Girl From Above #3: Trapped

BOOK: Girl From Above #3: Trapped
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Girl From Above #3
Trapped
Pippa DaCosta
Contents


G
irl From Above’ Book
#3, Trapped.

The #1000 Revolution

Pippa DaCosta

Urban Fantasy & Science Fiction Author

Subscribe to her mailing list here.

Copyright © 2015 Pippa DaCosta.

November 2015 US Edition. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictions, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Novel length. 46,000 words.

US Edition.

Version 2.0 (Feb 2016)

www.pippadacosta.com

Summary

"
W
hen are
you going to stop running, Caleb?"

Taking the synth to the casino capital of the nine systems seemed like a great idea at the time, but as Caleb Shepperd's many enemies close in, he only has one way out. He must betray #1001.

Caleb can't make the same mistake twice. Can he?

#1001 has a price on her head. The Fenrir Nine and Chitec will stop at nothing to secure her secrets. The very same secrets that riddle her synthetic mind with faults.

Her systems are failing.

And the one man she's come to trust may prove to be her enemy.

The sizzling, fast-paced, and action packed science-fiction continues in Trapped.

Reading order:

Girl From Above 1: Betrayal

Girl From Above 2: Escape

Girl From Above 3: Trapped

Girl From Above 4: Trust

WARNING:
18+ only. Adult content. Including sex, drug use, violence, & swearing.

Prologue

C
oded message dispatched
to Captain Shepperd of the
Starscream Independent
Tug 606:

‘Give Us Hail Lee’

Chapter One: Caleb

#
1
001 counted
casino cards like I flew
Starscream
. She made it look difficult—bit her lip, furrowed her brow, hovered her fingertips over the cards as though she wasn’t quite sure which one to pick—but she could win the game with her fucking eyes closed. I’d played her a few times on
Starscream
during the jumps to Lyra. She’d progressed from novice to expert in three rounds, then wiped the floor with me. Repeatedly. And she did it in that cool, calculating way of hers, without so much as cracking a smile. Although, somewhere in that head of hers, I was sure she was laughing.

So, her winning at cards was just another day in the black. Only it wasn’t. We were in the entertainment capital of the nine systems and had been for several days. Today, we’d already won ten thousand credits. It was time to quit while we were ahead. Right after the synth finished playing her hand game. And maybe a glass of whiskey.

I was standing at the end of the table, arms crossed, watching her like all the others in the small crowd. At some point, the chatter, whispers, and whoops had faded into the background. I was meant to be priming
Starscream
to get us ready to boost off Lyra, but leaving was the last thing on my mind.

She didn’t look like a synth. That part of our plan was vital. She’d applied lipstick and that shit women use to darken their lashes; she looked perfect, of course, because her programming couldn’t fuck anything up. Her silvery hair hung straight and skimmed the tops of her shoulders. The dazzle of Lyra’s lights sparkled in her eyes. Doctor Lloyd, her Chitec technician, had gotten his quick hands on some biolenses so she could slip through the security scans as someone else, someone human. Her act was flawless. She smiled like she meant it—she’d worked on those smiles, and though I knew they were fake, they fooled me every time—but her eyes couldn’t really change, not even with the lenses in. They were always cold. Always simultaneously empty while full of knowledge. Too much knowledge, if her erratic behavior of late was any indicator.

But now? Now she was in her fucking element, and I was about to be the first, and probably the only, rich smuggler in the nine systems.

Remembering the plan, I backed away from the table, tucked my hands in my pants pockets, and made for the payment booths. My dark suit meant I blended in with the rich and famous walking the floor of Lyra’s more exclusive casinos. The atmosphere of the place assaulted me in a constant barrage of voices, chimes, announcements, laughter, and chinking glasses; on and on it went, chipping away at my patience. Or maybe my restlessness was coming from the fact that I hadn’t had a drink in a while. At least not a decent one. Drinking swill to stave off withdrawal didn’t count. My abstinence wasn’t by choice; we’d run out of credit getting here. Lyra’s casinos were my last chance to keep
Starscream
in the black.

“Sir, could you come with us?”

I jerked to a halt, finding two casino security guards blocking my path. Easily twice my size, they sported the kind of bored faces of people itching for a fight to break the monotony of watching rich fuckers gamble their credits away. The larger guy on the right, with hair so short it was barely there at all, eyed me down the length of his nose. His mate, the little guy, scanned the crowd, looking for accomplices, most likely.

“What’s this about?” I asked, putting on the kind of haughty arrogance I hoped told these guys I was just like every other too-rich asshole on Lyra.

“The casino would like to discuss this in private, sir,” Large said.

Some people glanced my way. The last thing I needed was attention.

I nodded and followed Little through the crowds, away from the booths where I was supposed to meet #1001 in—I checked my comms—fifteen minutes.

