Scorched Earth Policy, Part 8

8 – All Come True

Besides the ka-bar, she was carrying another weapon: the electronic equivalent of a skeleton key. Only the manager was supposed to have it, but hey, it was a brave new world, was it not? Who was to say she couldn’t be the manager?

Okay, so she was as likely to be a manager as a room service tray. But this was all theoretical. No one who looked at her had paid a single bit of attention to her: she was a woman with short hair and a loose, drab wardrobe, her eyes hidden behind dark glasses. She wasn’t particularly attractive, startling, or memorable. She might as well have been wallpaper.

All part of the plan, of course. She was nobody, and no one ever remembered a nobody.

The hall was empty as she approached, and she hoped that it stayed that way. She was hoping she could ambush him in his room, as that would cut down on witnesses and possible collateral damage. Not that she’d kill any idiots who stumbled into their fight scene, but Oswald might. You could never tell with those gung ho mercenary types.

She made it to his room door and slipped the card in the lock. The lock released and the red idiot light turned green, so she pushed the door open and went inside. She didn’t see him or hear any sign that he was here … until she heard the toilet flush in the bathroom. Yeah, even soldiers needed to piss now and again.

She hurried up and planted herself against the wall in the main living area, just beyond the bathroom. She didn’t know if he’d heard her or not, but he didn’t charge out, which was a good sign. He cleared his throat and she heard him zipping up his pants – didn’t he wash his hands? Eww – as he started into the living room.

She’d already judged his height, so she simply swung her fist, and hit him straight in the throat.

That should have killed him (not immediately, but within two minutes; after getting your windpipe crushed, that’s pretty much all she wrote), but either she missed the windpipe or he had a thicker neck than she thought, because while he gagged on the initial hit, he still had the strength and presence of mind to grab her arm. She figured he might be going for a break, so she quickly slammed a flattened palm in his face, and as he tried to grab her other arm, she planted a solid kick in his midsection, breaking his grip as he slammed hard against the wall. Even though his face was turning red and he hadn’t recovered, he was a pro, and lunged forward, spinning into a kick that she blocked with a kick of her own. Impact hurt enough that she was sure she got an ugly bruise, but none of that was in the forefront of her mind as he threw a punch that she blocked, yet he still got a hold of her arm and slung her across the room, where she turned her head in time to avoid hitting the wall face first. He was good – he knew he was stronger than her, so he’d try and use that strength against her. She’d hardly hit the wall when she turned away, and Oswald ended up burying his leg ankle deep in the drywall when his kick missed.


Even though she was winded, she instantly brought her elbow down on his kneecap, bending it the opposite way with a loud pop. He made a strangled noise of pain, but also backhanded her across the face, sending her slamming back into the wall. It was a stunning blow, she could taste the blood on her throbbing lower lip, but she didn’t give into it. You ignored pain until you couldn’t, as a moment of weakness could be death in a fight.

He pulled his leg out of the wall and made strangled noises of pain, and from the way he was balanced it must have hurt like a motherfucker; it wouldn’t hold him at all. Now she had the edge. “So you’re Zero, huh?” he grunted. “You shoulda stayed locked in the trunk.”

She simply pursed her lips and blew him a sarcastic kiss, all the response she was willing to give him. She was here to fight, not chat.

There was a funny moment where nothing happened – he was waiting for her to commit to a move, and she didn’t – but then he lunged for her. She understood instinctively it was a feint, a clumsy move she was supposed to step into, but she didn’t; she held back and let him come on, blocking a weak throat punch and spinning away from the real hit, one aimed towards the solar plexus. As she spun back around, she slammed an elbow into his kidneys and kicked his bad leg out from under him.

But Oswald was a killer mercenary for a good reason. Even falling, he grabbed her leg and pulled her down. He tried to throw her into the dresser, but she curled up into a sitting position, still hitting the dresser but taking the brunt of it on her back instead of her head, and drove a thumb right into his eyeball. No, it wasn’t pretty, but she wanted Six to find a messy corpse – she wanted him to know how fucked he was before she made it permanent.

He shouted inarticulately, grabbing her arm and ripping her hand away as he kicked her away, throwing her into the desk. The edge of it hit the window so hard she heard a small, glacial crack. “Fucking bitch,” Oswald snarled, finally losing it. This fight was over; whoever got emotional first lost, and he should have known that. The deadliest killers weren’t the ones who were the angry; they were the ones who honestly didn’t give a shit. “Fight like a man.”

He lunged for her again, this time on his knees, but he did surprise her by grabbing the wastebasket and hitting her with it, the metal clanging up against her skull, as he followed through with a rabbit punch that neatly snapped one of her ribs, a sudden shock of pain that never failed to leave her momentarily breathless.

He was on top of her, trying to pin her down with his weight, and grabbed one of her wrists and twisted it. “Fucking cunt, you don’t mess with me and live,” he spat into her face, spittle making his lower lip slick and wet. She could see his eyes were bloodshot beneath the lower lids, thread thin tendrils of red snaking beneath the orbital bones.

She had slipped the ka-bar out with her left hand, and raised it before quickly bringing it down hard on the back of his neck. The shock of it widened his eyes and coaxed an involuntary wet noise out of him as she felt his muscles stiffen. Although it was impossible to tell from this angle, she was pretty sure she had stabbed him between vertebrae C1 and C2 – almost total paralysis. He was trying to breathe, he was trying very hard, but saliva was now drooling out his mouth, and his eyeballs looked to be straining from their sockets. She could see the bloodshot vein tattoos perfectly now.

She let go of the knife (it was perfectly safe where it was), and squirmed out from beneath him, doing her best to ignore the sharp pains coming from her broken rib. “So you’re the big bad killer, huh? I bet you usually did it with a gun. Guns make people stupid. You should have known that, Bradford. Any fuck can wield an AK-47. It takes real talent to paralyze someone with a single stab wound.”

She frisked him, finding his wallet full of fake IDs and some credit cards, some of which matched the IDs and some that didn’t, as he lay face down on the carpet, choking pitifully as blood and saliva made a small pool on the sandy beige carpet. She found a small gun in an ankle holster, but it was little more than a pea shooter, only good for close quarters and precision targeting. His other guns were probably elsewhere in the room. “Shoulda went for this right away instead of getting sucked into that mano a mano combat bullshit. You see, us female agents, we know we ain’t gonna overpower you, so we use cunning. Ever heard of that? What a stupid question. Obviously you haven’t. I mean, look at you.”

Maybe he was trying to say something; he was making noises. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand and figured he was near the point of passing out, so she knelt down and grabbed the knife handle, and shifted it ever so slightly. “Consider this karma, Oswald. You should have never left Eritrea.” She shifted the knife around with deliberate clumsiness before sinking it in deep and ripping it out one side of his neck. Blood spilled out, but by the time she had gotten through the bones and tore the skin, the spray wasn’t arterial. Somewhere between the beginning and this end, he had died. She hoped he felt enough of it. Because he was a murderous fuck, and he probably deserved worse than this.

But, no matter now. One down, one to go.

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