‘Where to?’ Ludo asked as they hit traffic on the way through the city’s south gate. Two miniature pylons stood on each side of the gate, each emitted a cheerful green-blue light, flaring like a camera flash as each vehicle passed through the barrier.
Yasha sat up, rubbing his eyes. He hadn’t been dozing but he’d let the quiet of the journey lull him all the same.
‘I dunno,’ shaking his head to clear it he determined, ‘Krackzy Street Station. I left a bag there.’ He glanced over at Ludo. ‘Less you think someone got to it?’
That was a worry. He had stashes socked away all over the city. Money and papers, even clothes and books as well as a few other things he wasn’t willing to share even with Ludo. But the bag in Krackzy Street was the most important of all.
‘Nah. Should be fine,’ Ludo waved off his concern fiddling with the radio dial, getting only static this close to an active pylon. ‘You got a place to stay, or you want to bunk with me for a bit?’
‘You mind?’ Yasha asked.
Truthfully he’d been hoping to stay with Ludo, at least until he had time to figure out his next steps. He’d been planning for freedom since his day inside, but now he was out he found himself anxious. Three of his inner circle were gone, his enemy was thriving and Yasha hadn’t even told his best friend about his “parole”. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
‘No worries,’ Ludo replied cheerfully. ‘I’ve got a sofa, not too lumpy.’ He turned and grinned. ‘Can’t be worse than a prison bunk, right?’
Yasha rolled his eyes. ‘I’ll reserve judgement until I see it. I remember your old flat.’
‘Still got the same place,’ Ludo told him. He huffed, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. ‘Man I’m sick of these scans. They’ve been doing them day in day out for the last fortnight. Tailbacks all the way to Yarovna Sarny.’
‘What’s the problem?’ Yasha asked looking up the line of cars to the gate. Raderi agents in bright, target-like red uniforms directed traffic forward toward the barriers with paddles, occasionally stopping to question a driver at a window.
‘Dunno,’ Ludo admitted. ‘Figure they’re planning a raid, or another wildr hunt. Some kind of crackdown anyway.’
‘Hmm. Sort of loses the element of surprise though, don’t you think? Do they think anyone’s stupid enough to bring contraband in on the main road?’
Ludo sighed. ‘Like I said, mate, the city’s been weird for a while now.’
They inched forward at a snail’s pace. Yasha tensed as they approached the red clad Raderi. Would they be stopped? Yasha was in their system now, a name on their registers. He had no intention of going straight – a law abiding life just wasn’t in the cards for him – but he didn’t want to tangle with the Raderi on his first afternoon out of prison either.
One of the Raderi knocked on the window on the driver’s side. Yasha reached out and gripped the passenger door handle. There were agents on either side, a cluster having a smoke under the checkpoint awning. Yasha’s breath quickened. Nowhere to run.
‘Easy mate,’ Ludo murmured in aside as he rolled down the window. ‘Officer,’ he greeted the pock marked cadet who bent down to squint in the window.