by Jamie Jeans and David Kuijt

Lightning arced across the sky, lighting it up briefly moments before a loud crack of thunder rumbled through the air. Within seconds, the dark clouds over the Zone were pouring rain and soaking those unfortunate enought to be outside.

Karin Nys was one of those unfortunate people.

Lying down on the rooftop of an abandoned three story business building, Karin looked through the scope on her rifle, a bag of supplies beside her, and scanned the street below. She fought back an attack of sneezing and cursed her lack of a raincoat. Her trusty leather coat, the only coat she owned, was doing little to keep the rain off. She could feel the cold water trickling down the back of her neck and soaking her shirt.

"Just great," she thought as she set the rifle down for a moment to wipe at her nose. "I'm gonna die of exposure before the idiot arrives... hell, this WOULD happen to me today, wouldn't it?" She coughed into her hand, not wanting any sound to give away her presence, and resumed searching the street for the target.

It was a simple enough job for ten thousand nuyen, take out what had once been a number cruncher, a business man who had stolen some vital information from one of the top corporations in Neo York. She didn't know which and didn't really care. After all, all she cared about was getting the job done and getting paid. What more, aside from building up her reputation, could there be?


"I ever meet the bastard who made rain, I'll kill him," she sniffled. She moved around a bit to get more comfortable and almost missed the small slip of paper laying on the roof.

Reaching over, she picked it up and looked at it. It took her a few seconds to realize that it was the number and address of the psychokenetic Raven, the woman whom she had fought and who had given her an open invitation to talk whenever she felt like it. Even after leaving the clinic run by someone Raven had called Auntie, Karin had held onto the phone number. She didn't know why, but simply tossing away the offer from such a strangely kind woman seemed... wrong...

"Bah... I must be getting sick," she muttered as she shifted. "Getting all emotional over some PK..." And yet, almost unconsciously, Karin stuffed the piece of paper into the inside pocket of her jacket, the only dry place left on her.

After an hour in the freezing cold rain, when she felt as though every muscle in her body had frozen, her target finally came into sight.

He was sneaking miserably through an alley, stumbling over the garbage. Karin readjusted the scope a bit and got a clear picture of the man as he peeked his head furtively out of the alley. The guy clearly knew he was hunted; he was acting like prey.

The target was shorter then average, with short oily black hair that had seen better days. He was dressed in a simple dark gray tux that looked as though it had been dragged through five levels of hell and seemed ill-fitting on his chubby body. His blue eyes darted around wildly, like those of an animal, his chest was heaving, and he gasped for breath as he pulled a small .38 revolver from out of his jacket. There was no doubt in the amateur assassin's mind that the man was extremely out of shape.

"Huh... didn't think they even MADE those any more," Karin thought as she centered in on the target's head. "Those things couldn't punch through a wet cardboard box."

She smirked as she squeezed gently on the trigger, already thinking of what she could buy with the ten thousand nuyen when the sneeze hit. It wasn't particularly big, but it was enough to spoil her shot. The bullet hit high over the target's head and he scrambled away like an obese greasy rabbit.

"Ah god dammit!" she cursed, quickly firing off the remaining rounds and missing each time.

Frantically the target dove through a broken window into the nearest building, some sort of an office for an abandoned parking garage, and took cover within.

"Cripes... god dammit!" Karin began to curse over and over again as she got up and started to disassemble her rifle. In record time it was packed away and she was scrambling down the fire escape, her Kuan-Ti loaded and in hand.

Coughing, she ran across the street and fired a few rounds in through the broken window to keep the target from returning fire. When she reached the building she peeked inside carefully. A swinging door marked "Parking Base" showed where the target had disappeared; the other door was blocked with garbage. She growled, cursed, and then put the Kuan-Ti back in it's holster. Reaching into her backpack as she entered the building and ran towards the door, she pulled out her grenade launcher, a bigger version of the kind she had normally attached to her rifle, and loaded it up with explosive rounds.

"Son of a... I'll just blow the bastard away... make me wait in the rain will yah?" *ACHOO*

The grenade launcher looked like a shotgun on steroids. As she finished loading it she put the remaining rounds back in her backpack and slipped it on. Hefting her grenade launcher up, Karin swung the door open and pointed it into the dark depths of the stairwell. After checking it out, she quickly raced down, intent on catching up with her target.

