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The longer he had to run after the two of them, the more he dreamed about killing them. He could taste the kill now that he and the five others with him had them trapped. He wanted to be the one who pulled the trigger, so he pulled the rifle up to his shoulder even as he ran after them and even though it slowed him down.

A brick wall behind them cut off their escape. The slope that went up next to the woman forced too much of a climb with not enough time to get clear. That hole in the broken wall on the right next to the man would just be a funnel for shots to pick them off like they sat in a box.


The woman rained shots at them, and, cursing, they took what cover they could find. But he was not going to lose this kill, not after all of this. He led with his weapon as he poked his head up, looking through his sights just in time to see her suddenly shove the man next to her hard with her whole body.

“Change in plans, Sweetie!”

The guy teetered by the broken wall, his long arms pinwheeling trying to get balance, his dark hair falling over his eyes as he tried to look back at her.

“River! No, what -- River!" He fell.

She fired at the top of the wall, collapsing it after him, then spun to fire back again at the six of them, forcing him to duck down again. Something came tripping end over end in the middle of where they had scattered. He got a quick look at the white square as it finally scraped to a stop.

“Ammo pack!” somebody yelled.

He couldn't even curse now as they ran back the way they came. Then came the shot they knew she was going to make. It took only one. Her spare ammo pack exploded.

He fell to his knees, his large ruddy hands scraping all along his palms but he paid no attention. His own close cropped hair stayed clear of his eyes as he blinked dust out of them. He stayed down only for a second before getting back to his feet and charging back again. He coughed as his lungs were forced to take in huge amounts of the dust and pulverized building material choking the air. But he wasn't going to stop. Never.

Ever since the pair had shown up, they were trouble. The two of them had walked right up to his boss, smiling like they had been invited for a friendly visit, Actually, they were ridiculous. At first.

The guy had spoken to the boss. “You're using time corridors to carry your weapons and your people and every other terrible thing you do as if you're some sort of invading Empire. Spreading through the universe. The guns and the terrible things are bad enough, but those time corridors. That's old technology. Dangerous technology. You have no idea how much.”

The boss couldn't be bothered. Who could? The guy stood there in trousers that were too short and expected to be taken seriously. So the boss just scratched his beard stubble and then scratched lower through the trousers of his expensive suit, leering at the woman.

“Of course, you didn't take it yourself, did you?” The guy was still talking, his smile turning like they were supposed to get chills from it. “You stole it from someone who stole it from someone else until the list of all this thievery spans across centuries. Now the first ones who stole it are long dead while you hide behind a wall of bodies who took it before you.”

He had to say, he wasn't any more impressed with the woman than he was by the dork, even if she at least had come armed with that gun on her hip and had some impressive hair. You had to notice hair like that.

Then it got even funnier. The guy pulled out some metal stick with a green light on and waved it around him. All it did was make a noise. So what. The guy looked at it and held it out so the woman could check it out over his shoulder. She got out a computer from the pouch on her other hip and was keying things into it as the guy talked to the boss again.

“I'm shutting down those corridors. Probably doing you a favor before their original owners find out you have them or you kill yourselves because you don't know how to handle what you've stolen. Although that's not the reason I'm doing this. Doing you a favor, I mean. Those corridors have to be shut down, and stopping you with your petty ideas of how powerful you are is just a happy bonus. Just thought you should know. River?”

The woman finished with the computer and turned so they were back to back. Her hand moved to the gun. “All right, Sweetie.”

Sweetie. What the--

The boss waved a hand to get them out of there and the guy waved the metal stick like it was a weapon. All hell broke loose with the lights blowing out and nobody able to fire in case they hit each other.

But he was going to take them down. Now. Right here at this crumbling brick wall.

The guy was on the other side of that wall and pile of bricks, but the woman. He caught a flash of blonde curls as she struggled up the slope. She almost made it to the top, but the loose ground gave under her and she fell to her knees. He grinned as he aimed.

She kicked hard, sending dirt and rocks into his face. His shot went wild and he had to wait for the air to clear again. He got a glimpse of her at the top, running, and took off after her up the hill. She fired over her shoulder, forcing him down to the ground again. He grabbed at the dirt as he slid down a foot as she disappeared from his sight, but not before she looked back and grinned. Like she laughed at him.

That marked the exact moment he wanted her dead. Not her and the dork with his stupid outfit, and not for the business. For himself. He was going to pump every round he carried into her head.

“You got nobody, sweetheart!” he yelled after her. “Nobody and nothin'!” But he had a crew, heavily armed, on his own territory. He'd run her to ground. “You’d need an army to take us down!”

