Beyond Seduction Deceit Betrayal

When I saw her after so long, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself wanting my revenge. I wanted a simple revenge, however my better half wanted something beyond that. In appeasing her demands, it brought out a most unselling part of me, knowing that the person capable of making both my better half and I feel this way, was tied directly to my yearning toward our road to vengeance.

Author's note

Professional published eBook version can be found here. Available in ePub, Kindle and PDF. ISBN: 9780463875858. This book is part of Smashwords' "Premium Catalog": the book has been approved to ship to retailers that Smashwords works with.

The KnM Blade Universe timeline of novels, : Kixi Rajki / Professionally published eBooks. These then get distributed to online book stores such as iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, Scribd, Ficton DB, Livraria Cultura, Barnes & Noble, that's just naming a few. :-)

- KnM Blade: She Jhasmin & I Kixi (Coming in early 2020)
- KnM Blade: Part 1. ISBN: 9780463729267.
- KnM Blade: Part 2. ISBN: 9780463849057.
- KnM Blade: Part 3. (Coming in mid to later half of 2020)
- KnM Blade: I Love You And You Love Me - The Wedding Of Kixi And Mako Jhasmin. ISBN: 9780463160930.
- KnM Blade: Beyond Seduction Deceit Betrayal. ISBN: 9780463875858
- KnM Blade: Time's Arrow (Delayed. Coming in 2020)

How they appear here on bellow,

- KmM Blade : She Jhasmin & I Kixi, (In Progress - early 2020)
- KnM Blade in Destiny's Way (Main project. Single book will consist of 4 parts. Part 1 and Part 2 compete. Part 3 is in progress - mid to later part of 2020. Smashwords versions will have parts published as separate books).
- KnM Blade : I love you and you love me : The Wedding of Kixi and Mako Jhasmin (Complete)
- KnM Blade : Beyond Seduction Deceit Betrayal (Complete)
- KnM Blade: Time's Arrow (Delayed. In progress - 2020)


KnM Blade Timeline as of 2019/2020

3011 - She Jhasmin & I Kixi (Available by early 2020)

3016 - KnM Blade: Part 1 (Published 2019-01-03)
3016 - KnM Blade: Part 2 (Published 2019-01-03)
3016/17 - KnM Blade: Part 3 (Available by mid to later part of 2020)

3018 - I Love You And You Love Me. The Wedding of Kixi And Mako Jhasmin (Published 2018-06-15)
3028 - Beyond Seduction Deceit Betrayal (Published 2019-07-13)

3039/42 - Time’s Arrow (KnM Blade version. Available by 2020.)


Proposed KnM Blade Timeline

3010 - Formula Zero Speedster
3011 - She Jhasmin & I Kixi (Available by early 2020)

3016 - KnM Blade: Part 1 (Published 2019-01-03)
3016 - KnM Blade: Part 2 (Published 2019-01-03)
3016/17 - KnM Blade: Part 3 (Available by mid to later part of 2020)
3017/18 - KnM Blade: Part 4

3018 - I Love You And You Love Me. The Wedding of Kixi And Mako Jhasmin (Published 2018-06-15)
3022 - Corporation Wars
3028 - Beyond Seduction Deceit Betrayal (Published 2019-07-13)

3039/42 - Time’s Arrow (KnM Blade version. Available in 2020)
3044 - Total Recall (KnM Blade version)
3052 - Reunion: Part 1 (KnM Blade version)
3052 - Reunion: Part 2 (KnM Blade version)

26. Chapter 16.

Chapter 16.


Poseidia, 107 Piscium System. 


In the thick of battle, blaster shots came thick like winter hail. Oblivious to their purpose, the deadly blasts of energy cut through the air. Be it inanimate or living, each blast ripped into something, spilling tree sap or blood with equal unfeeling.

The tree trunk behind which Azalyn Falconer knelt, exploded in a blast from an attacking Skysec Secret Service agent and fell backward. Azalyn rolled away toward Icarus Ors, out of the shadow of its path, and poured four quick shots at the Skysec agent. Those might have been shots fired in anger; Icarus still couldn't tell from her expression. Combined with his own firing, one of them hit the Skysec agent, and he tumbled back into the ferns— down, but not out.

“We didn’t make it this far just to get ourselves killed!” Icarus cursed out aloud. "It’s imperative that we not only get the contents from our primary objective across to our people, but also inform them of what we accidentally discovered about Sol's former president— and, we can’t do that if we’re dead."

"I know, Icarus. For now concentrate on the predicament that we currently find ourselves in. That flaming Skysec agent will move and fire from a different position," Azalyn mumbled, as much to herself as Icarus, and then added a bit more clearly, "Probably to our left, ten to fifteen metres." She turned out to be half right. 

The Skysec agent did emerge from the ground cover to their left, but he didn't fire. He rose and sprinted uphill, a move that would eventually place him on their flank and put them between him and a third Zhann Alliance agent, Nicolette Zelen. Except Nicolette, an average height woman with olive skin and straight long dark hair framing a narrow face, wasn't having any of that. He hadn't moved twenty metres before the staccato clap of her projectile rifle echoed in the air, and punched the bounty hunter off his feet. 

"That’s another down," Icarus said, allowing a note of hope to creep into his voice. They had chosen their positions well, and now there were only two Skysec agents left. 

"The Bladestrider will be problematic," Azalyn said. 

