A Romantic Evening

((This was something I did to explain what my character was doing in her downtime on Valentine’s Day in the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG campaign I am currently a part of. I play a very corporate mother of two))

I step out into the medical district, new waterproof cybernetics ready and raring to go. The air is thick with smog, even here in the medical district, the pollution filling my lungs as soon as I dare to draw breath in this city. It’s early afternoon, nearing two o’clock, and I haven’t eaten since I took the twins to school this morning. I hop on the next bus to the New Harbour Area and grab myself a quick bite to eat, a ready to eat meal; I’ve given up kibble since the graduation and have started buying better for the family too. Since EBM sent us over here, life has been really shitty. Compared to France, America is a real shit hole. No style, no sophistication and no appreciation of talent.

That being said, that gutter-punk who keeps my baby girl awake and jacked in to the Net has the wrong kind of appreciation for talent. H4lf_J4ck, I think his handle is; some cowboy from Northside. He has no idea what he’s fucking with, and I bet he didn’t even notice the trace I put on his connection or the tap on his messages between my daughter and himself. If I have to give the kid a scare, I will. Infect his deck with some mad virus; no black ICE, I don’t want to flatline the little shit, but enough to keep him away from my daughter. Amandine needs to be kept in check too, come to think about it; constantly out late at night with the punks of Upper Eastside. Both of my girls have pistols and have been trained in the proper and safe methods of using them, I made sure of that personally, but it’s a mother’s job to worry about her children. Night City is not safe at night, there are occurrences that even I would not walk away from in the streets and I wish that my two girls wouldn’t court with disaster so much.

I finish my lunch and take a quick detour through the Mallplex. I recently got paid and waterproofing my sockets was cheaper than I originally thought, so I have some disposable income to treat myself with. I still need to buy a wetsuit, some extra bullets and a few other bits and pieces, but that shouldn’t come to much either. I reckon I’ve earned myself some new clothing. As I make my first circuit through the Mallplex I take out my phone, dialling Julien. He’ll still be at work, but considering he’s an office drone and not some covert corporate operative like me he should be able to answer at work. I call him on his personal number.

“Salut, ma chérie?” Julien answers, though I can hear in his voice that he’s keeping the tone quiet. Perhaps his manager is close. A shame, but I will be brief.

“Salut Julien! Are you free this evening? I’d like to go somewhere nice with you before my next job pops up,” I reply, lips curling into a smile as I pass by a really nice coat. I make a mental note to try it on later.

“Ah, yes. That would be great, but I cannot speak right now. Manager is doing performance reviews so I need to be on point!” Julien responds hurriedly, causing me to chuckle quietly.

“Okay. I’ll speak with you later. Kisses.”

“I love you too,” he responds before I put the phone down. Time for some serious shopping.

I eventually make it out at 6pm, another message from Amandine to say that she won’t be home until late, as usual, and one from Isabelle saying the same sort of thing, on my phone as I wait at the bus stop. I keep the bullets hidden, along with the other ‘abnormal’ items, out of sight, only my various bags of high fashion and business clothing on show as I make my way onto the bus back to Upper Eastside, the area where my small, grimy little apartment is situated. Hopefully by the end of the month I won’t have to put up with this crap any more and I can relocate the family to the Corporate Zone. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I put myself in danger.

I step off the bus and start to make my way home. I cut through an alleyway to get home quicker, as I would like a good amount of time to make myself look my best for the night. As if right on cue, a pair of street punks step out from behind a dumpster. One is armed with a jagged looking switchblade, the other with some sort of heavy pistol.

“Okay lady, we’re going to need to relieve you of your money and all your belongings,” one of them says, a faint sense of giddiness in his tone as he aims his pistol in my direction.

“We caught a good one this time. She looks like she’s got a lot of money,” the other whispered, thinking that I couldn’t hear him. Amateurs.

“Okay, okay. Please don’t hurt me,” I beg in heavily accented English, dropping my shopping to the ground.

“And your purse. Come on, we don’t have all day!”

“Alright, alright. Let me get it for you,” I answer, still with the same panicked expression and tone. I momentarily glance at them. They’re buying the act. Not just amateurs, but morons too. I reach inside my jacket and my combat senses flair to life. Before the two punks can react, I’ve brought my pistol out and around, aiming along the barrel to the pistol wielding one’s chest. Two shots from my silenced HK P9S sends the gin-totting one to the ground as the second one jabs his switchblade towards my gut. I sidestep the thrust, grabbing his wrist and disarming him of his weapon in a brief second. He tries to grab my gun, but I force him to the ground before he can get anywhere near, placing one shot clean through his head as I hold him pinned against the floor. I quickly holster my pistol, scoop up my shopping and make my way out of the alley before anyone can come looking.

