Authors: Joel Shepherd
ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR
Crossover A Cassandra Kresnov Novel
For Nathan who in many ways is still taller than me
ook at the size of that," Ayako breathed, gazing down at the seething mass of people along central Patterson. "Looks like eighty thousand plus."
"Peanuts," said Ari with studied disinterest, eyes fixed to the navscreen on the dash, "Patterson's got half a million and over four hundred thousand stayed at home. It's an apolitical city, everyone says so. Get us a direct approach, the circuit wastes time."
Ayako punched keys, uplinking directly to central traffic control through CSA Headquarters. Ari spared the protest a brief glance as it faded behind looming towers, a flood of humanity beneath a white, spotlit glare, air traffic hovering in close attendance, most roads blocked by police vehicles. Everyone hoping the mob stayed quiet this time, no one wanted a repeat of the Velan protest with its two hundred and fifty comatose rioters still filling space in the nearby hospital. But what option did police with no riot gear have but neuralisers when confronting rioters? Tanusha, the apolitical city, was woefully unprepared for such events.
"... no," Ayako cut into some unheard transmission, "this is Googly, we're CSA One, I have priority override ..." and broke off at an interruption, throwing Ari an exasperated look.
"I've got it." Ari pressed the speaker button.
"... live perimeter," the voice was saying, "we have no record of your authorisation, this is an unscheduled incursion . . . "
"Fuck you, you little piece of shit," Ari said calmly. "Do you know what CSA One means? Authorise this." Uplinking mentally he triggered his best attack code. Static burst from the other end as the attack software took control of com frequencies and shoved the CSA Priority ID into the uncooperative guard's visuals.
"Lot of traffic," Ayako said nonchalantly into the pause that followed, eyeing the display ahead, and the airborne ID markers that blipped about their inward trajectory. "Going to have to bump someone down a space."
"Do it, the damn suits can wait for once ..." Authorisation flashed to green on the navscreen as the local heavies cleared them through. "Thank you," he told them, loud with sarcasm. And to Ayako, "Jesus Christ, if I have to fight through another fucking turf war in the next thirty minutes I'm going to use my gun."
"Change that silly codename," Ayako said mildly. "No one believes CSA One Ops would use that codename."
"I shall do no such thing." Scanning at maximum capacity through his scanning linkups, additional airspace data from central filling in the three-dimensional space around the termination point of their flightpath-Kanchipuram Hotel. The whole tactical picture hung clear and tactile in his inner-vision, even as his eyes gazed through the windshield.
"Googly. What on earth is a googly?" Ayako steered the cruiser through a gentle approach bend past the West Patterson towers, the night-time cityscape looming up on the left as they banked. Blazing light, towers, traffic filled streets, all blissfully free of protesters.
"Cricket, you poor philistine Asiatic person-it's a deceptive, spinning delivery ..." Ari's scans came up empty. He didn't trust them. "The cornerstone of all true civilisation-first there was upright bipedal motion, then there was language, then there was cricket."
"Oh," said Ayako.
The hotel lay ahead, a broad, neo-colonial sprawl of floodlit pillars and arches, seriously retro-Greek architecture and seriously five-star, on the perimeter of a broad park, tree-filled and dark with shadows. The infonetwork showed security everywhere. "Snipers," said Ayako as she followed the display course, bringing them about and descending.