Hale pulled her new bike into the parking lot and clicked the security as she dismounted. She had paid two thousand on her hand, another grand split between rent and a little kickback to keep Woods happy, two more as a down payment on a new bike, five hundred creds to Manny like she promised, and another five hundred to update her gear. She wasn’t exactly sure if the client intended to pay her at the end of the run let alone if she was walking out of this alive but that wasn’t new when accepting a job.
The address was a multilevel office complex stretching upwards of fifty stories with at least two businesses to each floor. These companies were all subsidiaries of one megacorporation just removed enough to claim they weren’t but close enough for all intellectual ownership and overall control. It was a nice little trick that everyone did that no one admitted.
She kept her helmet on as she walked through the semi-glossed doors and up to the security checkpoint. The guards had a Knight Errant logo on their shoulders with a smaller patch to denote the local unit which meant most likely she was dealing with Ares in some shape or form if she traced it back far enough. That would explain the tech that scrambled her glasses two days ago and the easy access to large funds. The new knowledge didn’t ease the nerves or a make it any easier to remove her helmet and raise her arms to allow the guard to scan her for weapons or restricted tech. She preferred to go old fashioned so her red leather jacket was expertly patched, lined with new lightweight armor, and her revolver was holstered in the locked panel on her bike. Right now she was practically weaponless, aside from the eight ounces per glove of steel shot sewn into the knuckle area of her black leather gloves, it was a calculated risk but she doubted anyone would be so brazen as to attack her before she got the package. The fact that Manny was covering her from a block over helped considering she still had to walk out of the building and to her bike to start the journey.
He had raised an eyebrow at her new bike but she had pointed out that it was used and didn’t have all the shinies people loved these days. Compared to the other models available she was riding blind. Of course choosing to stick with a low-end motorcycle had more than one motivation, the first being that it was cheaper and the second being that it gave her an excuse to wear protective gear without raising eyebrows. It was easier to add or replace existing supports rather than completely building them into clothing which had no prior reason for it.
The guard finished the pat-down and waved her onward through a scanner. Hale held her helmet under her arm and walked over to the reception desk. A woman sitting ramrod straight with one hand absently tapping on a screen while the other was doubtlessly under the desk resting on a panic button looked up at her expectantly.
“Pick up,” Hale stated simply.
The receptionist nodded and pulled a small white tube about three inches in diameter and half a foot long from a drawer without stopping her tapping fingers. She placed the cylinder on the desk, lifted up a shipping invoice which was already filled out for Hale to mock-sign and then slipped the form into a scanner which compiled the document and shredded it at the same time.
“Have a nice day,” the receptionist smiled and went back to looking at her screen.
Hale tucked the package on a strap inside her jacket usually reserved for knives, batons, or heavier ordinance and returned the smile before securing her helmet. The guard didn’t bother to look at her as she walked back through the security station and out the door.
A message beeped once she was outside. It was the address from Minder. She tapped on the side of her helmet initiating the connection to her phone and dialed Manny.
“I’ve got the package,” she strolled over to her bike, clicking off the security features and straddled the seat. “It’s got a tracker or I’m being watched, sending you Point B now.”
She sent the address and cut the connection. Manny may be a tech-addicted space cadet but he knew how to ride shotgun. The engine purred to life, she took a moment to enjoy the difference a few thousand could buy before flipping the stand into position and pushing off. She was half a block down the road when a dark luxury car the shape of the head of a sledge hammer rocketed past her and screeched to a stop on the sidewalk in front of the building she had just left.
Three Asian men in almost matching cheap off-gray two-piece suits emerged from the car with weapons drawn. They rushed through the doors, hardly stopping to open it before letting loose a flood of bullets.
“Manny,” she waited a beat for the connection. “We’ve got some serious heat coming down. Three mafia types just shot up the lobby.”
“Do you have any idea which family we’re dealing with?”
“Asian,” she put on some speed to get some breathing room. “Not nearly dressed well enough to be Yakuza and just sane enough to rule out Triad.” The latch on the holster next to her left knee was smooth and took a kiss of pressure to release. She kept her hand resting on it just in case. “That only leaves the Koreans.”
“Not good,” the sound of his voice was mixed with the sound of gunfire. “I knew they were desperate but this is bad even for them.”
Her cybernetic hand held the bike steady with hardly any effort as she snuck a look over her shoulder. Whatever Miss Johnson was into was starting to look worth a lot more than twenty thousand. The Koreans were losing their footing in the city while the Yakuza was entrenched with the mega corporations and the Triad was a certain kind of crazy that was harder to kill than a cockroach.
The HUD on her visor popped up a calculated route to her destination using public access traffic monitors provided for the Metro Transit Company to avoid hot-spots of gang activity. Woods had a contact in a local office that shared the password for a price per access, it was well spent. She hoped that with a bit of space and a head start they wouldn’t notice her.
That little glimmer was snuffed out as one of the toughs burst from the building and pointed right at her. She couldn’t hear what he was yelling but whatever it was summoned another hammer shaped car to screech around a corner to start pursuit.
She snapped the revolver out of the holster and leaned back, firing off three quick rounds into the windshield but a small trio of cracks was her only reward for the efforts.
“Of course,” she turned her attention back to driving and pushed the bike faster.
The down payment on the new bike, her wardrobe, and bills had make getting a new gun something she would have to wait on. Right now she didn’t think that the Ares Crusader would have put a dent in the armored car. Her best bet was to run hard. Luckily the only gunfire on the road so far was hers, the package must be important.
A tight smile crossed her face as an idea bloomed. The map was still up, showing the best way to avoid gang activity in the area, right now a little more activity was something she needed.
“The car’s armored but I’ve got a plan,” she took a tight turn onto an on-ramp hitting the interstate going eighty.
“What are you doing?” Manny called back. “This is the Spike’s territory, those trogs hate smooth-skins like us.”
“We’re all smoothies, Manny,” she chuckled. “And my baby here can outrun any Harley.”
“Hale,” his voice vibrated as he took the on-ramp. “Five hundred is stretching kind of thin.”
“If we survive, I’ll double it.”