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?

[Monday | 3 December 2266]

“What would a Sector Seattle Officer be chasing somebody down in the Seattle slums?” I had to play dumb, to see how much this person knew.

“Generally, it’s because they received a transmission from Her Eminence, making such demands.”

Fuck. Turns out they knew quite a lot. “How did you…” I began.

“Your friend Mittens clued me in.”

“Of course she did,” I said with a roll of the eyes. Mittens was playing everyone.

“Mittens has no love of Her Eminence, and is only working for her because her family’s being surveilled by shinobi. They’re here in Sector Seattle, did you know that?”

“You’re shitting me. Do you know where they are?”

“You’re obviously miscalculating how difficult they are to kill.”

“I killed one. Wasn’t that difficult, to be honest.”

The person behind me started laughing. That was not the response I was expecting. “I heard about that. You turned his head into a smashed egg. But it lacked a certain level of… finesse. You go blowing shinobis’ heads off, you’re going to alert Her Eminence.”

“And how did that get back to you? Mittens again?”

“No, my operatives. The Animalz.”

Your operatives? Her Eminence’s intel was wrong, it seems.”

“That’s the design. The Animalz are part of our slum network here, but we created a data trail linking them to Sector New York. The occasional trip there also helps keep them off my tail.”

“So, I could turn around, shoot you in the face and get Her Eminence off my back?”

“As I mentioned earlier, if you try that, you’ll be dead before you hit the ground. I’ll still be alive,” they told me. “My operatives also inform me that you were the hero Officer tasked with shutting down the Adrit operation. I like how you shut it down.”

To be honest, I liked it, too. The Slumlord, or whoever this is, followed it up with another question. “So what brings you back to Sector Seattle?”

“After your operatives visited Sector Seattle, and I saw they, in fact, worked with the Slumlord, I thought they could direct me to them.”

They laughed at me again. “The Slumlord doesn’t appear on request. Not there, not here.”

“If I can’t reach the Slumlord, how will I know they’re okay? Or the Magistrate for that matter? Our Magistrate is missing, and nobody’s heard hide nor hair from the Slumlord in the last few weeks. Have you heard from them?”

“No.” It was a short, succinct answer, followed by a long pause. “The AIs will return you to Sector Seattle. Hopefully, being airborne will keep you out of the City’s sights. If not, the AIs should convince everyone that you’re being escorted under official City business.”

“No. I came for answers.”

“You won’t get them here, but I’ll help you get them back in Sector New York.”

“Fine, but surely there has to be a better way than those creepy fucking artificial idiots.”

“You could fly; you’ll get caught. You could drive; you’ll get caught. My operatives could escort you; you’ll get caught, and so will they. You could walk; the trip will kill you—if you don’t get caught, which you will.” They had a point. “The AIs are safe. Hacked by my team, linked into the Slums and cut off from the Force.”

“When do we go?”

“I’ve prepared a room for you, so get some sleep. The AIs will fly you out tomorrow. While you’re airborne, my operatives and I will reach out to every contact we have in Sector New York. We’ll make so much noise that if your Slumlord and their Magistrate are alive, they’ll at least be aware you’re looking for them.”

Great. I came all the way here just to be sent back? Next time I’ll just reach out via transmission…

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