A Hunter

Patching into the DataNet News Services, Cy skimmed the latest releases. Her keywords were focused on Warp, Circe and Malone's. Nothing on any of them. The van pulled off, still on a random sweep. Major stories… food riot on the Barrens… Arasaka opening new Biodesign facility… Investigative reports into corruption in the Special Crimes Enforcement Bureau. Interesting, but nothing to grab onto. Cy snarled ever so softly, frustrated.

"Interception alert, police barricade," the computer guidance system broke into her thoughts.

She cursed again and woke Rock with a kiss, "Up and at 'em, brother–police barricade."

Still groggy from the medication, Rock slipped on his clothes with some help from Cy. Then he climbed into the passenger seat up front, placing his pistol under the seat.

Cy dressed and slipped into the drivers seat. She scanned the placement of the police and other vehicles, already planning an escape route. She shared a look with Rock. The van drove slowly towards the barricade.

The van was caught in a long line of autos, slowed to a crawl by the blinking red and blue holos of the police block. Looked like a random traffic screening, nothing too major… checking licences, registration, that sort of drek. Relief and disappointment ran through the twins, swiftly followed by boredom as the line slowed even more.

Quickly Cy brought Rock up to date on what had been happening. Especially the bit about someone besides Obsidian looking for them.

Rock slowly reached for a button on the console. A small compartment door flipped open, partially ejecting the documentation that the police would be asking for. Taking it out, he began scanning the barricade, instinctively counting the number of cops and vehicles, noting what type of weapons they seemed to be carrying, and so on.

There were four cruisers and what looked like 8 officers–not heavily armed, but on alert, tense. Both the twins could instinctively feel that there was something going on. Their vehicle progressed slowly toward the head of the line. Cy noticed something out of the corner of her eye, a sense of motion in the now-pelting rain. It was shared instantly through the link, but vanished just as quickly.

Cy glanced at Rock, raising a delicate eyebrow. The twins went to high alert.

There was nothing but the feeling of being watched. Predator and prey have a unique relationship, a primal link. Both the twins had felt it before, the mental, perhaps spiritual acknowledgment of the chase. Now they felt it from the other side, the side of the prey. Rock glanced about again. Nothing stood out amid the damp neon glare of the city streets. Cy saw nothing, felt her brother's rising tension, and it fed her own. The auto lurched forward again. A soft chirp announced the attempted police override of their guidance systems. It was standard procedure, but Cy's hand still leapt toward the override out of habit. Rock stilled her with a glance. This wasn't the police. They could kill all the police officers here in a split second. This was something new. It was their turn.

A metro stuck his helmeted face in the window. A rookie, Cy thought, getting this close without backup. Most likely wouldn't live to get seasoned. She smiled. He was on the young side, perhaps 20's, fresh face with a shock of red hair spilling from under the helmet, even freckles and a long straight nose… green eyes. Lean, likely to be quick for a norm, police issue clamshell body armor and greaves, gleamed polish and rain, unscored. Definitely new. His side arm was holstered, buckled even. It was a 12mm Avenger, laser sight but no tell-tale cable, so no chipping, no way a palm link would work through his gloves.

He paused to brush beads of moisture from the visor before speaking. "Sorry for the delay, miss… ID check. We've had some illegals in this district." He actually smiled at her.

Suppressing the adrenaline rush that he was feeling, Rock kept an eye out his window and on the side mirror. Somebody's out there… watching us. But where…?

Cy smiled back and took the documents her brother handed her. She kept a eye out, counting on her brother to keep a real lookout.

The cop took the paper, prying his eyes away from the pale swell of Cy's cleavage with a visible struggle. He ran the a small hand scanner over the documents, concentrating on the readout. One frown, the slightest look of doubt that crossed the cute face would be the last. Cy smiled still, hand tensing on the window. "All clear… move along, ma'am. Sorry again for the delay." He motioned them forward. The guidance program took over, moving them forward. Cy nodded, slid the window shut, and leaned back in her seat.

