Toronto, June 1994

A Pink Dormouse Production

"You do know how to handle one of these don't you, pretty?" Mylo ended the question on a sneer.

Sands bit back any answers involving weapons training and stupidly high scores. He took the gun in his gloved hand, and made a show of examining it carefully.

"Dariel's seen me shoot and he's satisfied. With me, anyhow: if he was happy with you guys he'd hardly have sent along an observer, now would he?"

Mylo's lip curled again, but he said nothing more as he turned to speak to the next man in the line. Good. The Scorpions were a strange bunch - queer bikers, black bikers, ex-pat Europeans on phoney visas, former mercenaries from half a dozen central African republics - but they were loyal and efficient, which was what Dariel liked about them. Sands knew that it was only half true that he had been sent along to observe the gang in action - they would be watching him as well. But he was not supposed to know that, even though it was another step up in the ladder of the organisation he was integrating into so well.

Sands slipped the gun into his jacket pocket. It felt good to be seeing some proper action again, instead of digging through records and filing reports, both for and about Dariel, although the latter were less detailed - and contained more bullshit - than the former. He had found little to prove that Dariel was involved in government corruption - or that he had any great plans to shift his business to the US - and was starting to wonder if he would be better doing this for real than going back to the Agency when they recalled him.

"You ready, there?" Mylo asked. "And you'd better be as good as you think you are, because no way am I explaining to your Daddy how come his brat got all broken."

Times like these it was downright impossible to stay in character. Sands swung at him.

Mylo sidestepped the blow, catching Sands' wrist and using it to twist his arm up behind his back.

"So the pretty's got fight in him after all." He was almost as tall as Dariel, but more compactly muscled and a good two decades younger. They were close enough to kiss - if you found engine grease, sweat and patchouli erotic. Sands prided himself on more refined tastes; except maybe for the patchouli. Dariel liked patchouli.

Sands resisted the urge to twist out of the hold - they needed him in one piece for the fight - and simply glanced over at Nils, Mylo's significant other.

"I don't see anyone making assumptions about his fighting abilities."

Nils took a step towards them, drawing a fancy-looking bowie knife from the sheath strapped to his thigh. 

"That's because they've all seen me fight. Mylo, you can play with that later. We've got business to attend to." 

Mylo let go of Sands arm and turned to follow Nils, who had resheathed his knife and was stalking into the garage where the bikes were parked. 

"You can ride up behind him, seeing as he's determined to protect you."

Sands could see some interesting arguments taking place between those two later. He suppressed a smirk and headed out to the garage.

He felt good. And for once the adrenaline coursing through his system was naturally induced - Sands had not been able to say that for what felt like months. Well, not outside of the bedroom anyhow. Once this assignment was over he was going to demand at least two weeks' holiday, and then find some out of the way spot for a little rehab and detox. Not that he had a problem as such - he was doing more coke than was healthy, but nothing he would not be able to quit just like that if he was away from it for a few days. Besides, it was all part of the cover, not something he would do unless he were pretending to be someone else.

Or maybe he would just skip out on everyone. He was close to cracking Dariel's accounting system, and once he had, then he could take enough to set himself up, but not enough to make Dariel mad enough to track him down. The Caribbean would be as good a place to go as any; he could hole-up somewhere quiet for a couple of weeks first - for that self-enforced rehab he was going to need - then he would get on with doing whatever the hell he wanted, with no one breathing down his neck about proper procedure.

"Not coming with us?" He stepped back from the bike and looked at Nils.

Nils shook his head.

"Someone has to watch the bikes."

"This wouldn't be you ducking out of a fight would it?" Sands started to smirk, then quickly suppressed it. It was probably not a good idea to antagonise the only gang member who seemed to be on his side. "No, you're right - it's a good idea to leave one fighter out here guarding our getaway. This would be me going then." He turned and jogged to catch up with the others.

