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CHAPTER 9

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Sarah awoke from a black void of nothingness, from sheer silence to the steady hum of an electric powered engine. At first she felt weighted down by a heavy fog, of drowsiness as if she had been under anesthesia for hours. Slowly, the cloud enveloping her brain lifted and faded until she became consciously aware of her surroundings. She cracked open her blurry eyes and saw streaks of lights sweeping by her. Within seconds, Sarah realized that she was sitting in the passenger seat of a hover car, her hands tied behind her back, shoulder slumped against the door, her cheek and lips plastered against the window. With a beleaguered moan that rumbled deep from within her throat, she peeled the side of her face from the glass and peered over at Wolf. He sat at the helm, one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the flight joy stick in the center console, navigating them to a destination unknown.

His gaze fell on Sarah as a blur of scenery whipped by outside the airborne vehicle. The more he beheld her with that victorious look plastered on his face, the more a hot rage boiled behind her eyes. She wanted to inflict pain on him, anything to even the score. But that desire evaporated when she realized how fast they were traveling. A hundred miles an hour was the speed limit according to the hover car's onboard computer which was located in front of her in the center of the dashboard. And to make matters worse, Wolf had the throttle pegged out at a hundred and fifty.

"It's good to see you conscious again," he said, "even if it is for a little bit. Thought I'd have to break out the smelling salts for a few minutes."

"Where am I? What happened?" Sarah's stomach twisted into a terrible knot. Even though the forward motion was smooth with only minor turbulence, the thought of riding, or flying, whichever term fit, in a hover car always played with her mind, and her gut. She preferred a conventional automobile on the sweetness of solid earth. A plane was different, it was meant to fly, but this thing...she choked back a wave of nausea.

"I'm fresh out of Dramamine, truly sorry." Wolf's tone reflected an obvious hint of sarcasm. "But if you're wondering how you came to be in this predicament, it all boils down to the fact that your dart didn't...ahh...I'll explain later. I can see you're having trouble processing everything at the moment. The important thing is our next stop is coming up soon."

Saliva thickened in Sarah's mouth, bringing with it a metallic taste that she hated, because that usually meant vomiting, and throwing up was the last thing she could handle at the moment. If she did, with her hands bound behind her back, it would have nowhere to go but all over her.

"Take a look around you," Wolf said. "On second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea."

Peeking at her surroundings was unavoidable. It was the natural thing to do, like taking her next breath. Street lights whisked by below highlighting a rundown urban district with a pharmacy, a liquor store, and a charging station for full electric automobiles. The businesses below zipped by like the ground was traveling in the opposite direction of the car. To stare at it made her stomach ball into a tighter knot. To fight the feeling, she shifted her attention to the front windshield where the motion was less noticeable.

Sarah scrunched her nose at the rumbling in her gut and happened to look over and catch Wolf with the same exact look of satisfaction on his face that he had moments before.

"All the battery powered stuff is pretty amazing," he said, "especially when you think about how the world used to run on petroleum...I mean gasoline. Still need oil to lube things. Good thing the Japanese started using solid state batteries back in the early twenties. They developed them into powerful, lightweight energy cells." Wolf waved a dismissive hand. "Anyway, had to be tough and dependable enough to use in airborne vehicles, or else, we'd go bloop." He turned his thumb down.

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