When he’d arrived at the warehouse district, there was no guard to be found. Likely out at the moment murdering humans. Actual ones. So finding the Blazer had been somewhat tricky. As he’d driven away in it, he could scarcely believe that he hadn’t been caught and killed.
Baldwin drove down the road staring at the beauty of the night, unaware of what sped down the broken asphalt some miles behind him.
Baldwin drove until he couldn’t any longer. The old house looked inviting simply because the road had worn him out. He pulled in and around to the back of the old place.
It was shambles. But structurally intact. Most of the windows were broken but someone had already boarded those up. The other windows remained, almost miraculously to Baldwin, unshattered. They were translucent from years of build up but whole. Somehow, this comforted him. He walked up to the back door and turned the knob. The door fell into the house. Baldwin chuckled as he looked at the old door knob in his hand.
He went inside and started poking around. He went to the basement and found a hammer and nails and permanently sealed the door for the time being. Down the hallway was a bedroom with an old bed. It felt as though it would crack like tinder when he sat on it, but the bed held. Baldwin lay back and fell asleep in seconds.
The sound of the Tesla woke him. Unmistakable, that whine. Outside his new front door, he knew now stood an actual, UN Police Officer. No one got visited by one of them unless things had gotten very bad. He wasn’t surprised, really. As certain that Evy knew he’d escaped was that she’d seen the higher class augmented man talking to him. Despite all the money the old man had said he’d spent keeping her out, that didn’t convince Baldwin. It was likely as not, in his mind, to be prepared for the absolute worst.
The good news, Baldwin knew, was that those cops didn’t know how to fight. It was all about power for them. Most were highly augmented and could lift a tank, if pressed. But the parts had weak points. In the old days, before Evy held sway over every moment of human life, Baldwin had spent some years on the street. The impulses that he’d learned to use to his benefit as he’d gotten older had been his downfall, time and again, as a younger man. After going home too many times from a street fight with broken limbs, Baldwin began testing the augmentations for weak points. It had cost him many a tooth and a few hundred credits in doctor bills. But he’d finally learned the ‘crumple zones’ he called them.
No matter how high tech something is, physics remains in play, Baldwin knew. And the key was getting the aggressive ones, like most of the UN Police, angry enough that you could use their strength against them. It also paid to read them. Some were so unaccustomed to a challenge, let alone any sort of defeat, that one solid hit put them into shock for a lethal few seconds. Just like the first time a human man with a big, untested mouth gets it set sideways.
But that didn’t stop his heart from racing. One never underestimated an augmented. Not lest incurring heavy penalties. He got out of bed and grabbed the tire iron he’d put next to the bedroom door. It was a bit more than standard fare. He’d had it for years, and after so many nanorepairs, the thing was damn near indestructible. And, to him, it seemed fittingly barbaric when dealing with advanced technologically-enhanced blockheads. He also picked up a long piece of old, metal fencing he’d found behind the house. The pattern was dense and the old metal thick.
Then, he waited.
Gone was the usual and very loud warning speech to exit the domicile with his hands up. The visit was not going to be a genial one. He could feel the sweat on his brow and back, the wind cutting through the house into the hallway where he stood waiting in the dark.
The footsteps hitting the porch were heavy. The officer opened the door fully and Baldwin charged. The two went down hard on the dirt in front of the house. He’d been itching for a moment like that for a long time, so Baldwin jumped up and off the cop. He could have killed him twice yet.
“Get up!” he said. He was laughing, twirling the tire-iron, a sleepy wild man running from a god. The UN Officer stood easily, stopped and looked at the insane man in front of him. The cop lifted his left eyebrow, shrugged and grabbed at the tire iron fast enough that most couldn’t have avoided him. Baldwin was ready and broke three augmented fingers on the cop’s hand, the nanobots in his system instantly trying to repair the damage.
The look of utter shock on the cop’s face was comical to Baldwin, but he didn’t lose focus. The tire iron connected three more times to the cop, never fatal, just very damaging. He then kicked the officer, knocking him onto his back. He jumped backwards a few steps and picked up the old fencewire and laid it over the UN officer.
Panic set into the officer’s face. Another emotion it had likely not felt in years.
“You can’t heal if she can’t see you. And you also can’t move properly if your system isn’t connected for real time data transmission. Are you listening to me right now, Officer?”
The cop nodded assent.
“You can’t buy this old fence anymore. Nowhere. I suppose you, of all people right now, can see why.”
The cop nodded again. Baldwin noticed he was in pain and pressed on just a bit more, before any real damage could happen.
“I’m going to take your pulse pistol now. Any moves from you, I will actually kill you. I haven’t been able to defend myself in years now, thanks to that lecturing piece of software seeing everything. So don’t push me.”
The cop’s eyes were wide. He was sweating. Baldwin could smell the peculiar aroma of synthetic perspiration glands. He was actually shaking. The augmented did not see death so closely as a rule. Baldwin couldn’t help but wonder if it might do the idiot some good. He took the pulse pistol. Then he sat down and removed his right boot and his sock. Setting the strength to the lowest possible, he pointed the pulse pistol at his ankle and pulled the trigger twice. He howled. The pain was all but unbearable and he wasn’t certain he hadn’t broken his ankle.
But the tracking device was dead. He’d known about the trick for years but had never gotten a chance to grab a UN cop’s pulse pistol. It was the only gun strong enough to destroy the tracker but would not also remove the entire foot. At the lowest setting, the damage would be minimal, just painful. After resetting the pistol to a medium strength, suitable for stunning big, augmented cops, he pointed the pistol at the cop’s head.
“When I let you reconnect, she’s gonna know, right?”
The cop nodded yes.
“That’s not your fault. However, what will be your fault is coming back for me. That, techboy, I will kill you for doing. I want nothing, you understand? Evy, are you listening to me? I want nothing. When you read this cop’s data when I reconnect him, you pay attention to this.”
He shot the pulse pistol, landing the shot slightly to the left of the UN cop’s face. The shock was absorbed by the dirt. It was only the effect he was after.
“Please,” the cop whispered. No augmented ever said please. One with a badge doing so surely warranted a drink, Baldwin thought.
“I’m going to take this wire off you, you’re going to heal. I’ll be gone by the time you heal. You won’t follow. She’ll know where I was and she can track me visually for a few more miles. But then, I’m gone. If you follow, then you die. Understood?”
One final time the cop nodded his assent. Baldwin fired a shot close enough to knock the officer out cold. He winced his way into the old house. The ankle was a mess, if not broken; black, blue and hurting all over. He hobbled back out and shoved a few things into the Blazer, nearly had to hop back around front, uncovered the UN officer and watched for a moment as his wounds began to slowly heal, before his eyes.
“It is a damnably useful trick,” he said to the daylight setting in.
The Blazer roared away into the day.