Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

”Say what you want”, said Shane to the house A.I., “ever since the war, this part of the world has spectacular sunsets.” He was on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.

“Incoming. Three sigs.” stated the house A.I.

The airhounds had caught up to Shane just as he was starting to relax.

The house defenses sent up lift-tickets to confuse the semi-sentient missiles. One of the airhounds cranked left with an angry twist of its rudder and stabbed into his neighbour’s house, crunching centuries-old stucco. Napalm gushed forth in an almost sexual explosion from its black nozzle before blooming flesh-rending fire across the inside of the building. Luckily his neighbours were on vacation.

“I’m going to miss this location”, Shane thought to himself as he dropped his drink and jumped over the railing. There were other safe houses around the world being dummied up but this one had been Shane’s favourite.

Had been. Already he was thinking of it in the past tense. The training goes deep.

Running as fast as his muscled form would allow, he dashed down the courtyard towards the water. His terrycloth robe hung open and flapped behind him like a flag of surrender. He was getting close to the pier when he felt the force of the blast.

Shane was built for strength, not agility. It was a contest between the armoured plating on his back and the shrapnel of his exploding mansion before he leapt off the edge of his pier. The concussion wave picked him up and kicked him forward.

His robe blackened and shriveled in the flame before he thudded into the waves.

He dove deep into the pale green water. Twisting around and looking up, his government-supplied eyes saw nothing but flames. He registered the ambient temperature of the water going up a few degrees.

Shane’s hair had been burnt off and the salt water was doing nothing to make his back wounds feel better. He was bleeding a lot. He could take a lot of bullets but a shark could probably still take his leg off.

He had a few tanks of air stashed around with beacons on them. With a few head nods, he called them up. The closest was fifteen feet away. He started swimming.

Jackie had gone out to get groceries and wasn’t due back for an hour. Shane hoped that she would believe him killed in the blast.

Incoming had said three airhounds. It was possible that a third was still above the fire scanning for him.

Shane had to swim as far as his augmented legs could carry him before surfacing.

Grabbing one tank and heading for another, he devised a route up the coast in his head that would get him closest to a populated beach where he could steal a few tourist identity cards and bail up to Europe.

”What the hell,” though Shane, “it’s been a while since I’ve seen Denmark.”

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