"What Bladestrider? Where?" 

"The one far downhill with a grenade launcher."

Problematic indeed. Icarus didn't see him at first, but eventually he spotted movement through the trees. The weak trees surrounding them had already proven to be poor protection. Nicolette had nothing else— and nor did Icarus and Azalyn.

"We have to bring him down." Icarus raised his blaster and steadied it by cupping his left hand under it and locking his elbows. His first shot was perceptibly in the Bladestrider’s direction but didn't get too close, since it clipped a tree trunk on its way and its energy was absorbed.

“At this distance and with this number of obstructions, accuracy from a handheld blaster is difficult to achieve," Azalyn noted. "We should move closer, yet keep an eye out for that Bladestrider." 

Icarus didn't hesitate. Rising to his feet and scanning ahead, looking for a clear shot, he kept his blaster in a two handed grip, ready to fire as soon as the opportunity arrived. But the Bladestrider saw his opportunity first. He pointed his weapon up, and a huffing noise heralded the launch of his first grenade. 

"No," Icarus said, and took the best shot he could. It scored the side of a trunk near the Bladestrider, but he didn't even turn his head. He just fired another grenade as the first one landed and rocked the ground with a palpable concussion. It wasn't particularly close to Nicolette, nor was the second one, but Icarus thought the Bladestrider was merely finding his range.

Giving up on trying to blast him since all Icarus hit were trees, Icarus aimed at the trees instead— ones that might fall on the Bladestrider and cause him to quit firing grenades long enough for Icarus to do more lasting damage. Azalyn helped, and several of them began to topple around the Bladestrider, but he managed to fire two more grenades before scrambling out of the way, finally affected by our fusillade.

Trying to locate where those grenades had landed proved difficult. Icarus nor Azalyn were able to find them. Concerned about Nicolette, Icarus checked his tracking device, scanning for bio-signatures. A red dot on the device confirmed Nicolette's presence, though, as it did the presence of the remaining Secret Service agent running for cover, and also the Bladestrider, who crouched in the ferns close to the lagoon and took in the scene. Just then, the grenades boomed and shook the ground below them, a cry of pain followed— and was abruptly cut short. Unable to get a visual on anything, Icarus immediately checked his tracking device. Where a moment earlier a red dot had confirmed Nicolette's bio-signature, now, there was nothing but an empty space. It was a blow to the gut, realising what that sudden absence meant. Icarus hadn't seen it happen with his eyes, but the absence of her bio-signature confirmed that she was gone.

"I don't feel so good," Icarus muttered, and when Azalyn asked him to clarify, he didn't answer. 

"Icarus, you seem unwell. Can I assist you somehow?" 

"I need a minute, Azalyn," He managed, realising that she didn't know yet that Nicolette was gone.

Icarus breathed heavily, unaccountably sweating, as the murderous heat from the grenade blast continued. It sent a deadly surge of destruction downhill, and in the process, took out the Secret Service agent. The red dot that had represented him disappeared from Icarus' tracker— the absence of his bio-signature confirmed the kill. Icarus felt a small sense of justice, if not balance. Another deep breath, and he opened his eyes, feeling a semblance of calm return. 

"Only one of them left now," Icarus said. 

"Are you certain?" 

"Positive. The Bladestrider. Did you see him?" 

"Earlier, yes, but I was worried about you and took my eyes off him for approximately thirty seconds." 

"Well, we don't have to sit here and wait. Probably better that we don't. We've pushed our luck far enough as it is. Let's get back to the beach like you suggested before we came under attack and steal a ship." 

"You are thinking Nicolette will shoot the—" 

"No," Icarus said, cutting her off and shaking his head. "Those grenades did more than just take out the last Secret Service agent." 

"Oh," Azalyn said, a hand rising to her throat. "That is heartbreaking. You saw?" 

"No." Icarus looked down, trying to keep it together. "Her bio-signature disappeared off my tracking device in the same way as that of the Secret Service agent did." 

"I am so very sorry." 

"Me, too." 

Azalyn's head turned to gaze downhill. "But then we must worry about the Bladestrider ourselves." 

"I'm sure he'll be along eventually if we just stay here," Icarus said. 

"Wait," Azalyn said, staring into the forest. She pointed with a pale finger. "Do you see that thicket of shrubbery between the two trees six degrees left of the y axis from our position? Shoot it." 

Icarus squinted through the tree trunks until he found the thicket she spoke of. "Why? Did you see something move?"

"No. But based on available cover, spatial geometrics, and his prior movements, the statistical probability he is there is quite high." 

Icarus wasn't going to argue. Even if they missed it would most likely flush him out. "Shoot the centre of it?" 

"Just to the right of centre. I will shoot slightly right of that, nearer the tree. Let us steady our hands, aim carefully, and fire together on my count." Azalyn counted down from three and they fired in tandem into the foliage. They were rewarded with a pained cry of surprise and followed up with a few more shots to make sure. 

Icarus looked at Azalyn, incredulous that she could figure his position so precisely, and she shrugged. "What can I say? I'm good."



