Neon Oldie #11

Cover11

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

Packed in like sardines you could cut the tension with a knife and sell the slices for a quarter an ounce. Takashi wore a headset as he drove the hov-car through a cloud. On the windshield vector graphics outlined his flight path and marked passing vehicles in the distance. Farther out it highlighted an oncoming rainstorm and buildings, the proximity scale counting down as he flew closer.

It’s stressful enough flying in Seattle weather, but Takashi had a whole lot more on his mind than safe driving. He couldn’t focus while sat next to an experienced enforcer itching to take his head. Kiddo didn’t look it with her cap and glasses, but he knew; he’d be stupid to think she was just swell after last night. He knew he had to say something.

“I didn’t wanna do it, okay? They didn’t give me an out. It was him or me.”

“If you gave a damn,” she said without turning from the windshield, “you’d given it up.”

“I’m not a friggin’ samurai, Volk. This is real life. Real odds. Real consequences. They would’ve wiped us out if I didn’t cooperate. It’s like you said, you don’t play nice with savages; you be more savage.”

“I didn’t mean to your own people… your own boss. Makes you less than a savage. You’re garbage.”

Takashi sneered.

“Then why don’t you take out the trash? Huh? I lost enough face to earn me a spot beside Judas, Brutus, and all the other famous traitors. Yeah, I’m going straight to Hell, but I’m still breathing. I’m still kicking it like nothing happened. If you’re so much more loyal, more honorable than me, go ahead and do it. I dare you, Volk… You won’t lay another hand on me because you agree. This is real life with real odds and real consequences. Take my head and you lose that precious income. Raising a kid comes with a whole lot of expenditures. Most people are too scared of how much it costs to make babies. Only reason you’re doing it is ‘cause you can afford it…. But by all means; wanna kill me, now’s your chance.”

Takashi took his eyes off the road to see if she’d make a move. Nearly a whole minute she didn’t twitch, not one inch before he turned back.

“Yeah. That’s what I thought.”

What he didn’t see was her fist closed around her sword on the other side of the seat. Her hand shook, but not enough that the servos whined in reply.

 

When China started eating it’s guts after 70 years of peace, a lot of Japs set up shop on the West Coast. The fighting was separated by miles of saltwater, but it scared a good handful of expats and local businesses out of the home islands. America got a massive taste of the Nippon soon after, bringing over their customs, food, and gangs. For corporations that made the move, they had enough money to change the skyline of cities like Seattle.

The Kyrii Engineering tower was a perfect combination of glass and concrete. Sharp ridges and steep angles ran up the sides like spines, bending the late morning light onto itself. The broad sides of the tower faced the Puget Sound to the west and Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest in the east. The bottom third was a parking structure of dull concrete. Just below the tower proper were conveyer platforms extended outward, wide enough for a midsize hov-car.

Takashi followed the blinking lights to one platform as he came in slow. He lined himself according to the lines below and landed with a lurch, the thrusters kicking up dust before they went cold. The conveyer hummed to life and pulled the hov-car into the parking structure.

The interior was round and sectioned off into floors. It took up half the total structure, the bottom made for ground cars. In the center was a rotating arm with a wide wedge between two hydraulic clamps. Once Takashi and Kiddo got out the arm turned to their car. They moved to the right side before the wedge slid under and the clamps closed in snuggly around the vehicle. The arm retracted and lowered into the depths of the structure for an open parking space.

Between two empty platforms sat an elevator encased in concrete where stood Monty with a pair of Bots, your average humanoid automatons. They were naked without plating, showing off black myomer cells and servos attached to polished steel armature. All they had in the way of coverage was a yellow mempo mask and a basic red polymer head chassis. On their hips were telescopic batons where a steady hand rested, ready to be drawn on command.

The Bots’ movements were in synch and totally uniform, keeping the same distance and in step with each as they followed Monty at his rear flanks. They stopped when he met Kiddo and Takashi, his eyes fixed on the latter.

“I knew it.”

“What?” asked Takashi.

Monty dug into his suit jacket and tossed Takashi a black clip-on tie.

“Think this is a videogame? I expect flappers to dress like idiots, but you’re beyond the pale, Sterling. Put it on and try to look professional for once in your life.”

As Takashi turned down his collar, Monty looked to Kiddo.

“I said no weapons.”

“I was just about to say–“

“–Waited the whole flight over, eh Sterling?”

“C’mon, man–”

“–Shut-up.” Monty snapped his fingers and pointed at Takashi. “Sachi.”

The Bots turned their glossy camera eyes to Takashi before he spread his arms and legs. As they patted him down with their skeletal hands, Monty came face to face with Kiddo. He held a hand out and received her sword, his long fingers rotating and turning it over.

“Not a bad conversion,” he said.

“Any idiot can turn an Allen wrench,” she said.

“True, but nothing beats the real thing.”

“It’s just metal with an edge. What matters is how you use it.”

Monty smiled.

“That’s what they all say. What use is talk if you can’t back it up?”

He stared down at himself in the obsidian tint of her glasses. Kiddo took them off so they could have a proper conversation. Not long after the Bots stepped away from Takashi and faced Monty.

“Search complete,” said one in a metallic voice. “Subject clear.”

Neither broke eye contact when Monty returned Kiddo’s sword and did an about-face to the elevator.

“’Ey, that’s not a good idea, Monty,” said Takashi as the Bots followed. “I’m serious–“

“–And I’m serious when I say if you two screw up this meeting, I’ll need an armed opponent.” He tapped the call button while Takashi and Kiddo caught up. “No hats or shoes in the conference room.”

