(Note: the Death Commando logo [seen above] and all the BattleMech illustrations I use in these blog postings are the property of Catalyst Games Labs. I took the images from the most excellent sarna.net Battletech Wiki. I have no claim to any ownership over any of the images and use them for illustration purposes only.)
Managed to get some work done on those Battlecorps stories over the weekend. The situation with the family member doesn't look like it's going to get resolved in the near future, if at all. Right now, my writing is the one area I can escape into for a while, and it's kept me sane.
This is the climax of Running From the Past. There's a short ending scene I'll post on Thursday, and that will wrap this story up. Any thoughts will be welcomed, as it is the longest Battletech story I've ever written. I would like to now what you guys thought of it.
The Ferret VTOL flew at near treetop level, the ground below still in shadows despite the faint but growing light coming from the northeast. The VTOL pilot, a tall thin man wearing a black Stetson, aviator glasses and chomping on an unlit cigar, was humming something under his breath that sounded to Jägare like Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkeries.”
Besides Jägare and the pilot, the only other person on board was the co-pilot, a young woman who looked like she should have been in school rather than in the right hand seat of a combat aircraft. Jägare sat in the small troop compartment, near the front so he could glance into the cabin when he wanted to. He had taken the time to change back into his clothes, and the rifle laying across his lap was his own hunting rifle. A hunting bag sat on the bench next to him, holding a few things like some food, medical supplies, and some extra ammo for both his rifle and pistol.
“Three minutes,” said the co-pilot over her shoulder.
Jägare nodded and closed his eyes. He went through a series of mental exercises he had learned long ago, to sharpen the mind and clear the feelings of fatigue that he felt. The Ferret had been in the air for over twenty minutes, taking an indirect route to the hunting camp on Madson’s Ridge so as not to alert Max to the discovery of his plan. The plan was for the Ferret to touch and go in the middle of the camp, staying on the ground only long enough to allow Jägare to get out. Once the VTOL was away, Jägare would move to disable the ATVs, conceal himself, and wait for Max and Andrea.
Andrea. Was she a hostage, or willing partner to all this? No one had seen her as anything but a prisoner, but there was no way of telling. He would have to rely on his training and instinct to know the truth.
Someone touching he knee made Jägare open his eyes. The co-pilot motioned to her headset. Jägare switched his on. “Yes?”
“Someone calling you. Hunter Five-Four.”
Jägare nodded and motioned her to put the call through. After she adjusted a dial on the console, she turned her head and nodded.
“Hunter Three-One here. Find anything, Tetsuro?”
“Affirmative, Three-One. Took us a while, but we've managed to pick up a trail of footprints heading south, like you said. Two people. One moving fairly quickly, the other stumbling along right behind number one. They can’t be more then an hour old. Looks like they’re making a beeline for Madson’s Ridge and the hunting camp there.”
“Good. I’m about two minutes away from the camp myself. Can you track them?”
“Looks like we can. He tried to cover his tracks the first part of the escape, which is why it took us so long, but now he isn't bothering.”
“Good. Get after him and stay close enough to let him know you’re there, but not close enough to spook him. into doing something nasty. Remember, Andrea is with him.”
“Understood.” There were a few seconds of silence, then Tetsuro said, “Just so we’re clear, Three-One, if he does something to her before they reach the camp, the Marshal’s isn't going to find the body.”
“Understood,” Jägare growled. “Just be careful with Max, Five-Four. Something don’t feel right about him.”
“I think you’re right. We’ll dog him, don’t worry about that. Hunter Five-Four out.”
Jägare nodded to the co-pilot to break the connection and leaned back in his seat. He’d hadn't been exaggerating the feeling he had about Max, an unease that had started right after he’d been told that Max was in with the Brotherhood. He thought back, trying to find the reason for his unease, but nothing came to mind. In fact, he realized he knew almost nothing about Max – his last name, where he come from (or claimed to come from), likes, dislikes, or even where he lived in town. He had appeared one day early in the year and had just become part of the trading post like the shelves and the merchandise. . . .
The Hunter frowned. Or, like a trained intelligence agent, he thought. Become part of the background and no one notices you. In the store, Jägare had very few direct dealings with Max, because Andrea preferred dealing with the hunters herself. He had run into Max several times out in the forest, Max acting as a guide for hunting parties, and he seemed competent enough in that role. But other then that, the man was a mystery, more shadow then human.
