Within moments, the RCMP Emergency Response Team had assembled itself into formation, and the main breaching group was approaching the garage under cover of their riot shields, compact battering ram at the ready. Behind them, taking cover behind their vehicles, were their veritable army of backup, the barrels of their weapons levelled at every door and window, ready to mow down any threats that might present themselves.
Two of the ERT members had detached themselves from the vehicles and crossed over to the sidewalk across from the house, where they were standing and watching the windows. A few curious faces popped up and the ERT members waved at them, gesturing to close the blinds. The frightened inhabitants quickly did as suggested.
Naomi watched in both fascination and fear. She’d never seen such a gathered display of force in her life, except in movies. And just like with a movie, there was an element of unreality to what she was seeing. She had already passed through so much violence and danger to get here—and almost completely unscathed, somehow—that none of it seemed real. She knew that those guns were ready to fire real bullets that could really kill someone, and that set against them were threats inside the targeted house that could do the same or worse, at the literal snap of a finger in some cases, but somewhere between her eyes and her brain the significance was being lost.
Maybe it was just the fatigue.
The driver cop looked back over his shoulder at Naomi and Francis in the rear seat. Naomi saw that he was wearing a clear earpiece, presumably connected to a radio.
“The group covering the back door just got in place,” he said. “They gave the go-ahead.”
“It’ll go fast from here,” Francis told Naomi.
The driver nodded his agreement. “Should be over in about 45 seconds, and odds are there won’t be any shots fired. The people inside know we’re here for sure, and they’ll also know how badly outgunned they are. They’re probably already standing there with their hands up.”
“Maybe,” said Francis. “Or maybe not.”
The driver scoffed. “No way they’ll fight it out. Not a chance. Just ’cause they’re killers doesn’t make them completely stupid.”
“No, they aren’t stupid,” Francis agreed. “But most or all of them are special.”
The driver rolled his eyes and turned back to watch. “You’ve got a point there. Can never predict what some of those people are going to do next.”
Naomi glanced at Francis, an eyebrow raised, but Francis shrugged off the remark and turned her gaze around the neighbourhood.
“Wish we would’ve had time to actually clear the neighbours out first,” Francis mused, as if to herself.
“No time for it,” said the driver. “They’ll be fine if they keep back from the windows.”
Francis shook her head. “That’s not what I’m worried about. It seems like too much of our attention is being focussed inwards on that one house.”
“What are you suggesting?” The driver cocked an eyebrow.
“That we remember who gave us this address.”
“You don’t trust the bird guy?”
“Actually I do, or at least I trust his motive: Innis destroyed Miguel, completely broke him psychologically. Miguel wouldn’t send us into a trap on Innis’s behalf. At least, not knowingly…”
There was a slam, a crunch, and, a moment later, a shrieking bang accompanied by a muted flash in the target house’s windows. Naomi’s eyes were drawn to the action: the garage had been breached, and the ERT was piling in behind their flash grenade.
Half a moment later, Francis screamed, “THERE!!”
Naomi whipped her head around just in time to see the first sidewalk-stationed ERT member crumple to the ground, followed almost immediately after by the second. What was happening!? What had—
Then she saw the open doorway of a faded green bungalow just down the street from them. There was a slim figure standing in the door, one arm held out in front, hand up near the face. In the shadows it was hard for Naomi to be a hundred percent sure, but it looked like…
“You.” Francis snarled the word deep in her throat. She’d come to the same conclusion, then.
“Hang on, ladies!” shouted the driver. “We’re getting out of here.” He fired the engine and pulled away from the curb.
Francis pulled out her gun and pushed her door open, even as the car picked up speed. “Aim me at her, Diggins!”
But Diggins was already wheeling the car around to head in the opposite direction. “I have my orders!”
The door banged back against Francis with the momentum of the car’s sudden direction change, but she kicked back against it, shoving it wide open, and leaned towards the opening. “She killed my sister!”
“Don’t do it, Petzschner,” urged the driver.
Naomi glanced back and saw that Sky had stepped out on the porch—there was no doubt it was her now, between the jean jacket and the long, dark hair. Her arms were spread wide apart and there was a wicked grin on her face as she glared along the sidewalk towards the ERT group that, as of yet, had failed to register the sudden deaths of two of its members. In a moment, Naomi realized, she was going to clap.
And their car was about to pass right in front of her.
Sky’s hands whisked into motion.
Naomi flung her hands out, fingers grasping at the air, shut her eyes, and dove deep into that purple elsewhere…