In Charge of My Demise Part III

He was surprised how easily the BS flowed from his mouth. Dak knew what the people wanted to hear and he figured if he promised them things along those lines, they would be kept as happy as he could expect.

Maybe being a politician wasn’t so hard, he laughed to himself. 

Dak

He finished with a quick retelling of his recent encounter with the series of cloned assassins. The press ate it up. Action and blood sent their fingers rapidly typing over their glowing Personals.

Things hadn’t stay that easy for long. As he expected, he couldn’t escape without a question session. The first dozen or so he fought off with comments about learning more about the perpetrator and other such vague garbage, then a reporter whose face was vaguely known to him broke in.

She was tall enough to be seen over most of her fellows and about a hundred miles from unattractive. Long auburn hair rolled past her narrow, perfectly painted face. Her eyes would have ruined it for him. Where Erin’s were trusting and full of hope, this woman’s were made of gray ice, holding only contempt.

Lucy Law

“Hello captain, Lacy Law here,” her terse voice chirped. “What you have said is all very well and good, but what about real changes. Others have spoken out on such ideas as stricter ID enforcement and even setting up checkpoints. We know those Bodyjumpers prefer to possess younger better looking bodies. It has been suggested that such body types receive extra scrutiny.”

“You yourself fit that profile. Would you be pleased to have this additional limits on your freedoms?”

She couldn’t quite keep the red out of her cheeks at the backhanded complement, but quickly recovered. “In order to help keep this dangerous underground behind bars, certainly.”

“It still makes me wonder who you’d be after. The little old lady that had enough money to Jump into a younger body and is just out buying her bread or the trained assassins like the man who attacked me or the crew that gunned down the former Mayor hopeful, Homes. Let me tell you from personal knowledge that man that came after me wasn’t pretty. All I think such policies would do is make it a crime to be attractive. Is this the type of world you would want to live in?”

“Personally, I would expect them both to be locked up. Isn’t that the law Captain Dak or does the man in charge of this new task force think we should be lenient on these lesser Jumpers just because they haven’t used their changes to hurt anyone yet?”

Choosing his words carefully, he said, “As a Public Enforcer officer I have pledged myself to uphold the law. I think you can count on my continued vigilance on this issue. If the amount of crime committed by Jumpers doesn’t decrease over the next year I will hand in my resignation voluntarily.”

Nodding, this finally seemed to satisfy her and he was able to get through the rest of the questions without suffering anything worse.

His office was still in transition and this became a great excuse to go get some air. He ran into Matthews on the way out the building. “You okay Dak? You look a little pale.”

“It all comes with the new position I guess. Can’t say I like talking to the press.” He ran a hand over his brow. “I wonder if I’ll be able to get used to it.”

Matthews brightened. “Oh yeah, congrats on the new position. I guess it will be Captain Dak now.”

“What would you feel about being the first man I hire on?” 

Matthews took a step back. Since he was the only other non-clone working for the Jumpers, Dak figured he would be a natural choice. “I’ll have to ask,” Matthews answered strangely. He soon departed a stiffly and Dak couldn’t help but wonder which Jumper might be holding Matthew’s strings. Shaking his head, he thought he might have the answer. He only hoped he was wrong.

 

*        *       *

 

The scent of stale smog burned his noise. Trash blew like city leaves. Even near the PE building bums and dregs fought for a hand out. His vehicle was secured below, but Dak felt like walking. He passed the taverns that most of the PE grunts frequented.

He felt less a part of them than ever. What was he a part of?

Mace

Dak really wasn’t a big one for drinking before sundown, but he felt he needed one. He headed into a nicer establishment hoping that he would find it empty. He was right. The sparse patrons lurked in dark corners huddled over tables. Fine suits mixed with low cut dresses. Conversations ran from afternoon affairs to cooperate backstabbing. Ignoring these, he headed over to the reflective plastic bar.

Massaging his temples, he looked down, while he waited for a hopper. “Hard day captain,” it was a voice that had already been haunting him. Opening his eyes, he saw that Lacy Law had helped herself into the adjacent barstool. “Having a drink before two pm. I see that he are off to a great start hunting down the Jumpers.”

Turning towards his hopper, he took a long pull before saying. “I was supposed to meet a contact here that had a list of known Jumpers, but with a Posher Cleb like yourself around here, he probably won’t show.”

She looked around uncertain. “You aren’t serious?”

“If you had only shown up ten minute’s later you might have had a big scoop.”

