"Mouse," I said into the transmitter.
"Yeah," came the reply between puffs of breath.
"Little shit's fast."
"Where are you?"
"47th. Hancock. You?"
"48th and Cameron. Block down, two over from you."
A pause. Then: "Visual."
"Where?" I said.
"Don't move. I'll be right there."
"We'll lose it."
The cat was now on Baker Street.
In Wyld Boyz territory.
Wyld Boyz (and their female halves, the Wyld Grrlz) funneled Aguila rec drugs to BCU students and were rumored to drink the blood of their enemies. They tended to dress in tattered clothing like streeters--if streeters sported tattoos and piercings, ran in packs, and hunted tresspassers on their turf.
Could be bad.
Still, it was daylight and chances were pretty good that they wouldn't be roaming.
But they did have eyes out.
And they liked taking random shots.
I reached my foot toward the accelerator--
Then took another look.
Brake lights in front of me.
I slowed to a stop.
Red light ahead. Four cars back from the intersection at Wisher.
Needed to find another route--
I craned my head over the hood. Just enough space to flip a U-turn. Checked the other lane. No incoming. Glanced over my shoulder.
And saw them.
Three pairs of crotch rockets pursuing each other through traffic. Coming up my six. Fast.
One set decked out in blood-red. The other in neon-green and black.
Scarlet Razors and Grease Lightnings.
The Razors were in pursuit.
The first two pairs slalomed past the Shelby and roared through the intersection. Traffic halted with a squeal of brakes.
The last pair came up directly behind me, darted onto the sidewalk to my left, scattering peds and 'booths, then zipped between the stopped cars at the intersection.
Wyld Boyz and a joyboy turfwar.
Never a dull moment.
I flipped a U-turn and headed back the way I'd come.
* * *
I crossed 47th and Baker heading north, pulled to an empty spot at the curb, and looked around.
Quiet on both sides. Parked cars. Storefronts. A scattering of peds.
No sign of the cat.
No sign of Mouse.
I keyed the bud. "Mouse?"
"Mouse, what's your twenty?"
I checked my optic clock.
One hour until the call.
Tried again. "Mouse. I'm on Baker."
I put the car into gear and began a slow cruise up the street.
Pan and scan.
A couple of shopkeepers tossed wary glances in my direction. One glared at me from behind a window.
The peds ignored me and kept walking.
Got to the corner of Baker and 46th.
The cat darted in front of the Shelby, headed west.
I slammed on the brakes, jolted to a stop.
A second later, Mouse vaulted onto the hood, trenchcoat tails flaring out behind her, leaped off, and tore after the cat.
I started to pop the driver side door open when two pairs of booted feet bounded across the hood and raced after her.
"Mouse!" I said into the bud. "Two on your tail."
"I know," she said. "Where are you?"
"You just cleared my hood."
"Coming to you," I said.
"Make it fast."
I floored the accelerator and yanked the wheel hard to the left.
The Shelby fishtailed into the intersection.
Something slammed into the right rear corner and the car lurched.
Jammed the brakes and the Shelby skidded to a stop. Heard thumps across the roof. Saw a figure in full-body neon-green and black leathers tumble down the windshield, bounce off the Shelby's hood, and smack the pavement a meter in front of the car.
Joyboy. Grease Lightning.
I glanced behind me.
A Razor rider skidded to a stop at the back of the Shelby and pointed past me.
The Lightning rider surged to its feet, whipped out a set of implant blades from the back of each fist, and turned a helmeted head to me.
I slid out of the car. Clyde, one of the Twins--my pair of Colt-Springfield M2001 .45-caliber high-capacity pistols--was already in my left hand, tracking.
The joyboy bolted toward me.
Clyde roared five times. The joyboy stumbled, four rounds taking him high in the chest. The last round punched through the helmet's visor. His head snapped back, haloed in a red mist. He hit the ground, bounced once, then lay still.
I let out a long breath.
The Razor, a woman from the cut of her leathers, came around the Shelby's right side and pulled up next to the Lightning rider. Prodded the body with a boot toe.
Then looked at me, saluted, and took off west.
Static crackled in the bud, then: "Kat?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Little help here."
"Alley next to Chan's Express. Make it quick."
Then a burst of automatic weapons fire.
Shit shit shit shit.
(to be continued...)