Her excitement and fear seemed to hang in the air like a tangible thing. Hadn't the rookie felt it on them? Smelled it like she almost could? No instincts. She glanced at the cop, she'd named him Red, again. Poor Red, never know you owe some Datahacks for maybe getting to see your pension… The van clicked off of auto about a block down the street. The feeling of being watched, stalked, lingered. It was like some training VR, never knowing when the next threat would materialize, only that it would.

A normal mind would find it nerve wracking. Rock and Cy thrived in it, it was home. Scanning the shadows of a street turned battlefield, they waited. Targets were spotted, noted and dismissed, their minds and senses as one, processing like a combined tactical system, sensing, sorting, rating. It was really no surprise at at all when the low slung 4-door that had been following a hair too close suddenly accelerated as the street cleared, hoverjets blowing up a wake of steam and water as it plowed toward the rear of the van.

"Evasive!" Cy spoke to the computer, moving into the rear of the van to hand Rock his weapons.

Accelerate! Rear car about to ram! Rock grabbed the pistol and braced for impact. "Computer. Rear camera…on. Front monitor… on." Rock slid a panel down in the middle of the console, revealing a monitor blinking on and showing the car behind them. "Computer. Rear camera… record-begin." The car was low, large hover car, hugging the plascrete, obviously weighted down. One of the side windows dropped, and a punk decked in some studded, spangled jacket leaned out. It was the AR-23 rifle he had propped against his shoulder that caught Rock's eye. Milspec assault cannon–the barrel of one at least, the body and stock looked different somehow. It could put a serious dent in the plating in back… the windows wouldn't even slow it down. Those things were single shot and had one hell of a kick though.

She grinned at her brother, "How do you want to handle this one brother dear?"

Rock put his arm out to keep her in the driver's seat. Brace for impact. "Computer. Emergency stop."

The van lurched, slammed into from behind. Swerving, it came up against the sidewall, shooting a trial of sparks before the computer adjusted. Rock spoke again. "Computer. Resume speed." Now. Climbing into the back, Rock went for the SMG locker and pulled out a couple of 9mm UZIs, then squatted before the back door. Cy and Rock saw the car fall back, front folded and spewing steam and greasy black smoke. The cannon-armed punk was thrown by the impact, and rolled along the plascrete, end over end, finally sprawling like a broken toy.

How was that? Slinging one of the Uzis over his shoulder, Rock grabbed hold of the van door while giving the computer the command to stop the van. "Ready?" he asked Cy as he jumps down to the pavement, trying to keep the Uzi somewhat concealed under his jacket.

The van came to a stop along the side of the road. There was another scream of twisted metal as the faltering auto was sideswiped by a 18 wheel hauler and sent toppling end over end, fire blossoming from inside the twisted shell. It came to rest on its top, flames engulfing it fully.

Watching out for the semi and any other traffic, Rock ran towards the punk to check on him.

Autoguided, traffic had already began to slow and divert about the accident site. Rock skirted around the vehicles, closing on the damp red mess that used to be a human being. From there he could tell the ganger's fate–meat–but the instinct to confirm was drilled into his mind. The twisted body was enough indication up close. In fact, most of the areas where vitals would be taken weren't attached any more. He ruffled through the punk's shredded clothing trying to find some ID.

Cy stretched, bored now that the rush was over. It left her her tense, with no way to vent. She held that feeling, kept it close, to keep her mind and senses on the edge. No sense in slacking off, you never knew. Something moved, just along the edge of the highway on the pedway, a shadowy figure skulking along. Traffic had died down, the last few vehicles automated haulers. Something was wrong.

Cy watched the figure, sending a cautionary thought winging her brother's way. She eased out the side door, keeping her senses alert. Rock felt his sister's ill ease and glanced in her direction. The figure stepped back, tilted its head to sniff at the air.

Something passed Rock, its wake nearly dragging him off his feet. Sudden vacuum popped his eardrums and sucked the air from his lungs. Looking down in numb shock, he saw the SMG was gone.