A grisly yet reliable fact about a Bladestrider's ship, is that you could generally count on them to have body bags stashed somewhere onboard. They often had built-in refrigerated storage, too, and a small chamber that served as a brig for those that needed to be brought back alive. Much as it hurt, Icarus searched for and found a body bag for Nicolette in the Bladestrider's ship that had its bay open, then he trekked back into the forest and finally set eyes on her, visually confirming what the absence of her bio-signature on his tracker confirmed. He couldn't just leave her on Poseidia. Nicolette had ragged holes in her from shrapnel, but Icarus was relieved that she was at least still in one piece. Her face was hidden by a tangled mass of dark hair; Her eyes were already closed. He dropped to his knees next to Nicolette, eyes welling up already, and in a strange way he welcomed the blur to his vision and let the tears come.

Icarus' throat constricted with emotion and he lowered his head to Nicolette's shoulder and allowed himself to feel it all, the complete tragedy that she would never speak to him again. Though it took a while, eventually he was spent and sat up, brushing a lock of hair away from Nicolette's face and hooking it behind her ear. "I'm so sorry. You were more than just good for me. I should have said so." It was wholly inadequate, but he couldn't think of what else to say. He might have stayed there on his knees staring at Nicolette until sunset if he hadn't had Azalyn waiting on him in the lagoon. Pointless, really; It wasn't like he would forget the sight anytime soon. But somehow, putting her in the bag meant he had to let her go, and he didn't want to. He needed to, though. It took some effort and a fresh spring of tears rolled down his face in the process, but he got her inside as he gently pulled the zipper closed.

The thin plastic material crackled as he picked up Nicolette and with some effort hitched her over his shoulder. Her physical weight didn't seem nearly as heavy as the pressure of his grief, and he knew he would have to carry the grief much longer. They had the pick of several ships on the beach, but Azalyn chose the one he had entered to find a body bag— The Bladestrider's ship. Amongst the group of ships, it was the sleekest in design, and the most heavily armoured. Azalyn avoided the cockpit entirely, searching instead for the guts of the navigational computer and the systems service bay.

Icarus gently lowered Nicolette's body to the deck. Seeing the lifeless black lump of plastic that represented her now, a surge of anger and the cold that came with it rose up inside him again. But he closed his eyes, focused on his breathing, and remembered laughing with her. The cold gradually turned to warmth and he felt much better. Instead of feeling an impotent rage over all the time they wouldn't have, he was determined to feel grateful for the time they did, because it had all been good and not everyone got to enjoy times like those. He carefully sat next to her on the deck, folding his legs in front of him, determined to master his emotions. He still had a mission to complete, and it wouldn't do to be ruled by them. The Skysec foes and their ally they had eliminated, might not be the only ones on the planet; More could be waiting at the island for them. Icarus hadn't known how much time slipped past, but when Azalyn entered the bay and told him the ship's security had been hacked and was now safe to fly, he was ready and the sun was riding low on the horizon.

"You checked the cockpit, too?" Icarus asked. "There might be additional traps there." 

"Oh, yes. Everything has been seen to." 

"All right. Let's get to the rendezvous." Azalyn had fed the coordinates into the computer, and after taking some time to orient himself to the controls, Icarus had the ship rise vertically to a safe height above the ocean before banking west.

The scanning equipment on the ship was serviceable; That was to be expected given it had belonged to the now deceased Bladestrider. They got a look at the island, much larger than the one they had left behind, and saw that there were plenty of heat signatures and life readings there, along with a powerful and heavily armed Gencore Nort-Ship Z on the ground that could have anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of people on board. The ship featured a complex system of powerful weapons, and Icarus wondered if Braj'tec could still be there. If he was, he'd probably seen this ship before, which meant he would shoot at them on sight if he could.

Icarus spun the ship into evasive manoeuvres just in time as a volley of plasma fire zipped past them into the sky. Icarus flipped on the deflector shields, cursing himself for not doing so as a routine precaution, and changed his approach to the island. They would have to land some distance away and walk in, calling to make sure they weren't ambushed. He didn't know how to hail Braj'tec from this ship— but then he thought maybe Azalyn could figure it out, since she was better qualified with understanding the unfamiliar systems of the Bladestrider's ship. She wasn't in the cockpit, though, and he didn't know which of the auxiliary switches would activate an intercom link to her. 

Deciding to go low tech, Icarus shouted over his shoulder and hoped she would hear him. "Azalyn, can you reach that ship on the island and patch it through if they respond? Tag your query with Zhann Alliance codes." 

They had to scramble out of the firing range of the other craft for another minute, but eventually a voice came through to the cockpit demanding to know how they had come to possess Zhann Alliance codes.

"This is Commander Icarus Ors. As per our mission objectives, we have secured the contents that we were sent in to extract. In the process, we destroyed all Skysec agents including one Bladestrider that came to kill us, and I have commandeered this ship. Please stop shooting at us and let us land." 

After a pause, a different voice replied. 

There was the unmistakable sound of cheering going on behind him. "Commander Ors, this is General Braj'tec Qarr. So good to hear your voice. You're cleared to land."

"Copy that. Coming around, see you soon."

Braj’tec Qarr's team— a couple of squadrons of experienced troops— was waiting for them outside the ship, weapons ready but lowered, just in case a Skysec agent walked out after all, but they smiled and put away their weapons when Icarus emerged.

"What happened?" Braj'tec shrugged his shoulders. "Skysec followed you here?" 

Chagrined, Icarus nodded. "Unavoidable. Just bad timing. We were in the middle of trying to get to this rendezvous point so you could extract us, and then hoped that we could take off right away. However, we suddenly were discovered, and instead, we had to fortify and try to hold them off. We had a firefight getting out of there."

