The drone pilot’s car held the bodies of two men. They each carried pistols, stun guns, rolls of currency, and plastic payment cards similar to what we used to pay for our hotel room. The other silver car contained the bodies of three men, and they carried similar weapons. The six of them must have counted on making a lot of money from selling Eve, and the idea of sex slavers made me sigh. The yakuza I worked for had an arm that participated in those kind of activities, but I hadn’t wanted anything to do with it, and my military experience meant that I’d been assigned to robbery and rival gang detail.
The car that held the drone pilot was in better condition, so we decided to keep it and leave the other one. Within half an hour Eve managed to land the drone in the trunk of the sedan, I’d taken out all the bodies, ripped off the windshield, and cleaned off whatever wet blood stains I could find.
“I should ride the motorcycle,” Eve said as she pointed to the helmet. “It might look odd for me to have this on while I am driving the car, and taking it off might expose us to the identification software running through the city.”
“Confirmed,” I said as I slid into the driver's seat of the sedan. “We’ll need a new hotel. We should sell this as soon as we get back into town, and buy another car, or a second motorcycle.”
I would prefer a second motorcycle. It will be easier for us to fit them both on a small vessel.
Eve had put the helmet over her head, so her voice telepathically entered my mind again.
The controls of the car were somewhat standard, and I managed to turn it on, shift it into gear, and then ride it onto the road with only half a minute of fiddling with the controls. Then we were driving across the empty night toward the endless lights of the megacity.
Eve’s voice didn’t contact me again until we had driven past the slums and found ourselves deep in the neon heart of the city. There was a terminal on the dashboard of the car I drove, and I tried to see if I could switch the language into something I could understand. After a handful of minutes I got it to English and then tried to access the city’s information grid. I wasn’t the best with computers, but I could get around them, and soon figured out how to search for an auto repair shop. We were still in a part of the city that didn’t look very wealthy, so I guessed any of the places near me would consider giving us some cash for the car.
I can attempt to search their minds and see if they would be open to taking the car off our hands.
“How does that work? Can you read anyone’s mind?” I asked, and I realized it sounded odd to be talking to her as if she sat next to me.
No. Only surface thoughts and I have to be near them. If I can engage them in conversation, it helps.
“You were able to speak to me when I was on the other side of the vault door. It seemed like a bit of distance, and there was a thick metal--”
You are different.
“How so?” I asked, but the woman didn’t speak into my mind again, and I saw the dashboard map indicate I had arrived at the nearest shop.
The place did look like the kind of establishment that specialized in taking apart automobiles, and I guessed we wouldn’t have a problem selling the newly acquired car. The parking lot of the small shop was filled with gutted vehicles, and the main bay was open to reveal half a dozen men working on pulling apart three different cars.
When I pulled up to the bay, four of the men stopped their work and moved to circle the car. They all wore dirty pants, oil stained shirts, and had a greasy shine to their skin. My nose was sensitive, and I picked up the scent of their body odor along with hydraulic grease and metal car parts.
Each of them wore a pistol holstered on their belts, and the sight confirmed my suspicion that I had picked the correct place to sell the car.
“Do any of you speak English?” I asked.
“Yah,” one of the men said. He was on the passenger side of the car, but it was easy to hear his voice because of the lack of a front windshield.
“I’m looking to sell this,” I said.
“Yah. Who dis?” he asked as he nodded to Eve. She was straddling her motorcycle some twenty meters behind my car.
“My wife. You buying?”
“Naw. We taking,” he said as he looked between the car and the helmeted vampire.
“I could be killing,” I growled, and I raised my shotgun from the passenger seat. They must have not seen it before, and the men collectively took a step back. “Selling be easier. The car is armored.”
“Kay. How mucha ya want?” the man asked with a shrug. I thought the show of force would have escalated the situation, but the man didn’t seem disturbed by the weapon.
That was probably bad.
“How much you offering?” I asked.
He will do twenty thousand at the most.
“I ahh pay yah four. It good deal.”
“Ha.” I kept my hand on the shotgun, but I wasn’t pointing it at anyone.
“I do ahh eight.”
“Come on. This is a nice car. Just needs a new windshield, and some seat washing.” Driving it had convinced me that this was a luxury model with a powerful engine.
“Ten. No more.”
“This thing is worth eighty new,” I lied. I didn’t know how much it was actually worth, but I was confident in Eve’s ability to know how much the guy would pay for it. I doubted he would pay more than a quarter of its full retail price.
“Twenty-five,” I said at last.
“Eighteen,” he crossed his arms and frowned.
“Twenty,” I shrugged, and the man glanced between his friends.
“Yah. It’s okay yah. Twenty is good.”
