GOMI

Part XVII


She'd managed to get some sleep despite the immobility of her wrist. Every time she tried to roll over she'd only get so far and awaken to find her arm wretched across her body to the body-warmed plastic holding it there. Eventually she punched a rather age-flattened down pillow in place under her and lay on her stomach with an arm wrapped about a second pillow. She managed to poke all of the feathers back through the pillow case before drifting off.


The glare of sunlight seeped through his eyelids and shot him upright-awake. He fumbled about before donning a pair of sunglasses so he could roll a sore back around to make interface contact with Maria. The hum of tires on road, wind against his chest, and rotating of his drive shaft overlayed his flesh sensors with soothing familiarity. Painter was still blinking when he tried to coherently say, "How long I been out?" but it sounded more like, "Homlaghlehbnaughch?"

"'Bout seven hours," Whitehot mumbled over the commlink.

"SNAFU," Painter grumbled as he checked the logs. "What's the status?"

"Got a satelight visual on the RV. Getting the satelight to 'glitch' was tough. Had to fry some hardware in the satelight to do it. Harold thought it was funny-strange, but I just think they are just being paranoid."

"Any intel on Jessie?"

"Serious programmer, but not a deck head. 'bout four years back she started coming up with some wild conspiracy theories. Something about florescent lights. Finally decided that 'They' had to be exposed and went deep. Ony way to reach her is at that e-P.O. box. No one picks up the messages but the box keeps emptying. She's got something slipping in and picking them up for her. It gets buku-fragged from there, but you get the drift."

"Zereuz parenoiaa."

"All the reliable satelight tasking postings have her tagmarks on them."


The mud and grass tangled into her hair and covered her staining leather jacket. Mud even seeped through the lining of a pocket and made a squishing every time she moved in the rediculous crawl Jessie kept shoving her into. Tammy kept thinking, 'I'm not here,' and soon felt like she wasn't. That didn't make her feel any more comfortable, but it was better than being rolled about by some paranoid delusional wearing the ugliest cameoflage (not that you could tell from the mud) and black and green paints she'd made from rendered fat, homegrown hydroponic grass and charcoal. The makeup in the store had either radioactive tags or pheremones; Tammy hadn't been listening as to which.

"Down!" Jessie hissed before Tam's face found another mud puddle. 'I'm a good runner. I got to level eight on the tredmill,' she thought before the tape pulled at her sides. 'But how do you outrun a bomb.' She didn't think she could.

It had been clammy cold when Jessie had rolled out then taped plastic explosive to Tam's stomach. It looked more like modeling clay that the hotel "daycare providers" used to bring her. Patting the detonator in place on the inside of Tam's thigh Jessie had warned, "Best not get this shot. It just might blow things." But, Tammy wasn't there so it didn't matter. 'Yea, right.'

"You move I follow. Slo-o-o-o-wly."

'Me Jane you loopy,' Tammy grumbled, 'Walls that can't be seen around, strange dreams, stun rounds piercing armor and exploding, more toxins in my system than blood and this fruitcake jabbing me in the back with a gun she specifically got from a fixer named Jumpy who she refers to as paranoid.' Tam had moved over to the left somewhere and just decided to turn right. 'Jessie seems to be mimicing me. Maybe if I do this!' she shouted to herself as she lept prone then rolled over to the right, 'Frag she is mimicing me. What about this!' Tam cartwheeled twice then plopped herself down with her head resting on her chin. 'Or how about this!' She rocked forwards then rolled backwards, falling over sideways on the second roll.

Tam was on her back breathing hard and enjoying the view of the sky when Jessie rolled right next to her. "Good we made it."

Tam lifted her head enough to look about. "Where? We're in the middle of a field of flowers."

Jessie pushed her hand into the ground beside her and twisted. The grund beneath them began to descent. "That we were."


"Diz iz Bad."

Painter disconnected himself from Whitehot's deck and put down his weapon. They had watched the entire acrobatic performance from a couple miles off. Satelights were flakey, solar flares were being blamed, so they'd had to rely on the archaic optical scope on Painter's sniper rifle and a video feed from his cybernetic eyes into Whitehot's deck. Harold wanted a disk of the shenanagans, so they had a recording. "Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but perhaps we'd better analyze that recording before we follow."

Painter had to agree. "Make it quick. They're gonna need help down there."


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