Cougar made his way through the dark night, rain rolling greasily off his hat to drip pathetically onto his jacket. He ignored the glowing eyes of the m-tramps that called to him, offering him all types of sex for cheap prices. There were no human prostitutes around this part of town. The humans that sold sex all trawled the upper hover malls and businesses.
That left the solid ground to the mechanical hookers, or m-tramps. A human male lounging in a doorway studied him with interest before seeing the big steel killer gun slung casually over his shoulder. Even down here where law and order was scarce, would-be robbers or killers knew you left the man carrying that type of gun alone.
Two blocks down, the dark night turned a light blue. Security lights from the above hover buildings shined down, making potential thieves and saboteurs easier to spot and pick up.
Years ago, the lights were a harsh bright white but a feisty upstart in the city government had campaigned and gotten them to change the lights so the residents below didn’t have to wear sunglasses at night and keep the shades in their apartments pulled down. That same feisty official had been ‘accidentally’ killed a few weeks after the softer blue lights had been installed. The memory of that woman faded but the blue lights stayed. They’d given this five block region of the city the nickname ‘Blue Hell.’
In Blue Hell anything and anyone was available; information, drugs like alcohol and sugar and illegal tech. A young boy played holo-jacks in front of the building Cougar headed into. He met the boys gaze for a split second and read the ‘all clear’ signal in his eyes. The boy wore glasses and had spiky blond hair. Cougar had stopped finding it creepy that his lover had fashioned the boy to look like his younger self.
Inside, there were many doors. Cougar headed down the hall and opened the last door on the right. Inside there was a normal looking apartment. It looked lived in as the team did spend a few hours a week up here. Inside the small master bedroom were two closets. One held clothes and a secret hidden door. The other held the same plus a small laser system that would kill anyone in five seconds flat.
It originally took ten seconds but Jensen was a hacker and as he’d told Cougar many times, hackers improved things so their laser took fives seconds. His hacker declared that one day it would only take a second. Cougar figured everyone needed hobbies. Especially ex-government killers on the run from evil megalomaniacs.
Cougar went into the right closet and opened the secret door by entering a series of complicated numeric and letter passwords that changed every few hours. Cougar stepped through the door and down a flight of stairs. This was where they actually spent most of their time. Over in a corner, Jensen sat mostly naked with four floating holographic monitors in front of him. Cougar made his way over and kissed Jensen on the temple before going to the bathroom. He needed a shower and a beer.
Ten minutes later, he was done and Jensen was still on the computers, his body unmoving and covered with only a pair of red boxers and some socks. The wires leading from Jensen’s metallic fingers into the small box in front of him glowed silver and red. Cougar lay on the bed and planned the rest of his night out and the next day.
He focused attention back on Jensen when the holo-screens cut off abruptly and the wires retracted silently into Jensen’s fingers. Jensen stood up and stretched, the gleam of metal fingers shimmering in the low lights. The lights didn’t catch the low metallic shine of Jensen’s right arm. It had been replaced back when the military loved them.
Of course, Jensen had played with it and it was stronger than the military had planned. The wires within the fingers and the eye with the laser beam came later, after the op that supposedly killed them all. Hell, all of them had some type of metal in their bodies. Most of it put in by the army and then checked over by Jensen to make sure there were no tracking devices or poisons set to release and kill them if they disobeyed an order.
He’d tell them during every check how he’d heard ‘rumors’ and they let him do what he needed because they were a team and team had your back, not the military, not the government, or the big giant corporations that really ran things above in the hovering cities.
Cougar closed his eyes and relaxed as Jensen settled on top of him. Lips met his and Cougar grabbed the back of his hacker’s head and deepened the kiss. He wanted to do other things, but business first. He broke the kiss off and asked, “Any new info?”
Jensen moved off of him and adjusted the bulge in his boxers. “One or two small hints as to where Max might be and I have a um, weird theory about something. Care to hear it?”
Cougar nodded, knowing it was going to be really out in the stratosphere for Jensen to even ask permission first.
“I don’t think Max is a person. At least, not anymore.”
Cougar sat up and frowned. The mattress under him made strange burbling noises as it adjusted to his new position. Jensen got more comfortable beside him and sighed. “Yeah, I was tracking some code this morning and it looks all screwy.” He shook his head. “I can’t describe it. It’s just a feeling I’m getting and if it’s true, and he is some type of computer program, we are more screwed than I thought.”
“Who did we hear on our subdural comms?”
Jensen lay beside him on the bed and talked. “It wouldn’t be hard to find a voice program. Hell, he could be a computer program and a person, at least a mechanical. That might explain the scope of his power.”
Cougar let that thought simmer in his head. “The military would be that stupid, wouldn’t they?”
Jensen laughed and rubbed his human arm over Cougar’s stomach. The warm fingers made Cougar’s body tingle. “They would indeed. Global command has some brain challenged assholes at the top.”
Cougar agreed and didn’t stop Jensen’s wondering hand as he continued talking. “I got some ideas if he is a fucking virus. I might wind up shutting down a few hover cities once I launch an attack but they won’t crash or anything. The pampered few will just be uncomfortable for a few days. Then if we do manage to wipe him from the interplanetary net, he may have backup programs waiting to emerge. It will take awhile to find them all.”
Cougar grunted and decided talk time was over. He pulled Jensen’s boxers off and rolled on top of him. Jensen laughed and hugged him tighter. His eyes flickered for a second and then he gasped. “J will tell me if one of the team comes in.”
At the moment, Cougar didn’t care that the little mechanical boy was a great watch out. His life was improving because he knew Jensen would have his plan meshed out in a day or two. Clay and Aisha would be ecstatic that they’d get to kill Max a few times, and then they could all find someplace to call home.