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
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.

Advertisements

Neon Oldie #10

Cover10

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The echo in the alley made her labored breath sound mechanical, like the noise was fed through a mixer, and looped in a song. Kiddo supported herself on her knees, eyes to the ground. What remained of her gloves held on to her cracked fingers in tatters. When she reached to wipe sweat hanging on her brow, her hand was locked in a claw still holding her knee. The joints whined and the broken plastic plating scratched her skin.

Kiddo pulled her hand away and saw the exposed pulleys that allowed her fingers to move. The hand itself wasn’t overly damage, but the cosmetics were ruined. On the ground she saw bits of ivory plastic scattered by the wall she’d boxed seconds ago. Kiddo’s face scrunched into a grimace before giving her self a hard slap. The next strike to her left was harder and louder, leaving behind a pink handprint. Her lip quivered.

Suka.” She sniveled. “Suka!

She gave herself a few more, trading up to punches with weak fists. It was all her hands could manage.

Suka! Suka! Suka!

The last one nearly knocked Kiddo off her feet. She grabbed a dumpster on the side to stay up, her face red with crimson scratches on her cheeks.

“You coward,” she whispered before standing straight. Kiddo pulled the edge of her coat and wiped down her front side, trying to look as together as possible. “You coward.”

After picking up her cap she left the alley, taking it slow.

 

Enzo turned in bed to the door when Kiddo entered. She quickly closed and locked it so he wouldn’t see her face.

“Sorry I’m late.”

He crawled to the left edge of the bed to meet her, coming to his knees. He didn’t say a word and gave her a long kiss.

“You hungry?”

“No,” she said letting her coat fall to the floor. “I wanna go to bed.”

“Not before you have a bath,” he said kissing her neck and slipping a hand up under her shirt.

She was too distracted to stop Enzo from turning on the light atop the nightstand.

“Oh my god, babe!”

Kiddo tried to cover her face.

“I’m okay–“

He grabbed her hands and looked at them closely.

“Were you in a fight? The plating’s destroyed and the joints are seized up.”

“I- yeah. I got into a scrape. I can still move ‘em.”

The whine of servos said otherwise and Enzo gave her a puppy-dog look. Kiddo turned her guilty face away before he got out of bed and picked her up like a baby. He was naked, his Android body traced with skin-deep lines around the shoulders, chest, hips, and neck.

“No. Please.”

He just smiled and carried her to the tub.

 

Kiddo didn’t have her arms as Enzo dabbed a cotton ball to her cuts. She winced as the disinfectant did its job before he applied a thin white bandage. Half her face was mended while he finished the other. He knelt on the outside of the tub with a first aid kit at his knee as she lay in soapy water.

“Did this guy have glass shards glued to his fists or something?” he asked.

“…No.”

“Probably just your sensitive skin. It’s not as awful as it looks. Swelling won’t be too bad. What’d this guy do?”

“Piss me off.”

Enzo chuckled.

“Not hard to imagine what he looks like, given what happened to your fingers. Should take me an hour to fix.”

“No, babe. You have work in the morning.”

“It’s nothing. I can take care of it after I put you to bed.”

“Please don’t. I’ll manage. I can wear the Cs instead.”

He just smiled and added another bandage.

“If you had a permit, then you could wear the Model Cs.”

After mending the last cut Enzo approached his workbench where his bag sat.

“Wanna take a look the top three?”

Kiddo grimaced to fight the urge to cry.

“Sure.”

He returned with the tablet and knelt behind her, holding it in front. She was thankful he couldn’t see her face.

“See? All blonde and blue-eyed like we want, but only the last guy is willing to sit down and meet. You’re a better judge of character than me. What do you think?”

It felt like they were staring at her. Of course, they kind of were given the way their pictures were shot, but Kiddo could feel those static eyes judging her. They didn’t have to say a word to tell her the same thing she’d been thinking since leaving Le Speak with that wad of cash in her pocket. Tears slipped down her cheeks.

“They’re perfect,” she said before burying her face in his arm.

She didn’t bother to hide anymore, her sob muffled when Enzo put his arms around her.

“Aw, sweetheart–”

“–Cici’s gone.”

Suddenly he realized she wasn’t crying out of joy, pulling her to his shoulder. He let her get it most of it out before opening his mouth.

“Is that why you were all beat up?”

“A hitman plugged him in the club,” she said between snivels. “I chased him down before he got far and… And–“

“–It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere.” He stroked her hair. “What can I do?”

She got a hold of herself.

“…Take me to bed.”

 

After putting on her arms Kiddo lay in bed while Enzo stepped into his coveralls. The lamp at his workbench was still on, his tools and broken parts from her hands scattered about.

“I’m going to leave early,” he said zipping up, “and come by the club. We’ll go home together.”

She was too tired to refuse.

“Okay.”

After slipping into his sneakers Enzo sat on the side of the bed and took her hand, the broken polymer removed from certain sections of her fingers.

“Do you know when the funeral is?”

She shook her head.

“Might be working that out today. I don’t know.”

Enzo nodded and leaned in to kiss her. Kiddo made it last as long as she could, holding him close. He paused and rested his forehead on hers.

“Will you be okay?”

“…Yeah.” She gave him one for the road and let go. “I love you.”

Enzo half smiled.

“Love you too.”

