Ida Laider, Down and Dirty *3*. By Jolen Casper & Alex McIver.

I figured to buy some time with my humor, but I guess James wasn’t appreciating my joke. I slowly turned around, putting my hands loosely on my hips.

“James, I can explain.” His smirk let me know that he really didn’t care to hear anything I had to say. But being a woman, I went on anyway. “I’m not just a hotel guest, I’m here as an insurance investigator and I’m trying to find out why the casino is losing money.”

I had a host of cover stories ready, my favorite being that I was an exiled princess on the run for her life. But insurance investigator seemed the logical place to start. I saw him hesitate for just an instant, a questioning look in his eyes, and in that moment I reacted.

I leapt, catching him off guard, I knocked him down. I couldn’t wrestle him for long, he was a big guy. As we rolled around on the floor, I got in a couple good shots. He let me have a fairly decent right hook before I got serious.

Since I have a strong dislike of .44 magnum rounds hitting me, I focused on getting the gun way from him. My right hand closed over his, as my left came up and chopped into his windpipe. The audible crack and exhale of breath told me my blow struck home. I felt his fingers release the .44, and it dropped to the carpet. His eyes went all glassy and I could see he was still breathing. He tried to say something, but it came out as bloody froth, spraying my chest.

Well, at least I wouldn’t have a cleaning bill this time. I stood up, and looking down on his prone body, I noticed the alarm remote in his left hand. Shit!

The next thing I knew lights were flashing and alarms going off everywhere. I had to get out and fast. I couldn’t leave this asshole alive though, so I put a mercy round in his temple with the .44.

I never could stand to see an animal suffer. That’s why my old unit dubbed me Florence nightingale. Either that or the dark angel, I wasn’t fond of either pet name. But I’ve had worse.

Running out of the plush bedroom, I whipped past the blue inlaid, marble pillars, and started down the spiral staircase three at a time. A guard met me half way up, nearly as shocked as his boss was, when my round punched through the left side of his neck. I was in a hurry, damn it! I didn’t have time to make sure it was a kill. I kept on running. All Roget’s Victorian art would have supported a small country, and if I had more time, I’d have gladly helped to send them to auction.

Reaching the kitchen, I was greeted by two more goons bursting in through the back door. Both carried Kalashnikov’s and before either got their weapon up, I sprayed lead from left to right. Kill shots or I ain’t a sharpshooter. The Blonde bull on the left sank to the ground like a 200 pound bag of sand. But the brunette one on the right managed to let loose a couple rounds, as his finger jerked in that final dance with death.

Ducking behind the metal counter as plaster dust rained down around me, through ringing ears I heard the second guard drop to the floor. His AK-74SU clattering against the tiles. Burnt cordite filling my nostrils, I took another look around the counter.

With no time to waste, I grabbed the discarded gun and ran out of the mansion. Behind me I heard someone shouting. Over my shoulder, I made out a black clad thug, pointing some impressive hardware in my direction.

That's when I got my brilliant idea. In P.U.S.S.I, I’m known for my on the fly thinking, back in the day my ideas earned me a medal or two, and got me demoted back down to Lieutenant.

Running toward the gate. I fired a .44 at my pursuer, catching him in the shoulder. While he was distracted, I made a sharp right into the tabebuai shrubs which ran along the inside of the wall. From there, I watched as the injured guard called for backup, directing them out through the side gate.

With no sentries on the roof of this side of the building and everyone believing that their mysterious assassin had left, I reasoned it would be a simple matter to slip back inside.

“Are you insane?” the little voice inside my head chirped. I crept around the border, heading for the garage that I had noted as a possible entry if the kitchen had been compromised.

“No Davis, I’m not.” I whispered back as I crawled through the soft earth towards the mansion, Kalashnikov slung over my back. “If I don’t go in now I might not get another chance before they dispose of Harris.”

“There is no way of knowing what the guards movements will be now. It is an impossible situation Ida; you don’t even have your equipment.”