“Do you have somewhere to be?” Large asked, following behind.

I flashed him a smile. “A date. Is this going to take long?”

“I doubt it,” he drawled with an Old-Earth accent—American, mostly, with a twist of Jotunheim. Lyra was awash with original system immigrants. Old money. Old ethics. Old ways.

I sauntered in line, weaving between the tables toward the elevated exclusive area at the back of the casino. Little and Large hadn’t called me by name, so hopefully this was just a routine stop-and-search, in which case I’d be out of the casino in no time. They wouldn’t find anything on me. Getting a weapon inside Lyra was impossible due to the fuck-load of scanners. As for my ID, I’d left my personalized comms on
Starscream.
The one on me was an untraceable, out-the-box unit. This wasn’t my first Lyra rodeo. I was clean. They had no reason to take this any further, or so I told myself.

We climbed the couple of steps and paused outside the door to one of the private rooms. Large raised his eyebrows when I checked him out a second time and caught him looking at my ass. These men sure looked like casino guards, but as far as I knew, casino guards didn’t strip search guests in the back-room luxury pads.

“I don’t usually swing that way, but I’ll try anything once.” I smiled.

He narrowed his eyes, but if he had any kind of retort, he kept it to himself. Little opened the door and ushered me inside. Sparkling chrome mixed with old-world oak greeted me. If the interior designers had been aiming for a pantomime dame’s boudoir, they were spot on. Unfortunately, I’d met the dame before: Bruno—Ganymede’s drug lord.

Fuck.

My backward step brought me into contact with Large. He shoved me toward the round table, where Bruno had shoehorned his mass of an ex-pro wrestler body into a creaking chair. The drug lord wore a dapper waistcoat, all dressed up like he might have been on his way to the opera, but smart clothes couldn’t hide the grit of Ganymede in his neck creases. Head tilted slightly and fat lips curled in disgust, he squinted at me.

Large’s hands roamed over me from behind, over my shoulders, under my arms, and down my waist.

“Oh, honey …” I purred. “Keep that up and you’ll make me hard.”

“Shut the fuck up,” he grunted, sweeping his hands down my thighs.

“To the left.” I widened my stance. “You missed a bit … There ain’t no telling where a guy could conceal a weapon.”

Bruno’s narrowing eyes met Large’s grumbles. “Search him right. That’s what I’m payin’ you for.”

Grumbling some more, Large skimmed his hands up the insides of my legs.

“Yeah, right there.”

He muttered a few colorful words and, done with his pathetic search, backed up to join Little in blocking the door.

Bruno snorted and reached for a handful of enriched peanuts from the bowl in front of him. “You were always good for a few laughs, boy.”

Past tense
,
lovely.

Getting those fucking nuts out of the original system cost about as much as putting food on the table for a cycle. Bruno chomped them down like this was Old Earth and nuts still grew on fucking trees. He did it to incite jealousy. All it did for me was incite the urge to bury my fist in his face. If I did, his two guys would be on me. As far as I could see, they weren’t armed—only Lyra police had licenses to carry weapons—but Little and Large wouldn’t go down easy. I could throw down here, I might even win, but I’d ruin my rent-a-suit.

“What are you doing in Lyra, Shepperd?” Bruno picked a few nuts from his palm and popped them into his mouth.

“Vacation.”

“With your second? What’s her name … Francisca?”

I blinked. “Fran no longer works for me.”

“Ah.” More chewing, his lips smacking together. “Wondered how long it’d take for her to shake you off.”

Clearly not in any rush, he sat back, feeding himself those damned nuts. One of these days, I was going to ram those nuts down his throat, but not today.

“So.” I grinned. “Was there a point to this? Because if you just wanted to admire the goods, I could’ve sent you a picture.”

“Where’s the synth?”

“Synth?”

He dropped the remaining nuts back into the bowl and brushed his hands together. The chair creaked and groaned as he leaned his bulk forward and rested his elbows on the table. I expected some sort of threat, but he flicked his fingers and Little moved in.

I lifted my hands. “Whoa, guys. C’mon—”

He dodged my half-hearted attempt at a right hook, caught my forearm, and yanked it up behind my back, levering me face down onto the table. I winced, cheek pressed against the oak surface, but stayed loose. There’s a time and place to fight, and this wasn’t it. I tried to straighten up, but Little pushed down between my shoulder blades and held me still.

“A few cycles ago, you stole thirty thousand credits’ worth of street-ready
sweet
,” Bruno said. “I thought you were the kind of man who always finished a job, but my contact never saw that cargo.”

“Yeah, well, fleet picked me up and tossed me in Asgard before I could deliver anything.” I angled my head so I could at least see Bruno from my horizontal position. “You didn’t exactly inspire me to complete the deal when you sent a fuckin’ bounty hunter after Fran.”

