Cherry 9/Cowboys and Horsemen

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Cowboys and Horsemen


It was 5:59:50, I knew this innately as I stared up at the dark ceiling of the room I called my sleeping quarters. I hit the alarm with practiced ease moments before it began to blast angrily at me and slid out of the bed heading for the latrine.

Somewhere along the way I tripped over the hulking form of the Cat. I am certainly not an unstoppable force, the Cat however is an immovable object. Grumbling, I called him a few select terms of four letter endearment and returned the favor in his own form of crazy cat speak I'm sure. Bonus points for me not cracking my skull open as I stumbled the last few feet.

Mornings were fairly ritual, it's one of the first things you get indoctrinated to in the military. For me it was wake up, hit the latrine, then knock out 20 minutes of PT before a good 30 minute run. The apartment wasn't big, but thankfully the living room had enough space for basic morning PT.

I gotta admit, its nice being able to wake up, walk out to the living room in my underwear and a tank top, open the shades up and knocked out some exercise without even needing to change. Far cry from sharing room and board with boys for so long.

Hundred and fifty each, sit ups and push ups, I try to keep the push ups interesting, switching forms. Pull ups were always my weaker point, women just have weaker upper bodies. Bully for me I'm up to 30 pull ups before my arms feel like jelly.

Not really that I couldn't do more, but really this meant to maintain, not break me before a long day. I'll get the rest running my ass off all over the city, never mind of a shortage of shit that needs to get done.

I slip on my gray sweats. They've got the 823rd squad colors on the one leg, and a nice assortment of stains and holes. They'll have to fall apart before I throw them out. Sweats do a fairly decent job of hiding the profile of my service piece holstered at my lower back. I just don't go far without it anymore, hell its under my pillow when I sleep now. Me, paranoid? Nah, that's what conceal carry permits are for anyways.

Slipping on my boots, just as worn as the sweats, I head out for my morning run, five miles, 30 minutes. My personal record is 26 minutes and some change, but like PT I don't go for broke in the morning. The run is really more a chance to clear my head before the day. I'd found a nice pathway through Founders since moving here, change of scenery does a person good. Never was much of a fan of just running through the concrete jungle, I like greenery.

My runs always ended with a light cool down jog and a moment to catch my breath and check my pulse. But somewhere round the 20 minute mark I realized I'm not alone this morning on my run. After a few combat encounters you grow this sorta 6th sense about people watching you, and right now I could feel the hair on the back of my head rising. Good thing I also generally prepared for this sorta thing.

Keeping my normal path I sped up my page a bit, shaving two minutes off my time. Trotting up the steps to the apartment I slipped the keycard from the holder inside the waist of the sweats. Pausing for a brief second before scanning the card I caught sight of the shadow tailing me and heard a soft rustle on the hall carpeting.

I waved the card over the scanner and got a small beep before lightly pushing the door open. You never really know what someone is gonna do, or how well they might be trained in these situations. I don't really care how bad ass you are unless you can read someone's mind you got no clue. Me, I wasn't about to pretend I knew what was coming or the best way to handle it, so I just braced myself regardless.

The push was sudden as the form came up behind me slamming me through the door. Turning my head at the last second I managed to avoid getting a broken nose. Cursing the carpeting and being unable to catch my footing, my body twisted and jerked as we came through the door.

Suddenly the reassuring weight at my lower back was gone and I heard my service pistol clatter across the foyer back towards the door.

"Didn't know I had a stalker."

On my upper back I could feel the weight of their arm push down harder in response to my comment. I could feel the scratchiness of their jacket, heavy, probably armored against my skin and the arm kept me from turning my head. A gloved hand had snatched my right arm pinning it to my lower back. Still no response however, and otherwise no clue who the hell it was.

Seconds went by almost too slowly as I was jostle further into the apartment. They obviously also knew the layout of the apartment. Great.

Patiently I let them continue, waiting for a chance to break. When we reached the edge of the hallway into the living area he hesitated before shoving me out in front. I had my moment, taking advantage of the momentum he provided me I dropped myself forward twisting in the air to face him. I also damn near ripped my arm out of the socket in the process.

Using his grip on my arm for support I let gravity continue the job planting my foot into his stomach and sending him flying over my head and into the far wall with a crash.

Catching myself quickly I dash to the far side of the room and behind the couch. A few bullets embedded themselves in the wall along my path stopping at the couch. Only Marksman would get a reinforced god damn couch.

