Ramblings

Slumming It: When a Short Story is the Bane of Your Existence

Not every story comes easy...

[T-Minus Two Days | Sunday, 12 August 2266]

Bakker woke with a jump at 7:25am, his Conscience chip bleeping directly into his brain. After a night of synthetics, his body felt like it had been passed through a meat grinder, then back again.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

“Hey, Conscience, shut up.”

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

“Hey, Conscience, shut up, I said.”

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

As each beep drilled further into Bakker’s brain, he cast his memory back to the night before. The synthetics, the bar staff, the brawl. It was a rough night, but Bakker was about ninety percent certain that he didn’t take a pill that could cause his Conscience chip to falter.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

“Hey, Conscience, run diagnostics.”

“Would you like to answer your alert first, Detective Bakker?”

Of course. In his dazed state, the detective hadn’t realised the alarm was an urgent transmission. Iit had better be damn important if it’s waking him up at this ungodly hour on one of his rare days off.

“Sure.”

A holographic projection appears opposite Bakker. Inside the image sat a regally dressed woman, her icy stare making it look like the hologram was about to turn into hard-light and strangle him.

“I don’t know you, I think you must’ve butt dialled me.” Dekker has never been a morning person.

The woman’s expression didn’t change. “But I know you, Detective Bakker,” she began. “And now you know me. You may refer to me as ‘Your Eminence.’ I am calling to congratulate you on the Adrit operation last night.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“As should any officer, Detective. It was a shame that Counsellor Adrit didn’t survive, but you solely managed to cut the feed and destroy the Jokezterz’s stronghold.”

Bakker nodded his head, his mouth unsure of what to day.

“Your heart rate is increasing,” Her Eminence says.

Of course it was increasing. Bakker found himself petrified that whoever this woman is, she knows he killed that kiddy fiddling son of a bitch.

“It seems like any reference to last night still gets my adrenaline up. I mean, it was five hours ago.”

“Five hours and twelve minutes,” Her Eminence corrects. “You reported thirty-eight heat signatures, yet the Force only recovered four bodies.”

“You’re with the Force?”

Bakker’s question elicited a rare smile from Her Eminence. “Oh, no. Let’s just say that I’m a few levels above the Force.”

The detective nods. “After I cut the feed and set the nanobomb, they fled. I would have made a shorter window, but the aim was to keep the paedophile alive.”

“Now, now, Detective Bakker. While the City expects you to believe everything the media tells you, in the event the signal gets hijacked, believe absolutely nothing. Officially, the accusations against Counsellor Adrit are nothing more than baseless speculation propagated by a terrorist organisation.”

“Yes, Your Eminence. Understood.”

“Of the seventeen thousand officers tasked with locating Counsellor Adrit, you are the only one who as much as reached the Jokezterz. There were raids, gunfights, and the slums are still running red. Despite their failures, the rest of the Force accomplished a lot of good last night. But it is now apparent that with crime in the Seattle Sector currently curbed, your talents are wasted.”

“You’re firing me? If you’re going to try that, I’m going to need to see some credentials.”

Her Eminence laughs. “No, you’re going undercover. You’ll be travelling to the New York Sector tonight, before infiltrating the slum on Tuesday. You will locate the Slumlord and bring them to justice.”

“What? The Slumlord’s just a myth,” Bakker says.

“Officially, they are a myth. Unofficially, I have intel that suggests otherwise. This intel also suggests they are bankrolling the Jokezterz.”

“How do you expect me to infiltrate them when all my cybernetics are issued by the City for official business?”

“That’s what tomorrow is for. I have a slum technician on the payroll. You will meet her tomorrow morning.”

“As long as I accept,” Bakker says. “I can’t say this idea is very enticing.”

“Detective Bakker, you work for the City, and the City works for me. I am transferring the details of your flight as we speak. You might be a talented officer, but talented officers go missing all the time. Please, don’t make yourself a statistic.”

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