NWO by kevin williams may 27th 2013: sample chapter. 1100 wds.

Chapter Twenty-six: Help me, Help me!

“You didn't get nanoed again?”

“Nope. We're clean. And according to Mindy, so are you.”

Charlie was, as you might've guessed, waiting for us at Sam's already. He was fuming with all the righteous indignation of someone who lost his temper professionally on a daily basis... Till we got him up to date and he started believing our 'Clean you up from nano infection' story.

The kids all disappearing from the mall was what irked him the most of anything we told him. I knew after he'd had to look into the cases, he'd start to feel sorry for the brats there.

My place, even renovated into a nursery then reduced to a cement walls and floating ash, didn't bother him much at all. I guess it felt like karma payback for getting having his office redone.

He gave me the password for his office without another word or question. His own private place was not up to security specs and the two of us going there would've concentrated more attention on him than he really wanted.

How he figured we could stay in his office but not his home and still get ignored I don't know, but he was happy with it. Mindy liked his office anyway, since it was already set up with the some of the best defenses we had.

Defenses that didn't work really well on the rogue types, but good defenses anyway. I think it was the com set-up she really wanted to get her hands on, but it didn't matter.

Charlie and I yakked more while Mindy finished eating. It was almost noon now and I was a little short of sleep.

Nothing serious, I had gotten a few naps in at Henry's, but it had been one long battle for me since then. The rogues had attacked me twice, the gangas had had a run and whatever the blob was had also made an appearance. Then there was the fire-bombing at my apartment. I was tired, and getting to be a nervous wreck.

Mindy, on the other hand, was having the time of her life. This was what she was designed for, after all. Cyborg were meant to do more than look good, she was more than half battle-bot too.

“So the upshot of this is you want to sit and think for a hour or two.” Charlie grumbled into his collar. He had agreed to letting us use his office, for a reasonable fee. I guess he didn't have much traffic today. “Fine, that's not a problem. I have paper that needs delivering anyway.”

“And you have to be waiting at a punch-clock for someone to walk by? Nice.” I nodded at Mindy who was just finishing up her second breakfast. I think she liked the cholesterol in them, it was her favorite meal. “Lucky for you.”

“Actually, what I have to do today will keep me well hid from just about anybody.” Charlie snorted. “And I haven't done this myself in years, Tracker. I hope you appreciate this.”

“Yeah. My boys say my old apartment will look like an apartment again by supper-time or so.” Mindy snorted at that. She and Henry had gotten together on something as soon as the reno plans had come up in the teddy-net conference on the way here.

This time, she was directing the new place, not Teddy. Teddy had reluctantly agreed and except for my voracious complaints about being a babysitter, I had mostly gotten ignored again.

“And today you spend your time look for more friends.” Charlie added sourly. “Bigger and better ones. Swell.”

“And try to avoid being a target.” I added absently. “I need some sleep.”

“Wusie.” Came from Mindy. She sighed, pushed her plate away and smiled at the two of us. “I haven’t had this much fun in years.” She murmured. “And all you two do is complain about how it upsets your nap schedule.”

“Being shot at is not my idea of fun, dear.” I grumbled back at her as we made our way out. “I shoot at them, normally.” Sam nodded politely at Mindy and ignored Charlie and I even as we paid for our meals. I guess he liked perky blondes.

“The kids aren’t about at all?” I asked Charlie as we hit the streets. There were a couple gangas trying their very best to stay inconspicuous following us around, but that was about it.

I had no idea how many of the bots wandering around were part of teddy-net. Teddy had just snerked and laughed when I asked him how much of the city he had under his control these days.

That was “Need to know, won't screw up and works a lot.” info these days. I was in the 'none of the above.' category. Even as a deacon, until I requested that kind of data, I wasn't going to get it.

My mail-box was already over-loaded with stuff Teddy thought I should know about and most of it was bullet-point briefs on things I'd never heard of.

“So who are we going to try and make friends with today?” I asked Mindy as we walked to Charlie's office. He'd taken off as soon as we got out of Sam's., clutching a bundle of paper in a brief-case under his arm.

Charlie was doing his best to stay as far away from anything we might be doing. He did want updates on the kids from the mall, thou. He'd gotten interested in them.

I didn't have the heart to tell him most of the girls there were determined to be out, about and popular, even if they had to get a boy-friend who wanted to rent them out to do it.

What drove kids from home and to living at the mall these days was a weird collection of things. Sometimes it was rotten parents, sometimes it was a body with a mind of it's own that'd taken over. It was the same for the boys. The lonely, frustrated and bored showed up at the malls regularly, right along with misfits, abandoned and broken types.

I'd been doing this for a couple years now and I knew all the stories. I didn't like them, but I was more than familiar with them.

I knew Charlie was building files on the ones he had hopes of saving and wasn't telling us about them yet, and I ignored it. Charlie had his own collection of private griefs to work off. He saw enough trouble just delivering paper on dead-beat dads.

“Anyone we can. Teddy-net is working on it, running scenarios.” Mindy wasn't too concerned with that. She was more interested in who might attack us again soon.

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