Micro Manage Part IV

Most parts of New Cluster were more awake after dark and the lower regions south of the hub were no exception. Dregs wondered, too afraid of the vulnerability sleep brings to stop moving. Criminals of every sort prowled. Working women were passed by gangs of Bangers and thugs less organized.
A hundred scents mixed in their nostrils, the majority foul. New Cluster had long since let its streetlights go to rot and darkness reigned supreme. In this city, the people thought they had the choice of embracing the darkness or running scared. Talon had made a third choice.
He was the gray.

Talon

Talon

Moving through the masses like a ghost, he thought back to his plan. Sure it was not the most original of ideas, since Talon had learned more from movies than his limited education, but he was still hoping it would work. He remembered what Micro had said to Talon, when he had shaved off most of Micro’s hair. Talon had just left him a mohawk, like his own, for fun.
While Talon had glued the hair to his head, Micro had asked him, “so what do you think dressing up like me is going to do? Do you think you are going to fight your way through all of them?”
“Heh, I’m much more of a scamperer. Besides, what do you have to lose?”
“Plenty, if that program doesn’t reach the X.”

Micro

Micro

A group of hunting Rips snapped him back to the present. Without thinking, Talon ducked behind a group of homeless kids. After giving them all his change so they would not narc him out, he continued on his way. As he drew closer to the meeting spot, the Rip patrols grew thicker. They were always in groups of five. Perhaps that is as high as they could count, he thought with an internal smirk.
What did the X think about all this, he wondered, as he hopped over a low fence? The other gang must see all of these Rips around. He was half surprised that they were not attacking each other or keeping an eye out for Micro. “Maybe they don’t want your little toys as much as you thought,” he whispered to himself, while checking on the disc lying in his pocket for the seventh time.
He was trying to stay casual and keep loose, but a tightness ruled him. His hands clenched and unclenched. He was constantly wiping them clean of the sweat that was gathering there. Shaking his head, he tried to clear his stray thoughts and remain focused. One mistake, one piece of bad luck, and he could easily go down tonight. The Rips had no love for him and after the attack he made on them last night Ax might have removed his protection completely. If they got their hands on him, it would be all over… save for the pain.

Rippers

Rippers

A slow stream, more sludge than water, reflected the night before him. If he could cross it and make it down the alley, he would be nearly in front of The Joint and would only need to travel about thirty feet of the more major street, before he reached the relative safety of the bar. Something held him back. If he was looking for a sneak, this is where Talon would place his men.
Picking up a rock, he tossed it upstream. It made a sick plop. The noise brought two men out of hiding. They were here. He removed his bat from where it had been hiding under Micro’s jacket. Part of the plan was for Talon to show himself as Micro, so the real Micro would be able to sneak into the bar. He only hoped that he could do it without getting himself killed.
His free hand fumbled with the Personal that Micro had loaned him. Talon had a feeling his new friend was not going to be getting it back. He tossed it into a pile of leaves that had collected near the low bridge. With a remote, he started it. Their words sung out loudly dispelling the creeping silence.
“Hey Talon, are we almost there yet”

“Shut up. Do you want to get us caught? Keep up the blubbering and the Rips will find you for sure.”
“I got news for you little piggies, it’s too late.” Strang’s words burned into the air and, moving like jagged shadows, the Rips emerged form their dingy hiding places. Talon recognized a few of them. It was the same pack that had tangled with them the night before. “This big bad is going to blow your life down!”
Even as they rushed the recorder, Talon was moving towards the slimy stream. He was still twenty feet shy, when her heard the sound of metal breaking plastic. “Its some kind of- Wait, there he is!”
Talon did not even bother to look. Instead, he broke into a full sprint and attempted jumping the stream. He landed eight inches short and was rewarded with toxic green sludge filling his boots and staining his one pair of pants. After almost losing his footing, he continued mad dash for The Joint. He spied a few members of X pacing the street and he hoped that meant the place was safe.
The bouncers, both big fellows, named Booth and Primus, eyed him and were frowning as he ran past The Joint and straight up to a brace of X. These Bangers if anything were more bizarre than the Rips. Where the Rips were fierce and brutal, the X were just plain eerie. They dyed their faces and arms the color of crushed blueberries. There heads were kept shaved and without adornment other than the black X they had affixed between their eyes. For some it was a tattoo, while others favored branding or scaring.
“Hi guys.” He looked over his shoulder in time to see the Rips behind him hesitate, but then signal some of their fellows. If another five joined in the chase that meant two things. A, these X would not have much chance no matter how tough they were. B, he had a better excuse to continue with the original plan.
Before they had a chance to see through his disguise, Talon yelled, “There are too many of them!” He had found it all too easy to become nearly as hysterical as the role called for and bolted, not only the X, but also from the bouncers between him and the Rips.
Almost at once shouts, yells, and screams of pain followed in his wake. Before he had rounded the next corner, the sounds of other X taking up the fight had reached his ears. Strang was calling Micro’s name, but he just kept going. Where homebound Micro would have had little chance, a lifetime of hiding served Talon well. Strang and Tern had managed to pull away and gave him a good chase.

