This is the first of four short stories about my new cyberpunk character. We will have Origins, Recruitment, Transformation, and Mission. If he seems cool, he might get a book. We shall see.
The rain dripped down from the eaves of the building, splashing into the puddle that spread across the ground. Ripples broke up the surface of the puddle, lapping at the booted feet of the man who leaned against one wall of the alley.
His arms were crossed over his chest, and the collar of his coat was turned up against the droplets that the rain occasionally sent under the eaves. Though he appeared relaxed, his gaze scanned the alley constantly, searching for the slightest disturbance.
When another man finally appeared at the end of the alley, his pace quickened in an attempt to get out of the rain, the man on the wall straightened up, one of his hands reaching for the gun on his hip. The other man noticed him and slowed.
“Nice sunny day, isn’t it,” the newcomer called.
“Only if you live underground.” He moved his hand away from his gun and greeted the newcomer with a firm handclasp. “So what’s the job?”
“Four man gig, in-and-out operation, double the standard rate. Go into the Yakamoto corporate headquarters, hack into their private network, download all their records.”
“Yakamoto? They have a private security team, better than the cops.”
“Which is why it’s a four man gig, instead of two. What’s your answer?”
“All right, all right, we’ll take it. Half up front.”
The newcomer pulled a datachip from his jacket and handed it over.
After confirming on his wrist computer that the amount was correct, the man who had been waiting nodded. “We’ll get the records. Meet me at the Gigabite, this time, three days from now.”
His new employer nodded, then hurried off. Jacob chuckled, pocketing the datachip. He walked casually out of the alley and headed back to his gang’s hangout.
Along the way, he spotted a couple rival gang members lurking about, but they stayed on their side of the street, so he didn’t bother with them. He didn’t even respond when one of them called out a taunt, something about his mother.
When he got to his destination and pushed the door open, he was immediately greeted by the sentry. “How’d it go, Jake? You get us anything?”
“When was the last time I let us down, Benny?” Jake smirked and moved past him into the main room. “Boss, I got us a job. Double standard, half up front.” He pulled the datachip from his jacket and laid it on the gang boss’s desk.
“Oh?” The boss picked up the chip and plugged it into his terminal. “What’s the job?”
“Record retrieval from Yakamoto Corporate. Hacker, infiltrator, and two wingmen.”
The boss laughed, a dry, wheezing chuckle. “And you want to be a wingman, I suppose? Even though I keep saying I don’t want you in the dangerous jobs? You’re too useful to me to lose, Jacob.”
“I’m also your best brawler, boss. Yakamoto’s security is gonna be tough; you need me on this job.”
He waved a hand, as though in admission of defeat. “All right, have it your way. But if you die on this job, don’t come crying to me, because I’ll kill you again for losing me my best man.”
Jake laughed and nodded, heading deeper into the building. “Jamison! Walters! Doc!”
Three men came out of various rooms. The shortest, whose skin was so pale as to be nearly translucent, spoke first. “‘Sup, Jake?”
“Four man job. You’re my hacker, and Walters, you’re my infiltrator. Jamison, you and I are wingmen.”
Jamison grabbed his machine gun off the wall and checked the action. “Lock and load. Who do I get to shoot?”
“Yakamoto private security.” Jake grabbed his shotgun, arming himself, just like the rest of his team. “Get in, steal the records, get out. Feel free to take trophies, but don’t get distracted.” He slipped on a bandoleer of rounds for his gun. “We green?”
“Green,” they all chorused.
“Roll out.” Jake led them out of the room, grabbing one of the heavy trenchcoats by the door and slipping it on over the bandoleer he wore, and the shotgun slung across his back. He paused outside to let the other three men do the same, and then they hopped into one of their gang vehicles, driving across town to the Yakamoto building.
They arrived without incident and stepped out of the vehicle. “Now, don’t start shooting until they do or I do. Got it?”