Even more of a shadow then I am>, he thought ruefully.
“One minute,” the co-pilot said, her voice startling him out of his thoughts. He opened his eyes and looked at her, but she was watching the dials and gages. Who Max was would have to wait until later. Now, he had to stop him and rescue Andrea in the process.
He looked out the cockpit window just as the Ferret rose over a ridge and come in sight of his objective. The hunting camp was in a large clearing, several log buildings clustered around a raised dirt platform used as a helipad. The piloted angled the Ferret for the pad, the humming stopped in favor of concentrating on the landing. Jägare removed his headset, leaned forward, one hand on his rifle, the other on the seat restraint release.
The Ferret was dropping toward the landing pad at a fast clip. At the last moment, the pilot pulled back on the stick, bringing the nose up and slowing his momentum. As he did so, his right hand grabbed and pulled back on a leaver, releasing the Ferret’s landing gear. Five seconds, later, there was a thump as the VTOL landed on the platform.
As soon as he felt the Ferret touch down, Jägare twisted the restraint release, freeing him from the seat. Grabbing his bag with his free hand, he was standing and heading to the cargo door just as it slid open. Without breaking stride, he jumped out, bending over to keep himself well clear of the VTOL’s blades. He kept moving away from the helicopter, not bothering to look back or straighten up until he head and felt the Ferret lift off the pad. He turned, stood straight and gave the departing VTOL a wave.
Jägare started for the stairs at one end,, slinging the bag over his head and grabbing his radio. “Hunter Three-One to Hunter Five-Four. I’m down and in position.”
“Copy, Three-One. We’re about four klicks north of your location.”
“Copy, Five-Four. Three-One out.” He double-timed it down the stairs, switching radio frequencies as he did so. “Hunter Three One to Marshal One-Five.”
“Marshal One-Five here,” Takezaki said. “Are you in position?”
“Just landed,” Jägare replied. “What about that Warhammer?”
“Marshal One-Six and Two-Three are closing in on him now.” There was a touch of frustration in the Marshal’s voice. With his injuries, Takezaki was stuck at the mobile HQ, coordinating the mop-up operation, while Jackson and Kessler, the deputy that had been sent to get them from the DropShip, was now piloting the Men Shen in pursuit of the pirate ‘Mech.
“Understood. Anything new on Max’s background?” Before he’d left, Jägare had asked Takezaki to check up on the renegade’s background while on Cascade.
“Not much more then what we already knew,” Takezaki replied. Wait a minute. . . . “ Five seconds passed, which was long enough for Jägare to reach the bottom of the steps and start toward the shed housing the ATVs. “We got a hit in the BOTL files.”
“Be on the lookout. It’s a file on wanted criminals that’s updated every few months.”
“And no one thought to check this file when Max showed up?”
“It was checked,” the marshal said, sounding defensive. “It’s checked for every single person when they come through immigration. But this report is only three months old. Besides, the file has over three million entries, and each update adds another fifty thousand. We don’t have the time to check it unless we have to.”
“Never mind the excuse,” Jägare replied bluntly. What does the report say?”
“Basically, a man by the name of Max Vanash is wanted on Rollis in connection with the murder of a smuggler and his two bodyguards. The general description fits our Max, and all three victims were killed with a knife, just like the Warhammer pilot.”
Jägare reached the shed and took a second to consider the lock. “Anything else?”
“Not yet. Still working through the BOTL database.”
“Rollis is in Capellan territory. Maybe there’s more in the Confederation warrants list. Keep at it and let me know if you manage to dig up anything else about Max.”
“Copy on the Confed angle. I’ll add it to the search parameters, Three-One. One-Five out.”
Jägare drew and fired his pistol, the shot echoing through the clearing. The lock disintegrated, and gave up its last bit of cohesion when Jägare kicked the door open. He strode inside, letting his eyes adjust to the almost darkness before he did anything. It was getting lighter, as the two small windows indicated, but the shed itself was still mostly in darkness.
A work bench ran along one wall, but most of the space was taken up by two ATVs. Designed to seat three comfortably, two in front and one in the rear, and four in a pinch, the vehicles rode along on six tube-like tires. A roll bar protected the occupants in case the ATV flipped, but still allowed a hunter to stand up in the back seat and shoot.
