Vixen fired an arrow into darkness. The darkness fired back.
He threw himself to the side, hitting wet pavement, rolling with the momentum. As soon as he was on his front, he pushed up and got back to his feet. He ducked behind a dumpster. More shots followed, ricocheting off walls. Vixen heard a shout, then another, then heavy footsteps splashing through puddles.
He glanced up. Overhead, a sliver of moonlight sliced between dark clouds like a scythe.
He edged up to the end of the dumpster, leaning forward. There, in a particularly large puddle, he caught sight of the reflection of a large man, a thug with cheap chrome and cheaper guns, charging for his position. He tracked the motion for a second then popped out, firing without aiming.
The notification for a message scrolled across his vision and settled in the corner of his field of view; no time to read who it was from.
An explosion cracked through the night, flashing dampened white behind Vixen’s goggles. Vixen was already moving, popping out, firing again. Bullets streaked past him. His arrows shot through the air in flat arcs, one burying itself in the man’s leg. The other flew past his shoulder. The third hit the man’s chromed arm and exploded.
The thug cried out. He dropped to a knee, gun clattering away. Vixen stepped forward, lowering his bow. He kicked the gun aside.
Another message notification popped up in his field of view, and he ignored that one too. He walked up to the thug, who was groaning on the ground. His cyberarm was half slagged metal and half exposed flesh. The guy had gotten the drop on him, came out of nowhere and hit him hard and fast. Ultimately, it had been his mistake. Vixen leaned down and pulled the guy’s sleeve aside. Emblazoned on the metal was a stylized human ear done in black paint.
“That has got to be the stupidest logo I’ve ever seen,” Vixen muttered.
The thug moaned, still gripping his arm. “Don’t touch me, Trog-lover!”
Vixen sighed. “So I take it this is about the bounty on my head.”
The man sneered up at him, then kicked out. Vixen stepped quickly to the side, dodging. Then he kicked the man in the head. The thug slumped. Vixen supposed he could finish the job from there, make sure the guy never tried anything again. But shooting unconscious enemies in the head wasn’t exactly the right thing to do, however expedient.
He left the thug behind. When he got back to his bike and kick-started the engine, he remembered the messages. He pulled them up sequentially: the first was from Plex, and it was a video message. He played it in its entirety, then played it again, soaking in the details. Then he drove back to his garage, taking a circuitous route just in case. You never knew when Humanis Policlub might decide to show up, after all.
Maybe one day he’d be able to afford a real place, but for now he lived in a garage space too small to fit a car, but just big enough for a bike and a man, and a modest amount of gear. He keyed in his code and the door rolled up, and he drove in and parked, closing the door behind him.
He looked at the next message, a group text from Franz, the recipients both him and Daze. Interesting. It meant someone was trying to get the band back together. Maybe it was Plex they had to thank for recognizing they were a good team, or maybe it was…someone else.
Vixen set his bow down on its holder and eased his quiver off his shoulder. Refreshing his arrows had been the first thing he’d done after the Teklon job. He’d seen the need for a more diverse mix, more special-use arrows and a healthy grouping of more explosive arrows.
He replied to Franz’ text:
<<Vixen -> @Franz; @Daze: Yeah, just got the message. Haven’t accepted yet, but if you guys are in, so am I.>>
Vixen stripped to his undershirt and loose pants, and sat down on his thin sleeping mat. He reached for a can of soytein. This one was chicken-flavored. The meeting wasn’t until seven tonight, so he had time for a nap – hopefully after Franz and Daze replied.