“Bon soir,” I say with a smile as I push my way through the front door. Julien is doing some cleaning up, having taken off his suit jacket and tie.

“Bon soir. I see someone has been busy,” Julien replies, turning to me with a wide smile on his face.

“Last job paid fairly well. Saving most of it, but I figured I deserved a little treat.”

“Little?” Julien asks, eyeing my shopping bags.

“It’s all relative,” I answer playfully as he moves closer, planting a gentle kiss on my lips. I trace a finger down his chest. “Miss me?”

“Always. You’re away way more often than I’d like. What’s so important to keep you away from me and our children?”

“You know I can’t tell you. Just trust me, we’ll be better for it in the long run,” I answer, pulling him into a hug.

“I do… Anyway, you should start getting ready. We have a table booked, remember? Even if you refuse to tell me where.”

I grin, quickly plant a kiss on his cheek and weave my way past him. “I know. I’m the one who booked it,” I respond, sending a quick wink his way before getting myself ready for the evening. I sometimes wonder if there are any other netrunners like myself; not from a covert corporate operative standpoint, but from a ‘I am one hell of a charismatic son of a bitch, about to spend the night with my husband, having a romantic meal, worrying about my daughters getting involved with street trash’ angle.

We leave the apartment at about 7:30pm. I drive, as Julien has no idea where we are headed, and I wanted to keep the surprise for as long as possible. On the car journey he asks where we’re heading, but I refuse to tell him. He’s persistent, but I’m an expert on leading people on; for better or worse it’s a talent that I have. I can be a terrible wife sometimes.

We arrive at the restaurant, a fancy place in Charter Hill. We’re far from the only couple and I recognise two others from EBM with their respective partners. We chat, he asks about my next job, I tell him that it’s better that he doesn’t know, as usual. The food is great, especially considering we have been living off of kibble for the past year or so and neither EBM worker comes over to say hello; a blessing in disguise, really. We take a walk around Charter Hill after the meal.

“You say you’re going to be away for a while?” Julien asks me as we round the corner.

“Yes. It’s due to work. You know how it is,” I answer, semi-honestly at least. He turns to me.

“I’m worried. About you and our two girls,” he says suddenly, the worry evident in his features.

“Why?”

“Your work is obviously dangerous, and the girls are always up late.”

I raise an eyebrow. “They’re fifteen, coming up sixteen, Julien. The fact that they’re still in school is a miracle over here in America.”

“It shouldn’t be. Why are we even here? You seem to know more about the situation than me, despite my position in the company.” Of course, Julien out-ranks me within EBM’s corporate structure, but it’s my job to know things.

“The company wants us here. That’s why. I don’t know either, but it’s clear that they don’t want us to know. We don’t need to know, we’re disposable assets to them.”

“I’m sorry,” Julien starts, “but what of the girls? This is a crucial time for them and they need their mother around.”

“This is only temporary, trust me.” I lean in and pull him into a hug. “I hate being away from you and the girls as much as you do. Every time I leave, it hurts more than anything else, but I do it for our future. I don’t want my family to live in some crappy place in a crappy part of town eating crappy food, where every day brings danger in the form of muggers.”

A scratching sound. Speak of the devil. I turn towards the origin of the sound.

“Huh?” Julien looks at me, his worry turning into a look of perplexity, before one of horror as a group of gangers emerge from the alley to our left. My eyes are immediately scanning the environment, looking for the best cover, the best position for me to pull out my pistol and fill these guys with holes.

“All right lovebirds, you’re going to give us your valuables and we’re going to walk away,” the lead gangster almost snarls. A large scar runs down his face, a ravine amongst a desolate wasteland, his skin is cracked and his face malformed. It looks like a really bad attempt at cosmetic surgery. He turns his attention to me and grins. “Well, we might take her with us too.”

Julien steps in front of me. “I don’t think so. You’re going to walk away before I’m forced to do something we’ll both regret.”

The gangsters burst out laughing and I roll my eyes. He’s a corporate worker, so he has to deal with danger and be ready to defend himself but this is not his battlefield. “You against us five? You really think you’re capable of that?”

“You have no idea,” he replies, his voice a rehearsed, smooth tone that seems to unnerve some of the other gangsters in the wings.

