Drum climbed two flights of stairs and put the shopping bags down next to a door that opened onto the deck. Compelled by a feeling that was part premonition and part déjà vu, he then loaded his pockets with as many items as he could. He also carried one item in his hand. As he opened the door it clicked and squeaked, drawing the attention of the eleven heavily armed pirates standing right in front of him. These were no ordinary pirates; Drum recognised them immediately as the members of Neon Cyborg’s arch-rival band, Fluorescent Android. Fluorescent Android was famous for being the eighties-influenced rock group that was almost—but never quite—as good as Neon Cyborg. The two bands’ musical styles were remarkably similar, and many music industry insiders believed a great friendship might have developed between the groups had not the members of Fluorescent Android been outspoken advocates of child slavery.
Randy Van Funk, the band’s lead singer (and, apparently, lead pirate), pointed at Drum and yelled, “Stop him!”
Keyboardist Chaz Daniels spun round and trained his M16 on Drum, who then slammed the door, turned and fled. In his blind panic, a deep instinct took over and guided him back down a flight of stairs, along a corridor, through two rooms of high-tech computer equipment, and down another flight of stairs. He stopped and waited around a corner. Sweat began rolling down his face. He could feel his heart beating double time. A minute later, at the top of the stairs a door clicked open, followed by the sound of footsteps and whispers. Two men. Back and forward, then a pause. Drum tried to silence his heavy breathing. He farted. Nothing earth-shaking—just a short trill, but it was enough. The footsteps descended the stairs. In that moment, to Drum’s surprise, his heart receded to a gentle waltz, and his breathing slowed and steadied. He noticed for the first time that the item in his hand was a D5K Deutsche machine gun fitted with a silencer. Taking a side-on stance, he spread his feet for balance and crouched a little, raising the butt of the weapon to his shoulder. The footsteps neared. Drum suddenly realised the source of his déjà vu: this part of the cargo ship was an exact replica of the frigate in level seven of the Nintendo 64 game, Goldeneye 007.
Chaz Daniels crept around the corner with a jittery grip on his gun. Chack! A blast of red goo—formerly part of Chaz’s head— plastered the wall behind him. He fell to the floor. Drum remained still, his finger poised again on the trigger. Fluorescent Android’s rhythm guitarist, Guy Kiln, rushed around the corner, shrieking curses and spraying bullets from a pair of Uzis. His Beserker charge lasted all of two seconds as Drum plugged him twice in the chest and once in the neck. Kiln dropped his guns and Drum stepped out from the shadows. Kiln slumped to his knees as he gripped his throat, trying to hold onto the life spurting away between his fingers. Drum pressed the barrel of his D5K against Kiln’s chest and held down the trigger. Kiln shuddered violently on the floor until the magazine was emptied.
Two pirates lay dead. Drum looked down on their perforated corpses with disdain.
“Two down,” he said. He reloaded the gun and turned his glare up the stairs. “Nine to go.”
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