Quarter of a mile.
"Almost there," I said.
And gunfire cracked across the Shelby's back window.
Rachel and Joshua yelped and I heard them duck down in the back seat.
I silently thanked Tinker for the armored glass.
"Stay down, you two," I said.
"Okay," said Joshua.
"Mouse," I said.
"Already there," said Mouse. She shoved herself partway out the passenger side window, hooked one leg through the seat belt, and sat on the windowsill, half-turned toward the car behind us, and let off several quick bursts.
Saw the car behind us slew to one side, trying to evade fire.
Mouse's return fire stitched the ground near the car's front wheels, bits of pavement geysering.
Then the other pursuit car appeared, shooting around the bend two hundred meters in front of us, just past the freeway entrance. Automatic fire flashed from the passenger side window.
Rounds stitched a line across the top edge of the Shelby's windshield.
"Fuck," I said.
"No fair!" Mouse yelled into the Shelby and went back to firing at the the car in back.
Another burst from the car in front sparked along the driver's side.
I fought back a flinch.
Then: a squeal of tires.
"Yes!" said Mouse.
Glanced at the rearview.
The car in back swerved toward our right and plunged into the treeline.
Mouse turned to face the other car.
Another flash of gunfire and metal sparked across our hood.
I gritted teeth.
At least the armor was holding.
Mouse waited two seconds, then fired a rolling burst at the other gunman. Her rounds punched through the windshield and the top of the man's head vanished in a misty burst of crimson.
Then she slid back inside, cursing. "I'm out," she said.
Then a thought struck.
"Mouse," I said.
"Yeah?" said Mouse.
"Get ready to cover me."
I drew Clyde from my shoulder rig, passed him to Mouse, then floored the accelerator.
The Shelby lurched forward with a burst of speed.
Closed on the car in front.
One hundred meters.
"Kat," said Mouse and I heard the slight touch of panic in her voice.
"Wait for it," I said, gripping the wheel, keeping the Shelby steady.
Took one hand off the wheel, unlatched my seat belt, and drew Bonnie from beneath my jacket.
I braked, turning the Shelby sideways, skidding to a shuddering stop with a screech of tires.
Threw the door open, strode toward the oncoming car, Bonnie coming up to aim.
Could almost see the driver's face. He was grinning.
Not for long.
Stroked Bonnie's trigger three times.
She bucked and roared.
The incoming car's front windshield cracked and starred, the driver's grin vanishing as his forehead blew apart.
And the car swerved toward the guardrail to my left, crashed through the barrier, and went arcing over the side of the hill.
I lowered Bonnie and looked over my shoulder.
Mouse stood behind and to my right, a meter away, Clyde at low-ready.
"Nice play," she said with a grin.
* * *
Mal's Place on Oxford Street between 45th and 46th catered to the college crowd and resembled a saloon right out of Mouse's old vids, complete with bat-wing doors. Mouse and I walked inside and immediately came to a stop, spun on our heels, and walked back out, catching Rachel and Joshua by the arms just before they went inside.
They gave a yelp as we dragged them next door to the front of an E-Z-Shoppe.
"What're you--" Rachel began then flinched and went silent at my Look.
The one that made people nervous.
"Why didn't you tell us you were meeting Tony Two-Tone?" I said.
She gave me a puzzled look. "Who?"
"You said you two were meeting someone, right?" I said.
"Yeah," she said.
She shrugged. "Some guy who handled fake IDs. Never gave a name. Just to meet here"--she gestured at Mal's Place--"between 14:30 and 15:30."
"Lemme guess," said Mouse. "They'd pick you out of the crowd?"
"I guess so," said Rachel.
"So who's this Tony whatsisname?" said Joshua.
"Tony Two-Tone," I said, "deals in fake IDs."
"He said five hundred thousand for both of us," said Rachel.
Mouse made a face.
"What?" said Rachel.
"Five hundred grand for cards and full background?" said Mouse.
Worry creased Rachel's face. She looked at Joshua, then back at us. "Full background?"
"He's just charging for cards," said Mouse. "Probably crap ones, too."
"What do you mean?" said Joshua.
"Fake name and address," I said. "Works fine if someone just looks at it. Maybe pass a basic scan. But if they do any other kind of check? You're screwed. Not gonna work if you're planning to move out of town and start fresh."
Rachel threw up her hands. "Well, shit."
"You paid half up front?" I said.
"Wait back in the car," I said. "Mouse and I will talk to him."
(to be continued...)