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
Neon Oldie Vol. 1 “The Mark”
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.
Taro was the last one out with a messenger bag over one shoulder, key ring jingling as he locked up. “Want us to run y’through it one more time?”
“Think we got it,” said Monty waiting with Kiddo and Ricky, the hacker wearing a business suit similar to Taro’s.
“Pardon me if I don’t take y’word for it. So, me and Ricky check in while you two get into position.” The lock clicked and Taro started down the hall to join them.
“We set up across the station, hop onto the piggys’ wireless, and text ya once we’re in,” said Ricky. “Know which room, Pinkerton?”
“Like I said, not my first break-in.”
When Taro was close Monty and Kiddo lead the way up the stairs.
“Best not kill anyone,” said Monty. “Dead criminals are one thing, but dead cops–“
“I’m the last one you need to worry about,” she said. “Here’s hoping no one rats to the Shogun while we work.”
The night was baked in neon when they stepped outside. The four of them had been under a hash parlor that painted the busy street in green while the surrounding joints shined reds and blues. In the alley they were in enough darkness that the drunks and stoners lining the sidewalk barely noticed.
“We’ll pick up traffic while tethered to the network,” said Taro locking the basement.
“Anything that sends up a red flag in regards to you two, we’ll pass it on,” said Ricky.
“Appreciated,” said Monty.
The hackers stood by for their criminal compatriots to lead the way before Kiddo took the first step. “Think I’ll consider giving you two a little bread if this goes smooth–“
“You’ll have wire it from prison, Volk.”
The four of them stopped as foot traffic rushed clear off the sidewalk. The flow of people diverted round into the street to reveal Pierce and Dom beside two cars on the curb. Dom leaned with a cigarette and a fedora while his Android partner wore a wide grin, hands in her pockets. On the street stood a quad-ped by each car with their riders on the sidewalk. The Copper was on Kiddo’s side of the alley to the left while Jacobs had Monty on the right, combi-pistols held low. Ricky and Taro threw up their hands.
“You can thank your rat Freeman,” said Pierce. “And right before we passed 48. New record?” she asked turning to Dom.
“Personal best,” he said.
“Good enough for me.”
“Congrats, you did your job,” said Kiddo.
“I should thank you for being so damn sloppy.”
Monty grimaced. “Makes one of us.”
“You know what Volk did, right? Maybe it’s a little too soon to celebrate because I’m curious how you’re mixed up in all this, Yakuza.”
“To do what you’re not,” said Kiddo. “Find Enzo’s hacker.”
“Out of our hands thanks to you. And now you pay for it. Book ‘er.”
The Copper barely moved his foot when Kiddo pulled her sword hilt. He responded by zeroing in on her head. “Test me, Volk.”
“Don’t be stupid,” said Pierce. “They’re loaded with MP rounds. Two in the chest will make you useless enough to yank those fancy arms.”
“Better be quick on the squeeze,” said Kiddo.
“Jacobs, clear the street,” said Pierce
“Rodger that.” The other beat cop turned to his stationary quad-ped. “Crowd control. Twenty yard spread.”
The mech trotted into the street, lights flashing at the low setting, near overpowering the neon. “Stand clear,” it repeated with a metallic voice.
“Crowd control twenty yard spread,” said the Copper without turning from Volk.
With the mechs pacing from one side of the street to the other an open space formed with the alley in the middle. Our players were almost alone save for crowds that formed on the edges of the perimeter.
“Best put ‘em up,” said Pierce, “or we take you in by–“
“That won’t be necessary.”
She turned to Dom with a raised eyebrow as he took a final drag and put a finger and thumb to his lips for a sharp whistle.
From the crowd on the left side of the alley came Lotch and a bunch of Goris out between the civilians. They gathered into a blob of suits and fedoras, armed with pipes, chains, and crowbars. The ones not holding were obviously packing.
Lotch wore his best waistcoat and shoes as he stepped forward. “You know the score. Pinkerton walks. Don’t care what ya do with the Yak.”
Pierce had drawn her piece and looked over at Dom. “Trust is expensive,” he said moving off the car. “But loyalty?” He shrugged at her. “I got alimony… Right, Jacobs?”
The beat cop looked surprised before holstering his pistol. “Yep.” He turned to the Copper. “Let her go, man.”
