231 heard Sophia’s shout an instant before the separatist sighted on him and opened fire. Blue flashes popped in the air two strides ahead of him, ricochets smacking into the walls and floor of the station. 231’s every instinct screamed at him to take cover, but he stood his ground. The terrorist in his grip shrieked and thrashed to no avail.
The gunman gawked in disbelief, letting go of the trigger, cursing and frantically scanning the area. As 231 marched forward, the terrorist he held spat at his partner. “I’ll kill you! You — hrk!”
231 nearly stumbled as he lurched to a halt against his will. What? His separatist sputtered, turning his face to one side. The shield. “Sophia! Move the shield!”
Nassar aimed one rifle at the gunman. “Now put down your — no!”
The armed man’s eyes had fallen on the capsule. He raised his rifle to shoot.
No, no, no… “Sophia! Drop it! Drop it now!” 231 pressed on the barrier, crushing his captive mercilessly against it.
The separatist’s gun rattled, spraying the capsule with bullets. 231 could hear every impact. Nassar was suddenly pressed against him from behind. The Goliath shouted, eliciting another shriek from his captive. “Drop it now!”
He lunged forward as the shield came down. Instinct kicked in. He broke into a full run, lifting the separatist off his feet. He reached the stairs, leaping up them two at a time. Nassar’s rifle exploded to life behind him. As he rounded the corner toward the gunman’s position, he heard the separatist’s rife erupt. A burst of pain in his right forearm.
His human shield grunted as he gripped him tighter — roaring pain in his forearm — and charged. Two more rife bursts, and his separatist lurched sharply. A spatter of warmth on his shoulder. He never slowed down.
The clattering sound of a rifle hitting pavement a moment before he rammed headlong into the shooter. 231 felt the man’s weight and carried it, heard the grunt of impact. And a crunch as the man’s back crashed into the railing behind him just above the waist and snapped.
231 shrugged away the bullet-ridden corpse and shook his head. The two separatists lay in a heap. His forearm leaked from a bullet wound. Glancing behind him, he saw the enforcer on the landing below, gun trained on 231’s position.
“…you get him?” said Nassar.
But 231 barely heard the question. “Sophia?”
Her dark head poked out of the capsule door. “Is it over?”
“Not till you’re safe.”