Slave initiated radar a sweep at maximum power.
<Local traffic patterns logged.>
<Structural analysis of current vehicle (van) complete.>
<Structural analysis of pursuit vehicle (BMW 933i VT) complete.>
/Analysis complete. Standing by.../
Leaning suicidally out the window Chalk fired at the hovercar. He squeezed off two shots and then achieved a satisfying result; the craft swooped dangerously as one of the repellers stuttered and it veered off course at a downward angle.
Fortunately, the driver once again proved his worth as he successfully maintained control. The sleek machine glided off to port and aft and quickly reduced speed, allowing the van to put some distance between it and their pursuers.
Chalk recognized with a moderate amount of relief that had both shots taken out a repeller, it would have been likely the thing would have dropped directly on them, possibly severing his body in twain.
The albino tracked the dark hovercar as it retreated and took two more shots before determining it was too far back to take down. Satisfied, though, that his actions at least convinced the vehicle to maintain a respectful distance he puled himslef back into the van, hair wild from the rushing wind.
"Kellinger!" He called while tossing the EMP gun towards the man. "Keep them honest."
The van had rear windows, but they did not roll down. However, it was possible to open a rear door and brace himself against falling out should Ed wish to use it as a gunnery position.
"Maybe we should start the interrogation a little early," he then asked Diana. "I'd hate to lose Stuttman before we have a chance to get what we need. I could take the wheel if you feel up to handling a rolling Q&A
Taking the weapon and opening the back doors, Ed leaned out and attempted to cover Chalk as best as he can.
Gisele sat in the back of the van, trying to keep up with the situation. She glanced at Frederick and Stuttman. Frederick seemed much calmer now that he had been at the bank, which struck her as odd.
As soon as Ed opened the rear doors, it got much noisier than before. Road noises filtered in, and rushing air whipped hair and clothing around. Seeing no other real choice, Gisele first checked to make sure Klemmer and Stuttman wouldn't be falling out the back any time soon. Finishing that, she held onto what she could inside the van, and drew her pistol from the shoulder holster. Compared to the EMP gun, which her eyes danced over with a trace of nervousness, her own .40 caliber pistol seemed woefully inadequate.
coded to Frederick, she sent // Keep your head down if things turn ugly. //
This was, perhaps, a poor choice of words. Things were already fairly ugly and they weren't getting any prettier. She clicked her pistol's safety off, but didn't raise it to fire just yet. Instead, she spoke to Kellinger over the noise.
"What are you waiting for? Shoot!"
coded//We'll be fine.//
Frederick seemed totally oblivious to the fire fight that was about to ensue. He leaned back against the side of the van and continued his conversation with the prisoner.
"So, Herr Stuttman, If I wanted to drive one of those big space stations what would I have to do? I assume we'd need some kind of access code. Correct?"
When the hover car was still enough, Ed squeezed off a shot. His intention was to stop or severly hinder the vehicle. He prepared to duck back in in the case of any returned fire.
An aura of power enveloped Ed.
Fortunately, the car appeared to be receding in the distance and Ed didn't notice any other pursuers.
"Oh my!" chuckled the prisoner in response to Frederick's question. He, too, seemed nervous but also anxious to do something to take his mind off the present danger. "No, no, you don't simply *drive* a space station. They aren't really built for that. However, after you build a station in low orbit -- it's cheaper to get the materials there you know, you then attach expendable maneuvering rockets to send it into a LaGrange point, deep space, or high orbit. What I do, you see, is calculate the amount of fuel needed and the vectors required to place the station at its ultimate location.
"You see, it's really a very delicate operation. If your calculations are wrong, you could spend a great deal of time and energy correcting the vectors, thus costing the company a great deal of money, time, and lost profit. And you see, any number of external factors can subtly change the course of these things. If the vector is off by even a thousandth of a degree, or if a solar flare generated just enough wind, or a meteor storm strikes the maneuvering station, it blows the calculations. Then you have to refigure it all while it's enroute. Very complex. That's why my success rating is so impressive to my employers. The typical number cruncher may only have a first-try success rating of only 66%. I save them a lot of money.
"Oh! I see! You would like me to calculate the vector needed to place a top secret satellite, right? Well, I don't need to know whether you work for the government or terrorists. It's just the same to me, and I'll run the numbers for you, if it'll get me home that much faster. My mother must be worried sick."