“You son of a bitch,” he said through clenched teeth. “Think all I got are MPs? Half a second’s all I need to go lethal.”
“Got enough bullets for everyone, Montana?” asked Dom. “Read the room. You’re outnumbered. Both of you.”
“Then you better do something about us,” said Pierce. “Fast.”
“Whoa, whoa,” said Jacobs. “I’m not killing cops, Dom.”
“Did I say we were, numb-nuts?”
“Get over here, Pink,” said Lotch.
“I told you–“ she started.
“You’re not my boss anymore. So I can do what I want,” he said with a wink.
“You’ll have to come get her, prick,” said Pierce.
Lotch gave her a nod with a mild grimace. “Show ‘er, boys.”
The Goris that weren’t visibly armed moved to the front and pulled pistols from their suits. Lotch pulled his own from the back of his waist, a chromed 1911 made to look old fashion.
“Still feel like being stupid, partner?” asked Dom.
“I could ask you the same, detective,” said a loud metallic voice from the opposite side of the street.
All eyes turned and Kiddo felt her stomach knot when she saw five Bots push through the crowd with Yaks in tow. They wore the signature white shirt and black tie under soft-shell armor covering their necks, arms, and groin. Some had custom mempo masks of varying decoration. On their hips hung a combat katana, modern blades with rubber hilt wraps and sheaths of thick black polyester.
The Bots were skinned in a red metal carapace resembling a naked man in every way but anatomy. The head, shoulders, and chest had yellow plating made to look like samurai armor. Four of the Bots moved in complete lock step while the fifth in the middle walked like a human, his face toward the alley. In place of yellow armor it had white and a traditional set of swords on a white wrap tied to its waist.
While the four Bots stopped past the civilians, the gang of Yaks not far behind, the White Bot stepped out to make sure everyone could see. “My employees are here to assist you, officers,” it said with Kyrii’s voice. “However,” he pointed to Monty, “Montgomery Goichi comes with us.”
Pierce looked over her shoulder at the Copper still aiming at Kiddo. “Fair enough.”
Dom and Jacobs drew, the former taking the Yaks while the latter kept his combi-pistol low to Monty. The Goris started shouting insults and waving their weapons at the Yaks who drew their blades. The law was busy yelling at each other and their respective enemies on the street.
It seemed to happen on the periphery for Monty and Kyrii. Jacobs got antsy when his reached into his suit, free hand up with palm out, and pulled his phone. Kyrii nodded and Monty dropped it. “Should’ve known better.”
“Anata no kōdō wa uragiri, mongomerī-chan ni kakatte imasu,” said Kyrii.
“Tono, imi shimasendeshita–“ started Monty with fresh sweat on his forehead.
“Zan’nen’nakotoni teki no tame ni hataraku tame ni? Sonkei? Sono yōna mudana doryoku. Anata wa kanojo o hikkurikaesu ka anata no uragiri no tame ni omoku shiharau kikai ga arimasu.”
Kiddo picked up what she could from their tone, but the conversation was just one in a deluge of noise. Seemed everyone forgot why they were there. Each had their reasons, but no one tried anything because either way you went was dirty. It gave Kiddo a bit of comfort knowing this could all go bad for everyone else until she got a chunk of the puzzle she’d been piecing together for two days.
“Ain’t afraid to put you down, son,” said the Copper to Jacobs.
“I’m not gonna kill you–“
“Shut! Up!” shouted Pierce.
“Let’s work this out, guys,” said Dom with the only calm in the bunch. “I’ll give you my bonus for a whole year if you open your dumb, hick eyes, Quincy–”
“You’ll die second, traitor!” shouted the Copper.
Suddenly all Kiddo could hear was a ringing and there was nothing in sight but Quincy. She focused on the nameplate bolted under his badge with the name “SPEERS” engraved in white. “…Get work done, Quincy?”
He cut out mid yell and turned to her, mouth formed in a grimace.
The spinner on her right arm whirled under her sleeve. “My Enzo was the best gear-head in town. The boss always called when we were on vacation, trying to get him back to the shop.” Quincy’s lips curled into a thin neutral line. “…But he stayed with me because he really was that good–“
The air escaped her lungs as fast as the bullets hit her chest. After the first slug she couldn’t feel the next five and their barbs hooking to her skin. From heel to head every muscle contracted into numbness and she was a helpless amputee again.
