It'll Come Back Around, Part IV


vf_kain3_icon.gif ling_icon.gif

Scene Title It'll Come Back Around, Part IV
Synopsis Kain Zarek pulls in a crew for one last job. Again.
Date June 17, 2021

Crashing through a steel door, Kain Zarek lands flat on his back, then quickly flips onto his hands and knees and scrambles through a shallow puddle down the uneven asphalt of the alley. Before he can get to his feet he hears the gunshot and feels his legs give out. The pain doesn’t come right away, just a slam of pressure into his back. Shock delays the inevitable. But his mind knows what happened. As he exhales hyperventilating and panicked breaths, Kain rolls onto his side and with bleary eyes looks as the dark silhouette holding a gun advance out of the back of the Chinese restaurant.

“You went and made a fool of yourself, Zarek.” Silas Mackenzie’s eyes look hollow and lifeless under the jaundiced light of the alleyway. Kain is beginning to feel warmth before pain, his white undershirt darkening with red. The bullet went clear through him. “You got given chance after fucking chance to make things right with Danny, and you just had to keep fucking around behind his back, didn’t you?” Silas clicks the hammer back on the gun as Kain stares at him with a vacant expression..

“Like your old man used to say,” Silas says as his expression tightens, “Act a fool, and it’ll come back around.”

And he pulls the trigger—


Smiles,” Kain says with flinch, both hands raised, flat on his back. “Let’s think that through now, because from where Ah’m sittin’ fate just said time out.

Silas narrows his eyes, ejecting the magazine. Then, as he reaches for a replacement says, “Better talk fast then.”

Twelve Years Later

Ruins of the Atlantic Product Services Plant
Ruins of New Jersey

June 17th
11:37 pm

Kain Zarek waits in the trash-lined remnants of what was once a freight wharf, pacing back and forth in the shadows of rusting shipping containers. He isn’t hiding the fact that he’s armed, handgun at his side, barrel tapping against his leg in a nervous tic he hasn’t been able to shake no matter how many times he’s tried. He’s smoking, too. Jason Mines had a few cigarettes in his jacket when he died, and it was a shame to leave them behind.

Across the river there’s a fire burning on Staten Island, the distant orange glow a reminder of the lengths Kain had to go to cover his tracks. He finishes his cigarette, then flicks it into the harbor. Checking his phone, Kain reviews the last few messages:

Thursday, June 17, 2021 ᛫ 6:20 pm
Hey. We need to meet. Tonight. Harbor at the end of Salt Meadow Road. 11:30.
Sudden. I thought you had forgotten how numbers worked.
Where you been, Kain?
If this is in fact the correct number
Oh you know me, I took a yoga class. Been doing Pilates. Smelling the fucking roses. I need your help with something.
You know I don’t like asking for it.
One last job.
Always one more
I'd say be honest this time but its not something either of us are good at
Fine. I'll be there. One last time.
Bring a gun.

Headlights creeping down the road draw Kain’s attention from his phone. Yamagato electric cars are deadly silent, but at night at least headlights can give them away. That is a courtesy from Ling, rather than a vulnerability. Kain still has his gun out when he steps out into the overgrown road, one hand up in the air to signal to Ling’s vehicle. Then, stepping off the road, he flags Ling down to pull off and park beside an old shipping container to tuck the vehicle out of sight.

It's with no small amount of visible annoyance that Ling shows as she follows Kain's waved motions and instructions. A roll of her eyes, a sigh. The usual rote routine Kain is familiar with. Engine killed, key ring slipped around her finger as she reaches to the dash and pulls a red tinted pair of glasses off the dash, something she's been making a habit of wearing when out on… work, to try and hide her identity. How much use they have at night is questionable, but if nothing else, they're a statement piece.

Smoke rolls off her as she opens the door and slides the glasses on to her face, door open as she stands and looks in the direction she last saw Kain, eyes narrowed.

“Mines is dead,” Kain says right out of the gate. “Meant t’question him, but he had somebody by the short an’ curlies so I had to pop him one in the brain. Then two in the chest. Then Ah’ mighta’ burned the fuckin’ house down with his dead-ass body inside for good measure.”

Kain snorts loudly, then glances around with a nervous shift of his posture before looking back to Ling. He doesn’t look well. Bags under his eyes, thin, unshowered. It’s hard to tell if he’s been living on the street or sleeping in his car. Or both.

“But Ah’ got somethin’ for ya.” Kain says with a haunted look of apology in his eyes. “Ah’ got answers.”