"Clearly you succeeded." 

"Not without cost, though," Icarus said. He bobbed his head back at the ship. "We lost Nicolette Zelen."

Braj'tec's face fell. "Nicolette was with you? They didn't tell me. I'm very sorry, Icarus. We met her not long ago. She was a top shelf sniper, taught me and the boys a few things.”

Icarus nodded, keeping his emotions firmly reined in. "She taught me a lot, too." He waved a dismissive hand. "There is another urgent matter I need to discuss with you.”

"Go ahead."

“Whilst we were extracting the contents of our primary objective, we accidentally stumbled upon and intercepted a message...” 

Frozen, Icarus didn't blink and in the depths of his gaze, it left Braj’tec with a feeling of apprehension. The Zhann Alliance general crossed his arms tightly across his chest.

“A message? What message Icarus, and from whom?”

“It was a part conversation between Skycom’s CEO Kristy Langley, with who we believe is one of her high ranking generals.” Icarus paused and then inhaled sharply. “What I’m about to tell you, will shock you as it most certainly shocked me.”

“In this line of work, I’ve long since learnt to accept that Icarus.”

“Well,” Icarus’ expression was tight with strain. “The former President of the USS, Mako Jhasmin Zaneca has been in collaboration with Skycom’s CEO. Apparently from what’s been understood, she’s given them a significant amount of intelligence regarding Zhann Alliance codes and search patterns. Hacking programs for low level Zhann Alliance encryption were also mentioned.”

Surprised, Braj’tec raised an eyebrow: “That’s Züncålazin Rajki’s wife is it not?”

“That is correct, Braj’tec— But wait, there’s more. Kristy said something along the lines of, her being one step ahead of Mako’s treachery.”

“I’m confused?”

“Let Mako continue to think she is tricking you, and continue to play her game. Then just when she thinks she has you, arrest her.” Icarus said cocking his head to the side and taking a quick step backward. “Those were the exact words that the person Kristy was speaking to said back to her. After that, the message was cut.”

Apprehension twisted in Braj’tec’s stomach like a snake only just awoken from hibernation. He stared at Icarus, blankly.

“Umm, I just had a thought.” Thick and unsteady,  Icarus’ voice was edged with tension. “Is it possible that the former president is trying to engineer a bold plan at infiltrating Skycom all on her own?”

“Perhaps.” Braj’tec looked at Icarus with a grim expression. “That’s exactly my thoughts too. However they’re onto her which means her life is in serious jeopardy.”

“But Braj’tec,” Icarus interrupted him. “There is a matter of national security. I don’t believe anyone high up in our chain of command would have authorised compromising any of our codes.”

“And especially not to the same enemy that was only just trying to kill you— killed Nicolette. I shall inform Zhann Alliance intelligence immediately.”



Some thirty minutes later at Centurian Plaza District, Celestia City.


“My comm device? Looks like some priority transmission is coming through?" I met Mako with a puzzled look. "This is unexpected, Jhasmin?"

“It’s broadcasting on an emergency frequency, Kixi. I guess you should answer it."

"Yes indeed," I said as I pressed a tiny button. A hologram of a bald headed man in a police uniform shimmered weakly on my end of the comm device.

“Attention, Züncålazin Rajki. This is Captain Purcell from the Celestia City Police Department. We have reason to believe you are harbouring a fugitive. You will hand her over to me,” wheezed a frail voice.

“What are you talking about,” I growled, disregarding Mako. “I’m harbouring no fugitive. The only person that’s with me is my wife, Mako Jhasmin Zaneca.”

We’ve got a lock on your position, Züncålazin Rajki. Remain as you are until we arrive. We are not after you, we have a warrant for the arrest of Mako Zaneca.”

“Yeah right! Is this some sort of a sick joke? Surely she—“

“— I can assure you, Züncålazin Rajki that this is no joke. The fugitive is wanted for possible treason. We have been ordered to bring her in for questioning." The image and voice faded and returned, slightly garbled. "You will remain at your current position until our arrival and hand her over to us. We thank you for your cooperation.” The transmission flickered and disappeared. The captain's voice faded into silence. 

For a moment, I sat staring at the empty space it left behind, my smooth face troubled. My hands worked quietly in my lap, betraying a nervousness I could not quite manage to hide.

My gaze shifted to Mako. 

"Mako Jhasmin?" I gaped at her in astonishment.

"I... I can explain Kiks,” she whispered, adding, “but right now we need to get as far away from here as we can— as quickly as we can."

My blood practically froze in my veins.


"Well I do— shit! Kixi, this one is definitely on me. Whatever happens next, I’m truly sorry.”

"Jhasmin what the hell is going on?"

"I'll explain later—"

"— you'll explain once we get moving!"

"Right— of course. I wish you had your Viggen dammit."

"Fuck the Viggen, I don't need the flaming Viggen. Now give me that gum you have, I know how to do a quick tweak to this hovercar's engine."

"Gum? Engine? What? Kixi we need to go, now!”

“I am an adrenaline junkie, and you are someone in need of my help,” I said, snatching the gum and pulling her in for a kiss. After dragging it out for as long as I dared, I stuffed the gum in my shirt pocket and made my way to the front of the hovercar. 

“Pop the bonnet.”

“We don't have time for you to ogle the machinery, Kixi.”

“Listen, you know slicing and political stuff, I know driving stuff. Right now it's the driving stuff that matter so just pop the bonnet.”

