Posted on April 11, 2006 by Monica Valentinelli
Fiction Written By:Monica Valentinelli
Written For: Obisidan: the Age of Judgement Setting
A drop of sweat carelessly slid down Silas’ face as he studied his tools carefully. He wasn’t sure what tool he should use for this particular type of implant. Clyde was one of his most important clients, and he didn’t want to screw things up. After having known Silas for a few short months, Clyde had purchased more vehicle upgrades than all of his other clients combined. Now he finally was getting his big chance to apply all that he has learned.
“Everything all right back there?” Clyde asked from the front room.
“Yeah, everything is coming along just fine,” Silas muttered under his breath. Straightening his shoulders he shouted back, “Yes, Sir. Should only be a few more minutes.”
Rummaging through his cybertools, Silas wondered what Clyde must have been feeling. In just a few hours his high-pitched, whiny voice will be changed to sound more like a steady, calming drone. Of course, Silas didn’t blame the guy. After all, who would want to sound like Daemon-bait in this portion of the Zone? Sublevel Four wasn’t exactly what he would call a “great place for quality service.”
“Hey, I think your power just went out.”
Silas rolled his Oculi and thanked his parts he installed Night Vision.
“Just a minute. I know I have some Neon Sticks in here somewhere.”
Finding them quickly for his promising client, Silas stood up to his full height and walked into the other room. He shifted uncomfortably.
“Sir, I know we haven’t installed any DermaPlating on you yet. But I was wondering if you had any…other means of defense.”
“Just what I’m wearing,” Clyde mentioned as he bent the Neon Sticks. “You aren’t nervous about my implant are you?”
The room blushed a sickly pink. Neon lines drew shapes around them.
“Pink?” Clyde continued, raising an eyebrow.
Silas didn’t know what to tell him. He thought to mention that the shipment might have gotten sent to the wrong sector. Then again, maybe he should just tell him the truth. Silas paid his driver to “borrow” those Neon Sticks just days before Clyde scheduled this meeting. He may not have the best equipment, but Silas knew how to be resourceful.
Clyde nodded knowingly. “Hey, you can stop calling me “Sir.” This isn’t my first implant, you know.”
“You’ve done business in Four before?”
“Yes, but not that long ago. Maybe three, four weeks before I met you.”
Silas didn’t buy that story. Especially since Clyde mentioned before he worked for a Level Five Corporation. Level Five!
Clyde adjusted the lapels of his Hybrid Weave suit. Although it cost him well over a thousand credits, Silas thought that the green plaid was probably worth the expense. Show off.
“Okay, Sir — I mean — Silas. So I figure we have maybe…ten, fifteen minutes tops before the Scavengers start showing up to check this place out. You…don’t mind if we postpone the op, do you?”
“What’s wrong with the power?” Clyde asked, innocently.
“Everything feeds off of Energy Units. Some of them are running low, some of them need to be fixed up.”
Silas’ shoulders drooped. He wondered whether or not he’d still have a client when the power came back up. Especially one that paid with no questions asked. Oh well, honesty was as rare as demon steaks nowadays. He might as well try to keep his client safe; Clyde was no good if he was dead.
“Maybe you’d better come back to do the install when I’ve had the chance to locate a more secure room.” Silas gestured toward the boarded-up front door.
“No, Silas. I don’t think that will be necessary.”
“With all due respect, Sir, the people down here notice when the lights go out. I have a blue sensor that lights up to warn me of any outsiders. There’s one on the outside of that door, and there’s one on the inside.” Silas walked over to where the light was supposed to shine. “When this light isn’t on, then the Scavengers come with their hand-me-down grenades and try to come through my door. There’s a reason why that door is not in the greatest of conditions.”
Silas no longer cared if his carefully-sown client was going to do something stupid; his kits were far too valuable and far too difficult to come by to replace. He’d find somebody else, some other paying client to work on. Walking over to the wall, he ripped his sawed-off Nineteen from the wall, and flushed his Boosters. He swore under his breath that he didn’t put on any armor before this appointment. At least he put his shoulder strap on. That strap was like his credbase. He never left home without it.
“What if I told you I could give you more Credits than you could ever dream of?” Clyde’s eyes gleamed in the darkness.
“Are you even listening to me? I know my own shop, man, and I can smell them co—” Silas jumped in front of his well-manicured client, and screamed. “MOVE!”
For the third time that month, the carefully welded door blew apart sending shards of metal flying. Smoke, dust, and other smells filled the doorway. Even with his Oculi, Silas couldn’t quite see through the smoke to determine who or what was standing there. But he didn’t really need to know. His visitors were always garbage-hunters. Scavengers. He could normally tell by the great way they smelled.
“I guess I should…stay behind you…,” Clyde admitted.