She waited until he was looking her way to cross her trim legs. Her gray business skirt did little to hide her looks. Years of police work left him wondering if she was hooked on some type of speed or if it was some fascist exercise routine that kept her body so tight.

“Perhaps you’ll let me take you out to dinner tonight and you can tell me all about it.” Her manicured nails lightly traced his hand. “You fought back well today. Most men crumble when I go up against them.”

“That must make you very proud,” he said while moving his hand away.

“So what about dinner? No one needs to know.” Leaned forward, exposed more of her toned body.

Staring for a long moment, he then slammed the rest of his beer. “No thanks, I think I’m going to be putting in long hours for quite a while. Her intake of breath was so loud that many of the patrons turned to watch, as he turned his back to her and existed back into the faded sunlight.

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In Charge of My Demise Part II

Erin pulled the amber tie out of her golden waterfall of hair, as soon as she heard him open the door. He saw her cute backside, while she quickly tossed her apron into the closet. Like usual, she wore very little underneath. The apartment gleamed. She rushed over to him before he had even tossed off his jacket. The freshly opened hopper that she held was wider than her delicate wrist. Red nailed fingers parted to hand him his beer, while a smile spread over the most beautiful face in the world.

 

Erin from Behind

“You’re home early. I was trying to make things nice for you.”

“Erin, you don’t have to work so hard.”

Suddenly shy, her green eyes found the sparkling floor. “It’s just…since you found out that I work for the Jumpers I…”

Moving forward, he took her trembling form into his arms. “You think you have to prove what a perfect woman you are? I already thought you were perfect. The fact that you work with your own kind doesn’t change anything.” His face was graced with the kind of smile that only she could bring him. “Besides the extra money is nice.”

Detective i

She slapped him playfully, but then kissed his lips. Holding her close, he didn’t hurry.

She came up for air and wanted to take it further, but he moved back. “Erin we have to talk.”

“That is usually what girls say.” Erin played the role of the perfect female the way only a man could, for Erin wasn’t only a Jumper, she was a Genderjumper as well. Sometimes in the dead of night Dak wondered over his choices, but it was a sick world out there and she was his only light, but now he was somehow in charge of eliminating her kind.

With a sigh, he explained his assignment. A few gasps and startled expressions later, he had finished describing his new position.

“If Bly was for it, then I guess it must be a good thing,” She said, hesitation tainting her voice.

“Yeah, but what about the Mayor. He knows about you…us. Jumpers are his pet project. This will be like a slap in the face.”

“I could think of no one’s face I would rather slap.”

 

                                               *        *        *

 

“Yeah, it’s a pretty nice office.” he had to agree. Dak’s eyes focused on the grimy window. Sure there wasn’t much of a view, there rarely was in New Cluster, but Dak had never had an office with a window before.

Fesse wore the closest thing to a smile his face could manage. “Nothing too good for the new man in charge of keeping the press, the mayor, and everyone else off my back when it comes to this Bodyjumper mess.” Patting him on the shoulder, he continued, “I’ll have them move your desk up here before lunch. You’ll not be needing it this morning anyway.”

Smoking

“Why is that?”

“Because your first press conference starts in an hour.”

“I’m not sure if this is going to work Fesse. I-”

”Make it work,” his voice was raised, “or I’ll send you back to being a beat cop in Dreg Park.” The door slammed behind him, creating a haze of dust in the empty room. Dak watched the motes of dirt dance through the narrow squares of yellow light before finally heading down to the Public Enforcer pressroom.

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In Charge of My Demise

Mopping the lingering sweat off his brow, Dak entered the Deputy Chief’s office. Fesse’s wide face scowled. It might have bothered Dak if that was not the only look that he had ever seen there. It surprised him to see Fosters in the room with his supervisor, even though Dak knew that the real Fosters had died years ago.

 

Detectives

The man who examined him with Fosters’ gray eyes was named Bly and he was a Skinjumper; a man whose consciousness had been put into the cloned form of Fosters. The Jumpers were more powerful that most realized and Dak should know, he was dating one of them.

Dak, like Fosters, had become a man on the inside—an agent for the Skinjumpers, only he himself had never Jumped. It was his sweet Erin who had drawn him in.

“Have a seat Dak.” He did, and then lit up a smoke. The silence stretched.

Dak

“That was some job you did taking out those Grafters Dak. The idea that someone could clone an assassin and send him after the public again and again,” Fesse rubbed his forehead. “Let’s just say it made waves.”