Glooms
Each time they got close, Talon would dash into a crowd. During one of these ditches, he pulled the tangled mass of Micro’s hair off his head. It hurt like hell, but after he lost the jacket, he looked like a whole knew man. Eventually, he was able to grab a bus on the Y line and get out of there unnoticed.
Sitting down on the grimy seats, he let out a long sigh. Micro might not be able to go shopping for a long while, but as long as the Rips never discovered his location he would be all right.

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Burning head

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Micro Mange Part III

According to Micro, no one knew where he lived. This led Talon to surmise that the Rips must have been watching the drop off spot where Micro was to met the X. The plan had been for a few members of the X to be in a certain bar, known as The Joint, each night at 2am. This was to continue until Micro finally showed up. Talon had stayed at the house and after their long night and his new friend’s slow speed; the sun was nearly down before any real planning could be done. This had not mattered much; Talon’s plan was simple.

Micro III

“Why can’t I just go there and do the drop off?” Talon asked.

“How could I be sure I got my money? I put a lot of time into this.”

“How were you going to get the money? Somehow I can’t see you strolling down the street with an armful of Universals.”

“Oh no, I never touch money. They were going to enter it into an account.”

“Why can’t I watch them do that?”

Talon At Night

Talon

“I…I’m not sure I can trust anyone that much.”

Talon stared at the man. “I suppose you have no real reason to trust me, other than the motivation on my side to keep you alive, so I might be able to get more work like this from you. But I would have hoped that I’ve proven something by saving you and not taking off during the night with a few valuables under each arm.”

Micro was silent for a moment. “Talon, I respect you for what you have done and I’m sure you could take on four of me and live, but well… you are not some hired thug or something.”

“What are you saying?”

Micro IIIII

“Talon look at yourself? You are just a young PR and almost as skinny as I am. I like having your help, but you’re not much of a bodyguard.”

“We’ll see about that. If you have to come along, then that will be part of the plan. Being a bodyguard is more than fighting. Some bruiser might just try to fight his way through and get you killed. I don’t intend to fight our way through anyone. In fact, I may not need to be near you at all to keep you safe. So just wait until we are done before you judge how good a bodyguard I am.”

“Sounds fair. Now what sort of plan did you have?”

 

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Micro IIII

In Charge of My Own Demise Part IV

“There’s a woman on line two Dak. She says it’s urgent and will only speak with you. Her voice sounds familiar.”

Dak hurried to answer the phone thinking it was probably Erin. Instead it was the reporter Law talking in a quick self satisfied tone. “Hello Captain Dak. I’m calling to let you know that I’m doing you a favor, something that will help start your new position off with a punch.”

“And what would that be?” He fumbled for his smokes. He had a feeling whatever it was; he wasn’t going to like it.

Shadowed Dak

“We caught our first one or should I say I caught him. It was easier than I thought. I have him all safe and snug here and I saved you the trouble of a blood check. My personal doctor has already checked a sample of his blood and he came up positive for Jumping. I intend to give you full credit in return for an exclusive interview. When can you get over here?”

 

                                               *        *        *

 

As he went up the flight of stairs leading to the hotel room Law had indicated, he questioned his choice of heading over alone. He wouldn’t put it past her to make up the whole story as a ruse just to get him alone in a hotel room, but doubted it would be that easy.

Law met him at the door smoking a short cigarette and wearing only a thin silk shift. Pointing the way with her smoke, she lead him into the main room. Her long perfect legs proved impossible to ignore. Looking over her shoulder, she caught him staring and smiled. Her teeth were flawless and bone white. Besides Erin he had never met a woman whose body was so perfect, so close to the feminine ideal.

