A scream ripped through the air with a nearly visible intensity. I closed my eyes for a moment and replayed its direction before opening my eyes and taking off at a run.
In a deserted dead-ending nook not far, but far enough from the main drag for private violence, there was a woman pressed up against a wall. A man held a knife at her neck while whispering furiously. I dropped my bag near the entry to the alley which was long enough to park about eight cars in it. I considered bringing the letter opener, but I suspected I was already out-gunned, so I left it. Five years of hate had taught me the value of a well-placed foot and a light step. I slid into the alley with the hood on the jacket up and around my face. His concentration was all on the woman, and she was too terrified to do anything. In fact, her terror would make her reactions into that of a feral cat. If allowed, she'd most likely attack me too.
I was within fifteen feet… and then ten… He'd ripped her blouse and she was begging. He was choking her with one hand, and in the other holding a rather nasty-looking knife that made my letter opener look like… well… what it was. I decided to trade out… even though a well-placed letter opener was worth more than a sloppy knife jab. A knife in my hands was one less in the hands of a criminal. So, I guess I wasn't trading so much as just swiping his knife before I disappeared, but that's semantics.
After a quick scrutiny of position, I opted for the low blow. I'll admit… I opt for this quite a lot… especially when I’m in a bad mood. A well placed knee from behind while simultaneously grabbing both his underarms with clawed hands and ripping at both flesh and hair…. Well, that would immobilize most men for a while.
He dropped the knife in his free hand, and his other hand fell from her neck.
"RUN! Call the police," I shouted at the woman while getting well out of her way.
She stumbled at me, ready to fight, before my words sunk in and she ran out. Her departure made me realize two other shapes hovered at the entrance to the alley. Perfect.
My stray, the would-be attacker, was recovering, and I dove for his knife at the same time as him. I was faster. I'm usually faster. Instead of using it, though, I threw it into the trash where I could see it, but he couldn't. I've discovered that when you have the benefit of seeing in the dark, getting rid of pointy objects is a priority when it's down to grappling. Pointy objects end up being what the grappling is over. You could get hurt that way.
He tried to claw my face, and I turned sideways and kneed him again as he flew past. This time, though, he didn't slow down because adrenalin was fueling his movements, and he hit the brick wall just a little beyond me. He staggered back towards me, and I swept his legs. A pile of garbage broke his fall, and he yanked out a broken bottle to wield. Criminals can be so unsanitary. He didn't know what was in that bottle. He jabbed forward, and I flipped backward, kicking the bottle up in the air. I recovered in time to catch the cool blue glass in my gloved hand, and to toss it into the corner with the knife. I was calling that my "pointy object" corner. He came running at me again, and I jumped to catch the bottom rung of some metal stairs attached to the building my back was to. I nailed him with a kick in his chest with both feet. Stumbling, he nearly went down. It gave me time to look at our visitors who were nearing while gauging the fight.
Could this night get any better? If only it had been more goons. I could have handled a dozen more strays over the hand fate had just dealt me.
It was Sarah. I'd recognize her pixie height and build anywhere. She had a taser in her hand… even better. The man next to her carried a bat. I groaned. Either I'd have to save them too, or they'd attack me. Neither scenario involved me sneaking away just as the police got here… if the girl I sent running called them. I could kiss my brand-new knife away. It was probably covered by the remnants in the broken bottle anyway.
My stray got in a good punch to my stomach, but I reacted fast enough to punch his face. We backed up from each other and circled around in a wrestler stance.
"Who are you?" he asked. "Are you a cop?"
I jumped forward but arced toward the ground into a handspring, pulling my feet into a double kick. I don't like standing kicks. It involves leaving a part of you exposed that I'd rather not. I've discovered it's much easier to train in gymnastics and self-defense separately and work out moves myself. There aren't very many places that teach "Jackie Chan" fighting. He's an excellent teacher, though. That's the reason I use to justify watching "Super Cop" over and over. The stray fell, but grabbed one of my feet… unanticipated… but I landed on top of him… cool. I put the foot he'd grabbed on his neck.