“They don’t care that it targeted mostly just me?” he lied.

“This isn’t the only story Dak. These nutjob clones are big news. Nothing has been the same since those damned Grafters learned how to place a person’s consciousness into any type of clone they wanted. The world is full of the beautiful people and freaks. How can you even be sure you’re talking to?” For once he refused to meet his eye. “And you know how the damn Mayor feels about these Bodyjumpers. He has been putting a lot of pressure on our department.”

Dak’s mouth went dry. Jumping was a serious offence that gained one enough jail time to forget who you were. If Fesse were to ever find out he was dating a Jumper…

“What does this have to do with me?” He exhaled sending jags of smoke coiling through the triangles of sunlight.

Fosters/Bly spoke up. The young punk did the grouchy jaded cop thing almost too well. “Don’t be an idiot, Dak. You’re part of this. The press loves you.”

“For about another twenty minutes.”

Fesse took over. “That’s why we have to strike now and keep these guys off our backs. I want to start up a Jumper Task Force. And I want you to be its Captain.”

Dak almost swallowed the smoke.

Fosters/Bly was quick to add, “Listen it was a natural choice. When I heard about this, I knew you were the only man for the job. You’re young enough and have enough charisma to keep the press at-”

Shadowed Dak

”But if you’re trying to head off the Mayor, I think we should try to remember that I’m not his favorite guy.”

Fosters shell spoke Bly’s words. “Don’t argue. I’m sure as hell not going to do it. Who else do you think is qualified? Matthews is just a kid and what, would you rather see Peterman doing it.”

Dak wasn’t a fool. He had to take the post if only to keep someone else from taking it.

Still how could he be in charge of hunting down his own woman?

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Base Jumper, Epilog

He awoke from a half slumber to find a wet and mostly naked Erin standing before him. She was still dripping and she gave him a long hung. No scar from any wound marred her. If anything she was more perfect than before.

They kissed.

“Still as sweet as always,” Mace commented as he followed her into the room.

          Pulling away, Dak moved to shake the young PR’s hand. “You really came through in a pinch. It’s good to know you have my back.”

Pulling away with some distaste. “Well, Erin’s anyway.”

Erin after rebrith

“As far as I am concerned that’s more important.” This brought forth a nod from him and a hug from his girlfriend.

“Until next time,” he said taking Erin under his arm. On a whim he took the big blaster with him as he passed through the door. Mace chuckled to himself as he lit up a smoke.

Mace

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Base Jumpers Part III

The questions and paperwork hadn’t ended that night, but had continued into the next day. He and Erin had been put up by an unknown, but not unguessed at benefactor in the High Valley Hotel. Now he was down at the station wading through another series of questions.

Fosters sat in on the interviews. As always his presence made him shudder inwardly. Dak knew that Fosters had died long ago and even as Mace had done for a year, his former coworker was the host for a new Jumper. Dak thought he could tell a few differences between Mace’s and this new Jumper’s mannerisms, but the rest of the precinct was certainly oblivious, with the exception of Matthews.

Matthews was to only other non-jumper that worked for the Skinjobs. He wasn’t as willing as Dak, but since the only other option would be him getting Jumped, he was able to abide.

Dak brought the younger man along for the ride. He was heading to a Market arms dealer who owed him a favor. They were going to try to chance a lead on this the unknown blaster model when Erin called.

Terror ruled her voice. “Dak, you have to help me. I went back to the apartment to get a few things. I thought it would be safe. I was so wrong. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Matthews was already radioing in a call for officers to head that way. “Erin where are you now?”                                                                    

“I’m hiding. It’s the same one Dak. He looks the same. I have to go. I can’t talk. He’ll hear me.”

The line went dead. Dak had already changed his route and raced through the crowded streets of New Cluster back to his apartment.

They arrived in record time and they had only clipped one other auto and maybe a biker. Guns were drawn long before they reached his floor. The doors opened onto death. At least one Enforcer had already met his doom. His headless form had painted the hall in blood and bone. The second officer had only made it a few feet further. He laid on his side against the wall his whole middle gone.

Matthews eyes went wide and that’s when the shooting began. It was the same big blaster as before. Matthews was hit in the first volley and went down. He was still screaming, so Dak hoped he would live. He spread open the width setting on his gun, until it would spread the beam into a cone. This weakened the effects, but made it hard to miss anything within the walls of his quickly deteriorating apartment. He dived forward onto his stomach just as the killer came into view.