“You’ve got balls, drone, I’ll give you that. Maybe I’ll remove them,” he threatens, brandishing a jagged machete. He turns his attention back to me. “Come on sweetheart, I’ll show you what a real man’s balls are like.”

His friends laugh again. I’ve had enough of this shit. I can see that my husband is about to start shooting, having a concealed pistol inside his suit jacket. I can see the gangsters preparing their weapons; one has a chain, the leader has a machete and what looks like a machine pistol at his hip, two have pistols and one has a pair of switchblades.

Once again, my combat instincts kick in. I reach into my suit jacket and pull out my HK P9S, picking out the rifle wielding ganger and firing at him as I dive behind cover. Gunfire erupts from the gangsters, but I can see that Julien has done the same as me, hunkering down behind a wall. I hear the leader shout something at the remaining three, the rifleman now a bloody mess on the floor of the alley. They appear to open fire on Julien, keeping his head down as the gang leader and the one with the switchblades advance on me, the leader firing his machine pistol into the dumpster that I’m hiding behind, keeping me suppressed as well. I wait for the two to emerge and, surely enough, the switchblade wielding gangster emerging first. I grab him and flip him over, throwing him to the ground with a hard thump.

“You’re going to pay, bitch!” the leader yells as he comes as me from behind, grabbing one of my arms and forcing me against the dumpster. I look over to see Julien dispatching one of the two with guns, but the other keeps him busy for the moment. The gangster pushes on my arm again, threatening to dislocate it at the elbow and sending my pistol to the floor. The switchblade wielding gangster makes a grab for my gun, but I hook it with my foot, dragging it away from him before he can pick it up. The gang leader pulls me around and hits me in the face, but my skinweave absorbs most of the blow. I recoil from the hit as he pulls around his machine pistol. I hear the click as he readies the weapon, shortly before unloading a full clip into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I fall to the ground to see Julien dispatching the other gang member, turning his attention to me at the sound of the gunfire. A grin, almost proud as he calmly reloads his pistol, drops to one knee and fires through, killing both gang members that were attacking me; he didn’t allow himself to get all emotional until after the fight was over. What a champ.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” he mumbles as he sprints over to me. I can see that his suit took some bullets, but he doesn’t appear to be bleeding. I give him a thumbs up as he kneels beside me; I’m not bleeding either.

“You’re not the only one who dresses practically,” I say through deep breathing, filling my lungs with air once again. Julien stares at me, puzzled once again before drawing me into a tight hug, so tight that he threatens to wind me once again.

“I thought that was it. I thought you were dead. I heard the gunfire and…”

“Settle down, you’re going to suffocate me,” I mutter, catching my breath once more as he releases me from his grip. “And don’t worry about the girls. Who do you think taught them about fashion, and the importance of spending a bit extra for protective, but good looking clothing.”

Julien picked up my pistol and handed it to me. “You’re security, aren’t you?” he asks as he hands my silenced HK P9S back, laser sight still blinking. I turn off the laser sight and re-holster it beneath my suit jacket.

“Yeah,” I reply. A half truth.

“You could’ve just told me.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.” I look around, getting up to my feet with Julien’s help. “We can have this discussion another time. Cops will be here any minute, and I’d rather spend the rest of Valentine’s Day with you, rather than some angry police officer.

He nods and we leave the scene, getting back to the car. He drives this time, taking us home as soon as possible. Fortunately, police response times tonight are not exactly jaw-dropping and we get away from the scene with no repercussions. When we get home, the girls are absent, as usual. I slip out of my suit jacket, kick off my shoes and walk over to the bed, collapsing on it.

“Nothing like a brush with death to get the blood pumping,” I say with a smile. The adrenaline rush has ended and I find myself rather exhausted. “But also exhausting.”

Julien sits on the other side, before suddenly rolling over, his arms either side of me with a wide grin on his face. “I hope not too exhausting.” He leans in to kiss me, his hand running up the side of my body to the buttons on my shirt. A wave of heat rises through me, flushing my cheeks with red.

“Not too exhausting,” I reply with a grin.

I don’t get much sleep that night. The girls don’t even wake us when they sneak in during the early hours of the morning.

All Roads Lead – Prologue

I said to myself that I’d write more now that I have more free time, and reading through my current projects I decided that this one is one that grabbed my attention, possibly due to the fact that I’m also a member of a Pathfinder group, so traditional fantasy is more prevalent in my brain than it usually is (come on, I’m totally a sci-fi nut. Swords and sorcery isn’t my usual style). I’m going to work on this story and try to actually finish it, though it will take a while as I believe it will be the length of a full novel. If you read it and see things that just don’t sound right or have any suggestions, let me know as I will be compiling it all at the end and it’ll help on the editing if things are nipped in the bud now.