The name Mines is an arrow lodged in the rings of it's target to Ling, one she's been trying to hit a bullseye on ever since she had questioned Kain following Kaydence's abduction. One she had never been able to turn much up on, besides hearsay and rumours. One that she's been distracted from with the upheaval at Yamagato and her subsequent benching.

Maybe that was part of why she was so eager to get out here.

She stares at him for a moment longer, before wordlessly closing the door and making her way back towards the trunk of her vehicle. Popping it open, she reaches in and removes a false bottom within to reveal a rather new looking rifle and a duffel bag, both of which she pulls out.

Kain did say bring a gun.

"Answers," is the first word she speaks to him as the trunk latches shut again. "We have very different definitions of answers, sometimes. So we'll see." She sounds… brusque. Harsh. Clearly something is rubbing her the wrong way, but she's not voicing it.

Kain shoots Ling a quick look, expression softening as he does, then walks around the length of the shipping container to the door. It’s already open, and all Kain does is push it open a little wider. “Lemme start by sayin’, this was only fifty percent mah’ idea.”

As Kain steps into the shipping container, the first thing Ling hears is the clink of restraints. There’s a man, bag over his head, handcuffed to a folding chair in the middle of the shipping container. That’s about par for course with what Kain might tuck away behind Door Number One. That is, until she sees who is standing next to the chair.


“Hello again, Miss Xiaolu.” Eizen says with a dip of his head into a nod.

There are few things in the world that can get Ling Chao to stop dead in her tracks in surprise, but the sudden appearance of Eizen Erizawa accomplishes it. It's an uncharacteristic look for her, eyes wide behind her glasses, mouth just barely agape enough to be noticeable. It makes her regret her choice of dressing in one of her customary sleek, black outfits she often wears for endeavours meant to be held out of the public eye.

"成程1," she offers in a low voice, choosing a Japanese phrase wholly intentionally as she keeps her eyes on Eizen. "In this context, I believe Miss Chao may be more appropriate," she adds, opting out of further Japanese, hers is still a work in progress at best anyway.

What she does do, if nothing else, is cross over to him, offering him her hand in greeting, almost as if she's more happy to see him than Kain. "At least this is a pleasant surprise this time," she offers back to Kain.

“Tall, dark, an’ spooky tracked me down a while back.” Kain says, entering the shipping container. “Turns out your boss didn’t like him much and kicked him out on his ass after…” He loses his confidence as he remembers his role in all of that. “After that shit went down.”

“Yes.” Eizen says with a glance to Kain. “After I was let go, I found myself free to investigate the circumstances of Ms. Damaris’ kidnapping. I was bereft of leads for some time, until a Private Military Company reached out to me with an employment offer.” He says with a raise of both brows. “Durandal.

Notorious, even enough that Ling has heard of them in her limited time in this world. The single largest Expressive paramilitary company in the world.

“I, as Mr. Zarek would say, hitched my wagon to them hoping to use Durandal’s resources to identify the perpetrators behind Ms. Damaris’ kidnapping.” Eizen explains. “Only to find evidence that implicated Durandal itself.

Kain nods, continuing to catch Ling up. “Eizen sent me some photos, Ah’ was able to match ‘em up with the fuckers that tried to roll me into a ditch.”

“I do recall finding you in one.” Eizen adds as an aside.

Kain grimaces and pushes on. “We pinned the tail on the donkey on one’f them asses. Fella by the name of Lucas Van de Walle. Ain’t got much else on ‘em yet, but it’s a start. Smoking gun.” Kain steps over to the restrained man with the bag on his head. “The other end of that was Mines. Fucker was the one who put me up shit’s creek with Kay. Been followin’ him for a while, found his safehouse. Nabbed some things from it, but got a feelin’ that Ah’ might be bein’ followed too. So, y’know, I set two traps.”

Motioning to the bag-headed man, Kain smiles. He’s a little proud of himself. “Figured since me an’ Spooky here weren’t chasin’ our own asses, it was time t’loop you in. Ah’… didn’t feel right doin’ it until Ah’ knew Ah’ had somethin’. Wasn’t gonna come back empty handed. Not—after what Ah’ did.”

"What you did," Ling starts in a familiar acerbic tongue, "Is vanish for nearly a year while I have been stuck at a desk," she huffs out as she turns to look at him. One hand pulls down those red tinted glasses enough that she can look over them and make her disappointment clear - a pleasant side effect of this particular choice this evening. "And could have been helping."

