"You can take out your ear piece now." Broken Nose said.

Char looked over her shoulder and eyed the gun he had trained on her. The three of them had plunged deeper through the woods. No sign of Kurt and Gary.

"How did you know I was wired? " She kept her hands up and looked forward again to avoid a low branch.

"We're not completely retarded." The other Hire, Acne Scars,  pulled the Glock from her waistband and pushed her along through the pine trees. "And we take precautions." He waved a jamming device next to her face.

Char almost bit his thumb off, but held back. For now.

They could have her gun. She didn't need it. Not with the pure hatred running through her blood. These parasites had killed Paulie and tortured Martin and Moira. 

It was true in defensive tactis that if you don't use it, you lose it. But Char's training had come flooding back to her since that night she flew out here. If Kurt and Carlson didn't find her soon, they'd have a couple of Isaacson corpses to clean up.

Pretending to twist her ankle would be too obvious a trick.  She needed a good old fashioned verbal distraction. Quick. Once they got where they were taking her, things would go downhill for her. 

"What do you want with me?" She slowed her steps up a slight incline.

"No talking." Broken Nose pushed her in the back with his gun. "You ask Isaacson when you see him."

"What, you guys aren't allowed a little freedom of speech in his outfit?" Char laughed. "You should come join Bud. He's got a great benefits package."

"That's real funny, seeing as how we been picking off you great Templeton employees for a couple weeks now."

Char felt her face pull taught, her lips pressed hard.  She stormed up the increasing incline, giving herself a few feet of clearance from them. Time to act.

She pretended to falter on one foot and lose her upward momentum.  Her left leg stuck out in the air as if for balance.

The two behind her each instinctively put an arm out to keep her from falling back on them.

When they did, Char sent a backwards kick at Acne Scars knee and swung around to come up at Broken Nose's gun hand.  Acne Scars tumbled down the incline, picking up leaves and debris.

But with Broken Nose, the fight was on. Char grabbed the slide of his gun with one hand before he could shoot at her.  With the other she punched him in the throat, then the face. Over and over.

Broken Nose wouldn't release the gun. He pulled back, trying to wrench her off it.  He tugged again. She let go, letting him fall back to find his partner.

But Acne Scars was on his feet and charging.  

Char snatched the gun Broken Nose had dropped. She leveled it at Acne Scars. He slipped to a stop, hands up.

Down below, Broken Nose got to his knees, grabbing at his throat. She hoped she'd crushed something.

"Where's Isaacson?" Char used the gun to motion them close enough together that she could watch them.

Broken Nose seemed unable to talk and had yet to rise to his feet.

"We ain't telling you nothing, you bit-" Acne Scars caught himself from finishing that word, realizing who had the upper hand here and that antagonizing her was a bad idea.

Char placed one foot in front of the other, setting her front sight just over Acne Scar's heart. "Then you're useless to me."

She exhaled, squeezing back the trigger.

A gunshot sounded off to her left. Char jumped. That hadn't come from her. Acne Scars looked down at his bleeding chest and collapsed into the leaves.

A quick, second shot rang out and Broken Nose went still, too. Char swung around to show down the newcomer.

It was like looking twenty years into the future.

Deidre Templeton took time holstering her firearm. She kept her gaze down when she was done.  Her dark hair swayed ever so gently in the breeze, and her slight frame belied her tough inner core. She didn't look a day over 35, though she was at least ten years older.

She'd been one of Bud's best until she'd died...

Char's hand began to shake, the gun wavering at its target. Things looked fuzzy. She realized she was crying. For Paulie maybe. Or Martin who was still suffering.

She would not cry over this woman who was supposed to be dead. The woman who kept their family in this damned business until none of them could escape Bud.

Deidre finally looked up, piercing Char with those gray eyes. The same ones Char had inherited. "I couldn't let- " Deidre swallowed. "I couldn't let you do it. I never wanted this for you Charlotte - I..."

Char couldn't speak. She didn't know if she wanted to hold her mother or beat her, demanding to know why. What had motivated her to leave her children with a man like Bud?

Deidre finally seemed to gain her composure. She folded her arms, successfully putting up a shield. "We'll talk. But not here. And only if you ditch your FBI buddies. It's your decision."

The End

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