It was the same man as before.

He pointed the giant blaster, but Dak got the shot off first. The cone hit him. The bald man growled trying to fight off the effects. He stumbled back a step and the gun went off, the explosive blast only missing Dak’s head by inches.  Dak fired again, this time his opponent went down.

Much as before, he began to weep and melt, creating a second foul stain in Dak’s living room. Erin dashed into the room, for a moment she looked unsure, but raced toward him. “I was so scared, Dak.”

He hugged her quickly, but then said, “Matthews is down.

It could have been worse. He had been hit through a wall and the shot to his arm wouldn’t cost him his limb if only barely.

He sighed. More paperwork and interviews would take up the rest of the day and he wasn’t an inch closer to finding out who was behind this.

 

                                                         *        *        *

 

Eventually, he was allowed to go. Refusing an armed escort he and Erin left the station. Even the short walk to his ride left him seeing eyes everywhere. New Cluster raised around them gray and bleak. Everything was concrete and trash. The only thing feeling real was the woman’s hand in his, even though he knew part of Erin was fake too.

A meeting with the Doctor proved difficult to arrange. Erin burned through favors, but he agreed to meet them at midnight. Base Jumper stayed on alert, and the Doctor refused to met them there, instead picking a location with an industrial address. It turned out to be some sort of chemical plant. The smells drifting out of the rusty ash gray building let him know that he didn’t want to be there, long before he reached the side entrance.

A few workers moved around and perhaps some others who were guards. One these men, who looked big enough to eat Erin for lunch, took them to some offices lining the back of the plant. Stained iron cauldrons held bubbling mixtures of questionable nature. They smoked and stank horribly leaving a rusted residue on the tongue.

The room looked simple. Old terminals mixed with new. Forms were held in plastic cubbies along one wall. Reports and folders were spread out over a worn desk before him. Maxwell looked much as before. White suit. Red scarf around his pale neck. For this meeting they had traded Mace for two even huger guys, which left Dak wondering where this Doctor found such Neanderthals? Also with him was a girl way to young to be wearing such a short scarlet dress. She sat on another chair, regarding them coldly. He shuddered, not caring to speculate whether Maxwell was using his boyish looks to date some impressionable teen or if some equally perverted Jumper liked to play little girlie.

“Since you called for this emergency meeting, why don’t you begin Mr. Dak?”

“As you know, Erin and I have found ourselves within this assassin’s sights twice now. I have also killed him twice, although strangely. I seem to be the next on his list, so the way I figure it, you can either tell me all you can to help or you’ll be down two …agents.”


He went over what had happened and let Erin fill in a few of the gaps. “I’ve heard of some speculation down these lines, but have never seen such a thing myself. This Grafter is not only gifted but also innovative. It must have a trigger that somehow causes the cells to collapse and break apart. When you stunned it, this enacted this response. No one will ever question this man. Then he is cloned to begin again.”

“But not with the same consciousness?”

“Well, yes and no. If someone had the proper training or desire before the Jump the new body could contain that same desire.”

“It would be either fool or fanatic.” Erin said joining the conversation. “Although it would seem the same to us, the original person is dead and nothing changes that fact.”

“You mean you can make new people. Clones that don’t even need to be Jumped into?”

The young girl laughed. “That was what we learned to first. It was learning how to Jump which was difficult.” So she was a Jumper. This left Dak somewhat relived. He hated pedophiles.

“So is this guy is a fanatic-“

”Or somehow tricked into thinking his incarnations will really be him,” Erin quickly added.

Dak looked at her for a moment. “Then these people, whoever they are, could just make new clones of this killer until the lights go out.”

“It’s not as simple as that, but with enough resources you are essentially correct. Although the reason they can only send one at once is without the proper training most men go completely mad with any exposure to themselves.”

“The way I see it, this is really your problem. I or maybe Erin just happened to be next on the menu. So it’s in your best interested to make sure this thing doesn’t get any farther than us.”

“Of course. I value all of my employees.”

“Good. I’m glad we are on the same screen. Now I think it’s the time where you tell everything that you know that could possibly help me take this bastard out…. permanently.”

Continued Next Week

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Base Jumper

It became hard to keep from gawking like a kid in a toy store. Dak had seen his share of tech, but nothing compared to this. Large steel machines, shaped like opened coffins, gapped hallow and bubbling. He had already seen three holding half-formed people.

