Hikaru was winning, as expected. Taking a black stone from her pile, she placed it on the board and neatly surrounded a group of white stones. Then she took those white stones off the board. “So is this information going to help you?”
“I haven’t taken a close look at it,” Jasleen said, “But complete design specs on a piece of hardware is always helpful, and a bio-android brain isn’t any different.”
“How much progress have you made so far?”
Jasleen sighed and placed a white stone on the board. “I’ve only made one major breakthrough. I’ve figured out the hardware we need to download and upload information into a brain. If I only understood the code that the programs are written in, I could do all the reprogramming we need.”
“There’s something else I need besides deactivating transceivers. I also need you to remove the programming block that prevents bio-androids form harming UM employees.”
“That shouldn’t be hard once I figure things out.”
“Any idea when that might be?”
“I really don’t know. With the resources we’re devoting to it, we could probably crack the case in two days.”
“Good then.” Hikaru stood up and walked to the window. “Contact me as soon as you figure it out.”
“But how will I do that?”
“You still have my e-mail address.” Hikaru opened the window and started to step out. Jasleen sighed.
“We’ve been playing this one game of go for days now.”
“I know. It always takes a while to finish a game. We’ll finish someday. I promise.” With that, Hikaru swung out of the window and pulled it shut.
Hikaru had seen it coming long ago. UM had an enormous capacity for building bio-androids, and they had had enough time to build several thousand of them. With those roaming the streets and transmitting data back to headquarters, UM had essentially the best spy network in the city, possibly the country. That spy network had been able to track her movements well enough to ambush her at Master Hazuku’s house. Now, two days after meeting Jasleen and standing in a crowd of people at a subway station, it was no surprise to her that UM had managed to locate her again.
What was surprising was that Eric Pearson was the one coming after her.
He looked none the worse for the wear after his previous encounter with her. In fact, he didn’t look injured at all. That wasn’t what Hikaru was worried about. What she was wondering was why UM had sent him after her again. She knew his face very well, so her first instinct upon seeing his face would be to run.
And so they probably wanted her to run. In fact, they had sent Eric walking down the steps into the subway station which was exactly the spot Hikaru would be watching to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She had been watching that spot, and so she had seen Eric.
She had no choice. She couldn’t let Eric get close to her and possibly attack her. She couldn’t fight him with so many civilians about. She had to run. And there was only one place to run to.
As a train pulled up in front of the passengers, Hikaru casually walked up to the tracks and then suddenly leaped sideways across the front of the approaching train onto the opposite tracks. Had her timing been less than perfect, the other train would have slammed into her. As it was, she landed safely on the other side and absently heard the gasp of horror that erupted from the other civilians. She paid no attention to that. She had two Falcon 3’s now since Logan had given her one and she still had her own. In addition she was carrying four spare magazines. If this erupted into a major fight, she wouldn’t have enough firepower to last long. On the other hand, subways were dark places, and Hikaru was nothing if not a master of the dark. She started running in the direction of the train on the track she was on.
She came under fire immediately. None of the bullets hit her. Her opponent was clearly firing from a great distance with an automatic weapon. If he had been using a recoilless weapon such as the X-33, she would have been in great danger. As it was, her instincts took over and she leapt for the railing on the side of the tunnel. There were small alcoves spaced evenly along the walls of the tunnel, and Hikaru hid in one of them. Then she cautiously peered out in the direction of that the bullets had come from.
It took a while, but she found what she was looking for. It was a small red light in the darkness. Her opponent had a pair of infra-red goggles. It could theoretically detect her body heat although at a distance of more than twenty meters it would be useless. If she guessed correctly, the red light was an infra-red light that illuminated the tunnel just like a flashlight would. That would increase the range of the goggles considerably. She waited until the red light swiveled around away from her and then emerged from the alcove to run silently around behind the opponent. He was close enough now that she could see him with the aid of the faint lights in the tunnel. She easily crept up to him, grabbed his head and then snapped his neck. He fell noiselessly to the ground. Hikaru crouched down and removed the goggles from his head. There was a button to switch off the infra-redilluminator. She pushed it and then put the goggles on. Without the illuminator, she couldn’t see quite as far, but that didn’t matter. Her opponents were likely to be using these very same goggles, and the illuminators would mark them out in the goggles just like a flashlight in the darkness would. She would be able to see them long before they saw her as long as she kept her illuminator off. After taking his rifle, she began to run again.
It wasn’t long before she saw more opposition coming her way. There were three of them walking on the same tracks as she was towards her. She took aim with a Falcon 3 and fired. Her target immediately fell over. Then he got up. Hikaru swore and then shot the other two in rapid succession. They also got up and began rubbing their heads as if they had been punched very hard. At least she had destroyed their goggles. There was no help for it now: she would have to do this the messy way. Crouching down slightly, she took aim at their stomachs and fired. Most would have found the result painful to watch. Hikaru only ran over to the bodies and looted them for ammunition. A few of them were carrying magazines that would fit into a Falcon 3. She took those and continued on.
