Annette caught a glimpse of what she was up against soon after. Just four: a blond woman and her three mooks. With Annette and her five on the other side, it could have been a fair fight.
All Annette could do was run up the hill and watch. She told the others to scatter too, and to fire upon seeing a target. The members of that gang liked their villain speeches before shooting down the enemy, after all. It was so laughable in how melodramatic it was, and Annette wanted to see it for herself.
But for a while, it was just a lot of watching the aurora-filled sky. It was getting to be that season again.
Three rapid gunshots, not too far away.
Annette ran over, hoping for a kill from her side, and not the reverse. Lucky for her, and for Molly too, it was just one of those mooks. He was a young ginger-haired guy, and didn’t even get a speech in.
Molly stood over her kill, looking…strangely pleased. From what Annette heard, Molly tended to act with a lot of restraint. There was a lot of delicateness and tact that went into operating on feet. But instead, she covered her mouth. It wasn’t enough to cover her beaming smile, though.
“Good job, ya newb,” Annette said. “Seriously, three shots?”
“I just wanted to be sure,” Molly said.
“So I take it that you don’t half-ass things?” Annette asked her.
“Like, at my practice? I can’t…not after that malpractice suit.”
“Wanna stay for round two?” Annette asked her. “It’s pretty thrilling at first.”
Molly gave her a hesitant look. “You’re great, Annette. But this isn’t my thing. I just wanna be matched for Marc with confirmed kills and leave it at that. I feel pretty left out when he gets to brag.”
All Annette could do was nod and say “fair enough.”
One down, three to go. Annette walked along the perimeter of the lot, keeping her gun lifted high for anything that could jump out in the dark of the night. It took a while for her to hear a commotion, albeit one that sounded out of place.
Annette ran over what turned out to be a crowd of four. They took an obvious place among the tables and chairs for the reception. No one even bothered to blow out the candles on the tables. In the light, Marc and Amy were standing by with their weapons (or crouching behind a chair), trying to protect Amy’s unarmed parents. But why? Did they stop being the in-laws from Hell for a moment? Soo grabbed on to Marc’s shoulder and learned about how he knew her daughter.
“Wait, so you’re Korean too, you two dated…and she didn’t marry you?” she asked Marc. Soo’s mouth was agape in genuine shock and distress. “She had to go with that…dirty man.”
Nope, still hellbeasts of their own.
“Not the time,” Marc said, through clenched teeth.
Amy wasn’t going to take much more of her mother’s shit either. “Cut that out…and I’m not here just to make you and halmi proud.”
“It’s about making all of Korea proud, even if we’re stuck in America and you just happened to be fathered by a mediocre American.” she said.
Stanley massaged his forehead out of stress, while crouching behind an overturned table. “Christ, Soo, she’s trying to save our lives here! Or…that is what you’re gonna help that Marc guy with, right?”
Amy rolled her eyes. “Yes dad, once we find the target.”
Annette pointed towards it for them.
It was the guy with the shaved sides. He prowled through the dark hills and trees with an intense look on his face. Eventually, he made his way towards the dance floor and tried to hid behind the big tree that hung over it. He crept closer and closer to the group, guided by the golden candlelight they stood in.
It was a quick move. Amy sprung from her seat and took a stance close to Marc. They both held their guns with two hands and shot at the same target. Amy’s parents were in shock, having to witness the carnage themselves, but Annette cheered them on in the back.
“Can we…both claim this one?” Amy asked Marc. The man fell onto his rifle and into a messy puddle of blood. Both bullets looked like they went through his chest.
“Eh, I’m fine with sharing,” Marc said.
Annette wanted a kill of her own, though. Coaching others through it was nice, but it was her job. And there were still two more of those bastards from Saint Peter roaming the area.
She crept along the hills and rocks surrounding the pond. How she did it so nimbly in those heels was anyone’s guess. Annette got close to the cabin, keeping her gun raised in case she needed it. As she was backing up, a rogue gunshot made her fear that she was the dead one that day.
Annette stumbled and recoiled back. “Christ!” she yelled. Then she thought to look over her shoulder.
Sinbad knelt down with his gun positioned. With no one else in sight, it must have been him. And for as good of a gunman as he was, he missed Annette by a wide margin. The bullet hit a tree to her left. He must have not noticed her at all, as he fired again.
That one was a blank, though.
“FUCK!” he screamed. That could be heard for half a mile, couldn’t it? “How can I be out already? I only fired six…FUCK.”
Even Annette lost her endless patience for him. “Seriously? You’ve just been firing bullets at nothing like some sort of loon?” she asked him. Her brow was furrowed in anger. “I thought you were better than this.”
Sinbad tried to return her expression. “So I thought that one of them was right behind me! Sue me.”
