The liteway exited in the middle of the Lodges. At 2:30am there wasn’t anybody on these streets. Those on basic were typically content to live off the system, there was little unrest. There were no streetlamps here and no neon advertisements. The headlights of the Tilt-Bikes illuminated trash strewn streets, hard concrete walls that rose ten stories or higher, Yu didn’t know.
Cut the bike, she texted him.
She expected Null to argue, but instead he slowed the bike, inexpertly lurching to a complete stop. He reached back and patted her leg to get off. She climbed from the bike and after leaving its magnetic field, Null pressed the dash MOD. The lines of the exoskeleton, the bike-console itself, glowed a pale green for just a moment, then vanished. Null was left standing, holding his MOD.
“Simic lives here?” asked Null.
“Great place to hide,” Yu said. “mostly families, despondent.”
“You’re on basic if you live here, though.”
“Simic is. He doesn’t have a registered job.”
“He wouldn’t. Would he?”
“Lead the way,” Null said.
The lack of street lights and advertisements in the Lodges gave way to a smattering of stars overhead. They were weak pin pricks in the night time tapestry, but they were there.
Yu led Null down the street, past the hulking silhouettes of dumpsters. Narrow alleys led into the deep recesses of the Lodges every hundred yards or so. They were all identical, but Yu knew where she was going. They walked for five minutes, passed block after block of flat concrete structures set with small darkened windows. Eventually she led Null down a side alley on their left. She accessed her chip and and enabled her night vision app.
“He usually has someone watching his place. We’ve probably already been seen. Let me do the talking.”
“Ok,” said Null. His voice quavered just slightly. “I can’t see down there. It’s so dark.”
Yu raised her eye brows, though she knew he couldn’t see them, “If you have done what you say you have, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Null groaned. “Right. I forgot.”
Yu shook her head. How could he forget? They wouldn’t be in the Lodges at all if he hadn’t insisted.
The alley was so narrow they had to walk single file. Yu could tell Null was nervous, she could sense him looking back over his shoulder, she could sense him looking up, trying to gauge if or how they’d been spotted. Simic’s men would be cloaked. Neither of them would see anyone watching.
They took a left into another alley, then a right. Then another right. Finally the darkened way opened onto a courtyard. There were some wiry chairs around a wiry table. Yu motioned for Null to sit down. She did the same.
“Now what?” asked Null.
“We wait,” she said.
“This is how it works?”
Yu nodded. “Someone will find us—”
No sooner had the words left her mouth that she heard footsteps coming from the same passage they had just used.
A moment later two large forms stepped from the alley.
“Thank you for seeing us,” said Yu. “I know Simic doesn’t enjoy surprises.”