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by • October 19, 2017 • Flash Fiction, Kansas, SerialComments (0)

Kansas: Chapter 34

PROMISED RENDEZVOUS

It was decided that Hatcher was too hot to try sneaking out of Madrid on any kind of public transportation. Even with a disguise to defeat the facial recognition software that ran on the dozen of cameras covering every rail station or airport it was too likely he’d be spotted in some fashion. The disguises themselves tended to involve NIR projection goggles, face paint, or hair or wigs sculpted into some kind of profile disrupting shape. The combination of these things tended to make one appear like some kind of nomad tribalist out of an old kino, which would be fine out in public or in a nightclub. In any kind of commercial hub, though, it would draw the attention of authorities.

So some kind of shipping drone had been decided upon. While there were the large freight aerodrones, if they were discovered the operator could take much more dangerous countermeasures, i.e. crashing them into the ground. So one of the unmanned ground vehicles that were constantly coming in and out of Madrid was decided upon.

Discussing this with Hatcher and Dragon, Durham nearly felt a part of the team, rather than someone that had been shanghaied into this entire affair. Regardless, he hadn’t asked what the big picture plan that the two mercenaries were working towards was. And he didn’t want to know. Durham only knew that Hatcher had some kind of grudge against one of the biggest conglomerates on the planet and someone within GT was gunning for Hatcher, whom they had codenamed Kansas.

There was a mystery under that codename, some kind of connection, that a part of Durham was itching to dig into, but resisted. Going up against GT was just a prescription for suicide, plain bad medicine. He’d run with Hatcher until he could find a shadow dark enough to disappear into. So he didn’t ask what the big plan was.

But Hatcher and Dragon had started asking him about drones and security and what he knew about Madrid’s logistic grid. Durham didn’t think they knew had done much research on in, certainly not enough to discover he had gotten his start hacking drones, but they knew he knew tech better than they did and that was enough.

One of the first things that Durham had learned was the big difference between a remote-controlled vehicle and a drone was that a drone could function autonomously without a human controller. That made them infinitely more hackable. Not only from a technical standpoint but from a social one as well. Without human drivers the vehicles only ever needed to stop for maintenance, which meant a much smaller center for storage and recharging, fewer personnel and less space for security. The sunny drought-stricken plains south of Madrid were perfect for the UGV wheelhouses.

The goodbye between Dragon and Hatcher was perfunctory. Standing outside one of the ferro-concrete maintenance exits of the arcology, Dragon handed the younger man a set of goggles, shook his hand and the two parted ways.

Hatcher turned up the surprisingly large collar on his jacket, obscuring the bottom half of his face, and put on the goggles, protecting him from any city cameras they might come across. With the barely detectable light coming out of the ocular units, his head resembled a turret, rotating back and forth as he crossed the street to Durham, taking in the early morning pedestrians. Durham had been keeping an eye on them as well, but it wasn’t terribly odd for people to be out at 4:00 am on the streets of Madrid. In a few hours, when places like Tokyo and Berlin were bustling with people headed to work, these streets would be empty.

The idea of walking out of the city to one of the wheelhouses, out across the wide open spaces around Madrid was more unsettling to Durham. He wasn’t sure if knowing that the Butcher had a small arsenal in the bag that he shouldered made him more or less nervous.

Trying to shrug off his anxiety Durham spoke to the Butcher as he stepped onto the curve. “I expected you two to hug.”

Butcher himself didn’t seem to find this idea implausible or strange, only saying, “I owe him a debt. We’ll see each other again.”

Watching Dragon get smaller as he moved further away, Durham doubted that very much.

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Read the previous chapter here.
See the author’s published work here.

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