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A bullet scored the concrete above his head. The first one was still hurting; a solid hit to his solar plexus that had been stopped – mostly – by his Vest. Church was fighting for breath. He was lying down next to a building. He finally had his gun drawn and could hear Sanchez firing off several shots from her Glock. They were taking fire from two pistols and a Tech-9.

The attack had started off with an ambush and a lucky shot right into Church’s midsection. He had gone down and Sanchez had ducked behind her door for cover. Now she was firing back, but he was still out of the fight. More shots rang out. Sanchez cursed. She wasn’t hurt. She just didn’t like the odds.

Sanchez had to duck down to slap a new clip in. Church heard footsteps running in his direction and he decided to sit up. His movements caught the two gang members off guard. The first shot wide. Church planted two bullets in the second one’s chest before the guy could react, knocking him on his back. The first gang member was backpedaling when Church and Sanchez shot him simultaneously. That man crumpled as well.

The guy with the Tech was back at the car with the driver. The driver was screaming in rapid fire Spanish, but it was hard to make him out with all the bullets he was spraying toward Church’s and Sanchez’s unmarked police car. The window exploded and Sanchez ducked down.

Suddenly the Tech went empty and the man started to duck down into the car. Church sped two bullets his way. He thought he clipped the gunman once, but couldn’t tell for sure. The gunman sprayed across the back seat and the car began accelerating away. Just like that, the ambush was over. Sanchez ran over to Church and knelt beside him.

“Are you alive?”

“Yeah, barely though it hurts like hell.”

Sanchez examined the bullet hole in Church’s shirt and then his vest.

“We better have a doctor look at that anyway.”

Church didn’t like that idea, so he grunted a non-committal reply. He knew that novas were more damage resistant and they healed faster. He knew for a fact he had much more endurance post-eruption and he didn’t want to risk a medical exam if he could avoid it. Being a nova was his secret and he wanted to keep it that way.

Sanchez helped him up and mumbled “Lucky” to him as she patted him on his shoulder.

“What do we do about the two that got away,” Sanchez enquired.

“I missed their plates, but I’m pretty sure I put a bullet in one of them.”

“Great. A late model white Corolla with a blood stains in the back seat. I’ll call it in.”

She helped the recovering Church back over to the car.

“LT is going to love the shape of our latest ride.”

“He’ll been even less pleased with another officer involved shooting. What is this, the third one this month?”

Church thought about that. This had been an ambush. The previous gun battles involving gangs and police had been collisions of law and violence. This was different.

After calling in the incident, Sanchez went back to check on the two gunmen that they had dropped. The first one Church had shot was very dead, but the second gang member was still clutching to life. Sanchez quick stepped it back to the car and called in an ambulance even though she felt the body wouldn’t make it. Church went over. He knelt by the body.

“What was this about?” he asked the dying man.

The guy chuckled at him between bouts of spitting up blood.

“You’re a dead man,” he said hoarsely. “Viper has put the word out about you and your dead.”

“What did Viper say about me,” Church whispered.

“You got inside his head, he claims,” laughed they guy. “What matters is that MS is going to see you dead. We are going to …” he trailed off. His head tilted to the side and his eyes stared off into nothingness.

“He’s gone,” he called out to Sanchez.

For several seconds she cancelled the Ambulance and called the Coroner instead. The wait would be even longer. They were still finding dead bodies from The Big One, after all.

“Did he say anything useful?” she asked finally.

Church thought about it for a moment. Sanchez was his partner and now because of something he had done, her life was in danger. He had no real choice.

“It was Viper. He has put a contract out on me with his MS buddies.”

“Madre dios,” Sanchez cursed. “That’s a bit tough even for MS. Sure you broke the guy in interrogation, but that happens all the time. This is just crazy.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “crazy.”

Sanchez looked at him. She knew he was hiding something. She had suspected he had some kind of secrets, but now she knew something wasn’t right. She would have to look into it.

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