Dani and Amy: Chapter One

Dani and Amy sitting in a cafe together while a sinister figure looms.
“So, how ya been? What’s this all about?”


Chapter One

Dani checked the message again. “The ush cafe, at two.”

The clock on the wall over her left shoulder was about to chime two-thirty. But then her appointment wasn’t known for punctuality. 

Kickass Coffee was a small mom and pop cafe near the university district of Neo Galveston. A combination of high-powered brews, delectable sugary baked goods, and all hours availability meant the place always had a steady stream of college students and twenty-somethings lined up, occasionally spilling out into the street.

Which, as far as Dani was concerned, made it a perfect spot to meet her client. The steady stream of chatter would cover their conversation, and anyone old enough to get good car insurance rates would stand out like a sore thumb. 

Still, she regretted having to leave her corporate tech back at her place. Too much of it had tracking and other features designed to spy on the person using it as much as their target, and Dani didn’t want her GeddonCorp supervisors knowing she was freelancing.

Old scars told Dani to sweep the place first, and she went as far as to stroll around the block ten minutes before the agreed meeting to check the alley behind Kickass. No goons, no security apparatus out of the ordinary. A few cameras pointed directly at various businesses’ back doors was about all. No odd vehicles or work vans parked nearby, and no encrypted radio chatter besides the usual wifi traffic. 

Maybe she was being paranoid, but in her line of work paranoia is a requirement. Not for the first time, she regretted that the hot and humid Texas summer meant she wore just a t-shirt and jeans. She wasn’t unarmed of course, but you could only hide so much beneath light clothing.

Dani shook her head, she was being ridiculous. She was here to meet a friend and help her with a problem. This wasn’t going to be infiltrating a corpo-military installation to steal some high-tech prototype, or insert a trojan program and copy data… or tracking someone down to slit their throat.

Dani shuddered, there’s been way too much of that in these last few months. Her contract with GeddonCorp contained very few restrictions on how the company could employ her skillset, and they weren’t nearly as squeamish as Dani herself.

No, this was a simpler job on behalf of an old friend from school. In fact, there was the distinctive head of blonde hair, bangs dyed kool-aid pink and blue.

Dani couldn’t hide a smirk. Amy Jones was an expert at getting into trouble, and even better at getting out again. Together, they’d raised all manner of hell black in the day, and for the most part, gotten away with it.

But that was then. The pair of troublemakers had lost track of each other after graduating. Then Dani’s path took a turn and she’d had to cut her old life off entirely. That made the urgent message this morning such a strange thing. How had Amy been able to contact her?

“Dani!” Amy said with a smile and a quick hug.

The gesture felt so alien that it took Dani a moment to realize how long it had been since someone had touched her like that, and just how badly she’d missed it. She returned the hug with what she hoped wasn’t too much reticence. 

Amy stepped back and eyed her up and down. “Damn, girl. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up. You look great!”

Dani brushed this aside and considered her old friend. Jeans, and a t-shirt under a black leather jacket concealed a lithe body that looked in far better shape than she remembered Amy in school, pale skin and the same blonde hair with its telltale pink and blue streaks.

Amy must have noticed the appraisal, she tugged one one dyed lock. “Went back to the old classics. They change every couple weeks or so, but I wanted you to recognize me.”

“Looks great,” Dani said and motioned Amy to sit down. 

Amy sat across the small table from Dani. “It’s been a bit since we caught up hasn’t it? How’ve you been?”

Dani sighed. “Oh, fair. You?”

She shrugged. “Same.”

So, no small talk, Dani thought. Not that she could blame Amy for that, Dani didn’t want to share details of her daily life either.  She leaned back, one arm thrown casually over her chair back in studied nonchalance. “So, y0u said you had a problem?”

Amy grimaced. “I uh, I think I pissed off the wrong people.”

Dani’s eyebrow quirked up. “Since when have you been worried about pissing folks off?”