The whole scene went incoherent when Kiddo hit the ground. Both crowds of gangsters surged at each other. The Goris that came packing were torn between aiming at the Yaks or cops. The Yaks stayed behind the Bots, but that didn’t stop them from breaking their otherwise professional bearing. Dom and Jacobs were hesitating to perforate Quincy while Pierce didn’t know whether to help or keep the other two at bay. Monty just stood by the wall, hands up.
It was pretty clear to Kiddo what was coming. As Quincy stepped closer the magazine dropped from his pistol. When he reached for another on his belt she caught the reddish glint of a copper slug. There was nothing Kiddo wouldn’t have sacrificed for just one chance. Nothing worse than buying it in a dirty alley with one final loose end untied. But the last thing she wanted were two vans to pull up across the street, Trotsky’s face in red and black on the side, and see 18 Comrades pour out with the biggest guns she’d ever seen.
Everyone got the picture too late once those ancient Soviet machine guns rang out.
There were two groups of Trotskys: heavies and riflemen. The heavies had helmets with face shields and flak jackets, carrying RPDs. The riflemen had your average garden variety AKs and next to no armor. The biggest guns unloaded the second they hit the pavement into the Goris, Yaks, and alley as they slowly advanced, tearing up masonry with bursts of rock. The little ones were surgical, picking targets from the stationary and moving in to avoid capping their advancing friends.
Kiddo squeezed her eyes shut when the shooting started and felt herself dragged across concrete. She looked for a second to see Monty pulling her by the arm against one of the cars on the curb. Another quick look saw Jacobs ducking beside her and Quincy and Pierce behind the other car across the alley. The alley itself was clear of Ricky and Taro.
The crowds of gangsters didn’t have a chance. The Goris with guns got about two shots in before falling into each other in a bloody mass. The Yaks fared worse, their armor not built to stop rifle slugs. All five Bots hit the street in a flurry of sparks bursting across their metal flesh. The pedestrians behind each crowd knew better than to stick around, some getting hit by stray bullets in back.
When she could feel the pavement dig into her shoulder Kiddo sat up, wobbling as the feedback sensors slowly came back to her. She forced her back against the car, feeling it rumble from dozens of impacts. Her hearing was gone, Jacobs’ shouting coming in as a mumble. Monty sat beside her, breathing hard and fast. It was the first time she’d seen him panicked.
Pierce was shooting from behind the front-end tire when it burst. It made her jerk closer to the middle, scraping the ass of her pants open. She didn’t notice, too focused on the reload, but she did see Dom’s fedora on the sidewalk splashed with blood. Pierce couldn’t bear to see his corpse in the gutter between the cars and just sat there bug-eyed.
When the slide of his his combi-pistol locked back Jacobs went low to trade mags. He got fresh slugs in, but the second he put his head up one Russian copper tagged him in the helmet. The impact twisted it off Jacobs’ head and sent him to the ground. Her hand moved on its own when Kiddo pulled him by the ankle about a foot closer before Jacobs’ vest burst apart. She stopped after his head turned to red chunks and Kiddo realized the Trotsky had walked up to the back of the car, still pouring lead.
Again her body moved on it’s own, springing to her feet, and throwing out an open palm into the Comrade’s features. It tore his face off, bits of skull included. The guy was big and Kiddo grabbed him by the neck, keeping his back to the street. Kiddo was too shaken to know where to go from there as the rest converged on the alley.
The other Trotskys were finishing up the gangs, the riflemen plugging corpses while the heavies reloaded, pretty calm for newly christened mass murderers. Some by the Goris kept the cops in cover as they finished. The guys around the Yaks weren’t taking chances with the Bots, the heavies moving in to give them a full squeeze to face. There were three left by the time one Comrade stood over Kyrii, smoking muzzle hovering above the thing’s eye.
That’s when Kyrii hooked his feet around the guy’s armored neck and jerked down. The heavy flipped back into the pavement, blood gushing over his helmet. The momentum brought Kyrii to his feet and drew his sword. Two of the heavies that were supposed to finish off the Bots ended up on the ground, broken bones and all before the machines popped their blades.
