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Cyberpunk – Beta Run

Conclusion of the four-part introduction to Jake and the Black Fire Corp.

The sounds of flesh striking flesh, metal striking flesh, and metal striking metal echoed in the small room.  Jake was quickly growing used to the metal parts, and now that he was physically equal to the other cyborgs he was proving his superior fighting ability.  With a mix of street fighting and expert martial arts training, he wiped the floor with his teammates.
As he used a kick planted squarely in one agent’s chest to flip himself backwards, the door to the training room opened, and a man entered in a business suit.  He raised an eyebrow.  “I see you’re adjusting well to your new form, Jacob.”
Jacob turned to the man and nodded.  His robotic eye scanned the man; facial recognition told him that he was a high-ranking executive of the Black Fire Corportion.  “Very well, Mr. Smith.”
“Good.  You’re going to need it.”
Ann walked up behind Jacob, slipping back into her jumpsuit.  “We got a job, sir?”
Smith nodded.  “Someone’s hired a cyborg mercenary to hijack some of our shipments.  Our normal security team was slaughtered.”
“We’re on it.  Come on, Jake.”  She led him to the equipment room, and he picked out some new equipment for his cyborg body.

“So that’s the shipment?”  Jake watched the trucks, his robotic eye scanning them and telling him how far away they were.  “And this is where the trucks were hit last time?”
“Yes, to both.”  Ann glanced at the cyborg on her other side, who held a large rifle to his shoulder.  “You ready?”
“Yes, ma’am.  If he shows, I’ll blow him away.”
“Good.  It should be soon.”
No sooner had she spoken than an explosion took out the first truck, spilling its cargo all over the road.
“What was that?”
“Anti-vehicle missile, short range.”  The sniper scanned the road.  “He can’t be- Yes, there he is!”
They cyborg was huge, with guns bristling from every part of his body.  The guards dropped like flies.
“I got him.”  The sniper fired, and the cyborg staggered, glaring in the direction of the team.  “How did he survive-”
He was cut off when a large shell tore a hole in his chest.
The others scattered as more bullets followed, tearing up the roof they had been camped on.
Jake glanced over at Ann.  “My turn.”  He sprang off the rooftop towards the cyborg.
“Jacob, wait!”  Ann swore and leapt after him.
He sprinted, leaping from wall to wall, landing on the highway a few meters from the cyborg.  “Hey, ugly!”
It spun, a minigun on its arm whirring to life, spewing bullets at Jake, who leapt forward, rolling under the weapon and drawing his katana, energy blade humming to life.  The cyborg whirled, but its size slowed it down.  Jake rolled away as his foe’s metal fist cracked the highway.  He slashed at it with his katana, but the cyborg’s armored suit deflected the blade.  Another swing forced him to roll back, sheating his katana.
“All right, more power.”  He drew two Smith & Wesson 500’s from his belt, diving between the larger cyborg’s legs and emptying the revolvers at its back.
It staggered forward, and Jake saw fluid leaking from the holes, but it didn’t seem to care.  One of its massive arms swung around, flame and explosives pouring from it.  Jake rolled further back, his suit resisting the scorching, as he pulled the biggest new weapon he had acquired out of its sheathe.
A buster sword, the blade alone nearly six and a half feet long.  Made of a nearly indestructible alloy, copyright Black Fire Corporation, it was also coated in an energy field similar to the one on his katana.  This one, however, was much more powerful, as it had a longer handle, which could hold a stronger battery.
The cyborg aimed its largest cannon directly at him, and Jake could see the energy charging deep in its depth.  He whipped his sword around, bracing his off hand on the flat of the blade, deflecting the bolt of energy that was launched at him, though the force of it sent him skidding backwards on the asphalt.  As he saw the cyborg charging another shot, he leapt upward, letting the bolt pass harmlessly under him, and brought the buster sword down fiercely, splitting his large enemy in two from head to crotch.  The two halves slowly fell apart, crashing to the ground.
Ann came running up.  “You are the biggest idiot I have ever known!”  She paused, looking at the fallen cyborg.  “Though, it did work.  Maybe you aren’t such an idiot after all.”
Jake grinned, putting up the buster sword.  “Admit it, you admired that.”
“I’m not going to say anything.”  She grinned.  “Not in public, at least.”
The rest of the team ran up, all congratulating Jake on his amazing victory.  He waved off their congratulations half-heartedly, grinning.
Ann looked around, frowning slightly.  “Something’s not right…  This one cyborg couldn’t have carried all these supples by himself.  He must have had backup.  And they’re probably still around.”
One of the cyborgs looked towards the side of the road, where several steel drums were stacked.  “Like, behind those drums?”
The whole group turned, and several men with machine guns jumped out from behind the drums, opening fire.  Jake extended his arm, and the metal opened up and shifted, changing from a hand into a gun.
He sprinted towards the drums.  A few bullets bounced off his machine parts, and a few more hit some of his skin.  With a single bound, he leapt over the pile of barrels, whirling and targeting the half-dozen men.  They turned to continue firing at him, but Jake’s in-arm shotgun blasted off six fast shots, dropping every one of them.  Then he swayed and fell to one knee, stablizing himself with his human hand.
“Jake!”  Ann rushed to his side.  “You are the biggest idiot I’ve ever known…”
“I’m fine…”  He tried to stand and went down again.
Ann caught him.  “Being a cyborg doesn’t make you a god, Jake.”
“Didn’t need to be made a cyborg to act like I was a god,” Jake said, smirking.  “It just helps.”  He groaned and collapsed, finally succumbing to his wounds.