That's not to say she isn't listening to the explanation. She is. It's taking a moment to sink in, and she's taking that moment to make her displeasure known. "Durandal is something I have become rather well aware of since I…" Her eyes flick to Eizen, then to Kain. "…Since I came to New York." Leaning the rifle against the wall of the shipping container, she unzips the front side pocket of her duffel bag and pulls a lighter and a pack of cigarettes.

Her eyes drift back to Eizen, and she tries to hide a frown. "Are you able to share what led to implicating an enemy that I think we would rather not make if we don't have to?" Pragmatic as ever, but not without a point. That frown fades after a moment, almost to something resembling amusement. "Not that that changes my mind one way or the other."

She looks back to the bag-headed figure, and smirks devilishly. "Empty handed or not, I am here now." She drops the duffel bag to the floor, causing a reverberating thunk to ring out. "So I am here to help."

“Ah’ saw Lucas, he’s the one what shot me.” Kain says, tapping two fingers in the center of his chest. “Red sunglasses, jarhead haircut, mechanical arm. He kinda’ stands out.”

That’s when Kain yanks the bag off the head of their captive.


Silas Mackenzie.

He has a pair of large over-ear headphones on, blasting music. Silas looks up, squinting at Ling, then turning around to look at Kain and Eizen, straining against his restraints.

“This is the motherfucker that was tailing me.” Kain says with a pump of one brow. “Tailing Mines. So way Ah’m seein’ it, he might have the answers about what Mines’ been up to on account of ol’ Jason’s brain are on fire on a floor somewhere right now.”

Silas flickers, seemingly vanishing for a split second before reappearing and groaning in pain, gasping loudly. “You fuckers!” He shouts through his gag.

Eizen offers Ling a smile. “When he does that, I slap him.” With his mind. Ling saw that first hand in Canada.

"This motherfucker." Normally, Ling would offer such a curse in Mandarin, but she wants Redd to hear her. She knows who this man is, and while she may not know what he's capable of she has far more important knowledge:

The fact that at least one person in this room has killed him before.

It doesn't help that she thoroughly dislikes him on principle, save for the one that had travelled to this world with her, but that's another worry for another night. Or one she can perhaps find joy in later, if she feels like leaning back into the sadism she relished in her home world.

Clicking her tongue, Ling huffs out a breath. "Impressive," is a remark to Eizan. Looking down at Redd over the top of her glasses, she smirks. She looks back to Kain, nodding to him with that same smirk. "The same to you, as well, for catching him off guard."

Attention turns back to Redd, and she tilts her head slightly. "I would settle down if I were you, Redd, otherwise a slap will be the least of your worries." She has no idea what they have in mind, but intimidation has always been a game she knew how to play.

“Mistook him for our Smiley first,” Kain says with a look down at Redd. “But you get one look in those fuckin’ eyes you know they ain’t the same fella.” Kain then nods to Eizen, who pulls Redd’s headphones off. Immediately Ling can hear Hotel California blaring at maximum volume.

“Hey pal,” Kain says with a gentle pat on Redd’s cheek. “We gotta talk,” he says, then tugs Redd’s gag out.

“Gideon’s gonna twist your dick into a pretzel when he finds out what you did you stupid sack of shit.” Redd spits the words out like venom through his clenched teeth. Kain glances at Ling, then winds up and punches Redd square in the side of the head, sending his chair tipping over to crash on the floor.

Eizen watches the exchange, but seems disinclined to intervene.

“Here’s how this is gonna work. We’re gonna ask you questions, you’re gonna answer. You do it good, and we’ll let you go runnin’ off to ‘ol Giddyup Buttercup with your rat-ass tail tucked between your legs.” Kain says with a sneer. “Fuck around, an’ our tall buddy over here’ll make sure the only thing you’re doin’ in the future is slurping pudding out of a cup while you shit yourself.”

Redd grows silent, looking at Kain out of the corner of his eye. “We good?” Kain asks. Redd nods a couple of times, and Kain hoists his chair back up with Eizen’s help. Once he’s straightened up, Redd looks at Ling with narrowed eyes.

Chao?” Redd asks in disbelief.

"Hello, Silas." It's a bitter remark, a sarcastic greeting punctuated in a sneering grin and marred in the smoke that drifts off her form as she speaks it. His questioning tells her a lot more than he realises, even as she finally lights one of her cigarettes. "It's been some time. I have to say, I've seen you look better."

Turning away from him, she makes her way back over to where she's set her rifle and her duffel bag, picking up both to pull closer to this interrogation - another, more subtle measure of intimidation, if nothing else. She motions lazily with her cigarette holding hand towards Kain. "Now, please. Go on. Unless you'd like to jump to how this ends now."