The basement of the garage had a low ceiling; beams low enough to brush the tops of vans. Not very relevant now, since cars and vans hadn't moved here in several decades. Dim light filtered down the broad access ramp from the level above and trickled in fron the street through a couple of grated windows high in the walls. The lights had burned out or been stolen many years ago; the building had no electricity to use them anyway. Accumulated garbage and myriad wrecks of long-ago stripped cars made the whole basement a dripping, dark, chaotic mess.

The hard rain outside was almost inaudible here, a floor below ground level. Its effects weren't, however. The drum of dripping water onto rusty metal sheeting and splashing of puddles fought with the gush of a small waterfall splattering down the wall; runoff from a broken roof gutterspout, perhaps.

The stormdrain grate still worked, however. The runoff fought its way, fast or slow, to the lowest point in the floor where a large grate gave access to the usual system of tunnels flushing storm overflow down towards the East river.

The grate had been moved. It lay open; rusted bolts and massive weight hadn't been sufficient of a barrier. A very large person sat to the side, leaning against the flank of a burned-out Cadillac, cleaning a shotgun.

Crusher liked the storm drains. He had been exploring some new branches this morning, but the continual rain had turned the drain's trickle into a creek, and the creek into a river. Gradually rising water and more and more gushing inflow had eventually driven him to take shelter, and this was where he had come up. He had gotten wetter than he liked, and the comparative dryness of the basement was a good place to clean his guns. Above all, it was private. Who would come down here?

A quick spatter of handgun shots from the level above broke into his reverie, almost immediately followed by a loud scraping sound.

The out-of-shape accountant was gasping in terror and exhaustion, but the sound of gunshots from the room above meant that this stairwell was a deathtrap. The assassins were coming for him. He forced open the basement access door with a loud scraping sound and staggered into the dark basement. He ran out, nearly blind in the dimness.

Crusher watched him, kneeling with his shotgun ready, but he couldn't imagine the greasy little man being much of a threat to him. For one thing the guy was clearly terrified. The little man was running his way, staggering and caroming off wrecked cars. Crusher glanced at the open storm drain grate. The way this guy was running, like as not he'd fall right in. Crusher stood up, holding out a hand to keep the smaller man from falling into the pit.

The accountant had just turned to glance back at the door when a huge shape loomed out of the darkness, one hand raised to grab him, the other holding some huge gun. He couldn't avoid a collision and ran right into the enormous fellow. It was like running into a brick wall. The mousy man staggered back. Crusher grabbed him by the suit jacket, barely stopping him from stepping into the open pit behind him.

Terrified and desperate, the little accountant realized he still held his .38, and it was pressed against the big man's abdomen. He pulled the trigger.

The sound of the shot was muffled in Crusher's duster, but Crusher's mouth dropped open in surprise. The accountant seemed almost as surprised as Crusher was, and his mouth gaped wordlessly.

"You shot me," Crusher said accusingly. His grip on the man's lapel turned into a push, thrusting him vindictively into the open storm drain. The greasy man disappeared into the rushing waters below.

Karin sprinted down the stairs and stopped as she reached the door, not willing to take a bullet in case the accountant had suddenly grown a backbone and decided to duke it out with her. Peeking out around the corner, she peered through the inky darkness of the underground garage, taking note of all the places the target could hide. She spotted her target immediately, nose-to-nose with a huge man. The huge man said something she didn't catch to her target, then pushed him down out of her line-of-sight.

God dammit! Bastard's got a bodyguard! she thought as she pulled back. She didn't bother to think about why the bodyguard hadn't been with his boss earlier. Karin was too wet and cold to think about it, and getting sicker by the minute. She jumped out of the doorway, aimed her weapon at the large man, trying to stifle a sneeze.

When she got a closer look at him, she cursed.

The other man was enormous. The ceiling had regular reinforced concrete beams holding up the floor above, and the bottom of those beams was several inches more than six feet from the floor to allow vans to drive through. The intruder was standing in one of the large gaps between the beams, and he couldn't stand straight. It looked like the lower edge of the ceiling beams would brush his shoulder! Humans didn't grow that big; he had to be a replicant.

The replicant was wearing a huge duster. The duster's arms had been crudely cut off, probably to make room for his own. His arms were corded with muscle and heavily scarred, with the slight blockiness of dermal plating; his biceps looked like they were bigger around than Karin's hips. One enormous hand was carrying a nasty-looking combat shotgun at ease. His face was battered and ugly, as scarred as his arms, distorted and flattened by more dermal plating, with a nose like the beak of an eagle. It looked like someone had used that face to open the doors of armoured cars. Successfully.

