Jet City Heat
The skies were supposed to be clear and sunny all week. Instead, clouds were coming in and glooming up the place. Every once in a while, the light of day would peek out from behind those grey puffs, but they were fleeting appearances. Bell couldn’t wait for summer. He hoped this witness protection deal would be over by then. That cruise he’d been putting off was sounding better every day but he knew the FBI would never allow it. His testimony was too important to the case against the Order and until the bastards who tortured him were behind bars, he wouldn’t be safe. In the end, he didn’t care. The Order and their goose-stepping minions would pay, he would make sure of it.
“How we doing, Mr. Bell?” the FBI agent in charge asked.
“Hanging in there, um, sir,” Bell replied. He couldn’t remember the man’s name. Lee or something.
“Don’t get comfortable. We’re going to be moving again in ten.”
“Should I be worried?” Bell asked.
“Always,” the agent replied. He said it like a joke, but Bell didn’t think it was funny.
“That was a serious question. You drag me out of bed at ten in the morning, you don’t tell me where we’re going. You’re keeping me out of the loop and I’m not sure why.”
“We have reason to believe there is an immediate threat to your safety,” the agent said. Bell must have turned sheet white because then he said, “This is all just precautionary.”
“Sure. Sure. Thanks,” said Bell. The agent turned the TV on and tossed the remote on the couch.
“Ten minutes,” the agent reminded him.
She found a food truck she liked, Korean BBQ, and was halfway through a meal when her phone rang.
“You’d better be extra damn sure this time, Phil,” she said.
“I am,” Phil replied. “The only reason you missed him this morning was because they were tipped off right after you were finished with the first target.”
“They’re being extra cautious with this one. He must know something pretty important,” she said.
“Word on the street is he’s the reason the JCPD is drowning in scandals and corruption investigations right now,” Phil said.
“Really,” she said. She didn’t care.
“Even Seattle’s getting dragged into it. If this goes on, every law enforcement organization in the Puget Sound area is going to get cleaned out.”
“A tragedy,” she said.
He sent her the new location via D*Liver. With mass electronic surveillance on the rise, courier services were quickly becoming the best way to discreetly communicate. It reminded her of the old days, back when the Cold War was two seconds from turning hot and nobody trusted phone lines. The new location was a ten minute drive if she beat the lunch rush. Easy money.
“While many people know that superheroes first emerged in 1938, very few realize that the first superhumans were actually discovered in 1910,” the narrator of the history special said.
*Did you Know?* the TV chimed.
“Did you know the first recorded superhuman was Mexican?” the narrator asked.
“I didn’t know that,” Bell said as he ate another burger. Fast food everyday and no work. It should have felt like vacation, but all he felt was spine chilling terror. So, kind of like vacation with his ex-wife.
“Ten minutes, Jack,” the agent in charge said. That’s the name Harold was using for now, to keep him safe.
“You said that ten minutes ago,” Bell noted.
“Nature of the beast, buddy,” the agent replied.
“The first World War might not have happened without superhumans,” the TV narrator continued. “Without their influence the war itself could have gone any number of ways. The Germans might have won, the Russian Revolution might have been crushed or never occurred in the first place. The United States might have remained an isolationist power with no standing on the world stage.”
“Weird,” Bell belched.
“Consider what the world might have looked like without something as basic as superhuman intelligence. Would we have gone to the Moon? Would there be such technological advancements as the internet or electric cars? Or microwave ovens? What about touch screen cell phones or even television? Perhaps none of these would have been possible without the super minds behind their development.”
“Super weird,” Bell belched again.
Her car was parked a block away from the motel. The witness protection detail was all plain clothes agents and unmarked cars, but she could spot them a mile away. She was weighing her options and figuring out whether taking out this many FBI agents was worth the risk when the client decided to call her up.
“Yes,” she answered curtly.
“Where are you on the assignment?” Eastman asked.
“I’ve got my eye on him. Is something wrong?” she asked.
“The situation’s changed. I need it done as soon as possible.”
“It will cause a scene,” she said.
“I don’t care what you do. Just do it now,” Eastman spat.
“That’s going to cost extra. I assume you’re okay with that?” she asked. There was nothing like that in her contract, but he seemed desperate enough to buy it.
“Okay. Fine. Just get it done.”
“Right away,” she said.
“Jack. We’re moving now,” the agent in charge said. Bell hurriedly drank the last of his soda and put his coat on. The agents made a bee line for the cars and got Bell stuffed in the back of one moments before it took off.
