Shorts smartworld

The Retirement Plan

Where a Hunter for the City, Kex Atto, approaches her retirement. But in the City, circa 2254, retirement means death: you don't work to live, you live to work. After this, the City has no furthur use for you.

[Sunday, 5 March 2254 | 6 Days Until Retirement]

It’s 3:45 in the morning. After a little two hours of sleep following a particularly long workday, I am woken up by a transmission. I have a new target: Kristus Dekkenson. Eighty-eight years of age, two days from his birthday. He has not been seen for three days, and his Conscience Chip is offline. Smart money says he has gone into hiding, taking the opportunity to flee before YutopiCorp disables his enhancements.

The dumb fuck; this shit never goes well. I should know, this is the one hundred and third such case I’ve dealt with this year: the Force sends the Hunter closest to retirement out to locate the retirement deserters. They would never admit it, of course, but it’s a wonderful way of illustrating the futility of such attempts.

By 4:50, I reach his apartment. Since I took the time to have a brief shower before making my way to the apartment, it’s five minutes after the deadline. I’ve already been notified about this infraction. Oh well, what are they going to do? Kill me?

I walk through Dekkenson’s apartment. He’s smarter than most of my targets; there have been signs of a struggle: overturned furniture; broken walls. There is even blood smeared about the place. I take out a handheld scanner—if I still had my cybernetic eye, I’d use that—to scan the blood’s DNA. The blood’s a match. These stains pooled on the floor instead of spattered, and the trajectory of the smears on the walls are inconsistent with the broken furniture. If this bleeding was natural, it was a separate occurrence to the struggle. He might be smarter than most of my targets, but he’s not that smart.

I check his building’s security footage. The last time he was seen leaving his apartment was four days ago. The blood stains are three days old, which happens to be about the time his Conscience Chip went offline. Looks like he used a signal editor to come home, fake this attack, and disappear without a trace.

A search shows me Dekkenson’s wife is deceased, and he has only one living relative: a son, who lives right here in Sector Chicago, about half an hour away. Maybe he will have some answers for me.

Damn it, it’s raining. After I lost my enhancements, the rain has been an absolute bitch on my joints. This morning really isn’t going to get more fun, is it? I step into my car and drive. As rain pelts against the windscreen, I can’t help but think about this poor man. So desperate to escape his fate, he’s just sealed it a little over a year early.

Upon arrival, I retrieve my heat/light scanner from the car and aim it to the twenty-third storey. Two heat signatures. He’s here. One exit, the front door. Two, if you count the balcony. Dekkenson’s medical files list his bones being reinforced with steel forty years ago, and he had had his genes spliced with various wild cats’ before it was outlawed. So, yes, conceivably, he could use the balcony as an escape route. Given those mods, I’m going to need explosive rounds, so I pack them into my pistol.

After making my way up to the twenty-third story, I set an explosive on the front door: another workaround for the lack of cybernetics. Naturally, the blast wakes Dekkenson and his son up. At least I know for certain the second heat signature belongs to him; this should be a quick job.

Dekkenson runs. Unsurprising; they always run. It would have been smarter to attack me, though: without my cybernetics, he may have stood a chance. I run after the fugitive, and sure enough, he heads for the balcony. He doesn’t stop to open the door, the crazy bastard just crashes through it. As I scramble after him, he leaps from the balcony.

Without my cybernetics, I’ve always been a great shot; it’s part of the reason I selected to spend my working life as a Hunter in the first place. I aim my pistol at him and fire. Once. Twice. Thrice.

The back of his head explodes. Once. Twice. Thrice. His body hits the road, a crumpled waste of life. The rain washes his blood away, but the pieces of his brain remain, stuck to the bitumen, soon to be smeared across the road by tyres.

I turn around to see Dekkenson’s son staring at me, tears flowing from his eyes. He is trembling. “Why? My dad… he… he just wanted to live.”

“I know,” I say. “I’m sorry.” I don’t know why I said that; I was conditioned from the beginning to do the job, move on, and, frankly, to not give a shit.

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