It was a feat for Karin to *not* feel too nervous standing where he could see him.

"Alright... I have a grenade launcher aimed at your chest! You either move aside or you decorate the walls, got it?"

Crusher snarled, his head half-turning to see this new person. As she said, she had a cannon aimed at him. Crusher raised his hands slowly.

"Now toss your shotgun aside! Do it!" she ordered.

Ah hell... if he lays a finger on me, I'm dead. Karin had been scared plenty of times in her life, from her first days of training, but had managed to put it behind her. And shooting people from afar, although it carried some risk, was nothing like being so close to what looked like a heavy duty cybergraft combat replicant.

Crusher tossed the shotgun carefully to his side. On a hair-trigger, when it hit the ground it fired, the blast shocking in the dim basement. Karin jumped, surprised. Crusher had been expecting it, and dove for cover. Karin's quick shot missed, hitting the far wall with a deafening explosion.

Cursing, Karin quickly chambered another round. Dammit dammit dammit! The guy's throwing me off! she thought, gritting her teeth and looking around.

She kept the grenade launcher up and began searching every shadow. Every sense was on edge and the adrenaline was pouring through her veins. Silently, Karin cursed her inexperience with such close quarters combat. Everything was so much closer and the risk of being killed that much greater. No room for error.

Well... if I die, then at least *daddy* won't bother with me anymore, she thought bitterly.

A noise to one side caused her to spin, before her mind clicked—a trick! He'd tossed something in the darkness! She spun back to the other side, just in time to see her opponent finish throwing a truck chassis at her. Her mind boggled. He threw a truck at me? She pulled the trigger without thinking.

If she'd had any other weapon she would probably have been paste, but the grenade blasted the chassis into pieces. The concussion knocked her down and her grenade launcher went spinning away on the floor.

Karin coughed as landed on her back and rolled quickly to her feet. "Dammit dammit dammit!" she cursed.

Crusher charged in after the truck chassis he'd thrown, spotting Karin.

Karin dove for her grenade launcher; Crusher dove for her.

They slammed together, Karin reaching the gun just before Crusher reached her. His momentum spilled them both over into a roll. With desperate skill she hardly knew she possessed, Karin held her grip on the grenade launcher and pumped another grenade into the chamber as they rolled.

Crusher's splayed legs stopped their spin. With a wrestler's skill he had her pinned with one hand to the ground, looming over her with the other enormous fist cocked to smash her head. But he didn't move.

The muzzle of Karin's grenade launcher was jammed under his chin, inches from her own face, and she had her hand on the trigger. Her eyes were wide, but her trigger finger was steady.

"Nice move," Crusher smiled, as if he actually enjoyed the situation. He didn't lower his fist.

"Thanks," Karin muttered through clenched teeth. "Okay pal... you're got a grenade launcher ticking your chin and I've got an itchy trigger finger... what do you do?" She was gasping for breath, more from sheer excitement then from a physical need.

Karin thought she saw Crusher move ever so slightly and she jammed the barrel a bit deeper into his chin. "Don't be making any sudden moves..."

"I ain't gonna rush ya," Crusher smiled wider. "But think about it. It may be my chin you're about to blow off, but hey-- I ain't pretty now. But you won't be nearly so nice looking if a grenade goes off a foot in front of your face, neh?"

"At least if my face goes, it'll take your chin with me." Karin glared up at him, angry that she was in such a situation and frantically searching for a way out of it. Also, she couldn't help but wonder just how the hell the huge combat cyborg could smile at a time like this. She had a grenade launcher pressed against his chin, shouldn't he be at least a little bit worried?

"True enough!" His smile disappeared and his eyes turned to stone. "That only matters if I care, though. I care enough that I haven't snapped your neck like a twig. But I don't care enough to move my chin farther away, where you can get a shot that won't blast your face off with mine."

"Gee... you're a regular Romeo, you know that?" Karin shot at him. She wanted to say something to match his own uncaring attitude but instead spat out the first thing on her mind. "You treat all girls like this on the first date?"

Crusher blinked, and his brows shot up, surprised. "I wouldn't know," he growled, then frowned as if he could wish his words unspoken.

For another long second they sprawled there, Crusher looming over her, and then Karin felt the tension in him start to leave.

When she felt Crusher ease up on the tension, she gave him a strange look. "You're one wierd bodyguard... most I know of would have killed me by now..."

