Andrew crouched down. “Oh my God. I haven’t heard from him in four years. I always thought he might be coming back eventually. I reserve a table for us here every week just in case. I didn’t know why he all of a sudden disappeared, but just held hope I would hear from him eventually.” He stood back up and put his hands on his hips. “Look. I’m grateful for your help so far, but I don’t know about this. I didn’t even know my dad did anything like this, or that he was still involved in any of it. I’m going to go home now that I’m out of that restaurant and try to make sense of all of this.” Andrew walked past Michael toward the alley’s exit. A loud crack interrupted him followed by sparks from the dumpster as a bullet whizzed past his head.
“Get behind me!” Michael grabbed Andrew by the back of his shirt and threw him into the corner between the dumpster and the wall. He drew his silenced pistol and returned fire at the masked man on the fire escape walkway above, striking him twice in the chest and once in the head. A Masada assault rifle clanged to the next landing as the combat-loaded man rolled down the metal stairs. Michael reached for his phone with his left hand while scanning the rooftops. “Baker, where are you! We’re under fire!” he barked into the device before checking the screen. “They’re jamming us! Looks like we’re on our own until Baker gets here.” Michael jammed his phone back into his suit and resumed his lookout.
Shots pinged against the other side of the dumpster as Michael’s back was turned. Three more men slowly advanced toward them, their heavy weapons firing relentlessly.
“Looks like we’re kind of screwed then, doesn’t it?” Andrew said dryly from the corner where he tried in vain to merge himself with the wall.
“We’ll get out of here yet.” Michael turned from cover and blindly fired four shots at their attackers.
Three quiet pops were barely audible through the thunder of the assault weapons bearing down on the pair and then silence.
“Come on! Let’s go!” cried another voice.
“Time to move!” Michael pulled Andrew to his feet and they sprinted to a black Cadillac CTS. A lanky man in a black pinstripe suit motioned for them from the driver’s seat through the open passenger door. They reached the car and Andrew dove in before Michael followed after one last scan. The driver slammed into gear and the car’s tires screeched as they sped away.
“Andrew, this is Jim. Jim, this is Andrew Duncan.” Michael motioned back and forth from the passenger seat. Andrew pulled himself up to a sitting position in the backseat. “You might want to put your seatbelt on, Andrew.” Jim drifted into a hard right turn before Andrew could finish buckling up, throwing him into the door.
“It’s going to be a rough ride,” Jim said as he straightened the wheel.
Andrew recovered and strapped himself in. His wide eyes darted to and from Michael and Jim in the front of the car. “So could someone please tell me what the hell is going on? First I get his weird fortune cookie telling me I have to leave everything and the next thing I know I’m in an alley being told my father, who I haven’t even seen in almost half a decade, by the way, was just killed four days ago. Now I’m in a car with two spooks running from a gunfight! What the hell is going on?” Andrew swung his head around and glanced through the back window.
“As I was saying before we were interrupted, your father worked with our company testing early prototypes for our semi-organic implants. These implants are still in the highly experimental phase of development, but already have the potential to change the world.”
“You’re not telling me shit,” Andrew said, glaring at Michael.
Michael turned to face Andrew and met his gaze. “What I’m going to tell you now you must swear to never tell anyone else, ever, under any circumstances. Do you understand me?”
“Yes already! I’m sick of the secrecy. Why am I so important?”
“These implants, while originally designed and intended for medical use, have attracted the attention of some organizations that have ties to government. The particular organization we encountered today is the one that murdered your father. They took the implants your father was field testing in order to reverse engineer them. They want to use these to create the next generation of weapons.”
“So you mean like Mega Man’s hand”
“I guess you could use that analogy, though it’s a crude idea of what could be possible, should they succeed. The reason they want you is because removing your father’s implants killed him. They need someone new to test theirs with, and it would be much easier to have you than to start from scratch. Your father worked on development of the stolen implants and was the volunteer for field trials.”
“Which I presume started four years ago, when he went missing.”
“Correct. Your father knew the risk involved with the trials including what could happen if the organization knew your identity. He chose to distance himself from you to protect you.”
Andrew stared at his feet. “I didn’t know. Just a letter or a call to let me know he was still around would have worked.”
“To do so would have risked your discovery. Near the time of his death he expressed his concern to us about his situation and about yours. We didn’t act until it was too late, so we found you.”
As they passed through the middle of the next block a silver Suburban shot from the alley and slammed into the side of the sedan, sliding it over the curb and into the row of shops across the street.
Andrew wearily opened his eyes to the sound of gunfire. Michael and Jim were behind the now upside down Cadillac firing at the attackers with assault rifles. His vision faded again as he passed out.
Andrew drifted back to consciousness. His head pounded. He reached up to cradle his head and brought back bloody hands. He was moving. “Andrew! You with me?” Jim shouted over the gunfire. Andrew watched the firefight unfold as Jim dragged him away from the wreck by the back of his shirt. Michael crouched behind the trunk of the car and reloaded his rifle. He knocked the magazine against the ground and jammed it into the weapon. He fired from around the tail of the car at the men on the opposite building’s roof. Their muzzle flashes were greeted by brick shards as Michael’s shots reached the ledge, striking one man in the collarbone as he ducked for cover.
Andrew felt a sharp pain in his thigh. “My leg!” His voice sounded far away. “I’m hit!”
“We’re almost there…” Jim sounded desperate.
His leg felt warm and wet. He looked down. Red. Blood all over his pants. He looked back to Jim. They were almost to a dumpster in an alley. It looked the same as before. He sung his head back to the fight. His vision lagged. “Jim? My leg.” His voice echoed.
Jim tucked him into the corner opposite the gunfire. He kneeled in front of him and took his tie off. He reached in his jacket. Silver medical clamps appeared. “Andrew? I need you to stay with me now.” He seemed so far away. Another sharp pain in his leg. Blurriness. Black.