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   Chapter 2 No.2

Bypass Gemini By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5288

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02


Lex looked at the balance in his account with a grimace. Finally, he shrugged.

"Well, paying rent is overrated anyway, right?"

He waved his pad over Marv's. Both devices flashed "Secure transaction" and scanned the fingers for authentication purposes before transferring credits directly from one bank account to the other.

"Sure is nice having you pay the regular way instead of stacks of chips like usual, " Marv said.

"Yeah, well don't get too used to it. I need that money for the ninety-eight percent of the people I owe that don't even take chips. See you next week, Marv."

"You mean tomorrow, right?"

"Heh, probably, " Lex said, preparing to walk away.

"Wait--speaking of that 'other thing.' Someone left this for you."

Marv held up a handwritten note. Lex snatched it and stuffed it in his pocket.

"Real subtle, Marv."

Sticking to the side of a nearby light pole was his delivery bike. It had the same handlebars and uncomfortable seat of its two-wheeled ancestor, but in place of wheels were small, circular discs, about the size and shape of a catcher's mitt, facing the ground. Two were in back, on the outside corners of a metal mesh cargo basket the size and shape of a shopping cart, and one was in the front, extending forward a foot or so below the bars. Technically, that should make it a trike, but bike sounded cooler, so Lex stuck with that. In days gone by, there would have been a chain keeping people from walking away with it. Now it was held to the nearest immovable metal object with a magnetic clamp. With a wave of his slidepad, it dropped to the ground. He climbed on and puttered off.

His neighborhood was a quarter of the way across town, which didn't sound like a long way until one realized that in the era of skyways and mag-lev trains, towns tended to sprawl across several hundred miles. Particularly this place, Preston City. Just about anyone who came to Golana or left it did so from Preston. Thus, for most people, getting home on a bike would be a multi-hour ordeal. Bikes were meant for short range, low-altitude trips. Sure, they could go just as high and just as fast as standard hovercars, thanks to the lower weight offsetting the lower power, but they offered nothing in the way of safety features. It was a body, a helmet, and a few pounds of aluminum strapped to enough thrust to propel the rider into orbit. Someone would have to be a lunatic to take such a thing toe to toe with full-sized cars. Either that, or very, very good.

Lex strapped on his helmet and set off.

Twenty-eight minutes, sixty-two miles, and one stern reprimand from the police later,

he was walking into his apartment, such as it was. One room, about the size and shape of a jail cell, was his combination bedroom/living room. It had a futon on one wall, a large flatscreen on the other wall, and presumably a coffee table, though that was largely speculation until he got around to cleaning off the mound of take-out boxes.

A door on the far end of the room led to the counter with a sink, oven, and dishwasher that could charitably be called a kitchenette, and from there one could reach his bathroom. It would be nice to suggest that this was a typical apartment, but, unfortunately, it was only bachelors and the chronically cash-strapped who called places like this home. Lex was currently both.

He docked his slidepad, linking it to the wall display so that he could work through the missed messages on the big screen. The first six video and audio messages all focused on either increasing the size of various parts of his anatomy or hooking him up with women who already had ludicrous anatomies. He was definitely going to have to update that spam filter. He deleted them and moved on. Next was a message from Blake, his buddy at Golana Interstellar, the starport that was more or less the reason for the whole planet.

"Hey, T-man. Listen, there's a convention coming up before that big state of the company thing VectorCorp has planned, so I'm going to need you to, uh. . . move your. . . stuff. Oh, and I got this box here. I think it is the. . . special. . . thing. For your stuff. Get back to me."

Blake was a friend from back in the good old days. He ran a stardock, the space-faring equivalent of a parking garage, and let Lex keep a certain vehicle there, off the books. The only catch was that he had to get it out of there on short notice if something was likely to fill his place up to capacity, which happened every now and then. The nature of the vehicle in question made Blake a shade skittish about discussing it. The package wasn't terribly legitimate either. He'd have to take care of that sometime tomorrow.

Next was. . . uh-oh, a Detective Barsky.

"Mr. Alexander. I've got a message here from a VectorCorp security officer who says he's been seeing an awful lot of unlicensed, unscheduled traffic on VectorCorp proprietary routes. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that it is dangerous and unlawful to--"

Deleted. Lex got a message like that one about once a month. The police had nothing on him, but he'd had more than a few run-ins with them in the last few years, so they liked to let him know they had their eyes on him.

Next was a group message from Michella Modane.

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