The others nodded, and Jake led them inside. A single guard sat behind the desk, and another, with a rifle in his hands, stood by the door that led deeper into the building. Jake made sure his hand was hidden from both guards, then gestured for Jamison to get into position by the guard with the rifle. He then strolled over to the guard at the desk, who looked up with a scowl.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No, but I don’t think we need one.” His hand lashed out, chopping the guard in the neck. The guard stiffened, then went limp and collapsed. By the time Jake turned around, Jamison had already smashed the second guard’s head into the wall.
Walters, without having to be prompted, grabbed the key off the guard and opened the door.
Jake and Jamison led the way through. They managed to get to the elevator without incident, and they all took a brief moment to relax as the doors closed. Then Jake hit the top floor’s button and pulled out a small holo-projector. A map of the building’s top floor appeared, with a terminal flashing red.
“This is the only terminal directly linked to Yakamoto’s records. It’s also on the other side of the floor, through at least four guards and half a dozen office workers.”
Jamison grinned, pulling out his machine gun. “Do we care about casualties?”
“Not particularly.” Jake slid his shotgun out of its holster and shrugged off his trench coat. “Get ready.”
The elevator slowed, then opened its doors with a ‘Ding!’
“Fire at will, Jamison.”
The big man laughed, and stepped out of the elevator, spraying bullets in a semi-circle around him. Two guards dropped immediately, and the others dove for cover. Jamison focused his storm of bullets on each guard’s chosen cover, quickly reducing its effectiveness as a barrier to be on par with that of Swiss cheese. The guards behind these defenses didn’t last much longer than their cover.
Just as Jamison killed the last guard, the lights near him all went out. While Jamison was still looking at them with a dumbfounded expression on his face, Jacob slipped on his infrared goggles, and saw, just as he finished securing them, a blurred human figure flit past Jamison. A second later, blood spurted from Jamison’s side, and he collapsed, the goggles showing his body’s temperature begin to fall.
“Blasted Asian executives and their blasted ninja cyborgs…” Jake growled, hefting his shotgun. He didn’t try to look for the ninja; it would have realized he could see it and put something between him and it. He listened. Then he heard it: a very faint creak above him and to his right.
With a whirl, he pointed his shotgun in that direction and emptied the six-shot chamber. The cyborg, caught at the very beginning of its leap, was arrested by the force of the burst, its broken body falling on and shattering a pot with a fern in it.
Jake straightened up. “Go get the data. This floor’s clear now.”
Doc hurried off to the terminal. Jake went over to the cyborg, examining it. It looked like a standard martial arts ‘borg, dressed in an almost totally concealing black outfit. Jake’s attention was drawn to the katana in its hand.
He plucked it from the cyborg’s grip, after first prying away the rigid mechanical fingers one by one, and hefted it. The balance was perfect; the hilt fit securely against his palm, and the blade moved easily, like an extension of his own arm. He gave it a few swipes, admiring the perfection of the blade. His eye fell on a wooden post, which he presumed had held a vase or bust before the fighting broke out. With a single movement, he swept the blade through the post.
For a moment, it appeared to remain motionless; then he realized it was slowly falling, picking up speed as the top fell further away from the center, clattering to the floor. He raised one eyebrow in approval and cleaned the blade on the ninja’s outfit. Then he took the sheathe, put the katana in it, and strapped it across his back.
The stowing of the sword reminded him of another fallen combatant’s weapon that needed to be retrieved. He picked up Jamison’s machine gun and handed it to Walters. “Carry that.”
Doc returned at that moment, pocketing a datachip. “Got it. Let’s go.”
The three of them returned to the elevator, putting their covering trenchcoats back on as it descended to the bottom floor. They walked past the still-unconscious guards, leaving the building and entering their vehicle. As Walters drove them, Jake leaned back in his seat, satisfied. Jamison was dead, but he had been a fool anyway. Dying to reveal a ninja was the best use possible for him. And personally, Jake now had an excellent sword. He patted it with a faint smirk. Much more useful than a loud partner any day.
The rest of them had escaped, and they had the data, as well as two and a half days to analyze it and try to figure out why their client was willing to pay so much for it. Jake nodded, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes, congratulating himself on a job well done.