Going Solo

Sabriel Eldar could want for nothing. She has thrills, adventure and excitement lining up on her doorstep, and the luck to survive anything life throws at her. But when a mysterious phone call for a job leads her into the extensive underworld of the city, she can only watch as everything around her is destroyed, piece by piece.


1. Spring the trap

Sabriel walked down the corridor, checking the knife at her belt and the ammo in her pistol as she did so. A flutter of nerves flew around her stomach, but they were settled when she laid eyes on the Vaspa. As beautiful, showy and impractical as it might seem from the outside, Sabriel knew that underneath the perfect paint job and cherry red bonnet was a military issue machine – the first ally she had known she could rely on in her years with the Grey Knights. This jetbike had outflown the Honour Guard fighters, shot down countless enemy ships and saved her life more times than she could count. The one thing she couldn’t get it to do was change colour – whilst cherry red with a thick black stripe down the middle might look stylish, it was hardly practical.


Sliding her thumb across the print pad, she pulled her long black hair into a ponytail with one hand, whilst she pulled her mission brief out of an inside pocket with the other. Simultaneously plugging the brief into the Vaspa and pulling into gear, she intoned to the jetbike:

“Where am I going, Dave?”

“District 11, West Side. Thirty second street, Happy Hotels. Ninetieth floor.” Oh yeah. That was the other thing. Her Vaspa was embedded with one of the only AI’s ever grown from human tissue – the only other one belonged to the Emperor.

“Remind me, what am I doing?”
“An Îcantan gave us a call a few days ago, said his brother had gone missing.”
“He was on holiday, went out to the balcony for a smoke, leaving his girlfriend inside, and didn’t come back.” Sabriel frowned,

“So he is definitely dead.”
“That‘s what I told him. He said he would have felt it if he had died, then muttered something extremely rude under his breath.” 
Sabriel scowled. Every single civilian she had met insisted that their lost family members were alive, even if every single piece of evidence pointed to their death.
“Great. Yet another one.”

“If I may say so, I believe they are simply trying to comfort themselves.”
“Well, that makes it no better. There is no comfort in the real world.”
“And that is precisely what they are trying to comfort themselves against.” Whilst Dave was an excellent companion and friend, and was highly intelligent, he had a hard time judging and understanding human behaviour, so whenever he did, Sabriel felt a strange sense of pride.

Sabriel opened up the throttle and soared down the long, empty, moonlit highways of district nine, watching as the world around her descended into dank, filthy squalor. Finally there, she pulled into the docking bay on floor ninety and locked the engines of the Vaspa so it was immobile.
“I don’t like this one Sabriel.”
“Why not?”
“This building seems familiar. I’ve heard of it before. And he point blank refused to meet you in the upper districts, said he knew for a fact this place was safe.”
“Not at all. I’m serious. Be careful on this one, and take the comm link.”
“Good luck.”

Sabriel stepped out of the jetbike, clipped on the comm link, and headed towards the door, easily visible underneath an ancient neon sign that might have once read Happy Hotels.

“Room number?”

“9064. Take a right.” 
She did, and on finding the door rapped hard against it with the brass knocker.

“What’s the client’s name?”

“J’zharr. He gave no other information, no phone number, no age, no surname, just that and directions.”

“What could you find?”

“Nothing. Guy’s a ghost, doesn’t show up on any of the search engines. I even hacked into the Grey Knights and looked him up. Nothing.”
Sabriel frowned, knocked again 
“This is looking less and less like a job, and more and more like a trap, and a poorly planned one too.”
Sabriel knocked once more, harder this time.
“You probably shoudn’t go through with this,” Dave said, quietly.

“No,” Sabriel agreed, “I probably shouldn’t. But someone wants me dead, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to find out who it is.” Silence. “They aren’t answering. I’ll see you on the other side. As she reached for the door handle, she ignored both the knife at her belt and the semiautomatic laser pistol at her hip, instead feeling inside her jacket for the smooth, cold handle of her machine pistol. You can never be too careful.

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