I wiped my knife clean, and let out a long breath. The guy took too long to break. I wasted a whole morning and the start of an afternoon on some half-ass bounty hunter. Aw hell, I even lost a night that I could have spent sleeping, which didn’t sit right with me. I also knew that I couldn’t stay in this motel. If these tards found me, then I’m sure someone who actually knows how to kill a soldier can find me in the next day at most. And with that, I had made up my mind.
It was time to move again.
I was packed and moving again by dusk. It took me only a few steps out the door to realize how they had found me: my spending. I knew it wasn’t smart of me to use my own money, but I had figured that I could make up for that by choosing a place that I could defend and stay trenched in ‘til I ground them down. And now I realize that I was almost right: I could stay trenched and I really could grind them to nothing, but could I keep that up? How many of these morons could I take before I was out-taken?
So I figured it was time for a new tactic. At this point, I took a sizeable portion of my money from the ATM on the opposite end of the city. I then went to the northern end of city and acquired myself a prepaid card for that amount. Simple right?
It was f*cking nerve-wracking, though. I didn’t just feel like I was being followed. I was certain. But I wasn’t sure if my certainty was instinct or paranoia. It wasn’t too likely. I didn’t see anyone twice in these streets, as I alternated roads, and I never caught the same person behind me when I glanced around turning a corner. As simple as I made the trip seem, Night City was big and as big as it was, it made a long trip. And with that long trip, I felt all the anticipation I ever wanted to feel and so f*cking much more. I knew someone was behind me, and I knew that they really wanted to shoot first and ask my corpse later. They were just waiting for less collateral.
At the end of my trip, I stopped by a bar. Never caught the name of it.
I picked a table in the back, and sat at the chair backed against the wall. I broke in my new card for a couple of shots, and stared at the entrance door. I couldn’t help keeping my eyes trained on all visible movement. The bar man. The waitress. The balding man in the leather coat. The trio of women who had a little too much to drink. I kept a careful eye on all of them. It took a couple of minutes for me get a better grip on myself.
I picked the opportunity to leave when I saw one of the trio whisper to the other, look at me, and giggle to her snorting friend. I had just crossed the doorway when a voice stopped me in my tracks.
“It’s considered polite to leave a tip, urchin. Or Pitbull? Whatever you feel like being called, right?”
I knew his voice, and that was the only thing that stopped me. I hadn’t heard his voice in years, but it was him. Carlos. The man who saved my ass. I turned slowly to face him, not knowing if I should expect him to be pointing a gun at me. Thankfully, he wasn’t.
“Nice to see you too, Carlos. You got business with me, detective, or is this just a chat?” I said as evenly as I could manage.
“Both, actually.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “ To be more precise, I’m trying to avoid business with you through this chat. In case you were wondering, this is my jurisdiction now. All the help you gave me when you were just an urchin helped me get out of that sh*t hole and to where we are now. So here’s the part where I tell you how I’m returning the favor.”
He paused for a second, waiting for me to take it all in I guess. I nodded to him, and he took that as his cue.
“Those guys who hit you up last night were hired by me, to smoke you out into the open. I knew that was the only way I’d be having this conversation with you with no shots fired. Now, I want to inform you that the next time I see you, I will be forced to place you under arrest. And I also want to tell you that if you want to keep your nose clean, I hear that the last place you should be is the Gomi Emporium, speaking to Madeleine about a job. Don’t ask how I know, don’t ask who I know. Drop your name. She’ll know who you are.”
I stared at him, confused and paranoid. He picked up on that easily enough.
“I don’t have to tell you how much sh*t I had to go through just to get us here and how much talking I had to do for you. What I have to do, however, is turn around and get back to work. If I turn around and you are still there, I will arrest you. Now, tip your waiters from here on and have a nice day.”
On that note, he turned on his heel and strolled his way down the street. I didn’t need any convincing to avoid testing his arrest threat, as I was already walking the opposite way by his second step. Now my head wasn’t buzzing with the same paranoia. I wasn’t thinking of any hot-shot bounty hunters gunning me down. Now I was filled with the idea of being arrested again. It was a better fear, but not by much.
I pushed the thought out of my head as I focused on what he said. The Gomi Emporium? Madeleine? A job, hinted at being more than just a little dirty? It was all very enticing. Dubious, but enticing. I figured I could check it out at least.
With all that effort from Carlos, it could be worth it, right?