During a fight with a Silver Star assassin in a crowded Bombay market, Jack McGraw receives a poisoned wound. When an unseen gunman opens up with a BAR from an upstairs window across the Esplanade, Doc finds herself pinned down behind some produce carts, her unconscious love on the street beside her. Fortunately, Cipher works her way to Doc’s position, bringing an old friend with her…
The bronze man reached back and unslung a Thompson submachine gun that had been hiding behind his billowy clothing. “Can you fire one of these?” he asked Doc.
Dorothy Starr blinked again, the fog clearing, her wits returning. “Absolutely,” she said with authority.
“Very good,” Rajiv grinned, showing off a gleaming gold tooth where his upper left canine should have been. “Marissa, you and I will each take a side. When we go, we don’t stop until we get him to my ship. He can be treated, but we must hurry.”
Doc ratcheted back the bolt on the Tommy gun. “Let’s go already,” she hissed through sun-chapped lips.
They stood as one, Rajiv and Cipher hoisting Jack between them, each ducking under an arm and taking hold of his field belt from behind. Doc hefted the Tommy gun and flipped the safety switch forward to fire, noting the secondary switch was already set to full auto.
Instantly, the gunman in the window across the Esplanade opened up with the BAR, blasting chunks of cobblestone and dirt, while the line of turbaned agents proceeded forward under his fire arc.
A single shot echoed across the market square from behind Doc, and she barely caught the rupture of a pane of glass. The BAR fell silent, then tumbled from the balcony to the street below. Thank you, Charlie! she thought, planting her stance to cover the getaway of Rajiv, Cipher, and the unconscious Jack.
As her index finger squeezed the trigger, the Tommy gun began to buck and kick, spitting 45-caliber rounds across the square. Its roar was like that of a dragon in her ears, and she could feel the heat from the barrel as it ceaselessly breathed fire at the encroaching gunmen. Two men fell instantly, their bodies beginning to smoke and bubble. It was something they’d seen repeatedly in their many encounters with agents of the Silver Star. The souls promised to Crowley as collateral were being called in.
The others opened fire with their own weapons, and at that moment Doc wished dearly she hadn’t left the Athenian vambrace aboard the Daedalus. A gift from AEGIS benefactor Marina Stavros, the forearm plate could be invoked to create a mystical bubble of energy around the wearer, a shield against incoming attack. But it was one hundred percent non-effective while sitting on the table next to the bunk in her quarters.
She squatted down behind the wooden cart, feeling the wakes of a dozen rounds whiz past her head. Lucky. Very lucky. If she continued to be this lucky, by the law of averages, she might survive a second try at the gunmen before they got her for good. But at least it would buy the precious time necessary to get Jack to safety and treat the poison. She wouldn’t get the opportunity to bid farewell to her love, or to their daughter, Ellen. But there were letters in a safety deposit box in West Orange for that. She swallowed, bracing herself to receive the bullets with her name on them.
Then she stood, spraying the square with hot metal. The gunmen fired back.
The machine gun roared, kicking in her hands. A third man fell, and a fourth. Three men remained.
Doc’s arms ached, from shoulders to fingertips, but she continued to fire. An enemy round struck her in the left shoulder. Another the left thigh. She felt the flesh split in a fountain of blood and cotton fibers.
As Doc watched, the gunman on the left end fell, the report of a single rifle shot echoing from behind her. That left two.
One of the last two fell as his head erupted in a red spray. Once again, she heard the rifle shot reach her ears from behind.
That left the last gunman—
The 1925 Vauxhall four-seater came roaring off the Esplanade like a silver shark, skidding to the side as it collided with the remaining Silver Star agent, folding the man in half. His weapon rolled and skittered away toward the Market Road, his body beginning to disintegrate before it hit the cobblestones. The driver recovered from the spin, revving the engine toward Doc and the perforated produce cart.
Doc’s right arm spasmed and she realized she was still holding the trigger down. The Tommy gun had run out of ammo from the long stick magazine some seconds ago. The car barreled toward her, and she dropped to a defensive squat, preparing to spring out of the way at the last moment.
The driver slammed on the brakes, tires screaming to a halt on the fruit-strewn pavement barely two feet from her.
“Going my way, love?” Duke asked, flashing his charming grin.
Doc limped around to the passenger side and fell into the red leather seat next to him, tossing the Thompson into the back. Duke noticed that people were starting to peek out of the Market building and probe the square once again. He knew the authorities would find only empty clothing, piles of ash and bone fragments, and weapons they could trace no further than the black market.
“Where’s Jack?” he asked, throwing the Vauxhall into gear and peeling out in a southerly heading.
“Cipher and…a friend. Dragging him to the docks. He’s been poisoned. Hopefully they made the Terminus by now.”
As she said “made the Terminus,” the car tires bumping and bobbling over a set of rail tracks near the harbor, the lumbering forms of Cipher, Rajiv, and Jack came into view. They’d cleared the last rail line and were headed toward a nearby pier, where a questionable-looking tramp steamer was moored. The car no longer necessary, Duke pulled to a stop and killed the engine. “Shall we?” he nodded.
They climbed from the silver sports car and Duke went to look Doc over. Her left arm hung slack at her side, and she limped on her left leg. Both limbs were awash in dark red. “Oh dear,” he frowned. “We should get these seen to.”
Doc suddenly felt very hot, as if she’d walked into a steam bath by mistake. She nodded, breath heavy in her chest. Then she collapsed, unconscious, into Duke’s arms.