Ch 7b: Coffee at Quero’s

Location: Solaris VII
Date:          January 6, 3020
After Action Reports: None
Personal Logs:  Still coming…

This is written as a very rough draft very short story based on the meeting at the coffee shop, this will be edited and added to regularly (last updated 6/29/17).

Shaan was awoken slowly from the ringing of his communicator. The soft trilling echoed in his dark room as he forced himself awake. He slowly sat up, confusion spread on his face as he stared around his darkened room. The trilling had stopped, but he saw the small metallic triangle laying on his desk, blinking a soft amber light, indicating a message had been left.

It took Shaan a couple of minutes to push the sleep away when he remembered the only person who knew the number of that communicator was his ex-wife Heidi. Panic and anxiety flooded over him as he scrambled to the desk. His fingers brushing over the unfamiliar communicator until he found the button to replay the message.

“Shaan, this is Heidi, meet me at Quero Coffee at 9am. We need to talk.”, a Germanic female voice whispered from the communicator. The sound of the communication ending with a click was loud in the darkened room.

Shaan sat back on his bed, memories of the dreams from the night before fading.

“Heidi, what are you doing, why are you here?” Shaan whispered hoarsely into the morning.

For the remainder of the morning Shaan prepared to meet Heidi, showering, changing into civilian clothes and affixing his pistol onto his hip, the combat knife onto the other. He made his way out of the base and into the city.

The café itself was quiet, the morning rush had already passed by, leaving the six outside tables only half full. Sitting at the table closest to the door of the café was a tall woman, wearing a long coat, hat and sunglasses. She was sipping on some sort of coffee beverage out of a ceramic cup, but even with the auburn hair that replaced her golden locks, her eyes covered and her quiet demeanor, Shaan would always recognize his ex-wife, and the old love of his life.

The rush he felt was momentarily overwhelming. The hurt, love, and confusion on where she went hit him like a brick. For a moment, all he could hear is his heart beating loudly as she stood up as he walked toward her. She seemed hesitant, unsure of herself as he approached.

As they met up, without thinking, Shaan engulfed her in a hug. He pulled her smaller frame against himself, the years disappeared and Shaan’s mouth found Heidi’s and for a few moments he lost himself in her smell, taste and touch.

After a few moments of kissing, hers as passionate as his, he felt her stiffen. She was recovering sooner to the reality of the day and she lightly pushed him away. Embarrassment and loss hit him as she stepped away.

Her voice husky with emotion croaked “Shaan, we aren’t married anymore.”

Shaan didn’t know what to say, so he blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “We weren’t married the first time we kissed.” His face was stinging and turning his face a darker cast then his normally Punjabi skin tone.

Heidi looked confused as she sat down, seeming unable to respond to the subject of kissing she turned it around and asked Shaan what was he doing here.

Time went slow for Shaan, he explained to a surprised, and sometimes doubting Heidi that his status as a recruiter was only a cover. He worked for a black ops MechWarrior company. They were here looking for signs of the Kabal, an underground independent organization with its claws in most of the Houses.

The doubt on Heidi’s face slipped away. Her Nordic cheeks softened as she listened to her husband’s story. They exchanged words about Luna, their daughter, with Shaan thanking Heidi for staying in contact, even if Shaan was now the guardian. Heidi’s surprise at his knowledge of her contact with their daughter passed quickly also and for a few minutes they were lost in talk.

During this time Heidi was sketching on the napkin she had, it was a set of star systems. As she sketched them she mentioned that the Kabal had been looking at these systems, that she had witnessed them specifically interested. When her sketching was done, she passed them over to Shaan as he asked for more coffee, he placed it in his pocket.

At some point Heidi, had pulled her sunglasses off and Shaan lost himself in the blue ocean of her eyes. She had just started talking about who she was working for when her face went cold.

Her demeanor switched from being comfortable talking with him to a person who was ready to fight. For a moment, he worried if he had said something, but then he realized she was gazing over his shoulder, at someone behind him.

Heidi leaned over and whispered, “We have company, follow me in a moment and we will try and get out of here without them noticing.” With that she stood up and walked back into the café.

Shaan’s eyes moved to the glass window he faced, in the reflection he could make out two people approaching. One was a red headed woman, wearing light body armor under a spring jacket, and who was walking directly for the door that Heidi had left. The second was a much taller and broader man, jeans, shirt and leather vest. The stripes of his tattoos across his arms and face gave him the visage of the Maori warriors he had descended from.

Shaan’s closed his eyes for a moment, recognizing Bandu from the tattoos and just his sheer size. Bandu hadn’t seem to have noticed Shaan, instead he was following the redhead, watching where Heidi had gone, laser focused on Shaan’s ex-wife. Shaan’s back was to both of them, neither the redhead or Bandu had made a move or acted as if they noticed him. Shawn focused on the glass, watching the reflection, willing the two to not see him at all.

Shaan waited patiently, counting the steps that the two took. As the redhead came closer, he realized she was going to pursue Heidi into the cafe. He spotted the pistol at the redhead’s side and he knew he couldn’t allow a fight to happen. He double checked Bandu’s reflection and noticed he also had a pistol, and a long knife as well.

His left hand slipped down to his belt, under the long jacket he wore. He felt for his combat blade and slowly slide its black blade out of the sheath. He adjusted his grip and prepared to strike.

Once his blade was held solidly in his left hand, ready to move, his right hand slipped down to his hip. He ran his fingers along the top of the pistol, flipping the safety off. With a deft movement, he unbuttoned the holster, and slid his hand around the handle of the pistol, preparing himself. He knew he only had one chance at this.