“No kidding! If I had some tweezers I’d be removing and destroying this earpiece right now. But we don’t always get what we want. Look desk jockey; shut up and keep your eyes and ears open. I want to know if any more goons arrive or if someone gets on the phone to call for orders.” That should give intelligence something to do besides whine at me the whole time.

The garage looked as if it was originally built as a stable with a number of small doors which opened onto a courtyard. I had left the lock pick I had brought with me in my bag in Roget’s room, a stupid mistake. I’d been out of the game too long. But the old doors were simple enough and soon opened to my hair pin.

Brushing a fallen strand of hair from my face, I slid into the room. Expensive sports cars were parked along the far wall, the rest of the garage filled with beaten up vans. I guess James doesn’t like to splash out on his minions.

Between me and the entrance to the main building, two more hired guns stood smoking. The tall skinny kid and shorter guy looked like drug smugglers, armed drug smugglers, who were in my way.

“We gotta take one” the lanky kid says, running his hand over a car. “The boss aint coming back from the dead, it’s not like he’ll miss it.”

Using the vans as cover, I made my way toward the voices, placing the .44 and Kalashnikov on the ground, I stripped off the snubnose. I needed to take these guys out silently, but I’m wasn't going into any fight unarmed if I could avoid it.

“Yeah, he does owe us,” the smaller one replied. “But you know that slick bastard ain’t the boss, and where on the island are you going to go that his loyal employees ain’t going to find you?”

From the shadows, right behind the skinny one, I edged forward.

“Why can’t you ever look on the bright side, man? Things could be looking up for us,” the youngster says, looking up from the car.

Leaping, I wrapped my left arm around the lanky smugglers neck, pulling myself up to plant a kick in the shorter ones face. He slammed into the van behind. As we dropped, I twisted around, and felt the younger guy’s neck snap as we hit the concrete.

The remaining thug struggled to his feet, hands searching for the gun he was carrying. Before he spotted it on the floor, I was up and caught him with a right hook. It stunned him, but I couldn't see through my left eye too well, and he managed to get in a cheap shot. His right knee met my thigh before I landed the finishing blow, little bit added weight to the punch.

After making sure both men were out of the game, I took a look in the wing mirror of the nearest van. I don’t know how, but among the bruises and scrapes there was a deep cut on my right eyebrow. After tearing a strip from the short guys vest, I tied it tight around my head; it isn’t a fashion I usually try, but it should help with the bleeding and keep my hair out of the way for the moment.

I dragged the bodies to a dark corner and searched them for anything useful. As I turned to leave, I noticed a small trapdoor in the corner. I made my way over and wrenched it open. James must have been planning on a huge hit one day, because it was filled with weapons. C-4 neatly stacked along the left side, and about a half dozen LAWS, just waiting for someone to play with them. Pay dirt! Loading up some frag and flash grenades, I grabbed an equipment vest off one of the hooks, and began preparing for war.

I spotted a Glock 17C with a silencer attached, and stuck it in my side pocket.. Sticking to the shadows, I made my way through the house. As I rounded the hall leading to the staircase, a goon met the dark angel. I put a muffled 9mm in his head, as his brains splattered on the wall. I didn't stop to check his pulse, and took the stairs like a mad woman with a platinum charge card at Macy's annual lingerie sale.Harris just had to be in that security room or I hoped to find out where he was from there. Either way, I was taking him home.

Typical of hired thugs, most of the guards were either watching the perimeter or out looking for me. I made it to the control room after wasting a couple more stragglers.

Roget’s command room was nothing more than a personal computer and a table with a map on it, very disappointing. Stairs at the back led down to another door. I heard a couple of guards and the lieutenants joking and laughing, sounds like they got over the death of James pretty quick. Well, this might be interesting yet.

Knocking on the door, I waited, when a voice called out “Yeah, what is it?” I went in to my lost little girl routine. “Uh, hi, yeah, I seem to be lost, can you tell me where the restroom is?” The idiot must have been in a very good mood because in a second, the door opened.

Grabbing the guys throat and shoving my Glock in his face, I used him as a human Kevlar vest . “Hey guys, what’s the ante? Deal me in, new game. Nothing wild, and you live, anyone breathes or bluffs, they die. Simple game, ready?”

