Mitchell kept staring at the messed up face of the assassin; or, more specifically, the way he didn’t seem at all bothered by the fact that he looked like an abomination above the neck. He was just sitting on Richard’s memory foam couch, quiet as a wall, eyes fixed on the holo-monitor showing a drama of some kind. A couple fighting over credits that were meant to help with someone’s medical care.
That he was a cyborg and so didn’t need to breathe was subtly unsettling enough, but his lack of concern for his appearance was blatantly disturbing for Mitchell.
“Aren’t you going to fix it?” Mitchell asked, unable to take it anymore.
“Because we’re going to have to leave here as soon as Nothing is in shape to move. It’ll draw attention.”
“In Virusalem?” his face contorted to the very unsettling imitation of a smile, “You have to be joking.”
Mitchell held back a shudder, “With Nothing by our side, yeah.”
“I’m more worried about your lack of two arms. War injury?”
“Scatter mine. Lucky I made it out.”
The assassin whistled, “Not many do.”
“Occupational hazard.” The assassin shrugged, “It makes sense not to have much flesh when you are in my line of work.”
A moment of silence. The couple were done shouting. The woman was crying. The man was trying to console her.
“You know,” the assassin said, his voice still in perfect monotone, “There is nothing keeping me from going down there and cutting out the memory drive.”
Mitchell smiled and leaned back. Soon he’d have to slot the last stim.
“Yeah, you probably could.” He said, “I think I’d be able to stall you, maybe get a limb or two but in the end…”
The assassin gave Mitchell a slight nod. Mitchell thought about it. The scene ended, shifting to a court room. Then it clicked in his head.
“You can’t risk a possible dead man format, can you?” Mitchell said.
“No. I can’t.”
Mitchell tried to cross his arms, but then remembered that he didn’t have his left one attached, “Which corporation?”
“You know I can’t discuss my clients with you.”
“I just want to hear it from you. We’re going to find out as soon as we get to Frank No-R anyway. I want an idea as to what we’ll be up against if we fuck this up.”
“We’re not going to. We…”
Richard’s appearance in the kitchen prompted them both to rise to their feet. He looked a bit tired as she shuffled to his fridge and took out what Mitchell recognized to be a stimmix. They waited for him to take a few sips and lick his lips.
“Well?” Mitchell asked.
“He’ll make it.” Richard said, “It’s just going to take a while.”
“How long?” the assassin asked.
“Four-five hours, at least.” Richard replied, “I don’t have access to the fancy nanotech they have midtown proper. It’s going to take that long for the internal injuries to heal. It’s going to take another two or three to get him functional again.”
“Seven to eight hours.” Mitchell huffed in frustration, “Great, and while…”
Frank No-R calling. Frank No-R calling. Frank No-R calling.
“Not as much as you are about to. You’ve got to get out of there, right now. Haruka-gumi just put a termination order out on you. Their oyabun is dead, but I couldn’t stop him from giving the order.”
“Problem?” the assassin asked.
“You can say that, look, Frank – Nothing is downstairs, getting patched up. Can we move him?” Richard shook his head, “We can’t exactly move him without transport, and even if we could, I’m not risking going out there with the rest of whoever is on us. I can’t bring him to you unless you can ensure safe passage.”
“It’ll take time we don’t have.”
“We could…” Mitchell scratched his head, “…can’t we just give them a copy of whatever the hell we’ve been trying to get one goddamn sector over to you?”
“It’s not about that anymore. Haruka-gumi is done far as everything else is concerned, but that’s not going to stop them from getting to you. From what Looking Glass tells me, they’re already out looking and they are getting close.”
“Fine. Only thing: double, plus maintenance. I got my arm destroyed, need a new one.”
“Are you seriously going to-“
“Done. Just get him here, in one piece, tonight.”
“Can you at least get the Bratva off my ass? I can’t deal with both them and the Yakuza.”
“Consider it done.”
Mitchell clicked his comm-link closed. He ran a hand through his hair. The assassin and Rich were both looking at him, expectant. He thought about it. With the remainder of his duffel bag’s contents and the assassin, he could conceivably make his way to Frank No-R… if it was just the two of them, that is.
“Alright,” Mitchell said, “That was No-R. He’s my client,” he glared at the assassin, who didn’t react, “He can get you out of Virusalem, with your cargo. So long as I make my own delivery. So the only way out, for both of us, is for you to help me and for us to get disorientation boy down there to Tech No-R in one piece.”
“No way,” Richard said, “You can’t move him, not the state that he’s in…”
“That will be difficult, but it’s not impossible.” The assassin said, “Especially since we have the means.”
Mitchell raised an eyebrow. “We do?”
The assassin’s lips curled up into an even wider, even more distorted imitation of a smile. When he emitted what Mitchell was sure passed muster for a chuckle, he suddenly found that he preferred the man when he was an emotionless mannequin.
“Yes.” The assassin said, “We definitely do.”
Thank you for reading!
Below you can find a glossary of terms for clarity purposes. Above that, you will find the previous entries.
This is the first time I am doing the A to Z Challenge – I tried last year, but couldn’t get the A off the ground, let alone continue. This year, I came with a bit more preparation, and am hoping to make it to the end in one piece. Well, okay, making it to the end – one piece is optional.
Suck out means, according to my handy glossary, “in poker, to continue to play a poor hand that really should be folded, then receive a favorable card on the turn or river and win the pot.” Wink wink.
A is for Ante
B is for Blood
C is for Cut
D is for Dummy
E is for Exit Card
F is for Follow Suit
G is for Grand Slam
H is for Heading a Trick
I is for Incorrect Deck
J is for Joker
K is for Kill
L is for Left Bower
M is for Marked Card
N is for Natural
O is for Overtrump
P is for Pot Limit
Q is for Quads
R is for Real Deal
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Dead man format: Similar to a dead man switch, some memory drives are rigged to format the moment the owner experiences death. Dead man formats can be rigged to many different types of cessation, the most common being flat lines, the duration of which before the format is triggered being adjustable.
“Midtown proper”: Virusalem is still technically a part of the sprawl of Europa, the urban sprawl encompassing the entirety of the European continent (and the edge of the Asian one.) Here, Richard is referring to the “midtown” of Europa, not midtown Virusalem.
Scatter mine: A type of area-of-effect explosive. It’s a pressure mine triggered as a regular one would, but when triggered, it launches a grenade filled with smaller, insulated charges. Upon detonation, the insulation on the smaller charges give them a second’s delay before melting and triggering their explosions. The result is a large area being showered with smaller explosives, which usually dispense shrapnel.