He woke up in the medical ward, his human parts bandaged.  Ann glared at him.  “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“You keep saying that.  It worked, didn’t it?”
She kept glaring.  “Luck.”
“Skill.”  He sat up, grunting.  “However, I will be more cautious in the future.”
“Good.”  Ann looked around to make sure she was alone with him, then pulled him towards her and kissed him.  “Daft man.  Keep yourself in one piece.”
Jake nodded, chuckling.  With that incentive, he’d be sure to watch his back.

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Cyberpunk – Transformation

Part three

 

Jake crouched atop a large pipe, peering through the binoculars he held with one hand.  Snipers patrolled the building across the street, a weapons manufacturer that thought it could compete with Black Fire.  Job was simple: in, plant explosives, out, detonate.  Private security and automatic turrets would provide the challenge.
He stowed the binoculars and sighted his grappling hook launcher at the highest point on the building, a water tower.  The hook flew across the gap and locked on, magnets securing it in addition to the clamp.  Jake hooked the launcher onto the railing he stood behind and clipped his handlebar onto the metal wire, which stretched taut above the road below.
A single push-off sent him skimming across the distance, gripping the handlebar tightly until he was over the other building, then releasing it and dropping the few feet to the roof.  The rough surface scraped against him as he rolled, but the sturdy material of his body suit kept him from feeling it.  When he was on his feet again, his katana was in his hand, the energy coating on the blade humming to life and giving off a faint blue light.  He sliced through the padlock on the entrance, swiftly pulling open the door and locating the alarm panel.
The code Ann had given him worked; the alarm system was disarmed, and he unlocked the doors at the back of the building.  He punched the timer on his wristwatch as he went inside.  In one minute and ten seconds, he would meet up with the rest of his team in a maintenance shaft.  As he moved swiftly and silently down the corridors, he drew the S&W 500 from its holster.  It had a heavy, solid feel to it, and he held it ahead of him as he navigated around the corners.
Footsteps sounded off to his left.  He threw himself against a wall, the gun held to his chest.  A guard walked around the corner, his rifle held low; he was paying little attention to his job.  Jake clubbed the back of his head with his revolver, and the guard went down with barely a grunt.  He hauled the body behind a convenient pipe and resumed moving towards the rendezvous point.
He had previously plotted out a path through the corridor that would keep him from encountering any of the building’s automatic defenses, so he met up with his teammates exactly on time.  Ann flashed him a grin.  “Nice work, Jacob.”  She handed him his portion of the explosives.  “You know where you need to plant these?”
“Of course.”  He slung the bag over his shoulder, returning her grin.  “See you in five minutes.”
They scattered, moving throughout the building and planting the explosives on key systems.  As Jacob placed his last explosive, her frowned.  There had been no opposition whatsoever.  It was too easy.
A hissing sound, followed by a loud click, came from behind him.  He whirled, and saw that the door to the room had sealed behind him.  He rushed to it and tried to force it open, but it resisted.  After glancing at his watch and seeing that he had only thirty seconds before the bombs detonated, he pulled the shotgun off his back and fired on the door, trying to blow open the latch and free himself.
When both the clip of shells and the battery for the energy shots were exhausted, he drew his pistol, hoping that the large, high-power slugs might succeed where buckshot had failed.  The door was merely dented.  He holstered the pistol and drew his katana, trying to slide the blade through the door and the frame and cut it open, but it was too tight.  Another glance at his watch: ten seconds.
He moved to the farthest corner of the room and pushed over the heavy desk and filing cabinet, laying behind them.  His watched ticked down the last three seconds.  Two.  One.
A deafening boom, and the desk was flung against the wall, crushing Jake’s lower body.  The fire washed over him, searing him through his combat suit.  He lay there, barely conscious, as the fire died down.  His vision was dim and blurry, and his ears were totally filled with a loud ringing.
Vaguely, as though from a distance, he heard Ann’s voice over his headset.  He couldn’t tell what she was saying.  Gradually, mercifully, he blacked out.