Jägare went to the rear of the first ATV. It took him a couple of seconds to locate the latch and pull it. There was a pop, and he pushed on the rear of the seat. The seat moved up and forward, displaying the electric motor that powered the ATV. He reached in and found a wingnut by touch. After a few seconds resistance, the nut finally started turning and he removed it. He pocketed it and pushed the engine cover back. It took him several more seconds to find and remove three circuit boards from the engine. He moved onto the other ATV, not bothering to take the time to close the engine cover. In less then two minutes, he was back outside, six circuit boards in his hand. Without these circuits, the ATVs were not going anywhere.
Ten minutes later, he returned to the clearing, the looted circuit boards carefully buried twenty meters in the woods. It would take Max hours to find them, if he found them at all.
“Marshal One-Five to Hunter Three-One,” Takezaki said.
“Hunter Three-One here. What do you have?”
“Another hit on the BOTL list for our friend Max. You guessed right about there being more then one warrant for the Confed, and I think you should hear this ASAP.”
Jägare walked across the clearing. “What?”
“A special warrant has been issued for one Maximilian Shanav by the Office of Special Prosecution, Prefect of Sian,” Takezaki read. He continued with, “Interestingly enough, this warrant is being distributed only to the Magistracy of Canopus, the Taurian Concordat, and the New Colony Region.”
Jägare stopped in the middle of the clearing. “You said, ‘Office of Special Prosecution?’”
“That’s what it says here. Why, you know what it is?”
Jägare started walking again, but his pace was quicker. “I do. The Office is nothing more then a paper front for the Maskirovka.”
“The same. They use that to try and track down suspects they think have left Confederation space. What do they want him for?”
“Just says here, ‘for the murder of two defenders of the Confederation, the attempted murder of three more defenders of the Confederation and the attempted assassination of a Jiang-jun Cho Su, whoever that is. It provides a picture, and it’s close to a perfect match with our Max.”
Jägare felt a cold lump form in his stomach. “I think we’re dealing with a renegade Liao Death Commando,” he said, forcing the words out.
“You’re kidding,” Takezaki said.
“The hell I am,” Jägare shot back, sprinting for one of the cabins. “Cho Su is an alias for Jiang-Jun Michael Hyung-Tsei, who is the commanding officer of the Death Commandos. More likely then not, those dead and wounded ‘defenders of the Confederation’ were Death Commandos.”
“How would you know anything about the Death Commandos?”
“I read a lot.”
“According to this warrant, if spotted, no action is to be taken against him and the Office of Special Prosecution is to be notified immediately.”
“So they can send a Death Commando team to take him.”
“I have a lot of free time during winter,” Jägare replied as he stopped in front of the cabin. “After a while, you’ll read anything.”
“If you say so. But, if this guy is a Death Commando, you can’t take him on alone. I can have two platoons up there in less then half an hour.”
“And he’ll kill Andrea before the VTOLs touch down, then evade the militia. He’s no fool.”
“What can you do against him?”
“More then he knows. Hunter Three-One out.” Jägare turned off the radio and opened the door to the cabin. The interior was plain, with two bunkbeds, a fireplace, four high-backed unadorned wooden chairs around an unfinished table. Two windows in each side of the single door let in enough light to see the thin layer of dust on everything.
Jägare went over to one of the chairs, picked it up and carried it to the window. He placed the chair off to one side so he could see most of the clearing, including the shed, but far enough back so he wasn't readily visible from the clearing. Another chair was placed next to the first, and he placed the bag on it and leaned his rifle there. He stepped outside and took one last look around before going back inside, closing the door and settling down to wait.
Half an hour passed, then forty-five minutes. Jägare ate some jerky and drank a little water to take the edge off his hunger. Sleep nibbled at his awareness, but he forced himself to stay awake, using techniques from his past life, techniques that he was finding out had never really left him, but had stayed dormant until he needed them again. Part of him wonder if he should be impressed or scared about the retention of all those skills.
Movement on the far side of the clearing put those thought aside. Jägare picked up his rifle, but continued to watch from his position. After a few more seconds, two figures came into the clearing. One was Max, dressed in black cargo pants, blood-red shirt and black vest. In one hand he carried a rifle, in the other, a thin chain leading to a collar around Andrea Starver’s neck. Andrea looked tired, her clothes were ripped and dirty, and her arms were manacled in front of her. But she was alive and in relatively good shape.
