"So what's the verdict, Doc?" Mox asked.
The balding cyborg turned to face him, wiping a smattering of blood on his black and green apron. "He'll live... despite the ludicrously small amount of credits I'm charging you for this kind of work on such short notice, and the shoddy equipment I'm forced to use," the doctor said dryly. "His right arm was fractured, he suffered blunt trauma to the back of the skull and a number of contusions, cuts and scrapes. There wasn't much I could do about his face other than clean it up with an antiseptic ointment. Your friend is lucky you came along when you did... otherwise I'd charge you a lot more."
Mox rolled his eyes. "Lucky me."
"I'm going to give him a shot of stims and then he'll be in sufficient shape to leave. I don't need the two of you attracting the local constables and getting me taxed or worse. You can pay your bill on your way out."
Mox muttered under his breath and waited. A few minutes later, Gurney staggered out from the other room using the doorframe as a brace.
"I need a drink. Help me get to a tavern, man. I'm buyin'."
"So what's yer name, man?" Gurney asked. He was sitting on a stool leaning back and placing his cool beer against his bandaged forehead.
After a moment of hesitation, Mox answered. "Charlie. Charlie Mox. But, eh, if anyone asks it's Borno."
"Name's Dale Gurney. Thanks for savin' my ass back there. I owe ya one." Gurney took a swig of his beer. "Runnin' from the law or yer creditors?" Gurney replied with a smile.
Mox grinned. "Somethin' like that, mate. What about you?"
"That was my employee severance package you saw back there in the alley," Gurney said with a scowl. His stomach growled and he turned to the bartender. "Gimme a hot dog, man. Everything on it. And I don't wanna know what it's made outta, either."
"Wise choice. Comin' right up, pal," the bartender said, heading into the back room.
Gurney turned back to Mox. "You got business in B.D. or you just hidin' out?"
Mox's brow furrowed as he decided on just how much to tell his newfound friend. "I'm lookin' for work, actually."
Gurney laughed. "I knew it. Creditors. Well, hey, I'm lookin' for a new job too, so I guess we're in the same boat." He turned to Mox and gave him a serious look. "Hey, I got some plans that could make us both very rich men... assuming you'd be interested and all."
"Rich is good. Filthy stinking rich is even better. Whaddaya got in mind, mate?"
"First, we gotta run a few errands. I'll explain a bit on the way right after we eat and get our bellies fulla liquor," Gurney said and finished off his beer. "Man, what is taking so long with that hot dog? You'd think they'd charge more if ya had to go out and kill it fresh."
In the back room, the bartender was looking at the jagged-toothed smile of a mutant with liquid-silver eyes grinning at him from the HoloFone viewscreen. "Yeah, I'm sure its him. The Ident is too close a match to be wrong. I even heard him tell the other guy his name. I'm tellin' you Charlie Mox is in Bora Dalis."
"Splendid news, my friend. I'll inform the interested party and if they bite, you'll get a one-percent commission as usual," the mutant smiled. "Ro'taann out."
Mox and Gurney exited the tavern, chatting as they walked the dimly lit streets of Bora Dalis. A few minutes later they arrived at a large warehouse on the southern edge of the city.
"I got some gear stowed away here in a storage unit I rent from a mutie named Quatto. I still owe on some of it, but there's one thing I have paid off we need to get. The rest we can use as a bargaining chip for some fast cash. I know a few guys who might be interested in that junk, and we might be able to work out a deal with Quatto to act as an avatar. His percentages are pretty steep but we'll have enough cash to do what we need to," Gurney explained.
Mox was about to ask a question when he heard a distant armored boot crunching something on the ground behind him. He turned around to see several soldiers clad in the crimson armor of Bora Dalis Security, and had begun to wonder how they had caught on to his true identity so quickly, right when a volley of projectile spikes began ripping through the air at the two men.
"Get down!" Mox yelled as he pushed Gurney out of the way. Igniting his Perdition flamethrower and turning to face his enemies, he felt the impact of high-powered spikes penetrating the outer layer of his armor, and prayed that they were bad shots and had left his gas tanks alone. He let out a burst of flame toward the soldiers who stood just out of range. He knew if he didn't think of something quick, he and his new friend would be dead men.
More spikes impacted his armor but this time the assault was from behind. Glancing at his wrist, he saw the dreaded red light blinking which told him his tank had been penetrated, and he was lucky it hadn't exploded on impact. He turned to see more soldiers coming at him from the other side of the street. Leaking propellant and outnumbered eight to one, his bald head began sweating as he thought about his own imminent demise. Turning off the burner, he waved his hands in a sign of surrender.
The soldiers approached him, surrounding him with their weapons. "Nice day for a barbecue," he said. Hearing his voice command, the device on his arm released the fuel tanks from his back and they fell to the ground with a loud clang. Mox dove into the air to put as much space between him and the soldiers as possible, using a few of them as shields when the tanks exploded, filling the area with a massive fireball that hurled a few of the soldiers into nearby walls with incredible force, and set another on fire.
When the smoke cleared, Mox stood up on one knee and was greeted by the clicking sounds of the remaining soldiers who had escaped the makeshift bomb unscathed.
"Where you want it, baldy? One in each eye or just one right in the forehead?" one of the soldiers asked.
The Antioch Chronicles™ © 1998, Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. All rights reserved. The Antioch Chronicles™ trademark and associated logos are the exclusive property of Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. Characters and distinctive likenesses thereof, character names, item names, place names, named events, artwork and all other related material not disclosed herein are protected under the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any reproduction, retransmission, or unauthorized use herein is prohibited without express written permission.
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