He thinks he has fooled you. He can flip this for sixty easy. The car is actually worth a hundred and forty new.
“You sell motorcycles?” I asked as I opened the door. The men were muscular, but I still stood taller than them all, and my arms were still thicker than the largest of them.
“Yah. I gotta one like dat,” he said as he motioned to the cruiser Eve straddled.
“How much?” I asked, but then my eyes caught something in the back of his shop. There were half a dozen screens mounted to the wall, and they all suddenly had Eve’s face displayed on them. There was a beeping sound from the array of monitors, and we all turned to look at the image of the beautiful woman.
A news caster's voice came on the screen, but I couldn’t understand her words. Then she seemed to change her language, but I still couldn’t understand what she said. The men glanced back at Eve suspiciously, and I bent down to get my rifle from the passenger seat of the car.
“Danger. Danger. Danger. This woman is wanted for the murders of twenty-four Elaka Nota employees. She is armed and dangerous. Elaka Nota Corporation is offering a reward of at least one million coal units for information about her whereabouts. Contact your local police if you suspect you have seen this woman. She may be in the company of a large military man.”
The voice continued in another language, and I gestured to the man I was speaking with. “Where is that bike?”
“Yah, it ah back behind shop. What she look like?” He gestured to Eve, and the other men looked at her.
“She doesn’t look like that, or I’d be collecting on that million. That’s for sure.” I snickered at the man, and he nodded.
“Ha. Yah. It back here.”
He stole the motorcycle from the same gang he thinks you got the cars from. He wants to get rid of it. He will be happy with five. Ask if we can get a tarp and something to tie the drone to the back with. The unit is a bit too large to fit under the saddle.
I followed the man to the rear of the shop and saw the motorcycle. He actually had two others, but one looked like it was a light street bike, and one looked like an off-roading model. The cruiser was just like the one we had taken from the dead pimp, but the pipes were a muted black instead of chromed.
“Three?” I asked him.
“Eight,” he said, and I noticed his eyes stray to the two other grease monkeys that hadn’t stepped out to greet us initially. They were looking at the screens on the wall, Eve, me, and my weapons. I really did look like a “military man.”
“Five,” I said as I studied their leader. He looked like he was of Asian descent.
“Yeh. Five ah be ah good.” He smiled and then moved back behind a desk. I guessed he was getting his cash, or Eve would have told me his intentions.
“You have a tarp and some rope? I need to tie something to the back part of the saddle.”
The other men are thinking I am the one on the screens. They are going to try to call the police. Watch the one sneaking toward the back. Do not stop him or they will know for sure who we are. We just need to get out of here. Even if it means leaving the drone in the trunk. Try to hurry.
I watched the two men walk out the back of the shop and fought against an angry growl. I guessed the police would probably get a bunch of false positives as people tried to collect on the reward, so they might not instantly show up.
Unless they send surveillance drones here.
“I have ah keys,” the man said as he dangled the fob in his hand.
I gestured for him to toss them to me, and I sighed in relief when he did so.
I straddled the motorcycle, inserted the fob into the overlay system, and then started the engine. It turned over with a light growl, and I rolled it out of the back of the building. Then I pushed down the kickstand and left it running next to Eve. Now I just needed to get the cash and the drone before we could leave.
“You finish?” I asked as I walked back into the chop shop bay. The other two men were back inside the main area, and I could tell that the attitude had changed.
“Yah. Almost. Yah,” he said as he put another stack of rolled paper in the bag.
“You have a tarp?” I asked. One of the far shelves looked to have a stack of them, and the man followed my eyes.
“Fuck that.” I looked down at my shotgun and then raised an eyebrow to the man.
“Uhh. Yah. Take it then. Dis Fine.”
I walked to the table and took the bag from the man. He was moving too slow to put the cash in, and I guessed what his game was.
“That not all da cash.”
“It’s fine,” I said as I threw the bag over my shoulder
I am getting the drone out of the trunk. Watch their hands. They are thinking about pulling on you.
I swept the room with my shotgun and made a clicking sound with my mouth. These men probably figured Eve was the woman on the screen, and now they had to make a decision. Would they let us go without a fight, or would they try to keep us here so the cops could catch us?
One of the six men’s eyes narrowed, and I knew he was going to grab for the pistol on his hip two seconds before he even made his move.
My shotgun barked, and a solid slug of metal ripped into the man. It was overkill since the slugs were meant to be taking down targets wearing armor, and these guys were wearing pants and tee shirts. A black hole seemed to instantly form in the center of his chest, and he imploded in a red mist.
The slug continued its path through the garage and took out half of the engine block of the car sitting behind the man. It made a crashing boom noise, and I twisted my weapon to the left so I could sweep the rest of the room. If these guys were smart, they would just put their hands up, let me leave, and then receive whatever kind of reward Elaka Nota Corporation decided to give them with a grateful smile on their collective faces.
