Kyle Willey

Babylon’s Echo, Part 3

He can hear someone moving on the other side of the door, but the neurachem can’t catch the details for him.

An indicator light comes on under the camera, and a disembodied voice comes from a tinny speaker in the doorframe.

“Who’s there?”

“Room service.”

“You ain’t room service, punk.”

“Give me the stuff you stole from the Feds, and I’ll leave you be.”

The light flickers off.

A muffled conversation flows through the wall, but Smith doesn’t wait to listen. He can see the frame in the wall, terahertz reflections tracing the outlines of steel studs.

He throws himself through the drywall, leading with his metal arm. It doesn’t offer much resistance. One of the wire-heads runs for a gun.

Smith works on reflex. The guy who answered the door has bargain wires. He doesn’t get turned around before he’s in a grip. Smith’s arm locks against his chest with machine stability.

But the wire-job with the gun doesn’t care. Her hand closes around the pistol on the nightstand.

Smith knows she’s an amateur because her first shot goes through the wall while she’s swinging it around. He shoves the guy he’s got in his arms toward her, but it’s not enough to convince her to stop shooting.

The staggering man lets out a single grunt as he catches a round in the chest. Smith cringes. Could’ve been a clean job. ‘Cept for the wall, but property damage is easy to fix.

The third and fourth shot hit Smith, but his vest’s built for rifles. The one that hits his coat just feels like heavy rain. The one that hits the vest slows him down, the neurachem dragging out the hit so he knows he’s caught a bullet. It’s not a smart system, so it can’t know he’s unhurt.

The merc springs forward. The woman with the gun takes a step back, unloading another round into the ceiling as she loses control of the pistol. She jitters as the wires try to give her a second chance.

Smith doesn’t let her have it. The tungsten carbide fingers on his hand articulate outward like raptor talons, opening in a wide grasp. He snaps them shut around the gun, shattering the polymer frame.

He doesn’t bother to make sure he’s clear of her fingers.

The third wire-head’s in the bathroom, half-way to Paradise on some back-alley designs. By the time he staggers out to the motel room’s common area, the hired security’s trying to piece together what happened.

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