1. Out of the Frying Pan
The Karachi Arms Hand Cannon clicked empty as the panel next to his head shattered, spraying him with flecks of molten metal and shattered composite. Trevor pulled back behind the relative cover of the damaged rear door panel as more shots slammed around him. On reflex he triggered the clip release and slid in a new magazine, knowing it would be utterly useless.
“We’re so fukked!” he shouted in the general direction of the transport’s forward engine compartment. He was pretty sure that Bradley wouldn’t be able to hear him over the wind blasting through the open roof of the transport’s rear section no matter how acute those tufted ears of his were.
The incoming fire tapered off and he heard a wail from behind the transport. “Oh shi…”
He shoved a blood crusted hand through a rail and tried to brace himself. The transport lurched roughly to the side and rolled. He found himself suspended over the long concave arc of a night cycled Angel Down, thousands of lights peeking through a smoke clogged patchwork of hab units and dark industry stretching into the far distance. Absently he wondered what was keeping him attached to the transport but a dull pain above his head gave him the answer.
He looked up from the cityscape and the universe seemed to slow down. A bright shape was speeding toward him, a smooth cylinder of reflecting chrome riding an inferno of channeled violence. The moment extended and he found himself thinking of the darkness of the club, the sweaty desperation of the coffin motel, the bad drinks, the sound of breaking bone, an emptiness that swallowed every bad decision he’d ever made.
As he looked at what he was pretty sure would be the last thing he’d ever see, a deep part of him swore an oath to a power that his younger version self was sure didn’t exist.
If I somehow make it through this I promise that the I will tear out Vance’s spine and shove it down his throat...amen.
The world turned a brilliant gold as he was thrown back into the transport and blessed oblivion.
“It’s a simple, no nonsense, easy smash and grab job. Nothing could possibly go wrong,” Vance said to the tiny room.
“Well: One,” Bradley held up three fury and repeatedly broken fingers. “You want to hit The Crusher. Two,” and a finger went down, “if it was so fukkin easy any crap stain would have already done it. Three,” and another finger went down leaving only a single bent central digit with a tiny curved claw at the end, “fukk you and your stupid fukkin fairy plum spinning ‘easy no nonsense’ plans.”
Vance sputtered, his face turning a deep red, his hands balling into firsts on the table. Trevor reached forward and put his palm on his friend’s shoulder pulling the man’s gaze to his own.
“Look, Vance, Brad might be 40 kilos of furry pessimism in a 1 kilo bag, but those are some valid...concerns.”
The room was close, hot, and echoed horribly, but at least it was safe. Trevor had swept it five minutes previous for the techno crap that the criminal scum of Angel Down used to keep track of each other and the place came back clean.
“‘Valid concerns’? Really?!?,” Vance yelled as he shrugged off Vance’s hand and tried to stand away from the tiny table between the three friends. His foot slipped as he straightened and he only succeeded in stumbling. His arms came forward to try to catch himself but he landed awkwardly, keeping his ass off the floor but knocking their drinks into a dark corner instead.
Bradley rolled his slit pupiled eyes, his long ears twitching forward, as he waited for Vance to regain his footing.
“Wow, just...wow...and they say we’re the emotional species. Next round is on you by the way” There was a gleam Bradley’s eye and his whiskers sat relaxed on his muzzle. Vance looked back and sighed loudly, his ego now deflated and some of the tension flowing out of his body along with it.
“Look, Vance, I know you think this score would be sweet, I can see that,” Trevor coddled, “but I’m not seeing an angle. How do we get in The Hive, grab the thing, and get out before Crusher or one of its goons kills us and comes after everyone we ever loved?”
Vance looked up and Trevor could imagine tiny fires igniting in his eyes, the antics of a few seconds ago forgotten in a sea of enthusiastic hope.
“See, that’s where the clever bit comes in…” Vance leaned in and for a moment he looked more feline than Bradley ever could.