Derringer peered down the sight of the assault rifle into the corner of the room. He butted the stock against his chest to feel the hard spring in it. After working a few of the actions and feeling them click smoothly, he lay the rifle down on the large wooden desktop next to the lady’s pistol. He looked over at the man holding the shotgun.
It was a short-barreled type, with a carved stock in wood. The man holding it was tall, and wore a stern face behind dark spectacles. His short black hair was decidedly unruly. He checked to make sure the chambers were empty before leaning it over to Derringer’s scrutiny.
Derringer turned to inspect, one hand on the desk. The condition of it was unnaturally new for its design; some parts must have been re-machined. “Col, that thing belongs in a museum.”
“That’d be a shame, considering it still does what it was made to do, as well as it’s ever done it.” Col withdrew the shotgun possessively and set it back in its case. He clicked the snap shut and elevated it back to its former place on a high shelf. “One of my daddy’s daddies back down the line was a gunsmith. We keep it in working order.”
“Yeah, and did your great-great-grandpap sell to all sides?”
A hallway door opened and shut, footsteps approached. Karma entered the study, going straight to the cabinet to pull out three glasses and a carafe of golden whisky.
Derringer squinted at her. “Did you just change?” She was now wearing a black turtleneck sweater instead of her suit jacket.
“Perceptive of you. Yes, I did.” She poured them each a drink. Derringer looked from her, to where she came from, to Col, and just blinked. When she offered a glass, he took it with a nod.
She handed the other to Col. “That attempt to steal this data was so… rent-a-wreck. I’m slightly insulted by whoever thought it would be that easy.” Col smirked, taking a sip while Karma gestured with her glass. “Who would be so amateur, yet able to risk so much and walk away with nothing?”
Col polished his sunglasses, inspecting them in the light from the window before putting them back on. “Fortuity?”
“No, Irons wouldn’t dream of sending in that sort of skeleton crew. That isn’t her style. If it were her, we would’ve needed the safety net. As it was, your guys never got involved, did they?” Karma tilted her head at Col.
He shook his head. “Didn’t have to. What you saw was it. You took out the thugs and the hover. Hotel and emergency cleaned it up. We just watched.” A smirk curved at the corners of his face.
Derringer finished the last of the whisky, setting the glass down with a loud clack. “You had guys on this?” He pointed at Col.
“I know, when does Col hire anybody.” He shrugged again. “Right timing, good pay for easy service.”
“You’re welcome,” Karma shot in his direction.
“You are also welcome,” deadpanned Col. He finished his glass and left it on the desk next to Derringer’s.
Karma swirled her last sip and drank it down. “When do you think those two will be here?” This she aimed towards Derringer.
“Chad and Fred? Ten, twenty minutes. They pick up easy, and I’m sure they were impressed with your dj skills. But I warned you, they’re only sort of competent.”
“That’s perfectly alright,” she murmured, staring into nothing. She flashed Derringer a self-consciously charming smile and kept her mouth shut. He picked up her gun and handed it to her, holding it by the barrel. She reached toward it, eyebrows raised, and grabbed it. “Are you done looking at that?” It went back in her side holster with a pat.
“One of a kind, isn’t it?”
“What do you think of those?” Col asked, pointing at the assault rifle on the desk.
Derringer eyed the rifle from end to end. “The mechanics are smooth, but it feels light. Even flimsy… where are they from?”
“Don’t let the weight fool you. The recoil is like a feather in the wind. I have two shipments and no regrets. Made on Geris.”
“Geris… the crude ore planet?” Col nodded.
Karma was rearranging the vase of flowers on the windowsill. There was still sunlight in the day, and it lit her hair in a flaming halo. Black knee-high boots elevated her a tiny bit above her tiny stature. Derringer wasn’t fooled. “Cobra lilies,” she said, “that’s what this bouquet is missing. Col, where did you get these.” Derringer’s eyebrows lifted at the imperative in her tone.
“The Array. I was shopping there the other day.” Col’s face was inscrutable.
“Well, this florist is okay, but…” Her voice drifted off, one hand on her chin, one on her hip, still facing the vase. Her gaze was aimed out the window. “Cobra lilies.”
“I know where to find those,” Col said from where he stood.
Karma faced them, a closed smile from ear to ear. From behind her the sound of doors opening and shutting. Derringer nodded to the other two and headed to the entrance. “I know that van.”