~ Heart Of A Peacekeeper ~
The discs swung out into the street, and she tried to force her disc down even as the outlaw tried to force his higher. His disc clicked down atop the edge of hers, pulling her off balance.
There was only one way to fix this. Spinning dizzily down the street, the height from the ground fluctuating wildly, Des kicked free of her disc and slammed both her feet onto his disc.
The outlaw punched out at her, and she grabbed his arm with one hand while releasing his other wrist and grabbing hold of the verandah post once again. The disc sheared around and she let go of both the outlaw and the post.
The outlaw on his disc went straight through the window, but as there was no crash of glass, he obviously hadn’t done any more damage. The crunch of glass beneath her boots as she landed in a crouch on the verandah alerted her to the fact that this glass had been broken already, which meant she was in front of the tavern. Backing against the wall, she scanned the lit street for any signs of more attackers, her gaze flicking up from the dead bodies to study the night sky.
Silence fell upon the street; the only sound that of the excited whispers behind her from the tavern.
In the night sky, a glow appeared, the lights atop it flashing yellow. The pursuit craft was approaching, three more behind it, and the outlaw ship suddenly spun and took off, heading out into space.
Three of the pursuit crafts soared off after it while the fourth pursuit craft headed for the settlement.
“Raf?” Des asked softly.
“About bloody time you got here with the craft.”
“Huxley?” Des queried.
“I’m here.” His breathing was labored.
“I’m hit, but I’m okay.”
“Raf,” Des said immediately. “Scout him out.”
“Anyone else hurt?” She straightened slowly, her gaze sweeping the street.
Behind her the lights flared on in the tavern, accompanied by the excited voices of the observers.
“A burn, nothing more,” Yucel replied.
“Looks like the coast is clear.” She moved slowly out into the street.
Nothing moved around them, except for a few cautious faces peering out of windows.
The peacekeepers gathered around her, lasers in hand.
“Collect the bodies,” she instructed them. “Yucel, go and see to the one inside the tavern.”
“Brack won’t be happy with you.” Yucel grinned as he indicated the broken window and the angry face of the tavern owner who was scowling out at them.
“Brack can go pull himself.” She rolled her head from side to side, and holstered the laser that Marcel handed to her. “Thanks.”
“Oy!” Brack bellowed. “What about my window, Demon? That’s the second one broken this week!”
Her gaze still on the bodies of the dead outlaws, Des shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it?”
“Someone has to pay!”
“And it isn’t going to be me.”
“Damn it, Demon!”
“Shut the hell up, you moaning windbag.” Scowling, she swung around to face him. “Unless you want to come out here and discuss it with me?”
Brack took one look at the threat on her face and wisely shut his mouth. Except for his mumbling, which he did while he turned and shoved his way back through the watching crowd, who were now spilling out onto the verandah.
And that’s when Des saw him. The man was standing amongst the crowd in front of the broken window, his laser in one hand. He raised it slowly, his eyes on Yucel as the peacekeeper pushed his way through the crowd into the tavern.
Calmly Des strode forward. The crowd, suspecting nothing, watched curiously. Sensing the threat, the man swung his head around to look at her, and his eyes narrowed. In a fast move, he swung the laser towards her instead.
Those nearest yelled and tried to shift back.
Des didn’t wait. In several fast bounds she was up and on the verandah, the laser flare burning the flap of her coat as she launched herself at the outlaw.
She caught him around the chest, slamming into him with enough force to send them both through the broken window and into the tavern itself.
Patrons cursed excitedly and surged backwards while Des and the outlaw rolled onto the floor and through the broken glass.
The outlaw brought the laser down towards her face, intending to knock her out, but she caught his wrist. They rolled over and over, both of them cursing and swearing, punching out at each other.
Des felt a cut open up near her temple, the sprinkle of blood as she rolled over onto him, trying to pin him down. But he rolled just as quickly, landing her a blow to her jaw. She retaliated by punching him full in the mouth, and he spat blood at her as he rolled atop her.
Slamming into a table, they sent it crashing down, and Des saw her chance. Reaching out, she grabbed a fallen bottle and smashed it against the side of the outlaw’s head.
