I hate cities.
They’re loud, and entirely too crowded for my taste. Give me the wide open spaces of the Colonies and Rim Territories.
I slide into a spot at a local bar between two patrons in garish costumes. Too many people, wearing to many brilliant colors and the latest in fashion make my head hurt. I order a shot of the bars finest and slug it down. It burns pleasantly on its way down.
“Ten credits and I’ll tell you your fortune.” Her voice is soothing and sweet. Low and almost unnoticed in humanities roar, I turn towards her as she sidles up beside me. There’s a twinkle in her eye.
“Gypsy Queen looks good on you Jax” I say.
The diminutive brunette shrugs, “They’re not looking for a gypsy” she says tossing a thumb over one shoulder.
There are two guys in suits, all business and decidedly government, moving systematically through the crowd.
“What’d you do this time Jax?”
She holds her palms up with mock surrender. “Nothing, I swear. The information was free, open to the public. I just shared it with a few of my friends.”
She shrugs, “Friends that pay better than you Cole.”
“Can’t help it if you’re a greedy girl.”
She casts a glance over her shoulder and then looks back at me, “I need help Charlie.”
There are two of them and they’re only a few bar patrons away. They haven’t recognized Jax but they will. They have implants, I can tell from the dark shades that seem to melt into skin. A computer facial match will beat any disguise Jax comes up with. I should ignore this but we’ve got a past and she was a good partner once. Instead I stick my nose in matters it doesn’t belong in and say, “Come on.”
I push her away from the bar and towards the exit, but my luck, never great to begin with, doesn’t keep us hidden for long as one of the suited goons glances up and tags us with a visual match. “Halt!” he yells.
“Go, we’ve been tagged.”
I can only hope they don’t get a shot of me. I have a file but not a big enough for them to actively hunt me. We exit the bar and run smack dab into more pedestrians.
I hate cities.
It’s a constant struggle to push through the crowd. Behind us I know no one is getting in the way of the suits. It’s just not smart to get in the governments way.
I grab Jax and we duck down a small alley between two food stands. It dead ends.
“Now what genius?”
I push her towards a waist high pile of trash. I kick it away revealing a sealed door in the floor. Port cities are huge and multi-leveled. If you knew they worked you could get around fairly easily. I reach down and spin the handle. The hatch pops up revealing a ladder.
I follow her down and seal the hatch behind us. They’ll know what we’re doing and where we’re going but time’s now on our side. We bust out of the alley and into pedestrians. Pushing and shoving we run down the open air corridor, take a left, a right, and then another left.
“There” I say pointing.
We swing to our left and keep up a sprint that takes us past several occupied landing pads.
“Go Jax, she’s unlocked.”
I skid to a halt, spin with pistol in hand. I snap off two shots, aimed high because I’m not a fan of innocent bystanders dying. The twin suits duck behind cover. I’m up and running again.The Domino’s on the last pad on the right. Jax is already up the ramp and disappearing inside. As I arrive the ramp is rising and I leap up onto it and sprint through my ship to the cock-pit. With the main drives on stand-by I crank up the transfer coils and drop into my chair. I point at the seat next to me and Jax drops into it.
“Just like old times” she says with a laugh.
I shake my head. I bring up the Domino’s thrusters and we lift off the landing struts and into the air. I end any ground pursuit with a blast from the chin mounted gatling. Docking control is screaming at me and I know fighters will be scrambled soon.
“Where are you going?”
We shoot into the city and I swoop us in and around tall buildings that reach for the heavens. We dive under bridges arcing through the air and joining one building with another. We tear through traffic lanes designed for small air cars and not my FTL capable freighter. We probably cause more than one accident but the mayhem we leave behind should keep authorities busy and fighters off our tail until I can find an out of the way place to set down.
“Why aren’t you getting off the planet?” Jax asks. Her voice a little shaky
“There’s an entire fleet up there now on high alert.”
I shut down all active scanners and drop down into the mists of Lowtown. I switch off the running lights and we slip into the perpetual fog that the cities forty-seven percent live under. I pull up a map on a side monitor and find what I’m looking for. An abandoned landing pad looms out of the fog. I swing the Domino around, kill the main drives and settle onto the ground beneath it with thrusters.
“Now we sit here?” Jax asked
Free and clear the time being. I know the suits will be hard pressed to find us down in Lowtown and after a day or two we will be able to blast clear of Alpha Prime without half the fleet on red alert and actively scanning for us.
I turn to Jax, “So, seriously, what did you do this time?”