Bending down, she open the duffel bag, revealing - well, not as much to the keen eye as she had let on. Attachments for her rifle, if needed. A shovel, which she hopes they'll need. Two knives. A handgun, unloaded. The kind of stuff Kain has absolutely seen her carry around when he's asked for her help in the past. Pulling one of the knives out, she rolls it over in her hand, before looking back at Silas with a cordial smile.

Little mind is paid to Eizen other than a glance in his direction, as if trying to convince him that this is all performative. She knows he knows better, though.

Redd glances up at Kain, then Ling, and with confusion to Eizen who he doesn’t recognize at all.

“You’re all a little early t’be playing Christmas Carol with me,” Redd says with a sneer, spitting blood on his own lap. “The fuck are you two supposed to be, double Jacob Marley? You’re dead.”

Kain glances at Ling, then back to Redd. “We got better,” is how he decided to not answer. “How long have you been tailin’ Mines for?”

Redd rankles at the question, then rolls his eyes. “A while. He’d been acting shady for a couple years, but I didn’t really see it till he brought me back to New York. Gideon was too sweet on him, so I did what he couldn’t.”

Glancing back at Ling, Kain shakes his head. “Weird how?” He asks Redd.

“Burner phones, late-night meetings off Gideon’s books. Had a lot of evening meetings with the late Zhou Wenzhou before he up and got his ass arrested and then dead.” Redd says freely. “Thought he might be trying to sweep the Refrain business out from under Gideon, but it was different. I think he was bumpin’ uglies with the terrorists that got arrested over in Rochester a while back.”

Mazdak?” Eizen asks with visible alarm. He and Kain share a brief look. “What does Mazdak have to do with Kay Damaris?”

“I dunno who the fuck that is,” Redd says with a shrug. Even in the Linderman Group, they’d run in different circles. “Look, you want answers, you figure out who Mines’ girlfriend is.”

Kain’s brows furrow. “Girlfriend?

“Yeah, late twenties, really tan, dark hair. Dresses real nice. Lovely perfume.” Redd says with a knife-like smile. “Mines met her for a little lovers retreat in the woods up past the All World’s Fish plant. He dug something up out of the floor, a case. Handed it over when his girlfriend showed up. I kept an eye on it, you know, without being seen.”

“You are awfully generous with this information.” Eizen says at the back of Redd’s head. To which Redd, twisting to look over his shoulder at Eizen says:

I don’t see the harm in talking to the dead.” Redd says with a sly look at Kain, who now cant tell if that’s a threat or a dig at his best-known status.

You're dead.

Ling has gone to great lengths to avoid looking into what happened to the… local version of herself, preferring to live her own life doing whatever the fuck it was she did these days. She had always figured she and Kain still worked for Linderman, given this world's history, so the knowledge of either of their death isn't entirely a surprise.

It still has weight, however.

She stares at him for a moment longer, shaking her head before looking over at Eizen. "It is possible they had a deep hand in what was happening where we picked up Kaydence," she offers to him, brow furrowed as she considers. "It certainly was entirely off the books." Eyes flick over to Redd. "Something to ask other interested parties about."

After a moment she dips back down to her bag and pulls out a scope for her rifle, setting about getting it set into place. "I would think up a bit more detail on this girlfriend," she offers to Redd as she pulls off her glasses and slips them into a case in her bag. "Rather than describing half the whores on Staten Island."

Raising the gun up, she peers through the scope to check it's calibration, futzing with a dial on it's side before looking back over at Eizen and Kain. "If Mines was dealing with Triads," an assumption made based on the name of his contact, "and Mazdak, then there are likely others to trace back to within the city."

Pulling a clip out of the bag, she slides it into the rifle and pulls back a large bolt to chamber it. Another is pulled out and slid into a pocket. Smoke begins to drift more thickly off her as she turns and starts to walk towards the front of the crate. "I am taking a look outside," she offers - clearly she sees what Redd said as more than an idle threat, and while she could cover more ground faster as smoke, she doesn't want to drift too far from the others.

Kain looks over his shoulder at Ling, watching her step out of the shipping container. He looks back at Redd, brows furrowed. “Lady has a point. This girlfriend of his got a name?”

Azadi.” Redd says with a narrowing of his eyes, “Don’t know any more than that, Mines called her by her first name when she rolled up to collect the goods. But she wasn’t the only one snoopin’ around.”

