Part 3: Talon - Chapter 11

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The taxi dodged through some of the morning traffic after Maddy told it to hurry up. The vehicle voiced a reminder of the existence of speed limits and even offered to display a copy of the traffic regulations, but she just told it to shut up and get there faster. It complied.

'Where are we going?' asked the girl. The car narrowly avoided a man on a motorcycle. The two vehicles warned each other to keep further away. Maddy felt like a piece of luggage as the taxi swung around a corner.

She debated briefly whether it would be a good idea to put the girl and the slave down on a corner somewhere, in case the terrorists found them and started shooting. Maddy had to peer around Sarti's body as the slave clung to the back of the vehicle.

'What happened back there?' the girl asked. 'Who are you?'

'My name's Linda.'

'Well, you can go to my hotel. This is my taxi after all, I hired it.'

'I've never liked Elite telling me what to do. No offence.'

They left most of the traffic behind and the taxi settled down on a quieter route. The buildings out towards the edge of the city were shorter, older, less maintained.

'Stop here,' said Maddy. The taxi pulled over to the curb. 'It's your taxi, you can pay,' she continued to the girl, who frowned. 'I lost my fone.'

The girl pressed the contact on her own fone. The taxi doors opened and they climbed out. Sarti scrambled down from the back looking pale.

'All right,' said Maddy. 'Well, thank you for the rescue. I suggest you never see me again.'

She turned and started to walk towards her flat which was in the next street, but heard rapid footsteps behind.

'Wait!' said the girl, catching up and planting herself in front of Maddy. 'What happened back there? Why did they want to harm you?'

'Who are you?'

'I'm Lady...' she began. 'That is, my name's Geranium.'

Maddy tried to keep a straight face. 'Well, Geranium, they wanted to harm me because I'm a dangerous person. And that's the reason you don't want to know me. Thank you for your help, as I said. Now go home.'

She made to move, but Geranium went so far as to put a hand out and side-step in front of her. Their eyes met.

'You're in real danger, aren't you?' Geranium said. 'I mean, I can see it in your eyes. Sort of...scared.'

The woman nodded. 'And it's too dangerous for you, so—'

'So I can help.'

'There's nothing you can do.' Maddy pushed forward, shouldering the girl out of the way. She walked over to a disposal compactor, reached into her satchel to take out the ghost, and dropped it in.

'What's that?' asked Geranium.

Maddy didn't answer, just started walking away. The hungry growl of the compactor's metallic jaws continued for a moment, then the compactor's AI asked what was to be retrieved.

'The...black box thing.'

Maddy turned and looked back as Geranium reached into the compactor and fetched out the ghost. The compactor seemed relieved, as if the hard metal device wasn't really something suitable for it.

'You don't want that,' said Maddy, standing a few metres away, hand tugging on the strap of her satchel.

'What is it?'

A man appeared in the street, heading for the taxi they'd exited. Maddy grabbed the ghost and shoved it back into her satchel. 'It's a...forget it.'

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