Kiddo didn’t stay in bed once he left. With nothing on she went to her jeans and brought her knife to the workbench. Grabbing an Allen wrench from a set of small drawers she loosened one screw positioned on the narrow sides in the middle of the knife. The bottom half slipped away, revealing a cartridge holding a stack of thin, edged metal sheets inside. Kiddo set the cartridge to the side and reached into the bench’s main drawer.

Among random tools and spare parts sat a long cartridge. It added about seven inches to the knife for a total of ten. The long cartridge was fashioned into the hilt of a katana with a tsukamaki wrap in hard textured rubber. Kiddo took the cartridge and screwed it in place, turning her knife into a sword.

By the time she hung it to her belt it was hours past dawn. Dressed in her usual attire she descended the stoop outside, fresh bandages on her face and gloves to cover her fractured hands. Under her sunglasses she stared at Takashi standing by his hov-car at the bottom in a casual sharkskin suit with a red shirt, collar popped. His blue eye mod was switched to red to match his getup.

Kiddo stopped a few steps from the sidewalk and watched him shake in his shoes.

“Start the car.”

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
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.

Neon Oldie #9

Cover9

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The girl was rendered in three frames. The first started with a stand and a slightly raised knee, followed by a higher knee with her spiked heel out, and ending with her leg pointed to sky. Her dance blinked with every frame change in orange and red. Beneath her the real merchandise was on display. Against red curtains behind windows the women looked out onto the street, showing off as much skin as legally possible. They were Andies, Flesh, and Modded; every kind to fit any taste.

The hash parlor next door was bleached in green. Perched on balconies, grasshoppers took long pulls from hookahs and hand wrapped joints. The smoke drifting from their lazy maws was colored green by the sign bolted just below the roof. The rest of the street was lined with a garden variety of clubs and bars. There were the usual places mixed in with Goth ballrooms, oldies houses, Steampunk pubs, and pirate themed dives. They flashed their colors toward the packed sidewalks, painting the crowd in shades of neon.

Like I said: you had to wait till dark to see all the color.

Kiddo pushed her way through the drunks and oblivious hipsters, her face locked forward. Le Speak was painted in blue and white, the sign so big it lit the whole face of the building. The line waiting underneath was dressed up like flappers. They weren’t too authentic with designer prints and saturated colors fit for the modern aesthetic.

Takashi stood to the far right of the awning as a large Modded bouncer carded prospective patrons to the left. He was staring at the curb with a cigarette in hand, the paper nearly burned to the filter. Out of his peripheral he spotted Kiddo making her way his direction, the look in her eye like a spotlight in blackness. Takashi flicked the cigarette into the street and put himself in front of her.

“Pink,” he said with his palms out, “think real hard about–“

She walked past him like he wasn’t there, pivoting down the steps to the club beneath the awning. Kiddo almost knocked over a couple moving too slow before she reached the doors.

The kind of crowd that waited in line for hours to buy overpriced cocktails didn’t come to Le Speak for the typical nightclub experience. They couldn’t stand synthesizers, ear-bleeding bass, and pockets of young adults rubbing against each other on the dance floor. No. They came to Le Speak to sit at tall round tables under dim lights for the chaotic sax, bellowing trombone, and drums bashing out an incoherent tune.

The place had plenty of space for Kiddo to work her way to the office. Takashi caught up with her before she was ten feet away from the door.

“You gotta stop and think about what you’re about to do.”

“Already did.”

When she tried to walk around, he moved to block her.

“You’re gonna get more trouble than you can imagine, Pinkerton. The last thing you should do is jump to conclusions that Cici–“

Kiddo shoved him into the packed bar, making a patron spill on herself. Takashi was late on the recovery when she opened the door. Cicero was at his desk crunching the numbers in a book while glancing at a tablet. He looked up to Kiddo with a smile.

“Hey ya, Kiddo! Job done?”

“I don’t know, Boss,” she said taking the chair. “You tell me.”

One of Cicero’s sharp eyebrows went crooked before he put down his pen and closed the book. Takashi busted into the office, looking like he was expecting a scene from a horror movie.

“Tak,” said Cicero, “would you mind shutting the door and standing by? I get the feeling Pink’s got something on her mind.”

Takashi swallowed hard and closed the door on his way to Cicero’s rear flank.

“Okay. We’re all ears. How’d it go with the stooly?”

Kiddo leaned forward, resting her elbow on one knee and holding herself up on the other, her eyes daggers pointed square at Cicero’s.

“Someone got to her before me and put a hole in her face.”

Cicero didn’t move a muscle.

“Huh.”

“Yeah. Couldn’t get a single line of code from what was left.”

“That puts us in quite a pickle. Now the Yaks have god-knows-what on us and we’re left with our trousers round our ankles. I take it you wanna know who pasted her, right?”

“I have an inkling.”

“Would love to hear it.”

“…Okay,” she said grabbing her knife. “While I was tracking down the stooly, you cut a deal with the Shogun. Maybe you got scared about what that Andie broad was going to leak and decided to bend the knee. Only problem is you knew I’d kill half our own boys before I bowed to friggin’ Japs. So, you staged a murder to peg me for the fall guy to get snatched by the cops. My guess is you told Tak to plug her and lie to me over the phone.”

Takashi’s face turned scarlet.

“I didn’t–“

Cicero put up his hand to shut him up.

“Once I was outta the way,” she went on, “you and your new friends could move forward unchallenged. But here I am, Cici.”

“…And here you are, Pink.”

Cicero had a smirk on his face since she started talking. It bent into a small smile when he took off his glasses and interlocked his fingers on the desktop.