“I appreciate loose lips sinking ships and all that, but could someone tell me what’s happening?” Bell asked.
“You’re going to be fine, Mr. Ash. We have you well in hand,” the agent in charge said from the passenger seat.
“People don’t just say that if everything’s fine,” Bell said. The agent in charge smiled but he was clearly nervous. And sweating. “Is someone coming to kill me right now?”
“All you have to know is that we’re going to protect you,” the agent said.
“You were already doing that,” Bell said. The agent said something into his hand held radio and it chirped back a response. The convoy of three cars were moving quickly now. Bell half expected to see someone chasing them if he looked out the back.
“Driver, the number 3 if you please,” she said. A hatch opened next to her revealing a series of firearms for every occasion. She grabbed the Kalashnikov and gave it a once over. When she was satisfied with its condition, she loaded a clip of armor piercing rounds. All she needed was an opportune moment.
“Is the next stop very far? I might have to pee if it is,” Bell said.
“You’ll have to hold it. And I told you to be ready to go,” the agent said.
“I was ready to go but then I had to wait for like twenty minutes while you guys got your act together,” Bell said, getting very irritated. “Look, I appreciate you guys doing this, I know it’s your job, but this keeping me in the dark crap isn’t helping anybody.”
“10-9 on that last?” the agent said to the radio.
“Black sedan on our six. Tinted windows. Just a heads up,” the radio chirped back. The agent strained to look past Bell’s head.
“Speed it up,” the agent told the driver.
“Can we at least stop by a rest stop? Or a bush?” Bell asked. “Honestly, I just need a couple seconds and…”
The driver’s head suddenly lolled back and the car swerved off the street and over the sidewalk into a ditch.
Bell shook himself awake. His vision was blurry but it came back quickly.
“Are you okay?” the agent asked.
“Yeah I’m fine. Just…”
“Not you! Dean, what the hell, man? Wake up,” the agent said, shaking the slumped over driver.
“What do I do?” Bell asked.
“Just sit there and shut up,” the agent snapped. He reached for his radio, cursed when he couldn’t find it, and started searching the floor where it might have landed.
Bell saw the other two cars pull up next to the ditch. Two agents scrambled down toward them. He wondered why he wasn’t freaking out more just then. Was the adrenaline doing something to his nerves? Was it shock? A concussion? The agents pulled the driver, Dean apparently, out of the car and laid him down on the rocky incline.
“Should we go to a hospital or?” Bell asked.
“Call Sector now,” the agent in charge said. “You get Dean. You get Ash. Go!”
The agents got to work. Someone grabbed Bell and dragged him up the incline to another car. Bell got in the back. The agent ran around to the driver’s side. He opened the door and leaned to get in. A short woman in green walked up from behind, pressed a TV remote looking device to the agent’s neck and hit a button. He fell over instantly.
She turned to the target. He was frozen in shock. Good. She opened the door to the back.
“Hey!” someone called. An agent from the third car. How’d she miss that? “Ma’am please step back from… Shit!” the agent panicked when he saw his comrade convulsing on the pavement.
“Is he all right? Should I call 911?” she asked in a grandmotherly tone.
“Just back away! Back away please!” the agent commanded.
“Wait,” the target squeaked. “Wait!”
When the agent was close enough, she aimed the remote at his head and dropped him too. She turned back to the car. The target scrambled back until he was pressing against the door. The poor thing wasn’t thinking straight, she realized. She ducked down so she was most of the way in the car and aimed her remote at his head. The target kicked the remote out of her hand, surprising her. Then he finally found the door handle and fell backwards out of the car. She recovered the remote. The target was gone by the time she looked up. Fast little fucker.
“Hotel India, copy? Why haven’t you left yet?” the radio chirped. She peeked out the car window. More agents were sprinting back up out of the ditch. Then she heard a door slam and saw the car in front of her speeding away, tires screeching. The target was getting away.
“Shit,” she said, getting out of the car.
“Shit!” one of the agents said as he sprinted uselessly after his car.
“What happened here?” the other agent asked her. She blew three holes through his head. The last two agents came up out of the ditch just in time to see his body hit the sidewalk.
“Gun!” one of them said before his head exploded. The last agent reached for his gun but he lost that quick draw.
The muzzle of her Kalashnikov poked out of the arm of her coat. Her sleeve was designed to be part silencer, part bullet case catcher so she left minimal forensic evidence behind. It also hid most of her gun quite nicely. Her car pulled up behind her and she got inside.
“Drive,” she commanded.