Frederick was filled with questions. "And what if it ends up being one of those times you're wrong? You would need the codes to such a satellite wouldn't you? How does your current employer hand that? Do they provide them ahead of time, so you can make emergency corrects as quickly as possible, or do they give them to you when you have to make the corrections?"
Stuttman answered amicably. "Codes? Um. I don't know. I just forward them the correct vectors and thrust information based on the coordinates they give me. I don't know anything about actually towing or flying the stations or satellites into position. That's not my job.
"Are you talking about security codes to actually get *in* a satellite or station?" He furrowed his brow. "Well, I haven't the slightest idea. I've never even been off the planet before. What is it exactly you want from me?"
"Want? Who said we want anything? I thought we were just holding a conversation. Speaking of which, I'm curious, how do you maintain such a high accuracy rate? If the average accuracy rate is in the 60s, then a rate in the high 90s would be nearly impossible. You have some sort of neural enhancement, or Skull Comp or somthing?" Frederick's ruse was all to obvious to Stuttman, however.
"I'm good with numbers. Well then. Nice, uh, talking with you folks. If you'd just pull over a minute, I'll get out of your hair." Heinrich Stuttman hoped against hope that it would be just that easy. It wasn't.
Frederick calmly looked up at Gisele. coded//Gisele, the others are busy. Can you cover Stuttman? I don't want him trying anything stupid//
Frederick then turned back to Stuttman. "I'm afraid you can't leave until we learn what need to know."
Diana finally found a slight lull in traffic in which she could respond to Chalk's earlier request that she begin interrogating Stuttman. "Sure, no problem." Diana said. At the next red light, she moved from the driver's seat, to the back of the van, letting Chalk get into the driver's seat.
Chalk slid carefully over the center console and into the driver's seat as Diana abandoned the position. He took careful note of the pursuer's position as he did so.
She took the vial and a needle, and moved to where Stuttman was. "Okay, if you would be so kind as to lie down, this will be a whole lot easier." she says with a smile. "Have you ever been to the dentist, and gotten laughing gas?" She asks. "This is just like it. Just a little prick from the needle, and you won't feel a thing." She says.
"W-w-wait! Stop! I have allergies! That could kill me! Please, just ask me what you want to know! Why are you doing this to me?" The poor man, in a panic, seemed to wish he could sink right through the wall of the van as he vainly scrabbled and pushed to try to get away from the woman with the needle.
He looked quite frightened.
Diana slapped him across the face. Not very hard, but just enough to get his attention. "Would you be a man!" She scolds. "Stop this whining, at once. Now, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way, you are really starting to get on my nerves." She scolds.
"Now, the easy way, you lie down on the floor, and roll up your sleeve. Nice and cooperative. All you will feel is a small prick from the needle, and then you can have nice dreams." She says, smiling a nice smile. "The hard way, you are held down by my companions here, and the needle going in will hurt, I can guarantee you," she said frowning, and staring hard.
He stares at her with accusing, teary eyes. "You people are sick. You don't really want anything do you? You're like those twisted bastards who drug people and then photograph them in compromising positions aren't you? Well to *hell* with you! I *tried* to play nice. Oh yes, I cooperated."
This brought a chuckle to Diana. "You know, that's not a bad idea. We'll take you to our secret hide out, and
dress you up all nice and pretty. Oh, I know, you would look just down right sexy as one of those trans ... whatchacallit hookers. Then, we'll spread the pictures all over the place," she said in mock laugher. "Get a grip," she said, with another hard stare.
Diana uses Stuttman's rambling as her answer. She quickly stabbed the needle into his neck, and pushed on the plungers, emtying the contents into his neck. It usually takes about 10 minutes for it to fully kick in.
"Urk! You lousy, sneaky rat!" Stuttman bit her right on the hand. Hard.
Out of reflex, Diana back hands him hard across the mouth. "You son of a bitch!" She snarls. She shook her hand, dealing with the pain. A small trickle of blood came from the bite mark, but stopped quickly.
When Diana struck Stuttman, Slave's mouth iris dialated, revealing an industrial laser. Slave's head is pointing at Diana.
Diana froze. She stared at the industrial laser for a long moment.
"Hey Chalk, you want to have slave stand down on protecting Stuttman? I really don't want to be shot here." she says.