Lucy Law

Lucy Law

Placing her back against the doorway, she wordlessly gestured him into the suite’s bedroom. Passing within inches of where her erect nipples pressed against her loose slip, he entered the room and didn’t like what he saw.

In the center of the luxurious bed, was a bound, and most likely drugged, man. Since he was completely naked, Dak noticed his tattoos before he even took in the shadowed face. The battered man’s eyes slowly rose to meet his own.

Rooftop

It was Mace, the Skinjumper agent who had worked along side of him as Fosters before Bly had his turn steering the dead man’s clone. Mace was more importantly one of Maxwell’s chief agents and also a friend of Erin’s. Hell, the man had just personally helped save Erin’s life when the assassin had almost blown her leg off. Since all three of them worked for Maxwell the leader of New Cluster’s Jumpers, this situation could quickly become a major problem, a problem with no apparent solution.

Mace was no fool. He played it up like they had never met. A string of obscenities flew from his mouth mostly aimed at Lacy’s and his mother’s virtues. Part of Dak wondered if Mace might be enjoying a chance to be able to insult him so furiously. Dak had certainly decked him for less.

Mace finished with, “And what has this whore talked you into now Enni?”

“Nothing yet punk and if you don’t keep that mouth of yours closed, I’ll stun you ass just so I can find the space to think.” Mace shut up, but eyed him with the intensity the situation warranted.

“What’s there to think about?” Law said, as her bare feet moved silently across the lush emerald carpeting. “I told you. My physician already checked out his blood. He’s a Jumper. Let’s take him in as soon as my camera crew gets here.”

She turned towards Dak tilting her head to the side. “Too bad you didn’t take me up on my offer for dinner. It left me feeling bored. I’m sure you appreciate that as much as I would like to lay claim for catching this freak myself…ah certain questions would be asked that I don’t care to answer.”

“Like how you slutted yourself out just to bag one of us,” Mace blurted out.

Dak silenced him with a wave of his hand. “Can I ask why you did this then?”

“Just doing my civic duty,” she smiled.

ll

He just stared. “Okay, I just wanted to see how hard it would be. Besides I’ve learned more than a bit about Jumping from my new friend.” She ran her finger over Mace’s bound arm as she spoke, and he looked like he wanted to bite it off. “I’m thinking about doing a new special. The Jumper threat.”

Moving closer to Dak, it was his turned to be touched. Her hands felt cold, like the rest of her was as frigid as her heart. “I figure that you owe me an interview now.”

“Because of this loser?”

She turned away looking cross, but he was just happy her fingers were away from him. “Not because of him as much as for keeping my mouth shut about this bust and giving you all the credit.”

“What’s to keep me from just letting him loose and pretending the whole thing never happened.”

Either she really was aghast or she was a better actress than he would have given her credit for. “But he’s a Jumper. It’s your job to take them in.”

He shared a look with Mace who was making a foolish face behind her back. “Alright lady, why don’t you start getting yourself ready for your camera man. I’ll wait to call in the boys until you say your crew is in place.”

Approaching him once more, she ran his fingers down his neck. They were just as cold as before. “There is a bed in the front room. There’s no real hurry if you would like to…” Her scarlet lips were only inches from his.

“Ms. Law I know you think that rounding up this dreg is a major accomplishment, but I have a real agenda… so if you wouldn’t mind.”

Her eyes shot icy daggers at him, but with a flourish she retreated into the suite’s main bathroom.

Dak wasted no time, making his way to Mace’s side. They spoke in subdued tones. “Hurry up and untie me. Get me the hell out of here.”

“Not so fast. I can’t just let you go.” He paused. “Is there anyone you can call? Who would you call for help, if I wasn’t here?”

“There are some people I know, but I’m not sure we have enough time.”

Looking towards the bathroom door for a moment, Dak turned back to his bound associate. “If there is one thing I learned about pretty women, they take forever to get ready.”

Mace exhaled deeply. “Just call Erin. Tell her to dial in a code 10 and give her this address.”