A train overtook her, of course. She heard it coming long before it got to her, so she simply switched tracks and waited while it passed by. Then, she began to chase after it sprinting at full speed. She was making plenty of noise, but she didn’t care. If she could get on that train, she would be much safer.
The train left before she got there. She decided to hide in another alcove and wait for the next one. It didn’t take long. Rush hour was at its peak right now, so trains were constantly coming in and out of individual single station. As she emerged from the alcove, she saw another group of UM soldiers headed towards her from behind. They saw her at the same time and began firing. Hikaru had no choice but to leap onto the back of the train and simultaneously bring her rifle to bear on them. They were too far away from each other to fire accurately. That didn’t matter to Hikaru. All she wanted to do was get away from them and arrive at the subway station near CI headquarters. She continued firing on them until it was clear that they couldn’t pursue her. Then she reloaded her rifle.
She wasn’t disturbed on her ride for some time. She would have been genuinely surprised if anybody had managed to attack her on the train. She waited until she reached a junction in the subway system and then hopped off the back of the train. The civilians received quite a scare when they saw a dirty young woman carrying an automatic rifle jump out of the train tracks, but Hikaru paid them no mind. She stepped on a descendingescalator which headed for the yellow line.
There was a soldier down there. Apparently UM didn’t care too much about civilian casualties because the soldier immediately pulled out an automatic pistol and began firing in her direction. A man standing next to her screamed in pain as his hand was hit. Then he stared in wonder at the bullet sticking out of his still-functioning hand. Another casualty of UM’s projects.
Fortunately, the other civilians dove for the floor and covered their heads. Hikaru was left to duck behind the handrails of the escalator. The other soldier was a foolish one. He continued to fire at her even when it was clear that he could not hit her. Then he paused, and Hikaru heard the sounds of a gun being reloaded. Drawing her Falcon 3, she rose and fired in one smooth motion. Her bullet struck him in the head. It wouldn’t kill him, but she had no way of knowing whether or not he was wearing protective armor under his jacket. If she knocked him backwards onto the train tracks, she would be sure to kill him.
As if following her command, the other man’s head jerked back, and he stumbled backwards over the side and onto the track. Seconds later, a train arrived and rolled over the spot he had fallen into.
The subway was quickly becoming too dangerous, and once off the yellow line she still had to make a transfer onto the red line. As before, she jumped onto the back of the train and rode to her destination sitting on the back platform.
The transfer went without incident. A few more civilians were frightened, but they would survive.
It was pure chance that she happened to look into the train she was riding. Two men were rising from their seats in the train and walking back towards her. They each carried a Magnum .45. Hikaru stared at them for a disbelieving instant and then immediately jumped off the train. The landing was rough, and she immediately lost her balance. She rolled a few times and then got up.
“You might as well give it up, Onryou. You’re surrounded.” She had heard that voice before. It belonged to the man she had met at UM headquarters. She looked around and saw about a dozen men standing in the alcoves of the tunnel with weapons trained on her. She had no chance in a shootout against them, especially without her X-33. She quietly stood up and threw her two guns to the ground.
“You had this all planned ahead,” she said.
“Naturally. We had a hunch that you would head for the station nearest to the Carrington Institute, so we got set up here ahead of time. We had a man on each train ready to push you off as soon as you passed by us.” He walked up and was now close enough for he to see him clearly in the gloom.
“That must have been a lot of men. And you devoted all of them to capturing me. I’m touched.”
The other man smiled and made a motion. A pair of men quickly grabbed Hikaru and immobilized her arms. Another pair picked up her Falcon 3s. The rest of them kept their guns trained on her. “Let’s go.” They began to march her away.
“How’s your brother doing?” Hikaru asked sweetly.
That had stung, and she knew it. The other man turned and stared at her coldly. Once again, she found herself noticing the numerous scars on his face. “He’s doing just fine.” The words were curt and bitten off. “No thanks to you.”
“It’s too bad. I must have done something wrong with that explosive for him to survive.”
“Oh he didn’t survive. Only his brain did, but that was good enough. Don’t you realize how easy it is to recreate an exact copy of us? All you need is the brain program and the DNA. 24 hours and they had a brand new Eric Pearson working for them.”
“You know, you never told me your name.”
“Well then, Brian Pearson, I want to ask you something: do you believe in destiny?”
He laughed a short bark of laughter and then turned to begin walking again. “I’m a robot, Onryou. Do you seriously think religion exists for me?”
“Oh I don’t know. I believe in destiny, and I’m just like you.”
He froze. “I should have known, I suppose. There was no way you could have survived that leap you took at UM headquarters otherwise. It will be very interesting to interrogate you, Onryou. You’ve done a few things that you shouldn’t be able to do.” He began to walk again. Some distance ahead, they could hear the sounds of a train approaching. They paid no attention to it. The train would be on the opposite side of the tunnel.