"Slave, do not interfere with Diana. Rescind order to protect Stuttman," Chalk barked.
When Stuttman relaxed and the "threat" to Slave's charge abates, Slave's "mouth" closed.
Stuttman began to collapse, and had to be caught, unless he crash to the floor of the van.
"Okay, let's start off easy," Diana said. "Stuttman, what is your full name, birthday, city of birth, and id number."
The man kind of slumped. Words dropped out of his mouth seemingly of their own volition. He barely seemed to realize he was answering her questions as he struggled to focus and try to figure out what was going one. "Heinrich Stuttman, June 20, Berlin, 984ab83z."
"Say... have you been to this bar before? You look familiar." His mind seemed to travel to a much happier and easier to deal with forum.
"Would you like something to drink? I'llbuyofcourse," he slurred slightly.
"If anyone has any questions, ask them now," Diana said.
"What did you just do to the woman who injected you just now?" called Chalk from the driver's seat.
"I jusht met her," he replied without hesitation, slurring just a bit. "Cute, ain't she? I bet you wish you could get a girl like that, huh? Maybe if you used lessh makeup."
"When you bit her. Is that all you did is bite her, or did you do something else?"
Chalk's inherent paranoia was beinning to subside. Perhaps it was simply a bite the suit delivered, and not some disturbed self defence mechanism. He'd met all kinds of people in his life, and having an injection system installed in one's incisors wouldn't even have made the top ten 'Weird Things' list.
"Slave, I need my traffic report." He asked.
The drugged brain of the captive struggled with the dual question. If he said yes, then that would mean he did something else. If he said no, then that would mean biting her wasn't all he did. He could not answer the question in any way that could be truthful.
"Yes and no."
His attention swiveled back to Diana. "I'm shorry. I'm afraid of needlesh. Did I hurt you?"
"Stoned bastard." Chalk muttered to himself. "Did you only bite her?"
"Yes. Shay, you could use a little help for that pink-eye. I got a prescription when I had it and it seemed to work pretty well. You should try shome. You gotta take care of youshelf, 'cause if you don't, who will?"
Chalk growled at the man's drunken concern and focused on driving. At least he didn't have to worry about Diana dropping from some toxin at the moment. As his attention returned to the road, he checked once more to see that the pursuing vehicle was not gaining an advantage.
Slave responded via her transmitter and Frederick had to translate. //BMW 933i VT: acceleration/maneuver excess 5G/neural interface required/heavily armored EXCEPT magnetic coils (located rear fenders right and left) vulnerable to attack//
"Where are they and who are they?" he followed up.
//Pursuit vehicle currently 10m to the rear and 4m above this current position, moving at 120 kph with vector change imminent. Armor blocking radar; no further attempts to identify pilot and passengers possible.//
"Keep me updated on their position. Also alert me if other targets become involved." Was Chalk's final intruction before focusing on Stuttman.
Seeing that no questions were forthcoming and that Slave is indeed keeping an eye on their pursuers, Chalk will toss a few questions back, starting with, "Stuttman, TriTech has recently moved a major project off world to a space station. What do you know about this?"
"Oh, I calculated the vectors to move a secret space station into a LaGrange point whose location they gave me. It was tricky because it's a 'black' station."
"Say, how about that drink?" Stuttman asked, looking at Diana.
Frederick thought he could guess what a 'black' station was, but decided to ask anyway. "Herr Stuttman, What's a 'black' station?"
"Radar and optically invisible. It's literally black, and has radar-absorbant qualities."
"Okay," replied Chalk. "What do you know about the project that was moved there?"
Stuttman frowned. "Nothing. That wasn't important for me to do my job."
Ed heard Kellinger relaying Slave's communications. "Herr S-s-s-stutman, if you c-c-c-can m-m-m-make assumptions of s-s-s-small d-d-d-distances c-c-c-can you t-t-t-tell how f-f-f-far an object is away?"
"How do we get to this black station?" Chalk asked. "What is a LaGrange point?"
Stuttman's drugged mind was confused by the various questions, so he simply answered the last ones. "Spaceship or shuttle, but that's not a good idea. I would stay as far away from black stations as I could. No telling what kind of naughtiness goes on there, Whitey. LaGrange point is a place between Earth and the Moon where gravity is essentially canceled out. It's an excellent place to put a space station since its position will not drift."
"Hey! Is that what all this is about? You want to go to this station? You guys are nuts."