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Detective Dak

Detective Dak

Base Jumpers Part IV

Maxwell knew more than he might have hoped. In his opinion there was only one Grafter who could pull this level of cloning off. Someone else might have gone in there guns blazing and tried to do the whole thing themselves. Dak brought in the boys. The Public Enforcers rained into the complex. Most of the men they found didn’t survive the ordeal and that suited him fine. The less that knew about Erin’s true nature the better. He himself had put a bullet in the Grafter’s skull when he had drawn against him. Maxwell had wanted the guy dead anyway.

 

Enforcers


In one of the cloning vats, they had discovered another of the bald assassins ready to go. The Grafter had just begun to animate it. Dak hadn’t minded at all when a half dozen trigger-happy Enforcers had mowed the clone in half.

Then it was nothing but the paperwork. It was a big bust, but like everything else it would blow over in a few days whenever something new came up.

Dak had no idea how much the repercussions of this bust would effect the rest of his life.

 

                                                         *        *        *

 

As the first part of their reward, Maxwell had set them up in one of his safe houses. It was a surprisingly nice villa in one of the newer sections of the inner Hub. Erin lounged on pastel floor pillows. The opened windows blew gauze curtains the color of pink coral across the room. Erin rolled onto her back the full length lace negligee did little to conceal…anything.

His Personal rang.

Erin eyed him. “Don’t you dare.”

“It could be important,” he said and she rolled back on her tummy and returned her attentions to a glossy magazine. If she thought that such a thing was punishment, she was wrong, because she looked delightful that way too.

It was Matthews. “Dak, Dak are you okay?”

“Yeah. Sure. Why?”

“The people looking into those blasters just gave me a call. I guess they had my number on file for the case. You know that officer that got shot thing. So it would speed up the case and all that.”

“Yeah, yeah Matthews.” Erin glanced at him over her slim shoulder.

“Well they have a tracker on them. That was how they were able to locate you. They went after Erin both times, so it’s probably on her.”

“Without overly sharing, I can assure you that Erin isn’t wearing enough to have any tracker on her now.” This got her attention and she turned around and glared at him.

“No, no this is high tech stuff. It could detect a spray of perfume or clear paint. They have chemicals that it takes weeks to wash off. Another agent could have sprayed her at a store or something.”

This gave him Pause. Erin sat up now her magazine forgotten.

“Don’t worry Matthews, we got them, I saw the last clone die myself.”

He could sense the relief. It was nice to have a friend. “Okay then, okay. I was worried. Just wanted to make sure. You might want to make sure Erin doesn’t have any lingering-“

”I’ll clean her up real good, Matthews. Good night.”

“Clean me up real good,” she asked. She was just about to stand up, but Dak was tackling her. He had seen the figure climb through the window only seconds before it unleashed a massive volley out of the all to familiar blaster rifle.

Sci Fi Big gun


Erin had been drinking wine and the bottle was quickly lunched at the clone. Dak watched the wine spill in lazy arcs as it spiraled through the air. It took the assassin in the eye stunning him enough to spoil is aim.

“How many times to I have to kill this loser,” Dak snarled, as he leapt for his discarded overcoat.  Erin went the other way snatching up her purse as she went. Dak felt like his heart stopped when another round of shots elicited a shrill scream from his love.

The clone really was more concerned about killing her!

Erin was firing some sort of small flashgun at it. Fingers tore at his jacket trying to get his pistol loose. Gossamer drapes hovered between him and his target. Many of them were burning. This emitted a thick greasy smoke. The clone was hovering over Erin. The rifle aimed just as Dak’s flashgun came free. He fired without looking. Earlier he had used his slug thrower during the raid, for he wanted to make sure things stayed permanent. He had never switched his Flashgun from its wide angle setting. The cone of energy funneled before him. As soon as it hit the clone he began to quake. Soon it was dissolving in a familiar pattern, but Dak wasn’t watching. One of Erin’s slim perfect legs had been nearly severed.

She was losing blood quickly.

“I guess they had already sent one after me,” she whimpered while trying to fight against the pain.

“Oh Erin, hold still,” he said as he began to apply pressure onto her wound.

“Why Dak? I never tried to do anything to hurt anyone.”

“Shh, I’m going to call for help.”

“No, no, it has to be my people, call Mace.”

Mace was about the last person he would ever want to call, but he did anyway. Still even with the Jumper Riggers, it was only Dak’s daring move to cauterize Erin’s wound with his flashgun that kept her alive long enough to make it to Maxwell’s personal Grafter. Rumor had it that the Doctor himself aided in the safe transfer of his love.

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Big Gun