We made it to the Pandemilon Express just ahead of Dr. Mordechai’s clockwork baboons. The rocket engines slung to either side of the engine were already cycling up, lights flashing on the fences that were strung around the rocket wash area. It was, in fact, too late to purchase tickets. Waiting a day for the next train was hardly an option, though, given the contact we were to meet several hundred miles away, and perhaps more urgently, the imminent arrival of a horde of merciless mechanical baboons bent on tearing us limb from limb. Fortunately, my companion, ‘Oily’ Jack McNabb, was an inveterate scoundrel, and sneaking aboard a train was hardly a challenge for him. We settled into the seats we’d found just before the train began to move.
The sound of shrieks and metallic clanking heralded the arrival of Dr. Mordechai’s creatures outside, but just then the jet engines of the train engaged and we were thrust back against our seats by the rapid acceleration.
“So,” I managed, forcing the words past the crushing acceleration, “Where exactly are we meeting this secret contact of yours?”
Oily Jack smiled, in that irritating manner he had when he was about to say something he considered clever and surprising. “Hard to say precisely.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, instantly suspicious. “You’re not playing this whole operation by ear, are you? I was given to understand that this secret contact was vitally important, someone who could change things utterly.”
“Oh, she is, but there’s a reason she’s a secret contact, as opposed to some sort of normal contact. And she’s got a suspicious nature.”
“No wonder, if she’s used to dealing with you,” I muttered. “But look here, what does that have to do with where she’ll meet us?” The acceleration eased as we reached cruising speed, and our fellow passengers in the sparsely-populated car began to move about, many of them discussing the attack of the clockwork baboons we’d heard as we left. It was fortunate, I suspected, that none of them knew they’d been after Jack and me.
“Well, you see,” Jack began, only to be interrupted by the door opening at the rear of the car.
“Tickets, please,” the conductor said from behind us. Jack broke off and we exchanged a glance. Before he could speak, and reveal whatever plan he might have to prevent us form being thrown off the train, my attention was drawn to the door at the front of the car opening.
The woman that stepped through was striking, thanks in part to a black and gray dress with an elegant brocade, and stylish hat, but mostly because of the massive Hellburner Mk4 laser pistol holstered in a bandolier slung across one shoulder, and a black leather eye patch. Yes, it was none other than the notorious Melissa Mordechai, daughter of our nemesis, on the very train!
“Tickets, please, gents,” the conductor said, appearing at my elbow. I ignored him as I locked eyes with Melissa Mordechai (or to be precise as my eyes locked with her eye), and reached for our my own pistol.
“No, you fool!” Oily Jack shouted. “She’s our contact! Why do you think her father sent so many baboons after us?”