“’Member when we first met?”

She gave him a slow nod.

“I was checking on an arrival of pills at the docks from Nampo. The boys cracked open the box and out you came, biting at ‘em like a rabid dog. Somehow ya got in with the merch and survived the whole trip across the pond and put two of my people in the hospital. My first thought was to turn you over to the state an’ let ‘em deal with it, but when you looked at me, I knew I found someone special. Those wild blue eyes of yours lookin’ at me were like an epiphany from the Almighty.”

As he talked, Kiddo realized she’d done wrong.

“I had a use for a crazy Russo-Nork bitch like you. All ya needed was a bit of elbow grease. People called me nuts for how much I was spending on ya. Even this guy,” he said gesturing Takashi, “barely a hair on his sack at the time, was telling me you were a bad investment. But I took the time and money to sharpen you up into a proper Gorinni. I got ya good an’ clean, citizenship with a new name, and fresh arms right from the factory floor. That’s lot of dough to spend on one person in short period of time, more than I spend on my own kids, for Christ’ sake.

“Now let me ask you this: knowing how much I poured into making you my best bruiser, why would I throw that away to submit to the Yaks? Do you think I would ever make a deal with those jerks while I have the biggest chunk of the town in my pocket? Doesn’t make whole lot of sense, does it?”

Like flipping a switch she went humble, dropping the knife with bright red cheeks. Kiddo sat back in the chair, her eyes on the verge of spilling over.

“I-I…I–“

“–I forgive you, Kiddo. You were just following your instinct. That’s why I keep ya around.”

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

“But I came here to kill you.”

Cicero chuckled.

“Who hasn’t? The only difference is you bothered to say your piece and hear my side. You may be vicious, but ya got enough sense to think twice.”

Kiddo sniffled and returned her knife to her belt.

“I’m sorry, Cici. I’m so sorry.”

“No more apologies,” he said sitting up straight. “We gotta get to the bottom of this ASAP.”

She made a quick nod.

“Right. Okay.”

“Now, the only people who knew about our stooly problem was us. Is that right?” he asked looking to Takashi.

He replied with a nod as he unbuttoned his jacket.

“Yep.”

“There was that footie I sent to take over after I was relieved,” said Kiddo, “but I never told him what was going on. And we don’t give the lower ranks firearms.”

“Was he keeping track of who was coming in an’ outta that place?” asked Cicero.

Kiddo touched her chin then dug through her pocket for her phone.

“Let me get him on horn. See if he remembers–“

The spray was near burning hot when it splashed across her forehead. To cooled instantly, creeping down her furrowed brow as it slowly coagulated. The thump made Kiddo jump in her seat, but it was Cicero hitting the desktop that made her go statue. All she could see was his head lying on the desk, blood pooling atop the leather desk pad. Soon the whole picture came into view with Takashi holding a suppressed pistol where Cicero’s head used to be.

He broke the silence with a sigh.

“Wow. I really screwed this one up.”

He holstered the pistol into his jacket before daintily picking Cicero’s upper body off the desk.

Everything but her eyes struggled to catch up with her brain. Kiddo’s lips started to quiver when she found the strength to speak.

“What did you do?”

Takashi looked only a tad guilty when he glanced from his cleanup.

“It was me. I cut a deal with the Yaks in exchange for Cici’s life. They agreed to let us keep our territory and run our operations for a 10% cut. I killed the stooly to get you snatched by the cops so I could keep you outta the way until I saw fit. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”

Kiddo kept her gaze on the bloodstain before a blue handkerchief wiped it up in long strokes. It gave her time to focus on him.

“When you escaped the guys Mitty sent over, I thought I could exploit that Pinkerton rage. Over the phone it sounded like you thought Cici put together the frame and were out for his blood. Seemed like I was on to something until he had you near bawling like a baby.”

The only sounds she made came from whining servos as she held a pair of tight fists and a squeak of her gloves reaching their breaking point.

“Usually some of the best outcomes come from botched jobs,” said Takashi taking Cicero’s seat. “I was gonna ask you when you were behind bars, but I don’t have much a choice. I need a good right-hand-gal to help deal with whatever comes up. Someone who knows their stuff; preferably someone I know can get the job done no matter what. How ‘bout it, Kiddo? Wanna help me run the Family?”

The servos made a pathetic revving sound when she relaxed her hands, struggling to make the simplest of motions. Kiddo looked at her faux leather gloves, the material crumbled with a split seams. Her phone was sitting on her thigh, the screen facing up. She saw her bloodstained forehead in the reflection and her cheeks wet with fresh tears.

“What do you say, Kiddo?”

The blood rushed to her face.

“…You should’ve kept your gun out.”

Takashi was too slow when her chair flipped backwards. Kiddo launched herself over the desk and pinned him to the bookcase, knocking over the chair. One hand on his neck she drew her knife.

“Okay! Okay! Go easy, man–“

“Long past the point of easy, Tak. I would’ve liked the sound of your offer without the gunshot.”

“I had no choice! They wanted him outta the picture for good. No other option.”

“In Pyongyang there were plenty of options; just had to learn ‘em. I didn’t have arms, so I had to learn a lot.” With a stiff jerk Kiddo slammed Takashi onto the desk, leaning hard with her knee to his chest so he wouldn’t move. “You had every opportunity to fight back and it looks to me like you didn’t even try. They must’ve scared you good.”

She made sure he saw the knife upside-down in her hand before resting the edge on his throat.

