Jane 8086 Part Five, страница 1
Copyright Richard X. Ellison, 2013
All rights reserved.
All characters, events and locations in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The moral rights of the author have been asserted.
Richard X. Ellison is a pseudonym.
A Story By Richard X. Ellison
At the first mention of 'the device', Remi knew exactly what they were referring to. He also knew that if they'd tossed his apartment to look for it, they probably weren't going to accept the fact that he didn't—in all truthfulness—have what they wanted. The taller of the two men stepped out in to the light. His face was hidden under a large Stetson and behind a red handkerchief. From neck to knee he filled out a brown leather duster. His voice was intimidating enough that Remi didn't stop to wonder why the man was dressed like a cowboy; all he could do was focus on his steely-eyed stare. Remi whispered in as low a voice as he could manage, "Jane, is that thing still in my ear?"
"They're here for you, we're going to have to run for it. On my signal we go for the window behind me and down the fire escape.
The second shadow hobbled out of the darkness and if there was ever a more oddly constructed human being, Remi knew that this one could challenge for the title. He walked at a low crouch with his knees bent awkwardly and his hands dangling near to the ground. He was a bony specimen and seemed to be suffering from malnutrition. It was as if evolution hadn't deigned him worthy of consideration. His feet were bare and seemed disproportionately large. He wore a number of gold chains and rings and his lips were parted in a psychotically menacing grin...enough to see that most of his teeth were made of one metal or another...all of which were in glaring contrast to his dark skin. His eyes seemed to pop from their sockets and the dreadlocks on his head were far too sparsely arranged. He was like some bizarre, gangster Rastafarian from another universe...and when he spoke, Remi was surprised to hear a cockney accent, "Mr. Church asked you a question, naughty, naughty Rembrandt! Come on! Let's have it or it'll be time to be gettin' nasty with you and the pretty lay-dee!"
Remi was so mentally jarred by the sight of the unlikely duo standing in front of him that it took a while to register Jane's words in his head, "perhaps a distraction to aid our escape, Remi?"
"If you've got one, now's the time," he replied.
"Got one what?" Mr. Church's gangly companied asked curiously.
"This," Jane said before throwing both hands toward the intruders and releasing an invisible pulse of energy. There was no sound but the blast that hit their bodies threw both of them off their feet, slamming them in to the wall behind them with a solid 'THUD'. She flashed gang signs with both hands, "uh huh, yeah, that's how I roll mother f—"
"Jane!" Remi didn't bother to ask how she'd done it; he turned and bolted for the window, "come on!" He'd just stepped on to the fire escape and turned to make sure Jane was behind him when he saw Church climbing to his feet. "Crap! Move! Move!"
The moment Remi placed his hand on the ladder, he heard Jane's voice in his head, "too slow." She hefted him in one arm and leapt from the fire escape, landing two stories down on the ground—still in her heels—with just a light flex of her knees. To Remi it had felt like landing on a cushion of air but he'd screamed all the way down expecting to meet the asphalt with a decisive splat.
A second later a cab rounded the corner and Remi rushed into the street waving both arms furiously. Only when he'd fallen over the hood of the vehicle did the driver screech to a halt, sticking his head out the window to ask, "you trying to get yourself killed, jackass?"
Remi looked up and saw Church at the top of the fire escape. "Get in, get in!" he shouted to Jane. They boarded and he yelled at the confused cabby, "drive! Just drive!"
Back on the fire escape, Church had drawn a katana from the sheath on his back. He carefully gauged his footing on the railing of the fire escape, adjusted for his angle of descent and then launched himself in to the blackness of the night. The only sound audible was his duster flapping in the wind like the wings of a bat. Both the cabby and Remi shrieked like little girls when they heard the loud thump of Church's body impacting the taxi, they shrieked again when his sword pierced the roof with the sharp grating screech of metal on metal...the blade mere inches from Remi's face. Jane showed no hesitation, before Church could recoil for another strike she placed her palm beneath the tip of the blade and shoved upward, the steel didn't even break her skin but the blow knocked Church clear from the taxi. Behind them, through the rear window, they could see him tumbling in their wake, sword and all. The driver cursed before skidding to a halt, "what the hell have you crazy [email protected]#%#&s dragged me in to! We have to call an ambulance," he said while rushing to unbuckle his seat belt.
