Part 4: Shiva - Chapter 10

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Dorac dived for cover as the car started strafing bullets into the group of officers. Several spattered the machine he sheltered behind. One officer was struck on his body armour before he, too, could take cover. He staggered but survived.

Beside Dorac, Agnes had managed to draw her gun.

'Who fucking idea was this?' she yelled.

The officers were returning fire under Colonel deSalva's direction. Dorac wondered if that was a good idea.

'It's a bluff!' he called. 'Don't waste ammo!'

The car didn't stop as it drove past the bar. As police bullets struck the vehicle, it turned its guns on the front windows and sent a fusillade of shots into it. Another weapon appeared and a grenade was neatly tossed through the demolished facade.

The car accelerated but a police paranoid stepped out in front and fired a missile. The dull crack of the projectile through the car's exterior was followed instantly by a satisfactory contained explosion that was shaped and sized precisely to destroy the interior while preventing collateral damage.

'That's what they should have used to kill the Nuncio,' said Dorac as he lay beside Agnes. 'There wouldn't have been a riot then.'

Agnes didn't seem to hear him. She spoke into her fone.

'Lawson here. Anything?'

Hovering in the air around the district were sniper paranoids watching for movement in the surrounding streets. Anyone abroad had been logged and recorded, and was now being tracked by both camera and satellite.

'No suspicious targets in sight.' The AI's flat, calm voice did nothing to quell Agnes's excitement.

'Keep searching.'

Officers cautiously approached the burning car, plasma rifles ready. But they already knew the result: there had been no one in the car, just AI.

'I agree, a waste of ammo,' muttered Agnes. She cast an eye over Dorac beside her as they remained behind the machine. 'I'm fine, thanks for asking. I managed to dodge all the bullets.'

'That's a relief. Look, this stinks. Nancy's around somewhere. She likes to watch.'

DeSalva approached, keeping low in case Nancy could see him and felt less than enthusiastic about the result of her attack.

'Are you all right?' deSalva asked Agnes.

'Yes. Sorry about leaving like that. I just couldn't take sitting there any longer.'

'It was a damn stupid thing to do.'

'I know. But Nancy's too smart, she'd recognise an ambush.'

Dorac had told deSalva that before the ambush was set up, but the man hadn't listened then either.

The Colonel's fone beeped. 'Contact!' said a sniper paranoid. 'Area six two nine alpha.'

DeSalva started snapping orders. The working crew transformed into proper police officers as they removed their outer clothing. Police cars appeared from hiding, opening their doors as they approached the squad.

Dorac and Agnes headed for one of the cars, but deSalva raised his hand. 'No. We can handle this now.'

'Don't be stupid!' Dorac continued to push his way into a car, and found himself looking at the business end of a pistol.

'I have my orders,' continued deSalva. 'We will arrest Nancy Jong. Thank you for your help.'

Agnes touched Dorac's shoulder as the vehicles roared away, sirens blaring.

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