Written in 365 Parts: 28: Being Followed

Drick piloted the executive grav vehicle deeper under the overpasses heading down to the lowest levels of Sector Six. On the monitor screens Drick was following the view of themselves from two satellite surveillance remotes and the three stealth robots that were tracking the vehicle. In a moment the satellite overhead view would be lost. That was unfortunate for Drick but it also meant that the people following would lose their orbital cover as well.

From the reports coming in from the team Boomer had assembled Drick had drawn quite the small crowd of admirers. There was a hover van that was back of Drick’s six, maybe three hundred metres away, in a light white paint job. Knowing the vehicle design Drick guessed this to be an Armoured Light Personnel Carrier, probably an Shirow-Vickers. The paint job would be adaptive stealth coating made to follow urban vehicle patterns. From the way it moved it was likely to be fully equipped with twenty armed organics. That was excessive in Drick’s mind, they could have sent half that many and caused enough of a problem to make Drick change tactics real quickly.

There were four organics on electrical scooters. Three-wheeled, multi-terrain, pursuit vehicles. Again a model made by a number of companies but Drick would have laid bets on them being Shirow-Vickers again. Looked like Volsron had a contract with that particular weapons dealer. Drick wasn’t surprised they were maybe the second or third biggest armoured vehicle corporation in the whole of human expansion.

The real issue was not the troop transport or the three bikes, it was the squat jet vehicle. Like Drick’s vehicle this was an armoured gravity machine. However this would be a Shirow-Vickers urban assault vehicle. Sold to police and paramilitary forces and used to take on criminals with maximum aggression. It would be unlikely that it would be equipped with missiles, well at least not high-ex missiles. But it would have guided gun emplacements. The subtle bulges to the rear of the vehicle spoke of retracted gun turrets. That was worrying as the armour on Drick’s vehicle could take a good number of hits, but that thing likely carried thirty-two millimetre armour piercing rounds.

Drick followed the guide lines on the navigation computer which tracked the general direction of resi-crete roads. Ground based vehicles and low-level hovers needed the construction of roads, it was still the most practicable and safe form of traffic management. An organic needed a pilots licence to unlock a vehicles flight systems and even with one of those many hire vehicles would not allow unlimited, or free, flight. Drick had a full licence and was paying a hefty sum for this vehicle. All of its systems were unlocked for their use.

Drick checked the screens and noted that the final overhead view blinked out as they went to sub-level two. It was an odd naming system. Sub-level two was actually over ten floors up from ground level. The sub didn’t refer to ground but the point where road, building and construction covered the visible sky. In this heavily industrial and populated part of the city that started at the eleventh floor.

Sub-level one started at about floor twelve, maybe one hundred metres from ground level. Drick was heading towards sub-level six the point where the maze of roads and buildings turned the area into a series of badly lit tunnels. Sub-level seven and below was storage, vast water and resin tanks and the waste disposal systems and machinery from the city above.

There were people who lived in the tall gaps between constructions on those levels. Some by choice, others by desire, many with no other option. One could lose themselves in the lowest levels. They were rarely visited by most organics. They were the home to gangs, criminals and the dispossessed, the forgotten. The police only went to those levels in full combat armour and with heavy backup.

Drick knew that many of the maintenance companies had a lucrative side profit in paying gangs and people on these lower levels for their own ends. Many of them were off the grid either by being declared non-existent or by being vatted that way. It was certainly true that the Engineers’ Union, the only group that held a presence with authorised premises on these levels, were the closest resemblance to a crime family on the planet. Aside from, as Drick would have it, family owned corporate organics.

The Engineers’ Union mandated all construction work in the city and everyone used a union man for the work. There was no avoiding this. The Union were the only people who could fix the machines in these sub levels. Sure you could hire an independent contractor, but don’t pay them up front as the work wouldn’t get done, your machine would end up more broke and the contractor would be mailed back to you as a skin-shake.

Drick entered the level and noted, with a slight smile of satisfaction, that a new group of shadows had joined the tail. The armoured personnel vehicle had dropped behind an auto-loader. This was a huge automated delivery vehicle and they were using it for scover as there were few other vehicles around. The three trikes had shot past Drick’s vehicle using a lower ramp and were now about one hundred metres ahead. As for that combat vehicle it was seemingly absent, however Drick knew it was one level up and following Drick’s the route from above.

The new shadows were overtaking the personnel vehicle and truck to come alongside Drick. They were a hoverbike gang. There were plenty of these in the city. Kids and mild anarchists for the most part but on some of the sub-levels they were a bit more organised. This particular group were very organised. Part of a larger series of gangs called the Street Razors.

The Razors that were around Drick numbered maybe thirty and had obviously took a liking to Drick’s vehicle as they weaved around it. Sometimes swerving dangerously close to the front, sometimes flipping their bikes over the top or sliding underneath, a neat trick considering Drick had it hovering at less than one and a half metres from the surface.

Drick made some complicated but graceful manoeuvres to try and lose them and make the point that there wasn’t going to be an easy intimidation but this only made them move in closer. Drick noticed the three trikes had slowed to get a better view of what was occurring and that the vehicle behind had moved up, around that automated loader, with its contingent of troops.

This was what Drick had hoped. In fact relied on from the moment that Boomer had pointed out the three vehicles to Drick. They only wanted the one of them.

Drick suddenly swerved and so did all the bikes and the armoured vehicle as the executive car flipped the central barrier using manoeuvring thrusters and made a bid to go the other way. The trikes headed towards the nearest turning but were suddenly playing tag with three hoverbikers each. The other group of twelve hoverbikers were swarmed onto one side of the armoured vehicle. As it tried to jump the central barrier they hit it in a concerted attack and flipped it onto its roof. Several of them leaping their bikes onto its now exposed floor.

The effect was drastic. The personnel carrier didn’t have full flight capabilities. Normally when flipped it had an emergency self righting system, which wouldn’t work now as too many vehicles were piled on top of it. The vehicle would immediately shut down and eject foam pinning the personnel inside, in order to preserve life. It was a safety feature for urban driving. Drick had relied on it which is why they had told the bikers to execute this plan.

Drick shot off a turning and down towards sub-level seven, time to see if they could draw their real target down to a more interesting playing field.

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