Crusher's lowering fist stopped, and he gave her a puzzled look. "Bodyguard? For who?"

"Huh?! You mean you're not his- and I nearly-" Karin felt her cold kick in full force, causing a tremendous sneeze.

*** KABOOM ***

Karin had relaxed the muzzle pressure against Crusher's jaw, and so her sudden sneeze pulled the muzzle off target as well as pulling the trigger. The grenade exploded on the concrete ceiling eight feet above them, rather than on Crusher's chin. The back of Crusher's armorcloth duster took the brunt of the explosion; Karin was protected by the bulk of his body.

A wave of shattered concrete particles, dust and debris spattered down on them. As it quieted, Crusher started to get up.

Before he could rise a shocking burst of gunfire split the air. A hail of bullets rocked into his body, making his armorcloth duster jerk and dance, and then a heavy-caliber blast picked him up like a toy and threw him backwards over a rusted car.

Karin was moving, rolling for cover and jacking another round into the grenade launcher, before the echoes died. Three forms in combat gear rushed at her, and another jumped down through the newly-created opening in the ceiling. They were heavily armed; assault rifles, combat shotguns, and the like.

On instinct, Karin fell back and rolled over the dented hood of a small car, firing her weapon at their feet as she touched the ground. Another explosion rocked the underground garage and threw up a second cloud of smoke and dust.

Peering from behind her cover, Karin chambered a fresh round into the grenade launcher. How many? What the hell was this about?

The warm muzzle of a gun pressed into her cheek.

"Put the weapon down, Miss Nys," the man said in a calm voice. "You're going back home..."

Only in a body bag, Karin thought as she weighed her options. His gun was against her head. She had been caught off guard, and wouldn't be able to bring her weapon around in time to shoot him before he fired his weapon.

In other words, she was screwed until a better oppurtunity presented itself.

The bounty hunter kept the gun against Karin's head. "Drop it." The voice brooked no opposition.

Karin took her right hand off the action, then carefully set the grenade launcher on the car hood and raised her hands.

The other three bounty hunters stood, relaxing a bit now that their quarry was under control. They looked very tough and professional. Two men and a woman, plus the one behind her. She had no chance.

"That's being sensible, Miss Nys," the man's voice was still calm. "Nobody gets hurt."

The bounty hunters eyes were all on her, especially the one behind her with the gun at her cheek. So she was the only one who saw the huge shadow rise behind the farthest man, and the only one who saw enormous hands reaching for his head.

One of Crusher's arms looped around the man's neck and the other grabbed his chin.

*** CRACK ***

Crusher snapped his neck with a fluid twisting motion. The sound was sickeningly loud in the quiet.

As the other two turned to Crusher, Karin grabbed the weapon arm of man behind her and tossed him over her shoulder. He landed with a thud on the ground, but his recovery was cut off when Karin struck his throat with an open palm strike. His windpipe crushed, he dropped his gun, which Karin snatched out of midair, and fired twice into his forehead.

Without a second glance at him, Karin pocketed the gun, a heavy duty Desert Eagle, and rushed over to where she had left her grenade launcher. With one smooth motion she scooped up the weapon and turned to rejoin the fray.

Crusher had knocked the female bounty hunter into a concrete pillar, taking a poorly-aimed burst from her partner's assault rifle. He ignored the hail of bullets and smacked the assault rifle from the bounty hunter's hand. The hunter whipped out a huge combat knife and dove at Crusher, showing more bravery than sense. Crusher's huge hand clamped down on the man's forearm, his other hand grabbed a shoulder, and he pulled the bounty hunter into a crushing headbutt. The smaller man collapsed bonelessly, his face smashed and bloody. Most of Crusher's skull was titanium; when his forehead met mere bone, the bone lost.

Crusher turned to Karin. His eyes widened as he saw the grenade launcher she held pointed at him. Behind him, Karin saw the female bounty rise up and brace herself, an Earthshaker in her hands aiming at the back of Crusher's head.

Everything slowed down as Crusher stopped rising, the bounty hunter took aim at his head, and Karin brought the grenade launcher up ever so slightly...

Karin's finger yanked back hard on the trigger as the shell left the launcher with a *FWUMP*, hurtling through the air just over Crusher's shoulder, and slammed deep into the chest of the bounty hunter. Karin saw the bounty hunter gape in amazement and shock at the sight of the wound on her chest in the split second before the grenade exploded and blew her to bits.