“Tit for tat, Shepperd. And all because you tried to save a whore?”

“Jesse.” I winced as Little leaned into my legs, pinning me down. Bent over as I was, he might as well fuck me; it’d probably be more comfortable.

“After you left, a
life-ever-after
synthetic launched an attack on Ganymede. She took out a dozen fleet troops and left the Mede with your favorite whore. Killed Jesse’s pimp too.”

“Maybe Jess and the synth are an item?” At least Bruno didn’t know I was the one who’d killed his pimp.

“My guys reported being beaten to a pulp in an alley by the same synth. They reckon she saved your hide. So you’re not going to try and tell me you’ve never heard of or seen the synth in question, are you Shepperd?”

There goes that lie. “I remember her. I ain’t seen her since.”

Little fisted his hand in my hair, yanked my head back, and smacked my face against the table, splitting my forehead open. Blood trickled down the side of my face and pain radiated through my skull, making me reconsider my choice to play it loose. The urge to lash out twitched through my fingers, but our subtle trip to Lyra couldn’t involve beating the shit out of Bruno’s guys and dumping a whole load of authority interest on me and
Starscream
.
Keep it simple, get away clean.

“Try again, Shepperd,” Bruno suggested.

“Okay, look. I don’t know anything about her. She stowed away on my ship for a while. I was going to sell her. Then that shit with Jesse happened, and fleet stormed Ganymede, and I needed to make a quick getaway ... so I left the synth behind.”

He’d obviously been watching me since my arrival on Lyra. #1001 and me had deliberately separated. We’d played our roles, never meeting up in public. If one of us got caught, the other could get away clean. I hadn’t actually factored in the possibility that Bruno might be paying Lyra’s casinos a visit.

“There’s quite a price on your capture, Shepperd. The Candes want your head on a stake. Something about a missing sister. Your name as a smuggler is worth less than dirt. Must be tough getting runs.”

Tough
was an understatement. We were dead in the black. “I’ve had a few rough weeks.”

His fat lips worked around a smirk. “You have connections to the synth. Don’t try and tell me otherwise or you’ll find your face buried in this table. I want her. I don’t care what you have to do to get her. Chitec spun some tale about a rogue synthetic. They’re offering five million for her safe return. I’m going to collect that money, and I’ll pay you your ten percent. How does that sound?”

Five million credits for the synth?
Holy shit.
Chen Hung must have really needed her back to go public with such an offer. Why was she worth so much to him? Was it just the fact she knew he’d killed his daughter, or something else?

Bruno flicked his fingers at Little, who finally let me up. I wiped the blood off my face as best I could and arched an eyebrow at Little’s smirk. He’d enjoyed that a little too much for my liking.

Bruno reached inside his waistcoat and tossed a credit card onto the table. “There’s fifty on there. Call it a deposit to ensure the job gets done.”

“Fifty what?”

“Thousand.”

I swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. “And if I can’t find her?”

“If you can’t or won’t do this, then the Candes will be getting a call. I hear they have creative ways of dealing with their enemies.” Bruno’s smile crawled halfway up his bloated face. “What
did
you do to their sister?”

“No comment.” There wasn’t a choice here. I had to do this. Or at least, I had to agree to his terms and then think of a way around it once they let me out of this room. I scooped up the card and tucked it inside my jacket pocket. “Give me a few days. I’m sure I’ll have the package for you.”

“Three days.”

“Three days.” My heart thudded deep and heavy in my chest.

“I look forward to it.” He wagged his fingers at the door, dismissing me. “And you might like to sample some of the goods at
The Jungle
, a club along the strip. I think you’ll find a familiar whore there.”

I paused at the door and clamped my teeth together. Bruno had won this; I was almost out the door.

Let it go.
Once outside I could get my head around everything.
Just open the fucking door …

Little smiled. I curled my right hand into a fist, itching to punch that fucking smirk through his teeth.

“I’ll see you here in three days, Shepperd. Bring the synth, or the Candes will be the ones to greet you.”

I opened the door and walked out onto the casino floor. A wash of noise rolled over me, but it might as well have been silence for all I heard. I’d missed the meet with the synth, which meant she’d be on her way back to the ship without me. I exited the casino and grabbed a shuttle pod, then rode in silence through Lyra’s sparkling retail strips toward my hotel. The pod skirted around a nearby demonstration. My gaze skimmed over the waving banners and placards. The Lyra authorities kept the rowdy common folk under control, and when they couldn’t, fleet usually muscled their way in. Without
Starscream
, I could easily be one of those anonymous faces raging against a world designed to help the rich get richer. Fuck, without
Starscream
, I’d be nothing.

BOOK: Girl From Above #3: Trapped
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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