These guys weren’t very smart, and they all reached for the guns at their belts.
My shotgun kicked again in my hands, and the head of another mechanic disappeared. Maybe these guys all just assumed I was going to kill them after the first man tried to pull his weapon. I actually hadn’t intended that at all, but it was too late to negotiate with these guys now. I was going to have to see this through until they were all dead.
Or I was.
I threw myself sideways and skidded on the dirty concrete behind the body of what looked like a hovercraft. A trio of bullets pinged off of the hood of the vehicle, and I reached into my belt to grab one of my pistols. I’d taken off the drum of my shotgun earlier, and the weapon could only hold four rounds in the internal magazine. The slugs were also too much for these guys. I’d be able to take them out just fine with a bullet from any of the three different pistols I carried.
I popped out of the side of the hovercraft and aimed my handgun at the closest mechanic. It was the man I’d been dealing with, and he had taken cover behind the desk where he had been counting my money. The desk looked to have been made out of a plastic-wood blend. The three shots from my pistol went through it and into the body of the man with ease. He screamed when my first bullet hit him, but the third must have hit something important, and his cry was suddenly silenced.
I ducked under the shape of the hovercraft again and felt a bullet cut through the air above my head. It had probably only missed me by a centimeter or two, and I wondered if the shooter actually practiced his marksmanship. The enemy guns made cracking noises again as I ran to the other side of my cover, and I was able to judge their positions by the sounds of their gun fire and the ping of the bullets off of the metal mass in front of me.
I pulled another pistol with my left hand and then popped that side out from behind the cover of the hovercraft. I only had a fraction of a second to figure out where to shoot, and I saw that the man in the other corner of the garage had the best line of sight for me. I wasn’t a particularly good shot with my left hand, but when I was in the Marines I had a lot of time and bullets to play with. Most of my fellow soldiers just sat around during their downtime, but I’d spent my free moments learning to shoot better or practicing my hand-to-hand skills.
The pistol in my left hand made a satisfying buck, and its massive slide racked back against my grip. The man’s head turned into a red explosion, and I twisted back behind my cover. He’d been a good twenty-five meters away, and I was a bit surprised I’d been able to get a headshot with a pistol in my left hand.
I am approaching from my position.
Eve’s voice reached my mind with a confident whisper, and I held off on my next attempt to leave my cover. The men might have realized she was still at the front of the shop, but I doubted it. She might be able to get a kill shot before she was seen.
Two seconds later I heard the woman’s single gunshot, and then I popped up from behind my cover. The vampire woman was leaning around the edge of the roll-up door, and she’d shot one of the men in the back. The final mechanic had spun around to aim his gun in her direction, and I saw the woman pull her helmet covered head back out of the entrance.
The man’s gun went off, and I leapt out from behind the hovercraft. His bullet bounced off of the wall where Eve had just been, and he twisted around to bring the gun back in my direction. It was too late, though, I’d sprinted around his cover, and I pointed both of my pistols at him. The guns bucked in unison, and both bullets tore through his body.
“We need to go!” I shouted at her as I ran back to grab one of the tarps. I kind of wanted to take whatever money I could get off of the men, but I didn’t know how long we had until the police or their drones showed up, and we needed to get lost in the city.
I need to feed again.
“We don’t have time!”
I ran out with the tarp and saw Eve gesturing to the back saddle of my motorcycle. She had already set the drone there and found a length of rope to tie it to my saddle. She passed the cord to me as soon as I threw the tarp over the drone, and then she ran into the garage.
“No! No time!” I shouted after her, but the woman was taking her helmet off, and I didn’t think she could hear me.
I need to feed. One of them is clean. It might be awhile until I can again. I will be quick.
I growled and focused on tying the drone to the back part of my saddle. The thing was about a meter long, half a meter wide, and maybe twenty centimeters thick. If it weren’t so long it would have been able to fit in the saddle compartment, and I wondered if the device was even worth keeping around. It would be a bit of a pain to transport on the back of our motorcycles.
I finished securing the drone, and my sensitive ears heard police sirens. If I could hear the police, it would mean the drones were probably close, and I guessed we only had a handful of seconds. I was about to scream for Eve again, but the woman ran out of the garage on cue. Her helmet was already on, and she leapt onto the saddle of her bike as if she had practiced the move hundreds of time.
I twisted the throttle, kicked up the stand, and then blasted out of the lot like a rocket. Eve was right behind me, and she followed my first turn away from the sirens. Then we were racing through the neon streets, and the sounds of the city traffic covered up the frustrated screams of the police.