Jägare watched as Max dragged Andrea toward the shed. Short of the structure, he saw the pirate stop and stare at the destroyed lock. With a snarl, Max sling the rifle over his shoulder and yanked on the chain, sending Andrea stumbling forward. As she got close to him, Max released the chain and pulled out a long double-bladed knife from a belt sheath and grabbed her by the chin and spun her around so that she was between him and the shed. Slowly, Max forced Andrea into the shed, the knife hovering close to her neck. They disappeared into the darkness.
The hunter stood and moved to the door. He opened it slowly, just enough to allow him to see the clearing. A handful of seconds later, Andrea came stumbling out of the shed, Max right behind her. He grabbed her by the hair and held up the knife. “All right!” he said in a cold, menacing voice. “I want to see everyone out in the open in ten seconds, or I will cut her throat!”
Jägare frowned. Andrea was too close to Max for a shot at this distance. He stepped out, his rifle pointing at the both of them. “Just me, Max,” he said in a loud voice.
Max glared at him. “Jägare,” he said in a low voice.
Jägare walked toward them, slowly. “I’m here, alone.”
“Why should I believe you?” Max demanded.
“Kill him, Ian!” Andrea yelled. “Kill the bastard!”
Max redoubled his grip on the woman’s hair. “You’re the one who removed those ATV circuits,” he said in a even tempered voice.
“Of course. I figured out the Warhammer was a bluff.”
The hatchet-faced man shrugged. “It was a good plan. Keller didn't like it much, but I convinced him.”
Jägare continued to walk forward. "You can't escape."
“Stop where you are and drop your weapons,” Max snarled. He held the blade near Andrea’s throat. “Rifle and pistol both.”
Jägare stopped. He held up his rifle and placed it on the ground in front of him, then unbuckled his gunbelt and let it fall to the ground. “Satisfied?”
“Take ten steps toward us,” Max ordered, his blade never wavering. “And keep your hands up.”
The hunter took ten measured paces toward Max and Andrea, his hands held out and away from his body. He stopped about five meters from the pair. “The Brotherhood is finished, Max,” he said. “We've captured both DropShips, and most of the gang is dead or captured.”
A flicker of irritation crossed Max’s face, but it didn't stay long. “The citizens here were more prepared then we thought.”
“Not really,” Jägare said, switching to Mandarin. “Its just the people here take a real dislike to pirates.”
The hatchet-face man’s eyes narrowed. “A shrewd guess,” he replied in the same language.
“We found the warrant for you issued by the Office of Special Prosecution, Prefect of Sian, Maximilian Shanav.”
“I am impressed. You have been busy.”
“I also know who Jiang-jun Cho Su really is. Death Commandos don’t like it when one of their own desert.”
Max snorted. “And how would you know anything about –“
Andrea snarled an curse as she stepped back and slammed her elbow into Max’s gut. As the pirate’s eyes widen in pain, she grabbed his knife hand with both of hers and bit his wrist. He snarled a curse of his own and yanked her back. Before he could do anything else, Jägare plowed into both of them, sending all three of them to the ground, Max on the bottom, then Andrea, and finally Jägare on top. Jägare’s hat went flying off into the snow.
Jägare shoved Andrea off of Max and she quickly rolled away, finally free as Jägare landed on top of Max. the slaver slashed at her with his knife, but she was beyond his reach. Before he could slash at Jägare, the hunter grabbed the knife hand with his left and punched Max between the eyes with his right. With a snarl, the pirate slammed a knee into Jägare ‘s ribs. Pain exploded along the ribs, the same area where he’d been slashed during the DropShip fight. In retaliation, he hit Max between the eyes yet again.
Twice more, the knee struck the ribs, and each time, the pain got worse. Jägare third punch was met with Max’s forehead as he raised his head and tucked his chin into his chest. A left cross connected with Jägare’s chin with enough force to daze him. He rolled off of Max, and lurched to his feet, his right hand drawing out his own knife from it’s belt sheath.
Max was already on his feet, a bit bloody, but his eyes shone with menace and his knife was held in a low guard. “Not bad,” he said in Mandarin. “But I was trained by the very best in the Capellan Confederation.”
“So you say,” Jägare replied with a small smile.
Max attacked with several short slashes, moving with speed and power. Jägare blocked two slashes, avoided the third and absorbed the last one on his heavy winter coat. He ducked an elbow and kicked out at Max’s knee, which the pirate managed to avoid. Jägare spun to his left and snapped out a spinning hook kick, the heel of his boot barely grazing the pirate’s chin. Max staggered, but recovered quickly.
