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?

[Thursday | 29 November 2266]

Under the cover of night and the neon glow of the City above, I arrived at the Magistrate’s office. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Mittens was there, but I was. Looks like she had her mitts on everything here, for better or worse.

After a quick scan and frisk before being taken offline, the bouncers escorted us to the Magistrate’s office. We entered, and the Magistrate—or one of the Magistrates—was sitting behind his desk.

“Jon, Mittens, take a seat. Please.”

We do as we’re told and take our seats. I stare at the Magistrate, trying to determine which one he is.

“I’m the second one,” the Magistrate told me. Paz.

“She knows?” I glanced at Mittens.

“She does now. Or, at least that there’s more than one of us.”

“What the fuck?” Mittens could be rather excitable. “You know who the Magistrate is? Have you informed Her Eminence?”

“No, Mittens. And I have no intention of it.”

“Well, just so you know, Her Eminence is looking for a reason to have my family killed. Withholding that kind of info could be all the motivation she needs.”

“Then don’t tell her I know.” I look at Paz, who is shifting about in his uniform uncomfortably. “So, I understand you were one of the last people to see Mr. Matrox on September 14. Where was he?”

“He was here, Detective. It was before your showdown with the Force.”

“Have you heard anything from the Slumlord?”

Paz chuckled nervously and shook his head. “I’ve never even met the Slumlord! Shit, I don’t even know if my predecessor has. They operate behind the scenes.”

“And yet they control this place,” I said. “If they don’t speak with you, they must speak with someone who knows what’s happening on the ground. What drew them out that day?”

“I assume they were taking a stand, and making a point of it for the Force. It also showed the Animalz they are still in control of the slums.”

“Can you reach them?” I asked. Mittens looked at me, dumbfounded; the Magistrate simply shook his head. “The people YutopiCorp classify as terrorists aren’t the type to leave contact details.”

I’d heard enough, so I turned to face Mittens. “What little upgrades did you sneak in to me while I was out? Her Eminence can see me, and she can speak directly through my brain.”

“I inserted a relay chip into your brain. It sends a feed of what you see and hear to Her Eminence, via an encrypted network.”

“I want it gone.”

“If I remove it, she kills my family, Bobo. I like you and all, but I love my family, you know?”

I grunted. It was better than conceding she had a point.

“What if you did it here?” the Magistrate asked Mittens. “We have some tools; probably not the toys you’re used to playing with, but Detective Bakker’s already offline thanks to the EMP.”

Mittens nodded her head. “What don’t you want Her Eminence to see?”

“Nothing that I want getting back to her, Mittens.”

Her face fell; I get the idea Mittens didn’t like being kept out of the loop. But she was compromised. Hell, I was compromised, which is why I wanted it gone.

“Maybe I can short it? It’ll take you offline, but it’ll look like an accident. Her Eminence will demand I install a new one.”

I nodded. “Thanks. Once we’re out of here, just let her know I’m following a lead. Maybe put in a polite request that her shinobi stay the fuck out of my way.”

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