"What is the launch schedule for shuttles that go there?" Chalk asked and prepared a barrage of questions.
"I don't know."
"What is the launch schedule for shuttles that can be re-routed there?"
"I don't know."
"Where is the launch site?"
"If I told you, then I'd have to kill you. Ha ha! just kidding. There's one outside Moscow, and one in Ecuador. The primary one is in Ecuador."
"Are there any other launch sites that could be used, provided security is not a deterrent? What is the launch schedule for those?"
"Sure, anyones. If you have a shuttle up, then you can go there from any point. You just need the coordinates for destination. Typically, it's cheaper and faster to launch from the equator, I understand. But *I* wouldn't go up there. I'm afraid to fly."
"What are the station co-ordinates?"
"No way, I tell you that, and they'll kill me for sure. Not in a million years. Q317416 by Z987378 at TR319385759. Damn," he starts to cry. "Please stop asking me questions," he begs.
"Where would we be most likely to gain information about this project, assuming security is not an issue. I'm looking for names, places and databases."
"TriTech. Black Tech division, but I don't know the names of people who know about the project. I just crunch numbers! Aw.." he sniffles, "I'm soooo dead. And who's going to take care of my poor sick mother who's still waiting for me to come home at my apartment?" he cries some more.
"Life insurance," replied the killer heartlessly.
Frederick quickly recorded the coordinates into his SkullComp. "The SS blew up your apartment last night. Eight people died. They also destroyed the Big Eden to cover that they'd been there trying to get to you. If we let you go, they'll kill you. That is if you are lucky. They might torture you first."
"Where is the launch pad outside of Moscow?" asked Chalk.
Heinrich, turned pale and replied, "I think I'm going to throw up. Two miles southeast," replies Stuttman still answering before he can think about it.
"Hey, can someone hang this guys head out the window? See if you can get him to puke on one of those armored SS cars," cracked Frederick.
Chalk chuckled. "Diana, you know what to do."
Diana nodded. She removes her pistol, attaching a silencer to it. She takes the pillow that Stuttman had his head on. She places it over his head, and before he can respond, puts a round into his left eye.
Stuttman quietly splattered his brains up the wall of the van. The smell of blood, and unpleasantness excreted from the body after death filled the van.
"Some one want to toss the garbage?" She says, on the cold side.
Satisfied that all was going well, Chalk began to look for the right freeway which would take them to Moscow.
"Next chance we get, Klemmer, I want to know what you can find on this TriTech Black Division."
"Almost every company has a Black Division. It's the division they don't want anyone to know they have. Mostly they deal with Black Ops stuff. Secrets they don't want to share with anyone. You generally have to penetrate pretty far into the company's systems to unmask their Black Division. A company the size of Tri-Tech will have some pretty heavy, never before seen Black I.C.E. protecting those portions of the system. It's very dangerous. It's not something I can do in a hurry. Though I can check on the Shadow 'Net and see what's known about them." Frederick seemed more concerned with planning the run than with the danger involved. He seemed somehow detached from the current situation.
Ed sat back and relaxed a bit. His eyes closed and his whole posture shifts slightly He prepared to meditate until needed.
Voices crackled over long range radio. "Team one report," barked a radio attached to the blackened interior of the armored pursuit hovercar.
The uniformed man spoke into the headset which was plugged into the car's radio. "Team one here. The target is approximately 1.2 kilometers west of our current position. We have matched their heading and vector. Target is a wheeled transport."
"Team two, report."
"One repulsor coil has been damaged and we are having difficulty keep pace," replied another voice over the radio.
"Withdraw and repair it. Team three?"
"In position with Team one."
"Team four, report."
"Our position is now secured. We anticipate contact with target in --- 20 seconds."
"Very well. You all have your orders. I want her taken down and humbled, but not killed. The others are worthless. Kill them all; I don't have time to deal with prisoners. There won't be any questions out here."
Chalk drove calmly into the night, having picked his route to get to Moscow. Now it was a little after three in the morning and there was virtually no traffic left on the roads.
There was no warning when the tires blew. All four explosively discharged their pressurized contents and threw the van into a skid. Chalk twisted the wheel one way and then another in a desperate attempt to keep the machine right side up, but the rims of the wheels tore into asphalt and dug in. The van was going into a tumble, taking her living and dead passengers with her...