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?

[Saturday | 1 September 2266]

Where in the flying fuck was fucking Mittens?

It had been over two weeks since Mikel released me from their makeshift prison, and I still hadn’t caught hair nor whisker of her. Mikel has provided me with every assurance that he released Mittens at the same time as me. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t believe it, not even from Mikel. But I’ve always been able to read him like an eBook.

I wasn’t hurting for friends, though. Or maybe acquaintances. Hell, I wouldn’t call Mittens a friend, and she at least knew I was an undercover officer. But… these people. Most of them don’t strike me as sketchy, untrustworthy, or the type to dedicate their lives to criminal enterprises and disrupting the City. No, instead, most of these people just looked like they were down on their luck, chewed up and spat out by the system that promised to look after them. Others were born into hard times, never having had the money to live in the City above. And yeah, life in the slums was a conscious decision for some of them. They’re the ones you need to look out for.

Regardless of whether these people were a danger to the City or not, I had a job to do. Locate and identify this Slumlord, then report back to Her Eminence. None of these friends acquaintances had any clue as to who they were. Shit, the only person who had even seen this mythical figure was Mikel.

As I contemplated my next steps after a week of jack and another week of shit, I felt raindrops falling on my head. Lovely way to spend a Saturday night, after the slum was effectively flooded that morning. I looked down to see my reflection shimmering in the puddle below, backlit by garish neon. Then I noticed someone scaling the building behind me.

I turned to face the building and zoomed in with my telescopic vision. Shit, it was a kid; male, couldn’t be over seventeen. He was perched outside the sixteenth storey, hanging from his cybernetic claws that were penetrating the building’s façade. He had a gun tucked into the back of his pants, and hard light daggers strapped to the inside of each leg.

The water from the puddles was finding its way into my shoes as I raced toward the building. Shit, now he had made it to the twenty-eighth floor. The kid meant business. As I continued sprinting, my momentum was increasing at an unnatural pace. While I still resent Mittens fucking around with my DNA, the enhanced speed and agility was kinda fun, I had to admit.

Upon reaching the building, I leapt towards it. I reached the window outside the second storey, and gripped it with my bionic arm. The kid was now at the twenty-ninth storey, and still moving. That only left the penthouse on the thirtieth floor. While it provided quite the view of the slum, the monolithic buildings crammed throughout the City’s skyline blocked any further view, reminding everybody in the slum about their lowly station. Even for those living it up in penthouses.

As I fought through the rain, I slowly clambered up to the thirtieth storey. Only two minutes behind the kid, not too bad. But I was still scared I was two minutes too late.

As I entered the window, I found the kid standing at the foot of a bed with his gun aimed directly at its inhabitants: Mikel Matrox and an unidentified male. Damn, I wish I still had my OfficEye sometimes.

“Where is he? Where’s the Slumlord?” the kid asked Mikel. Damn, he sounded frantic. “And where the fuck’s the Magistrate?”

“I… I have no idea,” Mikel lied. At least about the Magistrate, who knows what he knew about the Slumlord? The kid was hopped up on so many illegal synthetics that he didn’t even notice my intrusion. I hoped he was fucked up enough to not pick up on Mikel’s lie.

“You’re lying!” Nope, he wasn’t as fucked up as I’d hoped.

“He’s not lying,” I interrupted. It was time to make my presence known to the kid. Besides, I was always the better liar.

The kid spun around to face me; the synthetics in his system were causing his face to twitch, and his cybernetic enhancements to spark.

“You’re him! I know you are. You’re him, aren’t you?”

I didn’t know whether the kid thought I was the Magistrate or the Slumlord, but once the kid rushed me, I stopped caring. In a frenzy, he extended his claws and let out a flurry of swipes. I blocked each of his attacks, courtesy of years spent training, and this handy cybernetic arm. Eventually, I grabbed hold of the kid’s arm and yanked his body towards me, and fired an energy pulse at him. It sent the poor kid reeling.

“What are you doing here, kid?”

“He’s not one of ours.” Mikel and his companion had finally climbed out of bed. “He’s a citizen of the City.”

“Who sent you?” I was pissed off, I needed an answer.

And I was fucking interrupted. The penthouse’s front door crashed to the floor, and everybody in the bedroom could hear footsteps approaching at a rapid pace. Soon, the bedroom door blew open. There, in all her glory, was Mittens. Awesome timing, huh?

After giving us all a nod, Mittens launched herself at the kid. Both combatants, with their claws extended, exchanged blows. The sight of metallic claws clashing against each other with sparks flying also made me forget about identifying the kid, not to mention how pissed I was with Mittens. 

Eventually, Mittens saw an opening and launched herself at the kid. After embedding the claws on her right hand in the kid’s stomach, her left hand ripped at the kid’s jugular. The kid hit the floor, lifeless, blood spraying across the room.

“Mittens, what the fuck?” When you’re deep undercover and witness a murder, sometimes you have to fight the urge to take the killer in. With every fibre in my being, I really had to fight that fucking urge.

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