Remi and Jane were still watching through the rear window. "Wait, wait!" Remi yelled, "He's getting up! He's getting up! What the hell is that guy?!"
"He is a human being, Remi," Jane answered, "but my scans have detected prosthetic enhancements that use technology not of this time period."
"Nobody is getting up after that!" the cabby argued.
He stepped out and a loud 'thunk' sounded on the roof of the taxi; a shot echoed in the distance barely a half second later. Jane grabbed his arm from the back seat and scanned for the origin of the shot, finding Church's misshapen sidekick with pistols in hand...taking aim once more. "For your own safety, I would advise that you remain inside the vehicle, sir," said Jane.
Another 'thunk', hit the car and the driver quickly returned to his seat. They heard the owner of the bullet laughing into the night, "oops! Bwahahaha! Missed again!"
Remi saw a long haired, hatless Church get to his feet and casually brush his sword clean, he sheathed it and pulled a shotgun from beneath his duster, racking the slide before setting off at light run for the car. "Look," Remi said to the driver with urgency, "if you want to live I suggest you get us the hell out of here, NOW!"
Church took aim and put the first shell in his weapon to purpose. Jane saw it happening and pushed Remi's head down before the rear window exploded in a shower of shattered glass.
"Don't have to tell me twice," said the driver, setting the car in gear and burning rubber. Remi had time for one last glance backward as the car sped off in to the distance. Church slowly came to a stop at his fallen Stetson...he knew there was no way he'd catch up on foot. He shook out the hat and showed it to its home while his companion scurried—in his monkey like fashion—to join him in the middle of the street.
"Oy, Church! Why ain't we getting rough on those punks?"
He made a throaty noise. "Chick's got some moves. Gotta feel 'em out first. What's the clock like, Xyggy?"
"About half, looks like. What now?" Xyggy rattled off distractedly while he kicked at some pebbles on the floor.
"Something'll come up," said Church, turning to walk off, "something always comes up."
* * *
"This one, this one and this one," Jane said as she picked her scratchers from the selection she'd been offered. It was miles later when they finally pulled over at a gas station. Remi had convinced their driver—whom they'd found went by the name of Bishop—to hold his numerous questions until they were sure they were safe and without pursuers. Remi was waiting in the car with Bishop...a precautionary measure to make sure he wouldn't alert the police while Jane took advantage of the convenience store—in more ways than one. "Is five thousand dollars enough, Remi?"
"More than enough."
"More than enough what?" Bishop turned to
"My partner, on her earpiece," Remi put a serious expression on his face, "look, Bishop, I'm sorry that we got you involved in this, but we needed a ride and you were it. We're undercover government agents...nobody can ever know what happened back there and the less you know about it, the better off you'll be."
"Sure, whatever man," Bishop said, wearing a look of impenetrable doubt, "if you work for the government then who were those other guys back there?"
Remi hesitated, but after a moment decided that the truth would work just as easily as fiction, "I honestly don't know. They ambushed us."
"Convenient," Bishop smirked.
"Hello!" Jane said playfully, suddenly beside the cab wearing a large smile that didn't belong to the occasion, "I bought food, Remi hasn't eaten dinner," she added, handing Remi four hotdogs and two to Bishop.
"What are you so happy about?" Bishop snapped. "How you can even think about food right now?"
"Hey!" Remi shouted. "People deal with stress differently!"
Jane got in to the car next to Remi and handed him the wad of notes that she'd pulled from her cleavage. They'd briefly entertained the idea of having Jane's nanites repair the damage to the roof and window, but knew that there'd be no guaranteeing Bishop's silence. Lottery scratchers had been the next best option. "Four grand ought to patch up your ride quickly, quietly...and...buy your silence. Deal?" said Remi, offering the cash to Bishop.