Cy saw the blur pass her brother, felt a touch of his pain and snarled, senses kicking into overdrive. The blur solidified to her, a blue… a woman in blue. Velocity! Here? She was Brazilia's Security Chief. Cy had heard some rumors that she was involved in training the Knights…

Inhaling deeply, trying to catch his breath, Rock moved back to the van to make sure the speedster wouldn't hurt Cy.

"Not so fast, big boy." Velocity shifted, metal staff telescoping to full length. Quickly blurring, it kicked up a powerful wind that staggered Rock a few steps then hurled him backward end over end into the side wall.

Cy's eyes narrowed. Rage burned. She moved towards the woman in blue… Watch sniffer, I have this one. Smooth, fluid, she struck, hands like lightning. Velocity was caught off guard, off balance and fell back, wielding the staff defensively. Cy smiled, found the woman's rhythm and pressed the attack. Sparks shone in the darkness as her hands met the staff again and again. Speed and skill almost matched but… no… she was being baited! Whirling, she saw the glowing figure streaking out of the darkness a split second before it would have hit her. She was gone. Up and over him and on her feet several feet away. The flying figure came up short slowed and turned in midair, hovering. A man in white. Paragon. Wonderful, she thought, frowning.

Rock slowly regained awareness. With it came pain… and anger. He felt Cy's distress, saw the man hovering a few feet off the ground, facing his sister and the thin woman in blue. Paragon… one of the heavy hitters. He wasn't sure they had his measure but didn't really care at this point. Frustration and waiting had kicked his battle lust into overdrive. They would not be taken so easily. Cy should take the fast one. She was too fragile to face Paragon head-on. It was instinct and their mental link that communicated this basic plan as he pulled up the SMG. It would serve to get Paragon's attention.

The one in blue got it first. "To your rear!" she shouted, blurring to a defensive position. Rock let loose with a quick burst. She weaved through it, deflecting or evading each projectile. Cy took advantage and leapt, passing Paragon in midair, one hand snaking out. He looked shocked. A thin crimson line had been carved across his face. Turning he snagged Cy's leg jerking her back and around. She flew end over end, landing catlike on her feet by the van.

Velocity took the offensive. She'd been sure the gorilla was down. Must be tougher than a damn V-mech, she frowned, passing the last of the bullets swimming by her perceptions like fat lazy flies. Rock heaved to his feet and lunged–no subtlety, but a straight flying tackle that caught her off guard and sent them both to the street, the thin hero pinned under him, winded and crushed by his weight. Raising one hammer like fist, he howled in triumph and brought it down. Only a split second jerk of her head spared her. Rock's blow splintered the concrete where her head had been a second before. Her staff collapsed with a quick flick of her thumb, then extended explosively, driving the head into Rock's injured ribs. Stars swam in his eyes and he wavered. Velocity rained blows on his side, seeing the weakness, levering herself free enough to kick him up and back.

Cy prepared to launch herself again. She could cut him. The blood shone bright on his skin, a beacon. Next time, lower… across the throat. Paragon's eyes flashed as she leapt. Cy felt herself thrown back, instead of forward, into the hard, unforgiving wall of the van. Sagging to the street, her last conscious thought was of her brother…an apology for her weakness.

One more shot… go down, you son of a bitch! Velocity snarled, whirling the staff and firing the other charge, launching the head into Rock's gut. He grunted, staggered back… tried to advance and fell forward onto the concrete. Then there was silence, broken by the rush of passing haulers.

Paragon settled down, gathered up Cy gently, almost apologetically. Her face was smooth, pale, practically a child's. What brought you to this…? Why?

Sirens sounded, the Special Crimes Detention AV settled down near Velocity, kicking up a mini storm of steam and dust. She waved them over to Rock. "Careful… he's a bear." Her ribs still ached, but likely not as much as his. Reaching up, she traced the thin scar running over cheek over her eye. It always seemed to ache after fights. A reminder of the cost of failure. Andrew… She turned and headed to the AV.

The watcher slid back into the shadows. It was over, this hunt, and the prey had fallen. She would see them again perhaps, but for now, her place was elsewhere.