He thought about how his Erin had been forced to go through this and shuddered.

Mace, the man who he had thought was Fosters for so long, led the tour. Gone was the frame of the old detective. In its place a handsome young man stood. If Dak focused hard enough he could she some similarity in some of the mannerisms, but Foster’s fifty-year-old body was a far cry from this tattoo covered PR with a half shaved head.

Perhaps seeing his eyes lingering on the ink, Mace said, “Do you like the work? Tattoos are of course one thing that doesn’t pass with you when you Jump.” He smiled. “I figure this way I can get new work every year. Pretty wicked eh?”

Dak didn’t comment. Instead he took in a painting that illustrated a happy man jumping off a skyscraper rooftop. The figure’s right hand was raised over his head in a fist. “What’s this?” he said pointing at the painting with his smoke.

With a bigger smile, Mace said, “Base jumping. Our group’s founder was known as Titan. He was quiet found of base-jumping. Some even think this is where the name for our kind began.”

Holding his arm tight, Erin looked up at him her green eyes blinking. Her dress was a skintight strip of red cloth smaller than his towel. As always, her body was slim. Shapely. Perfect. “Titan tended to be more than a bit on the reckless side. But he was insanely wealthy. He would lose a leg in some failed stunt and just Jump into a new healthy clone.”

Pressing herself closer to him, she went on. “Back in his day we were almost accepted. Normal. He was only using his own body though. We would hardly even consider that Jumping now. He however, was the first of the immortals.”

“Until that parachute did not open.”

To his left two Grafters were helping an elderly man into one of their coffins. Noticing his gaze, Mace commented. “People will give all they have for a second chance.”

Nothing more needed to be said. It became very clear why these Jumpers always seemed to have almost unlimited funds. Having Erin finally be honest about her own wealth hadn’t been the worst thing to have ever happened to him. That along with the small sum he took from the Jumpers had definitely increased his standard of living.

Passing a middle aged woman as she stripped off her clothes, he managed to overhear her say, “Make sure I’m really pretty. I want to be really pretty. I’ll see if the prick is cheating on me first hand.”

Mace laughed, but waited until they were well pass to say, “Most people don’t want to leave their lives, but a weekend of Jumping can accomplish more goals than one can count. Athletes in peek form are selling their bodies so novices have a chance to play their favorite games like the pros. And of course there’s always the perversion factor, but you and Erin know about that.”

He felt his cheeks grow hot. “Is there a reason for us to be here other than for you to be showing of like some sort of punk priss?”

Chuckling, “You’re always so touchie Dak. It seems that even Evan I mean Erin-“

Dak moved quickly. A necklace was grasped and he pulled Mace’s face close to his. “I told you that you weren’t allowed to call her that.” Words spit from between his teeth. “I don’t care how many bodies you’ve been in, I can kick your ass. Insult my girlfriend again and I will.”

“Calling him by his name is an insult?”

He barely got the words out before Dak gave him a hard right hook into the jaw.

Erin gasped and rushed forward. “Dak, you shouldn’t” A reproach from Erin made him cringe. All around him Jumpers took notice. They dropped what they were doing and walked closer. Most had weapons. 

Mace stood erect. A pull of the arm drew a smudge of blood from his lips. He waved the approaching Jumpers back. “No it’s okay. He loves his Gender-Jumper. I think It’s cute.”

“Screw you Mace.” Erin gave him a glare that made Dak wonder how well they might really know each other.

“Shall we just keep moving?” Mace asked as once again he wiped his mouth free of blood. He shot Erin a glance which did nothing to soften the mood. “And yes you’re correct you were brought here for a reason.”

The butt of his cigarette still glowed as Mace threw open a wide set of polished steel doors. The insides of the room contrasted strongly with everything else he had seen at Base Jumper. He could have been stepping back three centuries. Bookcases lined the dark hued walls. Never had he seen such a collection of books outside of a museum.  Since the advent of the computer over two centuries ago, books had been coming ever rarer. Most publishing houses had closed within a hundred years. Books were now considered oddities and collector’s items.

Centered amongst the vibrate rainbow of book spines was a walnut desk that could have fit three people. Instead an annoyingly young blonde boy was just putting aside a folder. This was added with not great haste to an already considerable pile stacked to the left of him. The boy looked perhaps seventeen at the most, but Dak guessed that the mind within was by far his own senior. His crystal blue eyes had a tight glare that no youth of that age could have pulled off.

