Previously, Menagerie: Ambush (Part 3).
All hell broke loose.
A quin clutched his throat and toppled over the iron-laced balcony railing, cart-wheeling to his death on the hard-packed soil below. The two hunched down beside him popped up, one turning back toward the window behind them, the other trying to leap across the alleyway to an opposite balcony.
Yellow Streak raised a short-barreled rifle and ordered his followers to open fire. One of them dropped his weapon and flew through a stack of crates behind him as W.B. opened up with a rifle of his own he’d pulled from his club bag. Liishi popped a quick shot at Yellow Streak, forcing him to duck aside, then snapped, “Drive!” at the porter while aiming shots overhead to keep heads down.
Another quin went backward through a window, arms flailing, eyes bulging, purpled tongue protruding. An ugly way to die. Whoever was dealing with the quin overhead was quick. And silent.
The porter had flicked the reins—and a previously hidden whip as well—and Izzy thundered down the alley, sending the remaining quin for cover, smashing through the crates still standing after W.B. shot. Someone poked a head out a first floor window to see what was going on, and immediately pulled back before being chomped on by a maddened, six-limbed lizard.
Someone screamed a few blocks over. A shot rang out. A loud one. Then a bunch more shots.
“Heah it come,” Cutter sniggered. “Ge’ read’ y’all.”
The quin to either side of Tally rose, clutching weapons, snarling, stamping, making noise enough to rival that on the other street. Tally shook his head. These guys were going to keep the bi—tigress from coming down this way, and then what would he do?
A loud snapping of wood and the unmistakable ground rumbling roar of a running tawnra lizard preceded cries of “Out of the way!” “Move!” “Save me!” and other, less coherent, sounds.
And shortly afterward, a six-limbed lizard charged past the opening of the alley, the porter flailing away at the beast, the tigress and some bull firing shots back the way they’d come. Cutter’s jaw flopped open, his cigar bouncing to the dirt. Tally hopped up, slapping Cutter across the shoulder. “We been double-crossed! Follow me,” he yelled and lead the charge down the alleyway, hoping the others would do something other than go back home.
Liishi jerked toward the sound of hooting, grunting, and yelling from a side alley. A bunch of quin were coming over crates and from doorways there. She randomly shot one off his hooves and pointed the porter down another street. He bobbed his head, eyes wide with fright, and somehow managed to get the lizard turned that way.
More people scattered. Whistles and an occasional siren could be heard in the distance. A couple of porters on foot cursed after them as their carriages were splintered.
The street they found themselves on was wider, but not by much, both sides lined with food and drink stalls tucked between store fronts. A large, brown-haired Ursa carrying a bowl of something had just sat down outside a fish stall when the quin broke around the corner. One made the mistake of trying to leap over the table, upended it, and went down with the bear’s late lunch.
As their ride jigged another corner, Liishi saw the Ursa use the fallen quin as a club against his comrades, then toss the unfortunate into another table and take off running down another alley. After that, she was busy holding on with an occasional shot fired over her shoulder to keep pursuit to a minimum. The lizard wasn’t fast but what it lacked in speed, it more than made up in meanness as it tore through anything in its path. It was also not the smoothest ride available.
Liishi cursed as one of the footlockers popped free of the tie-downs and bounced and slid its way down the street. W.B. shrugged, smiled, and grabbed the others, holding them as protectively as possible.
With still a dozen or so quin hot on their tail, the porter didn’t slow at the turn into the space port. Masses dove for cover or went screaming out of the way. Slugs ricocheted from ceramicrete buildings or lasers left scorch marks. Whistles and sirens everywhere but security seemed to be several streets back.
“Which dock?” the porter called. “I must slow Izzy down, and not sure I can do it.”
“Anywhere along here is fine,” Lisshi growled. “You slow her enough my partner and I can hop off, then you head on out.”
“Why those quin chase us?”
“Beats me. Maybe they aren’t after you,” Liishi replied, readying herself for a tumble to the ground. “We go and they leave you, then you know you’re safe.”
The porter turned and looked back at her. “What if they still chase me?”
Liishi shrugged. “We’ll figure that if it comes. Ready, partner?” she directed back at W.B. then as the lizard took another turn leading away from the thirties docks, she tossed one locker then leaped after it, hitting the ground and rolling back to her feet.
W.B. hit the ground with the same sort of impact as the lockers. Flat. Hard. He rolled over and took a moment to get back to his feet.
Liishi provided cover. The quin following had started after the lizard then noticed the passengers were no longer aboard and swung back.
“That settles that,” she muttered. “Come on, lazy. Get a move on.” She grabbed one of the remaining lockers and took off running toward dock thirty-three, W.B. and a half dozen frothing quin right on her tail.