“I'm on it,” Mako said, sliding into the driver's seat and tapping the appropriate button.”

The bonnet of Mako's very much standard everyday hovercar lifted up, revealing the power system and electronics of the vehicle. I swept my eyes over the guts of the hovercar, spotted what I was looking for, and reached down. I grabbed hold of a control governor the size of my fist and yanked it free, taking the time to cram a few wires back into the socket that the governor left vacant. I then slammed the bonnet, took the driver's seat, and tossed the governor into the back seat. Mako took a seat beside me, stared back momentarily at the governor, and then turned back to look at me.

“What is that?” she asked.

“Speed limiter. All standard non high performance hovercars strictly have these installed from the factory, remember? If you want to allow the vehicle to reach its potential top speed, you've got to yank it. Found that out years ago the hard way,” I explained, adjusting the seat and manipulating a few settings in the vehicle's computer. Finally I retrieved the gum, unwrapped it, and shoved it in my mouth. “Okay, baby, here we go."

I guided the hovercar into the air and toward the nearest skyway onramp.

“Are you sure that the skyway is the best—” Mako began to ask.

“Yes, Jhazzy,” I said flatly.

"And where exactly are we—"

"— where else but the Wastelands."

"Of course. Silly of me to ask."

"And now that we're moving, I believe you owe me an explanation, Jhasmin.”



"That was so fucking stupid of you Mako Jhasmin. I mean what the fuck were you thinking?"

"I thought—"

"— you thought that you could infiltrate Skycom all on your own and not even discuss it with me first!" A shadow of hurt crossed my face, but was gone in an instant. Why couldn't you trust me. When did you ever not trust me?" I returned angrily.

"Never!" Mako retorted. "I was thinking with my heart instead of my head. I fucked up. Clearly in the business of spying it's a good way to get hurt." Mako's voice softened only slightly as she continued. "I'm so sorry Kixi for not consulting you first."

"Thinking with your heart instead of your head all the time is a good way to hurt the people you love." I replied acidly. "You're just lucky that our people found out first cos I tell you what, if Skycom had done so, you would be in far more serious shit than you're gonna be in now."

For a moment Mako's heart sank into her stomach: "You're not actually gonna give me up Kiks?"

That earned a sarcastic chuckle from me: "Give you up Jhazzy even when you've acted like a stupid little twat?" The corners of my mouth slid upwards as I smirked. "Over my dead body."

“Oh yeah, that’s the Kixi I know.”

“That’s the Kixi you’ve always fucking known! Jhasmin.” I hissed, as loud as I dared.

Mako flinched back as though she’d been slapped, shock on her face. Outrage began to creep in around her expression. I quickly filled the silence before she had a chance to scream her disapproval.

“I love you Jhazzy, so so much. No matter what happens, I'll always be there by your side. I really mean that, and I know you're genuinely sorry for everything that happened between us, but this isn’t about you and me right now, okay?”

“Um okay... Uh... Kixi— it looks like we've got company.”

“Yeah, I see 'em,” I grumbled.

Four police cruisers were merging into the skyway from below. Unlike the steady, dependable everyday standard hovercars, their hovercars painted with the blue and white police markings were downright fierce. The bonnet of the car bristled with cooling fins, and an ominous glow flickered within the thrusters jutting out the rear. They were more in line with high performance machines like my Viggen. Trying to outmanoeuvre them in a standard hovercar was going to be tricky.

“Are we... are we really going to try to outrun the police?” Mako asked.

“No, Mako. We aren't going to try to outrun the police. We are going to succeed in outrunning the police. Right, baby?” I said, a devilish grin coming to my face as she tightened up her restraints and held on tight.

I revved the engine of Mako’s hovercar to its limits. Below us, Celestia City had thinned out from a concrete jungle of mega tall skyscrapers, to a sprawling expanse of indistinguishable suburbs full of endless high-rise buildings. It was a less than ideal environment for losing a superior pursuit vehicle, but if you could choose where to have your chase, you probably wouldn't be getting chased to begin with.

As the police began to organise themselves into an intercept formation, the hovercar’s audio system began blaring an all too familiar warning. I clicked the volume off and took a deep breath.

“I hope this is worth it, honey,” I said.

The first of the cruisers pulled in tight to try to force me into a pocket blocked out by the others. I dropped low and dodged underneath it, tilting the hovercar downward and dialing back the power. The hovercar dropped like a rock, passing through the lower edge of the flickering red skyway border, and for all outward appearance seeming to be suffering a power failure. Inside the hovercar, a dozen warnings and indicators started going wild, warning me of everything from my careless departure from permitted airspace to the fairly likely collision with the ground that would result. Outside, the sirens and public address systems of the police were quickly coming back into range as the cruisers doubled back.

“Fuck!” Mako exclaimed. Her voice had the very distinctive tone one uses when there was a danger of something other than words leaving one's mouth.

“Just a little longer,” I said, watching the ground approach through the windshield.

By the time the police were above me, I was already too close to the ground and moving too fast for them to attempt a rescue. There was nothing to do but spread out above me and slow down, trailing behind lest they get caught in what looked to be an inevitable fireball. I scanned over the pedestrian park ahead.

“You think we can fit under that footbridge?” I asked.

“What!?” Mako squeaked.

“Yeah, me, too,” I said, cranking the power.”

