The Seeder, Chapter Eight: The Hoelringer

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She smiled like the babyfaced innocent she appeared to be, walked right up to the guy holding the pistol, and lasered his gun hand off at the wrist with her Slim Slicer.

Weapons simulating car keys were such nice innovations.

By the time he’d begun screaming and spouting blood despite the partial cauterizing effect of the little Star Wars inspired blade, Corolla had already sidestepped and launched her body across the vehicle’s low roof in a flat racing dive worthy of an Olympic swimmer.

Having a bit of cover, she peered back through the car windows, a little surprised to see the would be shooter’s accomplice standing slack-jawed. No way to tell if he was armed with more than a long knife, but no matter. Relaxing her grip to let the Slicer wink out of action for the moment and allowing it to swing freely from her left wrist along with her other keys, she drew the target pistol from its fanny pack. From there it was a simple matter to rise up enough to steady her two handed shooting stance on the vehicle’s roof and double tap the fool through his black heart.

Her first victim finally realized the full extent of his danger and tried to run, blood fountaining from his abbreviated limb.

Corolla Edsella Nails Hendrix calmly put three rounds through his back, changed clips, patted her pistol on the heated barrel for a job well done, and returned it to its pack. A quick check of each body. No pulse in either case. Good. Idiots like this paid no attention to history, gained no awareness of the changes wrought by the Jovian war. Changes that produced entire families of so called civilians who were deadlier than the Jovian military, families who passed their most lethal traits down from generation to generation.

Young drug addicted school dropouts scorned history as dull and meaningless…and sometimes they paid the price.

She was just straightening from checking the second body when Club Security arrived, a full five man squad in sand colored uniforms.

“Trouble, Miss Hendrix?”

“Not really, Jason.”

The rangy Squad Leader smiled. “Figured you’d say that. You always do. Cops or Club?”

“You know the answer to that one, Jase.”

Jason smiled, genuine affection for the stunningly beautiful columnist/ comedienne/killer obvious in his warm glance. Warm, but never over the line. He loved women. In fact, he’d bedded more than a few despite his eleven year marriage to the mother of his children. When it came to Nails Hendrix, he thought of her as the sister he never had and would rather have kissed a king cobra on the lips than even think about snuggling up with the long legged brunette. Much safer that way.

“Reckon I do. Ramon, bring the wagon around, would you? Jess, start the checklist on the grinder.”

The two men nodded without comment and moved out smartly. Jason scratched his head, thinking. “Curly, is it your turn or Percy’s to handle tape reset?”

“Mine, boss.”

“Synchronize, then. Five minutes from…now.”

“Got it.”

Percy, the only Security man yet to receive his assignment and also the only man under twenty-one years of age, spoke up cheerfully. “Guess that leaves me Scrambler duty, then.”

“You got it, kid. No point in cleaning up the lot if the satellites still show it on their logs, doncha know.”

Nails couldn’t agree more. She left them to their various tasks, knowing that within minutes no sign of the night’s action would remain visible to the naked eye. By the time the street scrubber had brushed a few hundred thousand particles of miscellaneous debris over the skidcrete surface, even a state of the art DNA scanner would have difficulty pulling a trace.

Beyond that, she mused as her flycar hovered at the 732 Interchange awaiting clearance to lift into Free Air Level 223, no one would bother to investigate in the first place. Unofficial police position on bangers in general assumed the more dead the better. The gangs themselves most assuredly weren’t going to pursue any inquiry openly; they would lose too much face.

Way too much face.

“Thank you,” she whispered softly. “Thank you so much.” Her gratitude flowed not to the spiritual forces that might or might not have guided her–she still harbored hardcore doubts about God’s existence–but to the two young men who’d given up their misguided lives to help her keep her edge.

Her edge…in truth her entire life was nothing but edge. She lived right out there, right on the slicing surface of the razor.

On the edge. When that’s where you live your life, use it or lose it takes on a whole new meaning. She might have been okay for a few more weeks, what with the great audience response tonight and the possibilities inherent in the Guild-vs.-A.S.P. article series she was putting together, but a little extra workout never hurt. Without adrenalin, she would die in short order. Killing did not bother her, not when predators crossed the line. Necessary force? She and her relatives all lived by the doctrine of a bug hitting a windshield at ninety miles an hour: Betcha don’t got the guts to do that again!!

She came, as she sometimes stated in her act, from a family with really good adrenals. A family where every member was a Hoelringer in the truest sense of the word.

Always, of course, there were a few things left unsaid. Her actual age of twenty-seven. Anything that could positively identify her three brothers or any other member of her extended family. Her training, or at least the true depth of that training. The true nature of those long western skirts she wore both on and off the job. Each of those skirts was custom made, a product of her own sewing machine. Most importantly, each garment possessed important openings fully concealed in the draping yet allowing fast access to either the battery powered Jedi strapped to her left thigh or the silenced .22 Hyper strapped to her right. Other backup weapons rode in each boot, and the wide leather belt contained a few surprises of its own.

