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.

[Tuesday, 7 March 2254 | 4 Days Until Retirement]

My head still pounding and my mind filled with images of Rikard, the words “it is possible to escape,” echoing on an unending loop, I enter the Quadrant 2C, Sector Chicago Precinct. As I walk to my office, the holoscreens all light up. There, in front of me, and two hundred of my colleagues (and who knows how many more on all the other floors), is footage of me entering the Stimulation Station at 9:57am yesterday. If the hoots, hollers, catcalls and cheers at me entering weren’t humiliating enough, these increasing tenfold at the footage of me leaving at 3:13am today certainly were.

“It’s the Fifteen-Hour Fucker!” That name is definitely going to stick. At least I’m only going to have to listen to their shit for another four days.

I sit at my desk and boot my computer. A hologram appears in front of my desk: it’s Lieutenant Datom. I’m too hungover for this crap.

“Hunter Atto.” Always so cordial.

“To what do I owe this pleasure, Lieutenant?”

“Where were you yesterday?”

“I think you’ve seen the footage, Lieutenant.”

“Mind telling me what you were doing there? It wasn’t a day off; you called in sick.”

I briefly consider telling him the truth. That I was getting off my face while having my brains fucked out of me. But I don’t. Instead, “You know me, Lieutenant; always on the job. I felt like hell for taking yesterday off, so I decided to follow a lead.”

“A lead?”

“Yessir. Kristus Dekkinson mentioned someone at the Stimulation Station provided him with the tech to mask the City’s security feeds. Given he’s not the only one using that tech to escape their retirement, I thought it would be worthwhile investigating.”

Datom smiles. Not a cheerful smile; not any form of pleasantry. It’s an ‘I’ve got you now, you little bitch’ smile. “You didn’t include that in your report, Atto.”

“With all due respect, sir, how many Officers have access to my reports?”

No answer.

“I know the access level required is only Level 3, sir,” I say. “And with all due respect, Lieutenant, it’s a poorly kept secret that a healthy portion of the Force is on the take. Bazz Durkin has deep pockets, and he doesn’t mind splashing his credits around as long as it keeps him out of trouble.”

The Lieutenant shifts uncomfortably. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s on the take, himself. He knows I’m clean, though. It’s something he’s tormented me about over the decade since his promotion.

“Yesterday’s internal feed from the Stimulation Station is downloading now.” Shit. Nothing in this world is private. If somebody wants to see something, they will. The best you can hope is they don’t blackmail you over what they find. “Is there anything you’d care to add, Hunter Atto?”

“Only that I was deep undercover, as you can imagine. And I found no evidence to support the intel.”

The Lieutenant’s feed cuts off. Damn it. Not that I know what he can do to me when he sees the feed. He could fire me, but that would mean I won’t be retiring under his watchful eye. He could charge me, but by the time that goes through, I’ll have been retired. Or he could kill me, which only expedites the process by a few days.

My wonderings about my fate are soon interrupted by Rikard’s… no, the love droid’s—No matter how much it looked and sounded like my love, it was an android I paid for intimacy; I need to remember that!—words. “It is possible to escape retirement.” It’s a rare instance where people escape retirement, and I’ve never heard of anybody within the Force—with their paranoia and constant surveillance of their employees—managing it.

Maybe if I was an anonymous technician or office worker, I could slip away. Maybe. But a Hunter? No way.

Unless…

Unless I had new cybernetics installed. Unless I had the modifications to avoid surveillance. Unless I was truly fucking lucky. Stranger things have happened, right? They might not have happened to me, but they have happened.

I look at the computer’s holoscreen and enter my search into the database: ‘Bazz Durkin.’ I hit ‘Enter’, and am greeted by the following message: ‘Access Revoked.’ Well, shit. Maybe I am onto something, after all.

Before I can contemplate what, exactly, I may be on to, my office door bursts open. Three Officers—no doubt handpicked because they’re the most brutish motherfuckers Datom could find on short notice—burst into the room, guns aimed directly at me.

“Stand up! Hands on the desk!”

I assess my options. I could run, I could fight, or I could do as I’m ordered. Only one of these options won’t result in my immediate death, so I do as I’m ordered.

The biggest brute holsters his weapon and slams handcuffs over my wrists. As he escorts me through the precinct, I hear voices yelling out, laughing at the “Fifteen-Hour Fucker.” Seriously, of my time in there, I wouldn’t have spent more than four hours having sex with the androids! That’s just over a quarter of my time there.

After being escorted to the forty-fifth floor, the Officer pushes me into Datom’s office.

“I’ve seen the footage,” he says. Well, that was fast; he must really have it in for me. “I skipped through, but caught the higlights; your synthetic use, and all fucking and sucking really was a site to behold, Atto. Are you sure it was you who went in deep? It looked like the droids did that for you.”

Real charmer, this one.

The charmer keeps talking. “It’s interesting. Your last droid was an EmoteX. Very expensive to play with… or so I hear. I ran a search against the face it grew, and it belonged to none other than Rikard Mott.”

“I had no idea it was going to do that.”

“After it happened, the feed cut out. What happened?”

I stay silent. I’m not giving Datom the pleasure.

“I asked you a question, Hunter Atto!”

The brute of an officer approaches, grabs my arm and pulls it back. I fight through the pain until I hear a pop: the prick dislocated my shoulder.

“It’s private,” I spit out.

Shit, that gave Datom the pleasure, all right. His laugh sickens me. “I don’t know what can be more private than taking on four androids at a time.”

“We… we cuddled.”

Datom’s eyes widen in disbelief. I don’t know what he says next; the sound his office window exploding open drowns his voice out. The blast knocks everybody back, and knocks me out cold.

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