The free fall began to level off as the engines laboured to get back up to speed. The police realised that they were dealing with a ruse rather than an equipment failure, and fell into pursuit again. With a sudden, jarring bounce, my hovercar’s repulsors touched ground, parting the grass of a picnic area and launching a trash can aside. 

Fortunately, there was nobody present in the park, and even more fortunately, there was nobody beneath the low, wide pedestrian bridge ahead. Considering the fact that there was no real need for surface roads, and that most surface roads that did exist had not been in proper use for centuries, the bridge seemed to exist exclusively as a place from which to take pictures. It was also pointlessly long, forming what was practically a short tunnel. I was only too glad to give it a secondary role as a high speed obstacle.

“Think skinny thoughts, Jhasmin!” I said.

A piece of the hovercar's bodywork screeched against a decorative safety rail as I barely managed to wedge the vehicle beneath the bridge. Three of the cops pulled aside and tried to position themselves to intercept me on the other side. One remained on my tail just a few moments longer, evidently confident that his hulking powerhouse would be able to follow my mid sized sedan. When the officer lost his nerve, he nearly lost control of his cruiser as well, obliterating an ornate lamppost in his frenzy to avoid totalling himself on the bridge.

As their friend with poor judgement struggled to get back into the chase, the other police hadn't quite managed to get themselves organised before I came rocketing out from beneath the far side of the bridge. I stayed low to the ground, weaving between well manicured trees and clipping the tops of hedges trimmed into exotic shapes. Not only did the obstacles keep the police from getting too close, they prevented them from deploying anything from their no doubt comprehensive arsenal of intercept devices. Energy nets, grapples, tractor beams, engine killers, fancy harpoons with attached retro rockets, and a hundred other gadgets had been dreamed up to take care of the occasional rogue hovercar, but they all required a clear shot and a lot of room. I was determined to deny them of both. The more I manoeuvred, the better a feel I got for the specific quirks of Mako's vehicle. Sharp turns became surgical, my path threading an insane route through anything that might keep the cruisers at bay.

With the city limits of Celestia City behind us, the ghostly shapes of the Wastelands’ derelict buildings loomed ahead. Yet with the fraction of my brain not dedicated to daredevil stunts, I didn't like what I saw. 

The problem I was going to hit, was that there was an awfully long stretch of nothing except barren land between myself and the first of the derelict buildings. The presence of the barren land had more to do with keeping some distance between the thriving bustling megalopolis of Celestia City, and the ghostly abandoned remains of centuries old infrastructure, however, that didn't matter. No trees or buildings meant the police would be right on top of me until I got into the Wastelands.

At no point since she'd gotten into the hovercar, had Mako shown any indication that she felt her life was in danger. She'd simply held tight, kept her eyes on the destination, and wore an unnervingly exhilarated smile on her face. Now and then, I would turn to see how close a trailing police cruiser had gotten, and when I did, my face had the same smile. It was like watching two addicts get their fix.

Finally, after a particularly aggressive manoeuvre shook a chunk of the hovercar’s boot lid loose, my harness restraint was not enough to prevent the immense pressure from causing my body to jolt forward. I uttered a yelp as I bumped my chest into the controls.

Mako found her tongue. She had a worried look on her face.

“Are you okay Kixi?”

“Yeah I think so.”

“Good. Now listen, I think we should—” Mako began.

“— We're coming up on the first group of ruinous buildings— Once we are between them, it will better shift the odds in our favour.” I said excitedly.

I guided the vehicle in a frustrating route between the police cruisers. Without any real cover, I was forced to use my pursuers themselves as cover, slipping behind one of them just as another attempted to force me to the ground. The high speed pursuit quickly began to resemble a greased pig chase, with Mako’s average hovercar proving itself to be surprisingly nimble with me at the controls.

It was my hope that one of the police would eventually deploy something out of desperation, and that said thing would instead trip up one of the other pursuing police hovercars. Alas, Celestia City had been smart enough to hire competent police officers to go along with their high end cars. Luckily, the barren land had begun to shift to the remains of old shops, housing apartments and low rise office buildings, and eventually, the factories of what was once a large industrial estate. The business and financial buildings were big, ugly boxes, squeezed together in tight little rows, and tucked carefully away among some tall, full trees.

Behind me, I watched the pursuing police begin to drop away. We were approaching the large industrial estate, or what remained of it, where a small contingent of the police who had gathered ahead were drawing themselves together into a three dimensional road block. Considering the trouble they had managed to give each other with only four cruisers involved, the first responders who had trailed us thus far must have decided to back off and give their colleagues a clear shot. From the looks of it, they weren't going to take their time about it.

“You properly strapped in?” I asked, watching the police ahead of me adopting the positions one assumes when aiming a vehicle mounted weapon.

“Yes,” Mako said. “To within an inch of my life!”

“Good. This is going to be the rough part.” I replied.

"Fuck! Really?"

"Don't worry Jhazzy, to contend with Kixi is to lose."

“Kixi, don't you think we've gotten ourselves in enough trouble already!?”

“Only if we get caught, Jhasmin.”

“But won't they—”

“Not really the time to be distracting me with questions, Jhasmin.”

“I— but— you're completely insane!”

“It tends to help in situations like this, although let's not forget, we're actually in this situation because of you."

“What was that las— hurk!”

Mako's comment was cut short by a sudden upward dodge. She heaved as she was thrown back into her seat. It would seem that the Celestia City police department had decided to hedge their bets, providing their officers with a wide assortment of countermeasures that worked at various ranges.