Not that the aresenal would have been worth spit in a cyclone without help from her big brother.

Rory qualified as one of the premier hackers in one of the premier militias; it hadn’t taken much effort for him to whip up a complete new identity for her that would stand up almost anywhere. Without that, she’d have been caught and incarcerated, quite possibly executed, years ago. Erasing someone’s records completely, he’d explained, required a lot of work with absolutely no guarantee of success. Faking a death was much simpler, and creating a new identity from scratch nearly as foolproof. Nothing to it. You’re welcome, Sis.

A bit of action always left her missing her family. She wondered how Camry was doing.

Her cousin, though seven years older, had always felt like a little sister to her. Cam had that childlike joy in things, that childlike temper any youngster could be proud of, and a mind that worked even faster than her mouth. Last word through the grapevine indicated her little buddy had finished off a long marriage to a selfish Arizona dude, survived nearly three years after that living homeless in the boonies in company with some brain dead druggie, then hooked up with a rich guy who shipped the druggie out on a southbound bus.

Where had that been? Her thoughts were put on hold for a few seconds while she made the airlevel shift; never a good time to be spacing off when you were changing lanes in nearspace. Nevada. Right. Her cuz wasn’t in the high desert now, though; she and her sugar daddy had moved back to Wyoming or one of the Dakotas, something like that.

For a while, Cammie’s Mom and her stupid drunk brother both swore the redhead was in jail in Idaho, but they were delusional. As usual. Hunh. Now there might be a rap for her act, let’s see….

They say Little Red is in a jail in Idaho but you cain’t trust either one specially when they claim to know…They be delusional as usional, drinkin’ Jupie Juice all fusional–

Well…maybe not. At best, it would take a bit of work. Not that she’d air family laundry at the Club anyway. Mama Lacey had been off the Jupiter Juice for nearly twenty years now, but the brain damage had already been irreversible before she quit. At last word, Dickie the Driver was still on the stuff. Bad news, good news, and the good news was–according to Rory, her most trusted source–that Camry herself had now been off the Juice for a way long time, too. Months for sure, maybe even years, and not too late to save most of her remarkable brainpower. Yay girl, you go.

If so, Red had finally picked a good man. Corolla knew she really would have to ask her brother for a trace on her favorite cousin one of these days. With all the usual precautions, of course. And then some. Being seen together would never again be safe for the two of them.

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Meanwhile, back at the Club, Jason Blocker of Railway Comedy Security finished his quadruple check on cleanup procedure and designated Phil to run quintuple check. His own shift would be over in another two hours, after which he’d need to go through his midnight exercise routine. It wouldn’t be enough to put him even with Edsella by a long shot, but one doesn’t expect to start late in life and outstrip the teacher, doncha know.

Only one thing about tonight’s events amazed him, a quirk in his thinking he’d never quite been able to eliminate. For the Blockers, caution regarding unknown individuals was inborn. Yet most of humanity, if that’s what you called the million or more creeps who roamed the late night streets of EC, never seemed to get it. Almost to a punk, they went by appearances first, last, and always, which in the case of those two Jammers had gotten them very, very dead.

They’d watched a pretty young girl make her way toward her flycar and had seen only prey, a delicious tidbit, a morsel to feed their twisted appetities.

Never mind the weapons she’d used; Edsella aka Nails Hendrix could have disarmed and dismembered those strung out kids just as effectively with her hands and feet. She hardly needed a weapon; she was a weapon.

It wasn’t that he regretted those kids losing their lives. He simply couldn’t comprehend, couldn’t get it. How could they have failed to notice the intensity in her sky blue eyes, the way those clear orbs missed nothing? Nothing at all; a mosquito with a drone silencer couldn’t sneak up on that woman. What about the way she walked, a leopard ready to leap?

No doubt they just thought it looked sexy. Like others before them, they’d overlooked the way she positioned her hands, her feet, totally ignored her deeply centered balance. For Pete’s sake, that girl’s centering was so powerful, she could bounce a charging rhino off of her aura and never move a muscle!

Hadn’t they noticed anything that could have warned them off, extended their miserable lives a little longer?

Obviously not. He sighed, unconscious that he did so. They’d noticed nothing. They never did, just two more moths drawn to the flame. Or maybe some did. Those who did would steer well clear and most likely never come to his attention in the first place. He only got to deal with the unaware, those who sealed their own fates in picking a beautiful, tall, willowy sexpot as a target. A girl who didn’t one bit mind packing heat outlawed since the Postwar Disarmament Act of 2129. A girl who just happened to be his sensei, one of three recognized living Masters in the secret Hoelring martial art.

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