Kain tilts his head to the side, glancing at Eizen, then back to Redd. “Spill. Words or guts, your ch—”

“You don’t scare me, Zarek.” Redd says with a wide smile baring pink teeth. “But there were two other people, pink haired girl in an oversized sweater who whisked Azadi away with some kinda’ ability, and a guy who was watchin’ them in the woods, crept out to check out the area afterward. He had a mask on, didn’t get a good look at ‘em.”

Eizen steps over to Kain, moving him subtly out of earshot of Redd. “He’s stalling,” Eizen whispers, “he does not think we’ll make it out of here alive. He has reason to.” Looking up at Kain, Eizen asks, “Were you followed?

Kain’s eyes are wide. Had anyone seen him nab Redd? He hadn’t exactly been covert about it. But there were a dozen points between killing Mines and jumping Redd where he could’ve been spotted. “No—I don’t—think so.”

He and Eizen exchange a brief, worried look. “Fuck.



The night is dark. There are no city lights in New Jersey, just the suffocating darkness of a midsummer night. Even the Ohio River fire is too far away to glow on the horizon right now, though the taste of smoke and ash clings to the air. Across the water it’s another story, Staten Island and the Safe Zone are aglow, rippling bright in the Hudson River.

Ling’s instincts are, as usual, keen. Something about Redd’s cocksure demeanor and the confidence in which he relayed information to Kain and Eizen. It all felt like a trap. Thankfully for Ling, it’s not an expertly laid one.

The first gunshot misses her, but buzzes past her head close enough that it parts her hair. The round ricochets off of the storage container, should’ve gone straight through her head. But it was a long shot from a high vantage point. She spotted the muzzle flash on top of the adjacent factory. It’s all the time she needs to reflexively turn into smoke to avoid the other three shots that punch into the asphalt after harmlessly passing through her.

Engines rumble in the dark, a pair of truck with floodlights on coming down the road. They’re out of time.

Of course. Even as much as her ability has advanced in her years since leaving her virus laden home, the complexly constructed rifle is still far too complex for her to carry with her in her smoke form. Her knife, certainly, but that would require leaving the Kain and Eizen behind in the shipping container.

So instead, she swivels back out of sight, kneeling down and pull rifle back over to her. She would have to find somewhere else to post up, but first, she reaches into her pocket and flips out her phone. Not her Awasu, she was smarter than that, but she quickly types out a text message to send to kain.

I'd say be honest this time but its not something either of us are good at
Fine. I'll be there. One last time.
Bring a gun.
Thursday, June 17, 2021 ᛫ 11:53 pm
Trap. New arrivals. Sniper. Kill him get ready to leave.

This is something she should've know to expect. Any time Kain utters the phrase one last job, it's cursed. Every single time. As much as she dislikes superstition, it's become pretty hard to ignore at this point.
As she comes around to the other side of the shipping container, smoke begins to drift off her form, leaning the rifle against the side of the container before she loses her ability to properly hold it. Though she still looks like herself to the naked eye - save for a wispy quality to her eyes and tendrils of smoke rising off her to match - she's moved fully into her smoke form, stepping out into view as she tries to better flush out where the sniper is.

Fuck,” Kain hisses, looking at his phone. “We gotta go, Spooks.” Eizen, momentarily distracted by the sound of gunfire, briefly loses sight of Redd. In that instance, Redd ceases to exist for him. When Kain turns around and sees the chair empty, he’s disoriented, wheeling toward the container door without thinking about the fact that Redd was handcuffed to the chair.

As Eizen reaches for his gun, Redd uses the distraction to throw himself backwards, breaking the chair at its joints. He’s still tethered to the chair back, but he can carry it. Kain wheels around at the noise, firing blindly in the general direction Redd was in.

We have to go!” Eizen shouts, grabbing Kain by the shoulder. Kain snarls, firing twice more into the back of the container. Nothing, no blood, fuck. Eizen hauls Kain out by the scruff of his jacket, and the two emerge in time to see a pickup truck with large KC floodlights on the roof barreling down the road towards their position.

Go!” Kain shouts, running toward Ling’s parked car.

A gunshot cracks off in the distance, and Ling is able to draw out the sniper. The bullet harmlessly passes through her, and this time she’s able to narrow down the muzzle flash direction. On the fire escape on the river-facing side of the nearby factory a few hundred feet away. The truck, however, is a more pressing problem.

As it roars down the road, a man leans out from the window and wildly fires an AK-47 in the direction of where Kain and Eizen are fleeing, where Ling parked her car. The floodlights are blindingly bright, and the driver is clearly intending to use it to take advantage of the night and turn this into a shooting gallery.

