Note: This is the climax of the story, with two or three more chapters to wrap up the arc. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapter 10 Chapter 11
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As the door opened a voice spoke, "Alright, hand it over and let's see what he wants this time."
I moved as quickly as I could around the corner into the now open doorway and Rusack was standing there with his hand on the inside handle and a look of surprise on his face. I straight-arm pushed him back into the apartment while Korannon tossed the credit chip to our accomplish and closed the door.
"Rusack you son of a bitch," I said through clenched teeth, "where the fuck is our money?"
He was backpedaling with his hands up in the air beside his head and a look panic on his face, eyes darting all over. In hindsight I can see how he was absorbing the situation, checking for weapons, evaluating the threat, and formulating a plan of action. But as I've said before, back then I was not an experienced fighter and I mistook his actions for surrender.
As he backed up I advanced on him, my bottled rage finally getting free. I clenched my fists and jaw as I prepared to grab him and.. I don't know what I was going to do, I was barely human at that point. Maybe I would have started wailing on him, or throwing him around like a dog with a carcass. I didn't have a plan and Rusack never let me improvise.
He had surveyed the situation and as I reached for his shirt to grab him, he acted. One of his raised open hands suddenly flew out in a jab and turned into a fist as it connected with my unprotected face. My nose exploded in pain. Before I could react he had turned his jab into a grab of my shirt, along with his other hand, and as I stumbled forward blinded by the punch he used my momentum to fling me over his twisting body, off my feet and flying through the air to crash headfirst against a drink table beside a cushioned chair. The plastic table smashed into several pieces as I flew into it.
I somehow got off the floor to my hands and knees despite the wooziness in my head. I looked up through bleary eyes to see my brother running over to me with a look of shock mixed with concern on his face while he ignored Rusack who was at the side of the room reaching into a desk drawer. "Forget me, get him!" I tried to yell but came out mumbled as I was still dizzy from the attack. Korannon reached me and started to help me to my feet as I pushed at him to get away.
It was too late.
"You dumb motherfuckers," Rusack said with a wild look on his face. He had pulled a handgun from the desk drawer, what looked like a blaster as opposed to the more typically projectile handguns of thugs in cities and stations around the cluster. Blasters were particularly nasty pieces of work because the plasmatic charge they fired could hit multiple people with fatal effect, burning through clothing and simple body armour with ease. As such they were banned from most civilized worlds and stations and the penalties for possession of such a weapon were severe. At this point I realized just how far in over our heads we were.
"Home invasion," he continued, "you weren't happy about a risky business deal gone bad. Hotheads."
"What are you talking about?!" my brother asked, confused about our adversary's monologue. But my fire was gone, starved by the chill in my blood as I listened to him.
"Burst in here, my HOME, with a gun, threatening to kill me if I didn't give you your money back!" He waved the blaster in the air to punctuate his words, the wild look on his face giving way to rage. He was unhinged.
"But I fought back," he said with sudden calmness. "I got the gun. Lucky me." The blaster's aim steadied, fixed on us once more. "Home invasion. Self Defence." He paused and looked up as if thinking. Then he looked back at us and said, "Yeah, that'll work."
"NO!" My brother screamed and pushed me aside and to ground as a crack of superheated air burst in the room. I tumbled backwards over the cushioned chair and felt a wave of sudden searing air flash over me, taking my breath away. My exposed face felt like it had been sunburned and then I smelled the horrible odor of melted plastic and burned flesh.
As I got back to my feet and saw my brother lying on the ground. The wall behind him was blacked and melted, metal bulkhead of the station's bones exposed as the charge seared straight through the habitation's veneer. My brother's left hip was mostly gone, the exposed flesh and viscera blackened and dripping in blood and offal. I rushed back over to him and kept down my bile as I knelt down. "Kor? Kor!? Oh god oh god oh god, talk to me Kor!"
I turned him over and saw his left side was charred and black, the clothes he was wearing in some cases melted into his burnt skin. He was thankfully unconscious. I was babbling now, frantic with terror for my brother, tears streaming down my face, calling his name and screaming for help.
Then Rusack's voice cut through my delirious ravings. "It'll be harder to explain two shots but I'm sure I can still make it work. I've been in tougher jams." I looked up and through my tears I saw him steadily aim the blaster at me as I held my dying brother.