Caine gives his account of 'Operation Bayonet' - sounds like he was unusually heroic. Not only did he take on two guards in a fight he'd never win (to create a distraction), but he also killed a man who was torturing Scarlett in the Third Power lair.
At least, that's his version...
Lettie's alive. That's the one important thing.
I have a chestful of cracked ribs, a shiner as black as boot polish (actually, it might be boot polish), and three of my teeth feel like they'll fall out if I eat anything more solid than a cappuccino.
You should see the other guy's knuckles.
Everything happened at thrash speed last night, so I should probably slow events down and strum through them chord by chord.
After work, I went a'wandering. Down to the Strip (lights out), up by Milamont Parade (nobody home) and then headed back to mine - along Holl Lane, past Ascendancy Point. I saw Kurt and the non-girlfriend hustling down the stairs into AP station, and I yelled after them, but they didn't hear me, so I followed.
I tried hailing them on their keys as well, but while I was still dialing, Kurt rushed over and stopped me.
"No keys," he said, and grabbed it out of my hand and gave it to some huge dude in a suit. That's when I noticed half a dozen of these guys with ear-pieces, standing around and looking conspicuously casual. I wondered what kind of employer Kurt had found himself since he got suspended. Anyway, as you now know, it was the police hit squad assault unit tactical task force people.
They dragged me through some doorway and told me to shut up, which I did. I gathered it was a rescue attempt. The non-girlfriend didn't say a word, just stared at me and stayed close to Kurt. The others seemed to be growling, but I might have imagined that.
Most of the story you heard. We split into two groups, and the chief growler decided he wanted to keep an eye on me, so I tagged along with him and Kurt. Everything went smoothly until we bumped into a pair of guards who needed distracting. I felt like a bit of a spare clue, so I thought I'd make myself useful. All those nights sitting at home, waiting to do something. Clearly they'd addled my brain.
I make a convincing drunk. I've had practice. I landed a couple of good punches - good enough to be annoying - and they dragged me away in cuffs. I thought they were just going to chuck me out the front door, but instead they got on their keys and took me upstairs (in the lift, fortunately - I wasn't in a fit state to take the stairwell).
We got off at the 110th floor. They dumped me outside a door, which was opened by a sleazy looking fella with bad skin. He was wiping his hands with a rag.
He pulled me inside. The guards walked away. Nobody was saying much. I thought I'd join in.
"Caine Johansson. What are you doing here...?"
He threw in a couple of unnecessary kicks. He wasn't going to make me talk by winding me. I didn't think he'd appreciate the advice, so I stayed stumm.
"Are you alone? Are you alone?"
Another kick, another rib gone.
There were other people in the next room. I could hear them.
He sighed, grabbed me by the hair and hauled me into a store room.
Scarlett was tied to a chair, gagged, and barely conscious. Her fingers were bleeding. She didn't react when I was flung down behind her. But I was glad to see her. Glad, upset, nauseous. All these things.
The door slammed. It didn't sound like he locked it. They must have assumed that I was no threat and, having seen my fighting prowess downstairs, they had good reason.
I crawled to the other side of the room and tried talking to Scarlett. She came round slowly... very slowly, half-starved and maybe drugged. She tried to say my name. We sat and cried at each other for a while. I told her it would all be okay. I didn't want to say any more in that room.
And then the lights went out. We heard gunfire. I wriggled on the floor and stood up, still cuffed, and tried the door handle. It opened. My sleazy friend was backed up against the wall, gun drawn, facing away from me and staying out of the firing line.
What I did next was... troubling. I still think it was the right move. He would have done worse to me. I think he'd already done worse to Lettie.
I kicked him. A hard, shoving kick that pushed him away from the wall and into the open. A shot ripped through him before he could recover, and he span round to face me before he dropped.
I'm trying not to dwell on that image.
Then I turned back towards Lettie and helped her to spit out the gag, and before I could do anything else, the police stormed in and it was over. The gunshots stopped. There was some shouting. I heard a guy screaming, wounded. But there was another yell, full of pain and fear, a desperate wail from a voice I knew, searching, picking through the bodies, and Scarlett tried to stand, still tied to the chair, answering the call, murmuring a name in return, drawing strength from the word: "Violet... Violet. Violet!"
I don't have any family to speak of. My parents both died a while back, and I've got no brothers or sisters. It's never really bothered me. I've never really felt like I missed out or anything. Until yesterday.