The gang rolled in as the always did. Louis and Magyar first, and loudest, going right to the bar. The triplets were next, all named Callie and finishing each others sentences, fishing for the best catch in the place whether it be man, woman, or anything in between. A pair came next, the two lieutenants Margo and Egan scanning the room as they went and staring hard at anyone with silly ideas; those that didn’t blanch outright always did a quick calculation and decided their drink was more interesting.
Always last came Ikumi. Leader of the Sunderers by right and skill, and by the number of unfortunate fools left dead in her wake. She might have been beautiful but it was impossible to see through the grime, the self inflicted scars, the lightweight armour she wore from head to toe.
Jean had to speak to her. The woman made no sign as she went to the bar, but Jean could tell: Ikumi knew who watched her, always. Letting out a long sigh Jean got to her feet, noticing a path opening between her and the bare space next to Ikumi.
If she bore ill will to the leader of the gang, she suspected she would already be dead.
“So what do you want?” Ikumi’s voice was harsh coming through the angled metal of her helmet.
“To see who I am talking to, for a start” Jean signaled the bar tender, who was looking for a way out and shot her a dirty look as he came over.
“You ask me to expose myself? Really?” Ikumi turned to look at her with the blue eyes of her helmet. “Fine” Her head twitched to the side and the various plates that made up the helmet dissolved, retreating until there was only enough cover for the back of her head.
“Thank you. I have a proposal”
“You are welcome, you odd little thing. Speak”
And she did. Jean spoke for near an hour, and the bar got steadily emptier as the rest of the gang crowded around. Most of it at least, the Triplets were nowhere to be seen.
“So why exactly have you brought this to me?”
“Who else could get it done?”
A cruel smile crossed Ikumi’s face. “There were a few”
Breaking into the facility was relatively easy. Jean had never seen anything like the triplets though, the three of them seemed to move with one mind, moving and covering faster than could be done just on reaction time.
Callie dragged her out of the way as she watched, nearly getting herself shot. “Fool, don’t expect us to clean up your corpse”
“Why are you so at ease with this, anyway? Didn’t you work with these people?”
Jean looked at her hands, more than mere flesh and bone, her deeds woven inextricably through them.
“It doesn’t matter, Callie, your sisters need you” Ikumi passed, a rifle in her hands, speaking between shots. She had clearly customized the weapon, the shots carving through the nano defences holding walls together with ease.
Callie spat blood as Ikumi went back to firing. She hadn’t even looked at her subordinate. The triplet went back to her sisters and as Jean watched they broke through one of the final doors, narrowly avoiding an ambush as the Callie that had spoken to her killed a guard who had been hiding.
Jean went to say something to Ikumi, but she had already moved on. The facility was built in an underground cavern, one huge building they had now fought through most of. Jean carried a gun, on her belt, and hadn’t fired a shot.
“We’re here” She said at last as the gang almost ran past an inconspicuous door, heading for a huge vault instead.
“Really?” One of the lieutenants asked.
Ikumi’s helmet retracted and she looked Jean in the eye. She knew if Ikumi made so much as the wrong noise she would die in an instant. But the leader just nodded and the gang went to work on the door.
They cursed and screamed in anger as they worked. Finally Ikumi combined fire with several of them to overcome the nanoweave holding the door together, but it was close.
Inside they found a set of simple work benches, an odd oblong of metal sitting on the one in the centre. Ikumi looked at Jean meaningfully as the majority of the gang set up defensively outside the room and the two of them went inside, a Callie along for the ride.
“How do we activate it?” She asked, not looking comfortable to be in the same room with it.
“We don’t need to here. Just take it” Ikumi said to Jean, scanning the room.
“We need to make sure it works! I don’t want to waste our biggest payday on a dud!”
Ikumi sighed heavily and nodded to Jean. Reluctantly she went to the device and inspected the surface, ensuring it was still as she had left it. She removed the anti tamper device that would have destroyed her creation, and tapped the side to open it.
The others watched intently as she pointed her right index finger at the device. Her nanites went to work, removing the flesh from bone and exposing her personal key. She winced and shoved her naked finger into the slot she uncovered; had to fight tears as the device thrummed with power.
“I give you the nano-nullifier”
A body was brought in. Ikumi fired the nullifier, and the body started disintegrating, the skin aging and falling apart before their eyes. Before long there was nothing but bones and clothes, and everyone murmuring in disbelief.
“Put it back on the bench” Ikumi commanded.
Everyone shouted as she aimed and fired at the nullifier, destroying it. She did the same for every data terminal.
“Why did you do that?” Callie asked.
“Because some things are worth more than pay. Let’s move”
Jean, on her knees, wept for joy as they trotted out. Ikumi stopped at the door and shouted her name.
“You can stay and die if you like. Or…”
Jean was up and through the door in a moment, gun in hand.