I'm paying too much attention to much attention to Willow for my own safety but lady luck's on my side and the SWAT bastard catches his leg on the corner of a chair, losing balance. It's enough for me to lunge forward and get both my hands on his weapon. We wrestle for it. As we struggle, I look into his eyes and see the fear plain enough. I know that it's not the fear of a man who doesn't want to die...but rather the fear of one who doesn't want to miss out on his spoils of victory. My face morphs into a sneer and I press forward with all my strength.
Tara felt a sickening chatter course through her body as the weapon she fought over suddenly flared into life. The cop's finger had jammed down on the trigger in the struggle and the weapon now rained potential death in all directions. Bullets slammed into the ceiling above and plaster fell in chunks on their heads. The few intact windowpanes behind the cop were smashed outwards. In a split second, it added a whole new element to their struggle. Tara struggled to keep the muzzle from pointing not only in her own direction, but also in any direction that it could potentially hit a Lady....or Willow.
She was so close to the SWAT guy, she saw the sweat dripping from beneath his helmet and felt the heat of his breath on her face. Every sensation was condensed, her limits of awareness contained within the space which they occupied. Tara felt her muscles bulge with effort, veins threatening to burst beneath her skin.
The gun slipped in sweaty hands, its muzzle falling in an arc to punch a neat trail of bullet holes in the nearby wall. The arc continued swiftly, although it seemed to Tara as though it were falling in slow motion. She knew that if it continued to spray the room as wildly as it was, something nasty would happen. A short screech of pain a split second later told her something had. The SWAT man's hold on the trigger instantly relaxed and the gun's potentially lethal chattering ceased. Tara found herself with the gun in her hands only, its smoking muzzle pointed directly at the bullet hole it had made in her opponents right foot. With the guy seconds away from hoping around madly like a one-legged chicken, Tara raised the butt of the weapon and struck him soundly on his temple. With barely a further sound he slipped to the floor and landed atop the broken glass.
Tara had no time whatsoever to rest on her victory, or attend to Willow, as the gun was smashed from her hands by a well placed foot. Her next opponent was fast, his fists raised and feet planted in a combat position before she could recover from his first blow. She didn't even have time to snatch her Berettas from their twin holsters at her back before his fist connected with her face in a powerful blow. Tara's head snapped backwards and she stumbled until her back slammed into the wall behind her. She barely had time to get a good look at her attacker before his next blow, all she saw was a cruel face twisted into a horrible approximation of a grin.
His fists fell in a flurry, knocking her head left and right as her vision blurred. Tara managed to push herself away from the wall only to be met instantly by a firmly planted foot in the middle of her chest. The air expelled from her lungs as she went flying to land with a thud on her back.
With all the resolution of one who had too much to lose to give into a two-bit SWAT man, Tara lashed out with her own leg in a swinging kick. Although it lacked power, it was unexpected enough to take him by surprise and knock him from his feet. Tara know full well he had expected her to be down and out for the count after the flurry of punches she had sustained. She somehow found enough strength to drag herself to her feet, letting out a small groan as she did. She knelt, trying to recollect her scattered consciousness. Blood dripped steadily from her nose to the carpet below. Tara followed one drop with her eyes, watching as it fell in slow motion, bright red, before making a small splash of colour on the floor below.
From the corner of her eye she saw her opponent rise to one knee and shake his head. When he lifted his gaze, Tara met it full on. Her confident, ice blue gaze stared him down. She stood first and he followed, neither seeming to be in a hurry to pounce.
Thoughts were running through Tara's head like wildfire. She knew full well that she could draw both Beretta's and pump him full of lead before he could even think about unslinging the weapon from his shoulder. Although she knew full well such a move could save her life, her hands did not move a hairsbreadth towards her guns. The thought of drawing the weapons and plugging the guy in full view of Willow caused her a discomfort she had never felt before. She could see the redhead from the corner of her eye, still beneath the table as the fight raged around her. She was still safe although her eyes were wide with fear.