“The worst part is you didn’t think how this would destroy your honor.”

Takashi’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to find the right answer.

“Think about Enzo! Your trip to San Fran! How’re you gonna get your hefty bonus if you kill your boss?”

That last word was all it took. Kiddo’s eyes went wide as she bared her teeth in a hard grimace. Her other hand pressed to Takashi’s forehead, she twisted her body to raise the blade to the side, her aim fixed on his Adam’s apple. She would have sliced all they way through if her phone didn’t start to vibrate.

It’d landed on the corner of the desk when she dove. As it rang the screen was alight with the photo of Enzo smiling with Kiddo’s lips to his cheek. She couldn’t take her eyes off the image, still holding Takashi. You could see the fury slowly drain from her face, leaving a solid bleak mask. It felt like a hole was suddenly bored into her chest, like a piece of her spirit evaporated into nothing.

Kiddo’s body was stubborn, her knife hand shaking as it relaxed to her side. Takashi was bug-eyed when she pulled her other hand away to pick up the phone. With a tap of her thumb the vibration ended.

“Hey,” she managed with a low tone.

I just got home,” said Enzo. “Long day.

“…Yeah,” she said pulling her knee away from Takashi. “Me too.”

He dropped to his hands and knees, trying to catch his breath.

Are you almost done?

Kiddo looked down at her knife.

“Nearly, babe.” She retracted the blade.

Okay. So, I went through the list and brought it down to three. They fit our preferences, but only one is open to meeting in person.

As he spoke, Kiddo walked back to her seat, Takashi straightening himself out on his feet.

“That’s fine. I’ll take a look when I get home.”

Are you alright? You sound a little lethargic–”

“–Just worn out is all.”

Okay. I’ll be waiting when you get back. Love you.

Kiddo turned to Takashi putting a small ream of hundred dollar bills on the desk. She looked at Benjamin Franklin staring back and couldn’t say a word.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
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.

Neon Oldie #8

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

The street lights weren’t much help. Only a few actually worked and most of them flickered. The best illumination came from a full moon hanging above the street. Kiddo stared at it as she walked. Cut across the ash-white surface where the dark lines and circles of the Luna Colony, dotted with lights from residences on the morning cycle and landing pads.

She moved carefully and at a smooth pace, bringing her whole foot to the pavement starting from the heel. Kiddo kept her head on a swivel, glancing over her shoulder at regular intervals. The street was deserted, but all it takes is one witness to get you pinched.

Most of the lights were on at the apartment, including one over the stoop. Kiddo stood just before the first step and looked around the front windows, scanning for silhouettes and even the slightest sign of movement. She turned to the street to her left and waved her arm. A Gori sitting in a car down a ways got out on to the sidewalk, leaving her with a wave back.

Kiddo ascended the stoop and stopped at the steel panel by the door. She gave her flanks a thorough glance before pulling a thick flat-head screwdriver from her coat pocket. She worked the gap between the metal and brick, prying the panel away. It came down on a hinge at the bottom edge, circuits and wires laid bare behind the metal. Kiddo pocketed the screwdriver and reached into her inside pocket for her deck.

To call it jerry-rigged would be an understatement. The deck was built from a police hand-scanner that you plug your phone into. From a hole on the front side where a lens should’ve been snaked a wrap of three individual wires tipped with micro clamps. Along the edge of the scanner’s box frame where Kiddo held on were ports for different plugs and a set of additional wire attachments for when they’re needed.

Kiddo put her phone in the slot to the right of the deck’s frame vertically. The screen blinked to a field of black before lines of white code scrolled down in rapid succession. As she unwrapped the wire, the code slowed to a stop, ending with the line ‘/ext?/’ in a font big enough for her to press with a thumb.

First she placed the clamps around the guts of the panel around the biometric scanner towards the bottom. Once they were set, Kiddo clicked the last line, and the code began to scroll. She watched it tick away, the lines getting smaller and smaller, checking her flanks again. When the door clicked, Kiddo quickly grabbed the handle, and held it open with her foot. She yanked the wires and pushed the panel back into place, making sure it was secure to the brick, and walked in.

The lobby was done up in an old fashion style. It had a thin carpet floor and a floral print covering the walls. Even the light fixtures appeared to be antiques, no doubt painted to look brass if you know your metals. The wooden stairs proved more inconvenience than aesthetically pleasing when Kiddo made her way up, creaking with every step. She took her time, moving up to the fifth floor on her tiptoes.

The door wasn’t far from the steps, situated on the left side of the hall. Kiddo peered round the corner before dashing to the other side, her gaze fixed on the door. She moved slow, keeping her back parallel to the wall. You could say she was being overdramatic, but better safe than sorry. As Kiddo drew closer, she reached into her coat for the lock picks in her e-cig case. When she looked up after picking out a pair of tools, Kiddo went statue.

The door was already cracked open.

She was twice as slow this time, putting the picks and case back in their place. Kiddo reached for her knife, but kept the blade retracted, and held it right side up. At the edge of the threshold she put her palm flat to the door and daintily pushed. As it swung open Kiddo started to get the simple layout of the apartment. It started with a pristine kitchen on the right side, as you’d expect from an occupant that doesn’t need one. Then there was a desk at the far right corner with a jacket hanging on the chair. Kiddo stopped when she saw the Mark sitting at a small table by the window, a giant hole where her face should’ve been.

“…Uh-oh.”

She opened the remainder of the door, making sure the apartment was empty before stepping in.