“Really. I guess I’ll just have to keep doing those things that I’m not supposed to do.” Just then, she stubbed her toe and stumbled. The men holding onto her instinctively pulled back and tried to hold her up. That was exactly what she had wanted them to do. Recovering from her apparent fall, her arms escaped their grip. She lost no time. Her hands quickly slipped into the back of her belt where she carried her sai. In one fluid motion, she drew them out, sliced open the stomachs of her restrainers and slipped the sai back into her belt. Then she reached down to their belts and managed to find the sidearm of the man to her right. Still moving, she crouched, whirled about and fired two bullets into the stomach of one of the men following behind her. Then she did the same to the other man. In less than a second, the four men in the group who had been directly watching her were dead.
She still wasted no time. She jumped up from her crouch, flipped in the air and slammed her foot into head of the man walking on her left. He stumbled away from her and she managed to snatch one Falcon 3 from his hand. He continued to stumble away. Then his foot touched the third rail. He screamed.
They were finally reacting, but it was too late. Hikaru had already repeated the same process on the man walking on her right. The only difference was that she killed him by driving a sai into his temple. He stiffened. She grabbed her other Falcon 3 from his hand, and using the momentum of her charge upon him, she spun about and threw him at the other men in front who were still in the process of turning around. They couldn’t effectively aim at her. The train which had been heading in their direction was finally visible now careening towards them at over a hundred miles per hour. She allowed herself to fall on her back and took aim at the same time. As she fired, two of her adversaries’ heads jerked back directly into the path of the approaching train. The bodies flew into the air and then landed heavily on the ground. The corresponding heads were nowhere to be seen.
Hikaru rolled backwards onto her feet, leaped into the air, flipped over the railing and then ducked into an alcove. She heard Brain Pearson’s voice. “Well done, Onryou, but it doesn’t matter. You’re trapped in there. We’ll just wait for you to come out.”
“I don’t know about that, Mr. Pearson. Do I hear a train approaching on your side of the tracks?”
He swore at her violently. Hikaru allowed a slight smile to touch her lips and then said, “I think you’d better start believing in destiny, Mr. Pearson. I wasn’t sure whether to believe in it myself, but after this moment, I have no doubts. Destiny does exist. And yours is crossed with mine.”
The train arrived just then. Hikaru took the opportunity to emerge from the alcove and run on the walkway on the side of the tunnel.
“Hello, Carrington speaking.”
“Hello, Daniel. I don’t have much time, so listen to me carefully. Hikaru is in trouble.”
“That voice…could it be…”
“Of course. There aren’t many others beside me who know your telephone number at this office. We’re wasting time, Daniel. Hikaru is in trouble, and you have to help her. She was ambushed in the subway. She managed to escape, and she’s headed for the nearest station. UM has a group of soldiers waiting to ambush her. You need to send your men in and help her.”
“I wish somebody would just sit down and explain everything to me.”
“Don’t worry, Daniel. I’ll explain it to you later when I see you.”
“You’re going to see me?”
“Of course. Hikaru is on the verge of destroying United Motors, and it’s time for me to come out of hiding now. Are you sending those men?”
“They’re already on their way.”
“Good. They’re already chasing after me. I dare not waste any more time. I’ll see you later if we both get out of this mess alive.”
Hikaru heard gunfire as she jogged up to the subway station. Peering curiously into the station, she saw officers wearing CI uniforms exchanging fire with another group of men. The CI men were doing badly, which wasn’t surprising. They didn’t have any weapons that could penetrate the bones of their opponents. One of the men crouched down behind a concrete bench and saw Hikaru. He shouted to her, “We’ve been waiting for you. You need to get out of here.”
“What’s going on?”
“We’re holding them off to let you escape. There’s a car waiting for you outside. You need to move now.”
Hikaru nodded and then pulled out a grenade that she had stolen from one of her adversaries. Stepping out briefly, she hurled towards the UM soldiers and then ran for the stairs.
A convertible was waiting for her outside. It was the same car that she had used in the mission at UM headquarters. Anna Noctem was in the driver’s seat. Hikaru slid into the passenger seat and looked at Anna doubtfully. “Is this a wise thing to do? I don’t mean any offense, but UM can track you.”
Anna smiled. “Not anymore,” she said. “Jasleen figured out the code in our brains yesterday. She reprogrammed me today. I can kill anybody I want now, and UM has no way of tracking my position.”
“So we’ve got what we need?”
“That’s right.” Anna threw the car into first gear and accelerated away. She drove very fast, and Hikaru found herself clutching the armrests of her seat. Fortunately, the car was a Toyota. She trusted Japanese cars unlike American ones.
“Where are we going?” she shouted over the roar of the engine.
“I thought that would be obvious to you. Jasleen taught me the technique for reprogramming bio-androids. All you need is a laptop computer which you’ve been carrying around in that bag on your back. So now we can reprogram Joanna. That’s where we’re headed right now.”
“We know where she is?”
“Of course we do. Jasleen figured out a way to triangulate the coordinates of a bio-android from her studies of their brains. Joanna somehow managed to send us information on how to track her signal.”
“But she just got done being born in a tube at United Motors. How’s she going to get away from them?”
Anna shrugged. “Beats me. All I know is this is our only chance to get to her before they do.”