Tara moved, her foot planted forward as she brought her right fist up in a powerful uppercut to his jaw. His head snapped back instantly and she did not give him a moment to recover, laying into him with several further blows. On the fourth, he managed to get in a weak block, enough to throw her off and merely graze the side of his helmet. This energized him and they traded blows back and forth, moving within a relatively small space of the room as Tara did her best to keep him as far away from Willow as possible. She saw a gap and shoved her knee up hard into his groin, he groaned and doubled over slightly. It was all the time she needed to perform a spinning roundhouse kick which caught him a cracking blow on the side of his helmet. He went straight to the ground and lay in a groggy heap beneath her.
"Behind you!" Willow's voice barely registered over the sirens outside and the sounds of fighting inside but Tara's ears picked up the familiar sound.
Despite the warning, all she had time to do was lift her own arms as thick, burly arms wrapped themselves around her neck in a chokehold. Tara managed to get her hands between his arms and her neck which instantly rendered his hold less effective. Even so, she felt the arm muscles that held her strain with effort, tightening their hold on her until she could barely squeeze a breath out.
Tara felt hot breath and stubble on her cheek as the SWAT officer leaned in close to gloat over the prize he held, "Gonna get me a nice little bonus for your arse."
I struggle against the tree-like arm effectively cutting off my air supply, legs flailing and stomping the floor rather pathetically. To add to my humiliation his free hand travels down my body and he squeezes whatever flesh takes his fancy. I try to growl but with his hand across my throat all that emerges is a pathetic squeak. From my position, I can clearly see Willow emerging from her hiding place, one thing obviously on her mind...freeing me. Fuck knows what she's thinking she's going to be able to do with those tiny little mits of hers. I imagine her coming at him in all her fury, balled fists striking flesh to no effect. Sorry kiddo, but I'm not going to let you play hero...this guy's mine...
Before Willow had even made up her mind as just how she was going to stop that great brute from strangling Tara to death, she watched as Tara moved in a blur of motion. Tara grabbed the guy's great big groping paw in both hands and wrenched it backwards suddenly. A sickening crunch and a howl of pain followed immediately. This was followed just as quickly by Tara's body moving in a twisting motion beneath his weakened grasp as she brought herself face to face with him.
One side of Tara's lips curled upwards into an amused, lopsided smile when she saw the expression on her attacker's face. His features were contorted in pain, eyes squeezed like a child struggling not to cry. Tara's grin slid from her face to be replaced by a mask of business-like efficiency as she went to work on him. Her knee came up hard, ramming straight into his groin. Before he even had time to clutch his balls in agony, her fists were pounding into his face. The blows knocked him left and right.
He managed to get in one poorly timed swing which she ducked beneath effortlessly. She moved around his body where she delivered several short punches to his ribs. The SWAT man was no lightweight but by this stage he had dropped to his knees in front of Tara, a dazed ruin of his threatening self. Tara grabbed his head with both hands and held him upright, sneering at him in contempt,
"How do you like this piece of arse now?" she drawled.
She didn't wait for a reply. Her knee rose once again, although this time it caught him full beneath the jaw and snapped his head back brutally. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.
Tara gave the crumpled heap of a man no more regard than a pile of steaming shit as she turned and searched out the one person she did give a damn about at that moment...Willow. No sooner has she spun around, than she found Willow. The young woman stood in the middle of the carnage, glass and bodies flying behind her and yet she was oblivious to everything except Tara. She stood awkwardly, the reason for this being the gun cradled in her hands and pointed in the general direction of Tara's fallen assailant.
She had obviously retrieved the fallen weapon but her uncertainty was written plainly across her face. As soon as her eyes met Tara's she threw it to the ground as though it were about to explode in her hands. She was still staring at the weapon when Tara tackled her bodily and threw her back against the small section of wall between the windows behind her.
