Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
The brass bed was an island in darkness, picking up the faintest sources of light in the loft. Kiddo lay on her stomach, her pale skin near as white as the sheets. Without her arms you could see the nerve sockets and myomer plugs implanted around her shoulders and an anchor joint bonded to her scapula. The pillow beside her was empty and the sheets disheveled when Enzo came to her side, dressed for work.
“Babe?” he asked rocking her lightly. “Babe?”
“I gotta go in early.”
She sat up on her own, moving her naked legs over the edge of the bed. Enzo was ready with her arms sitting in a padded case beside his knee. He started with the right and linked it to Kiddo’s anchor with a prang. Each of the six clamps around the deltoid of the arm had either a nerve pin or myomer link. The links connected to the Flesh muscle to enable movement while the pins interfaced with the nervous system for control and power.
The clamps twitched while Enzo aligned the pins and links with the sockets and plugs in Kiddo’s skin. She bit her lower lip as he rotated the arm into place. From back to front the clamps came down on their respective ports. An electric grinding sounded from the arm and Kiddo tensed up with a groan, her fingers twitching like the legs of a dying spider. It ended as fast as it started and Kiddo relaxed with an exhale. She made a couple fists, the mod’s feedback on point.
“We should invest in non-invasive,” said Enzo readying the left arm. “They run on batteries and all you need is an RC chip.”
“I’ll get used to it.”
“It’s been 8 years, babe–“
“–’Cause it takes a while,” she said with a tough grin. “And I’d rather save our money for Fr’isco than to spare me a little pain in the morning.”
Kiddo straightened up and prepared for the next arm. When it was secured and both mods were in synch, she pulled Enzo on top of her to the bed. He had to get up, but didn’t try hard enough to get away.
“I love you,” she said between kisses.
“Love you too,” he said, feeling her grip loosen.
Kiddo watched him exit out the front door, letting in the dull light from the hallway.
“I’ll see you at lunch,” he called out before darkness returned to the loft.
It was a full three hours before Kiddo decided to get up. Wearing only a thong she stood by the end of a counter in the kitchen at the corner of the loft with her hand on a switch. With a turn of a knob the blinds covering the whole wall opened halfway, letting in the 9AM sun in thick stripes. Of course, it wasn’t much with overcast filtering the light.
The TV on the other side of the loft in the living room played the latest from a pair of painted up news anchors as Kiddo reached into the fridge. As she gulped down a bottle of chocolate flavored meta-milk they described a slew of world events and scandals like it was something special. Nuclear exchanges in Kashmir, another mass grave found in the United States of Mexico, and new Libertaire skirmishes against the Corporatist Europe Bloc.
Kiddo brushed her teeth at a sink situated on the back wall. Behind her was a freestanding tub with a little a drawer set and towels. She had to wear plastic gloves to keep water out of her hands, one of many flaws in cheap mods. After putting on her usual attire of jeans and crimson pea coat Kiddo made for the front door, cap and glasses in hand as her knife swung from her belt.
Dying bulbs on the walls lit the hall when she stepped out. After locking the door Kiddo walked to the elevator one door over. It opened the second she hit the button. On the other side stood a ginger in a sundress and denim jacket with a stack of books in hand.
“Morning, Miss Volk,” she said.
“Hey, Sally.” Kiddo came in beside her before the doors shut. “How’s your mom?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t know. She’s been out and about everyday since the operation.”
“Must be real happy she can walk again.”
“Yeah. I might have to go back to Portland now that she doesn’t need me anymore.”
The elevator stopped with a ring and opened to the lobby. The floor was tiled with molding around the corners and a wall of bronze mailboxes.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” said Kiddo keeping to Sally’s side as they walked to the front door. “Parents like having their kids around when they get old and ugly. At least, that’s what movies tell me.”
“Maybe,” she said as they came out onto the sidewalk.
Kiddo put on her cap.
“Do good in school, Sally,” she said before putting on her glasses.
“Thank you, ma’am. See you later.”
They parted ways in opposite directions, Kiddo stuffing her gloved hands in her coat pockets.
It was too early for Le Speak to prep for the night. For now it was a lounge for Gori soldiers and package boys waiting for orders. They congregated at the bar eating breakfast from foam boxes, each one of them with a wax coffee cup from the same joint. Lotch was behind the bar checking and cleaning glasses with a rag.
“Y’know,” said one Gori, “ya gonna spread whatever y’wipin’ from one glass to another usin’ the same rag.”
“Are you a bartender, Donny?” asked Lotch gesturing him with his mod hand holding the rag. “Could use some help tonight if you’re not too busy.”
“I’m just sayin’ that aint doin’ the glass much good or the customers that’ll be puttin’ their mouths on it.”
“Try working the dishwasher at a pizzeria and then tell me if this is sanitary.”
Kiddo came through the doors and made for a spot at the middle of the bar.
“Morning, Pinkerton,” said Lotch, the Goris giving their own greetings after.
“Hey, guys,” she replied taking her seat. ”Cici in?”
“Should be,” said Lotch.
“Door was shut when I got here,” added Donny.
“It’s always–“ before another Gori could finish his sentence, the office door burst open.
The whole bar turned to Takashi running out of the room with a thick book following him through the air. It wasn’t fast enough, hitting the floor with a thump. He faced the open threshold as Cicero staggered into view, looking all sorts of furious.
“What’d I say, Boss?” asked Takashi. “What’d I do?”
“It’s what ya didn’t do, ya mook!” answered Cicero walking toward him. “Do I look senile to you? Do I look beat?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Cicero turned to the bar.
“Boys, do I look old and stupid to ya?”
“Spry as a young man, Boss–”
“Ain’t aged a day–“
“Then tell me way Tak over here couldn’t friggin’ call me last night with some pertinent information?” asked Cicero.
The Goris and Kiddo were puzzled.
“Here’s my friggin’ cell,” he continued, pulling his phone out. “It’s always on loud so my bum ears can hear it and I always friggin’ answer!”
Takashi caught the phone after Cicero threw it at him.
“Mind cluing us in, Cici,” asked Kiddo.
When he turned to her his expression got serious. He gestured her to follow as he returned to the office, Takashi coming in behind Kiddo. Inside they stood by while Cicero locked the door.
“Something tells me this is Barney,” she said.
“For sure,” said Takashi.
“’Member that new girl we sent to the hackers yesterday morning?” asked Cicero to Kiddo.
“Mitty got an alert on some Yaks the coppers’re surveillin’ and she was on the other end of a call on a bugged phone line.”
“He told Tak last night and he didn’t feel it was important enough to tell me after.”
“I get it,” said Tak. “I screwed up.”
“She working today?” asked Kiddo.
“It’s ‘er day off,” said Cicero, “which is a perfect time to pull her off the streets before she squeals.”
“She’s probably told the Yaks a lot–“
“–That aint the point, son! We get her outta the picture today. And whatever this stooly’s got on us, she’s got plenty on them. Nobody else knows about this except us and Mitty. We keep it confidential, she won’t find out from anyone else.”
“Want her live?” asked Kiddo.
“Exactly. Track her down, jump ‘er brain for information, and bring her to me wrapped up like a friggin’ Christmas present. Be gentle, Pinkerton. I mean it.”
“Won’t let you down, Boss.”
“Take Takashi with ya. He’s gonna help fix his mistake before it gets any worse.”
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.