The Road Of Danger – Snippet 82

“Hey!” said Brock, heeling the brake hard. Even so, the truck slowed gently. “These patrolmen have already searched me. And what’s the Navy doing stopping honest truckers anyway?”

“They didn’t search you, you bought ’em off, which you won’t do with us,” said the voice, now on the driver’s side of the cab. “And as for the Navy–”

The passenger door jerked open. The moon-faced man in blue utilities was holding his carbine upright by the balance in the hand not on the door handle. He didn’t have time to look surprised before Adele shot him through the right eye and, as his head jerked back, through the open mouth.

“Drive!” she said, but the truck was already accelerating at its slow best. She straightened to look out. Forward motion hadn’t swung the hard enough to latch, so she pulled it closed.

Tovera’s sub-machine gun crackled a three-shot burst, then another, then a third. It sounded like water dripping into hot grease.

Adele couldn’t see the first two targets from her angle, but Tovera’s third burst threw forward a man wearing non-descript trousers but a crossbelt over his dirty white tunic. He had been trying to duck behind the stone steps to the entryway of an office building. The back of his tunic speckled, and he sprawled across them instead. The pistol flew out of his hand.

The policeman had probably been too frightened to shoot at the truck as it disappeared down the street, but Tovera wasn’t one to take chances. Neither was Adele, not in this unpredictable chaos.

The police must have been on foot, but turned crossways to block the street ahead was a small blue van with a Navy of Cremona shield on the side in gold. The truck rolled into the van with a crunch and skidded it sideways. Brock continued to accelerate.

A tire rubbed off the smaller vehicle; the wheel rim sparked across the cobblestones until it found purchase in a crack. The van flipped onto its side, then roof, and was pulled under the truck’s axles one by one, shedding parts with the scream of metal on metal.

The truck continued on; the wreckage of the van didn’t catch fire. Brock seemed to be whistling between his teeth, but his mouth was set in a rictus.

The street ahead kinked slightly to the right. Two blocks past the angle and coming toward them was a flatbed truck. People standing in the back looked forward over the cab. Adele thought, Are they

The windshield starred in three milky patches between her and the driver; the truck body rang like a quickly hit anvil as the slugs passed through. Brock hauled the wheel to the right, hand over hand. Their truck turned onto a cross street, lumbering over the curb. They scraped the corner of a tavern; glass and bricks shattered, spraying the sidewalk.

The gunman in the flatbed hit the back with another round from his automatic carbine, but the rest of the burst flew wide. The range was too great for Tovera’s weapon to be lethal, but a light pellet in the face would throw off the aim of the most focused marksman.

The bullet-pocked windshield was as hard to see through as a heavy fog. Adele pounded at it with her right hand, but she only succeeded in stretching the sticky middle sheet of the glass sandwich even nearer to opacity.

Brock lifted his pistol and punched the barrel through the windshield in front of him. He swung his arm sideways, grinding the butt through the glass like a ship’s bow crushing pack ice.

He drew back his arm, then repeated the stroke to clear the top of the windshield. When he dropped the pistol onto his lap, his wrists were bleeding. Hauling hard on the steering wheel, he turned the truck left onto a street parallel to the one on which they had left the warehouse.

Two ground cars and a light truck were stopped in the street ahead. Men with pistols, clubs, and lengths of chain were climbing out of the vehicles, warned either by radio or the sound of shots coming toward them. They all wore scarves striped red/yellow/black.

When I have a moment, I’ll learn which gang uses those colors


Adele leaned out the open side window where she didn’t have to worry about jagged edges. Two shots spun the man on the right. His right arm stretched upward like that of a hammer thrower, but his grip must have frozen on his spiked mace because it didn’t come out of his hand.

Two shots more, holding for the center of the chest because the jouncing truck didn’t allow for delicacy; the driver sprawled out of sight behind the hood of the car he had started to get out of. Two more and a gunman crumpled backward into the man behind him–who dropped next, coughing up bright pulmonary blood.

Brock guided–aimed–the truck between the back fender of the car in the middle of the line and the hood of the truck behind it. There wasn’t room to clear either vehicle, but the big truck bounced them in opposite directions. If Brock had smashed into one straight on and ground it down, he would have chanced ripping out his truck’s wiring harness or a hydraulic line.

There were bodies on the left side of the makeshift roadblock also. Like her mistress, Tovera had started at the edge and worked toward the center.

The street ahead to the next bend was almost empty of people, though there might be some hiding on the floors of cars. Vehicles had been driven over the curb to either side and seemingly abandoned.

The visible exception was a heavyset woman in a loose, floral-print dress. She must have just stepped out of a shop when the shooting started. She had dropped her string bag, spilling brightly colored fruit, but she seemed unable even to throw herself to the ground. She gaped red-faced as the truck rumbled past.

Adele gave her only a glance. She wasn’t a threat.

The shroud around the barrel of her pistol was glowing yellow because of waste heat from her shots. She had expended at least half her twenty-round magazine. She would replace it with a fresh magazine as soon as she could, but she had learned to wait until the weapon cooled. Without protective gloves, the hot barrel would raise blisters.

If, as seemed likely, Adele emptied the pistol in the next few minutes, she would have blisters tomorrow morning–if she survived. She smiled wryly: that was a cheaper price than others were paying this afternoon.

Heavy firing burst out some miles to the north; at least one automatic impeller was involved, below which a buzz of lesser weapons sounded like a swarm of wasps. So far as Adele knew, no ‘Blue’ forces were in that direction. She wondered whether two or more gangs had collided and were slugging it out with one another due to the lack of planning for the sudden attack.

A slug dimpled the fender in front of Adele and punched downward. That tire was already flat, but to hit it from that high angle–

“Aircar!” Tovera said. “Aircar!”

Another slug hit the pavement twenty feet ahead, shattering a cobblestone as osmium sprayed in a score of vivid pastels. Adele leaned through her side window and looked upward at the aircar curling slowly into sight ahead.