That's when Sarah and batboy arrived.
"I don't know which of them is the one we're after," she said, walking toward me with her taser pointing in our direction.
I went to pull my hood off. The jig was up. I wasn't about to be a taser outlet. "Stop. I'm the Devi you know…," I said wryly. I turned into the light and Sarah screamed and fired.
A typical taser is designed to be relatively non-lethal and only work on the one that the probe is fired into. The former Vegas Scott had decided this was less fun and "upgraded" to something stronger that could incapacitate two people. The person with the probe in them got the higher voltage, but anyone touching them was hit too. I know all this because I had an "upgraded" model in my back-pack at the apartment. Apparently, Sarah had received a "Scott Special" also. I needed to talk to Scott about the phrase "with great power comes great responsibility." Well, we'd talk after I shot him with the taser that Sarah had just fired into my side.
I fell off the stray, and onto my back, and for a second my vision exploded white like a fire ball as the air around me became a little charged. Then, I heard the sirens. I was in too much pain to groan again, but internally it was there, and I swear I could smell fried brain.
Sarah came running saying, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Your eyes hit the light just right and even though you warned me, it freaked me out a second before I recognized you." All of this was said in the amount of time it would have taken the average person to say "hello." She knelt next to me pulling my head onto her lap. "I wasn't expecting you… I was expecting him…" she said, gesturing at the stray.
"Help me… up… please…" I muttered painfully.
After a worried maternal look, she did.
The sirens were coming… This wasn't good. I pulled the probe out of my side, and the gun out of Sarah's hand. I threw it into another pile of trash and made sure it sunk into the nasty. "I'll need the bat, Charlie."
They both looked at me, and Charlie flashed Sarah a look but didn't say anything. "Why?" she asked.
"Hurry… The police are nearly here, and I need to get a good hit in before they get here," I said, attempting to stand up enough to reach for the bat.
He looked at Sarah and back at me.
"C'mon!" I insisted, shaking my hand a little.
"Who?" Charlie said the one word and with what I felt was uncalled-for animosity towards the person his wife had tried to maim.
"Give it to me NOW," I shouted fed up with it. I surprised him enough that he handed it over to me. "Go cover your wife's eyes, she won't want to see this…" He shot in front of Sarah and in-between us. Apparently, he thought she was my intended target. It was cute, and a level of cute that I was actually comfortable with. Maybe that says something about me….
"No… I'm not…," he started angrily. When he saw my target, he quickly turned and hugged Sarah's head into his chest.
My bat hit the stray's head with a sickening thud. I leaned down to check a pulse after dropping the bat and taking deep breaths. "Ouch…," I complained as the impact made my jittery arms hurt. I felt a fluttering pulse in the stray's neck and collapsed up against the wall over where I'd flung the Taser. My stomach felt vile. There are certain parts of your anatomy that don't take kindly to electricity… well… actually… most of your body doesn't. Tasers always left my stomach feeling queasy like running a marathon after a flu. That chocolate cake was feeling like a bad idea. It felt like it'd been rebaked to a solid in my stomach.
The cavalry was running down the headlight illuminated alley.
"Okay… ow… we don't have much time. Here is the story. Charlie nailed him with the bat after the stray… uhh…that guy… punched me in the stomach. THERE WAS NO TASER… and you don't know me. The knife is in the corner over there," I said indicating the corner with my head. I took my coat off and tied it around my waist. I had a black shirt underneath that screamed "All In!" and had big white cards and poker chips across it. It was the kind of shirt that said, "If you didn't see me, than you weren't looking." I quickly shoved my "driving gloves" into the pocket of my coat. I sank down to sit on the taser and clutch my stomach. Smiling at Sarah, I said, "Nice shot, though, Sarah. Poor target choice, but good aim."