Elite: Wanted – an excerpt

It was easy enough to find the pilot of the Unkindness. He was in a bar that some arsehole had called The Jameson, as if the real deal would ever have come to a shit-hole like this. A retro flat-screen took up a whole wall inside, running a loop of spectacular space accidents. Most of the ones here were of Cobra’s fucking up their roll-rate and crashing into the entry gate of one of the old-school rotating cuboctahedral Coriolis stations. There had been a whole spate of that when the Coriolis stations were first introduced. Was always a problem with the Cobras for some reason, fitting them through the letterbox opening and the pilots back then … well, these days no one got a licence without showing they could roll-match a station whether they were drunk, stoned or stone-cold sober.

Ziva threw a handful of camera drones into the air and gave them their thirty seconds. After the way she’d left the enforcement office, there didn’t seem much point in subtlety. Give them another five minutes and they’d have a whole posse of junkers hunting her; this time they’d be armed with a damn sight more than a shock-rod. She fired hers at the ceiling. That got the attention of every spacer in the bar quick enough. Once she had it she asked:

‘So which one of you fuckers flies the Unkindness?’

All it took was one glance and she knew who it was. She shocked him as she ran at him, vaulting tables, and he hadn’t even finished slumping to the floor by the time she reached him, picked him up and slung him over her shoulder. Heavy fucker. She was thankful the fake gravity of the Black Mausoleum was only about half Earth-standard. She stuffed a pair of anti-stun plugs in his ears and then let off one of the grenades from the junker she’d neck-chopped. That gave her about fifteen seconds while no one else in the bar would know their arse from their elbow, enough to drag the pilot into the gents – no one ever put a camera up in the men’s toilets, not ever – and barricade herself in. She sent the camera drones off to create a moving blind spot through the station that would make it seem as though she was heading for the hub. Then she jabbed the Adder pilot with a half dose of Wakey-Wakey and enough Demon to put the shits up a horse. She slapped him; the moment his eyes opened, she pinned him down onto the tiled floor by his throat. The air stank of stale piss. A thousand years and some things just didn’t change.

‘I don’t know your name,’ she spat, ‘but I know you fly a Judas runner and I know you came in with an escape pod not long back. Who was in it?’