Part 3: Talon - Chapter 13

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'You shit me.'

Dorac raised his eyebrows and said, 'I don't do it deliberately.'

Agnes squeezed the trigger of her plasma rifle and held it down until the magazine was empty. The target by that time was a most satisfactory mass of molten steel.

'You're not supposed to do it like that,' said Dorac, sniffing the air. 'The supervisors get mad if you destroy targets. Besides, you run the risk of over-heating the weapon.'

'I imagined the target was you.'

The AI at the far end of the firing range trundled out to put up another target. Agnes felt like shooting the AI too, but that really would be against the rules.

Dorac took his turn and fired one round. It hit slightly down and to the left. The next shot was dead centre.

'That's how it's done,' he said. 'Now I have ten shots left and you're empty. I win.'

'But you're already dead. See that pool of liquid metal? That's you.'

He stared at the melted target as if seeing it for the first time. 'If you want me to butt out, I will. But I do appreciate the help.'

Agnes secured her weapon and returned it to the rack behind the firing line. A fusillade of shots rang out from behind the right hand baffle as another patron of the range let loose with an automatic. After the noise had died down, she said, 'No. I have to admit you have me intrigued. But I think we're going to get killed.'

'Well you must have had fun in the Navy. Wasn't that always a possibility?'

She grunted and wiped her hands and face with a bandana. Another clatter of firing nearby and she gestured to the exit. Dorac secured his plasma gun and followed along. Outside the air was cooler and suddenly quieter. Agnes led the way to a small car and opened the doors. The shooting range was on route to the Trans-Atlantic Tunnel, but she'd felt like firing off a few rounds to make the next few hours cramped with Dorac in the vehicle a bit more bearable. She felt better already.

They climbed in, Agnes driving since it was her car. In the back was their luggage, but no weapons. They'd have to find some in Turkey if they needed them.

'Peter wasn't happy when I told him I'm going to Istanbul.' Her husband spent a lot of time away, but for some odd reason she missed him more when they were both on Earth but not actually together than when either of them was on another planet. 'We were going to have dinner together. First time in a month.' For a moment she thought Dorac was going to make some lewd remark about a romantic night in, but he simply nodded.

'Ask to be replaced by another agent from your firm, then.'

'No. I'm with you. But things are just...ah, forget it.'

They left the carpark and headed the eastern tip of Long Island, which was the entrance to the tunnel. They said nothing to each other while they went through security. The guards did the usual thing of looking twice at a large Sirian and a Sape woman almost his size together in the same small car, but let them through. No doubt they were by now the butt of a few jokes.

Agnes drove the car into the tunnel. There was a long line of vehicles and it took some time for each one to enter the air lock and be shunted into the vacuum tunnel. Before and behind them were other vehicles, locked electronically into the master AI which would guide the cars at two thousand kilometres an hour to wherever they wanted to go. When the request come up, Agnes dialled in Istanbul. It would only be necessary to be more specific about the destination when they were under Europe.

As they started off and built up speed, just a few metres behind the vehicle in front, Dorac touched the control to darken the windows of the car. They blacked out and left them in a tight cocoon of their own, with only the vehicle's internal lights to illuminate the space. Agnes felt even more stifled.

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