The barkeep gibbered, shuddered, and ran his hands through his singed neon green faux-hawk as he lead her into a VIP room in the back of the dingy after-hours club. Clearly, it had been the man's first bar fight involving live ammunition, and Jadai would've almost felt sorry for the punk bastard. But he did try to charge her 15 chips for a vodka-tonic and the way she had it figured, this many clicks above Neo Johannesburg, the man probably deserved whatever comeuppance SynCorps had in store for him.
"Alec, is it?"
Regarding the flustered barkeep with mild amusement, she helped herself to a seat on a tacky leopard-print couch and almost swore out loud as pain shot through her side on impact. Blood and breakers! That'll be a cracked rib.
There was nothing quite like non-lethal injury to ruffle her feathers. The way things were going, Jadai was ready to start shooting and ask questions later. Too bad she'd dropped her gun outside. She grinned up at the barkeep instead.
"I'm all right," she drawled, "Just some bruises and scratches. Don't trouble your mind over--"
But the nervous little punk was already halfway back down the hall.
Jadai leaned her head back and waved at the ceiling. "Hallo! We were supposed to negotiate the Luminary file 'bout twelve minutes ago but instead, your point man--Yep, she'd be me--got busted up by some right ol' amateurs on the way in. Now, don't you worry! I'm not normally this sloppish. It's just, well, I can't fecking massacre a bunch of civies just 'cause they all tick me the hell off. Pleased to meet you too!"
Blowing out a frustrated breath, she made a mental checklist of the damages. Multiple bullet scuffs. Upper arm and back. Intermediate tissue damage--not the worst she'd experienced but enough to ruin her new coat. Pulled right shoulder, her own damn fault for using it like a cushion. New coat damage confirmed. Much chagrin to be had. Minor abrasions to same side hip and knee. Seventh thoracic rib through ninth--she grimaced as she found the exact locations--definitely fractured if not broken.
Nice piece of work you've done to yourself ol' girl, and all for some wankers who were probably too juiced to even notice who they were shooting at.
Jadai redirected her attention as her descry implants alerted her to a new presence nearby. Looking up, she found a man dressed in a fitted black ensemble leaning against the back wall.
If it weren't for the nanobots coursing through her synapses telling her otherwise, Jadai supposed he could've easily passed as human--so long as he steered cleared of any magnets stronger than 3 Teslas. But his robotics flagged cyborg so obviously that he may as well have been wearing a polo that read "I am Centech's bitch" across the chest. A false man on a false wall.
A smile spread slowly across her lips. Maybe this assignation wasn't a total bust after all.
"Theo mentioned you might find some trouble on the way in." His human voice was low and sonorous. His accent mid-American. She didn't need her tech to know that he was studying her as well, though him using only his natural human senses.
Now how was that for a piece of irony? Jadai had to smirk again.
Pushing away from the wall, the bogey crouched down before her and had the nerve to look affable. "I think Theo understated."
His human features were athletic and well-formed. In fact she decided, once he was at eye-level, the man was a real beaut for an aegis-class bionic. Straight nose, clear skin, and unruly auburn hair--lovely candy coating for an automaton that could tear a soldier limb from limb without batting an organic eyelash.
"Well now, you're not from the typical ex-con stock Centech takes to harvesting now are you, lover boy?" she mused out loud.
The bogey reached behind him and pulled out a gun. Her gun.
"Where's the file?" he said.
"So that's where she went!" Jadai exclaimed, flashing him a wolfish grin. "How kind of you to bring my dear partner back to me." She held out a hand expectantly toward him.
Unaffected, he leaned in so close that she felt his soft breath by her ear and his free hand wrap gently around her throat. He pressed the barrel of the gun against her bruised side until she cried out--and cocked the hammer.
"We don't have time for games, girl. Where's the damn file?"
Jadai placed a hand over the gun so that her thumb slid teasingly over his finger on the trigger. She winked and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"You're holding it," she whispered and pressed down. "Sweet dreams."
A small ripple of energy radiated out from the weapon as the hammer engaged an electromagnetic pulse reaction hidden in the chamber. The man didn't even have time to look surprised before his body went limp and slumped sideways onto the couch.
Wiggling herself out carefully from under his dead weight, Jadai let loose a string of profanities she'd been storing up as her side and shoulder protested to the abuse. Maneuvering gingerly into a standing position, she removed the false gun from the false man and linked into her communicator.
"Ho' there, Theo!...No, the Luminary file is gone--Shut up and listen for once." She glanced at her catch--looking for all the world as though he were napping peacefully on the tacky couch--and grinned. "We've got ourselves an even bigger fish to fry tonight."