The human city of Cymeria was the jewel of Cymer. The Adalen family had ruled over the lands of Cymer from their keep in the northern section of the city, adjacent to the knights quarter and the cathedral. Cymer’s climate was temperate, far more agreeable than the majority of human lands, but nowhere near as pleasant as the Elven Empire to the east, a land imbued with pure magic energy that allowed the elven wizards and sorceresses to manipulate the very weather. Relations between the Imperial elves and the rest of the world had drastically worsened since the elves ceased trade with the rest of the world and abandoned any of their race who still dwelt on the other continent, and all out war was only prevented by the great ocean that lay between the elves and the rest of the world.

A gentle breeze sailed through the marketplace in Cymeria’s trade district, the mid morning sun casting a warm glow over the stalls and merchants peddling their wares. The trade district was full of life, commoners and nobility perusing what the market had to offer, a mix of simple clothing, gaudy and outlandish outfits worn by the nobility, tabards of the knights and the armoured forms of guards, sellswords and adventurers all roaming about the same roads. The most recent ruler of Cymer, Lord Rein Adalen, was more liberal than most other human lords and it rubbed off on his people. Over the past two decades, the Cymerian nobility had become far more accepting of the commoners, the Cymerian culture taking a more co-operative approach to the traditional human class system. There were still limitations by class, but at least the nobility did not step on the people below them.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Is that… Dwarven craftsmanship?” a woman in leather armour asked one of the vendors as she pointed to an emerald pendant on his stall, her voice well-spoken and almost elegant, rolling off the tongue with ease; she had to be nobility, or at least have taken speaking lessons. The vendor was foreign, that much was apparent in the way he dressed, favouring the heavier clothing from the northern settlements, but also his skin tone was paler than most in the city. He looked like he was about to keel over in the heat, his clothing too thick for the Cymerian climate.

“That it is, m’lady. Made by my buddy, Rolan Ironhammer. Real quality Dwarven smithing went into that beauty.” The merchant smiled, picking up the pendant and extending it to the woman. “Would the lady like to try it on?”

The woman raised her hand with a smile. “No, thank you. I am not seeking purchase today, though I wish to commend your friend’s workmanship. It is a true work of art.” The woman was not joking; the pendant outshone most of the wares in the entire marketplace, gold surrounding a modest emerald. It was simple, but it held a simplistic beauty that escaped the more common, gaudy items.

The merchant’s expression dropped momentarily, but he persevered. “Are you sure. It would look beautiful on one such as yourself, m’lady. For you, because the most beautiful jewel in the market belongs with the most beautiful jewel, I will give you a special price. Only seventy gold mers.”

The woman shook her head. “You haven’t even seen my face, so how can you make such a claim, merchant?” she replied as her lips curled into a grin, though her lips were all that was visible underneath her hood. Her features were well hidden, though this style of attire was not too uncommon amongst travellers and mercenaries. It was strange, but not so out of place that it would raise suspicions. “Your words are most kind, but necklaces such as this would put me at a disadvantage in combat. I am a sellsword, after all, and would have no real reason to wear such a thing.”

The merchant seemed surprised, but ultimately admitted defeat; the woman raised a valid point. “Very well m’lady. If you ever change your mind,” he answered before turning his attention to another potential customer, eager to make his day’s profits. The woman turned and continued on her way through the marketplace, casually observing the bustle as she kept watch for the items she needed to buy. Food, mostly, but also various medicinal herbs not native to the Cymerian climate. What she stumbled upon, however, was not what she wished.

“Genuine leather armour. Boots, bags, coinpurses; we’ve got everything.”

The woman’s eyes darted to the leather stand, examining the goods for a moment before her eyes widened with realisation. There was a stark difference between elf leather goods and elven leather goods. The elves that lived in the human lands were viewed as nothing more than animals, perhaps the only point where Imperial elves and humans agreed. The elven clans on the great western continent were viewed as savage beasts, often hunted for sport by the humans that inhabited the lands, both civilised and hill clans, or the savage orcish tribes. If any elf managed to get to the eastern Elven Empire, across the sea that separated the two continents and to one of the many merchant ports, they would be executed or enslaved on sight; their fates were often not pleasant. That being said, creating leather goods from an elf’s skin was not commonly practised, the similarities between the races prevalent enough to largely prevent it.

