Legend Hunting Part Five
Posted By: Dispraiser<email@example.com>
Date: 9 March 2003, 7:55 PM
I stepped into the green forest, full of life, and was searching for death. I sought not to live, but to kill, and I lived to serve the UNSC. My pride and my honor were far more important than my life ever was or will be. I was raised under the UNSC flag, and I was trained to hate it's enemies. The grim reaper was my only friend, and my only family, my only company. My love was death, though at the same time my enemy. I lived many lives, none of which were mine. I knew 57 names, none of which were mine, and I lived 57 lives, which were not mine. I lived as a fraud to hunt the enemies of the UNSC, a sacrifice I was willing to make.
After an hour of searching the forests, mainly it's caves and areas where the Spartan may be hiding, I head the distant crack of gunfire. Though it was hard to tell from my distance, probably a few hundred feet, but it sounded to be assault rifle fire. My radio crackled, "Warner, the woman isn't in her hotel room."
"I know." I replied quietly. I didn't know why she wants the Spartan, but she is from some place other than Melo, and could want the Spartan for any number of reasons, none of which were at all helpful to my cause. I pulled my AK out of my backpack and readied it, pacing over the next ridge and surveying the area before me. It was a rocky highland, large boulders everywhere set up so that when inside the area it was much like a natural maze. I searched it for any signs of the Spartan or the girl, though I found none. I stared for a few more second before another burst of gunfire, and more particularly a muzzle flash revealed the location of the gunfight near to the center of the catacomb of rocks. I slid down the hill with a foot in front of me to slow my descent and quickly ran into the rocky maze, following as close as I could to the center of each path and following the bursts of gunfire that I sometimes heard. I jumped around another corner and spotted the woman. She fired a burst of three shots at the Spartan, which I saw atop one of the nearby stones ducking for cover. It didn't appear armed, though I was still trained to see it as a threat. I fired a burst of warning shots into the air, calling the woman's attention to me. She turned, and recognizing me yelled some insults in a dialect that I believed to be the central Sighp Mathean language, though I wasn't sure. If she knew Sighpian, her heritage could be of any one of the various Mathean supporting island provenances though. She swiveled her gun at me and fired a dozen shots in my direction. I ducked and waited before popping up from behind the stone to fire a burst of three suppressed shots at her. She too had taken up hiding, and she was not where I had last seen her. I pressed up against the stone behind me and circled around it in an attempt to flank her while also switching my rifle to full automatic. I leaned around the corner and caught her scanning the boulders for me. I fired a trio of shots at her and ducked. None of them seemed to hit her being that I heard no screams. I heard more gunfire and the shrill shriek of the Spartan. It sounded much like a dying animal, roaring more than screaming. I jumped to the side of my boulder and fired a volley of gunfire at the position where I had seen the woman before, though she was now away from it. I quickly ran up to assume her old position, seeing the Spartan standing atop a rock bleeding from the side near it's diaphragm. I watched in awe as the bullet hole shrunk and healed before my eyes in a matter of seconds, and it was instantly searching for more cover atop the boulder mound that it was on. It appeared to have no interest, a particular like or trust in me, being that it showed its back to me as it spun for cover, and ducked clear within my gunfire range. I decided to take advantage of this and eliminate my current enemy, the woman and capture the Spartan later. I checked for her behind nearby boulders and progressed forward a few, spotting her shooting at the Spartan again. I heard another shriek as the Spartan was shoat again in the side. It hardly appeared to be fighting back at all, though its injuries were great and it could be too wounded to continue onwards. Instead it fell to the ground, pushing itself back up to reveal that this bullet hole wound was not healing, but instead seeping unusual amounts of blood. It looked down at its wound before quickly dropping to the top of the boulder to dodge more gunfire. I fired a burst of a half dozen shots at the woman and she quickly ducked for cover, though again, nothing hit her. Suddenly she popped back up and fired the rest of her magazine in my direction before reloading and shooting atop the rock, killing the Spartan. Chupacabra was no more, a legend was hunted, and a legend was killed.
