Chapter 2


Fifteen minutes later, en route to meet his contact and drop off the data he’d recovered, his comm link chirped out that he was being contacted on a secure line. Grinning, Darren put the comm link in his ear and ran the short ODN cable dangling from it into the head jack, allowing his onboard computer to decrypt the signal. Contacting him while he was still on the job meant a priority assignment, and a priority assignment meant priority pay. His grin turned into a wolfish smile as he keyed up the comm and answered the line.

“Go for ninety-nine,” he said.

“Priority one acquisition. Physical materials in transit. Movement is supposed to be clandestine, so guard response should be minimal,” the mechanical voice announced.

Darren grunted at the job description. He preferred to only work with digital commodities as physical objects made it difficult for him to move as freely as he liked, especially when making an escape from the scene of a crime he’d just committed. Still, a priority one job on no notice meant huge dividends.


There was a pause as the person or computer, it was impossible to tell which, on the other end of the line considered his question. At last the voice returned with, “Two point four million.”

Darren sat up straight in his seat on the mono-rail, eyes wide. That much money would allow him to quit the company and go freelance. It could set him up for a life without having to work at all, if he handled it right. Not that he wouldn’t still freelance. “Package?” he asked, trying to cover up the lump of excitement in his throat.

“Sealed canister,” the voice replied.


“Six inches in diameter, one foot long.”

“Delivery?” He raised an eyebrow. Two million credits for something that small was a lot of coin. Somehow, he suspected there would be more than minimal resistance, even if the object was being moved in secret.

“Agent Three, location ZZ9PZA.”

Agent Three was big-time. They’d finally called him for a big job. Darren’s grin receded a bit as he considered the ramifications of the call. Being optioned for something that big, and dropping the package with Agent Three meant one of two things. They had their eyes on him, which in and of itself could be good or bad depending on the scrutiny he was getting, or they wanted him out of the game and they were sending him on a fool’s errand to be killed. Still, he felt sure he could get himself out of any situation he might end up in as a result of taking the job. He’d been in the game long enough to know the tricks and traps he was likely to encounter. Plus, the two million credits meant he wouldn’t have to take any more jobs from Aegis Online ever again. At least, not if he didn’t want to.

“Send the file,” he replied before he could talk himself out of it.

The line went dead and a moment later, his on board computer beeped in his ear again, signaling that the job information had been downloaded. Pulling the comm link from his ODN jack and stuffing it in his pocket, he produced his ODN patch cable again and ran it from his head jack to his wrist computer, calling up a holographic interface and accessing the hidden partition on his computer’s storage drive. In seconds he had a visual of the canister he was after as well as a detailed travel plan for the small convoy it would be on as it moved to its destination.

If the data provided was correct, and it almost always was, they were right. There were only two vehicles in the convoy, both lightly armored civilian vehicles, with only two guards and two drivers. The details of their route identified the ideal place to intercept and a quick glance at his current location told him he was mere minutes away from the appropriate station. With good luck he could be on site ten minutes before the convoy arrived and if the information was accurate, he had everything he needed to pull the job off with him.

The grin returned to his face as he paged through the rest of the file.


Watching from the roof of the two story building on the corner, Darren spotted the small convoy on its approach to the stop. It was the only major intersection on the travel route for the convoy, which meant the only mandatory stop due to traffic. While it was a busy street, it was also well after midnight, which meant the population in the street and on the roads was at its lowest and there would be very few people to witness either the convoy, or what Darren was about to do to it.

There were two vehicles, one coupe and one small van, both surface-effect hover vehicles with matte black paint jobs and windows that matched, allowing no visibility inside. Not that it mattered, there was no way Darren would even allow those inside to get out before he was long gone anyway.

The convoy moved closer to the intersection and Darren pulled the two tangler grenades out of his pockets, holding them with his thumbs hovering over the activation buttons. Watching with a critical eye for timing, he waited until they had just stopped at the corner, pressed the buttons, dropped the grenades, counted to three, then tipped himself over the edge as well, hands already withdrawing the next item in his bag of tricks as he fell.

–Next Chapter–