It was all I could do to dodge the first salvo of nets and harpoons, and no amount of fancy footwork was going to keep the tractor beams from locking on. Already, I could feel the shudder of beams that weren't quite on target. My eyes scanned the surrounding scenery for anything that could provide adequate cover. The ring of police drew a rigid line through the area. 

Finally, I spotted a series of taller tightly packed buildings on the far end of the industrial estate. Just as a second flurry of high tech gadgetry was hurled my way, I twisted the hovercar sideways and pushed it for all it was worth. The new orientation threw off the aim of the police, causing most of the better targeted shots to go wide. A harpoon with a flaring rocket managed to drive itself into one of the rear fenders, but the beating the hovercar had taken caused the whole panel to tear free without so much as slowing me down. A few energy nets crackled by my windows, and at least three pieces of equipment I couldn't identify whisked by soon after. Then, with a deafening rush of wind, things went dim.

Mako squinted out the driver side window and saw the sky flanked by the tops of boxy looking buildings. She glanced out the passenger side window and saw the ruddy ground of an alleyway rushing along at a nauseating speed.

I shifted the hovercar and slotted it perfectly between two of the tightly packed buildings. The wind was screaming in our ears, even through the closed windows. Mako shut her eyes tight, realising that if she stared out the downward pointing window any longer, she would vomit all over me. She didn't open them again until the funnelled sound of rushing wind dropped away and the hovercar righted itself. She then heaved a few exhilarated breaths.

“I swear to God, Kixi, if these straps weren't holding me down, I'd climb right up there and—” 

"— And do what? It's you they're after not me. But hey, you're welcome Mako Jhasmin!"

Mako glanced at me. "If you actually had allowed me to finish Kixi, I was going to say that I'd climb right up there and hug you."


"As you can see, we seem to have lost them? Perhaps now is a good time to set down somewhere and hide."

“Hmm, seems a bit too easy all of a sudden— backing off their pursuit after that last stunt. Yet they were so determined to catch us up until that moment, and, there were only a few of their pals waiting for us at the industrial estate. Something's not right here?” I stammered.

“Maybe the police scanner has something,” Mako said.

The device that had been installed in her hovercar since the days of the Arjian Resistance, had been active but on mute. With a few taps at the display, she began flicking through the text logs of the transmissions we'd missed.

“Here's something. It was just a minute or two ago,” Mako said, tapping a log and switching on the speakers for replay.

What played was a short exchange between a dispatcher and an officer.

"We've got a hovercar sedan that appears to be making its way to the Wastelands. Request permission to continue pursuit. If she passes through into the Wastelands, she'll effectively enter into a dead zone. Comms won't work. If we lose her, finding her may prove a very difficult task.”

“Negative. We know exactly where the vehicle is headed out. We've got several units there waiting for her. All you need to do is hold your position and prevent her, or them, from escaping."

“What if she makes it through, assuming she or they comes back?”

“Make sure that doesn't happen.”

I stopped the replay.

“Kiks, this place is swarming with cops. They must have anticipated that we would come here. Those four cruisers that initially chased us, they baited us here. We better get out of sight!” Mako said urgently.

“Way ahead of you,” I said, quickly directing the hovercar to a courtyard between two tall derelict buildings which by their appearance, looked like what were once processing plants of some sort.

I eased the hovercar around the buildings before emerging into another section of the centuries old abandoned complex. Upon touching down and coming to a stop, we both hopped out of the vehicle. 

Mako turned to look at me, I appeared pale, my forehead wrinkled in a frown of pain.

"Kixi!" Mako rushed forward to help me as I wobbled slightly, leaning heavily against the door. 

"It's cos of that hard knock I took during the chase." I said. 

"Where do you hurt?" I lifted my hand to my chest and ribs. Mako used the tip of her fingers to probe my ribs. I hissed when she pressed and Mako quickly pulled her fingers away. "They're probably bruised but I don't think they're broken." 

"I'll be okay. It's nothing. We've been through much worse before." I replied, steadily.

"Why didn't you notice it before?" Mako asked. 

"Adrenaline," I replied as I brushed a hair from my brow. "I'll have it looked at, but we need to first—"

The unmistakable sounds of sirens wailing in the distance caused me to jolt forward. My heart jumped into my throat as my brain registered what that meant for us. The police had found us. At best, we had less than five minutes, and then we'd be trapped.

"Fuck!" My eyes widened. "Cops know where we are. We need to take off again—"

"— No Kixi. Not this time."

"No? But they'll—"

"— There's no point." Mako's downcast eyes told me what I already knew. "There's too many of them now and they have us surrounded. If we had kept running, eventually we probably would have crashed and burned."

"Since when did odds concern us?— Hang on a minute, you knew landing was going to get us caught. After all this you're practically surrendering yourself?"

"This is different now, Kixi. It was getting ridiculously out of control. If we had kept going, someone would have died. These are our own people. We can't kill any of them, even though they're coming to arrest me."

"And now, me too." I replied. 

"No. That doesn't need to happen. If you hide, the cops will think you stayed back and that I am the only one here and also the one who was flying this hovercar."

I stared at her in disbelief. "I don't want to do that, Jhasmin. Let's ditch your hovercar and hide."