I reloaded, my current magazine with two bullets left in it and popped up from behind the rock to see that the woman was scaling the side of the boulder that she had killed the Spartan on. I fired a few shots at her, but she was already atop it by the time I had leveled my aim. She ducked and fired a volley of shots from her rifle at me, and I was forced to take cover as she took the Spartans body and leapt off the other side of the boulder. I quickly ran over to the other side of the boulder and fired near to a half a magazine at the fleeing hunter, but failed to kill her. I jumped over another boulder into a small ravine, sliding down the wall and a trickling water stream to get to the other side and continue my pursuit. I leapt over the other side of the ravine and dropped to the ground, a hail of gunfire sweeping over me. I rolled to the side and away form the cover of the porous boulder to fire a series of five gunshots at the distant hill in an attempt to hit the woman, though as she drew further away I began to see it as futile. She continued to run, holding the Spartans body in front of her as a human shield, and continuing to flee as she became coated in it's blood, which must have been spilling from it's blood sac. I chased after her and almost caught up, before stepping in a bear trap. The jaw like structure instantly slammed shut on my leg, shattering the lower parts of my ankle and leaving me with gaping wounds. "Aww... Dammit!" I yelled, hitting the ground, "I was so damn close and you took it from me! Get back here! Don't be a coward!" I hit the ground again before looking at my leg. The trap was larger than usual, and stronger. The tips were barbed and designed to stick into whatever it caught. It was too powerful to be of any use to a game hunter, and one who used something this big might as well have been hunting elephants. The claws swung powerfully enough to shatter my ankle would easily rip off an animals leg, and skinning it would then be of no use. This was a different breed of trap, a Spartan trap. That damn sniper probably had laid it out in hopes of getting to execute the Spartan. I hate her. I hate this town. I hate the Spartan. At least one of them was dead, but I would be too if she returned, I needed to get the trap off. I struggled against it for a minute, and had done so in vain. The trap was clearly designed so that a Spartan couldn't get it off, let alone a normal human being.
"I know you're staying at the hotel!" I yelled, the echo my only reply. "I know where you are staying, you can't go back there!" again, my echo was my only response, "You realize that it's a long walk out of here with no car!" I yelled. "Your keys are in that room!" the echo was my final reply, and I radioed to Samuels. "Samuels, you there?"
"As always, what is it Warner?"
"Call me Cow, and we have a situation."
"That's not important dammit! Me freaking leg is in a bear trap, and I can't get it out. It looks like this is a specialized version, maybe a Chupacabra trap from one of the farmers. I doubt it was the woman's though, she would be smarter than to leave it here."
"You damn idiot, you have to help me! What do I do?" I replied. I was growing to hate him more than the town.
"Well, did you try tugging it?" he asked.
"No, I didn't... Of course I did, what do you think the first thing I did was?"
"Scream obscenities." He replied. He really did know who I was...
"After that?" I asked, seeing if he knew my every move.
"Try wedging your gun in the bear trap, maybe you can break free if you angle it in and twist it." He replied. I took the butt of my rifle and rammed it into the bear trap diagonally and attempted to rotate it. When I spun it I managed to alleviate a little pressure, though the rifle quickly became stuck between two points on either side. The spikes tips were still embedded in my leg though. I shuddered in pain as the bloody teeth pulled out of my leg, and the serrations ripped some of my flesh off. "Where'd you get Cow?"
"Old codename of mine. It was my first word as a kid... I liked it. I wedged the gun in there but it didn't do anything. This is meant to catch a Spartan, is there a trick to get it off or something?" I asked.
"No idea. Get me a video. If there was some opposable thumb trick it would be meant for game, but if it is a Spartan trap, chances are that it wouldn't have one of those. Starting Video uplink." He paused for a second and I head the mechanical whir of some of the camera's subsystems activating in the sunglasses I wore. I looked down at my leg. The barbs had mangled my leg pretty bad, and I was losing a lot of blood. My blood-soaked clothes were stuck on my leg, darkened with the red of my blood. The barbed teeth on the trap had mangled the lower part of my ankle fairly well, I couldn't tell much, though it had cut loose plenty of my skin. I could see the very lowest part of my leg bone sticking out of the cut, or at least a shard of it, and lots of blood, as well as some muscles and ligaments which were ripped or cut. The wound was pretty severe, though I could do nothing to try to help it with the clamp still on my leg. "Wow, that's pretty bad. Ok, partially amputated limb, first step, get the damn clamp off of it. Um... Looks like there is no safeguard to get it to just pop right off on it." He replied.
"Here, let me give you a better look of the thing." I pulled the glasses off and held them to see underneath the clamp.