The woman covered her mouth, holding back the desire to vomit and turning away from the stall, colliding with a fruit stand and drawing the attention of everyone around as she stabilised herself against a wall and acquiesced to her body’s wishes, bringing up the contents of her stomach into the gutter.

“Hey! What’s the problem here?” came the voice of one of the guards as two barged their way through the crowd that surrounded the hooded woman. Her eyes darted to the guards, vibrant violet eyes quickly moving, assessing as she wiped her mouth.

“That woman barged into my stall and then threw up in the gutter,” the fruit merchant called out, pointing a finger at the hooded woman.

“Look, I’m sorry…” she started, though the leather merchant cut her off, pointing his finger at her.

“She’s a spy! An elf come to take our secrets back to the Empire!” he yelled in an accusatory way, “I got a glimpse under that hood, she’s got ears pointy as daggers!”

“You don’t honestly believe that the Imperial elves care about a market, right?” the woman replied, venom dripping from her words but the words had already been spoken. Now the guards were suspicious.

“Lady. Hood down. Show us your face,” the first asserted, putting one hand on his sword. The other already had his crossbow trained on her.

A silence filled the marketplace for the first time since the early morning.

“Lady. I will not ask again. Show us your face,” he ordered for the second time, drawing his sword and walking towards her. The woman’s eyes were darting all around now, panicking, searching for a way out like a trapped animal.

The only thing that kept her resolve strong was the knowledge that this was how these humans would view her; a trapped, savage, wild animal. She intended to prove them wrong. If she was an animal, she would prove that she was a superior animal to them. She looked up, her eyes locking with theirs. “That’s not a good idea.”

She darted to the side, narrowly avoiding a crossbow bolt that flew past her head. Had she stayed where she was standing, she would not have been standing any longer. She darted through the crowd with unmatched speed as hands grabbed where she had been a split second before. She heard the guards calling after her, but she didn’t listen, her focus on her escape plan. She leapt upon a weapon stall, dodging the swing of the merchant as he brought his axe arcing around. She could hear more people getting riled up now, this was nothing more than a mid morning hunt to them. They were either hunting a wild animal or a spy, either was reason enough for everyone who owned a weapon to grab them. She sprung from the market stall, grabbing onto the wall that separated the trade district from the knight’s quarter. Knights and their squires were typically not suited to pursue a quarry such as her, and it was a better bet than making her way around to the keep and the town guard barracks.

“Stop that elf! She’s a spy for the Empire!” one guard yelled, loosing another crossbow bolt at her. His aim was off by a few degrees, but the woman did not stick around to risk any more shots, dropping off the wall and into the streets below. The guards had not mobilised completely yet, she still had time to follow her escape plan. She darted through back alleys, pulling her sword from its sheathe and ducking beneath another sword swing. The man wore a chain vest, cloth trousers and, most noticeably, a tabard of one of the Cymerian knights.

“If you come peacefully, you won’t be harmed,” he said as she passed by, though she wasn’t listening, darting past with a speed that she knew he wouldn’t be able to match. She broke out into the street and made her way for the guard tower at the opposite corner of the knight’s quarter, a risky move, but if the whole city was up in arms she would never make it to the sewers from where she currently was. She could hear them behind her, a mix of regular, armoured, and even hoofed steps. She burst into the guard tower, blocking a pre-emptive strike that was aimed for her neck.

“Going to make a trophy of your ears, elf,” the guard said, his face close enough to hers that his words were somewhat less threatening than his breath, the stench of last night’s ale still lingering stale in his mouth. The elf didn’t say anything, opting to artfully spin his sword from his hand and barging past. He ran after her, grabbing his sword from the floor but she was already putting distance between them. Most of the guards had already left the tower to look for her, so she met almost no resistance on her way up, breaking out onto the balcony that overlooked this particular area of town and overlooking the plains beyond Cymeria’s walls. She leapt over the edge, dropping down outside the city limits. She landed lightly, rolling as she made impact with the ground and breaking back into run. The humans wouldn’t let her go, fearing that she may be a spy for the Empire. Foolish, she thought to herself, harbouring no love for the Elven Empire in the east. As she reached the forests, she climbed upwards into the tree canopy, the familiar branches offering her cover and concealment from her trackers, as well as eliminating any footprints she might leave.

She dashed through the treetops, leaping from branch to branch as she put the city of Cymeria behind her.

The sickness spreads. We cannot hold it back.

The words played through her mind, weak, as if spoken by a dying man. She did not have time to ponder on their implications before the branch she landed on snapped and gave way, sending her tumbling through the canopy and landing with a thump on the dirt below.