Time seemed to revert to normal in the wave of the explosion and charred chunks of body. Karin looked at Crusher with a smirk on her face.

"How about we call it even now, huh?"

Crusher glanced behind him at the dead woman. His eyes gleamed redly as he glanced around the basement.

"Sure, what the hell," he laughed. He straightened up, smacking his head on a ceiling beam. "Shidh!" Crouching back down a bit, he came over and flopped down on a truck hood. The hood buckled under his weight.

"Who the hell were these guys? For that matter, who the hell are you?"

"Name's Karin... Karin Nys. And those bastards were bounty hunters," Karin explained as she looked over at the Desert Eagle in her jacket. It would make a nice souveneir.

Crusher nodded, as if that were only to be expected. "Pleased ta meetcha. I'm Crusher." He held out one enormous hand.

She looked at his huge hand and hesitated for a moment before putting her hand in his. It practically engulfed her hand but the handshake was surprisingly gentle.

"Nice to meetcha too, I guess." She paused to a moment and looked around. "So do you normally live in underground dumps?"

"Yup. Not this particular one, though—I'm just here to pick up chicks," he said absent-mindedly, unbuttoning his coat. Crusher opened up his armorcloth duster. Blood soaked his shirt. He flexed his shoulders, grimacing in pain. "Dammit," he said conversationally. "Coupl'a broken ribs. Bloody shotgun was loaded with slug."

He prodded his side experimentally. Karin could see some enormous scars. "Nothin' too bad, though," he assessed the damage. "Looks like three, maybe four bullets are gonna have to come out. Gonna owe Mitch some more money."

"Ouch... looks like you've seen some major action," she said as she grabbed a seat on a nearby car. "Are you a merc?"

"Gladiator," he responded absently, poking his wounds and grimacing. His shirt was soaked with blood, but the bleeding seemed to have largely stopped.

"Gladiator huh? That certainly explains why you look like you could eat iron and spit out nails. So where's the short fat embezzeler anyhow?" Karin asked.

"Who? You mean the greasy little man?"

"Yeah, that slimy little slug..."

"Little shit shot me, so I pushed him into the storm drain." Crusher gestured to his left, where Karin could see the open grating. A stream from the storm outside was still pouring into it. "Bugger is probably half way to the East River by now."

"You did what!? you shoved him down the frigging storm drain?!" she nearly shouted at him.

Crusher shrugged and smiled. "Seemed like a good idea at the time!" He fumbled around for a moment with the front of his armourcloth duster, searching. Finding what he wanted, he held up a small-caliber bullet. "Stupid little 38," he chuckled. "Couldn't punch a hole in a wet cardboard box."

The amateur assassin looked at him blankly for a few moments before bursting out laughing. The laughing soon broke down into a fit of coughing and sneezing, but it did little to break up how silly she felt.

"I can't believe this! All of this crap over some stupid mistake!" She laughed again and sneezed violently. "Oh yeah... sorry about threatening to take your chin off." The fight was over, and they were even now, but Karin felt that making nice with the guy wouldn't hurt. Especially considering how big and dangerous he was.

Crusher shrugged, dismissing it. "Hey, it ain't often I get this much fun so early in the afternoon. Invite me next time you're havin' a party!"

Karin smirked. "Heh... sure... *ACHOO* Look, how about I buy you a brew later on, eh? I owe yah big for helping me fight those bastards."

Crusher smiled. "Sure. How 'bout the Underground?"

Karin nodded "Great!"

Although she sounded jovial enough, inside Karin was seething with anger. There was only one person who would want her brought back alive, and if he had been the one to put the bounty on her, then her life was about to get a lot more difficult.

Several hours later the greasy little accountant leaned against a wall, gasping for breath. He'd never imagined he could be this cold, terrified, and miserable. He'd known the company put a price on him. For three weeks he'd been hiding out in the Zone. He'd bought a pistol from a bartertown street vendor, but after three weeks he'd started to believe that he'd gotten away, that nobody would find him. Then this afternoon!

His heart started pounding again. He fished around in his wet pockets, but his heart pills were long gone. He took deep breaths, trying to calm his breathing.

This afternoon, the killers had found him. Two of them. One shooting from above, driving him into the arms of the other—a huge replicant!

The accountant smiled exultantly at the memory. He'd killed the assassin! He'd shot him, right in the belly, with his pistol! He remembered the look of shock on the vatjob's face, the stunned surprise when the vatjob said "you shot me!"

