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Next of Kin, Chapter Twenty-Two: 41%


  12:40:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1152 words  
Categories: Next of Kin

Next of Kin, Chapter Twenty-Two: 41%

  1. Twenty-Two, 41%


?Could you help me find him?? I asked Jenel.

?Seriously? You're a human hemorrhoid; you keep new finding ways to be a pain in my ass.? But she knew that if he had half as sophisticated a mod package as she thought, I'd never catch him on my own. He'd be able to track me and always stay a hundred feet ahead of me.

?Fine,? she said. ?I'd start with his GPS.?

?Isn't that likely to be bogus.?

?You'd be surprised. About a third of the time, criminals install all of the fancy, expensive pirate mods and apps, and then don't turn them on or calibrate them properly. But probably. Unless you think he's downtown. Moving too slow to be in a car, too fast to be on foot. He strike you as much of a cyclist??

?No,? I said.

?Didn't think so.? She shared the GPS map with me. We watched him pull up to a residence. She brought up the street camera correlating with the address. We watched a skinny Asian kid who couldn't be more than seventeen saunter up to the door with a pizza.

?What now?? I asked.

?The nice thing about starting a trace with GPS is it's tied into his IP. Most of the data pushed to our interfaces is routed using an IP. There's only so much you can manipulate an IP before the public servers get wise- and it's higher level, computer Jedi shit. I do it. Our servers do it. But I wouldn't expect a drug pusher to.?

Suddenly a blue dot appeared on my map, inside the dead zone. She was even kind enough to share a map of the dead zone, so I had some landmarks to track him by. He was less than a mile away from where I talked to him last.

?I'd get to him fast,? she said. ?He's bound to figure out you're onto him. And the more time you give him, the more dangerous he'll be.?

?You mind if I take the gun?? I asked.

?You'll probably need it a hell of a lot more than I will,? she said. I slid it behind my back, and tucked it under my waistband. I nodded at Jenel as I left.

Walking away from her tent, I noticed I was back on the grid; I wondered how long I had been. At least since I left Jenel- that much was certain from the conversation in the chat. My approval rating was higher than I expected, but the chat had turned actively hostile. I lost another point for 'walking too slow.'

I tried to speed up, but without increasing my speed enough the audience would know they'd gotten to me. I was starting to hate them. I wanted to catch my brother's killer. But I wanted to be free of them even more.

Jim was moving. The trace Jenel had on him was updating in real time, which meant he wasn't more than a few hundred yards ahead of me. But if he made it out of the dead zone, he could get a car and be well and truly gone.

My car was a mile in the other direction, and my account was redlining. Most drivers refused to pick up someone in my situation, because there was no telling if you'd get them to their destination only to find they couldn't pay for the ride. There was an alternate method, for linking a fare to the passenger's account, so when it went dry the ride stopped, but it was complicated, and led to more confrontations than it was ever worth. A paid car driver could simply do a passive credit check, make sure the passenger's account wasn't redlined; it just made things easier.

Jim couldn't convince a driver to pick him up until his GPS was functional; otherwise it was practically asking to be mugged. But it meant that if Jim made it out of the dead zone, he was gone. I picked up the pace. I saw someone ahead I thought might be him, and started running.

He was nearly to the edge of the dead zone. I wanted to call Chase, to have him meet me, or at least have him trace the cab while I grabbed my car. But I couldn't spare the air; if I tried to call I would definitely loose him.

But if he got away, I wanted to be able to tell Chase where I was, before I made it out of the dead zone myself. I knew my GPS wouldn't work, here- the dead zone routed GPS all over, so from moment to moment you appeared on other ends of the zone. I pulled up the location overlay; I figured I could at least give him cross streets. The virtual street signs had been altered, defaced in some places, or renamed for violent sex acts in others. I was pretty sure telling Chase I was on Angry Dragon Drive, just past the cross street of Flaming Amazon Lane, wasn't going to tell him anything.

Jim reached the edge of the zone. I was catching up to him. I wasn't in shape, but I wasn't as fat as he was, either. He paused, and I realized he was making a call.

But he was enough out of breath that to make the call he stopped. It meant I had a chance to catch up. As I approached, the red telephone icon appeared over his face, before disappearing.

?Wait,? I said. ?I want to talk.?

?No,? he said, and I mistook his meaning, that he thought I had some other motivation. Then he hit me, and as my face smacked into the pavement at his feet, I realized he meant that no, he wasn't going to talk to me.

He kicked me, once in the shoulder, and I realized that by trying to get up I was just giving him more reason to kick me. I tried to curl into a ball, to protect myself as best I could. He continued to kick, at my spine. With each kick I was less able to hold the curl. Then I felt him kick the gun.

He knew immediately what it was, and kicked me in the neck. Lightning struck, from my head to my hip, and my entire side tensed, then went numb. I felt him slide the gun out of my waist band, felt it against my shoulder, then the compression wave was energy from it firing crested through my flesh like a wave.

Then the bullet hit, fire surrounded by force, burrowing through me, tearing its way through my shoulder then out of my chest. His car pulled up. I tried to raise my hand, and tell him to wait, but I didn't have the strength. He dropped the gun on the curb beside me, then got inside the car.

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