"Try pulling out the trigger device, it might lower the pressure if not completely remove it. Also, are you noticing any signs of shock?" he replied.
"No, no signs of shock. It hurts a lot, but I have a very high threshold for pain. I'll be alright as long as the blood loss doesn't get to me. I'll try pulling the trigger." I replied. I gently slid my arm underneath my foot, which still held the trigger down and pushed up, despite my foot resisting it. My foot pushed against the spikes of the clamp and I yelled in pain, though continuing to push up on the trigger. I managed to force it up far enough to release the trigger of the clamp and free my leg. Once it was free I got a better look at the wound, and my ankle, that is, if it was even an ankle after it had been mangled by the trap. My leg was bent about an inch above my ankle at a ninety degree angle and was bleeding profusely. The wound would not clot until long after I was dead with no medical aide. I unpacked the backpack that I had carried with me, revealing a simple set of gauze and a few other basic things, designed to help protect a gunshot wound, forced to help me live.
"Ok, first step, elevate the wound. Try to slow blood loss, you need it to clot quickly so you can get back here. I can drive you back to the city and we can be back before tomorrow morning, we'll just get you a transplant. But you need to live for us to do that." He replied. I lifted the wounded leg, it's muscles useless without connecting to my ankle, and set it atop a stone nearby to me. The blood instantly began to flow slower, though only by a little.
"Aright, I did it, now what?"
"Okay, step two, get some sterile gauze and coat the wound in a later of it. Not too constricting, any more blood loss to the foot could cause permanent damage. Just make sure that it stays and that the blood clots behind it." He replied. I reached for the gauze and began to wrap the bandage loosely and gently around my broken ankle.
"Okay, almost finished. I think I can guess the rest. I need to stay here until the blood clots, then gather some sort of crude splint and stumble a half mile back to the town through a forest. Right?"
"Well, sorry to say this, but yeah. You have to walk. Don't go into the town though, low profile. I will meet you where the woods meets the road a little outside the town going east."
"How long till you're there?"
"I'm already there waiting for you, biofoam in hand. Have to act fast on these things." He replied. He was a suck up, but at a time like this I was grateful for his help.
I stepped into the road to see the oncoming glare of two headlights, which looked much like the stars of Oniopsys to me at such a late hour. The car screeched to a stop, swerving from the right lane, which I was in, to the left and stopping next to me. I recognized the Okel emblem on the front of the car, and knew hat none of the residents of this town owned this car. "Need a lift?" asked the man, who I identified as Samuels.
I sighed, "Could use one." I circled around the car and opened the passenger door, sliding into the Speedstar X540, a new model from 2540. If nothing else, this nerd had a fine taste in cars. The car was clearly one of his valued possessions, the floor coated in towels to keep my blood off of it. I noticed that all of them had the Bucky's hotel emblem on them. Some traditions, like taking everything that isn't bolted down in a hotel room can live on forever. I sat back as Samuels accelerated quickly. This car was very agile and quick to accelerate. The odd hum of the engines was very appealing to my ears that had only heard the rumble of diesel engines of farming tools for the past week.
"Like the car?" he asked while still focusing on the road, dimly lit by the headlights of the Speedstar.
"Yeah, it's nice." I listened as he pressed the accelerator further down, pushing the car beyond a hundred miles an hour, "I love the car."
"So do I. See, we do have some common ground. Anyway, open up the dashboard. I have some food in there for you. Also, keep your foot elevated, still." he said.
"Thanks." I replied quietly. The engine's purr replied to me, though I am sure that Samuels heard my statement of gratitude.
"So, how did you get into the corps?" he asked.
"Signed up. Lied about my age when I was sixteen and shuffled off to frontline action." I replied.
"You signed up? Damn , most people try to dodge the draft, and you volunteer. Why'd you do it?"
"I love the UNSC more than my life. I love honor, and duty, and I live to serve."
"Almost the same here. I know that on the frontlines I can't do nearly as much as I can back here. Why I really joined? Look up." I did, "Do you see those rings? Those are like Lunar 4, a beautiful emblem of liberty and justice. I love this planet." The rings glowed like a band of stars, not shielded by the sun blocker. "This planet, Lunar 4, you already know about the Spartan project, but there are many more."
"Like what?" I asked him. A short pause filled the air, the wind howling by my face and the cars engine roaring.