“Six times?” He hesitated to nod in response. “Fine, we’re right near the basement. I have loads of spares.”
“No way, I’m out,” he said, in a hurried tone. “I haven’t gotten one goddamn kill tonight, and I’m not gonna be collateral to…at my own wedding!”
“You can’t leave me like this!” Annette cried out. Molly could leave, but she wasn’t the best marksman she knew. Whether Annette wanted it or not, Sinbad scampered off into the night. All Annette could hope for was for him to get home alive after that. Julian must have been waiting for him.
Still, his escape left Annette in a sour mood. She grimaced as she waited against the wall of the cabin. Getting a righteous kill was on her mind, for a while. In a strange turn of events, she had yet to get one in Twinbrook. Ever. And the unruly pimp who got crushed during one of her jobs in Pearlbrook? She only wished she had a direct hand in that.
Heck, Franco had more kills under his belt than she did. He shot Gavin, even if he cried while doing it.
Someone walked along the grass, taking cautious steps. Annette was ready to cock her gun and fire, until she heard his voice.
The man wasn’t a familiar figure to her, but he had some choice words. “If you’re not that Racket bitch, you have nothing to fear,” he shouted out. “She’s all we ask for.”
It then hit her: she was the only target. Which made that disaster of a wedding night her fault.
Annette didn’t even feel like firing her gun. She sunk down the wall and to the grassy ground. Maybe she would show them that their human weapons weren’t a match for her strange ancestry, if it worked that way at all. And even if she could survive it, being a target who made everything worse brought Annette’s spirits down.
What could bring them up? Something unlikely, of course.
The way her left ring finger started tingling did not go unnoticed by her. Annette felt blinded by the light coming from her finger…her ring? That’s what it seemed to be. The light coming from it had a slight purple tinge, much like the color of the amethyst in the center. And the heat coming from the ring started to get unbearable.
“Fuck it,” she mumbled. “I’ll see if you’re really magic.”
She was still nervous and close to praying, as she held the ring up to her target. Its glow intensified still, and the energy from it was almost enough to send Annette back to the ground.
In an instant, it fired something.
Annette looked at her ring, with a beaming smile of her own. It had since cooled down, and the gem no longer glimmered at all in the dark. “My god…they were right about you!” There were so many questions it raised, about the extent of its powers. About any human that owned it. About, well, why Annette was even in Twinbrook at all.
Well, no one was asking her that last question right then. She could ignore that. Having the most unique kill of the night made her antsy for another.
Meanwhile, Annette swore that she heard some commotion from the basement, beyond those cellar doors. She did give all of her assistants keys, in case they needed to reload. And the cellar itself made for a fine bunker to hide in.
She crept inside, failing to lock the cellar doors behind her. Annette kept her gun cocked and raised as she made it down each step. It was hard to do that in those heels.
Next wedding, Annette was going to be in charge of shoes. For sure.
Luckily for Annette, she came across an innocent scene. It explained where Justin had wandered off to, and it seemed as if Jenni stayed. Against all common sense too, but Amy’s parents made a similar mistake, and they seemed to still be alive. Even in the relative safety of the cellar, Jenni cowered in fear on the stairs. To protect her, Justin stood by with his weapon.
“Well…this raises some questions,” Annette said. “I thought I was just Racket scum, Jenni.”
Jenni sprung up and clasped her hands in apology. “I’m sorry…I get it! I mean, I still don’t wanna blame my husband for this, but you’re up against some bad things! And you’re risking a lot to protect…us.”
She even slapped her own face in embarrassment. “I understand…I just want to be friends with Amy again. It felt awful being here…angry at her.”
Annette crossed her arms and glared. “Sorry for not buying it,” she said.
Justin was behind her, and tried to reason with his wife’s aunt. “I’ve been down here for the whole time, and she’s been nothing but scared and sorry about all this,” he said. “…She’s a nice lady. We got to talking…I got some good advice about raising kids, she got my lola’s chicken adobo recipe. Can you…sounds weird, but can you spare her for me?”
“I’ll trust you, okay?” Annette said. “I bet we’re gonna be found down here. They’re just after me, and I’m down here.”
It didn’t take long for the last of the four to open the unlocked cellar doors. It was the woman who seemed to be the leader. She had a delicate, freckled face, soft blond hair cascading down her shoulders. She carried a large rifle with no effort at all too. Once downstairs, she smirked at them, right in the face of two loaded guns. And at first, she didn’t seem to notice Jenni, crouching on the floor and covering her face in terror.
“Alright, found what the others couldn’t,” she said. “That filthy demon girl and…whatever. It’s such a shame. You almost run a decent little thing here, Racket.”