Money, being the universal lubricator for brokering compliance that it was, suddenly motivated a drastic change in Bishop's attitude. "Sure thing, man. Anything I can do the help the government. You need a ride somewhere? It's on the house."
"We've got it from here," said Remi, "just remember the deal."
"No problem, man. Here, take my card," Bishop said as he whipped out a little rectangle. "Like I said, anything I can do to help. You call and I'll be there in a flash, okay?"
Jane accepted the card, looked at it and handed it back. "Thank you for all your help, Bishop. I've memorized your details. It wouldn't be safe to keep your card, our assailants might seek you out if they ever managed to acquire our possessions."
"Smart, yeah," Bishop said thoughtfully while Remi looked on in surprise, "I guess this is it then huh?"
"Not until Remi has his dinner," Jane replied, unwrapping a hotdog.
6am the next day - outside Remi's apartment building
Allison climbed the steps to the lobby and hit a measured stride of focus and determination. She'd woken early that morning and reasoned that if there was any dignity to be salvaged from last night's debacle, she would have to move swiftly and decisively to lay all her cards out on the table. Leaving the memory of her behavior to fester in Remi's mind could only lead to uncomfortable sideways glances, mordant silences and pitying platitudes. No universe existed in which she would be the butt of anybody's joke! She'd even gone as far as to dress for the precise tone she wished to convey, not alluring and desirable, not careless and frumpy...something in between that said: I am strong, proud and confident. I made a mistake but I've learned from it and grown. At least, that's what she thought her garments said. She reached Remi's floor and walked on with purpose, ready to nip the situation in the bud, but stopped with one foot still hovering in the air uncertainly before backpedalling five paces from his door.
She waited in the empty hallway, absently moving her fingers to her mouth to bite at her nails—a habit she'd fought with since childhood—but realized and shook her hand away before contact as if to punish it. "You can do this," she muttered under her breath, "you can do this." Knowing that waiting would only allow her the opportunity to talk herself out of what had to be done, she quickly stepped towards the door and rapped on it with her knuckles fives times. Ten seconds passed with no answer and her fingernails almost found their way to her teeth once more...she caught herself in time and knocked on the door again, "Remi, it's Allison. I know it's early but I wanted to swing by before work so we could talk."
Allison waited for a response...but none was forthcoming. She knocked on the door again, "Remi, are you there?" She put her ear to the door and listened to shuffling and whispers on the other side...her heart sank. Jane must be telling him not to answer. She took a deep breath to shake off the embarrassment before speaking, "look, I can hear you in there and I don't blame you for not wanting to talk to me. My behavior over the last few days has been inexcusable. I wish I had a good reason for it but the honest truth is that I was really caught off guard when I saw you with Jane that first time. I don't know if it was jealousy or if I was just feeling sad for myself or what it was...but I know now that what I did wasn't right. Mark is just a friend that I pulled in to all this, he didn't know what he was walking into last night so I guess I owe him an apology as well," she paused, hoping that Remi would come to the door, but he didn't. "I just thought we'd talk about things when we were ready to move on. I know I had no right to expect that...seeing as I was the one that started the divorce proceedings. Maybe...I don't know...maybe I thought I'd be the one. It just hurt you know? I panicked and I made up that whole story about Mark and I. Maybe I didn't want to feel like I was the only one standing still. Maybe I was just selfish and I was secretly hoping that you'd always be there and you'd never move on without me. I don't know. Whatever it was, I just want you to know that it's out of my system now and I really am happy for you. You and Jane are good together and I want you to be happy. So, that's what I came to say. I'm sorry about everything." She placed her hand on the door as a gesture of farewell, "goodbye." Allison had just turned to leave when she heard a key enter the lock and a deadbolt slide back. She reversed her motion as the door swung open.
"Apology accepted!" Xyggy proclaimed in delight as he threw his hands in to the air.
