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A Worse Idea 29

Shade and Anne sat behind the couch. Shade held the harpoon, while Anne held the plasma blaster.

“You should probably get rid of that thing,” Shade said. “How many murders has it been used in at this point?”

“Shut up,” Anne said. She took a quick glance at Shade’s cleavage, then looked away. “I’m helping you out, you know. Least you can do is not be a dick.”

“I’m just saying,” Shade said.

“You said you’d tell me why someone would hire a hitman to kill you,” Anne said. “That’s what I want to hear about.”

“I was stupid.” Shade rested the back of her head against the couch. She sighed. “This South African supervillain gang came into town. The Zefs. Wore chains and earrings like you wouldn’t believe. They threw money around like they knew they could make it all back. And for a while, they could.”

She got up off the sofa, went over to Anne’s bookshelf, and started packing a bowl.

Anne rolled her eyes, but didn’t say anything.

Shade whipped out a lighter and lit the pipe. “They were a bank-robbing machine. Four guys, each with their own purpose. You had the talker, who handled the crowd and told them what needed to be done. You had the fighter, who dealt with the uglier side of the job. You had the safecracker, who was really more a vault cracker — some super-strong guy who literally broke through the safe. And then you had the getaway guy.” Shade blew out some smoke, while awkwardly cradling the crossbow.

“Vault cracker gets caught, but the rest of the team escapes,” Shade explains. “So they offer to take me on. I just have to teleport into the safe, open it, then let everyone take the loot. I accept the job, and the four of us get caught the first time I go out.”

“Who’d put a hit on you?” Anne asked, still leaning against the soda. “The Zefs?”

“They think I ratted on them.” Shade took one last hit off the pipe. Then she set it back down on the shelf.

“Did you?” Anne asked.

Shade took the crossbow and pretended for a moment that it was a machine gun. She made noises with her mouth, pretending to blast Anne’s door with bullet holes. She giggled.

“God, I could die today,” Shade said. “I really might.”

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