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Tag: Cyberpunk

Burned in

Life in between the margins of the different habs was difficult on the regular, but Chum, you don’t know the halfs of it.

If you weren’t ‘Corp, you weren’t a citizen and if you weren’t a citizen, ANYONE could take a strip off you and the rent-a-guards would look the other way, because no one was giving them the money to care.

So I worked twice as hard some days just to look like one of those well-fed Corpos so at least I could avoid randomly being shot or stabbed by another Corpo for kicks. At this point I’d saved enough credit to get myself a nice hole in a dry wall on between the two biggest, warmest Habs in town. I’d forgotten which Corp I was supposed to be calling home by that time and took to wearing the colors of both, so as to confuse the more aggressive ones.

The Day to Day was always the same, roll out when the sun vanished from sight, put up a pin on the map and tell those that wanted my work where I was setting up shop that night. A Smith comes, pays some creds, I fiddle something for them, they leave. I live another day. Do that three times in a night and I’m good for the week. I’d been doing 4 a night for weeks and even my deck was beginning to wonder what would burn out first, my uplink or my brain.

A typical smith wandered into the “Heat and Eat” I’d set up shop in that night, sat far from me at first, checking me over with a not-so-subtle scan that triggered a few alarms both on me and the checkout. Not typical then.

At that point 2 more heavies walked in, looking at everyone but only seeing me. They sat on either side of me and I had a moment to guess what was coming, they looked Sov-Grown (same seed, random) they could have been Sov-Gov and that would be trouble for both of us.

The Smith stood up, smoothed his improbably hard to describe black suit and sat across from me.

“Comrade, your service is needed to find a girl.”

He placed a readable data stick on the table and gestured to me, I read it with a portable and translated it from Sov-Gov to English. Standard missing child, looks like a Moscow-Metro Snatch and Sell.

“Do you have an approximate location?” I didn’t look any of them in the eye.

“All of everything is in that Dossier, my friend. There’s no clock on this tonight, but if you can turn her up today, there’s a wildly indulgent tip here for you.”

The Heavy on my Left produced an onyx credit card with a “balance carry” logo on it. Essentially a bank on a card. Minimum balances being in numbers large enough to buy a luxury cardboard life.

I had already eliminated most of AsiaPac/SovCits/Alba/UK/AusNet/SudAmerica by the time the credit had hit the table. I was warm already, which was nice. I had long since tuned up my search systems to work on the quiet and my storage was humming with deltas of datasets from every major clearinghouse on earth. If it was text, I could find it in a moment, audio almost as fast. Video was a problem, due to permutations. It’d take me whole minutes sometimes.

Finding a living person in the real world, it was trickier.

Finding a person is like catching a bug in flight, you can see the bug, you can track it, but when you go to move, it moves too and sometimes all you catch is the place it’s been. Smith wanted the Bug, not where the Bug had been.

I hit Green for her location after 2 hours. I’d breached a Security Camera setup at a facility in Warm Hab number 2, to my back. She was less than 14 kilometers from where I sat.

“Here” I had printed all I had on a card and handed it to him, he scanned it with his portable, called out and nodded to the heavies. The Credits hit my hand and they were out the door.

I took the cash and flushed it into a bunch of different accounts, turning it into various coins and creds in dozens of accounts and investments, clearing a few debts and setting myself up in a luxury flop stitched onto the outside of Warm Hab 1. It wasn’t inside, but at least it was above the alleys.

The good thing about money is it buys you security, and for me that meant an old Habber sitting watching my door and calling me at 3:00PM telling me I was about to get a rapid wake-up.

The Door to the Flop busted in and the two heavies from the night before flooded into my place with a dozen SovGov cops in tow. I watched this from a video feed as I deeked out of the Flop and into the open air between the two Habs and sailing headlong into the waiting crush of gravity and trash in a swan dive away from danger.

I turned, looking back at my flop as the security kicked in and the whole unit unfolded from the assembly and disintegrated like it was never there. Good Security in luxury cardboard, I say.

The SovGovs and Heavies fell into the alley and I was missed, but I was burned. Clearly.

I crawled out of the trash, checked over my gear and found nothing that mattered was broken. I set up a search for anything related to last nights work and found my way to a quiet and out of sight place for breakfast where I could watch the doors for new friends.

I had been Burned to the ground. Looks like the Lost Girl was a local Pop Star and no one was happy to see her in the hands of Smith, but the SovGov didn’t want any loose ends, and I was loose, man.