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Friday, June 22, 2007

Tales of the Cypherpunk, 3


The van was hot, even with a cheap cooler running. Electronics give off a lot of wattage, especially the antiques Shilo was running in the cargo area. He shifted uncomfortably on a padded stool that was welded in place, just far enough back to expose his back to a slice of sun. Well, his shirt. His hot, sweaty

"Shy? Are you listening?" squawked the webcam.

"yeah, yeah, Jonas is safe, hit squad in place, pretty face, chantilly lace. Got it."

"Right. How are things there?"

"If I'd known it would be this hot I would've double-crossed Jonas instead of triple-crossing the cops. The hard net's quiet, the ad hoc's quiet. The scanner is normal. I've got passive scan calibrated. The squad comms work. I'm also trying to win tickets to see American Taliban from KWTF."

The boss leaned back behind his desk, moving out of camera range. "Great. You kids and your punk rock."

"Weren't you in a band, old man?"

"Before I realized I had no talent."

"Oh, the computer just finished predicting the next artist. Now when they play the song I can be the first caller! Maybe I'll take Betty with me." The boss was silent. Shilo kicked a radar unit nonchalantly. "Ya know, I wish I had a sister. This cop's all hot to get his back, even though she ran off with a rich old geezer. And you get your meals delivered on a silver platter by Betty Bionic."

"I paid good money for that silver platter. And you, you need to get laid before you get a little sister complex. Well.. I've gotta personnel problem I have to go officiate, so everyone will get back to work-"


"T-rex and William, 1.8:1."

"Put me down for fifty bee on William."

Shilo was left with his thoughts. At 1135, there was a soft chime from the sensor computer. Radar picked up two armed men exiting a vehicle, but the sensitive technology couldn't tell if they were cops. Shilo looked out the window. Yeah, it was them. Two navy blue uniforms entered the insurance agency. Two more, according to radar, were waiting at the building's rear entrance.

Shilo set the coordinates for his audio and listened to the voices inside. One was asking if Jonas was there, appointment this, lies that. Another voice said Jonas would be back in thirty minutes, wait here, lie lie lie. Shilo watched as the blips representing the hit squad encircled the police in the alley and crept towards the front entrance. All at once, the cops inside drew weapons; the suits hit the floor; the hit squad burst in. Shilo's headphoned muffled the loud noises in realtime, but he could still hear the shots themselves from across the street. He saw the front window shatter as hollowpoints ignited and flashed from existence. A khaki uniform performed a flawless triple roll through midair, and its head twisted to the side as it hit the sidewalk face first. It lay still in that unnatural position, then spun and resumed fire a moment later. Lightning arced from its hand. A rapid burst of slugs hit it in the torso and mostly severed its neck.

At the sound of the first shot, the sensor computer- the sniffer- started gently chiming. Shilo looked up to see extra fuzz behind his van. One raised a large pistol in the classic two-handed grip and fired at the van's window. The bullet ricocheted and narrowly missed his partner, who yelled, turned and headed back toward their vehicle.

"Driver? It's getting hot back here. Cool us off?"

"Boss, they got us blocked in. I gotta go over."

"Kay." The van was already lurching forward. Shilo threw himself to the floor and grabbed onto a cabinet just as they rammed something. There was a sudden stop- a lurch, and the van tilted up. The engine roared and the sky tilted past the windows at odd angles as the unmarked white van climbed over a car.

The sniffer, although unattended, registered three blips diving out of the path of the van. It chimed gently to warn that the vehicle was airborn and sensor readings could be inaccurate. Another speaker beeped twice, just before the whole interior slammed down onto the ground. The driver was still standing on the gas, and sparks flew from the entire exhaust system for one brief, shining moment.

In an unmarked blue van down the street, a speaker twirped to acknowledge the thermal intensity of that brief, shining moment. No one was there to hear it, but a moment later the officer that had avoided friendly fire a moment before yanked open the door and made off with a crowbar.

Shilo struggled into the passenger seat, managing to hit both walls and the ceiling in the process as the van swerved through traffic. "Driver- we've got to stay within two blocks to maintain comms for the squad. Well, it'll be done soon. Just keep making lefts," Shilo armed himself with a pistol and bayonet from the glove box "and stop if you see a good parking place. Damn, the sniffer's going to be wonky now."

"Why lefts?"

"Two reasons. One, it's human nature to turn right when driving, so it might throw the 5-O off our tail." Heh. "Also, that's a one-way street."


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