Then he remembered the terror as the dying replicant pushed him through some hole, and into a rushing underground torrent. A storm drain, it must have been. He'd lost his pistol, his heart pills—everything. The cold rushing water, the darkness, and then the shock as the drain dumped into the river. He didn't remember how he had gotten out, miserable and bedraggled.

But alive! He was alive, and there was no way the other one, the big man's partner, could possibly have followed him. He had survived! Not only survived, but killed one of the killers. He could make it, he could escape. He was home free!

He stood up, grinning through chattering teeth. He had to get warm. He was near the Entertainment District, and he still had his credit chit. He could get a drink, get some food, get anything. He was going to live! They'd never catch him now.

The little man staggered out of the alley and around a corner, only to run smack into someone. Well, more precisely, into someone's chest. A huge man walking with his jacket open. In the bright lights of the strip the little accountant could see that the man's shirt was soaked in dried blood.

He made a little mew of fear and his eyes travelled up, up, to the big man's face. It was the assassin! The man he had killed!

Crusher looked down at the mousy man who had just come around the corner and ran into his chest. The guy looked familiar.

"Hey," he rumbled threateningly, "aren't you the guy who shot me?"

The accountant let out a high-pitched whine of terror and stumbled backwards. "You - you're dead! I killed you, you're dead!!"

Crusher leaned forward, looming over the small man.


The small man collapsed.

Crusher burst out laughing, almost uncontrollably, tears running down the sides of his face. The look on the little guy's face! Saying "I killed you!" With a little .38 snubnose that couldn't even penetrate his armoured duster! And now he'd fainted!

Some early evening passers-by walked wide around the huge man. Someone that big, you didn't ask what he thought was so funny.

Gradually Crusher got control over his mirth. He leaned over the prone accountant, slapped him on the shoulder.

"Just kidding, omae," Crusher chuckled. "I ain't dead, and I ain't huntin' you either."

The smaller man didn't move.

Crusher rolled him over, his chuckles dying off. The small man's eyes were open, sightless. Crusher leaned over, put an ear to his chest.


Crusher hunkered down against the wall, looking at the small man. "Geeze, guy, this just wasn't your day, was it." He shook his head.

More passerbys walked around them. Hey, in the Zone you saw some wierd things, and it was usually best to keep on walking.

Karin entered 93 Underground. She wasn't happy about giving up her hardware at the door, but Duke wasn't the sort of guy to take any shit, and she'd heard it wasn't so easy to get stuff past him. Well at least anyone coming for her wouldn't have any cannons either.

It was easy to spot Crusher. He loomed head and shoulders over anyone at the bar. She pushed her way through the crowd. In spite of the dense crowd, the seat beside Crusher was empty. As she came up she saw someone try and take it, but a snarl from Crusher and the guy decided maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. On Crusher's other side someone was passed out. Must be a friend of Crusher's, she thought, because Crusher's hand was resting on the guy's shoulder.

Karin sat down beside him and made herself look comfortable, at ease. Even if Duke kept people from sneaking weapons in, Karin wasn't going to relax for a second, not when it meant that someone could get the jump on her.

"Hey Crusher... how goes it?"

"Hey, Karin," Crusher smiled at her. He didn't look nearly so dangerous when he smiled, although it was clear he found something very funny, as laughter was lurking in his eyes and he could barely keep a straight face.

"So what's with you? You look like you're about to bust a gut."

Crusher snickered and leaned back. "You met my friend?" he asked. The passed-out guy on Crusher's other side was wearing a hat and dark sunglasses, so it took her a moment to recognize him.

She blinked as the sudden realization hit. This was her target! She immediately went for her gun that was not in it's holster. Cursing, Karin was about to tell Crusher not to let him go when she noticed that the man wasn't moving. In fact, on closer inspection, she saw that he was perfectly still.

Karin reached over and pulled the sunglasses down. She looked into the man's lifeless eyes and then up at Crusher. "You brought a dead body in here?! What happened to him?!"

Crusher nearly cracked a rib laughing. "I'd explain," he choked out between guffaws, "but you'd never believe it..."

It was late that night when they finally left the bar, seriously drunk. Their friend the accountant had bought all the drinks on his credit chit. He hadn't seemed to like the ones they kept putting in front of him, so they drank his after he made clear he wasn't going to touch it, then ordered him something different. Mitch, the regular bartender, never did figure out why Karin and Crusher kept saying "Boo!" and collapsing in gales of laughter.

Return to Kazei 5 PBEM Stories