I'd gotten enough of a look when my assailant went flying, definitely a cowboy. He was in the typical Malta gear and the guns holstered at his sides were also a tell tale sign. Guess I should be happy they sent him instead of one of the PMS brigade. It was after all a compliment that they had to send the Supe killer after me.

Snatching a gun from a hidden location under the couch I thanked God again for paranoid rangers and quietly crept along the edge of the couch. If this had been a normal thug this would be over already, ain't much they got against me in most fights. This guy though was seasoned, one good hit with those damn guns and I'd be iced.

Suddenly I smelled coffee, my timed coffee maker must have turned on. It was really my only creature comfort, and this fucker was going to make me miss my morning coffee. Can't they learned to at least have the common courtesy to let a girl have her damn coffee and shower before assaulting her.

"If my coffee gets cold, I swear ta God you're gonna regret. You have any idea how bad cold fuckin' coffee tastes?"

Next to me I heard a thump and the couch moved a bit as the bullet hit the reinforcement at about where my head was.

Obviously my big mouth ain't gonna get me outta this, and I'm a wee bit short on supplies, and most certainly out gunned. Wasn't like the calvary was coming anytime soon either, my comm was too far away in the bedroom.

What I needed was a distraction, but I was also a bit short on those. Looking around the area near me not much stood out, the room was fairly bare except for the furniture. It was while I was pondering if I could push the couch across the room that I heard a thump from the bedroom.

It bothers me some that the Cat is just as routine as I am, he's fit a bit to happily into my existence, like some sorta fungus. Usually when I get up, he'll hop into the bed to take the warm spot I'd vacated after almost killing me on my walk to take my morning piss. And like clockwork, at 6:55, right about when the coffee finished he'd meander into the kitchen and howl at me for breakfast.

There ain't much scarier then the Cat when he doesn't get his breakfast, but right now he'd provided me with that momentary distraction I needed. I heard the cowboy across the room shift his weight to look towards the bedroom.

I'd like to say I was graceful as I came over the couch and crossed the room in only a single step before diving over the other couch. But reality is? Grace ain't exactly my bag. Regardless I got across the room and over the other couch just fast enough to beat the cowboy to the draw.

I skidded a bit on the carpet as I landed my attention focused on the Cowboy, already several steps ahead and leveling the gun in my hands at his head. His piece glinted in the sunlight from the window behind me as he pulled it around snapping his attention back to me.

Time crawled by for a few strenuous moments as I twisted my body reacting to what I'd already considered to be the expected response. My foot hit his hand in a fluid moment reversing the momentum and sending the gun scattering across the floor. Reversing my kick I brought my foot back as he moved to raise his other gun.

My heel landed firmly on his cheekbone, and I felt the crack as it connected. True to form however the cowboy barely winced. Even with a broken cheekbone and my gun aimed at his head he was still trying to take a shot.

It was really more reaction, pure survival instinct then anything that drove me to pull the trigger. There wasn't any thought over the morality, or even a consideration of the consequences. Down to the wire pure animal instinct, me or him.

The cowboy jerked, the bullet made a clean entrance into his forehead and embedded itself into the couch behind him. There wasn't any fancy flash of blood, or explosion of gore. Just a twitch as his head flew back, a spasm in his gun arm, another flash and a bang and a sudden lancing pain in my leg as the bullet hit my calf.

Now this is that point where I want to tell you I sucked it up, took it like a trooper, didn't wince, cry or show pain. Too bad not a damn word of it would be true. Gun shots hurt, I don't care how many times you get hit, they just do. Lot of guys suck it up and claim it don't hurt, they're a bunch of liars.

So yeah I screamed, and I cursed more then a drunken sailor on leave who just found out the date he bought is really another bro, and I even shed a couple tears as I lay on the floor for a few seconds pleading for the burning pain to end.

I don't even get that long to relax before the Cat is howling at me angrily to feed him. Pushing him away does no good, so I stand up, favoring my leg at first and hobble to the door setting the locks. Bastard neighbors not even a one came to check. Typical.

I feed the Cat and pour some coffee and grab my field medical kit and comm from the bedroom before plopping down on the couch to call it in and yank the bullet out of my leg. Least it wasn't one of the explosive rounds, would be sporting a nice new prosthetic if it had been.

Intel doesn't even believe me initially, the pictures help convince them though. Sinking into the couch I look at the wall with a crack from where the cowboy had hit it and sigh, "Well fuck... what the hell am I gonna tell Marksman."

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