The others had been waiting for him by the main entrance to the old factory, the only one not boarded up Mylo looked around the group as Sands came to a halt. All readied their weapons. Mylo nodded to an even bigger bastard of a biker, who shouldered the door open, then stepped aside to let the group thunder past him.

Sands held back to start with, loosing off a few rounds every time he had a clear view of the enemy, but not really getting involved in the thick of the brawling. He was an observer after all.

Their targets had been caught unaware, and were outnumbered it would seem. Within seconds of the Scorpions' entrance, all were bristling with weapons, some improvised, others distinctly not. Sands ducked into an alcove - he could hardly report back from the ICU, now could he?

But he was too fired up to keep out for long. He reloaded his gun, checking that the one no one else knew about was still in his pocket. Then he rocked forward on the balls of his feet, trying to judge where the main action was coming from. He ducked out and loosed off around towards an unfamiliar back. That had better be one of the opposition. Hell, no one expected great things of him in his first gang raid did they?

He swivelled, looking for a new target and was grabbed by the collar of his jacket from behind. Hey, no fair picking on the shortest guy. Obviously no one had spelled the rules out to these guys. Sands would have to fight up close and dirty after all.

He jabbed backwards with his elbow, contacted something soft and was free again. He spun and loosed off a volley of shots that propelled the man into the wall. Definitely one of the unfriendlies. Sands fired a couple more rounds to be certain.

What the hell, he was going to get beat up and dirty whether or not he joined the fray. He dived into the thick of things.

The rest of the fight was a blur - literally as well after the curtains caught fire. Eventually the only sounds of fighting were those coming from another room. Sands picked his way through the fallen - living and corpses - and found what he assumed had passed for the cook house.

Mylo was - well the word was probably 'interrogating' - one of the few of their enemy still vaguely with it. Sands holstered his gun and strolled in.

"Do you have to do that?"

"We need to know the combination to the safe."

"Do we now? Wouldn't it be simpler to let him speak once in a while?"

Mylo let the man's head fall forward onto his chest. 

"That's better," Sands said. "Now, are you going to play nice and tell us the combination of the safe?"

The man looked up at him. Sands cursed his luck as he realised it was the guy he had paid, not too handsomely, for information on Dariel some seven months ago. This could compromise a few things. He drew his gun.

"Well? What's the combination?" He just hoped that the guy realised he would as likely be shot for dropping Sands in it as for refusing to answer.

"Thirty-four, six, eighteen." Mylo nodded to one of the others, who strode over to the safe and opened it. Then the man slumped forward, apparently unconscious, although Sands had a feeling the guy was faking it.

"We all done here?" Sands asked. "'Cause I'd quite like to go back and get cleaned up."

"Bloody Nancy Boy," someone muttered behind him. 

Sands spun round and levelled his gun at a random Scorpion.

"Just remember who's paying us all. And who he listens to. Now, as I was saying..."

Mylo cuffed the prisoner onto the floor. Well, he was probably out for the count now.

Sands hung back as the others filed out. He slipped a hand into his pocket and screwed the silencer onto the barrel of his concealed gun. Then he turned and walked briskly back into the kitchen. His erstwhile informant had crawled into the corner. Sands stood over him, considered the matter, then plugged him between the eyes. Loose ends could be so inconvenient.


Dariel was out of town for the weekend. It stood to reason - he needed to be seen to be busy with respectable business while others did his dirty work. But it did leave Sands with a small dilemma. He spent a good long time in the shower getting the smoke and blood out of his hair, but still he was on a roll. He needed more of a kick tonight, something that would top the afternoon's adventures. There was bound to be something going on around town tonight, some band or other playing, and Marianne would most likely know what was worth spending money on.

But first he had other matters to attend to. There was a certain style about cutting lines on the black marble of Dariel's bathroom, especially when he used a gold credit card for the job. And he would never roll up any bill lower than a fifty. Not that he would be doing this much longer. Any day now he would have to make his mind up whether he was going back to the Agency or whether he would continue with his other, currently more enticing, plan.




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