10 0 0

Clair barely listened as Jesse and I discussed the specifications of the buggy, and she offered only a weak cheer when they reached the empty roads of Copperopolis. She was tired, I assumed. The map in her lenses checked off a series of oddly named streets as they flew by: Knolls Drive, Sugar Loaf Court, Little John Road, Charmstone Way. Meanwhile, decoy airships were still drifting all over the state of California. Three were stationary. One of those-the real thing-was already waiting for them at the Maury Rasmussen Airfield.

Jesse took the corners fast, occasionally lifting two wheels off the ground. When they reached Route 4, he drove even faster.

On Copperopolis's main street, next to an old saloon that looked like something out of the Wild West, they stopped at the town's only d-mat booth. Its door slid open as they approached, revealing a box identical to the one I had sent Clair in Manteca. This one was addressed to "Isabella Charlotte Tremblay" but opened at Clair's palm-print. Inside were sandwiches, some water, and a fully loaded pistol that was superficially identical to the one in her pocket. Clair swapped sidearms so the one she had couldn't be matched against the bullets fired in Manteca, sealed the box, put the box in the booth for recycling and walked back to the buggy.

"Do you think there's a toilet here?" she asked Jesse, although I could easily have told her.

"Maybe round the back," he said, taking a sandwich and fishing out the bits he wouldn't eat.

"Save the meat for me. I'm starving."

The old saloon had a rear light that flicked on as she went around the corner. She hadn't been gone thirty seconds when the front door of the saloon creaked open, making Jesse jump with surprise. The single light above the door clicked on.

"You gonna use the booth or what?" asked a querulous voice.

113 (Twinmaker)Read this story for FREE!