The Warrior at Large
9 Emre 2021yp
“Ice? Director Ehfa wants to speak to you.”
“Ehfa? I’d hoped . . . never mind.” Ice grinned. “So did anyone bet this summons wasn’t for the pleasure of firing me in person?”
Scar shrugged. “A few guys always play the long odds.” He shifted uneasily. “Ehfa's got three of the new guys in with him.”
“That was fast.” Ice shrugged off his coat and then the shoulder holster and handed it across. “Send it out to the back gate guard, I’ll pick it up on the way out.”
“Good idea.” Scar grinned. “That makes three bets I’ve won this morning.”
Ice eyed him. “So far?”
“And the comp.” He pulled it out of the briefcase, and handed it over. Shrugged and added his minicomp and comm.
“You guards have no shame.”
Scar nodded. “Not a shred. But we’re all betting Afgu will be a one term president, so at worst, we’ll see you in four years.”
The newly instated Presidential Director looked him up and down. “You’re fired.”
“Thank you, sir.” Ice nodded politely. High Oner Parisian accent. Not a bit of amusement leaking. Expression calm and respectful.
The three goons, in the uniforms of the Black Horse Guards but definitely not displaying the casual competence and alert good humor of the usual, had been tense and ready to jump him. They settled back puzzled and disappointed.
Beef up the drawl a bit. “I’ll see the doctor and get the security implant removed and be gone inside the hour.”
Director Ehfa’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll leave all your data.”
“Of course. The computer is government property. In anticipation, I handed it to a Guard as soon as I was told to report to you. No doubt someone is already dissecting it.” He paused, shrugged with casual indifference. “I left them my comm and minicomp as well. If there’s nothing else?” Another polite nod.
“Get out of here.” An angry undertone.
Aww, did I spoil your fun?
In the antechamber, the briefcase he'd left there was open, two baffled techs shrugging. "Nothing."
Ice closed it and headed for the for Black Horse barracks and their Doctor to remove his imbedded chip with documentation and testing and securing it in Major Eppa's safe.
The trio of goons followed him all the way to the gate, where he picked up his minicomp and comm. The Guard looked embarrassed, and a bit pissed. Ice decided to not ask about his pistol.
I am a Warrior of the One. These new people have no idea how dangerous I am, without a single weapon.
A brisk walk and he could catch the tram into town, transfer to the metro underground. It was wonderfully freeing, knowing he was beholden to no one, and free to take on a short job for a friend, while he thought about the future.
He could travel. Check out a few colony worlds.
And maybe start some freelance political analysis.
And . . . call Keiq.
He bit his lip. Eyed his comm.
I suppose I'd better buy a burner comm, so if they bugged this one, I won't get her in trouble.
The comm dinged. Keiq's number.
He tapped it. "Hey, I just got fired. How're you doing?"
An angry huff. "I just got told I'd better not be seen in your company if I want to keep my job."
"Tsk! You'd think taking a knife for the man would earn a guy some gratitude." And don't I wish I hadn't been there . . . "So . . . I'm going to go scramble up some work and . . . We'll see if this blows over."
"Ice . . ."
"Six months. I'll call you in six months."
A long silence. "Watch your back."
"Will do. Bye." He clicked off before he could get all soppy, just in case the wrong people were listening in.
Dammit! And I'd better get a burner comm before I call Ajki and make sure he's not in trouble.
Or maybe it's time to use some things I set up a long time ago . . . that I'd hoped to never need.
The falsified ID my mother sent with me. The bank account I set up seventeen years ago. And I've still got all the cash cards I withdrew from my real bank three months ago, that I can live on for a long time.
I think I'll start with a vehicle . . . something appallingly practical . . .
Retreating to Secure Positions
11 Emre 2021yp
:: Hey Boss, how's your world doing? :: Ice grinned at the irritated wave of telepathic emotions. And sobered as former Director Ajki's "feel" changed to relief.
:: Shitty. President Afgu is gloating . . . and asking how the kids are doing in their exclusive schools . . . by name. Theirs and the schools'. I am planning to move everyone to the Black Point Enclave . . . quietly. ::
:: I happened to have a vehicle no one would ever associate with me, let alone you. Purchased an hour ago. ::
:: Seinne Vista Restaurant. Three hours. West side door. ::
:: Right. ::
Ice—or according to his new ID Akta Withione Sideris Kriti—put the ute into gear and drove off. He was two blocks over and out of sight of Ajki's house. Inside easy telepathic reach.
His scalp felt cold, buzz-cut. He'd rubbed a temporary dye into the stubble. That and the working man's wardrobe were all the disguise he'd need to be unrecognized and left alone for as long as he wished.
He drove across the city to an upscale restaurant on the westside.
Parked down the street and watched the clock carefully. Spotted Ajki's chauffeured limo and followed it into the restaurant's parking lot. An illusion of a similar limo over the ute . . . The real limo turned under the portcullis to drop off the family. Ice veered west and swung around to stop at the side door.
An illusion of a chauffeur's uniform, a real hat . . . Ice hopped out and opened the doors, as Ajki ushered his wide-eyed wife and kids right past the matre'd and out the side door.
Ajki took in Ice's appearance and grinned. "And this isn't even your worst."
Thirteen-year-old Joak's eyes widened as she saw the very much not-limo interior.
Eight-year-old Ajjo grinned, and climbed in. "Are we escaping?"
"Yes." Ajki boosted his wife Poppy into the center seat. Joak scrambled up into the back.
"Oh, if you could stick your electronics in those plastic bags and wrap them in foil, there will be fewer ways to track you."
"Oooo! Just like in the vids!" Ajjo bounced in the back seat, grinning.
Ice closed doors, hopped back behind the wheel and drove. Four blocks and corners away, he found a dark stretch of road, and dropped the illusions, inside and out, and ditched the hat.
Poppy leaned over the front seat and studied him. "Ice? Good Heavens. You look quite intimidating with your head practically shaved."
"Ouch! I thought this was one of my better disguises."
She snickered as she sat back. "Who else would Ajki trust?"