly similar to the one that had killed Lady Agatha.

She scrambled back without taking the shot, breathing hard, fear making her frozen. Leroy clasped her shoulder and forced her eyes to meet his. They were serious again, fierce and understanding.

“Get down and take the legs. It’s easier,” he said, pushing her towards the ground behind him and taking her place.

He was right. Capri aimed for faceless legs and pulled the trigger. She heard a cry of pain, and a man crumpled to the ground. She thought she might feel guilty then, once she saw him, but there was no time. He was still very capable of shooting her, and she ducked behind the tire just in time to miss another bullet to the head. She squeezed her eyes shut and took another breath.

Her heart was pounding. Violent images swirled in her head, the fantasy of nightmares mixed with memories of the blood bath in the upper dining hall. She took a deep breath and forced them back. If she wanted to live—if she wanted them to live—she had to stay focused.

She opened her eyes and prepared to make the kill shot, but she still couldn’t do it. Leroy glanced her way and gave her a questioning look. She shook her head slightly. She felt sick, useless. They switched places briefly so that he could do what she couldn’t, and she fired at random from behind the back of the truck to keep the Tychos at bay.

He came over to her. “I can’t do all your dirty work for you,” he teased, and even in the midst of the gunfight, the mood felt light again.

She squatted down by the tire again, shooting another pair of legs. This time, it was a woman, and her gun went flying. Capri shot her other leg to keep her from getting to it and then turned to fire at an ankle that had been getting perilously close to the truck—but it was gone.

 Confusion made Capri hesitate. She glanced toward the front of the truck to see how the others were doing. They were holding their own. Brody was grinning, in fact, which meant they must be close to victory.

Then fear struck her anew, and she leapt to her feet. She realized exactly where the missing pair of legs had gone. She glanced up to the roof of the truck and found a Tycho man with his eyes and gun trained on their biggest threat—Brody.

Suddenly, the decision to kill was easy. Capri raised her gun, aimed at the man’s head, and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened. She was out of ammo. All Capri could do was scream a warning.

It worked, in a way. It got Brody’s attention, but it also got the shooter’s attention. He turned the gun on her, the wrench in his plans, and fired. She turned away, but it wasn’t enough. She saved her brain, but the bullet tore through her arm.

She fell hard on the dusty ground and gasped as the initial shock wore off and pain seared through her. She’d never felt anything like it. There was no ignoring it. There was no going to the place inside her mind where it wasn’t happening. The agony was too demanding.

Capri had landed between the front and back tires, an easy target for anyone who bothered to glance under the truck as she’d been doing just moments before.

“Capri?” Leroy yelled.

His voice was laced with panic, but he couldn’t get to her without leaving the back end uncovered. She struggled to her hands and knees, effort preventing her from answering.

The man who had shot her tumbled from the roof of the truck and landed a few feet away with a thud. She flinched. His brain hadn’t been as lucky as hers.

Brody was beside her then, wrapping a strong arm around her waist, lifting and half-dragging her to the front of the truck. He pushed her back down to the ground and stood over her as he continued firing. He didn’t look at her.

“This is gettin’ outta hand!” Colin called. Capri looked up at him, and she could tell he was angry. Controlled, but angry. “Get back to the ship!”

Jax ran for the loading ramp, using the truck and three other men for cover. Brody took a grenade from his belt and pulled the pin, ready to risk destroying the produce and whoever held the money to get them out of there.

Capri glanced towards the body of the man who had shot her. The dust had settled around his body, and through her haze she spotted something shiny. A small bag on the ground beside him. Diamonds. She couldn’t be sure it was the payment they’d been looking for, but it was something.

She forced herself upright and stumbled over to him. She heard Brody swear and hoped he’d put the pin back in the grenade. She grabbed the bag. A few shiny rocks fell out, and Brody grabbed her again before she could collect them. She hoped it was enough, enough to keep them in the sky.

Then he was pulling her back, out of harm’s way, and he threw the grenade. They all ran for the ship. Colin closed the ramp behind them and barked into his linker for Jax to take off.

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