Annette kept a cool face, in spite of who was in front of her. Her ring wasn’t activating again, not even in the heat of battle and danger, but she had her weapon. It seemed like Justin kept calm as well, judging by his serious face. But her eyes followed that strange woman, as she circled around them and walked right over to Jenni.
“Huh, a civilian,” she said. Jenni whimpered as she raised her rifle. The nuzzle lined up to her forehead, for a killshot. “Wait, that cardigan…Goodwin’s wife? What are you doing with…them? Well, traitors are traitors-”
Before she could finish, something cut her off. A stray shot was still fired.
It was a startling scene for Annette. Jenni curled up in a puddle of her own blood, and Justin about to throw a punch to the big enemy. She didn’t even know how to contribute.
Justin had his gun against the enemy’s neck. She just rolled her eyes at it. “Fine, if I exit this world being shot by some weird mutt, so be it. Someone else will get your ass anyways.” She stilled struggled to get control of her rifle, though. It was caught under Justin’s knee.
Justin looked up Annette. “I’d rather that mutt get the honors,” he said. “She’s had to deal with more of your…nonsense.”
Annette walked over and fired down, straight through that woman’s head. A second shot into the chest, once Justin got off her dying body. A third through the liver, just to be sure.
“And I still call this a job well done,” Annette said. “Nice save there.”
“Yeah…pretty neat stuff.” The carnage started to make Justin uneasy, judging by his tense smile. “And I’ll never have to do this again?”
“Not unless someone makes you a groomsman. I’ll make sure Franco doesn’t.”
Annette had to admit: it was a gory sight. Two bloody corpses on the floor, either sprawled out or in a fetal position. A bunch of deaths because of what Annette did, but for a second, Annette felt like she had a collection of trophies to her name. A bunch of kills, just for people who would want to see a large chunk of Terrebonne dead or frightened into submission. Or at least tolerate that stuff.
And then one of the bodies started crying.
It seemed like Jenni was still alive, if in great pain from a gunshot to the abdomen. It must have been a similar injury to Bill’s. She held herself around the waist, presumably around one of the bullet wounds.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna leave her there,” Annette said. “Can you carry a body?”
“I mean, I can try-”
Justin stopped talking once someone else came down the stairs.
It was Goodwin again, this time with his gun. “If they’re not gonna finish the job,” he grumbled.
“Might wanna check on your wife first, asshole,” Annette said. “We were just about to get her out of here.”
He knelt down, with an uneasy look on his face. Goodwin didn’t even touch her bloody body. It might have stained his white suit coat, or something. “Did you do this?” he asked them, with anguish in his voice. “Did you…to my wife?”
“It was your ally,” Annette said.
“Meredith would never…fine. If I must.” He got up from the ground and dusted off his pants. It looked like a promising compromise for Annette and that thorn in her side, but then he cocked his gun.
Aiming it down at Jenni, he pouted as he lined up the gun with her head. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You deserved better than a mercy kill.”
It just took one bullet, but Jenni stopped crying once it hit.
Goodwin then turned to Annette and Justin, his gun raised high at their heads. “I knew you’d fuck this up for me,” he said. His hands shook as he held the weapon in Annette’s direction, though. He didn’t even have a finger on the trigger. “I…No, there are state troopers outside waiting for you. Get out, and no one gets hurt.”
Annette couldn’t take it anymore. She raised her voice to a loud and ferocious tone. “If you want me gone, just shoot me already! You already tried through these bastards, and you won’t ever have to chase a Racket again.”
“I won’t…fine, you want a tragedy tonight?” he asked her. “Whatever. I’ve always wanted to kill my very own Racket.”
He turned the gun towards Justin, and before he could dodge, he fell dead to the ground. The shot went straight through his heart, and the blood pooled on the floor fast.
Annette watched it in horror. The blood started to creep down the floor and onto her shoes. She held herself around the gut, feeling like the catered dinner from earlier was moving its way up.
All she could do was ask him the simplest question. “Why?”
“I don’t have fun chasing him,” Goodwin said.
“And I’m just a thrill to you?” she asked, raising her voice in fury.
Goodwin glowered at her. “You give me some purpose…you’ll get out of this on self-defense. Can’t wait for the next chase.”
Annette exited the cellar, and looking exhausted, held up her arms in surrender to a bunch of state troopers. If Goodwin was right, she would have her freedom from them.
And never, ever, a moment without a scare from him.
A/N: So…I did have to think about Goodwin’s motivations. And all I can say is that if Annette gives him a purpose, he’ll take it. Otherwise, I imagine that law enforcement in Twinbrook is a boring, boring thing.
Consider this a note to do more with that concept later.
Kind of odd to have two separate characters mention their grandmothers in different circumstances, but the dialogue worked out that way. Halmi is the Korean term (coming from Amy, duh), while lola is Filipino.