Chapter 12

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He was expecting to see Quixxa soon.

Fia turned the submachine gun over on its case, letting the battery packs shine up at him in the fiery light of the New Medina sun. Despite the canvas hanging over the open-top roof of the bus, sweat wept out of Fia's skin and evaporated instantly, filling the air around him with the sharp scent of alcohol. He was seated on the top deck, at the back.

Nobody sat on the top deck in the afternoon.

So nobody saw his bruises. Nobody laid eyes on his bloody, blue and black chin and cheeks.

Nobody saw his easily obtained illegal weapon.

And most of all, no one saw his heart.

~

Quixxa rolled her neck as she hung upside down from the ceiling, sniffing very lightly to see if the stench of Maiasari body odor had passed yet.

It hadn't.

Quixxa exhaled sharply and tilted her head down to bury her nose in her bandana to take a breath. The subway was packed as usual, the threadbare cloth seats completely taken up and bodies packed in like bullets in a clip. There'd been no room for her when she approached the door, but she'd practically kicked her way in despite cursing humans and a Chaets that may have thrown an elbow her way.

This subway took her to her meeting. A meeting she dreaded, in some ways. A meeting the Pink market had forced her into.

She clenched her jaw.

And it was one meeting she wasn't missing it.

~

Fia glanced up, squinting at the sun's halo through the canvas as the bus made it's second to last stop.

He was getting close.

And he was getting ready.

Adrenaline was already trickling into Fia's bloodstream, the heat slowly fading into an icy blizzard of rage and hate. The entire Socotra system hadn't enough heat to cool his temper. He'd been pushed. Shoved. Cornered and caged into doing something to save his wife. His child. His dream.

And he was going to do it.

Fia slid a clip into the bottom of his weapon, locking the ion-driven power pack into place. He flicked his thumb across the magnetic bolt cover, allowing the weapon to arm and his fingers to tighten around the grip. He set his jaw, lifting the miniature weapon into the air and leveling its sights on a distant object, reminding his muscles what it felt like to aim.

His fingers twitched as brutal chills quivered up his spine. His muscles wanted to remember what it felt like to pull the trigger, too.

~

Quixxa scrabbled across the ceiling of the subway as the door's warning pings sounded off, telling her not to try sliding past the closing doors.

She did anyway, launching herself out of the bullet train with a powerful kick to the chest of the Chaets who had definitely thrown a second elbow at her on the ceiling.

As he stumbled backwards, Quixxa righted herself and tightened the straps of her backpack, not breaking eye contact with him as she did so. The train started to pull away from the platform with closed doors as he pushed himself off the wall of angry bodies he'd been thrust back onto and gave her the finger.

Quixxa just chuckled, the pads of her feet spread out on the cool cement floor below her final destination. Just a short walk away sat her meeting place.

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