Amy’s voice dropped and she glanced down to her crossed hands on the tabletop. “Since these guys work for GeddonCorp.”

The bottom fell out of Dani’s stomach. Amy’s beef was with her own bosses. “Aims,” Dani said very carefully. “What did you do?”

She opened her mouth to respond, but then Amy’s eyes grew wide and the hairs on the back of Dani’s neck all quivered. 

You do not last long in her line of work if you ignore that instinct.

Dani didn’t pause, didn’t look, she just lunged forward, flinging her chair back into the path of the nondescript person lunging toward them.

They tripped over the chair and fell in a heap, a small, silenced pistol clattering to the floor. Dani reared back and kicked them in the throat, they fell flat to the floor and didn’t rise.

Amy hadn’t been idle in the meantime. Rising from her own seat, a nasty looking gun appeared in her hand, not a slug thrower like their assailant’s, this was one of those newfangled particle projector guns that send a small bundle of superheated plasma out the barrel when fired. 

Where the heck had Amy gotten one of those? Better question, how had Dani failed to notice it under her jacket when they hugged?

Dammit, you’re on the backfoot, girl! Dani swore to herself. 

The cafe’s other patrons broke into panicked outcry, and all tried to flee at once, even as three more nondescripts fought their way through the crowd toward the pair. These attackers were smart, foregoing firearms for less-traceable knives.

Dani lunged over to the next table and snatched up a deserted paper cup of coffee, throwing the contents full into the first knife man’s face. They didn’t even scream, let alone stop their rush. So Dani dropped low, going for a leg sweep.

The knifeman leapt over her attack, turning the evasion into a counter lunge that would have connected had Dani not pushed forward into a roll.  She came up as he sailed overhead, assuming a solid fighting stance.

A loud whining buzz as Amy fired her raygun and another of the attackers dropped writhing to the ground, smoke pouring from their shoulder. The odds were now even. Dani would have been impressed if she’d had the time- her dance partner was back on his feet and advancing, blade low and ready.

She knew that stance, and could guess the moves that would follow it as the man struck, it was a school of knife fighting that a lot of mercs studied, Including Dani.

Stepping into the blow, she jammed her forearm against the attacker’s knifehand and followed on with a short jab straight into their larynx. The man went down gasping and sputtering.

Dani whirled to face the third attacker, but he’d been smart enough to drop back, out of easy attack range. She took the chance to get a good look at him. His features were obscured behind reflective sunglasses and a ball cap, and he wore what looked like jeans and a light gray jacket – like his three buddies. But Dani had felt the fabrics on the men she’d dropped, neither were simple denim- that new ballistic weave Geddon’s R&D boffins had concocted.

Dani grimaced, she didn’t have a choice. If she let this fight go on, the goon would call in backup and things would get absolutely problematic really damn fast.

No choice, time to end it. 

Her hand went to the small of her back, under her shirt and came up with a slim throwing knife. Using the same motion to flip the small switch along the grip and bring the blade’s Zag-metal to life. The edges glowed orange as the blades pared down to nigh single molecular thickness.

Dani heard the shock in her target’s voice as she let fly.

“Target is Omeg-” were his last words as the blade sank tip-first into upper chest and flew through him like a bullet through overripe fruit to bury itself in the wall behind him as the Zag metal deactivated.

He fell, blood geysering from his wound and mouth.

“Come on, Aims,” Dani said, stepping past the dying man to retrieve her knife. Amy, she was relieved to see, had escaped unscathed. She stood in the same spot, ppg extended in a solid weaver stance, but her eyes were wide and panicked.

Had she never been in a serious fight before? “Amy?” Dani rested her hands gently on her shoulders. “Sweetie? We gotta go. Did you drive here?”

“I-,” she stammered. “Yeah, I did.”

“Good, let’s get out of here.” She nodded and gave her friend what she dearly hoped was a reassuring smile. “We need to talk.”

-To Be Continued