Written in 365 Parts: 30: Into the Lair

Drick took a corner in the tunnel less than 100 metres from the entrance spinning the vehicle up the wall and flipping over as it hard banked to avoid a messy impact with solid rock. The tunnel walls were littered with the remains of supply lines for the former network and still in use conduits and piping. Some of the pipes were as wide as the vehicle Drick piloted which meant sections of the tunnel were uncomfortably narrow at high speed.

The navigation maps that were built into the vehicle’s computer were hopelessly outdated. They had been taken from the last known maps when the system of tunnels was closed to full commercial usage more than two centuries ago. There were some updates no doubt taken from police and other investigations into the tunnels but that was minor compared to the vast number of changes.

Official records stated that a few hundred people, mostly criminals and other undesirables made the tunnels their home. The police would probably bump that figure into a few thousand. Drick knew it to be far higher than that. The people who lived down here had gotten adept at hiding their true numbers and many of the new workings where they made their homes.

It was true that a vast number of criminals, or those who needed to disappear lived in the tunnels. It was also true that there were a large number of gangs. But it wasn’t an anarchy. There were rules and there were traditions. The gangs who opposed each other had divided territories and set up neutral zones between where gang warfare was not tolerated. Drick had spent many years in these tunnels at one stage in their life, it felt like a lifetime ago but was less than that.

Drick keyed the sensors to look for the marker symbols that they had requested be painted. Drick needed to get the chase vehicle to a specific location. It had to be neutral so that no gang turf was involved and it had to be discreet, or at least infrequently travelled. Thankfully Drick’s contact had just the location and Drick had a little surprise waiting for that vehicle behind.

Drick took another corner and flew over the heads of a small marketplace. This was the first basin of this tunnel section, a former water reservoir for the mine works, now drained and in use as a neutral trade zone. The grav vehicle would cause no damage at this height and Drick didn’t want to follow the path down to the parking area. It was risky going across this area as Drick would be visible briefly to the pursuit vehicle and a clear target. Drick had gambled that they wouldn’t fire with so many witnesses.

Drick paid little attention to the crowd below, no doubt the vehicle was attracting attention but all of Drick’s focus was on the rear screens. The far wall and tunnel mouth was close when the pursuit vehicle shot out over the basin. Drick cursed loudly as the passive array screamed a warning about target lock but that was already too late as the pursuit vehicle ignored the people massed below and let off a hail of fire.

Drick spun the vehicle in a barrel roll and flipped from side to side presenting a harder target but the shots still cannoned into the back of the vehicle. What saved Drick’s life wasn’t the wild manoeuvres but the fact that the cabin behind had a privacy screen between it and the cockpit and that screen was also armoured. The shots that made it through the back of the vehicle, and there were a lot, had enough of their force removed to not make it through to Drick.

Amateurs, clumsy rat brained amateurs, thought Drick as they shot into the tunnel mouth and out of the tracking. Shots tore up the tunnel behind them but the curve of the wall was enough that they missed Drick’s vehicle. Drick cast a cursory glance at the systems. Hull integrity was lost but the vehicle had more than ninety percent of its electrical and propulsion systems. They were rank amateurs.

Drick shot over two more intersections staying just far enough ahead to evade target locks but not enough for pursuit vehicle to lose sight of Drick’s vehicle. On the third intersection Drick slammed hard on the air breaks and side rolled through into a narrow tunnel. The pursuit car barely had time to slow enough to make it into the tunnel behind Drick, which was as hoped. Get them to not think had been the plan all along.

As the pursuit vehicle entered this section there was a powerful flash of twin lights from the two heavy mining lasers set into the tunnel floor that neatly cut half the armour and both turret guns from the pursuit vehicle. Then a single shot from a high powered missile ejector took a hole right through the rear of the pursuit car. It fired a high-impact, zero-yield, bunker-buster targeted at the main power plant.

It was a direct hit and half of the pursuit vehicles main engine was a flaming mess impacted into the tunnel floor. The effect was immediate. The emergency brakes on the pursuit vehicle fired, auto-fire systems and crash avoidance brought it to a fast stop covered in fire retardant, impact resistant foam.

Drick opened an outside comm and broadcast a short audio and radio signal at the vehicle. “Surrender. You can get out and kneel on the ground with your hands behind your heads and then lie face first in the dirt. Don’t attempt to call anyone, aside from having this area jammed we are so far underground and away from any working relays that your communications will not work. Don’t attempt to fight, I am not alone and you will not be shown any mercy. You have ten seconds to comply. After that point I will order the next round to be fired into the cockpit and it will be high explosive.”

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