Image Flash #35
Since last week was a slightly more traditional fantasy style story, I decided that this week would be fun to make a traditional science fiction story. Of course, I didn’t want to go so far back into the tradition as spaceships and aliens and decided to go to my roots with some barely retro, early nineties, cyberpunk style.
9a Sim1 (pronounced Nine-uh Sim-wun) looked at the key-man they’d brought with them and frowned.
“This fucker’s glowing. Is he supposed to be glowing?”
Bunt rolled his left eye up into his head, did a quick internal data search, and looked for the answer. He chewed on his mustache as he did. His eye clicked back into place.
“Nope. Not as far as I can tell. They’re only supposed to light up when they’re accessing a network, manipulating codestreams, or some shit.” Bunt shook his head, vigorously no, and clenched his fists. A series of metal prongs that protruded from his knuckles flickered with electricity. “You better not be burning us!”
9a pulled her pistol and thumped it into the key-man’s forehead. “What the hell, man? You trying to burn us?”
The key-man was vacant, somewhere else, his eyes focused on some digital spectacle and he was unaware of the cerametallic gun barrel pressing against his brain box. All across his face and hands, the delicate tracings of blue light glowed through his skin like some computer with varicose veins.
“Bitch, wake up!” 9a jabbed him, hard.
The color beneath his skin vanished and he snapped back to reality.
“Oh shit is greater than x.” He muttered.
“Oh shit, is right!” Said 9a. “What did you just link to?”
The key-man looked at her, considering his response. “High percentage of calm is appropriate to trad-sec response. We equal good. System was closed. Alternative variable. Another problem.”
9a took the gun from his forehead but didn’t put it away. “We’re not paying you for problems.”
“Solution is pretty imperative.”
Bunt snarled at him through clenched teeth. “Explain yourself, now.”
“Closed loop message, from, input assumption here, the last key-man to try an equivalent endeavor at this location. A warning. If we go any further, we die.”
The biometrics in her visual implants didn’t indicate any obvious deception in his statement. But he was a damn key-man and was near impossible to understand half the time, let alone read them for normal human auto-responses. They spent the majority of their time digitally, had limited ‘real’ personal contact during childhood, and their sociopathy only got worse as they got older. They burned out early and most didn’t live past forty. Their key-man looked to be in his thirties, and usually that was a good thing because it meant experience. They hardly ever spoke, and were content to exe on command. This one though, he’d just said more than any key-man she’d ever heard. That told her more than the scan.
He glanced down at her gun, then back in the direction they’d come from. His answer was reluctant.
Bunt sucked his mustache back into his mouth and chewed. 9a sighed heavy and weighed her options. The key-man spoke.
“Permission request. Network probe. Quickie in and out. Trad-sec is greater than zero. It equals maybe.”
She’d been thinking the same. There was no way she was going ahead with a warning like that without, at the very least, a virtual scout. She knew any such recon came with the chance of discovery and all the hell and light and metal that came with it.
“Do it.” She said.
“Yeah, do it.” Repeated Bunt.
The key-man went stiff, his eyes went glassy, and the glowing circuitry covered his body again, illuminating his skin.
On edge, 9a Sim1 waited.