Connor Rix Chronicles 1: Rules of Force (15 page)

BOOK: Connor Rix Chronicles 1: Rules of Force
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Vinicius was
growing irritable. He had briefly cheered up after setting the fire, an
unmistakable message to his enemies that he had arrived, but they still had
uncovered nothing about this Travis Burnet. They had been driving around New
San Antonio in their rental cars chasing leads that proved useless. And he was
feeling cramped inside this car. Between the flight from South America and all
the driving in Texas, he had not had time this past 24 hours for his usual
workout, the vital exercise that kept him focused.

He was
daydreaming about how much genuine exercise he could extract out of killing his
enemy when an emergency message flashed across his optics.

A second later,
the E-Things his men carried lit up and chimed simultaneously.

Vinicius blinked
to accept the message, coded from Mr. Blue, and was astonished to find it
showing a video of his house, timed and dated from less than an hour ago. It
was a view from near the stable as a man, presumably Mr. Blue, walked along the
winding path to the main house.

And then a
horrifying flash of light, a beam from the sky that hit directly in the center
of his home. The house erupted in flame.

Vinicius' head
jerked back, as if he were right there at the scene. His right foot pushed into
the floorboard. He gripped the seatback in front of him with both hands, and
squeezed until the plastic trim shattered and the seat cushion tore away. The
driver swerved to the side of the road and looked over his shoulder at
Vinicius, a shocked look on his face.

Next came the
sound of breath being quickly sucked in as the rest of the men viewed the video
on their E-Things.

Chaos broke
loose in the car, shouts and curses, until Vinicius yelled for quiet. He
watched the video over, and then again, still not believing what he was seeing.
A cold chill ran down his spine.

He instructed
his driver to find a quiet, dark place to park, and ordered the other cars to
follow. He needed a few minutes to think this through. Larissa and the children
should not have been at the house tonight, but he had not heard from them.
There were suddenly so many potential bad outcomes that he had trouble
prioritizing his next moves.

He tried to call
Mr. Blue, but there was no answer.

He was jarred
from his contemplations by a
that cut through directly to his optics, with an identification code he did not
recognize. Normally he would have never risked accepting such a communication,
given the real danger of a hostile packet corrupting his optics, but tonight
was anything but normal. Impatiently, his eyes flicked through the sequence to
establish the link.

The face of
Travis Burnet morphed into shape in front of him. Vinicius was momentarily

"I can't
this," said the
image of his foe, an apparent two feet in front of him. "It really is you.
I could have sworn I told you to stay the hell out of Texas. Are you
constructed entirely of stupid, or are there extenuating circumstances I should
know about?"

Vinicius was
clenching his jaw so hard it was beginning to hurt.

"You know,
for an international crime boss, it sure is easy to crack your communications
network," the mocking voice continued. "I think I could pretty much
have had my dog do it. Maybe I will next time."

This was
decidedly not true, Vinicius knew. No one had ever hacked into his com net
— until now. On the same night that his house had been destroyed. As
that reality settled in, the writhing discomfort in his stomach reached a new

according to all this sloppy com traffic, it looks like you had a little
accident at your house. I guess you left one of your scented candles burning.
Or maybe your septic system blew up. Or hell, maybe I did it. I've got so many
operations going I can't hardly keep them straight."

Vinicius tried
to keep his voice level. "When I find you…"

Travis Burnet
interrupted him. "When you find
Hell, son,
looking for
. But instead of me driving all over town trying to
find your lost ass, why don't you just come to
hangout. I keep an office at the old Six Shooter
Brewery building. Even a dumbass like you should know where that is."

The face
dissolved before him, and Vinicius' composure dissolved into rage.




Rix laughed as
he cut the link, probably the last laugh he would get this night, given the
difficult work to come. But taunting someone who was accustomed to
being taunted just felt too damn good.
this murderous someone.

Rix had been
able to isolate the location of Vinicius' car thanks to the membrane tracker
Marie had attached to it. They were not too far; they would get here quickly,
unless Cunha surprised him with a show of restraint.

But Rix had no
doubt the man would find the place. Even Brazilians knew about the Six Shooter

The Six Shooter
was a local landmark, a brewery that had been in continuous operation for a
century before a long, sad decline. There were still dozens of ghost
advertisements around town, faded letters on old brick buildings that shouted
the company's slogan: Gimme a Six!

The brewery had
gone out of business and sat chained and deserted for nearly a decade before it
had been redeveloped into a campus with condominiums, shops and entertainment
facilities, although the old brewhouse still stood as it had for 100 years, a
time capsule of 20
Century industrial engineering.

But none of that
was why it was known throughout the world.

During the
Breakup War the fighting had been particularly fierce in San Antonio. The
Independence government had set up there after the anti-secessionists had
briefly taken control of the state government in Austin.

The ASA forces,
still calling themselves the U.S. military even though there was no longer a
cohesive nation, had pushed deep into Texas. They targeted state landmarks,
artifacts of Texan pride, in an effort to crush morale. But they made a fatal

They destroyed
the Alamo.

After a night
raid that had tried — and failed — to eliminate leaders of the
independence movement, the attack helicopters had turned their missiles on the
Alamo. The aged walls of the Texas shrine splintered and collapsed into a cloud
of dust. It was an act of pure spite, and was taken as such by the locals. Many
of those whose loyalty still wavered between the old country and the new nation
committed fully to the Texan side.