The look of shock and disgust on her face was like she'd seen just seen her parents having sex. "What in the seven hells—"
In the blink of an eye, Church surged forward, grabbed Allison by the throat and yanked her in to the apartment to secret her within its darkness. As an afterthought, Xyggy peeped in to the hallway—once on either side for good measure—before quietly shutting the door behind him.
* * *
Across town at the Blue Waters Hotel...
"It was a combination of several different things, Remi. Ultra-high frequency Sonics and vibrational dynamics allowed me to create something that you might equate to a compressed-air battering ram. I suppose from your point of view, it must've looked like a magic trick, but it was all science!" Jane finished her explanation from the comfort of a spacious rose-colored leather couch, flashing Remi a wide-eyed smile.
He looked up from beneath the covers of the heart-shaped, king-size bed. The hotel was nothing fancy, but because they'd been walk-ins earlier that morning, Remi had been forced to bribe the desk clerk to give them the only available room...the honeymoon suite. They settled in quickly and after some convincing from Jane, Remi had agreed to put his head down for a couple of hours, but when he found slumber as elusive as the answers to their many questions—not the least of which was how their opponents could possibly be from the future—they busied themselves by recounting the events of the previous night. "What about when you pushed the blade? I've held your hand before, there's no way that sword shouldn't have run right through you."
"Simple, I momentarily reconfigured the elements in my hand that mimic my skin to a formula that was twice the tensile strength of the blade. It's back to normal now, see?" Jane said, waving her hand at Remi.
Remi rolled his eyes, "remind me never to get on your bad side!"
Jane returned him a questioning look, "I'm fairly certain that my sides are equal, Remi. Symmetry is one of the things that lead human beings to classify other human beings as beautiful...according to general consensus in a societal context of course. Is something out of place on me?" Jane asked as she stood and walked over to the elaborate vanity table at the other end of the
"Saying 'your bad side' is like if you were angry with me," Remi said, punctuating his nonchalance with a yawn. After what he'd been through, he knew that he should have been more on edge, but having Jane with him set him at an unnatural ease. Her assurances that they were definitely not being pursued and that she was monitoring the perimeter, were delivered with such confidence that Remi felt safer in her company than if he'd been placed under the protection of the secret service.
"Oh," Jane intoned with one raised eyebrow, "well then, I'm sure I just couldn't be bothered," she added, flicking her hair back and sounding like the archetypal southern bell. "Would you like something from the little refrigerator, Remi? The portions seem to have been designed for miniature humans but they do have quite a wide selection. There's whiskey and bourbon and—"
"No, no, no, no, no!" Remi sat up in the bed to wave off Jane, "the mark-up on that stuff is ridiculous."
"But, Remi, according to the menu we have more than enough currency."
"That's not the point, I just wouldn't want to give them the satisfaction."
"Okay," said Jane, sulkily sitting down at the desk next to the fridge.
Remi paused and stared at her while a smile crept on to his face, "okay, you can try one thing."
"YAY!" Jane squealed, clapping her hands together like a sea otter.
"Find something with chocolate on it, you'll like that," Remi advised as he reached for the ringing on the nightstand. "It's Ally," he announced as he glanced at the called id on his cellphone.
* * *
At Sonny's Pizzeria
It hadn't been difficult for Xyggy and Church to get Allison to the pizza shop. Church had knocked her unconscious with minimal effort and thrown her over his shoulder while Xyggy worked the portable cloaking field to encompass all three of them, rendering their passage invisible to the scattering of early risers as they walked the two blocks north to the abandoned building. It was the perfect base for their operations; close to their target and nondescript with the facade being completely boarded up to fend off prying eyes. The kitchen was still fairly well stocked with non-perishable foodstuffs and the stash of leftover candy was a boon for Xyggy, who—known for his remarkably sweet tooth—was just then embroiled in a heated battle with a cookie wrapper. "Chuuurrrch?" Xyggy called out, hunched over a menu near the cash register, seemingly mesmerized by the words on the page, "you know all those communicators that we've been seeing people runnin' round wif?