“Jacob, come in!”  Ann swore as she pulled a small palm computer out of a pouch.  “Did either of you see him come out?”
“No, ma’am,” one of them said.
“I noticed the building locking down just after I made it out,”
She plugged into the device, and her eyes went unfocused as she looked at her heads-up display.  Three small lights close together, that was Ann and the other two operatives.  That one light, still in the building…  “Bloody fool.”  Ann sprinted back into the building, her cyborg legs sending her flying over the burning rubble, leaping from solid patch to solid patch, then landed in front of the door that had trapped Jacob.  After a quick scan of the door, she punched the latch hard, snapping it, then pulled it open quickly.  Jake was crumpled against a wall, pinned by a desk that still smoldered.
“Help me get him out of here.”  The other two cyborgs pulled the desk away and Ann picked up his broken body and quickly carried him to the hover copter that they had flown there.  It took them less than five minutes to get back to Black Fire Corporation’s headquarters, and another two to transfer Jacob’s body to the medical ward.
The doctors looked him over.  “There’s nothing we can do to save this body,” one of them said.  “But he’s on the list for cybernetic recreation, so we’ll save his mind.”
Ann watched, her robotic eyes unblinking, as the doctors determined what of Jacob could be saved.  They put him on life support to sustain him while they transferred his life from a human shell to one that was primarily machine.  With a smoothness that spoke of a great deal of experience, the doctors removed his legs, his right arm at the shoulder, and the right side of his face.
As they finished removing the damaged body parts, Ann frowned slightly.  “Do you have the right parts for him?
“He was scanned during his physical.  We made a complete set of cyborg parts for him the day he started working for Black Fire.”  The doctor who said this opened a cabinet, revealing the aforementioned set of parts.  They took everything they needed and began merging metal and flesh, bonding the human part of Jacob to his new cyborg parts.
A faint smirk crossed Ann’s lips.  He had been good before.  Now he would be the best.