Shaan kept his eyes on the reflection of the redhead, he would have to hurt her first and then focus on Bandu. No matter what, he didn’t want to give Bandu the chance to walk away. Without a doubt, Bandu was the most dangerous person there.

Just as the redhead stepped to the left of Shaan he moved. He stood up quickly, the table spilling away from him, the coffee drinks shattering as they hit the sidewalk. He pivoted to his left, spinning into the redhead, who still hadn’t registered what was occurring.

During this pivot, Shaan’s left hand shot out quickly, gaining as much momentum as he could in the three feet of distance he shoved the knife forward. In the same practiced movement he had learned from Gus, the sergeant of the special ops team assigned to Shaan’s company. The blade was faster moving then Shaan expected, not at all like practice. For a moment Shaan almost lost his hold, but was able to recover at some point in the arc of the blade.

The blade hit the redhead in the abdomen. It was a solid connection, making a thunk sound as it connected the carbon fiber weave. The body armor didn’t seem to hold much against the blade, as it split at the weave made to stop bullets. Then there was a satisfying squishing sound and it he found the redhead’s flesh wasn’t nearly as resistance and when it sunk it, it moved easily having missed any major bones.

Shaan knew it wasn’t a killing blow, it probably wasn’t even a disabling blow, but he felt her collapse under his momentum. He towered over her and his unexpected move meant she wasn’t prepared for it at all. The woman crashed to the ground, on top of the neighboring table, as it flipped over under her weight.

As the redhead collapsed, Shaan pulled the heavy Free World’s League auto-pistol from his hip. The heft felt like nothing to Shaan as the pistol came around in an arc, ending its movement pointing at Bandu.

Bandu appeared stunned by the movement of Shaan. He hesitated momentarily, seeming to trying to make sense of what Shaan was doing, until an angry and surprised look crossed his face when he recognized Shaan. It had been years since they were in prison together, but Shaan was sure he remembered the fight in the laundry.

Shaan screamed at Bandu, “Here I am fucker, how is your sister?”, the insult meaningless to those who weren’t in the fight in the laundry room back on the prison planet, but he could see Bandu jerk with the words.

While Bandu hesitated, Shaan took aim with the heavy pistol. The weight of the weapon felt comfortable as he squeezed the trigger. Shaan had never had to fire the auto-pistol on burst fire in anything but target practice conditions. He didn’t have the pistol in full firing stance, so when the recoil kicked the pistol back, it moved too much, meaning only one bullet hit Bandu, in the hip.

The bullet tore into Bandu’s hip, exiting cleanly, with the exploding planter behind him marking where it went. The other two rounds slammed into the tile and cement sidewalk they had been walking across. The impact spun Bandu around though, the heavy caliber unleashing enough kinetic energy that he started losing his balance.

The roar of the pistol had been deafening, most of the people who had not noticed his attack on the red head, screamed in panic as the echo vibrated throughout the street from the shot. A panicked movement had begun in the café and moved outward away from the sound of gunfire.

Shaan could hear the redhead getting back up behind him, his eyes glanced towards her, noting she was reaching for a gun. The choice he made was simple, Bandu represented the biggest threat and he needed to put him down.

Realizing that Heidi may decide to return and try to help instead of escaping, Shaan screamed into the air for Heidi to run, run while she could.

As Shaan was yelling, he leveled the pistol and kept walking towards Bandu. In a panicked motion, Bandu had picked up a table and used it as a shield pointed towards his attacker. Shaan shifted the pistol slightly, attempting to get a better bead on Bandu when he felt the business end of a needle pistol burst. It felt like a strong gust of wind across the armored clothing he wore. Shaan immediately knew that the redhead had managed to reach her pistol, and fired a burst of small flechettes.

Shaan caught her expression out of the corner of his eye, and noticed the surprised look on her face as the vast majority of the flechettes slide off his hidden body armor. Shaan knew he didn’t have much time before she adjusted her shot, so he took this advantage, stepped forward and squeezed the trigger, feeling the pistol kick in his hands. This time his grip was ready.

All three bullets hit the table and punched through the wooden surface like it didn’t exist. Splinters of wood exploded out the bottom of the table, while the slugs themselves slammed into Bandu’s chest, puncturing skin, muscle, sinew and bone. The impact threw Bandu onto the ground, knocking tables and chairs aside. His gasping resembled that of a fish out of water, the blood bubbling freely where the rounds had struck him.

The second round of needler shot caught Shaan in the side, hip and leg. He never heard either burst of the red head’s weapon fire. The impact knocked him to the side, into tables. The wound bloomed into fire racing down his side, the blood flowing in rivulets. He sat against the table panting to himself.

Shaan glanced over towards the woman, and saw she started approaching cautiously, not firing at him. Instead she had realized Shaan was looking at her, so she took cover behind a table as she moved forward. Shaan then glanced down at Bandu and knew he wouldn’t have another shot.

“I hope you ran Heidi”, Shaan whispered to himself as he pulled himself up and took aim at Bandu again.

The third burst from his gun caught Bandu in a burst from his right thigh, up the chest and into his right shoulder. The heavy caliber bullets causing massive body damage resulting in Bandu ceasing to move. His breathing was lessening, and Shaan’s hope at Bandu’s dying had increased.

This is when Shaan felt the third needler burst catch him again and he fell slowly to the ground. His body was numb and he couldn’t tell where the third burst had hit him. No matter what he tried his body wouldn’t respond, so all Shaan could do from the cement sidewalk was watch the red head pull Bandu into the crowd. Shaan couldn’t be sure if Bandu would die or not, and idly wondered himself if Luna would miss him, as darkness overtook him.

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