“Credit access will cease in thirty second,’ said the hotel patiently. ‘Please key in your DNA signature now.’
‘Mr. Kovacs won’t be needing his reservation,’ said the man behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder. ‘Come on, Kovacs, we’re going for a ride.’
‘I cannot assume host prerogatives without payment,’ said the woman on the screen.
Something in the tone of that phrase stopped me as I was turning, and on impulse I forced out a sudden, racking cough.
Bending forward with the force of the cough, I raised a hand to my mouth and licked my thumb.
‘The fuck are you playing at, Kovacs?’
I straightened again and snapped my hand out to the keypad beside the screen. Traces of spittle smeared over the matte black receiver. A split second later a calloused palm edge cracked into the left side of my skull and I collapsed to my hands and knees on the floor. A boot lashed into my face and I went the rest of the way down.
‘Thank you sir.’ I heard the voice of the hotel through a roaring in my head. ‘Your account is being processed.’
I tried to get up and got a second boot in the ribs for the trouble. Blood dripped from my nose onto the carpet. The barrel of the gun ground into my neck.
‘That wasn’t smart, Kovacs.’ The voice was marginally less calm. ‘If you think the cops are going to trace us where you’re going, then the stack must have fucked your brain. Now get up!’
He was pulling me to my feet when the thunder cut loose.
Why someone had seen fit to equip the Hendrix’s security systems with twenty-millimetre automatic cannon was beyond me, but they did the job with devastating totality. Out of the corner of one eye I glimpsed the twin-mounted autoturret come snaking down from the ceiling just a moment before it channeled a three-second burst of fire through my primary assailant. Enough firepower to bring down a small aircraft. The noise was deafening.