i - part 9
Hephaestus’ Safe House (Somewhere in Europe)
The machinegun clattered to the floor, spraying bullets wildly across the room. Mouthymerc tackled Trinity, driving her behind one of the packing crates and taking them both out of the line of fire to relatively safe cover. Mute and Hephaestus scrambled behind another crate but Eris stood her ground, curiously staring at the runaway weapon.
"Get down, girl! Take cover!" Hephaestus shouted, hoping a stray ricochet wouldn’t head in his direction.
Eris glanced at him, clearly not realizing the danger she was in until the gun hopped and spun wildly, tracing a line of carnage in her direction. At the last minute, Eris tucked into a neat roll and dove behind another box. Several rounds plinked off the cover and dug into the wood.
Trinity, buried under 260 pounds of flesh, tried to think small and assumed the duck-and-cover position. "Dammit, I wish Equinox was here. He’d have taken care of this by now. I’d bet he’s not cowering in the dirt while some maniac sprays bullets all over the place."
"I think we can take care of it. Ever heard of a Fastball Special?" Mouthymerc shouted over the din. He flinched when one of the ricochets ripped through his jacket, burning a line on his shoulder.
"You serious?" Trinity asked. She shifted to look him in the eye, then realized he was, indeed, serious. "Hold on a sec." Her pupils bled out in the telltale sign psionic power and she nodded.
"On three: One. Two. Three!" Mouthymerc sat up, grabbed Trinity by her waist, braced his legs and groaned, swinging her high into the air like a wrestler performing some exotic throw.
For the briefest of moments, she was in freefall and out of control, but she twisted like a cat in midair and was poised like an arrow as she sailed toward the rifle. Her hand was formed into a tight spearhead and it shot out, cleaving the weapon in half. Instantly, the gun fell silent as it shattered into several pieces, throwing the internal springs and components across the room. She palmed the ground and pushed herself into a tight flip, landing just beyond the ruined weapon.
"Tight grip!" Hephaestus said. "I told you to keep a tight grip, Eris."
"I’m sorry. This is new to me. I don’t understand why Equinox wants me to do it. I don’t shoot guns, I’m a researcher." Eris kicked against the wall in frustration and a shower of fine cement dust rained down on her head.
"It’s alright," Mouthymerc said, examining his shoulder. "It’s not like it matters."
Trinity scowled and slapped his hand away, examining it herself. "The hell it does! ‘Nox said we needed a machinegun so we need a machinegun. Mute, can you add a machinegun to the list?"
"I could, but did you have to be so rough?" Mute stood and pirouetted, surveying the damage to the garage.
"Would you rather I have waited until the entire 100 rounds had been expended? Or perhaps I should have asked it nicely to stop." Trinity’s brow furrowed in curiosity and she leaned in closer to examine Mouthymerc’s shoulder.
"Um, Trinity? I’ve read your file: you don’t have a lot of first aid training. What are you doing?" Mouthymerc asked. Trinity’s hands snapped to her side and she shrugged. "She raises a good point. I don’t see how it could have been handled any other way."
Hephaestus walked over to Eris and held out his hand. "You know, I think you managed to hit everything but the target dummy." His smile was friendly and teasing.
"Sorry," Eris said again, taking his hand and rising to her feet. "Anyone hurt? I am trained in first aid, and quite extensively."
"I got a scratch, but it’s no big deal." Mouthymerc said. Eris hurried over to him and Trinity stared at Eris intently while she tended to the wound. Hephaestus and Mute worked to get the garage back into some kind of order.
"It doesn’t appear that there was too much damage," Hephaestus said. "I don’t think it’s set back our upgrade schedule, either."
"That’s great, but perhaps this is a sign that I’m the wrong person for this role. Can’t one of you other people do it?" Eris massaged the wound a bit, watching to see if there were any fragments remaining.
"Equinox ordered that you learn how to do it, and he’s got his reasons," Trinity said with a little more vehemence than was necessary. "Therefore, you’ll do what you’re told until told otherwise."
Eris turned to face Trinity. "I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but what gives you the right…?"
"I’m the bitch who’s gonna kick your ass if you don’t quit playing with the merc and get to training and building. ‘Nox gave you a timetable and an assignment and you’re gonna’ damn well keep to it!"
Trinity’s hand clenched into a fist and she took an aggressive step forward, but Mouthymerc placed himself between the two. "Woah, woah, woah, ladies. There’s no need to fight. Things are still on track and going smoothly; there’s no need for hostility."
"Sure there is," Eris snapped, struggling in vain against Mouthymerc’s iron grip. She may as well been fighting with a block of concrete. "Little Miss Matrix wants to throw down, so let’s throw down. I have to warn you, though: I don’t fight fair."
Trinity surged forward but Mouthymerc intervened. "Trinity! Back off!" he snapped, glaring at her.
"Fine," she said, sulkily, "But she better learn her place. Mute! Don’t we have some more supplies to obtain?"
Mute jumped at the mention of his name. "Uhh, sure. Wasn’t planning on leaving for another hour."
Trinity’s eyes narrowed.
"On second thought, perhaps we should leave shortly. I’ll get my coat."
"Um, what do I train her with now that we’ve lost the machinegun?" Mouthymerc asked, still a bit confused.
For the first time in many minutes, Trinity smiled, and a genuine one at that. She walked over to a box and flipped the top off, tossing it into a corner. "The Barrett wasn’t the only thing I picked up on that base."
Mouthymerc ambled over and peered into the box, then he sniffed and rubbed at his eyes. "Thank you! Thank you so much!" he said, engulfing her in a bear hug that lifted her from her feet. Trinity laughed and pushed at him in mock protest.
Given all the confusion from the past few moments, Eris was understandably perplexed; even more so after Trinity and Mute left and she felt free to go over and explore the box’s contents. "Didn’t they use that in that Schwartzenjager movie, Evicerator 2: Armageddon?"
"I think so," Hephaestus replied. "Shall we put it together and get you back to training?"
"Sure," she said, but she was still puzzled as to why a minigun would be enough to make a grown man cry.