"If I told you I'd have to kill you." He replied. I laughed and turned to him. He was also laughing, though not as hard as I was, I was delirious from the blood loss.
"Like you could kill me!" I said. He stopped laughing an stared at me.
"I might not be able to kill you, but being stuck in a bear trap bleeding to death would. You owe a lot more to me than you are willing to say." Another silence filled the air as I thought back on the mission so far, and the set of days that he had been with me.
"Yeah, I owe my life to you. You and a dozen other people. Do you know how many techs like you I have worked with over the years?" the car sped past a billboard for McDonalds as I finished talking.
"I don't know, maybe eighty?" he replied, randomly guessing.
"No, twelve. You were just number thirteen to me. You know how many of them lived through their missions?" I asked.
"Um... No... Twelve lived. You are number thirteen though." I replied.
"So? Since when do you give a crap about whether I live or die?"
"Well, I don't. But you are number thirteen, a number of bad luck. Not really so much that I am superstitious, but I would rather not be known to everyone I really know as a guy who kills his techs. This is number thirteen you know, your chances of walking away from this are nothing. I mean, look at humanities history with the number thirteen."
"Right, that makes no sense."
"Makes no sense to me either, but still, walk away from this while you still can, break my curse with the number thirteen."
"Your curse? What happened?"
"My parents were killed on the thirteenth day of March 2513 on the thirteenth island of the Mathean domain and my thirteenth birthday."
"Wow... Pretty weird, you know, that all of those coincide. But could that mean a good thing?" he replied.
"How could that possibly mean a good thing is coming?"
"Well, I have this theory on life. I have no idea what to call it, but so far, everything that people have discovered is based on math, and it is my logic that so should life. Anyway when you start out, and you are born you have your life, all added up. Good experienced and bad ones, both lined up on opposite sides of, well, for this example, and equals sign. In the begging, you have zero on both sides, no good and no bad. As your life progresses, you gather experiences, and there is a sort of cosmic rating system I guess of how bad or good an experience is. Like, a bad one would set off the equation. Before you die this is all rated, and it will always add up so your life is balanced, good and bad. See?"
"I think so, so what you are saying is that good and bad have to equal for your life to ever be complete. Right?" I replied.
"Exactly. Anyway, with so much bad based on the number thirteen either: a.) you are right, I will have something bad happen to me on this mission, or b.) I am right and this mission will feature outstanding success, god's way of making up for the amounts of torture he put on you on the thirteenth."
"You're taking a big chance there. Could just be a little something called luck, or in this case very bad luck." I replied, not fully believing that his theory on life reflected anything.
"I take chances for the things that matter, like the UNSC." He replied.
Our conversation continued as he tried to keep me from falling into shock throughout our car ride. At the hospital the medical teams repaired my leg, and we returned to the town before the sun rose the next morning.
"So, any activity in the sniper's room since we left?" I asked.
Samuels continued to fast forward through the video of the past eight hours watching for any movement. "None so far." He continued to fast forward as I resumed throwing a baseball against the wall and catching it on its return, a nonstop circuit that never ended. "Wait, I have something." Samuels stopped the fast forwarding and hit play so that we could hear the audio of the video. The clerk stepped into the room, sliding a master hotel key into his pocket. He looked around suspiciously, making sure that no one was in the room. I noticed a Berretta in his right hand, a pistol that had become a commonplace on Lunar 4 over the past two hundred years while the war with Sighp was in full swing. While I doubted that it was anything important in regards to what brand it was, entering a Hotel room without knocking and while armed probably was. He shuffled into the room and peered into the bathroom, and spotting nothing methodically checked any reasonable hiding place, like under the bed and in the closets. Confident that the room was safe he lowered his Berretta, holstering it under his vest. He began to search the closet, this time in illogical hiding places, like inside pillow cases, among the closet's clothes, and under the bed more extensively.
"What's he looking for?" I asked.
"Hard to tell, it depends on whose side he's on, and who the sniper is."
"I would have to say that it is probably a search for something illegal, or something that might incriminate her for a murder, maybe the one of that kid. The pistol, I have no idea why he carried that." He replied. It all seemed to make sense; the clerk was searching for some evidence that she killed the kid in front of the hotel a few days ago. The clerk continued to search the room, flipping over the bed sheets and flipping the mattress, restoring everything to a neatened state before he left a half hour later.
"Think he got to our rooms?" I asked, fearing that an inquiry of Samuels room would have revealed all the weapons he had brought with him.
