“Fucking fuck fuckfuckfuck!” Ian mutter-shouted to himself under his breath, frustration oozing from every word. “This is not going ‘according to plan’.'”
He found himself up to his Zeiss-Ikon implants in shit deeper than the Mississippi mud on the flood plains after it had breached its banks. In the microseconds it took him to jack out, he caught sight of the ICE charging in fast and furious. Even as he ripped the ‘trodes off, his deck began to smoke.
“Not sure which cliché’s gonna save our asses, Johnny, but ‘Fly you fools!’, ‘Ride like the wind!’, and ‘Get the fuck outta Dodge!’ all sound just ducky to me.”
Johnny floored it before Ian had even finished his sentence. He knew the plan had gone south, and while he couldn’t predict what kind of hell was going to be barreling down the causeway, he was certain it’d be hot on their heels.
Johnny and Ian formed the dynamic duo, the “men on the ground”: Johnny as the pilot, Ian as the tech wizard. Shane and Jean held down the fort back at home base, Shane masterminding the business side of things and Jean smooth-talking their way through obstacles. Together, they were “The 5 Johns.”
Johnny shot a sidelong glance at Ian. “Should we call it in?” he asked, knowing full well their communication lines were as secure as a wet paper bag.
Ian didn’t bother answering. Instead, he scowled at his deck, the acrid stench of electrical burn filling the air. Thankfully, Ian’s physical safeguards had served connections when the surge started melting some of the PCB. He motioned to a side alley, “Swing in there and kill the engine.”
Johnny looked at Ian like he’d sprouted an extra eye socket, but he did as he’s told.
“Sink anything that comes down this alley. I’ll be right back,” Ian ordered, leaping out of their Hondatsun X2000 Hybrid LAW (Land/Air/Water) cycle’s sidecar. He knew stopping this close to the hit source was a Grade A, BAD IDEA, but he had no choice. He had to dump his deck, and to do that, he’d have to either wipe it clean or extract the remaining software and data. He couldn’t do either in its current state. This alley just happened to be home to his “GOTO Guru” for hardware problems, Disco Don.
Johnny’s two neural link sockets kept him connected. One for the cycle (or any other “smart” vehicle for that matter) and one for whatever smart weapon he happened to have on hand. He left the cycle plugged in, ready to bolt at a moment’s notice with just a thought. The forward-mounted street-sweeper minigun was linked to him through the cycle, and Johnny routed the video feed to a small HUD in his helmet’s visor. He faced the rear of the vehicle with a smaller version of the same gun, this one “handheld”. He was ready for incoming land traffic from either end of the alley. By periodically sweeping the sky, he was mostly ready for anything coming down that way. Johnny cursed to himself, “Dammit, I sure hope I don’t hafta to sink any civvies.” But deep down, he knew he’d do whatever it took. “Orders are orders. Mine is not to question why. Mine is but to do and die.”
Ian ducked into “Bytes and Bites: Computer Repair Service and Donut Shoppe.”
“Yo, Disco! I need an immediate extraction. You can keep the husk,” Ian yelled into the empty space. “I was live and in progress when the ICE smacked me. I’ll need the RAM and any incidental chips that might be mineable. You can even keep everything esle, I’ve got the code in my head, I just need anything that might have recoverable data.”
“Disco Don” looked ancient enough to have boogied through the first disco fever.