"I told you to stay put!" Tara hissed angrily in Willow's ear, running her hands over the redhead's body to check for bullet holes or any other wounds. All she could find was a small cut on Willow's neck from a piece of flying glass.
"That guy was strangling you to death!" Willow replied defiantly, green eyes flashing.
Tara glared in return, determined to have it out further with Willow but she was all too aware of their situation. She turned to face the chaos once more, shielding Willow with her body as she desperately searched for a way out for the redhead.
Police Captain Brewer listened intently to the melee of his men's voices sounding through his earpiece. From where he observed the storming of the Palace on the street outside and listened to the chaotic reports from his SWAT team on the scene, events seemed to be proceeding less than satisfactorily. Those goddamn whores were putting up too much resistance, even in the face of his elite SWAT team. Brewer ground his teeth in frustration, wishing he could just set fire to the whole place and damn the consequences. Hell, he'd burn all of Old Town without blinking an eye and the cops would just have to find a new place to party.
Brewer felt a chill run down his spine, instinctively he looked over his shoulder. A shape moved behind him and he spun around to find Glory's pet assassin bearing down on him. He sneered mockingly, to him characters like Spike had no place in law enforcement...even in Basin City. His gaze travelled over the peroxided hair, the white t-shirt and down over the leather coat billowing about his legs. Who the hell was he trying to impress?
Mocking thoughts of a similar vein continued through Brewer's mind right up until the moment he died. Spike advanced on him, barely pausing in his stride as he reached out, grabbed Brewer's head and snapped his neck. The pale assassin tossed the corpse into the gutter and continued to the tinted rear window of the black merc parked a safe distance from the fray.
The window punctured and shattered beneath his fist as it smashed straight through its centre. Even as glass showered the passenger inside, Spike was reaching through the opening to grab him by the front of his expensive wool suit and drag him effortlessly out. The weedy little man howled indignantly in protest as he emerged and was slammed back up against the car behind him. Spike sneered, his face just inches away from the other man's.
The guy was skinny, even the expensive cut of his wool suit could not hide the fact that it hung on his frame. There was also something odd about his legs. Even though Spike held him a foot from the ground, they dangled at an odd angle and did not look as though they could support his insignificant weight.
He would have been handsome if not for his sagging, limp skin and hollow cheeks. Black hair hung in limp strands down to his shoulders. His delicate but sallow features were torn between an expression of outrage and one of terror.
"Little Tommy Talbot playing cop with the big boys now are we?" Spike spat in his face, his tone condescending and mocking.
"Goddammit Spike, this is my show...fuck off!" Talbot squeaked in a valiant effort to sound like he had balls.
Spike let out an irritated grunt and without warning released his hold on Talbot's clothing. Talbot landed hard on his spindly legs and they instantly collapsed beneath him. His accompanying cry was ear piercing...clearly Talbot was unused to being treated like a piece of trash. Spike's hand shot out once more and his fingers closed around Talbot's jaw, keeping him pressed in a pathetic, crab-like pose against his merc's car door. Tears of humiliation and pain ran down the face of Glory's son.
"You damn well know that your mother handed the reins of this horse to me, Tommy! Do you or do you not understand that to be the way of things?"
Spike watched Talbot's adam's apple as he swallowed several times before he mumbled a reply, "I might have received a text message to that effect."
Spike jammed his thumb further into Talbot's throat, displeased with the answer, "I know for a fact your mother called you into her office and extracted a promise from you that you would leave this Maclay business to me...and don't lie you little piece of cock-sucking shit because I listened in on that conversation and heard you say ‘yes mummy' like the good little boy you are."
Talbot sniffed and his eyes narrowed angrily, he succeeded in meeting Spike's glare equally despite the disparity of their body positions.
"Tara Maclay is mine, my mother had no right to hand this over to you...I want that bitch flayed alive for what she did to me and then I want to claim what is rightfully mine...Willow Rosenberg!"
