It did not take long to pack. Fear lent them speed. Dak’s Public Enforcer salary was enough to allow him the luxury of a vehicle. Sure there would be numerous checkpoints before he could be free of the Hub, where the Mayor’s influence remained strongest, but he could only hope that if they moved fast enough this Enforcer clearance would see them both through before anyone realized they were gone.
Once they opened the door, they found themselves staring down the barrels of three Flashguns. It was Matthews, Waterman, and Fosters and it didn’t take much to force them back into the apartment.
Fosters shut the door behind them then motioned them with the business end of his pistol to have a seat on the sofa. He sat down opposite of them. Matthews scanned the rest of the small apartment, while Waterman mopped his brow with the back of his arm. Neither Waterman nor Fosters took their aim away from the couple.
Waterman sneered at Dak. “Matthews told me about who you really are and what you’re doing, and before they put you away, I just wanted you to know how sick I think it is.”
“Thanks for the update. I would have never been able to sleep other wise. Your opinion has always mattered so much to me.”
“Why you piece of-” Waterman hollered, as he rushed forward.
But Fosters drew him off. “Put a gag on it, Waterman. You know the Mayor wants these two. We’ll let him decide what to do with them.”
Dak looked over at Matthews. His silent pleading proved a wasted effort and Matthews avoided any uncertainly by looking away. Dak was running out of options.
“Come on guys, after all we have been through, you’re going to flush our friendships on a technicality?”
“We do not consider sleeping with a terrorist a technicality, Dak,” Waterman snarled. “Your perverted mind is just too clouded to see how screwed up you are.”
“All right enough of this chit chat,” Fosters said, his voice growing louder. “Matthews, Waterman, check them for weapons. I didn’t want any surprises.”
As it turned out everyone was surprised, but Fosters, when the older man shot Matthews and Waterman in the back with a powerful stun setting. They crumpled to the floor limp and unconscious.
“Wait, what?” Dak said, hopping to his feet. His confusion multiplied when Erin began to quickly gather the fallen officer’s weapons.
“Calm down and sit down,” Fosters said, waving his flashgun at him. He did so. Even if he could make a break for it, he would have stayed. He had to hear this one out. He just hoped it didn’t end with his death.
He looked down were Erin used each officer’s own cuffs to bind their hands behind their backs. She refused to meet his eyes. His heart pumped twenty extra beats a minute. “Erin?” he questioned. She still refused to look up at him and moved father away from him. She made a small sniffing sound and then wiped a hand across her face.
“Don’t blame poor Erin or should I say Evan. She didn’t know she was going to fall in love.”
Fosters seemed pleased with himself, but Dak had never been more confused. Although he had a feeling it would soon be becoming very clear to him. He looked from Erin, who still used her hair to hide her face, over to Fosters.
“It’s because of her that you aren’t flapping like a fish on the floor. It’s because of your little cutie that you’ll be given options. You see,” he began using the gun like a baton to emphasize his points. “We Jumpers are far more powerful than you could possibly imagine. The Mayor is a fool. He has no clue how far our fingers reach. He might not know, but you’re starting to.”
“You aren’t really Fosters are you?”
The older man pointed his finger at his nose in a very undignified manner. “Bingo, my laddie. Although I have been him for about seven months now. Before me it was my buddy Jaze. You see we usually get paid for a one-year stit and get paid well, I might add. By the way, a good way to keep from getting Jumped, don’t be predictable. I can play his grumpy cynical cop thing all day.”
He imitated some classic Foster mannerisms and it became unsettling to watch.
“I get it, please stop.” A moment of silence stretched and Dak looked over at Erin. She still refused to meet his gaze.
“Why so quiet Evan?”
“Don’t call her that.”
“Oh touchie, how do you know she doesn’t want to be called that? She’s getting paid too, you know.” Dak felt flushed. He stared at the floor. “Your little secret was out long ago. We keep close tabs on those that touch us.”
The presence in the Fosters shell leaned forward. “We are the new immortals, the Gods. We will never age, at least not for more than a few years at a time. I can relive twenty-three for a hundred years. I’m just doing this Foster gig so I can make some money first. Five more months and I’ll be twenty-three when you’re sixty.”
“Don’t say that, Mace,” Erin said suddenly. Her voice sounded choked.
“Hah, what, you want him to join us.” She finally met his eyes.
“Let’s just talk about tonight.”
“Wise, wise. Yes, let’s just talk about tonight. Thanks to Erin you were a useful tool an unwitting man on the inside if you will. With little nudges from the various Fosters over the years you could be steered away form areas of…conflict.”
“I’m not an idiot! I can understand what you have done.” He looked at Erin while he spoke. “What happens now?” he said raising his voice. Beneath him Matthews stirred.
“Maybe that isn’t for you to decide.” At first he wondered who else could be involved, but then Dak saw that he stared at Erin. “Well, Erin?”
“Oh, Dak I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t feel too bad, Dak. The girl you knew as Erin’s contract was up half a year ago. She signed on for another year. Usually we worry about such things, but in the end we all Jump for pleasure, so for each their own. We have no simpler motto.”
“Does Erin have to go?” he asked the ghost of Fosters.
“That’s the real question isn’t it?”
“Would you still want me to stay?”
Dak was still. How long has it been since he took a breath? “Is she allowed to?”
“Alright, this is starting to make me sick. Just tell him what you told me before.”
There was a pause. It grew longer. “I think I’ve fallen in love with you. Dak. I’d like to stay if you’d have me.’
“Will they cut you loose?”
“Oh-hey sparky. No, no, you will both be working for Jump 101 or your lives with get messed up real quick.” He stood up and put the pistol away. “I’ll send someone over with the contract tomorrow.”
“What about these guys?”
“They know a little too much I’m afraid. Besides this bastard Waterman works for the Mayor. We have known that for a while. I’m taking him with me. He might be Jumped, but” he made a face, “he’s so nasty and ugly we may just have to dump him into a den of Mut-hounds.”
“I think I could talk Matthews around it. He’s a good kid.”
The Jumper stood and considered the situation. “I like him a bit too. He isn’t too bad for a pee I suppose. It’s a deal, but if he sinks so do you. I’m still taking Waterman.”
Soon the thing in Fosters’ shell left with Waterman slung over his shoulder. He wanted to deal with Matthews, but Erin was starting to cry.
He moved over to her. “You must hate me for lying to you.”
“How could I hate the woman who loves me? Everyone needs a job I guess. I hope it pays well for I expect dinner to be one you for about a year.”
She tried to smile.
He took her into his arms. “I can live with you know as long as you are a hundred percent honest from this day forth.”
“I can do that. I’ll start with I love you.”
“I love my Erin, no matter who the hell you really are.”