Jie rubbed his arm and nodded at her. Then cast down his eyes to the floor.
“You fight differently to how I thought you would. In the movies and ebooks nanohackers always use the small-circle boxing styles so they can hit their macros faster.”
“That has its use, certainly.” Sifu said. “But an agent of the Black Mask must be able to fight with a lot of different approaches and we only have a limited amount of time to instil the necessary skills into them. The Wing Chun or JKD trapping-range fighting is still extremely useful to a nano-hacker, but plenty of situations arise where they simply cannot do the job and what do you do then?”
Jie thought about it for a moment.
Before he could answer a deafening ‘Whooosh’ split the air above their heads and a military speeder craft swooped down into the yard. Wu immediately positioned himself between Sifu and the threat as they watched Federal Garrison Troops disembark the speeder and rush towards whoever they could see.
“Why are they raiding the place?” Wu asked as they got down behind the weight’s bench.
“Sorry.” Jie said. “My Dad said something about a Federation Ranger coming into town, I was going to tell you guys, but…”
“Federation Ranger you say?” Sifu pursed her lip and surveyed the yard around them.
In a small recon speeder overhead a loudspeaker blared into life. “Employees and families of the Shining Sun: This is Federation Ranger Penny Dreadful. We are looking for two dangerous terrorists within this compound, please assist the Garrison troops with their enquiries by complying with their requests.”
Wu cast a worried glance back to Sifu. “They’re everywhere.”
Sifu turned back to Jie. “Does your father keep the trucks fuelled up?”
Jie broke his attention away from the troops gesturing aggressively at a pair of technicians to lie on the ground. When they wouldn’t comply fast enough the squad leader raised his rifle at them.
“Y-yeah, they’re always gassed up.”
Sifu made a beeline for the nearest one, a tanker truck with a misting unit. She slipped her Personal Data Assistant from her pocket. “Wu, keep an eye on the garrison, let me know when they head this way.”
Wu kept close to Sifu as she removed a dongle from her PDA and fed it into the truck’s key slot. Concentrating inwards again, Sifu focused on the code combination for the lock and began suppressing its shutdown function while the program cycled through millions of possible passwords.
Overhead Penny studied a bank of vidwindows in her nanoputer’s augmented display.
“Captain.” Penny called across the com. “Keep your men on a leash, under my authority you’re to act as peacekeepers not soldiers.”
The Captain growled back. “With respect Ranger, I know how to do my job.”
“The feed I’ll send to your superiors says otherwise, Captain. Cut the back chat or you’ll find yourself missing some bars.”
“Look out!” Shouted one of the garrison troops. Penny brought up his screen in time to see several soldiers dive out of the way of an onrushing truck.
Penny glanced down from the Speeder’s command bubble and watched the truck ram through the front gates.
“Abort!” Penny yelled. “Everybody say your goodbyes and get back in the air. They’re on the move.” Penny turned her head to the pilot sitting next to her. “Follow that truck.”
“Move you archaic hunk of crap!” Wu growled. Logged into the truck’s system Wu mentally reached for the throttle control and amped it up as high as it would go.
The engine roared in protest as it revved up to get the truck moving and then paused to breathe as it switched through the gears. Wu was honestly surprised he didn’t need a steering wheel to move this heap.
Jie stuck his grinning head out the window and hollered out his lungs.
Wu pulled the heavy beast into as tight a turn as he could manage to dodge the police cordon the constabulary had set up around the compound. In the back of his mind he was worried, he’d never seen Federation troops coordinate with the locals this well. What was going on?
The two cops at the check point opened fire on the truck as it sped passed, their rounds punching holes into the misting unit on the back and releasing steam behind them.
Up in the recon speeder Penny pointed down at the truck. “Keep up the pressure.” She told the pilot. “Try to head ’em off at the next street.”
Wu swung the truck wide to avoid a mother pushing a pram and turned down a different street. The little recon speeder roared overhead. Wu looked over the displays in his nanoputer. “I could get a lot more acceleration if I dumped the tank on the back.”
“No.” Sifu held up a hand to stop him. “We’ll need it, keep heading towards the shopping mall.”
Wu was about to ask why when the recon speeder dropped into view right in front of them. Wu slammed on the brakes, cranked the gears back down to one and took off down a different street.
Sifu cursed under her breath and began flicking through the map screens in front of her.
“They’re trying to box you in.” Sifu said. “Keep heading towards the mall. Don’t stop for any reason.”
Wu called a Nav arrow into his view to help him keep track of where to go. As he brought the truck back up to the 12th gear the recon speeder dropped down a dozen blocks ahead of them.
Penny yelled down the mic. “STOP RIGHT THERE. THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING BEFORE WE EMPLOY DEADLY FORCE!”
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