It got the attention of the other Trotskys in the middle of the street, so Kiddo charged, popping her own blade. They spotted her about the same time she darted away from her shield after shoving it into a rifleman at the right. She swung blindly and opened up her Second Kill’s stomach. The girl’s intestines spilled onto the street as Kiddo spun further left. There wasn’t any cover, so she made some, the Second Kill taking hits from a heavy in the back right.
The girl hit the ground after Kiddo took another shield: Comrade Tommy. She couldn’t tell it was him apart for the blue hair sticking out the back of his helmet. Kiddo held the top of his helmet with a grip that cracked the enamel. There was 12 Trotskys left: four behind preoccupied with the cops and eight in front, half of which were trying to finish the Bots. Either way Kiddo knew she should’ve moved on milliseconds ago, staring down those guns behind her shield. The sudden anxiety made her grip collapse the helmet further.
Then Monty threw her a big fat bone. He came darting out as a black blur with a hand gripping his fancy katana. The blade flashed from the sheath and cut a rifleman from ribs to shoulder, head included. That was Kiddo’s moment to move left-ways after jerking Tommy to the ground.
She leapt over him and landed in a roll toward her Third Kill. She stopped on one knee under his AK, close enough to smell the Comrade’s sweaty crotch. In one fluid motion she pulled her knife with her other hand and cut a leg out. He shrieked and held down his trigger from the pain. Kiddo pivoted round and and slashed up, the AK and half his arm falling free.
The rifle kept shooting from the ground as Kiddo shot up with sword drawn back. She would’ve take his head had a heavy behind him not opened up. The force from the impacts shoved the guy into her arms. Kiddo let the knife fall and grabbed her Third Kill by the back, digging her fingers into his flesh.
The feedback sensors went numb after a burst of sparks as she charged, roaring through it. Within sword range she shoved her shield at the RPD hanging by the Comrade’s hip, sword drawn back. Kiddo stopped short of swinging when Monty darted in, burying his sword into the heavy’s armpit. The Trotsky gave out a muffled scream through his helmet.
Monty’s sword slid free as the heavy fell, a fresh coat of crimson covering an already soiled blade. He breathed hard, just as scared and bloody as she was. Kiddo looked at the dents in her left forearm, surrounded by scratches where the bullets fragmented, sensors still numb. She and Monty looked at each in a moment of pause, fighting still going on around them. One of the Bots was down with three Trotskys left for Kyrii to the right. Behind Kiddo to the left the cops held their ground, but the four Comrades remained vertical, having made shields of the dead Goris. Neither said a word or gestured when Kiddo and Monty stormed toward them.
The crossfire didn’t enter her mind when she met her Fourth Kill: a heavy kneeling behind a stack of her friends on the outside of the pile. She came in low, sword held inverted. The heavy turned her way just as Kiddo shoved her left hand through the narrow viewport of the Comrade’s face shield. She couldn’t feel how deep she’d gone, but the guy going limb was a decent hint. Monty dashed past her into the pile and met a kneeling rifleman with a single slash through the neck.
The last two were closer to the cars. Kiddo yanked her hand with a gush of blood, but before she could rush in, a stiff metal hand grabbed her arm where the sensors worked. With a tug that could’ve ripped her mod out Kiddo was thrown where she’d started killing. Tommy writhed on the ground trying to pull his helmet off when she landed in a tumble, sword bouncing to the side.
“Get up, Kiddo-chan,” said Kyrii walking toward her as he pulled a white cloth to clean his blade. “Pick up your sword and prepare to die.”
On her hands and knees she rushed to her sword and stood. Kiddo looked around to see nothing moving except the cops’ quad-peds pacing across the street. She squared her shoulders and held her sword in both hands toward Kyrii, his katana raised. Been a long time since she was in a proper sword fight. Memories of training under her father in the apartment dojo flooded Kiddo’s mind before she met Kyrii.
His blade came down just past her when she dashed right with a slash, cutting his belt to free the wakizashi and katana sheath. They hit the pavement as Kyrii rounded to face her, backing away from him slowly. He held his blade to the side of his head and followed her, stepping carefully without breaking eye contact. She brought her sword up parallel to the ground with tip forward, moving her feet back in wide circles to feel for obstructions. Kiddo feigned a step forward and Kyrii flinched. Her laugh was cut short when he decided to charge anyway.
