Theresa stopped and stifled a sigh from getting too loud. She turned to face the voice and saw a trio of youths approach her. They strode like kings, but were barely out of high school. The one in the front, the blond one in the red blazer had a pistol stuffed into the waistband of his trousers, which did not look comfortable.
That might explain why his left hand was constantly toying with it.
“Yeah.” He beamed. “You look at me when I talk to you.”
So much for being on the same side.
Theresa kept her gaze up and on the three sets of smiling eyes approaching her. The two youths flanking their friend kept silent. Their attention alternated between her and their leader.
Theresa concentrated on her peripheral vision and took in the broadwalk they were on. It was two footpaths wide and bordered by abandoned shopfronts at the edges, she was firmly boxed in. The only ways out were to turn and run or go right through the three youths.
The leader’s pistol complicated those plans.
The youth looked at Theresa and sneered. “What do you think you’re doing here? You know your kind aren’t welcome in the Gates.”
The words ‘your kind’ made Theresa’s shoulders tense. She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m just passing through. I don’t need to be welcomed.”
He stopped at arms-length from Theresa and his hand closed around the pistol’s grip. “Perhaps I’m being too subtle. Take your skanky apostate self off the streets of our fine city, you’re not wanted here.”
Theresa felt her hands clench into fists. “I go where I like. You can’t stop me.”
The youth beamed at his entourage. “Looks like we got some fight in this one.”
He pulled the six-barrelled pistol from his pants, at the same time his two boys moved up to flank her. Pulling retractable batons from their jackets as they approached.
The youth raised his pistol at Theresa.
Before he had it all the way up she snatched his wrist away and bent his arm towards the youth on his left. A subtle programming command transferred through her nano-machines to his hand, causing it to clench tight around the pistol, squeezing the trigger.
Unfortunately for the youth the leader had left his pistol set to ‘hammer’ and a shot from all six barrels punched through his chest. While he stumbled to his death Theresa intercepted his friend on her other flank with a kick to the gut.
The Leader swung his fist out at Theresa, but she was already on the move, slipping around to his back, she twisted his arm between his shoulder blades. Another nanohack command from Theresa forced his hand open and the pistol dropped into her grasp. Theresa hugged close to the leader and stuck his pistol in his kicked friend’s face.
The last youth gasped, his mouth fell open and his hands came up. He noticed the baton in his hand and quickly threw it away. “Oh God. Please don’t kill me.”
Theresa tilted her head down the street. “Leave.”
Without a second’s thought the youth obeyed. The leader struggled, reaching to his departing friend. “Travis! Don’t you leave me.”
Theresa stuck the pistol’s barrels under his chin. “Relax tough guy. I’m not going to kill you unless I have to. Does that sound fair?”
He panted a few times before saying “Y-yes.”
Theresa was about to speak again when she heard the roar of speeder engines descending behind her. She spun around, keeping the boy as her human shield. Coming in to land on the broadwalk was a civilian transport speeder, basically an airborne minibus. The side door slid open allowing two men to jump the last metre down to the street while a third trained his rifle on Theresa. They wore no uniform, just jeans, leather jackets and crew cuts, but it was clear they were the Order’s militiamen. They carried themselves like they had absolute authority.
The closest of them, a hard-nosed man with a permanent scowl, called out to her.
“Just what the hell is going…”
Theresa didn’t wait for him to finish, she tightened her grip around her captive’s neck and bolted for the nearest shop front, unloading a hammer-shot into each corner of the window before throwing the boy into it.
While the Order’s goons got their weapons out, Theresa dropped low, switched to full-auto and emptied the last of the pistol’s ammo at the door-gunner. Her rounds pinged loudly into the speeder’s hull, causing the gunner to duck behind it for cover.
Theresa took her chance and dashed through the shattered glass into the shopfront. The youth reached up from the debris-covered floor and snatched at her leg, catching her at the ankle and pulling her to the ground.
A moment later the Order’s goons opened fire. Bullets tore through the rest of the shop-front, obliterating what was left of the window and sending hot steel and plexiglass everywhere.
Theresa rolled onto her back and lashed out at the bloodied youth with her other foot, catching him square in the face. Theresa felt the cartilage of his nose give way and his grip on her ankle released.
Outside one of the order’s goons yelled. “Form up.”
Theresa pushed up from the ground and charged towards the back of the shop, vaulting over the counter just as the goons caught sight of her and opened fire again.
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