The embattled
independence forces saw an influx of volunteers as well as cooperation and
encouragement from the populace at large. Small platoons of U.S. troops that
had previously moved through the city without hindrance from civilians were now
fired upon by bands of citizens whenever they moved in the open. "Remember
the Alamo!" took on new meaning.

It was at the
Six Shooter Brewery that the battle for San Antonio was decided. The leadership
of the independence forces had set up operations in the old brewhouse. The
facility was situated at the northeastern edge of downtown, and the top floors
of the building offered commanding views of the city and a nearby interchange
of freeways. The San Antonio River ran behind the western edge of the property,
allowing silent movement of men and materiel.

The independence
leadership directed its forces from there, but was eventually discovered. The
U.S. troops moved on the facility, and the Texan forces made their last stand
at the San Antonio landmark. The fiercest fighting had ended right at the gates
of the brewery, with the invading troops in full retreat, their attack
helicopters and tanks burning on the ground.

hours later the Independence forces in east Texas routed the U.S troops at the
battle for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport. That same day key
commanders of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet sailed their ships into Texas waters
and declared for the Independence side.

The president of
the United States, dealing with simultaneous independence movements in Texas
and on the West Coast, acquiesced after these defeats and recalled U.S. forces
back across the Mississippi river. Texas and affiliated states had won their

As a result, the
Six Shooter Brewery became the new symbol of Texan fighting spirit, and the
story was quickly disseminated around the world, the heroics growing with each
retelling. Plans were immediately drawn up to repair the battle damage and
restore the brewery campus, to turn it into a national historic site, the first
to be so designated in the new nation. It would probably happen someday, but
the fledgling Texas Republic had not yet appropriated money for the project.
For a new nation, there were always more pressing needs for limited funds.

And so it sat
fenced off again, years after independence, awaiting a future restoration.

Rix thought it
ideal for his needs. He wanted to confront Cunha and crew in a location that
offered some confined spaces, the better to neutralize whatever numerical
advantage Cunha might have, not to mention confining the man's use of his
massive physical strength. Rix wanted to attempt his capture in an area where
bystanders were unlikely to stumble onto the scene and be used as hostages.
Plus it was a building he was personally familiar with, having reported in here
many times during the war.

And the
symbolism of fighting in the very seat of Texas victory couldn't hurt. Any
little thing that might unnerve his opponent helped.

Of course, when
it came to unnerving his foe, he had another card to play. He grabbed the bag
that contained Caroline and pushed it to the location inside the brewery he had
picked out earlier. He used the manipulating rod to release her. She slithered
out and coiled around the base of one the giant pumps that had moved liquids
through the building. She made no sound.




Vinicius Cunha's
car pulled up to the gated entrance of the Six Shooter Brewery.

It was dark but
he could see the haphazard fencing stretching out on either side of him, and on
around the perimeter of the campus. There were a variety of buildings scattered
around the several acres of land. One of the structures had been bombed into rubble,
while another looked relatively untouched. The main building looked worn and
battered. It had the words "Brewhouse" in faded letters over the
double doors. As he peered at it with his optics he could see the bullet holes
in the wall from the famous battle that had been fought here.

He immediately
hated the place.

"So this is
the famous Six Shooter, eh? Looks like a dump. Like everything else in Texas,

His men smiled
nervously. They fidgeted in the cool night air, and then all turned to look as
the second vehicle full of Cunha's men pulled up behind his car. The men
clambered out of the large SUV and mingled with the first group. They spoke
quietly amongst themselves for a few minutes, waiting for the third vehicle to

Cunha stood off
by himself, brooding. The thought had fleetingly entered his mind that perhaps
he should just forget this matter with Travis Burnet for now and return home to
Brazil. His family would be frantic, and his local business in chaos. It
disturbed him greatly that Mr. Blue did not respond to his calls.

The most likely
scenario was that Open Sky was behind the assault on his home. Who else could
have done such a thing? He would have to regroup, and formulate another
strategy for dealing with them. He would probably have to kill his way to the
top of that corporation to find who was responsible.

And yet, here in
Texas he was already close to Open Sky's headquarters in New Mexico Territory.
He could finish this trouble here, quickly, tonight, which would help
re-establish his reputation. Then he could be in New Mexico before lunch
tomorrow, and work on suppressing that trouble before it went further. They
would be surprised to discover that Vinicius had airborne resources of his own.

he told himself.
My whole
life I have always been on the attack, and it has brought me everything I ever
wanted. This is no time to start acting like the small men of this world.

Something about
the way his men were murmuring, the tone, caught his attention. He turned his
head toward them. "What is it?" But as soon as he said it, he
realized what the problem was. The third car of his men had still not arrived.

"Boss, we
haven't seen the third car and no one responds to our calls. I hate to say
this, but they might have run into trouble," Mr. Green said.

Vinicius called
up with his optics the codes for the tracking devices embedded in his men. He
initiated the tracking sequence. It showed the five men in different parts of
town, scattering rapidly. The trackers would no doubt be removed before he
could round up his traitorous lackeys.

His men had
obviously seen the video of his compound being destroyed by the power from
above, and now they were abandoning him, slinking off into the night.

Cowards. I
made a mistake. I should have brought Gustavo along. The famous Mr. Blue was
always able to keep the men in line.

"I sent
them on a different assignment," Vinicius lied, trying to show confidence.
"It doesn't matter. We won't need them."

He reached out
with one arm and grasped a metal fence pole, and twisted it out of the ground
as if it were made of cardboard. He flung it thirty feet across the grounds.

BOOK: Connor Rix Chronicles 1: Rules of Force
9.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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