the smuggler’s bible

Juliet

“I didn’t know if you’d make it in time.”

Juliet lies still. Her short leather jacket is folded under her head and her black tanto knife is strapped to her right thigh. A palm rests lightly on the cord-wrapped handle. Sweat stands out on her forehead. Eyes flicker rapidly beneath eyelids, left and right, irises spinning—focus, focus, focus.

“I didn’t know,” he’d said on the beach, “if you’d make it in time.” How long was Rumble alone with Kyomori? A few minutes, maybe. Fifteen? Twenty? She’d asked for five.

So at what point did his faith finally run out?

Juliet

Kyomori crouches beside the desk with the bag while Juliet hooks into the security system. She sways carefully between layers of counter-intrusion software. There’s a way out, she can see it—a small hole in the net, closing quickly.

“I’ve got it,” she says, pulling the plug. “Kyomori, I found—”

She feels the gun pressed against her temple, fights down a surge of nausea.

“I cut a deal,” he says. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Juliet takes a deep breath. Twenty minutes later, she leaves alone with Kyomori’s blood on the blade of her tanto knife.

Juliet

The opposition is packing more hardware than they had expected. Juliet crouches in the hallway under the windows. Shards of glass grind under her boots and reflect the fluorescent panels in the ceiling. Across the lab, a rifle sputters and flechettes clatter against the wall nearby, stirring up dust. Juliet shoots back without bothering to aim.

Kyomori peers around the corner and moves toward her, staying low.

“I count six,” he says. “Tactical—the real deal.”

Juliet shrugs. “At least they don’t have grenades.”

“They have them,” Kyomori says, “and they’ll use them if they think they can’t stop us.”

Juliet

Juliet glides along the beam, running a query on Kyomori’s ship. All she finds is rumors, of course. Rumors about the governments in Washington, Moscow, Hong Kong and stops in a hundred different corporate ports of call. According to the net, Kyomori is a myth. He’s retired. He’s dead.

Juliet laughs when she reads the last rumor, because she started it.

Far off, she can feel the surf pounding like a dull throb in her chest—her precious seconds ticking away.

Somebody’s paying Kyomori a lot of money. But who hires a ghost to come all the way out here?