Chapter 1

March 6, 2029
9:14 p.m.

The air exploded with the sounds of automatic weaponry, the burping spit of bullets fired in rapid light show parades of orange laser beams spearing the night, the patter of shells chipping divots in the brick wall behind Bridge. He hit the ground with force, the air slammed from his lungs as he rolled over Stonewall. The Mexican footballer was already pulling a weapon from his jacket as he rolled, coming up in a crouch to aim the cannon at their assailants. Bridge caught a glimpse of an injured bystander, her face a rictus of screaming pain, a single rivulet of blood dripping from her mouth to pool on the dirty sidewalk. Aristotle’s enormous form sheltered Bridge from above, and Bridge could smell the telltale scent of gin.

Stonewall had a bead on the assailants, but he hesitated with his finger on the trigger. A slight shimmer in the air told Bridge why. Mu had finally come into play, the technomancer casting a shield spell - a translucent force field made of air or electricity or something. Bridge didn’t know or care what it was. He could barely suppress a smile as he watched bullets flatten on the shield and fall to the ground. He got to his knees and scanned the street for the attackers.

“ARTIE! Answer me, Artie!” Bridge became aware of Angela’s plaintive cries in his head.

“It’s cool, baby, relax. Somebody’s shooting at us. Mu’s got it covered.”

“Goddamnit, you scared the shit out of me!”

“No picnic for me either,” Bridge grumbled.

The would-be assassins were doing a drive-by. Two gunmen leaned from the passenger side windows of a black late-teens model sedan, military-grade sub-machine guns roaring in vain bursts. The rear gunmen ran out of rounds first, cursing his weapon as he tried to change the magazine awkwardly. His partner realized the futility and began screaming at the driver to take off. “MU! GO OFFENSE!” Bridge screamed. To Angela, he said, “Baby, record this. Get as much sensory info as you can. I want to know whose car that is.”

The young Chinese wizard stood to his full five foot eight height and casually flipped his raven bangs back from his eyes, a cocky smile tilting the left corner of his mouth. He shook the loose sleeves of his black shirt and gestured, his fingers dancing in the air swathed in tingling sparkles. The rear gunmen had finally gotten his gun reloaded. The driver threw off his aim, tires squealing in the night, the gunmen’s shots going wildly into the air as the spell went off.