“This is The Doctor,” Mace began. “For lack of a better term, you may consider him our leader.”

“More of s spokesman really.” His tone was one of wisdom and experience, but as if from the lips of an angel. It came out musical and tinged with the strength of a fresh voice. Leaning forward, the youth said, “But please call me Maxwell.”

Dak nodded, he had no reason to speak. Erin gave a courtly curtsey, which was something he would have never thought he would see.

A slim smile spread. “I’m sure you consider your life as busy as mine and as my employees, I assume you are keeping yourselves active.” This wasn’t even worth a nod. “So I will be blunt and brief.”

“Someone has been hired to assassinate Jumpers.” He paused for a moment to let his statement sink in. “Whatever is doing this is a professional and very successful.” Erin’s nervous eyes met his and she trembled. “He has already racked up fourteen of us and those are just the people we know of.

Maxwell stopped. Keeping his voice even, Dak asked, “Do you have any idea who might be behind the attacks?”

“I think it’s the Major,” Mace answered for him.

The Doctor favored him with a stern look. Dak had a feeling he wasn’t used to being interrupted. “Yes, Mace thinks it is the Major and it well could be, but my years of experience have led me to believe that it is not always the most obvious choice. There are always the Nappies to consider.”

Dak thought on this. Nappies was a derogatory term for The National Association of Parents. The supposedly moral body of citizens had their hands in more than anyone considered safe. As a legislating body they could make or break elections. Dak considered them foul self-righteous censors, but working for the Public Enforcers he had often found himself being asked to bend to some policy they were promoting.

“It doesn’t sound like Nappies, they don’t hire assassins, they hire lawyers.”

A short chuckle escaped from Mace, and Maxwell smiled without humor. He addressed Erin first. “It seems you have been keeping your mate in the dark my dear. Dak works for…I mean with us now.”

“Dak’s knowledge has no shortcomings,” she said, crossing her arms under her 36cs.

Dak allowed himself a grin of his own. “I’ll look into it. So why am I here?”

Looking more serious than his young face should allow, Maxwell dropped his voice. “We are being hunted. I don’t like that. Both the assassins and whoever has hired them must be made to pay. We have ways of avenging our own. What I want from you is the legwork. You are a detective, you have the resources of the Public Enforcers behind you, go detect.”

He leaned forward to emphasize one final point. “I also do not need to remind you who you are sharing a bed with. You are involved Dak, whether you like it or not, unless you intend to throw Erin into the teeth of the wolves.”

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A Clone of a Different Color, Part IV

“What’s wrong?” Erin gasped, when she saw the look on his face. She had always been very good at reading him.

He didn’t pull any punches, he never did when someone’s life was on the line and this was his Erin. “The Mayor knows about us.”

Her small hands covered her mouth in horror. “Oh no, oh no.” She shook for a moment and that was all it took for him to have her fill his arms. She shivered against him.

“What are we going to do?” she whispered.

“I’m not sure.” He moved her back so he could look into her crying eyes. “It sounds like he already knew about us. Most likely he figured he would keep it for an ace in the hole to use when he needed something from me.”

“Like now?”

“Yeah, like now.”

“What does he want from you?”

“It was pretty much like you thought. He wants to blame this on Jumpers and get more PR before the election.”

“Did he really kill Homes?” she asked while trying to hold back the tears.

“Who knows and I doubt it matters. There’s no way I could do anything against the Mayor even if he had pulled the trigger himself.”

“You can’t blame some innocent Jumper can you?” she asked, her eyes looking so sad.

“No, of course not. I think the only thing we can do is try to leave. Get outside the hub.”

“You want me to go with you?” her words came slow, with hesitation.

“Oh course I do, I said we didn’t I?”

“You don’t have to do this Dak. Being an Enforcer is your life. I could Jump back. No one would know. What could they prove against you then?”

“I don’t want to do that.”

She looked up at him as they each held the other’s arms. “Why?”

“You said being an Enforcer was my life. That’s not true anymore.” He stuttered for a moment. “I think I’m in love with you. Everything I see, it’s all tarnished, wicked, and wrong. You’re the only light.”

He stopped suddenly and her tears began again, but for a different reason this time. “Can you really love me? Can I really be your woman?”

“Erin, you already are my woman. Now get your things packed and remember, we are traveling light.”

She started to go, but then dashed back and gave him a long kiss. He watched her for a moment, while she started to pack her things and hoped he was making the right choice.

 

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