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Carson Morgan wasn't the kind of guy to drink. Tattoo a modern band logo on his shoulder, yes. Jump out of a plane in celebration of his twenty- first birthday, yes. But drinking wasn't something he usually took to.

Which was why he was piss-faced drunk after two shots of cheap tequila.

Carson dropped his face in his hands for a minute to stop his head from spinning, and looked up again to find himself nose to nose with Sean Bradley. At least, it seemed like they were nose to nose. When he spoke, Sean's voice could have been an echo launched from the top of Mt. Everest god knew how many miles away. "Come on man, you can't be sick already. I got three more shots here with your name on 'em." Another glass of tequila materialized in front of Carson from no where. He glanced up at Sean, who had four eyes and enough teeth to win the 'I'm a Human Alien' award.

Damn, he must have double vision already.

The smell of the alcohol was snaking its way into his nostrils. Carson cringed. The last thing he needed right now was another shot. He switched his eyes back to the waiting tequila. Then again, it wasn't every day you graduated first in your class with a masters degree in computer sciences. Not every day you were the youngest person ever to do it, either. With a weak smile at his friend - who was still grinning too widely - Carson downed the drink amid a swarm of hoots that threatened to pound his suffering brain to mush. And what good would his supernaturally advanced knowledge of technology be to the world then? He managed a good natured wave to his fellow graduates before dropping his head into his arms, resting on the bar.

Please let me be unconscious when I chuck this stuff up on Marty's spotless countertop…

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Marty's Grill and Bar.

Twisting the key in her Harley's ignition, Sahara O'Brian scanned the crowded parking lot. No sign of them. Good, they must have lost his trail after all.

Letting a sigh of inevitable annoyance roll through her, she pulled a snapshot out of her purse. Not that she couldn't draw every feature of her new assignment in her sleep by now, but it never hurt to go over the details one more time, just to be sure. Dark hair, gray eyes, a strong jawbone. Carson Morgan didn't look like a computer geek prodigy.

But he was, which meant that no matter how formidable his jawbone seemed to be, he was weak. Sahara rolled her eyes. She hated weak guys. Every clingy, whiny, wimpy inch of them. Well, everyone was bound to get a bad job once in a while. Such a coincidence that Viviane had given her three of them in a row. Stupid prissy bitch.

Sahara was about to swing off the leather seat and put Operation Sexy Red Dress into action when a particularly painful nightmare of hers came true. The doors of the little bar swung open and Carson himself staggered out, drunk. Simultaneously he was illuminated by the headlights of a very sleek black Jaguar turning the corner into the long parking lot. A silver stripe accented its side. There was only one car in the world like that.


Instantly she revved the motorcycle up again and backed out of the parking space. There was a decent distance between the geek and the Jaguar, but the gap wasn't so huge that it couldn't be closed in fifteen seconds, with that car. Sahara shot forward, thankful it was probably too dark for them to shoot him. She knew, of course, that there were other ways to attempt murder in such a situation.

Sure enough, the Jag gave a screech and lurched toward its target just as she stopped her bike beside the entrance. Fifteen seconds.

"Get on!" she yelled at him over the screeching tires of the Jaguar.

"Hello," Carson smiled at her, reeking of cheap tequila.

Twelve seconds.

She didn't have time to deal with this right now, curse this drunk computer nerd! Using the adrenaline rush that so often came to her while death was streaking closer at 80 mph, Sahara hauled Carson onto the back of the Harley. He gave a drunken grunt of pain – not surprising, considering the less than comfortable position he was in. But at least he was on the bike.

Four seconds.

Sahara slammed on the gas, her right hand fastened to Carson to prevent his falling off the seat while her left hand gripped the motorcycle's handle, effectively preventing her from falling off of it herself. The Jaguar smashed through the front doors of the bar exactly three seconds later. Inwardly, Sahara cringed. She'd been off by one second. That meant one of two things: either she was losing her touch, or they'd upgraded their little bat-mobile. Again. She seriously doubted that she was any less sharp than usual, which meant that getting away was going to be tougher than she'd anticipated.


Behind her, the drunk computer geek groaned and she turned to look at him. His hand was knotted in his hair - apparently he was trying to stifle a headache. Pathetic. Well, he couldn't ride like that all the way to the nearest NTDA safe house. Ignoring his half-understandable, slurred and mumbled questions, Sahara helped her new charge to sit up straight and proceeded to latch a helmet onto his head. Then, because he obviously couldn't be trusted to hang on himself, she belted him to her around the middle. Unbelievably, he dropped his head onto her shoulder and fell asleep instantly. What did she look like, a pillow? How much tequila had this moron drunk? But Sahara was forced to postpone her disgust because at that moment the Jaguar began rolling backwards out of the rubble of the smashed bar. Curse it all, that should have taken another minute and forty seconds. Damned upgrades.

Without wasting another precious moment she took off, but she knew it was too late. They'd seen her, and it was going to take more than a quick disappearance into darkness to throw off whatever new radar they'd installed in that ridiculously hi-tech car. Predictably, in the side mirror she saw the gleaming silver stripe turn in her direction. She sped over a bump and Carson Morgan's helmet clunked lightly against hers. Sahara clenched the bike handles and took a deep breath.

It was going to be a long night.