“I heard something that way,” she heard someone announce in the distance. The ground rumbled lightly as her hunters closed on her position, the humans able to cover far more ground on horseback than she was able to leaping from tree to tree. Head spinning, she clambered to her feet.

Run, child!

A sharp pain shot up from her leg and she crumpled back to the ground, a crossbow bolt finally finding its mark, tearing through muscle and rendering her leg completely useless. She heard the clip-clop of horses draw closer, rolling on the ground as blood started to pool beneath her leg. Four individuals on horseback approached, wearing a mix of chain shirts and regular tunics; they all, however, wore tabards of the Cymerian knights.

A silent chuckle escaped her lips as consciousness slipped from her. At least it took the human ‘elite’ to finish me off.

Work Never Ends (Very Short Story)

The music of the club thumps through my ears; heavy, bass-ridden beats pound against my chest like an external heartbeat. Rhythmic. Powerful. I’m dancing amidst a mess of bodies, enslaved by the beat of the music. The air is stale, the smell of synthetic tobacco mingling with sweat, perfume and, if one had a sharp enough sense of smell, a mild mix of chemicals and pheromones. 2084 in the London night life and not much had changed; the reasons, the approaches, these were all the same, but the only thing that had changed were the methods.

The atmosphere is intoxicating. Literally intoxicating. The owners of the club had spared no expense in appealing to every sense. Chemicals course through my body, emphasising every sense, whilst my brain is re-wired to feel nothing but enjoyment. Nothing but pleasure. Even with my implants filtering out the chemicals it’s noticeable. I can feel myself letting go. I can feel the current lifting me, taking me on a sensual journey; I can feel it fuelling the ignorance.

I need to get this done, I think to myself. I am here to work. If I was not on a job I would not even be here. The excess is truly disgusting. I scan through the club, one of the few people wearing such mirror-shades indoors, in the dark, strobe laced night club. My target is employee number seven-three-oh-five-four-two of MatsuTech. An accountant, I believe. My employers were very specific in their instruction.

I lock onto his bio-signature. An eighty seven percent match, which increases to ninety eight once I filter out the chemicals in his system. It’s him.

I move in closer, navigating my way through the mass of intoxicated shells. The chemicals will work wonderfully if I can get this done without succumbing myself.

My heart rate has quickened. The ball has started rolling.

I move behind him, one hand wrapping under his arm and onto his chest with a gentle caress. I can feel his heart rate now. He’s completely gone. Perfect. I move to the music with him whilst I pull out my cyberdeck. A compact TyrCorp, model number three-seven-four-two, that attaches nicely to my forearm. Not the most powerful of decks, but the one of the most concealable. With a slight flick of the wrist I lock the deck onto my forearm and move my free hand up. The jack is in my hand. I can see the data port on the back of his neck.

Natural. All natural, I muse as I plug the data jack into the port on the back of his neck and deliberately move my hand down his back and onto his side as we continue swaying to the music together. I take a brief look around. Security has no idea.

I flick a switch and I’m in. The club melts around me, the people disappear and are replaced with the grey expanse of the systems in my target’s head. My avatar in this world is much the same as my outer shell. I have no qualms about my appearance.

The implant is a standard MatsuTech employee level storage device. Inferior to my own, but it follows the same basic architecture so I effortlessly glide to the data storage nodes, my avatar floating through cyberspace like a fish through water. The node itself is encrypted, but the protection is our own software. Software that I was trained to use; trained to crack.

It’s a simple task, overloading such a device. There are specific ports, specific data points to flood to cause the encryption to crash. A minute flaw in the system and a closely guarded secret. No doubt there are street hackers who also know this, but our employees tend not to store anything valuable in their implant, so the risk is minimal. Also, this is what happens when they do store important data. Data they should not store in personal storage implants.

So I’m in without breaking a virtual sweat. At this point it’s routine for me; firstly I need to ensure that there have been no attempts to access the files prior to my intrusion. I can quickly discern that he has accessed the files himself, but only for personal viewing. There are no traces of file transfers. In fact, he has not performed any transfers of any kind since he lifted this data. Smart, but obviously he’s not smart enough. Next I take the files and put them onto my own implant, a short transfer normally but such a file is protected. Whilst I am confident in my abilities to simply overpower any security systems that may respond, I am a professional agent, not some hot-headed street hacker. I stream the transfer between my own implant and his, exchanging data packets almost instantaneously, replacing the stolen MatsuTech files with non-essential reports and excessive paperwork, all laced with a dormant virus. Either his contacts that he was likely planning to sell this information to will detect the virus and off him, or they won’t and there’s wonderful potential for sabotage at the corporate or street level, either would serve our interests.