The bottle hit with a dull thunk, and the outlaw momentarily lost focus. But he wasn’t unconscious yet, so she hit him again as they rolled, this time smashing the glass. He slumped over her and she rolled over him, flopping him onto the floor, before finally rolling to a stop herself against something hard and ungiving. A pair of solid, braced legs in rough, loose pants and black boots.
She found herself gazing a long way up into a pair of concerned, pale blue-green eyes in a roguishly handsome face surrounded by long, shaggy fair hair.
“You all right, lass?” The giant Daamen trader started to bend down, his hand reaching to assist her, those startling eyes seeming to pierce her.
Ignoring him, she pushed to her feet and looked around. No one moved; everyone was watching her. Yucel had a laser in his hand, while Marcel had stopped in the doorway, his searching gaze scanning the crowd.
From her height, Des had a clear view over the crowd, and she saw no further threat, but that didn’t mean there weren’t more outlaws in hiding, awaiting their chance to pounce. She jerked her head at Marcel and Yucel, and they nodded, one going back outside, the other heading up the staircase.
Silence reigned, but Des ignored the crowd now as she squatted beside the unconscious outlaw. Wiping away the trickle of blood that nearly ran into her eye from the cut on her temple, she riffled through his pockets, turning him over with ease to check his back pockets. Finding nothing, she relieved him of his laser and dagger, and straightening, she slid both weapons into the back of her belt beneath the coat.
Coming back down the stairs, Yucel shook his head at her inquiring look.
“No one,” Marcel announced as he entered from outside.
“That’s it, then.” She gave the unconscious outlaw a kick in the rump. “Get this prick to the cells, and the bodies to the morgue. No one is to touch them until a full body scan has been done.”
Aiken hurried through the door, his gaze falling on the unconscious outlaw.
“Use the craft hold.” Des touched the receiver in her ear. “Raf?”
“Yeah?” His voice sounded.
“Fine. A bit of bandaging needed, that’s all.”
“Aiken’s here. Get Huxley into the pursuit craft and then come and help load these carcasses into the hold.”
Now she allowed her attention to wander over the crowd. Some of them had disappeared, which was nothing unusual. Running a settlement on the outskirts of the Outlaw Sector meant that two-bit outlaws were always present, and they were the first to disappear when the law came on the scene.
Those left weren’t a whole lot better, but none were on the wanted list. Yet.
Her gaze drifted over them. Tavern whores, workers, business owners, and... just great, Daamen traders from the Lawful Sector.
A group of them were watching her with varying degrees of concern and amusement, their giant heights of seven foot and more dwarfing the other men. With brawny, heavily-muscled builds, shown to perfection with their coarse linen pants and open, sleeveless vests, nothing of their bulging muscles was hidden from view.
Their dangerous good looks had the tavern whores deserting their usual clients to hang onto the giants, shivering deliciously at the knowledge that they had a chance of bedding some of the giants and experiencing first hand their lovemaking prowess.
After all, Des’s lips twisted slightly, they’re well known for wenching, brawling and fighting, not to mention their trading. Goody goody for the merchants and whores.
The fair-haired trader near the front met her gaze squarely, his pale eyes steady, while one big hand shoved his shaggy mane back over broad shoulders. His movement revealed the small, silver hoop in his left earlobe that caught the light. It also made the muscles in his arm bulge and flex impressively.
Just what she didn’t need. Des scowled at him. Brawlers. She had enough problems on her hands without having Daamens brawling in her settlement. But right now she had the outlaws to deal with. She’d have to come back and check out these traders later.
“Marcel, when you’ve finished collecting these carcasses, I want you and Yucel to try and find out what anyone knows.” Her gaze ran scathingly across the expectant faces of the patrons. “Of course, everyone will cooperate.”
With a snort, she swung on her heel, strode out into the street, grabbed one of the dead outlaws by the back of his blood-drenched shirt, and dragged him easily up to the pursuit craft. The back of it was open, and she grabbed the back of the outlaw’s pants and heaved him up into the back of the hold with a small grunt.