When Jacob came to, the first thing he noticed was that he didn’t hurt.  After what he’d been through, that was inexplicable.  He opened his eyes and noticed something else.  Everything looked different.  A few moments of contemplation let him realize he was seeing things partially in infrared vision, and he seemed to somehow have a minimal heads-up display.
That wasn’t the half of it, though.  He slowly sat up and felt that his right arm was harder, stronger.  Almost unwillingly, he turned to look at it.  Metal.  Mechanical.  A quick glance showed that his legs were metal as well, and he felt his face with his left, still human, hand.  Also metal.
Jake flopped back onto the pillows.  Sure, they had told him that they would turn him into a cyborg if he lost limbs, but reality is something altogether entirely different from what you hear someone says.
His flop must have made more noise than he thought, because Ann came quickly into the room.  “You’re awake.”  She smiled.  “How do you feel?”
“How do you think?”  He sat up again and moved to the edge of the bed, getting used to how the new body felt.  It responded just the same as his old body had; that was something.  “All right, I suppose.  How long does it take to get used to?”
Ann sat on the bed beside him.  “About a week.  Though, only the first day is really awkward.”
Jake slowly stood, feeling like a child just learning to walk.  The legs were high-quality, though, and carried him well.  Once he got the feel of them, he walked back and forth in the room, testing them.  He shot Ann a grin.  “How do I look?”
She grinned.  “Handsome and powerful.  Everything an agent should be.  And you seem well-adapted to it, too.”
He shifted from leg to leg.  “Indeed.  Let’s go train.”  They walked down the hall together, heading for the training room.
Jake grinned.  This was going to be fun.

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Cyberpunk – Recruitment

Using a new word processing software, so the formatting may be a little different.  Second part of the story about Jacob.

It was an ordinary day. Jake sat on a barstool, a vodka martini sitting on the counter in front of him. He held his katana in one hand and ran an oiled cloth over the blade with his other hand, polishing and preserving it.  A knock on the front door drew his attention, and he set the cloth down, looking towards the foyer.  Members didn’t knock, and clients didn’t visit; who could be knocking?
He heard the sentry open the door and question the newcomer.  Then he heard a loud gunshot, and saw the sentry come flying through the doorway, most clearly dead.  Almost at the same time, the back door was blown in, and several members of the rival gang charged through, automatic weapons blazing.
Jake threw himself down and rolled, coming up against one of the walls the enemy didn’t have line of sight to, pressing his back to it and drawing the pistol from his waistband.  When two of the invaders came through the door from the foyer, he dropped them both with headshots.  He retreated back into another room as machine gun fire came from both entrances.  He reloaded the two shots his revolver had fired, then re-holstered it, readying instead his katana.
When three of the other gang’s men came through the door, he decapitated one of them and stabbed a second in the heart before the third was even aware of his presence.  That third tried to turn his machine gun on Jake, but he sliced off the arm that held it, and then slit the throat of his now disarmed opponent.
He cleaned his katana with shirt of one of the dead men on the floor, listening.  Sounds of scuffling and gunfire could be heard all throughout the building, on every floor.  He pressed on one of the walls, opening a secret door to a ladder, which he climbed up to the second floor.  After listening at the door, he threw it open and ran the interloper in the middle of the room clean through with the katana.
Dumping the lifeless body on the ground, and not pausing to clean his blade, he dashed through the door, drawing his revolver and shooting down the gangers, one at each end of the hallway.  The sounds of conflict were dying down by now, and he saw Walters come down from the third floor, slightly wild-eyed and carrying Jamison’s old machine gun.
Jake grabbed his shoulder.  “Any more up there?”
“No, I got ‘em all.”  Walter nodded.  “Here?”
“Not sure, I just got here.  Check that half, I’ll check this half.”
They split up and circled the floor.  Jake had just finished when he heard a sustained burst of fire from Walter’s machine gun.  He ran into the hallway and saw Walters walking out of the last room on his side.  “Clear now.”
Jake nodded.  “Downstairs.  Cover me.”
They went down the stairs, Jake first, crouched low, holding his katana and revolver, and Walters followed, standing, machine gun at his shoulder, sweeping around as they descended, watching for threats.  When they reached the bottom, Jake crept along one wall, heading for the boss’s room.  One of their rivals came out, saw Walters, and fired his machine gun, just as Walters did the same to him.  Walters, however, was not an expert with a machine gun, and he went down.
Jake stood quickly, his sword slicing through the killer of his friend.  He moved to Walters’ side, but it was obvious there was nothing that could be done.
After one final check of the premises, and after grabbing his shotgun and extra ammo for it and his revolver, Jake walked out the front door.  He had a few vague ideas of what he could do, now that his gang was wiped out, but none of them really sounded attractive.
As he walked down the street, a black hovercar pulled up alongside him, and one of the windows rolled down.  Jake couldn’t see who spoke, but the voice was clear, and feminine.  “What do you plan to do, Jacob?”
There are some people, in some situations, that you don’t ask how they know things or why they want to know about you.  You just answer, truthfully.  So Jake did.  “I don’t know.”
“What if I said I could offer you a job?  More challenges, better pay, superior training and equipment, and teammates who are as skilled and professional as you are.”
Jake raised an eyebrow.  “I’d ask you what the catch was.”
“You could never see anyone from your old life again, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to leave us.”
He looked back on the gang hideout.  From the outside, it looked like nothing had happened.  For some reason, that depressed him more.  “I’d say sign me up.”
The door slid open, and Jake climbed in.  Inside, he saw a woman in an executive suit, her platinum-blonde hair pulled into a ponytail. Her silver eyes revealed her cybernetic nature.  “Welcome to Black Fire Corporation’s Covert Ops.”

