Mind your distance, not too close, but not too far, keep eyes on the target, try not to let them know yer following 'em, which has always been a tad more difficult when another reader is involved he thought to himself. Only right way t'keep 'em from knowing what 'm doing is hard'ta accept, keepin' her outta my mind means keepin' me in, it would be might spot easier to look after her if I could range out… t'know when she would be in trouble. The girl aint the only threat, leastwise not when it comes to being seen, her brother, the doctor's far too observant for somebody who's s'posed be off-duty. Only reason he aint seen me yet is the mechanic keeps his attention, lucky fer me he's shiny on her. If he knew how dangerous the market is he'd never'a let the girl planetside.

That's when he saw it. Folks at the exits, workin hard to make it plain they ain't payin no mind to nothin at all, 'cept they keep sneakin' peeks at the woman-folk an' the doctor… guards. His mind started racin', wonderin' if they knew 'bout him, or the girl, seems too shiny to think on it as a coincidence. Only wonder is, how to handle it? Could try and create an opening, get the guards to notice me, make a mess of a scene, keep 'em off her trail long enough to get away, but then he might lose her too, other choice was to try and sidle up next to them and introduce himself. He was none too keen on looking like some obsessed loon though, and he couldn' be sure that the men were chasing the girl, always a chance they were poking around to nab him. No blue gloves… been too long since they been around, too quiet, somethin's ain't shiny 'round this. No feds neither, least none that's takin' a shot at grabbing her. He turned his head to be sure nobody was thinking on taking him. Nothin'? That don't make no sense. Folks don't go makin' traps not to spring 'em, what're they gamin' for? Then he saw the monitors. Height of the day, crowded market, and looking for all the 'verse like the black. This time a day they should be givin' news feeds or advertisements. Made him think on it, he knew the answer already. They're tryin' to activate the girl! They didn't know he was around, if they could trigger him this would have been rough, but he'd had the shrink black the triggers out, so he wouldn't go all starry-eyed and start killing innocent folks without much cause other than he couldn't stop. Once he reckoned what was happening it was to the black with plans.

He reacted a touch too slow, the girl saw the screen and her eyes went wide for a moment, he opened his mind wide, trying for all the 'verse to keep her from going all moon-brained and killin' good folks, but the trap was sprung. Her first hit caught the doctor in the temple, he dropped like a rock. She made a flat hand and tried for the mechanic next, but the boy was too close, he wrapped his hand around her forearm mid-blow and pulled her arm wide at the last moment. Tha's shiny, you jus' lookit me he thought to himself as she squared off with him. "Miss, ya best be callin' yer cap'n 'r wakin'im up f'you wanna see yer boy-live again," he told the mechanic as he tried to focus. He heard scrambling footsteps rushing off behind him as he stepped in front of the doctor She ain't hurtin' nobody... leastwise nobody that ain't me.

She hit him clean with on the chin with one hit, had bullets 'fore that ain't hurt that bad. I got maybe 'nough to take one or two more 'fore she'd put me down, reckon if she did that I won' never get back up. He kept trying to get a read on her, but reading her was like peering through a shaken snow-globe, all static and occasionally numbers. Numbers meant math, but he wasn't much for figures. A tiny bit more and she's gonna kill me 'f sumthin' don' change he realized. The girl lashed out at somebody else now, somebody who'd had it coming sure enough, but he didn't want nobody else dying today and he'd be just shiny if he didn't die neither. Tha's right, keep movin', don' let 'er stop t'catch 'er breath, figure a way out he kept thinking as he tried to find a way past the men watching them from the doors. Now tha's an idea! He let her keep crowding in on him, pressing him back towards, all the while deflecting or dodging her punches and kicks, or at least catching them on his guard, which was made all the harder by him stopping licks meant for her from the others. Jus a touch further, girly he thought as he drew within range of the exit, there were eight of the men here, trying for all the 'verse to box them in from escaping, but they didn't know he was backing closer on purpose.

Then his trap sprung, she'd struck at him but he sidestepped and pushed her through, making her hit one of them solidly. He read the thoughts of the one behind him and reacted like a flash. This one grabbed for his gun to shoot, but the boy was too fast, he grabbed his wrist as it rose up at the girl and turned him slightly, when the guard squeezed the trigger it caught one of the others in his throat, the boy twisted his wrist hard and stomped on his knee which sent the guard to the ground, he forced the gun into the guards mouth before angling his wrist down and putting his finger around the guards and pulling the trigger twice, the bullets going through the back of one guard's skull and catching the one standing behind him in the chest. Before the guard on the other side could react, the boy lashed out with his right arm, snapping the rising gun-hand back down slightly, directing a shot intended for his chest to hit the ground instead, he jerked his forearm away from the deflection, causing the back of his wrist to catch the guard just under his chin, the guard dropped the gun and fell to his knees gasping for air. He placed his pistol to the back of the guards head and launched two slugs through his skull.

He turned to check on the girl, with all the excitement of staying alive he'd forgotten to look after her, not that she really needed him looking after her. He stood as he turned and raised the gun he'd commandeered from one of the guards when he saw that she'd dispatched the other four and was turning on him at the same time. She shot first, one bullet that hit him in the left shoulder, another grazed his bicep and a third his forearm, if he hadn't turned right when he did he realized she'd have caught him with the first bullet square in the back of his head and the other two would have been pumped into his chest. He'd never meant to shoot her, just keep her from shooting him, but after the first round hit him he'd squeezed the trigger accidentally, which caught him in his right foot. She got me! I was so close he thought as he knelt there, waiting for her to finish him off. He felt tears starting to well up in his eyes. I just wanted to make them pay he told himself. He heard the girl advancing on him, moving in closer to be sure she finished off the job, felt the barrel behind his right ear as the tears slid down his cheeks. Just a little bit more and I'da had 'em all, and it all amounts ta nothin'. So much work he'd done over the years, he'd worked so hard to keep the girl alive these last few days, she'd meant so much to his plan, that he'd never reckoned she might be the one to kill him one day, not after he'd worked so hard for so long to find her.

He heard something off to their right, then everything went black and it was over.