The Mark was seated with her arms hanging to the sides. The hole wiped out most of her features with the smaller entry wound behind her right ear. On the floor in front of the chair was a stain of white blood where laid a pile of biomechanical guts that used to be the Mark’s brain. Kiddo tilted the head back, peering into the near hollow chamber of silicon bone. On the table sat a half-eaten wafer cake and a cup of cold coffee. Kiddo smelled the mouth port on the cup before pulling out her phone. She closed and locked the door as it rang.

Moshi moshi?” asked Takashi.

“It’s me.”

Everything okay?

“Girl’s got a hole in her face,” she said touching the bloodstain.

Why’d you do that!

The stain was dry, leaving white dust on her gloved fingertips.

“I don’t carry a gun, Tak. I just showed up and found her like this.”

Oh, great. Just what I needed. Did you jump her brain?

“Skull’s empty.”

Try anyway. That’s an order.”

Kiddo tightened her lips and rolled her eyes before standing up. She pulled a cord from her back pocket, plugged one end into the phone, and the other into the neural port in the Mark’s neck. A white wheel spun in the center of the screen for a moment before a line of text blinked ‘Unable to Connect.’ Kiddo yanked the cord and put the phone to her ear.

“No joy.”

Damn it… Alright, we’ll do it your way. Cut her head off and–“

“–There’s no point anymore. Her short and long-term drives are mush. Even if I put all the little pieces in a baggie, we won’t get a thing.”

Just because you’re screwing an Android doesn’t mean you’re an expert, Pinkerton.”

“Yes. It kinda does. I’m more interested in who clipped this stooly’s wings than–“

Whoever was climbing the stairs wanted Kiddo to hear them coming, their steps echoing through the apartment. She knew there wasn’t time for delicacy, shoving the Mark and the table to side as she darted to the window. Kiddo’s arms whined as she lifted it open, letting in the hard stink of the alley below. She peaked out and sitting at the bottom was a pile of trash bags with her name on it.

Kiddo didn’t think twice and hopped out, keeping one hand on the windowsill while the other pulled her knife. Just as there came a banging at the door she popped the blade and dragged it through the masonry on her way down. Kiddo angled her face away from the sparks and watched the bottom getting closer. At ten feet up she kicked off the wall and landed on her back.

Luckily, none of the bags burst on impact. She rolled to the side until there was solid ground under her feet. Obviously the danger wasn’t over, Kiddo making sure to not step in any puddles or the usual noisemakers. She hugged the wall of the apartment and worked her way toward the front end. Around the corner a dormant hov-car with police colors sat in the street.

What’s going on?” asked Takashi, his voice a whisper from the phone’s speaker.

“Almost got jumped by some cops,” said Kiddo walking down the other end of the alley.

What? In the apartment?

“Somebody knew I was there.”

Y’think a neighbor or a–“

“–The blood was too dry to be recent. Someone set this up and sprung it the moment I stepped through the front door.”

I’ll send someone to–“

“–Cici in?”

Takashi stammered.

Uh, maybe you should take the night–“

“Be there soon,” she said before hanging up.

After coming out to a more friendly side of the block, Kiddo started to run.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
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.

Neon Oldie #7

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

Takashi pulled a long drag from the cigarette. He leaned against the wall by the coffee shop window, staring off into nowhere as pedestrians passed him by. There came a repetitive click of boots heels to pavement before Kiddo came to a stop. She held herself up by her knees, breathing hard.

“You too?” he asked dropping his cigarette and crushing it underfoot.

“Gave the block a second go,” she said between breaths. “Nothing.”

“Could be on her way home,” he said coming off the wall. “Up for a stakeout or do you want to give up?”

Kiddo stood tall, forcing her breath to slow.

“Ready when you are.”

 

The apartment was an old brick building seven stories up in Ravenna. It was out of the way to say the least in a neighborhood on the edge of extinction, run down and neglected. It wasn’t filthy or anything; you could say it was fashionably desolate.

Takashi made the smart choice to park his hov-car just before the front of the building on the curb to the right. Kiddo sat in the passenger seat with her phone directed at the top of the stoop. She fingered the screen to zoom in on a polished steel panel next to the door. The panel had a screen close to the bottom edge and the glass bubble of a camera at the top.

“Yep,” she said bringing her phone down. “Biometric.”

“Damn-it!” said Takashi.

“Relax. All I need it my deck from home.” Kiddo leaned forward to look down the side of the building. “Could use the fire escape. Windows are easy.”

“And risky. All that clanking and shaking will spook the whole neighborhood.”

“Sure,” she sat back and pulled her cap over her eyes, “but it won’t matter until we see her.”

As she attempted to catch some zees, Takashi stared at the building. He didn’t know what to look at, scanning the brick in anticipation for movement at the one spot that mattered. He made a low sigh, closing and opening his fist like an annoying habit.

“Got a question for you,” he said.

“Shoot.”

“How loyal are you to Cici?”

“If he told me to kill you, I’d do it.”

Takashi sniggered.

“I think you’d do it regardless. What I mean is, if you’re so loyal, why are you seconds away from two-timing him?”

Kiddo pushed her cap up.

“Excuse me?”

“Cici said no bloodshed and I hear you flashed your blade at the docks. He wanted this little stanch-an’-grab done quiet and you almost flew off the handle before we got started. Looks to me like you’re only loyal when you wanna stay in his good graces. When the chips are down, you’re in it for yourself.”

Kiddo scoffed.

“If you were in my world, you’d get it.”