The transfer finishes and a security switch trips. I did everything perfectly, to the letter, handling a device that I know like the back of my hand; this should not have happened. I do not know why or what has tripped, but something has; things are changing subtly. Regardless, my work is done, there is no point in dwelling on it. I jack out.

No more than two seconds have passed in realspace by the time I am returned to my body. I quickly unplug from the back of his neck and slide my deck from my arm and into my pocket, a fluid motion as to not attract attention of surrounding clubbers or security staff.

Folly, really, considering the man turns to face me, a look of horror in his eyes visible even through his chemical-laced haze. Of course he recognises who I am, or rather what I am, and of course he recognises what I have done. He opens his mouth and starts screaming and pointing, fearfully pushing his way through the crowd. I am not about to start a fight in the middle of a nightclub in Neo-London. Not even a MatsuTech security agent can get away with that. Nightclubs are hives of street soldiers, hackers, roboticists and other lowlife scum. I am the outsider here. I am the one in danger.

I barge through the crowd towards the fire escape as I notice security starting to mobilise. By the time I reach the door there are no doubts and an automatic firearm opens up, spraying the side of the door with bullets. I shove down the bar to open it and ram it open, rounding the corner onto the fire escape as another burst escapes the door. Whilst the lowlife types inside would not openly start shooting, the security staff had no such qualms; especially knowing that I’m a corp.

I leap over the railing, dropping two stories onto the back of a truck with a heavy thud, cybernetics in my legs absorbing a lot of the impact. Regardless, I roll as I land and drop off the side of the truck. Another burst of gunfire is heard overhead, raking up my back and sending me stumbling forwards. At this range however, 9mm will not get through my under-armour, let alone both my coat, which is constructed to be resistant to pistol calibres up to fifteen metres away, and my under-armour which, when combined with the coat, can stop smaller rifle calibres at thirty metres. I run the numbers in my head and there’s no way they’re getting through.

Nevertheless, I do not stop. Whilst I may be fine if they hit my body or maybe my legs, my head remains totally exposed. I run towards the road behind the club, either they will have to exit through the fire escape as I did, or exit through the main entrance and make their way around. This should at least buy me enough time to do what I need to.

As I reach the road I slow into a calm, yet brisk walk. I make my way around the corner and onto the adjacent street, walking straight up to a taxi rank. I walk up to the front taxi, the driver casually chatting to another, though as he recognises that I require his services he makes his way over to the car and motions me towards the passenger side before getting in the driver’s side himself. I tell him my destination, which he makes a snide comment to on the basis that it is an expensive area, and sink into the chair. When we arrive I simply place my hand over the small payment terminal on the dashboard and transfer the fare through my identity implant in my hand. I make no comment about the loose change that I noticed hidden beneath the driver’s seat and get out with a smile and a thank you. If this man sympathised with lowlifers, he would likely not take too kindly to ferrying a corporate agent to her doorstep. Well, near enough; I directed him a few blocks away just in case and walked the rest of the way. Neo-London was cold at this time of the year and I place my hands in my pockets as I walk, my breath coalescing into small clouds as I walk down the quiet, residential streets.

I reach my front door and walk in to the dull, muffled sound of music and television mixing into one unpleasant sound. I remove my boots by the front door and hang my coat on the hat stand, grimacing as I notice the holes and impacts across the back, and walk into the living room where John, my husband, sits with his computer on his lap and the television on, Sky News providing ambient noise as he fervently types at his keyboard.

“Evening,” I greet hopefully.

“Evening,” he replies with a bored, slightly apathetic tone. I guess that is better than what I was expecting, considering we were meant to be meeting another couple for dinner tonight and I had to cancel literally four hours before we were meant to be there. “I put the children to bed, but Izzy is being Izzy.”

“I’ll go talk to her,” I reply in English this time, back-pedalling slowly out of the room and making my way up the stairs, following the sounds of electronic music. I knock.

“Yeah?” Isabelle answers through the door.

“Can I come in?”

She opens the door and wheels her chair back to her desk. I walk in and sit on the end of the bed.

“So, you’re still up and it’s a school night,” I muse, looking at the back of her head.

“You were out clubbing and it’s a work night.”

I sometimes hate the fact that anyone could see from a mile away that Isabelle is my daughter. Her investigatory skills are impressive. I chuckle. “Point taken, but I was out clubbing for work reasons.”

