The Credulity Nexus
around her. One hit her in the thigh. She
twitched but ignored it; a small grey patch on her perfect, ebony
skin was the only mark it left on her.
    An MI5 agent
threw himself down on one knee beside Rik, covering the upload with
a snub-nosed sub-machine gun. It didn't make Rik feel the slightest
bit safer.
    The woman
dropped to the ground, landing on her feet like a big, black cat.
She fired two shots into Rik's would-be protector before she leapt
aside to avoid a storm of gun-fire. The agent slumped to the
ground, blood pouring from two chest-wounds. Rik didn't waste time
checking if he was alive. He grabbed the man's gun and set off for
the boarding gate again.
    This time he
made it, slamming through the double doors and into a long, curving
corridor. At the end would be the connecting walkway to the
aircraft and, since the hopper hadn't arrived yet, a long drop to
the landing pad below. Rik hadn't quite worked out what he was
going to do about that. His only thought had been to get out of
that slaughter-house by the fastest route.
    The corridor
was suspended high in the air, and it shook and boomed as Rik raced
along it, but not so much that he didn't hear the sound of pursuit
when it came.
    He turned a
corner, and there was the walkway just metres away, the escape he'd
been desperate for blocked by a solid door. He crashed into it, but
it didn't yield. He could hear the upload's light footfalls just
around the corner. With a yell of frustration he turned and fell to
one knee, aiming his weapon back along the corridor.
    Above and
around him, he realised, the walls were a thin, flexible fabric on
a concertinaed framework. If he could rip a hole in it and squeeze
between the metal hoops of the frame, he could get outside. But
there was no time. The upload was here.
    As soon as she
saw him, she slowed from a dead run to a slow walk. She moved with
an athletic grace, the human mind inside her android body imbuing
her movements with a disturbingly feminine sensuality.
    “Turn around
and leave, or I shoot,” Rik said, as calmly as he could. He didn't
know much about these nanite bodies, but he knew they were almost
invulnerable. Any damage was almost instantly repaired as the
surrounding nanites flowed in to fix it up, restructuring and
reprogramming themselves in real time. He recalled there was one
weakness though.
    “Give yourself
up, Rik,” the woman said. Her voice was as slinky as the rest of
her, smooth and rich, with no sign of stress or emotion. “I don't
need to hurt you. All I want is the box you took from GeneWerken.
I'll get you out of here and then you can tell me where it is.”
    She kept
coming as she spoke, leaving Rik no time to think. Somewhere inside
that tough robotic body was the woman's mind – her 'brain box', in
the jargon of the off-world construction sites, where uploads were
as common as human workers. It would be a small processor unit, an
armoured quantum computer that held the whole of the woman's mind.
It wouldn't be in her skull. It would be somewhere with more
body-mass around it, somewhere like her chest or abdomen. He aimed
at the woman's stomach and fired three rapid shots.
    The upload
stopped and clutched at herself, her eyes widening with surprise
and alarm – the first emotions Rik had seen in her. He'd obviously
guessed right, even if he'd missed.
    “Even uploads
can die,” he said, and switched the weapon to automatic.
    The upload
leapt to the wall, then the ceiling, then charged at him. Rik
squeezed the trigger and threw himself aside. The weapon roared,
rasping out ten rounds a second in an ear-splitting scream. A
stream of bullets thudded into the woman's body, seeking out her
vulnerable belly no matter how she bent and twisted. The closer she
got, the better was Rik's aim, but she wouldn't stop. Even when he
could see the gun flash mirrored in her obsidian eyes, she came
    With a swipe
of her slender hand, she knocked the gun aside, almost breaking
Rik's fingers and

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