“Don’t think I would; I’m not a professional psychopath.”

“I mean doing what’s necessary. You don’t deal with savages with courtesy; you use worse savagery. As far as I see it, we needed to take drastic action months ago. Sitting on our hands hasn’t gotten us a damn thing. Cici needs me to take it further or we get swallowed, even if he tells me not to.”

“You screw up and kill someone you shouldn’t, it reflects poorly on him.”

“Y’think?” she asked turning to him. “I’m the kind of broad that does what decent folks can’t. I cut loose, of course it’s gonna look bad for the man in charge. But who’s gonna say anything if it gets us what we need? You think people talked about the civilian casualties in Mexico or over in the PCS? No, because it got positive results.”

“That’s real comic book thinking, Pinkerton–”

“–It’s logic and rational. Everyone knows it, but they’re too busy shaking in their boots to say it. I reckon you want me to go into that apartment, wait till she comes back, and come out with her head in a bag. Easier to plug in without arms and legs fighting back.”

“Jesus Christ. Clearly you don’t know me.”

“True. But maybe you don’t know yourself.”

Takashi shook his head.

“I’m starting to think it was Barney having you with me.”

“Oh! Up for a little of your own insubordination, eh?”

“I know Cici told you to stick around, but I still out-rank you. Take a little break, Pink. Almost lunch time at the body shop, anyway.”

Kiddo stared at him for a moment then nodded.

“I’ll send a footie in my place,” she said opening the gull door.

“Need cash for the train?”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said closing the door.

Takashi adjusted the rearview to watch her skinny frame walk down the sidewalk. It took a long couple seconds until she rounded a corner and a few more before he got out of the car. He crossed to the apartment building, opening his suit jacket.

 

Kiddo brought a sandwich stuffed with lettuce and chocolate meta-milk to the body shop. She sat on the stoop with Enzo, packed in with other gear-heads on lunch break. He ate a white wafer bar, the only thing Andies could and had to eat, lest they run out of blood to keep them running properly.

“I’m always careful,” she said.

“I know, but you usually end up overheating the servos and seizing the joints,” he said. “We’re lucky none of the myomer cells have burst. Model Fs are too cheap to handle stress.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Kiddo looked at her palm and made a couple soft fists. “But that’s why I got you to fix me.”

Before she took another bite, she planted a kiss on Enzo’s cheek, making him grin like a fool.

“…Oh, yeah!” he said. “I almost forgot.” He dug through his cargo pocket for a small tablet. “I made a top ten list that needs your approval.”

Enzo passed the tablet to Kiddo. On the screen was a list of faces with basic physical traits stacked to the left. She scanned each block of text, scrolling down with her finger.

“What do you think?”

“…Can we meet them in person?” she asked. “I wanna make sure none of them are crazy. That stuff’s genetic.”

“I don’t know if the clinic will allow it. Some of these guys put a no-contact clause on their profiles. Might cost more to meet the ones that don’t.”

“I’m sure we can spare a few hundred. I’ll go through it on my own and pick the top three. That okay?”

Enzo smiled and put his arm around her.

“As long as they look close to me.”

“Of course they will. I want him to have your hair–”

“–And your eyes.”

Kiddo ignored the vibration of her phone as they held a long kiss.

“If only humans were mass-produced,” he whispered close to her.

“We are. It’s called unprotected sex.”

As Enzo laughed to himself she put her phone to her ear.

“Yeah?”

She’s back,” said Takashi.

Kiddo sat up straight.

“I’m on my way.“

No. We wait till dark.”

“And risk her getting wise sooner than–“

“–Quit questioning me, Volk! We’re taking the safe route. Got it?”

She frowned to herself and pocketed the phone.

“Everything okay?” asked Enzo.

Kiddo smiled.

“Just work stuff. Might need to work late up town a bit.”

“Pretty far?”

“Mm-hm… Sorry, babe.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said stroking her cheek with his thumb. “About time you started working hard.”

She smiled and rested her head on his shoulder, holding his arm.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scottt
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.

Neon Oldie #6

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.

***

Next to hash parlors and cathouses, coffee shops took up what’s left of the real estate. If you know anything about Seattle, that shouldn’t surprise you. With so many shops you’d think the people have coffee for blood.

Like the next joint not even a block over, this shop was packed with vampires getting their daily dose of grande black. A line snaked before a display window of pre-baked pastries. It barely moved because every other suit took a dictionary’s worth of words to make their order. Among them was the Mark, a Japanese Andie with red eyes and a black undercut. She wore a silk vest over a dress shirt with suspender straps holding it all together.

At the bottom-left corner of the shop window Takashi held his phone with the camera looking inside. He leaned against a brick wall, keeping his body in cover while Kiddo watched the flanks. A cord fed from the phone to the back of Takashi’s right ear.

“Still in line?” she asked.

“Yes, for the second time,” he said with his eyes closed. “It’s past ten. Why are people still getting coffee?”

“Who knows? Lemme go in and pull her out the old fashion way.”

Takashi opened his eyes to stop her from getting past him.

“You wanna get made by some Yak spy? We’re out in the open, Pink. Use your friggin’ head.”

“At this point, why’re we holding back? Let’s snatch her and deal with whatever comes after.”

“This is my mess and we’re gonna clean it up however I damn-well want,” he said, looking at her dead in the eye. “You been here almost a decade and still act like you’re fighting for air and space.”

Kiddo backed off.

“Same fight, different city if you ask me.”

Takashi shook his head and went back to a lean.

