I growl deeply and reach up to undo my collar. Beside me I hear Brennan rip open his whole shirt. “Bluffing!” I want to whisper to him, but there isn’t time.
Declan and Brawler stumble backward, and Top-heavy turns to run. But Pipe-man isn’t taken in. He raises his pipe to his shoulder, and yells, “Bring it on!”
Suddenly, I hear our car door open and, as I turn to yell at her to stay put, a brownish-grey streak launches from the passenger side and crosses to the wall in two bounds. She leaps it in a third, banks back in, and tears off toward the main road, only her bouncing tail visible above the wall.
It all seems to happen in slow motion, but suddenly time catches up as Declan yells, “Forget them! She’s getting away!” In a heartbeat, he, Brawler, and Top-heavy are all running for their car doors. Only Pipe-man hesitates.
“Stop them!” I yell, launching forward toward Pipe-man. Brennan heads straight for Declan and Brawler, who are already nearly at their doors.
I jerk to the outside and roll beneath as Pipe-man steps forward and swings down his pipe toward my head. I roll up short, beside him and drive my fist up and around his front thigh, hard between his legs, as he overbalances from his swing. He groans and his knees collapse beneath him, his momentum carrying his head toward the ground. An instant later, I slam my left hand into his tailbone as I rise, knocking him forward into an even sharper fall. I reach out with my right hand and sweep his hands out from under him. The pipe slips from his grasp and bounces away. His shoulder and forehead smack into the bitumen and he bounces forward along the ground beneath me. I throw my weight into my knee and drop it straight into his unprotected kidney. The wind rushes out of him with an agonized groan and his hand flails back, weakly, and far too late to protect himself. I knock it away, grab and pull back on a handful of his hair, and drive his forehead into the road.
Behind me, Brennan has Brawler pinned against his car, but Declan is making a nuisance of himself. Brennan sends his leg back and knocks Declan back against his door, using Brawler as a counterweight, but Top-heavy is racing back around the front of the car to join the fray.
I dive forward onto my palms, a few feet in front of Top-heavy, and swing my legs around hard. He tries to stop, but too late. My feet smash into his outer knee, knocking it into the inner one, and sending him twisting down into bonnet of the car. I roll back, away from him, and rise to a crouch as he starts to push himself back up off the bonnet. I launch forward again, low, towards his thigh, reaching forward to grab his knee. His kick is late and slow, and it only helps me yank his knee forward as my shoulder ploughs into his hip. He flails backward, and I push off and roll away from him as he crashes into the ground.
Between the cars, Declan is rising for another cheap shot at Brennan’s back while he wrestles with Brawler. I take off to try to head him off, when suddenly there’s an anchor on my heel. My body jerks taut and I barely have time to get my hands in front of me as I fall toward the ground beside him. I kick back with my free leg, but not soon enough to cut my momentum. I hit hard, my hands and arms sliding into sharp pebbles and rough bitumen, but—too late to help me—my foot contacts something, too. His grip slips from my hands and I pull forward and roll away from him. As I rise, he is slumping back down onto the ground. Fucking idiot! Must have been trying to pull himself up with my heel when I kicked.
I spin to find Brennan pulling up short at the front of the two cars. Brawler is behind him, slumped over the bonnet, sliding slowly down. Declan is lying motionless and face-down on the ground.
“You okay?” he gasps, and glances quickly at my contributions. Top-heavy is out, on his back. Pipe-man is lying mostly face-down, an ugly red smear showing on the near side of his face. His back is moving slowly up and down.
I nod, panting for breath and look down the road, but Keely’s nowhere in sight. When I look back to him, Brennan hasn’t moved. He’s staring at me, his mouth hanging a bit open.
“Get his keys,” I say, nodding towards Brawler. “We need to move his car.”