"That won't work and you know it." Mako's shoulders hunched as she gazed the ground. "They'll just search for us until they find us. However if I'm here alone and you hide, they'll assume I tried to escape from them alone, arrest me, and once they take me away and leave, you can get out of here unnoticed."

A slight sigh of defeat was my only answer.

I clearly didn't like the idea of abandoning Mako— My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the sounds of the wailing sirens getting ever so louder.

"Kixi please, hide. If they arrest you too, you won't be able to help me."


"I know it pains you, but remember what you said about not always thinking with your heart and to think with your head."

I refused to look away, even as my lips trembled and my shoulders heaved with emotion, unwilling to back down.

"It's gonna be alright Kixi. I will be alright." Mako said, her voice low and sincere. She placed her soft palm on my cheek and gazed into my eyes. My lashes brimmed light with tears; I took hold of her hand that was on my chin, squeezed it hard and kissed it; My other hand clenched into a shaking fist in a desperate battle against the grief.

"Rest assured Mako, this is far from over. I'll be by your side the whole time when you are trialled. Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone, we find it with each another.” I did not look away as I spoke; My words of determination. Not until the sobs drove me to my knees did my determined gaze fall.

"I know Kixi. I know." Mako said, gently placing her hand underneath my chin, and raising it. My gaze returned back to hers. "I love you Kixi." 

Mako moved her head down closer to mine. She leaned in, so her forehead rested against mine. We closed our eyes. Both our breaths were shaking. My lower lip quivered as words slowly made their way out of my mouth. "I love you too."

Mako gently leaned in closer and kissed my warm lips. "I know." Mako whispered as we pulled apart and took shaky, shallow breaths. "Now go. Hurry."

This time, as I got myself back onto my feet, my eyes shifted to the side and became glazed with a glassy layer of tears. As I blinked, they dripped from my eyelids and slid down my cheeks. I bit my lip tightly in an attempt to hide any sound that wanted to escape from my mouth; I made a run for the closest of the derelict buildings and hid; My heart sank. 

Seconds later, the area was swarming with police hovercars and officers who closed in on Mako's position, and surrounded her.

"You're under arrest Mako Zaneca!" A woman officer yelled while pointing her blaster at her.

The other fellow officers copied her actions.

"Look I can explain everything. It's not what it looks like! I swear! You have to trust me!" Mako explained, trying to make them believe her.

They just frowned and aimed their blasters higher at her.

"A very likely story! Especially since you tried to run from us. Now put your hands behind your head and kneel to the ground!" She shouted sternly.

Wisely, Mako did exactly as she was ordered. Another officer, an older man approached her, and took a firm grip on her arm. At the same time, the female officer lowered her blaster. She faced Mako, blocking the way, a smug grin covered her face.

"Okay Mako Zaneca— former president, it's over," said the older officer in a calming tone. "No more running. You'd better cooperate now, because we don't want anybody to get hurt, do we, Mako?" he added, glancing at his younger female colleague who just shrugged.

"Where's your wife, Züncålazin Kixi Rajki?" the officer asked, "She answered our hail before you tried to escape so we know she was with you."

Mako glared the officer, her hands were trembling despite her efforts to stay cool. "She's up your mother's arse!"

The older cop looked at Mako and frowned. "Your situation will not improve if you don't cooperate," he said, staring at Mako with such arrogance.

Mako glared at the officer. "I jumped into my hovercar and sped off before Kixi could do anything to stop me." Mako's tone was a strange mix of irony and despair. "It's only me here."

"Yeah, and where did you learn to drive a hovercar in the manner that you did trying to get away from us?" The female officer then asked.

Mako looked down, mortified. "If you're implying that Kixi had to be behind the wheel just because she's a racing car driver, then I'm afraid you are wrong. She taught me how to drive fast and reckless a long time ago."

"Whatever. I know a lot of good people that will certainly be thrilled when we tell them that we've arrested the former USS president— And for treason," the female cop continued, her eyes sparkled with triumph.

"That's enough, Lorena," her colleague warned her. "Just read the woman her rights and get her in the hovercar."

Mako couldn't look at the woman when she read her her rights. Her head was buzzing, and her heart was hammering in her chest. She gasped when she saw the young obnoxious cop waving some handcuffs at her, but the older officer stopped her.

"We don't need these, Lorena. Right, Mako?" he asked Mako in a softer tone.

Mako nodded, her throat tight, and followed the two officers to their hovercar cruiser. The vehicle was parked next to several other officers who were standing at the ready in front of their own police cruisers.

The older officer opened the back door and motioned for Mako to get in. She obeyed.

After the two officers also got in, Lorena was about to say something rather unpleasant to Mako, but her partner quickly put an end to that. "Shut up, Lorena," he barked. "Don't talk to her. Our job is to bring her in. The courts will deal with the rest," he added, looking at Mako in the rearview mirror as he lifted the hovercar off the ground.

I watched the hovercar takeoff, and immediately after, the rest of the police cruisers follow in close formation. As I watched the police hovercars disappear into the distance, I slowly walked up to Mako's abandoned hovercar, got in and curled up in the driver's seat. Only minutes ago, this place had been swarming with police, now, there wasn't a soul in sight. A lone tear traced down my cheek, and just like that, the floodgates opened. I wept, tears streamed from my deep blue eyes, loud, heaving sobs teared from my throat. I had been forced to watch, helplessly, while they took my precious wife from me. I had never felt so miserable in my entire life.

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