Spike glanced over his shoulder and up at the windows of the Palace. Smoke gushed from one and from another fell the flailing body of one of Brewer's elite SWAT cops. The cop crashed down onto the roof of a squad car in a shower of sparks and glass.
Spike turned back to face Talbot, "Nice to see you're doing such a bang up job, Tommy! Plant the body of a dead cop on the premises did you? Not personally of course because you aren't even capable of climbing on top of a real woman."
Talbot tried to lash out with his fists but was quickly stilled when Spike's thumb dug in even harder.
"So what if I did," he squeaked, "The cops are all greedy sons of bitches anyway...they didn't even need the dead cop as motivation, I just flashed the cash!"
"Well call one of those greedy sons of bitches over here and get them to call off this fiasco...and I wouldn't make it Brewer, you'll find he's not up to taking orders right now."
Talbot began to stammer but Spike was deadly unsympathetic, "Do it you little fucker, otherwise your legs won't be the only part of you that doesn't work properly!"
Tara found herself clutching her upper arm as blood seeped from a bullet wound. Behind her she could hear Willow breathing heavily in either panic or terrified exhilaration. She gritted her teeth and stared down the barrel of the still smoking weapon that had torn a hole in her flesh. It's owner, was anonymous beneath his helmet and goggles. Tara knew that would make killing him that little bit easier on her conscience but she had to get the drop on him first, he obviously had no problem with pumping her full of lead at the slightest provocation.
"Don't fuckin' move bitch, or I'll put another bullet hole between your eyes this time!"
Tara doubted that, his superiors would probably shoot him if he took he out. Her death was most likely a pleasure reserved for a much bigger fish that this grunt.
"I'm unarmed," Tara replied smoothly, there would be no begging from her.
Tara kept her gaze fastened securely on the SWAT grunt, determined to protect Willow with her own body if he opened fire again. As she watched him, she saw his head cock to one side as though he was listening to something coming through his earpiece. Tara risked a glance sideways and saw something odd happening with each of the cops. They were backing off and exiting via any aperture they could find, window, door, hole in the wall. She turned her full attention back to the cop in front of her to find he was also backing away. Once he had reached a door at his back, he turned and bolted.
The Ladies were left standing on the battlefield, surrounded by debris and bodies, some of which were still trying to crawl away. Faith reached down, grabbed one cop by the seat of his trousers and helped him out a nearby window. His scream was cut off by a dull thud into the pavement. The Lady wiped her hands before surveying the scene with a grief stricken expression. Several of her friends lay dead or wounded at her feet. She met Tara's gaze across the room and the two hard women shared a brief moment, Faith's eyes reassuring the ex-cop that she should not blame the deaths on her involvement with the Ladies.
Tara turned to face Willow.
"You're bleeding," was the redhead's immediate and redundant statement, eyes fixed on the wound in Tara's bare arm.
The ex-cop did not even spare the bullet wound a glance, "A scratch," she replied abruptly, more concerned for the cut on Willow's neck.
Willow noticed her looking and her reply was just as stoic, "A scratch."
Tara would have smiled at the redhead if not for their present circumstances. As it was, she reached out and laid a gentle reassuring hand on Willow's upper arm. She then moved to the window, peering cautiously around the ruined frame at the scene below. The cops were indeed falling back, it had not been her imagination. In the midst of it all however, she saw something that made her fingers itch for a Beretta. Standing, staring up at her window was the peroxided thug who had accosted Willow in the alley behind Kitty's. It was as though he had been expecting Tara to look down and see him. Her eyes narrowed in rage as he lifted one hand in a lazy salute. He then spun on his heels and strode in the opposite direction, offering Tara a clear shot of his back. While it was an extremely tempting target, she knew better than to let her emotions get in the way of good sense. She wanted to speak to him face to face...again. Although next time she wouldn't be so nice