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Through their research at MIT, they resurrected the first dragon anyone has seen alive since the 15th century. There’s just one problem.
“Yep, this is exactly where I thought I’d be at this point in my life,” Jack sighed, pulling on yet another pair of latex gloves as he stared forlornly at the reeking dumpster. “Ass-deep in garbage.”
“We lead a charming life,” Kamala agreed. “At least the manager was kind enough to let us do this without a fight. Technically, we’re supposed to wait for the police.”
“Not enough time on the clock for that. We’ll work out the details later.” Jack cleared his throat and cast her a sidelong glance, smirking.
Kamala sent him a glare that could curdle milk. His smirk widened into a grin before he tossed both large black lids back and heaved himself up over the side. He landed and wobbled for a moment before shuddering as the stench of rotten food swallowed him whole. He breathed through his mouth in shallow bursts, his eyes tearing, and managed to keep his breakfast down after a moment.
“Yep,” he said weakly, offering Kamala his arm. “Charming, indeed.”
She climbed in next to him and they carefully rooted through the trash, checking for any bits of electronics in case the laptop had been disassembled before being tossed. “What are the odds that we’ll find it in this mess?”
“We probably have a better chance of growing wings and flying around the city,” Jack said, grimacing as he tossed a half-filled macchiato aside. “But the devil’s in the details. There is no perfect crime. If Okegawa was on a deadline, he might have been in a rush. Being in a rush means making mistakes. That’s all we need. Just one mistake to catch him.”
They searched for the better part of half an hour before Kamala heard a suspicious crunching sound beneath her covered boots. She shifted a few things aside and found a long white cord. She tugged sharply on it and the battery charger for a MacBook laptop popped free, swinging in her hand. She met Jack’s gaze and they both tore through the trash surrounding that spot. A moment later, Kamala’s hands closed on Jack’s laptop.
“Hello, beautiful,” Jack said, wiping grime and gunk off of it. “Leave it closed. I’m sure the garbage probably did a number on any evidence on the outside, but there might be fibers or hairs between the keyboard and the screen. Nice work, Dr. Anjali.”
She flashed him a grin, handed it to him, and turned to exit the dumpster. She stopped after only a step. Jack realized why a second later.
“Konnichiwa,” Okegawa said pleasantly, his smile off-setting the silenced Beretta .9mm in his large hand. “Ogenki desu ka?”
“We’ve been better,” Kamala said, slowly raising her hands. Jack did the same, but he inched towards her in an attempt to block Okegawa’s line of sight.
“Relax, Jackson,” Okegawa drawled, his tone almost bored. “I have no intention of hurting ojō-sama.”
“Well, you tossed my apartment and now you have a gun pointed at us,” Jack said. “You understand my concern.”
“Of course. The gun is merely insurance. If I wanted you dead, I could have had it done already. I think you know that, as smart as you are.”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “Then what do you want?”
“A distraction. That’s why I left the laptop for you to find. It gave me time to break into your car and take the other laptop. I’ve been trying to get it for days, but ojō-sama takes it with her everywhere, unlike you.”
Kamala clenched her jaw. “How long have you been following us?”
Okegawa shrugged. “Not long. Had to get everything prepped and tie up loose ends.”
“Is that what we are now? Loose ends? It’s broad daylight, man. You can’t just shoot us and walk away. Hell, you’ve probably only got another thirty seconds before one of the Starbucks employees empties the trash and sees you.”
“Hai. That’s why you’re going to toss me the laptop.”
“Or you’ll shoot me?”
What little light there was in Okegawa’s brown eyes sputtered out. “Hai.”
“You just said you didn’t want me dead.”
Another dispassionate shrug. “I’d prefer not to, but if you push me, I will retaliate.”
“Jack,” Kamala whispered.
He glanced at her. She kept her eyes on Okegawa, but her tone was enough. He exhaled and tossed Okegawa the laptop. It landed at his feet, shattering several pieces over the concrete with a loud crash. Okegawa flinched on instinct, his eyes snapping towards it for a split second.
Kamala took her Taser out of her pocket and shot it at Okegawa.
Okegawa screamed as the electrified prongs hit him. Jack pulled Kamala down into the dumpster as the gun went off twice, tearing two chunks out of the wall where he’d been standing. They both lay panting in the garbage heap as they heard a thud and then nothing. Jack motioned for her to stay put and slowly rose to his knees, peeking over the rim of the dumpster.
Okegawa lay on the ground, twitching occasionally, his eyes shut, teeth clenched, the gun lying several feet away.
Jack scooped Kamala up in his hands with a hysterical laugh, holding her above his head. “You. Are. Freaking. Brilliant.”