“And I’m still awake for work reasons,” she gestures at the screen of her computer. Financial data, trends, theories. “I’ll be up and ready for school in six hours, don’t worry.”

“I’m your mother, worrying about you is my job.” I usher her over and she wheels her chair towards where I sit. She has my face and hair, but her father’s eyes for sure, little emeralds amidst her fair skin tone. I shift over and pat the bed next to me. She rolls her eyes and moves from her chair to the position next to me and I wrap her in a tight hug. “Listen, I know yo-…”

I get mid sentence when all the lights go out. Her computer goes dead. I reach for my gun, still holstered under my arm. Work never ends. I have yet to explain this to the children.


This is the story that I submitted to the BBC, but alas it was not chosen. Onto the next submission, I guess!

I took a hit from the inspiration bat

Right to the face too, my nose is still sore!

Anyway, I got a massive amount of inspiration this evening and got down to properly starting on my fantasy novel (it’s a long process). I will be trying to get this work published, so I will not be posting it up, but I will post up excerpts once the website is fully armed and operational. More website restructuring and new pages need to be made, but we’ll get there eventually.

I’ve just been in a fantasy mood recently, and have about a week left before Star Wars: The Old Republic – Shadow of Revan comes out (which I am mildly looking forward to, but interest has fallen as of late).

However, first chapter has been finished! I’m happy with it as far as first drafts of first chapters go. I have plans for where I want the story to evolve to and I firmly believe that there is enough material queued up to make two, well sized novels. Fingers crossed I can find a publisher who doesn’t hate my work!

Wednesday Fiction Is (Belatedly) Here: Post Apocalyptic Chapter 5

Sorry for the delay on this one, but I already gave my reasoning for that in my post I made yesterday. It is now, however, here and I am much happier with this iteration than I was of last night’s.

Things are really starting to pick up in this piece. Plots are starting to take form and serious things are starting to surface. Click here to go and read “Chapter 5: Weird”.

Also, 40k fans, do not worry! There will still be 40k Thursday today. I will be posting later on starting a tactica series for a new faction, partially because I’ve had enough of Space Marines and partially… Well… Mostly because I’ve had enough of Space Marines. When I come up with more army lists I will post them up, but I feel that there is a decent tactica base there for now. Next faction I cover will be… Well, I don’t actually know yet. We’ll just have to see!

Wednesday Fiction: It’s Not Here! (Yet)

I will make this post brief. I was writing parts of my post-apocalyptic fiction as I often do on Wednesday, but I then looked at the clock, realised that it was getting late and was not happy with what I had. Therefore, I will be posting it up tomorrow (well, technically later today) in addition to the impending 40k article.

So, not much else to say for now. Expect two posts tomorrow!

Monday Fiction: Modern Day Fantasy – Chapter 3

It’s Monday, the start of the week, so what better way to start the week than to write up a chapter for a modern day fantasy setting, huh? We’re getting pretty deep into the plot of this now, which seems to be a pattern for all of the stories that I write.

 

Chapter 3 can be found right here, as usual, by clicking on this link or by navigating via the bar at the top of the page. I hope you enjoy it and remember to let me know what you think of this story!

Friday Fiction: Cyberpunk Chapter 3

It’s Friday, that means more fiction! I was going to write a longer chapter, though this part ended up being long enough, so rather than make a behemoth of a chapter, I felt that I would release this piece first (partially because I’ve been super busy today!).

As always, here is the handy little link!

Wednesday Fiction: Post-Apocalyptic Chapter 4

Don’t worry, it’s a short one after the behemoth of a chapter that was posted last week. The intensity hasn’t quite toned down (made some minor edits to chapter 3 as well!) though there will be some plot consolidation next week. A lot of questions unanswered will be answered, or at least hinted to 😉

As always, you can find the chapter in its position in the Original Fiction section at the top. Or you could click this handy link. That works too.

Tuesday Fiction: Cymeris Chapter 2

Changing the way I do these, so instead of posting a duplicate page and post, I will create the page which can be accessed later on through links and then create an announcement post or something along those lines.

The chapters for Cymeris are tending to be a lot shorter than the others, though this is more due to the way the plot is going at the present time. Scene setting and build up needs to happen and I would like to space it out as it tends to jump around a lot. You’ll see next week when we introduce a whole other side of the story!

Regardless, here is the link to Chapter 2 of Cymeris. If anyone reads it, I’d be grateful for the feedback so I know where I should be going with this!