Both had strength enough to break their swords against each other, but they clashed as if the two were Flesh. Their movements were normal and easy to follow without being too slow. It was as if they agreed to self-handicap beforehand. The two exchanged blows in short bursts and dashed away, meeting again with difference stances every time. The gunfight was still going on up the street, yet Kiddo and Kyrii were in their own world.
He may have been an ancient bastard, but he was still wired to a combat-grade Bot in an office, miles away from the violence Kiddo dealt with minutes ago. No way Kyrii was getting tired as she worked up the energy just to hold up her sword. It seemed like he was stepping closer and faster than before, forcing her to back up with equal measure. Kiddo’s patience wore quickly and she moved without regard for what may be at her heels.
Then her stance broke after tripping into a corpse.
Kyrii lunged before Monty caught his swing with a loud prang. Their swords were held high, edges locked. “Tōno, go yōsha kudasai!” With a grunt he shoved Kyrii back then pulled his blade clean through the crook of his arm. The Shogun surged forward before Monty sheathed his sword and got to his knees. “Volk o hoshō suru. Kanojo no kōdōde wa arimasen. Kanojo wa ikari nimegakurande-batsu niataisuru ga shini wa ataishinai.” He bowed. “Watashi ni kanojo o enjo sa sete kudasai, soshite watashi wa kanojo jishin no jinsei to no machigai no daishō o haraimasu.”
Kyrii’s head tilted to the side. “Anata wa teki no tame ni jibun jishin o gisei ni shimasu ka? Meiyo aru jisatsu to wa? Anata wa byōkidesu, watashi no musuko–“
“Watashi wa sōde wa arimasen, Tōno! Watashi wa senshi no yarikata de watashi no kokoro ni shitagau koto no kekka o ukeireru.”
Kiddo waited off to the side, eyes darting in anticipation as she listened to a conversation she didn’t understand.
Kyrii looked her way for a moment then traded sword hands, holding it inverted. “Watashi wa dōi shimasu,” he said before pointing to Kiddo, “shikashi kanojo wa anata no kaishaku ni nari, soshite anata no katana o torudeshou. Dōi shita?”
Monty bowed lower. “Hai, Tōno.” He got up with a sigh. “It’s okay,” he said putting a hand toward Kiddo to gesture her guard down. “We’re okay.”
“What’s going on?“ she asked.
“You will find out soon enough, Kiddo-ch–“ started Kyrii before his head exploded.
When his metal corpse hit the ground Kiddo and Monty saw Quincy standing in the middle of the street with the under-barrel of his pistol smoking. He moved his left hand from the secondary trigger over his shooting hand to put two rounds in Kiddo, one in the side and midsection. Monty caught her from falling and made himself a shield. Quincy got off one more shot before he fell forward with a grunt.
Shots rang out from a bloody weary Lotch popping off his chromed 1911 from the piled Goris. Quincy rolled to his back and emptied into the poor guy. Then he rolled into the prone and faced the opposite side, but Kiddo and Monty were gone. He rushed to Kyrii’s body mid-reload and found fresh splatters on the pavement, the start of a trail that led up the corpse-riddled street. Quincy lowered his pistol and grimaced.
“P-please… I surrender.” He turned to Comrade Tommy sitting with hands up, bleeding from his nose. “I-I-I want a lawyer. I-I have rights.”
Quincy loosed up and looked back to the alley where Pierce was yelling into her phone for back up. Then he spied the bloody bodies of Dom and Jacobs.
“I-I have rights–”
“Rights?” he asked turning to Tommy. Quincy let it simmer before grabbing the fat Trotsky by the hair. He winced, barely putting up a fight. “First, ya gotta be human.”
Quincy pressed his muzzle to Tommy’s cheek and turned away from the splatter.
“What the hell was that?!” He looked to Pierce walking toward him pointing at Tommy. “You just don’t know how to stop screwing up, do you, Quincy? You better explain why you tried to kill Volk before–“
White blood burst from her chest in quick succession. Even from the hip Quincy was a deadeye and made sure it wasn’t too lethal. He watched her convulse on the ground and came to her side, blood dripping over the corners of her mouth.
“I don’t hate ya, Pierce. You’re just damn annoyin’… No more cops are gonna die for my mistake.” He aimed at her heart. “And I’ll make sure ya get a better body after they bring ya in.”
He dumped three shots to make her good and inoperable.
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Old Boy, Directed by Chan-wook Park
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
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.