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Ocelot's battle-ready reflexes were already kicking in. Glancing sideways into the RV's right-side mirror, he took a quick inventory of the situation. All three of the vehicles in question were driving without lights, catching up quickly on the nearly-deserted road. "I think you're right," he said, rising to move past Hildebrandt and grab his Defiance shotgun from the overhead compartment. "They couldn't have been there long--I've been watching."

"Doctor," Winterhawk said, "P'raps it would be best if you were to lie down on the seat there. And pull down the shade on that window."

Hildebrandt started to protest, then got a good look at Ocelot. "Yeah," he said. "Is it the team from the complex?"

Winterhawk stepped on the gas, coaxing the RV to greater speed. Fortunately for them it was a fairly straight road; he wasn't a combat driver, and this was most certainly not a combat-ready vehicle. "They're making their move," he told Ocelot, ignoring Hildebrandt's query and forcing his voice into clipped calm. "It looks like the motorcycles are coming up one on each side. The car is hanging back for the moment, it appears."

Suddenly, in a burst of speed, the two motorcycles shot forward, coming up alongside the RV simultaneously on each side. Each bike had two occupants, both dressed in dark coats and helmets. The pillions both carried firearms, but it was impossible to identify the type in the darkness. Winterhawk checked the side mirror just as the left-side bike's headlight came on, casting a dazzling flash that forced him to look away or be blinded.

The bike on Ocelot's side pulled up next to and slightly behind the front window, the passenger letting loose with a flurry of gunfire all along the side of the RV. Rounds tore into the unarmored side of the large vehicle, miraculously not hitting Hildebrandt. The ork dived to the floor with a strangled cry of fear and covered his head with his hands.

Ocelot broke the window with his shotgun butt and then leveled the shotgun rearward. Leaving the window intact would do no good; it wasn't armored either, and it was more of a hindrance to him than to the assailants. "Hold it level!" he yelled to Winterhawk, squeezing off two shots at the bikers. The bike's pilot managed to swerve and avoid the first, but the second tore into his helmet, its close-range velocity tearing off the side of the helmet and most of the side of his head. Ocelot didn't see the bike veer off the road and slam into a guardrail, but he did hear the dying scream of the passenger as the bike went up in a little puff of flame. "Two down," he said grimly.

The assailants in the car were not idle. Gunning the engine, they changed lanes and positioned themselves slightly behind and to the left of the RV. Winterhawk was too busy paying attention to the bikers on his side of the vehicle to notice much, but he did see two figures lean out the windows of the car and begin firing. The RV's rear window shattered and slugs splintered the fake wood door of the tiny bathroom in the back.

Winterhawk once again cursed Ocelot for not being able to drive; if Ocelot had been driving, he could have taken care of the lot of them (at least the ones he could see) with one well-placed manaball. But here in the driver's seat, there was no way he could split his concentration sufficiently to perform both activities without putting at least one of them in serious danger of failure. Gritting his teeth, he concentrated on keeping the RV moving at a smooth enough pace so Ocelot could take aim on the assailants, while still being unpredictable enough so as not to provide an easy target. He thought about sideswiping the motorcycle, but decided against it when he considered the possibility that even hitting something as light as a motorbike might cause the RV to go out of control. The thing steered like a battleship.

A shot from one of the attackers shattered the driver's-side mirror. "Get him!" Winterhawk snarled.

"I'm workin' on it!" Ocelot snarled back, stepping over the prone Hildebrandt and firing out the window halfway back on the driver's side, this time without bothering to open it first.

The burst went wide, missing the biker, who dropped back behind the RV once again to trade places with the car. Ocelot could see the occupants more clearly now: a driver and two passengers, the latter of which were both currently leaned out the right side windows of the car, leveling assault rifles at the RV. Winterhawk stomped down on the gas again, silently pleading with the unwieldy vehicle to come up with just a bit more speed, but he knew it was dangerously close to as much as it could muster.

One of the car's passengers fired again, blowing another hole in the window Ocelot had just shot through. Ocelot dropped, landing hard on top of Hildebrandt. Bullets whizzed through the siding, two of them slamming into Ocelot's armor and the others impacting harmlessly on the lower part of the bench seat. Hildebrandt whimpered, but Ocelot ignored him.

The car was moving again, gaining speed. As it drew alongside the cab of the RV, Winterhawk could see two grinning faces over two assault rifle barrels pointed directly at him. His next action was taken purely on instinct: hitting the brake, he jerked the wheel to the side, toward the car. The RV lurched alarmingly, veering into the side of the car with a crash and then skidding off in the opposite direction. As he fought the RV's unresponsive steering, Winterhawk got a quick view of the useless mirror stalk ripping the head off the rearmost of the two men in the car. The other one screamed and fired uselessly at the spot where the RV used to be.

Ocelot was thrown off balance by Winterhawk's unorthodox maneuver, reeling sideways into the bench seats and smacking his head on the side of the refrigerator. "`Hawk, what the hell are you doing?!" he yelled, reestablishing his grip on his shotgun and struggling to right himself.

The mage didn't answer; he was too busy trying to keep the RV from leaving the road. The motorcycle, forgotten for the moment, hung back, its passenger firing at the pitching RV from the relative safety of a rearward position.

The RV's right-side wheels dropped off the side of the road onto the shoulder for only a second or two before Winterhawk threw the wheel back leftward. He felt the front tires hop back up onto the pavement, but the RV was now angling back toward the other side of the road. The tall, unwieldy vehicle rocked back and forth crazily as Ocelot fought to maintain his footing amid all the pitching and rolling--not to mention Hildebrandt, who was pitching and rolling almost as badly. The car, the headless body of the rear assailant hanging out the window like a child's gory discarded doll, veered sideways as the RV cut it off, braking hard to keep from exiting the road on the other side. Winterhawk jammed his foot down on the RV's brake pedal as soon as he felt the rear wheels jump back onto the road. The vehicle skidded to a stop with the screech of overloaded tires.

Ocelot immediately regained his balance, heading to the back of the RV so he could shoot out the ruined rear window at the occupants of the car. He ejected his clip and slapped in a new one as he went. Winterhawk, meanwhile, glanced up at the rearview mirror in time to see the two remaining assailants on the motorcycle hurrying up to the fray at a high rate of speed. Smiling wickedly to himself, he realized that he might actually be able to affect this combat in a way other than as reluctant driver. Watching the biker closely in the mirror, he cast his spell.

The bike's rider never even saw it coming. He was too busy watching Ocelot's explosive ammunition making short work of the car's gas tank to notice the mana barrier wink into existence directly in front of him, right at head level. He neck snapped back with a sickening cracking sound; it was another five meters or so before his death grip on the bike's handlebars loosened. The passenger was thrown off the rear of the bike by the force of the pilot's impact.

Suddenly, as quickly as it had begun, all was silent. Winterhawk shakily unhooked his seatbelt and disengaged himself from the driver's seat as Ocelot headed for the RV's back door. "Stay here," Winterhawk said to Hildebrandt, stepping over the prone ork to follow Ocelot out.

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