Ah, tabarnak...how the hell did I let this happen? Marda! He fought to control his breathing, to ignore the burning sting of the bullet. I’ll tell you how you let it happen, you stupid bastard...you were focused on one thing and one thing only. Finding Fiona. You can't find her if you're dead. Idiot!
Scarcliff hadn't moved. He had gone down hard and stayed down. He’s not faking it. He might be dead. He probably is dead. Balls!
The sound of gunfire and shouting outside the cabin seemed miles away, as if the drama unfolding inside the cabin existed in its own separate bubble. Storm supposed maybe it was.
“Tch, tch,” Collins clicked his tongue, and Storm could hear him stalking across the hard-packed dirt of the floor. “Former Captain Alexander Scarcliff,” he muttered derisively. “Should have listened to me when I told you you couldn’t trust these red savages.” Storm squinted out of the corner of his eye, watching Collins jostle the unmoving Captain with his boot. “There’s a reason nobody keeps diamondbacks for pets.” He holstered his pistol and pulled the knife from his belt. “Too bad I didn’t come along in time to stop this one from killing you...you weak, stupid son of a bitch.”
He just holstered his gun. Storm felt the tickling heat of blood pooling underneath him, matting his shirt to his skin. He drew his knife. If Scarcliff’s alive...Collins is going to kill him. And he’s going to set it up to look like it was me.
Storm knew playing opossum was risky. Collins would probably just shoot him again. Peering between almost-closed eyelids, Storm watched the Lieutenant kneel down beside the fallen Captain. Look over here, Collins. I'm not entirely dead. Better come finish me off. He gave what he hoped was a convincing moan.
Collins instantly turned towards him, abandoning Scarcliff. “Damn it,” he grunted, moving quickly towards Storm.
Fighting the urge to move, Storm willed himself to stay still. One chance...that’s all you’ll get, the Voices whispered in his ear. Let him think he’s in control, and don’t startle him. His skin was crawling, prickling with anticipation of a bullet, a blade, whatever Collins was planning on doing to him. If he wants to make it look like we killed each other...he can’t shoot me in the back. He’s going to have to...
Collins’ hand gripped his shoulder, hauling him onto his back and pressing the barrel of his pistol against his temple. You haven’t heard him pull the hammer...lie still. He remained limp, head lolling and eyes closed. A hand clamped over his mouth, fingers painfully clamping his nose shut. Wait, the Voice of Patience insisted, calming his panic. Wait till he... The cold metal of the pistol drew away, and Collins leaned his weight forward to smother him. The hand on his face grew heavy, focused. Now, Lights the Storm. Storm snapped to action like a released bowstring, snatching his knife from his belt and driving it with both hands into Collin’s startled face as roar of the pistol sent white hot agony exploding through his ear, hot blood and gunpowder spraying in a stinging blast across his skin.