The hunter snapped thrust his own knife toward Max’s chest, making the pirate swing his own knife down to block the attack, then hit him with an overhand left that snapped his opponent's head to the right. Jägare stepped forward, ducked a spinning slash that neck high, and kicked at Max’s groin. The slaver managed to twist away, his thigh absorbing the kick, the countered with an open palm strike that smashed into Jägare’s chest. The winter coat and layers of this clothes dispersed the power of the strike, but it still forced Jägare to back up several steps to regain his balance.
Max charged in, his knife aimed at the hunter’s face. Jägare spun to his right, slapping his opponent’s knife-welding arm with his left hand. He continued to spin, intent on driving the pommel of his knife into Max’s temple, but the hatchet-face man ducked and hit Jägare with a shoulder in the stomach that sent the hunter staggering. Before Jägare could recover, Max was on the attack again, hacking at Jägare with a flurry of slashes. More cuts appeared in Jägare‘s winter coat before Max was forced to leap back to avoid Jägare’s thrusting counterattack.
They circled each other, knives held close to the body. Jägare’s ribs burned, but he ignored it. Small puffs of down were slowly being expelled through the gashes in his coat. Sweat beaded on his forehead before it cooled off in the chill air. “Give it up, Shanav,” he said in English. “There’s no way you can get off planet now.”
“I’ve got an entire planet to hide on,” the slaver replied.
“You think the Hunters will leave you alone?”
“If I kill enough of them, they will. And I’m going to start with you.” He moved in again, the steel of his knife shimmering in the morning light. Jägare’s coat absorbed several more slashes, but he didn't know how much more it could take. A kick meant to break Jägare’s kneecap smashed painfully into the lower part of his thigh, and only sheer will kept him from falling. Max’s follow-up elbow was knocked aside by Jägare, who then stepped in, and used a shoulder throw to try and drive Max into the ground. The pirate managed to break his fall for the most part, and slashed several times at Jägare’s legs to keep him away long enough to roll into a crouch.
Max glanced over at Andrea, who was kneeling several meters away, trying to remove the collar from around her neck. He smiled at Jägare, then uncoiled himself and darted toward Andrea. Jägare moved to cut him off, but only after a couple of strides, Max suddenly darted at him, his knife slashing through Jägare’s coat, shirt and into his skin. In reply, Jägare managed to snap a kick into Max’s solar plexus, the force just enough to make the slaver gasp in surprise, but the follow-up knee to the face was prevented by the pirate’s quick reflexes. However, Max wasn't quite fast enough to completely avoid Jägare’s slash that left a long trail of blood along the right side of his face.
Each man pulled back, assessing his opponent. Fire burned from the top of Jägare’s left hip to the right breast, and the hunter could feel wetness seep into his shirt. His breathing was ragged, every move sending new jolts of pain through his abused thigh and ribs. Tiredness was beginning to set in, the events of the last day working hard to try and take him under. He fought off the urge to fall down, and just smiled at his enemy.
Max looked more relaxed, though the slash on his face bled profusely. “It appears that I underestimated you,” he said in English.
“Not my fault,” Jägare’s replied.
“Ready to tell me where those ATV circuits are?”
“I suppose I could skin you alive, but I don’t have the time.”
“You've run out of time. There’s hunters in the woods, waiting for a clear shot at you, and Marshal Takezaaki is on his way with some militia. Even if you beat me, you can’t escape.”
Max shrugged. “That’s what they said when I tried to shoot Hyung-Tsei, but I managed to get away then. If I can avoid the clutches of the Death Commandos, why not a handful of mountain men and half-trained soldiers?”
“Why did you try and kill the commander of the Death Commandos?” Jägare asked.
The slaver shook his head. “Can’t tell you. My master wouldn't like it.”
“He showed me the way.” Max darted forward, his knife angling for Jägare’s face. The hunter raised an arm to block, but the pirate shot a powerful sidekick into Jägare’s exposed and injured ribs. He bit off a scream and back handed Max across the face as the slaver closed in. But Max swept his knife in an arc aiming to slash Jägare’s throat.