As Clyde shifted to rest his Nineteen into position, Clyde suddenly reached for him, holding fast to his waist. Startled, Silas allowed his invisible enemy to shoot at them first. A bullet screamed past him and buried itself in a wall. Resting the Nineteen on his shoulder for support, Silas carved two, large twin holes in the front of his warehouse. Whatever was standing there, Silas was sure he took care of it and hoped his client would release his grip, but no such luck. He was pretty positive that that’s how Clyde managed to stay alive in 4, just get behind the big guy.
“Are you—” Silas turned behind him.
Screeee. Another bullet wailed past his ear. He would have to recalculate how tough these Scavengers were. Normally one, destructive burst shot was enough to scare them off.
Clyde released his bony arms from Silas’ thick waste and started to chant. “Livewire, livewire, live wire, LIVE WIRE.”
Bio-electricity charged the air, lifting Silas’ long hair. Dead wires came to life, and charged for the open hole. Silas could hear the sound of metal grinding against metal. Suffocating smoke made it difficult to see; from what he could tell spinning, razor-sharp metal tips whirled its way through his shop. Razorwire. Razorwire that somehow Clyde started a tornado with in his shop that burst with reds, browns, and blacks in a fast-moving blur, taking everything in its path. Silas wasn’t sure what bothered him more, the all-consuming empty space that now occupied his makeshift laboratory, or the fact that his client had withheld valuable information.
“Gives new meaning to ‘take you to the cleaners’ huh?” Clyde laughed thinly.
“You can release me now,” Silas said. He knew something wasn’t right about this client, but arguing in this part of the Zone usually led to death.
Helpless, Silas reloaded his ordnance and watched the wires as they diminished into tiny, writhing worms. The Nineteen wasn’t the lightest piece he owned, but usually it was the most effective. He hoped he wouldn’t have to use it on Clyde.
“I suppose you wonder whether or not you will be paid for all of this?” Clyde gestured to the vacant space.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”
“There is always a payment to be made.”
“Are you threatening me?” Silas asked, his forced whisper barely escaping from his throat. Somewhere in this place he remembered he stashed other ordnances and grenades. Light enough so he could keep one hand free. Shrugging his shoulders, he dropped The Nineteen so he could move.
Clyde’s face opened in surprise. “Not now,” he groaned, attempting to wave Silas off.
Silas turned to look and saw a telltale flash of an immaculate white robe. Held by a beautifully manicured hand, a crystalline blade promised vengeance. But for who?
“Not expected, m’aam, but I’m not going to let you ruin my operation.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Silas,” a voice intoned.
“He,” Silas pointed to Clyde, “owes me lots of credits. When he pays me, then you can take him. I’m just the victim, here.”
Clyde laughed and pulled out something that resembled a circuit blade.
“Why don’t you step into the light so I can see your face? I don’t trust anything I can’t see,” Silas admitted.
The woman obliged him and stepped forward. Her face looked like that of an ancient painting; simple, innocent, perfect. Framed by golden hair, the face seemed to be genuinely concerned for him. Silas hoped Clyde would make a stupid move. It might buy him some time.
“This is the Law. We have you surrounded. Throw your weapons toward the front. Get on your knees and put your hands behind your head.”
Clyde turned to Silas. “Don’t worry. This is all part of the recruitment process. Just another ordinary day in the Zone.”
“You—you—sold me out? This was a setup?”
“Don’t look so surprised? Do you really think that I would entrust myself to a third-rate amateur mech with no license?”
“This is the Law. Citizens in abandoned warehouse, this is your second warning…”
“But what about those implants? You paid thousands of credits—”
“—with what I have, I don’t need to pay for implants.”
“This is the Law. You are required to submit…”
“Why don’t you help me kill the Spiritual Essence? You will have more than your recycled parts can calculate, and maybe I can arrange for a real license and workstation.”
“Refusal to submit will result in…”
“Let me help you, Silas,” a melodic voice sung.
Silas instinctively backed himself up against the wall. Between the Law, the good guys — no, make that the really, good guys — and whatever Clyde was supposed to be…
“You will help me one way or another,” Clyde shrieked. “Do you really think I’m–she’s–going to let all those months on you go to waste?”
Silas threw his massive arms in front of his face and slid to the floor.
“Do you want to be free?” a calm voice questioned him.
Silas cried “YES” and let his arms fall to his sides. He watched as a plaid-clothed Silas and a white-robed member of the Spiritual Essence struggled in the open space. They whirled and flung themselves at each other, their weapons crossing and uncrossing in the dim, pink light.
“This is the Law. This is your third and final warning…”
Not knowing what to do, Silas closed his eyes and allowed himself to shut down. With the Law coming in, he didn’t have anything else to lose. It was probably good if he didn’t look that guil—
A blade drove deep into his neck. Swatting wildly at whatever was in front of him, Silas pulled the blade from his neck and flung it into the nearest wall with all his strength. Blood pouring, Silas dropped to the ground, confused.
“Thank you for your payment to the cause.”