Clair was silent for a second.
"Hang on," she said. "That trick you did when I was running from him-giving me an alias. Could someone be using that back at us?"
"I suppose so. He did seem to come from nowhere."
"Show me where he's supposed to be now, in my lenses."
I placed a red dot on the map she had open. "Dylan Linwood" was very close and moving very fast.
Clair told Jesse of the development. When he asked her how he knew, she said, "My friend Q told me," and my heart leapt.
Jesse accelerated for a clutch of abandoned farm buildings. He braked, turned, pulled in behind a shed so they could still see the road, and switched off the engine.
"We have to do something," he said. "You've got your gun, yeah?"
"What are you suggesting-an ambush?"
"Can you think of a better way?"
He turned and stared at her. She shook her head.
"I can't trace the origin of 'Dylan Linwood'," I told Clair. "That means the people behind him are at least as smart as me, and I don't like that, Clair. Be careful."
That was the truth. I felt as though the universe had personally reached out and slapped me. First, mysterious communications I couldn't eavesdrop on, and now masks I couldn't take off. Whoever was behind Dylan Linwood, they had depths I hadn't fathomed. Yet.
The rising hum of an approaching vehicle came out of the night. Clair braced herself and raised the pistol. The targeting system came online (she hadn't really turned it off) and she lined the crosshairs up on the space where "Dylan Linwood" would appear on the highway, roughly chest-height.
"That's not one of Dad's designs," Jesse said. "It's too noisy, too inefficient. But powerful. A PK bike, I'm sure of it."
Clair ignored him. There were no flashing lights or sirens to indicate that its rider was a peacekeeper. Just the engine, getting louder and louder.
The bike hit her peripheral vision. A split-second later it was in front of her, dark and gleaming, sweeping across her field of view. She had a clear shot. Her finger tensed on the trigger.
A powerful fog of electromagnetic radiation cut her off. I did my best to fight it, but there was nothing I could do. Not without taking over radio towers all over the area and sending a thousand arrows pointing in my direction. From far away, I could catch only scattered photons of visible light, which seemed to showing me that both bikes were on the move again.
The fog passed. A packet of information arrived an instant later.
Clair: "I can't do it."
Jesse: "Shit. Hang on, then."
Clair: "Slow down!"
Jesse: "We have to warn the others. I've tried calling them, but our frequencies are being jammed by something on his bike."
Clair: "So let him pull ahead. Get out of the jammer's range."
Jesse: "No way. I want to know who this is and why they're after us."
Clair: "Even if it means killing us both?"
I called Clair the second they passed out of jamming range. Jesse was decelerating, as Clair had instructed him to do.
"I have air traffic in your vicinity," I told her, putting a new red dot on the map in her lenses. It was ahead of the bike steadily pulling away from them, camouflaged like the ATAC but not as expertly.
Clair looked up and to her left but couldn't see anything through the trees. All she could hear was the whining of the bike beneath her.
Jesse suddenly braked.
A series of clicks sounded in Clair's ears.
"Say again, Ray?" I heard him say.
". . . . waiting for us at Oakdale . . . Ori's down. Turn back . . . Gemma, you know . . . ."
That was Arabelle, speaking to him over their secure channel, which Jesse had patched Clair into. My reception was little better.
In the background was the tinny crackle and pop of gunfire.
YOU ARE READING
113 (Twinmaker)Science Fiction
A post-scarcity world transformed by free, instantaneous travel should be paradise, but nothing is ever as it seems. When an ordinary girl uses Improvement, a meme promising a complete physical makeover by little more than wishing for it, she brings...