Dangerous Page 66

My blood tasted like a mouthful of quarters.

The blue shots slowed. Each strike thinned my armor, and I had to layer new skin over the dents. I grew a blade in my havoc hook arm, turning it into a scythe—so sharp the edge was made up of single molecules. It would cut off Wilder’s arm with the gentlest nudge. It would slice through his ribs, right into his heart. My arm trembled.

Wilder was almost under me now, walking as he peered into the rafters to my right.

I switched my boots to impact and dropped ten meters down behind him. Wilder started to turn. My blade arm was al- ready lifted, my insides fiery with hatred. I could end Jonathan Wilder. I brought my blade down— And stopped, the blade millimeters from his neck. I’m not Jacques. I’m not Ruthless. I’m Maisie Danger Brown. Instead, I slapped him with the flat of the blade against his head.

He stumbled forward, turning to shoot at me as I ran away.

Something large struck me in my back, and I fell face-down. He was shooting cut pipes now, the kind Mi-sun had put through tank armor. My breath knocked out of me so hard, for a few sec- onds I wasn’t sure I’d ever get it back. And when I did, I almost wished I hadn’t. I hurt.

I ran again, growing more havoc skin over my back. He struck again, this time in my right leg. I fell flat on my face as another pipe flew just over my head.

Get up. Run, Maisie.

I switched my boots back to hop and scrambled to my feet.

The pain in my right leg was so bad my stomach twisted, want- ing to retch. I slammed my left foot down and shot into the air, pitching to one side. My armored head struck the roof as I grabbed a rafter. I swung to a new position and clung there, shaking. Whenever I lifted my arm, pain pierced my left side.

Broken ribs?

Blue shot streaked around me, some hitting, but I stifled a cry, holding my breath.

Attack, I told myself. Go attack.

Several of my bones were broken. My Fido arm was gone.

I felt cut in half, shattered, and defenseless. I’d had the chance to kill him and I hadn’t.

“Come on, Maisie! This is a sorry game of hide-and-seek!”

The roof seemed to tilt, and I clung on, shutting my eyes, too dizzy to see.

An image of Jacques hovered behind my lids, starved be- neath his crumbling armor. Not gonna happen.

I’d come equipped with four camelbacks—those back- packs made to carry water for long hikes, though mine were filled with high-calorie energy drinks. I wore them against my skin, under my armor.

I removed my mouth armor and put a straw in my mouth, draining one of the camelbacks. My fingers and toes shivered.

Wilder was shooting the ceiling a few meters away. “Throw some more of those homegrown knives, Maisie. That was a bril- liant idea.”

I removed my scythe hook, hiding it up in the rafters out of his reach. Apparently I couldn’t make myself use a lethal weapon. Instead I grew an arm over Fido’s absence, ending in a havoc fist.

I jumped down behind him and punched him in the head.

He turned to shoot, off-balance from my strike, and missed as my boots shot me back in the air. My broken right leg screamed at me, so I tucked it up, landing just on my left and hitting Wilder again as I descended, a left-right punch. He shot, but I was back in the air. I switched to impact while still arching over his head and then landed and stayed. He was expecting another hop and aimed high. So while he shot over my shoulder, I struck him in the face.

I’d hit Hairy a few times when he tutored me. Hairy could take a punch. Wilder could not. He stumbled back.

I punched him again, getting him in the mouth. It felt re- ally good. He fumbled for his bag of metal ammo, but I grew a short blade and sliced the bag from his side, throwing it as far as I could.

He faked left then dove right for a loose pipe. I kneed him in the gut. It hurt my broken leg, but not as much as it hurt Wilder. He coughed and fell over, and I held his wrists together, growing havoc handcuffs over them and sealing in his danger- ous fingers. I kneed him again to slow him down so I could call Howell—wait, he’d killed my phone.

How was I going to get him outside? I was hobbled, and he was stronger. His weapon hands were encased in havoc, but could he simply shoot them off? I grabbed his ankles, cuffing those as well.

“Don’t you dare truss me up,” he said, still coughing from my kick. “Cut me loose and let’s end this!”

“No.” I bounced on my left foot, my broken leg keeping me from pacing. Could I risk leaving him alone while I went for help? Could I drag him out on my own?

He muttered something in Russian.

“Translation?” I said.

He didn’t reply. He was rubbing his chin against his shoul- der as if to scratch an itch, but he must have had a little pouch there, because there was a rip and then he was holding some- thing white in his teeth. I leaped for him, but he kicked me back, closed his lips over whatever it was, and chewed. His smile was so wicked it made my knees shake.

“Never mess with the thinker,” he said. “I always have a backup plan.”

Had his thinker-self found some drug that would increase the power of his shooter-self? Any second the bands over his hands might crack in an electric-blue burst. I took a step back and grew a blade.

He lifted his cuffed hands, still smiling. I hopped behind a pile of crates. I waited. No sound.

I peeked. Wilder was lying down. His hands were still shielded. His eyes were closed.

“Wilder?”

He didn’t move. I stepped out.

“Wilder, are you playing possum?”

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