After the long drive to Black Fire’s headquarters, Jake was shown to a secret sublevel that housed Covert Ops.  The female cyborg, whose name turned out to be Ann, led him to the equipment room.  Guns of every shape and size adorned the walls, and cabinets and footlockers were filled with armor and gadgets.  “Take your pick.”
Jake ran his hands over some of the guns, finally settling on a shotgun similar to his.  He picked it off the wall, feeling its weight.  “Very nice.  Twelve-shot clip, optional battery pack for energy burst secondary firing.  Who’s the manufacturer?”
Ann smirked.  “Black Fire.  Not yet released to public distribution.”
He chuckled and set it down, looking over the handguns.  “Ooh, a Smith & Wesson 500?  I didn’t think any of these still existed.”  He picked the powerful revolver up and pointed it at the wall, checking the sights.  “Been the most powerful handgun in the world for decades.”
“We have the last half dozen in the world.”  Ann leaned casually against the wall.  “As you can see, the Black Fire Corporation provides the best of everything for its operatives.  We can even make custom weapons for you.”
“Custom weapons, huh?”  Jake slid the katana off his back.  “I assume Black Fire also has vibra-blade technology?”
“Of course.”  She took the katana from him and tucked it under one arm.  “We’ll have it back to you within twenty four hours.”
“Good.”  He opened one of the cabinets, looking over the selection of body armors and harnesses.  One in particular caught his eye, and he pulled it out.  It was a black Kevlar bodysuit, with leather accessories and a back harness for a two-handed gun and a belt with a holster and pouches, as well as a bandoleer for extra ammo.  “Can you customize this, too?”
Ann considered the suit.  “You want the back harness modified to carry your shotgun and katana together?”
Jake raised an eyebrow; this woman didn’t miss a beat.  “Exactly.”
She unclipped the harness from the suit and tucked it under her arm with the katana.  “That’ll be ready within twenty four hours as well.”
“Good.”  He paused and glances at the crates of gadgets.  Deciding he’d take whatever he needed when he was told what missions he would be going on, he looked back at Ann.  “That’s all I need, then.”
“I’ll show you to your quarters and show you the training hall, then drop these off with the tech boys.  This way, please.”  Ann led him down the halls to a series of mostly identical rooms, much like dorms, though much better furnished.  “My room is this one here on the left.  You’ll be across from me, here on the right.  Training facilities are at the end of this hall on the left.  Any questions?”
Jake walked into the room, setting his shotgun in the hooks on the wall designed for that very purpose.  “No, I think I’m good.  Training facilities are always open, yeah?”
She nodded.  “Always.  And these rooms can be soundproofed, so if someone’s training while you’re trying to sleep, you can block it out.”  She grinned, a mischievous grin.  “Be seeing you around, Jacob.”  With that, she sauntered off down the hall.
He quickly changed into his new bodysuit, slipping his new Smith & Wesson into his holster.  The training hall was right where Ann had said it was, and contained targets, obstacle courses, sparring rings, robotic opponents, and a wide variety of small challenges to improve a specific skill or ability.  Jacob grinned.  This was going to be a good job.

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