Just as he did, the crack of a pistol going off as the same instance as a blossom of crimson appeared on Max’s right shoulder. The pirate spun to the right, a flat black blade appearing in his left hand as if by magic. He snapped threw the blade, his target Andrea, who was holding Jägare’s pistol in both hands and trying to line up another shot. The sharp edged missile bit deep into the woman’s left thigh and she grunted in surprise and pain. A second missile followed the first, this one hitting Andrea in the right shoulder. She collapsed, blood flowing from her wounds.
“Stay out of this, Andrea,” Max said coldly. “Or the next one I throw will kill you.”
Jägare stepped in and slashed at the slaver. Max blocked the first one, dodged the second, and slashed at the Jägare’s knife hand. The leather of Jägare’s glove parted easily, and explosion of agony from the back of his hand was intense. The sudden pain made his hand open, letting his knife to fall to the ground. Max hit him with a left hook to his already damaged ribs, then a straight right to the point of his chin.
Jägare felt the corners of his mind black out as he fought to stay conscious. He experienced the coppery taste of blood in his mouth and breathing became a problem. His eyes were unfocused and he felt the blood pound in his ears. He felt drained, wanting nothing more then to lie down and sleep.
“A valiant attempt,” Max said. “But you couldn't have beaten me. Master Sun told me once I was the fourth best fighter he had ever trained, and the other three are dead.”
The name Master Sun reached deep into Jägare’s memories. The Death Commando’s melee weapon and unarmed combat instructor. Seventy years old and still could move with the swiftness and lethality of a cobra. Jägare had learn a lot from the old man, including a few things not normally taught. He just needed a few seconds to regain his senses. “Did. . .did you kill them too?” he gasped, trying to sound more hurt than he was.
Max shook his head. “One’s retired, one died during the raid on Kathil back in ‘29, and the last one was lost on a mission in the St. Ives Compact several years back. I had no need to kill them.” he stepped forward. “Time to die.”
The thrust was underhanded, and aimed for his solar plexus. With a burst of energy, Jägare slid to his left and hit Max in the face with the hardest palm strike he could muster. The slaver’s nose deformed under the blow, and for a heartbeat, Max’s brain was in shock.
Jägare’s hands grabbed the pirate’s extended arm. His right hand seized the elbow, his thumb digging into the pressure point in the inside of the joint, while his left hand gripped Max’s knife hand and twisted. Before the pirate knew what had happened, Jägare drove Max’s hand, still holding the knife, back into the slaver’s body. A stunned look came across Max’s face as the knife went deep into him.
“By the way,” Jägare hissed into Max’s ear in Mandarin. “Master Sun also taught me. I’m the one that went missing from that mission into the Compact five years ago. Lost at sea during the insertion, or so they think.” A look of comprehension crossed Max’s face, just before the high pitch crack of a rifle was heard. Something slammed into the mortally wounded pirate’s back and he slumped to the ground, his eyes open and unseeing.
Jägare stumbled away, taking several steps before he fell down. The cold wet snow felt soothing on his face, but he managed to push himself onto his back so he could breathe the cold air. He heard shouts and the sounds of footsteps in the snow, but all he saw was a clear blue sky with a few high clouds. He tried to raise his head, but the effort was too much. With a groan, he waited.
“Jägare!” he heard someone shout, but he was too tired to do anything besides raise his hand and feebly wave. He became aware of footsteps getting close, and several people standing over him. “Lie still,” he heard one of them say.
He chuckled softly. “I can’t do anything but,” he said in a low voice.
One of the group knelt next to him. “You look like Hell,” Takezaki said. His arm was still bandaged, but he had lost the sling somewhere, and his sniper rifle was sling over his back.
“Feel like it,” Jägare replied. “What are you doing here?”
“Come looking for you and Max,” the Marshal replied.
“Well, you found us. Andrea?”
“We have medics working on her. She looks like she’ll survive all right. How bad are you hurt?”
“Ribs mostly. Max?”
“If he gets up from that shot, I’ll eat my hat.”
“Yeah. I shot him just as you two stood there. Hit him right between the shoulder blades.”
“You shot him in the back? I thought Marshals weren't suppose to do that.”
Takezaki shrugged. “He was too far away to hear me order him to turn around, and I couldn't take the time to get any closer. Besides, it’s far easier explaining to Marshal Jackson why I shot him then trying to explain why I didn't shoot him.”
Jägare’s chuckle was hampered by his shallow breathing. “Roll him over,” he said. “If he gets up from your shot in the back and his knife in his chest, then you and I will both be eating our hats.”
Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!