Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Nine at night and residential roads are empty. Everybody is safe inside, either working or enjoying approved leisure activities. Meanwhile, on the intercity hyperways, traffic provides cover for duels between the dishonest and the diligent.
My control board emits an annoying bleep. Somebody is being exceptionally diligent.
“Unidentified perpetrator, westbound on the Coastal hyperway. Stop now or we will deploy countermeasures that may endanger your life.”
Now there’s a voice I haven’t heard for a couple of years.
“Hello, Constable O’Conner.”
There’s a pause.
“That you, Nat?”
Good memory.
“Hi, Tuhina. How’s life treating you?”
“It’s Sergeant O’Conner.”
No surprise there.
I split-screen, then let the other Trefoil slide into the outside lane and accelerate to 400kph. I love the Coastal, it has no corners tighter than ten degrees.
“Smooth power-up, Nat. What are you piloting these days?”
Ah-ah. No clues.
“Still running my old Trefoil. You mean you haven’t got an image yet?”
“Your ‘old Trefoil’ has some remarkable anti-detection technology. My team are telling me it’s so new it’s likely military. Probably loot from that raid at Aldershot last week.”
You think that’s well-hidden? Just wait.
“There’s no challenge if I tell. You’d be disappointed.”
“I’m more disappointed that you’re still stealing. Were you involved in the assault and Dargurrium heist at Ashford Spaceport earlier?”
Sadly, yes. I hate working with amateurs, especially when they’re violent, but needs must.
“I’m just a driver, Tuhina. But I did pick up this cargo south of the spaceport.”
“You’re a lot more than a driver. You’re a planner. I’ve done my homework on you, Nathaniel Rupert Barslan.”
Fame at last. Whoopee.
Passing Southampton, I accelerate to 600kph, then reach across and switch the main to autopilot. I need to concentrate on not crashing.
“That’s quite the pace you’re setting. You do realise we have drones that are faster?”
Of course I do. I’m relying on them.
“You do realise it’ll cost you one to stop me?”
“Good chance you’ll die.”
“We had this conversation last time. Same answers: I’m not stopping, and you’ll not catch me.”
“Last time I gave you the benefit of my doubt.”
The view lurches to the left, tilts upward, shows a dizzying display of sky and tarmac, then breaks down into static.
Her voice is a whisper.
“Not this time. Sorry.”
Decisive. I like that.
“Forgiven, Tuhina.”
“You’re still alive! Hang on, Nat, the crash crews should be with you in about ten minutes.”
Switching back to manual, I keep going north on the MM3 hyperway, apparently a transplant courier on the way to Manchester. Licensed to travel at 800kph, ten minutes will put me over a hundred kilometres away. After a brief stop at a service station, I’ll be heading into Wales as a bonded courier with MOD clearance. We didn’t just steal stealth tech from Aldershot.
By the time anybody guesses what probably happened, I’ll be on holiday. The stealth tech netted me a fortune. The Dargurrium’s for a trade to get me offworld.
Until then, all I have to do is drive.
“Still with me, Nat?”
I check the timer. Eight minutes elapsed – there’s the service station.
“Where else would I be?”
“If you’re as smart as only I think, my crash team is watching a decoy Trefoil burn.”
Oh, you’re good.
“That would be quite the feat, Sergeant. Too much for a buster like me.”
There’s a pause, then she whispers.
“You stealthy gearhead bastard. You’re gone again, aren’t you?”
“Catch you next heist, Tuhina.”
There’s a pause, then I hear her laugh.
“That’s my line.”