Shaye scowled up at her arrest warrant. It was twice as large as any of the others pinned on the bar wall, and printed in large bold letters.
WANTED: ALIVE AND UNHARMED
Bounty hunter. Female. Black coat. Dark red hair. Scar on left cheek.
Armed and extremely dangerous.
5,000 Bax Reward
The warrant was short and to the point, providing just enough information for someone to identify her, and more than enough money for someone to try. Far more than enough. Five-thousand bax was a number to bring every bounty hunter in the city down after her. There were no details of where Shaye had to be delivered, but the signature at the bottom was enough for anyone with a modicum of brainpower to understand. Mireya.
Shaye turned away from the wall and surveyed the bar, looking for anything suspicious. Scruffy men sat around dirty wooden tables, laughing uproariously at each other between swigs of ancient beer. No one appeared to be paying attention to her, which was good. Hopefully none of them would connect her with the obscene amount of money being offered.
Striding across the room, Shaye sat down on the stool at the far end of the bar. It creaked complainingly beneath her, but managed to not fall apart. Her muscles tensed automatically when the bartender caught her eye and hurried over, his large belly jiggling. She had known the man ever since she could lift a gun, but that only meant he would be aware of the warrant on the wall. Anyone was an enemy when enough money was involved.
“Shaye!” he hissed, casting furtive glances in every direction, “what are you doing here?”
“I’m looking for this man,” Shaye said calmly. She pulled a photo from her coat pocket and slid it across the counter.
“I haven’t seen him,” the bartender said, giving the picture only the briefest of glances, “but you shouldn’t be here! You’ve seen the amount of money the East is offering for you, and if the Enforcers find you…” He trailed off. His flabby jowls wobbling as he gulped, staring at something behind Shaye. Shaye didn’t bother looking around. She had already heard the footsteps, and judging by the sound of them, the man now standing behind her was large, beefy, and weighed over two-hundred pounds. Likely all muscle and no brain, but Shaye didn’t like to make assumptions.
“You want to sit down?” she asked, still not looking around. “Drinks on me.”
Behind her, the thug grunted. “Not likely,” he said. “You’re coming with me.” He grabbed her shoulder with one thick hand and Shaye reacted instantly. Leaping up, her stool was sent flying as she spun, bringing her elbow up and slamming it into the man’s face. The blow - already strong enough to fell most men - was strengthened by the metal bar strapped to her forearm and hidden in the sleeve of her coat. Her would-be abductor was sent sprawling flat out on the floor.
Before he could move, Shaye yanked a pistol from the holster on her waist and cocked it at his head.
Around them, the bar had fallen completely silent. Everyone was staring at them. From his position on the floor, the man glared up at Shaye and spat out a glob of blood before speaking.
“You can’t threaten me,” he said, “I know who you are. Shaye. The bounty hunter who won’t kill.”
Shaye’s expression didn’t change. “I don’t need to kill,” she said, and shot him in the leg.