Someone at the bottom yelled that the guy she was with just showed up at headquarters again with a big blue box. He would have laughed over that stupid box if this hadn't stopped being a joke long ago.

Instead, he scrambled up the hill. Three of the others came with him while everybody else headed back to the boss, but he didn't care. The woman, that's what he cared about. One of them was going to win this. Him. She had better know it.

He found her where she had stopped running, at the bunker entrance to one of the time corridors. The boss called them the tunnels. Whatever. She had that computer to her ear – of course, it'd have a communicator built into it – and worked at the panel. He had his shot and heard the others sliding to a stop next to him. But the doors opened behind her and she was escaping as she exchanged fire.

He charged across the space, firing back, making her withdraw. The echo inside the bunker made her shouting loud enough to catch, “I have to use the corridor, so they can--” She dropped the computer back to her side and kept firing to slow them down. The heavy doors began closing.

He ran like never before. He had to get there before he was left on the wrong side of that bunker.

He jammed the rifle in between the doors and slipped through the spot. He heard her ahead of him and got there as she ran into the tunnel. He followed. No way she was escaping. He got in before it collapsed.

He kept running even as the light flashed, blinding him, because he knew she hadn't stopped. Neither did he. Neither did the other guys behind him and he heard, but paid no attention, to the original group catching up, saying the boss sent them to help out.

He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed on until the searing whiteness faded. He had to blink to clear it, because wherever they landed was dim.

The dull fixtures in the ceiling would be fine if he didn't have to work out the spots in front of his eyes. Then he heard her again, up ahead in whatever tunnel she had led them. Maybe not a tunnel, he could make out small windows high up on the walls, but stuff like that didn't matter. The walls curved and she was out of sight, but every step she made echoed off the hard floor. He broke into a run again, drawing his plasma gun. It would make a smaller hole than the rifle, but it would kill her just as much.

He pictured her eyes right before the kill shot – with fear, all that laughter gone – and then after – frozen, dead with those eyes lifeless and staring.

He swore he heard something slam, like a storage locker, but as he rounded the corner, no locker was there. Just more walls curving around and the sound of her running ahead. He just saw that blonde head disappear as she rounded the corner. He ignored everything but that glimpse and the sound of her right ahead. He paid no attention to the markings on the walls, because she obviously didn't. She never stopped once to look around, except for a last look over her shoulder like she made sure he followed.

Oh, yes. He followed. He smiled now.

He signaled his crew to fan out so they could cut off her escape. She never should have taken him on, not at all. Wherever the hell they were now, she was alone and he had the numbers on his side. Get a couple of his guys to cut her off and overwhelm her. Then he do the kill shot right into that face.

She made a sharp left and he definitely heard some door sliding and then closing with a slam. Right before alarms went off everywhere.

He moved too fast to just stop. He slid around the corner, head on to a squad of guards taking position in the corridor and already locked on to him. Another six came up behind as all twelve fanned out to surround him and the others with him. Everywhere he looked, nothing but black uniforms crisscrossing in front of the large C426 under a mounted phone, and on the other side...

The woman leaned casually against the bars, arms and legs crossed. Grinning. “Welcome to the Stormcage Containment Facility. Specifically, cell area 426 in case you missed the sign. These are my guards.”

Like she was their captain.

Meanwhile alll his guys echoed the same thing: "Stormcage", followed by cursing everything. Nobody they knew was tough enough to warrant this place.

If they shot this out, they'd fall and add up too many years on their sentence. Still, one impatient guard used his rifle butt on the head of one of his crew who fondled his phaser rifle too noticeably. But he might get a shot off at her. It'd be worth it.

“Oh look.” She grinned. “I had an army after all.”

He hated her.

Lightning and thunder played through the small, barred window over the woman's shoulder as the guards grabbed him roughly. The handcuffs bit into his wrists.

A ploy. All of it. She had played him and he ran right into it. Her territory, her crew.

Who the hell had a crew of Stormcage guards?

He pulled against the ones at his arms, baring his teeth at her, until they forced him to the ground, rifles charging and pressed to his skull. He stilled. They yanked him to his feet, but he didn't turn around. No.

He stared at her.

She watched him as they marched him off, the grin settling into a smirk that made him want to struggle against the hold on him. “You really shouldn't have followed me, Br'er Fox. Not into the briar patch.”

What the f-- What did that mean? But the guards jerked on his arms hard and shoved him down the corridor.

As they dragged him away until she was out of sight, he swore he heard the cell door open again and after a minute, that locker – the one he heard before but never found – and then...

The time corridor activating. Taking her back.

A woman with crazy hair and a dork with a metal stick. How the hell had this happened?