Harris was tied to a table along the far wall, a gag keeping him quiet, he looked like he’d been through hell. The other two hired killers moved away from the table real slow, The second in command got brave, and then got dead, a whisper was the last thing he ever heard. That inspired the other two to move even slower.

“You, with the tattoos all over your arms, untie the prisoner over there and be sure I can see your hands or you’ll join your playmate in an unmarked grave.”

Removing the .45 from the goon I was using as a shield, I pushed him down in a chair, motioning the remaining guard to stay seated. Keeping all three in my sights, I waited for Harris.

“You ok hon? I was awfully worried when you missed our date last nigh,” I said in my sugary sweet, little girl voice.

“I’m fine, thanks. I’ve been worked over by puppies more skilled than these guys,” Harris joked as his gag was removed. “But damn girl! You used to show up early to parties, I expected you hours ago.”

“I would have been here sooner but I was fixing my make up” I give Harris a smile and chucked him the .45 I just lifted. I was running out of places to carry weapons anyway.

Catching the gun with his left hand he laughs, “Only you, Ida, would worry about your make up and run around with only an ammo vest for clothes, I love that in ya!”

Before the guards could react, I made them some nice new air holes.

Harris finished off the last Lieutenant before I had a chance to bat my long eyelashes. “A little thank you for the hospitality,” my old comrade said, pushing away the dead thug.

“Its not like I was going to let them live anyway. You know me Harris.”

That gunfire was probably attracting the attention of any guards still alive around here, but that’s where part two of my plan came into action.

“You up for a little run Harris?” I asked the dark haired charmer.

“You know whenever you’re involved I’m prepared to run Ida. I take it you’ve another one of your subtle schemes to get us out of this fortress?”

I just smiled and led the way back to the hall. We made it to the main stairs before I spotted guys heading our way. With Harris beside me we made short work of the handful of guards. Any hope of stealth was gone, so I switched to the Kalashnikov. Kicking aside spent shells we headed toward the garage.

“Ida? You still alive?” Davis’ voice screeched into my ear. “The guards are on the roof, and teams have the exits covered. I hope you have a miracle planned.”

“No sweat bub, Who deeds miracles when you have C4?”

Motioning Harris take a seat in a jet black convertible I triggered the detonator strapped to my vest. After a sweet second there was a deafening boom and the world around us shook. Looks like the fireworks I planted along the corridor to Roget’s control room worked perfectly.

“Hit it!” I scream, taking a seat beside my old friend.

The experienced soldier didn’t need to be told twice, and we crashed through the garage doors. My little diversion was doing its thing and we were soon speeding down the driveway toward the wall and its reinforced steel gate.

Reaching into the backseat, I pulled out the LAW-80 I had been saving for a special occasion. Shouldering the one and a half meter weapon I aimed over the windshield and fired. With a satisfying explosion, the barrier evaporated.

“You haven’t changed a bit Ida,” Harris joked as we tore through the smoking debris.

Dumping the LAW onto the smoldering back seat, I sat down and gave Harris the once over. He had some nasty looking cuts and burns, making me wish I had the time to go back and finish what I’d started with Roget’s private army. But Harris was my first priority now.

“Eddy Rex, Harris says, once we’d put some distance between us and the mansion. “He’s the key.”

“The front man for Roget? I thought he was just your lead to this punk crime lord?” I don’t really care what Roget was up to with this Rex guy, but Harris must have been carrying this information since they caught him, he needed to tell someone, so I was all ears.

“No, that’s what we thought, but it turns out Rex is head of everything, drugs, information, weapons. He’s got a scheme so diabolical I can barely bring myself to recall it.”

I could see he was upset, that was Harris’s one problem, he thought too much. Personally, I never had a problem I couldn’t ignore until it was ground beneath my boot.

“Look, we need to get you patched up soldier. I’ve got a hotel room back in town. Let's go there, and you can feel me up, fill me up..and then tell me the sordid details.”

You can read the concluding chapters of Ida Laider, Down and Dirty here:

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