"I hope not. No way to tell, but it depends on what he was looking for. If he were just on a random search for illegal weapons, he would have searched all rooms, but if he was only suspicious of the sniper, he would have only checked her room."
"Let's call up HQ. We have a profile of the sniper, we can send them a picture and maybe they can shed some light onto this situation."
"Yeah, sounds like a good idea." Samuels grabbed the radio from his desk and turned it on, calling for HQ, getting a reply very quickly. HQ seemed to be on top of our mission, a person on call almost all the time.
"HQ here, what is it Major Samuels?" replied the radio.
"Well, we sent you a profile of the sniper, do you have an ID on it yet?"
"Yeah, we're still verifying it, but I can say with the utmost of accuracy that it is Jada Nichols. Want a case profile on her?"
"Yeah sure. Whole thing." Samuels replied before I could stop him. I had nothing better to do, though, so I just went along with his request.
"Aright. Ok, Jada is 27, former militant in the Sighp armed forces. A job much like yours Mr. Warner. Anyway, when she was young her parents were killed battling the Covenant, so nothing family wise from age six on. She bounced around foster homes for a year or so and ran away from each with only increasing vigil. She had a rough life till she was eighteen when she enlisted in the Sighp Marine corps and quickly ascended the ranks of the Sighpian forces. She got notably high in the ranks of the army before forced to leave, she had a child, the father; unknown. Anyway, that was a month ago. If you see her, she should be a month pregnant. Anyway, the Niklin, we ran a list of the people she knew and we recovered the name of a Niklin, no last name, and no face shot. He has almost no history, but a load of money. Apparently considers himself a novelty collector."
"So what, he wants a Spartan to mount on his wall?"
"Something like that we figured. A search team is en route to his home as we speak. We figure Jada into this assuming that she was a mercenary or bounty hunter, assigned to get this Chupacabra. Whether he knew that it was a Spartan or not has been confirmed by the phone call you recently intercepted, he mentioned that it looked like a person but it was a monster and a Spartan a few times, so, whatever his motives are, consider him dead."
"So what, Jada became a hitwoman?" I asked. Myself I was confused, for a pregnant woman she ran pretty fast and shot pretty straight, I would hate to mess with her at full power...
"We think. Keep in mind that his may not even be Jada that you are up against, but if you are, it would be nice if you could manage to take her out too. She is humouredly responsible for the attacks in recent times that killed about forty Marines." They replied. I hated it when HQ would attempt to milk a situation for all it was worth, almost literally milking the life out of the operatives at the same time.
"I wouldn't worry about it, I am not a big fan of her right now, she made my leg hurt pretty bad a little while back, and I am looking to make someone pay for it... I suppose Samuels already has though... Oh, set up a road block on all the exits of this city to within fifty miles, make sure to tell them to shoot to kill, tell them some stor about an axe murder, something that will make them shoot." I replied.
"Samuels paid for what? Is he dead? Lucky thirteen I see."
"No, remember, you told me to..." I replied
"Now wait just a damn second, you told me that they told you to cut me!" shouted Samuels.
"Um, they did, it was another operative..." I lied.
"No it wasn't! You just wanted to cut me! Look, I have a scab all the way down my arm! I got hurt!" I chucked. He was a better disgruntled hurt guy now than ever before.
"Sorry about that..."
"Yeah, no kidding!"
"Well, you know what, I really don't care to listen though your fight guys, so, if you don't mind, even if you do, really, bye." Replied the HQ operator.
"Hey, I have an idea, let's go find something to do!"
"No! You mean that you didn't have to cut me... But you did!"
"Um... I did... You must be hallucinating..."
"Wow.... I think you're... WAY OFF!!!" shouted a continually angered Samuels.
"Look, nothing personal, but you needed to be cut. Face it, you're a wuss, you need to toughen up."
"Well, um... Actually... That is a pretty personal thing..."
"You thought so, you know, I thought so too, but...
"Yeah... Just remember, you will pay for that."
"Right..." I replied, "Next mission objective?"
"We need to find Jada and that Spartan. If she were to turn the body over to the press they would rub this into our faces to no end, the whole project would collapse. We have to get her first."
"Where would you go if you were a disgruntled sniper with a dead body and no home?" I asked.
"The alleys?" he replied, asking for my approval.