“You’re impossible,” he said closing his eyes.

She smiled.

“And you’re always wound up tight as a virgin. If you relax and cut loose, maybe you’d enjoy yourself every once an’ a while.”

“I don’t need help relaxing–“

“–Can’t do it here, boy.”

Suddenly Takashi stood up and quickly put his phone is his pocket. Kiddo remained casual, hands in her coat pockets.

The Copper sat on a quad-ped, a four-legged mech with proportions equivalent to a horse. It was fitted with a siren and lights behind the saddle and unit markings around the front shoulders. The Copper wore an armor vest and helmet with a tinted visor. It looked like one piece, covering everything except his chin, lips, and nostrils. A silver badge was fixed over his heart and on his right sleeve the TalSec claw was sewn under the US flag. A combi-pistol sat in a holster on his hip. It was like a regular shooter, but with a shotgun tube under the barrel.

“IDs, citizens,” said the Copper, craning toward them.

Kiddo and Takashi held their ID cards facing out between their fingers. The Copper’s visor blinked blue before he looked to Kiddo’s card. When it blinked again, he sat up in his saddle.

“Glad to see you’re naturalized, Volk. Immigration sure took their sweet damn time.”

“You ICE or something?” she asked.

“I’m a lawman doin’ my job and you weren’t legal for four straight years… Mind explainin’ why you two are loiterin’ on my sidewalk?”

“Oh, we’re just waiting for a friend to get her coffee,” said Takashi with a smile.

“You know how it is,” added Kiddo. “Rush hour.”

The Copper kept his visor directed at Kiddo, his mouth locked in a stubborn frown.

“…Mmm-hm.”

“We’ll be gone once she gets out,” said Takashi. “We’re not looking for trouble.”

“Why leave so soon?” asked the Copper, nudging his quad-ped. “I could use an excuse to clean house.”

They waited until he was out of earshot.

“Clearly someone’s not taking his bonus,” said Kiddo.

“Get his badge number?” asked Takashi.

“Yep.”

“Text Mitty. Let ‘im know one of his coworkers was about to smear us.”

“I wouldn’t worry ‘bout it. He was just venting.”

“Yeah,” he said turning back to the shop window. “Wait ‘til that venting turns into a buck-shot lobotomy–“

Takashi’s eyes bugged out before he shoved himself against the window.

“Where’d she go?”

“She dipped?” asked Kiddo. “Did you see where she went?”

“That friggin’ pig was distracting me,” he said pulling the cord from his neural port and frantically swiping through his phone.

Kiddo peaked into the window and threw up her arms.

“Nothing.”

“…Damn-it! Footage goes black before I could see.” Takashi pocketed his phone and the cord. “Take one end of the block and I’ll go the other. Call if you spot ‘er.”

They started going in opposite directions.

“And if I don’t?” she asked.

“Back here in 20.”

“Got it.”

 

On her side of the block Kiddo jogged at a quick gate, dodging between pedestrians. She made sure to give each of them a good long look at the back of their heads before darting past. Kiddo looked back to make sure they weren’t the Mark.

At crosswalk stood a small crowd waiting for the green light. She took her time and walked to the front of the crowd, nearly stepping in front of a ground car driving by. The people didn’t pay attention to Kiddo staring at each of them, probably wondering what drugs she was on. When the crowd started to cross, they moved around her like a stone in a stream.

Kiddo turned on her heels trying to get the last of their faces before it was too late. She grimaced and pushed through the people, crossing to the next block, this time at a run.

Takashi wasn’t having much luck either. He walked fast down the block, keeping close to the curb to scan everyone to his right. Every now and then he sped up to a jog to get a look at the next set of people up ahead. When he came toward an alley, a black limo came in off the street, and blocked him from moving forward. Monty stepped out and Takashi almost fell backward.

“Get in.”

He barely hesitated and sat on the other side by the window. Once Monty got in and shut the door the limo reversed back onto the street. In the opposite corner at the front end sat the Mark, sipping her coffee.

“Real sloppy, Takashi,” said Monty. “Real sloppy.”

He put on a smile to hide his terror.

“Hard to disagree, Monty. I could say the same for this dame here,” he said gesturing the Mark. “Ever heard of caller encryption, rubber-head?”

“Up yours, meat.” she retorted.

“That the best you–“ Takashi showed his true colors when Monty pushed him into the window with his sheath pressed to his neck.

“The Shogun’s getting tired of the back and forth. This little foul-up’s moved everything ahead of schedule. You and your half-breed partner are on borrowed time that’s quickly running out.”

“Half-breed?” asked Takashi, struggling to conceal his fear as sweat crawled down his forehead. “That’s rich coming from a white boy playing Yakuza.”

“Says a Jap playing Mafioso. Soon you’ll be replaced and Cicero’s operation ours. Got anything snappy on your mind, better say it now.”

Takashi hesitated to look away from Monty’s stare, and glanced to the Mark. He turned back to Monty and swallowed hard.

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
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.

Neon Oldie #5

By
C.T. McMillan
+++

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

Acknowledgments
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.

Dedication
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?”

“Mmm.”

“I gotta go in early.”

“Wha?”

“Extra orders.”

“Oh.”

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?”

“Nope–“

“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.

“Mm-hm.”

“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.”

“Jesus…”

“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.”

Kiddo nodded.

“Won’t let you down, Boss.”

“Take Takashi with ya. He’s gonna help fix his mistake before it gets any worse.”

***

Recommended Reading/Viewing/Playing
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.