Part 2: Fire - Chapter 2

1.1K 75 8

The car park was gloomy, but the two figures who exited the elevator didn't turn the lights on. Nancy Jong had both hands free. The other figure, a short, stocky man named Franco, carried a box of explosives and used his fone to shine a narrow beam of light. The Nuncio's limousine was a dark bulk against the far wall, and the only vehicle in the place, since the entire spaceport had been temporarily turned over to the arrival of the Nuncio and his entourage. The vehicle seemed tiny against the immensity of the parking level.

Nancy couldn't help admiring the car. It was a fancy job, designed for both luxury and protection. Bullet-proof, of course, and pretty much impervious to plasma bolts. Even a laser would take some time to cut through the shielding.

Franco hefted the box he carried.

'This is way too primitive for my liking,' he said. 'If it was up to me, I'd just send in a paranoid to take the car out. A couple of missiles bang into the centre of the windshield.'

Nancy didn't bother to reply. Franco was stupid, unpractised, an amateur. Rix had hired him to assist, but only because Franco was an ex-cop with a grievance who didn't mind helping her through the Nuncio's security. If he didn't like her methods then too bad; she was the one hired to do the actual job.

They reached the car and halted, listening. Security was tight, but the cover identities supplied by Franco were too. No guards patrolled near the vehicle, just like they'd been told. Nancy guessed the Nuncio's real security team figured no one suspicious could possibly penetrate this far, which proved they were stupid as well as wrong.

Franco set down the box and opened it. A quantity of simple plastic explosive was inside. He grunted as he reached for a stick. 'This is primitive stuff. But powerful. Are we trying to kill one man or destroy the whole town?'

Nancy slapped his hand away. 'Get your hands off it!'

He laughed. 'It's perfectly harmless like this. It needs a—'

'I know perfectly well what it needs.' She glared at him. It wasn't the likelihood of a premature explosion that had her angry. 'No one touches my stuff, all right?'

'Well you have too much of it. Set this lot off and you'll take out several hundred civilians as well. One stick will do.'

Nancy lifted the box and put her finger over the contact on the car door. 'Are you sure nothing will happen if I open this?'

If she opened the vehicle without authorisation its AI would alert security. That would bring half a dozen troops running and any chance of placing the bomb, or even escaping the garage alive, would be over.

'Rix said it's fine.'

'Rix isn't here.'

'All right, I say it's fine. You do your job, I'll do mine.' But he cast a quick look around as if judging their chances. 'Hurry up.'

Nancy pressed the contact and the door opened. Her fone didn't react, which it would have done had the car's AI had detected the intrusion.

So, Rix had been right again. She leaned in and placed the box of explosives into position under the Nuncio's seat, wired it to a detonator and activated the comlink. She always enjoyed setting the explosive herself, and detonating it too. Another bomber would have had the whole thing automatic. But she preferred old-fashioned plastic explosive and detonators. They gave real job satisfaction. Besides, they couldn't use paranoids or AI, since it had to look like the Sirians did it.

'All I'm saying,' said Franco, 'is we just want to kill the Nuncio. Sirians wouldn't use so much if they didn't want to hurt their own kind.'

Nancy straightened up and closed the car door. Activation of a simple routine on her fone would detonate the explosive and the car and its contents would cease to exist.

'Sirians are ignorant jerks,' she said.

Franco took a quick look at Nancy's handiwork 'It certainly looks amateurish enough for Sirians to have done.'

'Looking amateurish is an art form.'

The security guard checked their passes and ID's as they left the space port. 'Everything all right?'

It was the sort of casual question that might be expected. Nancy scanned the man's face but detected no suspicion. Cops were going in and out all the time.


They exited the building and walked down the block to a waiting police vehicle. Another man, Jake, sat in the driver's seat. He nodded as they climbed in.

'All set?'

Neither of them answered. They would have told him if there was anything wrong. The car moved off and began a slow roll down the street. The crowds were out already, some glaring at the police vehicle as it rolled by.

'You ever picked a fight with a Sirian?' Nancy asked.

'No,' said Jake. 'But I might tonight.'

'Good luck,' said Franco. 'Some of those males look huge. And even though they're only armed with daggers, they know how to use them.' He pointed at one as an example. The man must have been at least a hundred and ten kilograms, most of it pure muscle.

'Pushovers,' said Jake. 'Bunch of dumb fucks. I'd lick them in a fight, easy.'

Nancy laughed. 'I'll stay to watch that.' Unlike the other two men, she'd met Sirians before, and knew what they were capable of. Jake was both right and wrong: the males weren't the ones to fear so much, although they would make short work of him in a fight. But it was good to know there was an entire planet where the really scary ones were the girls.

After parking outside a police station that had been taken over by the Earth authorities for the duration of the Nuncio's visit they headed for the canteen. There was still a little while to go until the Nuncio left his hotel and began the procession to the town hall: plenty of time for the crowds to compact even further along the route. If she timed it just right, lots of people would die tonight.

'How about some coffee?' she asked.

Shepherd MoonWhere stories live. Discover now