I stepped into the hotel parking lot and pulled out my pocket knife discreetly. I spun, checking the area for any people and quickly jabbed my knife into the tires of Jada's car as well as all the others I the parking lot besides the Okel. I had no idea of which one of them was hers, so I had to make sure that they were all incapacitated. I stepped up to the Speedstar and held the pocket knife in my hand, looking at Samuel's car. I hate Samuels.
"Samuels, come quick! The sniper keyed up your car!" I shouted, running into the room.
"You son of a bitch! You keyed up my car?" he yelled.
"Now why would I do that?" I replied. Samuels glared back at me. Had he been armed at the time I would have been the second dead person in this town in under a week.
"I hate your plans."
I stepped into the dark alley between the Housing across from the park and next to the Market and pulled out my pistol. I spun the silencer onto the end and began to check the dumpsters for Jada or the Spartan. The dumpsters produced no signs of Jada, so I continued to search in smaller places, until I was thoroughly satisfied that I had searched them all. I began to head down the alley towards the parking lot behind the two housing buildings and the market, prepared to search the alley between the two apartment complexes. Suddenly I felt the cold muzzle of a gun press against the back of my head. "Samuels?" I asked, hoping more than wondering.
"No." a female Siberian voice replied.
"Why do I get the sense that this is gonna suck for me?" I asked.
"You could be good at guessing these things, I suppose. Drop the gun." She ordered. I dropped the gun and watched as it clattered to the ground before me. She continued to kick it across the alley, well out of my reach.
"Wow, your intelligence is pretty good to be able to get a name in regards to who I am."
"Intelligence? I would hardly call the boys at HQ slow, let alone intelligent. So you are Jada, right?"
"Sure." She replied.
"No, really." I forwarded.
"Yeah, I am, Jada Nichols." She replied.
"Okay, good, so now that we have that clear, what's up?"
"Are you for real? Remember yesterday? We shot at each other? I have no idea why, but you are wanting to make us enemies very badly. I came here to finish this and get my car." She replied.
I chucked, "About that car..."
"What did you do to my car!?!" she asked.
"Well, I can't be sure it was yours, so I broke all the tires to all the cars in the parking lot."
"I have one more question before you kill me."
"Where were you hiding? I searched that whole alley and didn't find you."
"First dumpster. You looked in there but didn't see me."
"Ah, you must have blended in with the trash. Sighpian scum."
"Damn Arrel!" she kicked the back of my legs and forced me to fall over. (Author's note: Arrel is a term used by the Matheans of Lunar 4 as a racist slur against the Eastern populace, the UNSC controlled area.) I fell to the ground and noticed a mirror, which reflected the image of a cop car outside of the alley and a few people within the doughnut shop.
"Can I ask another question?"
"Well, it depends, you can ask one more, but not a whole list of them to stall. You will die here, so don't postpone it."
"You're gonna kill me... Great... Anyway, I have another question. What do you want with the Spartan?"
"Well, I have no interest in it, I am just killing it because there was a large bounty on it."
"Well, so the guy who supplied you with the bounty, what did he want with it?"
"To hell if know, but as long as I get paid I'm fine."
"So wait, how much do you know about the Spartan or Niklin? How do you know he won't just backstab you?"
"Enough questions, what do you think you're stalling for?" she asked, ending my inquiry.
"For the good officer back there to finish his Krunchy Krisps. They don't like crime in these parts." The sniper spun around to see the police officer from across the street charging across the road, pistol drawn.
"Freeze! Down on the ground, drop the weapon!" the cop yelled. The sniper turned around and I was already bolting towards the park and out of the alley between the houses. She fired a few shots at me while she began to flee. I quickly ran around the corner and began to circle around the residential building to my left, heading towards the intersection with the restaurant the cop was at. Chances are that the last place the sniper would run was towards the cop. Suddenly I heard screams, mostly shouts to get down and drop your weapons, but only one noise reigned supreme, the sharp crack of a gunshot. The screams stopped. I wasn't sure who shot who, but I wasn't going to stick around to find out. I assumed for the worst; that the sniper had lived, and began head for the large horde of spectators that was gathering to see what was happening. Even if the sniper was still alive, chances are that she wouldn't fire into a horde of people to kill me. I walked up and stood on my toes, peering over a few people's heads to see the body of the cop sprawled over on the ground, a puddle of blood growing beneath his corpse.