Shorts smartworld

The Slumlord

Where Detective Jon Bakker is recruited by one of the City's powerbrokers to locate the mysterious Slumlord... But aren't they just a myth?

[Friday | 14 September 2266]

The bouncer led us to the centre of the slum. How the hell he could tell from these underground tunnels is beyond me. As we arrived, he gestured at the ladder. The letter was addressed to me, so, feeling like a canary escaping the goldmine only to find itself under a nuclear bomb, I went first.

As I opened the access hole cover, my ears were accosted by the echoing grate, and my eyes were assaulted by the sunshine escaping the haze above the Sector New York skyline, and that damn fluorescent neon. As the bouncer followed me, trailed by the Animalz, my stomach sank: there were Officers everywhere, literally surrounding me, their weapons aimed. If they got trigger-happy, there’d be nothing left but mush.

But ahead of me was a figure I didn’t recognise.

A hooded figure, draped in a cape with robes underneath, their face hidden behind a reflective mask. As I looked at this figure and saw my ugly mug staring back at me, I wondered who the hell it was. Someone working for the City? A powerbroker? An agent working for Her Eminence? Whoever it is, I’m guessing they have a fair amount of tech stashed inside their robes.

Surely, it couldn’t be the Slumlord; most consider them an urban myth, not somebody who would show up in broad daylight. I glanced at the group. Neither the bouncer, nor the Animalz, seemed to have a clue, each meeting my silent plea for information with a shrug.

“Hands up, fuckos!”

The group and I all complied with the Officer’s polite request.

“Fucking slum scum!” another yelled. Back in Sector Seattle, we only ever called them that behind their backs.

While the Officers were shouting at us, I felt my left eye vibrate. That’s a new sensation; my OfficEye never did that, and this was a first for the organic one. I figure I’d get Mittens to take a look. If I survived this, that is.

“Good work, Bakker.” Her Eminence was in my ear. I was beginning to suspect Mittens wasn’t as forthcoming about these upgrades as I’d appreciated. “Don’t talk; just listen: we don’t want to alert any of your friends. This is the first look we’ve gotten of the Slumlord.”

I wondered what the hell they were playing at—from my vantage point, an urban myth revealing themselves to a hundred-odd armed Officers was a rookie error.

“Damn it; their outfit is blocking all our remote scanners. Whoever they are, they’re good. You’re going to have to identify them the old-fashioned way. By removing their—”

Her Eminence cut out, just as my depth perception disappeared. All around me, the buildings went dark, even those looming above, well past the boundaries of the Slum. The Officers, too, found themselves useless. Even after the Force’s last attempt to get the Animalz didn’t teach the dumbasses to drop the mech uniforms. There were even four shinobi stationed with the Officers, their stealth now ruined. One even fell from the building he was clinging to—funny shit.

Then, everything went black.

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