Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

He spins round, leveling a huge pistol. The pursuers halt in disarray. A breeze whips between silent vehicles, picking up litter and dust.
His enhanced eyes blaze red in the muzzle flash. A deafening report echoes as Sven backflips to land in an untidy heap. Another shot crashes. Marie bounces off a car and drops onto dirty concrete. Indicator flashes highlight the blonde streaks in her hair.
Jim jumps cleanly over a railing, his face momentarily white against the shadows before disappearing from view with a yell. The long moment of silence that follows ends with the sound of a hard landing.
“Jimmy!” Marie stretches a hand toward where her brother vanished.
“Still caring for the fool?”
A hand the span of her head rolls her over.
“He’s going to get you killed, kiddo.”
Wide eyes stare up at the supposed target. Four hours ago, Jimmy had told them a pack of lies! This isn’t some maniac fugitive. This is Hakim. They’d all been at school with Hakim. Sven had played rugby with him. Now Sven’s dead, she can’t feel her legs, and Jimmy dove off the car park in panic.
“Hi, Hakim. Long time, no see.”
He crouches by her: “Heya, kiddo. Still got the looks, I see.”
“Yeah, but I think my moves need work.”
The grin is as bright as ever: “They were fine. I have unfair advantages.”
This close, she can see the extensive enhancement work he’s had done.
He waves the monster pistol toward Sven’s body: “I shot Sven, didn’t I?”
She just nods. Breathing’s getting difficult.
“I only came back because my uncle’s shop kept getting ripped off. Guess Jimmy answered to Kala. He owned the gangers I dealt with. Just bad luck he managed to task your brother before I stuffed Mister Kala through an organ reclaimer.”
Marie doesn’t reply. He blinks, extrudes needles from his index and middle fingers, then punches them into her neck. She arches off the ground with an inhaling scream that bubbles as it tails off.
“Sorry. My bullets are laced. That should keep you going until the paramedics arrive.”
“Jimmy?” Her eyes plead with him.
Hakim sighs, then nods: “If he survived, I’ll sort him for the paramedics, too.”
Marie relaxes as the sedative takes hold. Hakim uses Sven’s sweatshirt to plug the hole he’d blown through her, then strides to the railing and hops over.
Jim’s been pressing the call button in the recessed doorway for agonised ages. One of his legs is smashed. Whoever answers can call an ambulance.
The door opens to reveal a portly man in a floral dressing gown. Jim’s about to beg for help when he realises the man isn’t looking at him.
“Best close that door, my friend. This isn’t anything to witness.”
The portly man pales, nods, and closes the door; all without even glancing at Jim.
“You set Sven and Marie on me. That’s low.”
Jim sighs and makes no sudden moves as he turns over to face Hakim.
“Thought she might make you hesitate.”
“When I’m ambushed, my optics don’t do recognising old friends. They do body dynamics and other surviving-the-moment stuff.”
“Misused my best chance. Shame. You put her down?”
“Close. She’ll be a long time in hospital. You know she made me promise to get you help if I found you alive?”
Jim laughs: “That’s my sister. Always refusing to see. Makes it too easy, sometimes.”
Hakim is suddenly right by him.
“You’ll always be her hero, in some way. Shame I didn’t find you alive.”

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