Nick had considered himself a lucky guy, until now. A wave of superheated air scorched the right sleeve of his uniform forcing him to hunch further back from the open blast door. The heat of the plasma bolt exploding against the corridor wall left a cherry-red spot glowing in the middle of burned paint.
Where the fuck is that Goddamn bot?
Wishing he could have entered mortal combat wearing something more dignified than only a pair of blue and red polka-dot boxer shorts he thought, They could have at least waited for me to get some pants on!
"Sassi, get me the port authority again!" Nick yelled to the ship's AI.
"Yes Nick. Connecting now," came back the calm female voice
"This is the cargo ship Sassi-Sue. Where the hell is everyone? I'm getting the crap shot out of me and don't know how much longer I can hold them off!"
"Sassi-Sue, the port police are five minutes out. Please hold on."
The small wheeled bot finally trundled down the corridor, holding the replacement power pack in its manipulator. Ducking low, Nick carefully peered around the hatch. He spotted one of his attackers not covering himself and took a shot. The bastard didn't have time to make a sound before the plasma bolt made his head explode.
Nick jumped across the open hatch. He grabbed the power cell from the bot, hit the release kicking out the dead cell and slapped in the replacement. Confirming the power-meter was back at 100%, he fired off another quick shot. Pressing against the wall, hiding from the flurry of return fire, Nick felt cold metal against bare skin. With a chill he realized how close he had come to literally having his ass shot off.
Shit! Keep this up and you are going to be found dead and naked. He heard sirens cutting through the early morning air as the local police force finally responded to his distress call. Nick risked a glance outside the ship and saw his attackers had disappeared.
It took a few more minutes before the police air cars landed around his ship. Nick lowered the rifle, to make sure nobody thought he was threatening them and let the woman that was apparently in charge approach. Nick hit the button to extent the access ramp he had retracted when the attack first occurred. The woman walked up the ramp, stopped and whistled at something she saw. Nick leaned the rifle against the airlock wall and walked out to see what she was looking at.
Aw crap! he thought when he saw the warped housing around the airlock hatch. I won't be able to fly again until I get that fixed. So much for my bonus. Likely my regular fee too. Damit!
Nick jumped when a cool breeze blowing across his bare skin reminded him he was giving a half-moon to everyone standing on the apron around his ship. "Do you mind if I go put on some pants?"
The woman just smiled, "Make it quick."
Nick hurried inside, changed his boxers and finally put on some pants. He came back out and saw the woman police officer still standing outside the hatch glancing at her watch. "Oh sorry. Please come in."
She followed him to the galley area of his ship and sat at the built-in table. Nick poured himself a cup of coffee. Glancing at her name tag, "Would you like some Corporal Fredericks?" he asked.
At her nod he poured a second cup and joined her at the table. "Now what was that all about? Any idea what they might have been after?" Fredericks asked.
"I'm assuming they were after my cargo."
"Just one special delivery. I have no idea what it is and was paid extra not to ask."
"Well this has become official police business, I'm going to have to look at it and make sure you are not smuggling contraband."
"I'm sorry but I can't let you do that."
"And how are you planning on stopping me?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
Nick was saved from having to answer when Sassi spoke, "Incoming call. It's your client."
"Thank you Sassi, put it on the screen here then the good officer can explain why she has to look at her private stuff."
A display panel rose out of the table and the screen came to life. "Ah Captain Nick. I heard you had some trouble this morning. I trust my package is still safe?"
"Yes ma'am," Nick answered promptly. "Thanks to Corporal Fredericks here."
Nick looked quickly over at Fredericks when she jumped to her feet and stood at attention. "My Lady, it is my pleasure to be of service." Fredericks said giving the image on the screen a salute.
"Thank you Corporal. I'm glad you were there."
The screen went blank and the display sank back into the table. "What the hell was that all about?" Nick asked as she sat back down.
"Don't you know who that is?" Fredericks asked, giving Nick an incredulous look.
"I just know she pays well and pays even better to keep my curiosity to myself."
"That is Princess Eleanore. Heir to the throne of Zanzar. She has been ruling this world in all but name for the last 10 years, since her Mother, Queen Candice, got sick."
Crap! Nick cursed to himself. I swore, I wouldn't get involved with politics again.
Nick lowered the ramp to the cargo bay and climbed on his motor bike. He checked that his pistol was secure in its holster strapped to his leg and the rifle would not shift around on his back. Given his experience from the day before, he was planning for the worst by wearing his body armor as well.
He originally wanted to have a police escort, but it was decided if he went by himself there was a better chance he would remain undetected. Pressing the power button, the bike display lit up. Nick put the bike into gear and gave it a bit of power to drive down the ramp. He pressed the remote to close the ramp back up. He maintained a safe speed while making his way through the combination air/space port, but after passing the security gates he was able to speed up until he was racing down the highway at over 160 km per hour.
The soft whine of the electric motor, was buried under the exhilarating rush of wind surrounding his helmet. The cool, crisp, air made him almost forget the danger he was in. He only slowed down when he got close to the city limits and started encountering traffic. His navigation system was set to direct him to a downtown office tower where he would be meeting his client. He knew it was silly, but he refused to use her title.
He finally had to stop at a traffic light. Out of the corner of his eye, Nick saw a truck pull up next to him. The sun glinting off of the gun barrel sticking out the window was his only warning, before a hyper-velocity flechette hit his helmet wrenching his neck from the impact.
Nick didn't want to give his attacker another chance and gunned the accelerator and darted his bike between two stopped vehicles and straight through the intersection. He ignored the blast of a horn and outraged yelling from the car he had cut off and raced down the clear road. He heard screeching tires and a crunch of metal behind him. He chanced a quick look in the rear-view mirror and saw the truck forcing its way through opposing traffic in pursuit.
Darting around a corner at the end of the block, Nick hoped he could loose them in traffic. The chasers had anticipated his move however. Three bikes were weaving between the morning rush hour traffic slowly gaining on him. A fourth bike pulled up next to him. The rider attempted to shove a metal rod into his front spokes. Nick kicked the rod out of his attacker's hand.
Nick fired his pistol and hit the other biker in the shoulder. His attacker smashed into the back of a parked car. He had lost precious time dealing with his first attacker giving the others time to catch up.
Nick glanced at his navigation display. Almost there. He made another quick turn cutting off one chaser who dumped his bike but the other two managed to follow. One more turn and Nick could see the building he was heading for at the end of the street.