25 November 2011


By Curtis C. Chen

Kaylee knows she can't throw the guy without killing him, or at least doing serious spinal damage; every surface in the subway station is some kind of hard flat or edge. So she settles for slashing his right leg, just above the kneecap, with one of the blades hidden in her leather gauntlets, and then running like hell. All I can do is observe from twenty-two thousand miles away.

Here's the thing about having your consciousness transferred into a solar-powered satellite in geosynchronous orbit: sure, you never have to sleep, you can see the entire continent at once, but that's pretty much all you can do. Watch. Even with a two-way broadband link directly into Kaylee's cerebral cortex, transmission delay plus reaction time means anything I tell her will be at least five hundred milliseconds out of date. And that half-second could get her killed.

So most of the time, I just keep my mouth shut and let her do her thing.

I watch, through Kaylee's eyes and the spotty subway securicam coverage, as she maneuvers through crowds of commuters. She knows I'll have better coverage once she's at street level, and she's probably figured the same thing I have from her first attacker's dress and approach: professional killer. Somebody's called down a hit on my little sister.

We knew it would happen someday. You can't run free in any city for long before the local mafia or union or PTA or whatever they call themselves wants a piece of your action. I hope she's ready for this.

"Another heavy on your six," I verbalize into Kaylee's speech centers. She won't hear the words so much as she'll think them, but she'll know the thought didn't come from herself. "Hoodie, ballcap, hand-cannon in his pants."

"Thanks, bigbro," she thinks back at me.

Her head snaps around, but she doesn't stop moving up the last stairway to ground level. The hitter behind her is younger than the first one, and better camouflaged; I only made him because of the weapon bulging in his waistline. He's smart, this one; not drawing on Kaylee until he absolutely has to, probably thinking he'll get close enough to put her in a headlock, use his size as advantage and use the piece for persuasion.

Kaylee skids to a halt at the top of the stairs, turns around, and screams at the top of her lungs, "Stop following me, you pervert!"

The crowds on both sides of the stairs, both going up and down, freeze in place. The hitter stops, too, and makes a show of looking around just like everyone else, working his disguise. That gives Kaylee more than enough time to draw her taser, line up a clear shot, and fire the darts right into the side of his neck.

The hitter gurgles and crumples in the middle of the parting crowd. Kayle drops the taser, still discharging electricity into the man, and disappears into broad daylight.

"That's my girl," I think to myself, wishing I could still smile.


Image: Where are Jérémie and Martina? by Éole Wind, January, 2008