Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Also By CT McMillan
Back to Valhalla: A Military Fantasy
I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
Next to hash parlors and cathouses, coffee shops took up what’s left of the real estate. If you know anything about Seattle, that shouldn’t surprise you. With so many shops you’d think the people have coffee for blood.
Like the next joint not even a block over, this shop was packed with vampires getting their daily dose of grande black. A line snaked before a display window of pre-baked pastries. It barely moved because every other suit took a dictionary’s worth of words to make their order. Among them was the Mark, a Japanese Andie with red eyes and a black undercut. She wore a silk vest over a dress shirt with suspender straps holding it all together.
At the bottom-left corner of the shop window Takashi held his phone with the camera looking inside. He leaned against a brick wall, keeping his body in cover while Kiddo watched the flanks. A cord fed from the phone to the back of Takashi’s right ear.
“Still in line?” she asked.
“Yes, for the second time,” he said with his eyes closed. “It’s past ten. Why are people still getting coffee?”
“Who knows? Lemme go in and pull her out the old fashion way.”
Takashi opened his eyes to stop her from getting past him.
“You wanna get made by some Yak spy? We’re out in the open, Pink. Use your friggin’ head.”
“At this point, why’re we holding back? Let’s snatch her and deal with whatever comes after.”
“This is my mess and we’re gonna clean it up however I damn-well want,” he said, looking at her dead in the eye. “You been here almost a decade and still act like you’re fighting for air and space.”
Kiddo backed off.
“Same fight, different city if you ask me.”
Takashi shook his head and went back to a lean.
“You’re impossible,” he said closing his eyes.
“And you’re always wound up tight as a virgin. If you relax and cut loose, maybe you’d enjoy yourself every once an’ a while.”
“I don’t need help relaxing–“
“–Can’t do it here, boy.”
Suddenly Takashi stood up and quickly put his phone is his pocket. Kiddo remained casual, hands in her coat pockets.
The Copper sat on a quad-ped, a four-legged mech with proportions equivalent to a horse. It was fitted with a siren and lights behind the saddle and unit markings around the front shoulders. The Copper wore an armor vest and helmet with a tinted visor. It looked like one piece, covering everything except his chin, lips, and nostrils. A silver badge was fixed over his heart and on his right sleeve the TalSec claw was sewn under the US flag. A combi-pistol sat in a holster on his hip. It was like a regular shooter, but with a shotgun tube under the barrel.
“IDs, citizens,” said the Copper, craning toward them.
Kiddo and Takashi held their ID cards facing out between their fingers. The Copper’s visor blinked blue before he looked to Kiddo’s card. When it blinked again, he sat up in his saddle.
“Glad to see you’re naturalized, Volk. Immigration sure took their sweet damn time.”
“You ICE or something?” she asked.
“I’m a lawman doin’ my job and you weren’t legal for four straight years… Mind explainin’ why you two are loiterin’ on my sidewalk?”
“Oh, we’re just waiting for a friend to get her coffee,” said Takashi with a smile.
“You know how it is,” added Kiddo. “Rush hour.”
The Copper kept his visor directed at Kiddo, his mouth locked in a stubborn frown.
“We’ll be gone once she gets out,” said Takashi. “We’re not looking for trouble.”
“Why leave so soon?” asked the Copper, nudging his quad-ped. “I could use an excuse to clean house.”
They waited until he was out of earshot.
“Clearly someone’s not taking his bonus,” said Kiddo.
“Get his badge number?” asked Takashi.
“Text Mitty. Let ‘im know one of his coworkers was about to smear us.”
“I wouldn’t worry ‘bout it. He was just venting.”
“Yeah,” he said turning back to the shop window. “Wait ‘til that venting turns into a buck-shot lobotomy–“
Takashi’s eyes bugged out before he shoved himself against the window.
“Where’d she go?”
“She dipped?” asked Kiddo. “Did you see where she went?”
“That friggin’ pig was distracting me,” he said pulling the cord from his neural port and frantically swiping through his phone.
Kiddo peaked into the window and threw up her arms.
“…Damn-it! Footage goes black before I could see.” Takashi pocketed his phone and the cord. “Take one end of the block and I’ll go the other. Call if you spot ‘er.”
They started going in opposite directions.
“And if I don’t?” she asked.
“Back here in 20.”
On her side of the block Kiddo jogged at a quick gate, dodging between pedestrians. She made sure to give each of them a good long look at the back of their heads before darting past. Kiddo looked back to make sure they weren’t the Mark.
At crosswalk stood a small crowd waiting for the green light. She took her time and walked to the front of the crowd, nearly stepping in front of a ground car driving by. The people didn’t pay attention to Kiddo staring at each of them, probably wondering what drugs she was on. When the crowd started to cross, they moved around her like a stone in a stream.
Kiddo turned on her heels trying to get the last of their faces before it was too late. She grimaced and pushed through the people, crossing to the next block, this time at a run.
Takashi wasn’t having much luck either. He walked fast down the block, keeping close to the curb to scan everyone to his right. Every now and then he sped up to a jog to get a look at the next set of people up ahead. When he came toward an alley, a black limo came in off the street, and blocked him from moving forward. Monty stepped out and Takashi almost fell backward.
He barely hesitated and sat on the other side by the window. Once Monty got in and shut the door the limo reversed back onto the street. In the opposite corner at the front end sat the Mark, sipping her coffee.
“Real sloppy, Takashi,” said Monty. “Real sloppy.”
He put on a smile to hide his terror.
“Hard to disagree, Monty. I could say the same for this dame here,” he said gesturing the Mark. “Ever heard of caller encryption, rubber-head?”
“Up yours, meat.” she retorted.
“That the best you–“ Takashi showed his true colors when Monty pushed him into the window with his sheath pressed to his neck.
“The Shogun’s getting tired of the back and forth. This little foul-up’s moved everything ahead of schedule. You and your half-breed partner are on borrowed time that’s quickly running out.”
“Half-breed?” asked Takashi, struggling to conceal his fear as sweat crawled down his forehead. “That’s rich coming from a white boy playing Yakuza.”
“Says a Jap playing Mafioso. Soon you’ll be replaced and Cicero’s operation ours. Got anything snappy on your mind, better say it now.”
Takashi hesitated to look away from Monty’s stare, and glanced to the Mark. He turned back to Monty and swallowed hard.
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided, Created by Eidos Montreal
Blade Runner 2049, Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Altered Carbon, Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Neuromancer, By William Gibson
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
R.U.R., By Karel Capek
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Westworld, Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.