Cruising across the northern land bridge with a zombie army of motorcycles (well, okay, they weren’t zombies, but that would’ve completed the image) thundering on either side of her, Lexi felt like she was on top of the world, to coin a phrase. The water on both sides of the bridge stretched to the horizon, and the air was perfect, salty with a hint of exhaust like a seaside Grand Prix.
The bikes surged around her, flowing forward and back as if she was in a school of fish. Harold was somewhere ahead of her, lost in the stream of motorcycles. Lexi rolled her head on her shoulders. She was getting seriously worn; she’d need a nap before the sun went down, or things would get completely horrible. As it was, her eyes were sketching lightly back and forth and she couldn’t make them stop. She started singing to herself, to stay alert enough that she didn’t wander out of her lane and run over a motorcycle. Given Coquette’s size it didn’t seem like that would do much damage though; the biggest Gold Wings probably carried more cargo and had bigger engines than the Alfa did.
As they reached the far end of the bridge the salt desert resumed. There was no city or port at this end, just featureless salt and a few scattered cop cars, with mirages swirling like mountains on the horizon. The map said there were mountains out there, but they were over fifty miles away and she couldn’t possibly be seeing them.
The police had lined either side of the road but hadn’t blocked it completely off. They wouldn’t be able to deploy Stingers or caltrops without hitting the bikes, either.
They were running about seventy across the bridge; as they left it, everyone picked up to about eighty. The spaces between the bikes widened, but not enough to admit the police cars that dropped in to pace them. Lexi only counted five cop cars (and one helicopter) so there weren’t nearly enough to do more than harass the mass of bikes surrounding the cars. It occurred to her for the first time that they had probably left much of Ile du Soleil’s police force behind them, since there wasn’t a country-wide highway patrol. Cool.
She expected the majority of the bikes to peel off once they were in the desert, since the only close city was Arram to the west, but their escort didn’t shrink much, even as the cops got more aggressive. Farther ahead, Lexi saw Harold take an exit back onto L131, the road he’d followed up the coast. L131 went through Arram, too, but Lexi didn’t follow him. As long as the police were spread thin, they might as well make them split their forces even further. Trying to count the cop cars stimulated her brain, so she watched the mirrors and determined that three of the police cars had followed Harold. About half of the bikes had, too, of course. That left two cops with her, both of them in BMWs, and the helicopter overhead had stuck with Coquette as well.
“Perfectly excellent,” Lexi said. She began passing motorcycles. They’d done enough for her, and it was time to let them know they could drop back before someone else got hurt on her account. She was tired, but she could handle two cop cars and a helicopter.
If nothing else, Lexi Crane knew her limits. She threw herself into running Coquette as hard as she dared, until the wind was singing around the car and the engine shrieking in delicious fury. The desert spooled away underneath her, and the police BMWs stuck with also. It didn’t seem like fifty-odd miles, but soon enough they were in the foothills, and the air was getting cooler. That was a relief; her nose was raw and hot. A few of the bikes had stuck with her all the way across the desert, too, and the Harleys blatted noisily along, a few ahead of her, a few behind, and many more strung out along the freeway.
L7 began to twist and snake back and forth as they entered the mountains; Lexi and her Alfa enjoyed the variety. She was losing a bit of power on the long upgrades, but driving like a maniac was enough to make up for the BMW’s longer legs. One of them, anyway. One of the cops dropped back, while the other managed to stick with her and even harassed her though a few turns. He got close enough to butt Coquette if he wanted to, although he didn’t. All that did was make the chase more tingly, of course, and Lexi was lost in the joy of being pursued. She still didn’t know why she liked it so much, and right now there wasn’t time to ruminate.
The mountains were dispatched in a series of turns taken at or near the limit (and over it once; she came within a squeak of skidding into a guardrail that almost certainly would have dumped her into some rocky chasm when it gave way) and then she was headed back down. The police BMW was still with her; the second one was long gone.
It was then that she noticed Colby’s bulk in the passenger seat. “Fake cops!” she cried, and dropped a gear. Getting away from the big BMW wasn’t going to happen, though; Coquette didn’t have the power. And it looked like someone other than the second Barbarian Brother was driving this time. Judging by his performance through the mountains he knew what he was doing. That wasn’t any good at all.
There was an exit ramp ahead; “Pimpton, 3mi,” it said. The cop car put on a burst of speed and came up beside her, intent perhaps on forcing her off the road. With no more of the Harley people around, there was no way she was letting these guys who’d already tried to kill her twice get her out of the car. Lexi dove down the off-ramp and headed for Pimpton. She even found a few seconds to find the town’s name hilarious, and her sudden cackle was incongruous to the fear in her belly.