Clicking her tongue in annoyance, Ling ducks back behind the shipping container and sighs. "One last job," she remarks to herself, bitterly mocking in tone. If Kain didn't retrieve her bag, if he left evidence, or worse, left weaponry for Redd, she would have his guts for garters after this was all done.

Or before, she's not picky.

Picking up her rifle, her eyes scan the area, looking for a new spot she can post up. Getting to the car was easy for her. Avoiding gunfire, less so, particularly once in the car. Her next goal becomes finding a spot to take out the headlights of the newly arrived truck. People after that, pulling back the bolt to chamber another bullet.

Quickly moving back to the other side of the shipping container, her eyes look out and scan for another, better vantage point for her plan.

The sharpshooter up on the factory doesn’t fire again when he sees a shot go straight through Ling. It gives her an opening to take out the KC lights on top of the truck, then the headlights, evening the playing field. Her rifle fire sends the people in the truck scrambling, the driver throws the truck in reverse and starts to peel out backwards from the road. It doesn’t seem like they were expecting this kind of resistance.

In the same moment, headlights pop on from around the shipping container, along with the purring whine of an electric engine revving. Behind the wheel of a Yamagato Predator, Kain Zarek looks alarmed by the number of switches and buttons the electric car has. “How the fuck—where’s the—” he keeps instinctively reaching for a shifter.

Foot on gas, hands on wheel, drive!” Eizen hisses through his teeth, flipping the car from park into drive for Kain. As Kain slams on the gas, the Predator fishtails out from behind the shipping container, swerves around Ling, and then comes to a stop in front of her.

Small arms fire pops out from the truck, firing blind into the dark. A few rounds hit the car, leaving scuffed pock marks rather than bullet holes. “This fucking thing is armored!?” Kain gasps breathlessly.

Yes,” Eizen snaps back, “it used to be my car.” Now, it’s Ling’s.

Eizen rolls down the window. “Get in!

The rolled down window is all Ling needs, immediately sublimating into smoke, shifting past Eizen and over the center of the front seat and into the back, weapons be damned. It's only once she's safely inside that she opens the door and snatches up her rifle, pulling it inside the vehicle.

"Go," is hissed as she considers rolling down a window or sunroof so that she may pop out and return fire. "Before they find their confidence again!" She sounds a bit more rattled than Kain is likely used to, or at least more displeased than he's heard from her in a while.

This is, as usual, a fine mess she has found herself in at Kain's behest. Someday, she'll make him understand the things she does for his idiot self.

Kain doesn’t need any further instruction as he hammers his foot down on the accelerator. The electric motor screams a banshee wail and the tires spit gravel before they find traction and the Predator takes off like a bullet. Kain lurches back against the driver’s seat, watching the pickup truck blow by. He exhales sharply, reaches down for a manual shifter and doesn’t find one.

“Fuck, fuck,” Kain hisses, jerking the wheel to the left and slamming on the gas, spinning the tail end out as he drifts the car into the upcoming T-intersection. There’s some more, loud, reports of gunfire as spiderwebbed white pock-marks appear on the windshield. “Fuck!” He hollers, punching the accelerator again.

“Left again up here!” Eizen shouts, watching their position on the tall GPS screen. Kain speeds the Predator down the road, then kicks it into a drifting turn again, and once more reaches for a manual shifter that isn’t there. “Straight now, straight, floor it!

Gritting his teeth, Kain dumps his foot on the accelerator and as soon as the tires chew pavement the Predator explodes with forward momentum, soon turning into a black shape on the horizon with gleaming red tail lights.

No one gives pursuit, and if they’d tried… they’d never have caught up. At least, for now, they were in the clear. But Redd had slipped his bonds and escaped. There was more going on than Kain realized, and it gnawed at the pit of his stomach.

“Where do we go now?” Eizen asks, glancing at Kain in the driver’s seat as the nighttime city rolls past. Kain doesn’t have an immediate answer, but he fixes Ling with a knowing look in the rear view mirror.

“Ah’ dunno,” Kain says, turning his attention to the road, “but Ah’ know where we can lay low and figure that out.”


Not Far Away

From a dead cold sleep, Ricky Daselles jolts up into a sitting position. His apartment is dark, quiet, and yet he has a sinking sensation of approaching dread twisting at his guts. His eyes narrow, and he reaches for his gun…

…then past it…

…to a vape pen.

“Probably nothin’.”

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