I stared into its cold blue eyes as it scanned me up and down. It weaves its out stretched neck around my bike eying J.J. in the side car carefully. She sticks out he tongue as a response.
The machine does not respond. It’s a SR7800 Border Guard. Equipped with a 180 caliber Pendleton barrel, with armor-piercing shells. It has hyper sensitive optical X-rays and can detect 1.800,000,000 viral codes. It’s a relic from the Code Wars, the Company should replace them. Who would dare attack Soni-Metro.
Soni-Metro is the largest Company town in the entire southwest. It is the South West. Not to mention home of Soni-Alpha, the second largest mega-corp on Earth. I’m a Soni-Boy, an old fashioned code runner. One of the last. J.J.’s my sister and my partner.
- “Identity verified.” it says. The 7800 retracts its face into the wall and the city gates slowly open.
- “‘Bout time, I thought we’d be here all year!” J.J. mumbles-she hates waiting.
This is the Northern part of town. A hundred years ago this was what was called L.A. What little is left of that time is all around us. Ruins of a by-gone era. Before the Corporate Wars of ’87 and the destruction of Federal America. Now International Mega-Corps control everything except the Badlands out East and the fabled Free Country far beyond that. Theres nothing in the Badlands to control, the weather makes it impossible terrain.
We ride past a gang of Dead Boys, silicon rockers, refugees of the past. Wanna be rock stars, hard-wired full of meta-dope. I nod and flash them my heat. They snarl and one of them tosses me the finger. Everyone hates code runners, even wastoids. Everyone except the Company. That’s why we can go anywhere in the city we like. Including Soni-Tower West, which is where we’re headed. I tun on the gas. We should get three mil for this run. Chump change really, I know, but J.J.’s gotta eat. I run code to stay alive. I’m not built for anything else. Sonio owns my system. One day I hope to buy it back, take J.J. to the North East, see if Free Country’s real out there in the wilderness. If not….
I pull up to the entrance of the tower, my dusty Akira 900 reflecting in the giant glass doors. I look up at the demon stretching up into the smog. 245 stories of Soni glory. Inside are over a billion employees carefully controlling the entire South West of Soni-America. I take the bike up to the parking deck on the 140th floor. It’s as far as they’ll let J.J. get. Machines didn’t trust humans anymore. I park my bike and tell J.J. to stay put. She has a tendency to run off.
“I know, I know, I’m almost 15 you know.”, she gripes. Shit! Was I getting old? How long had it been, I thought? I sold myself to Soni when I was 15 to help protect J.J. from logo-traders. She was barely five then. God had ten years past since I could… I should upgrade before our next run. Carrying all this code was starting to take its tole. My brain was full I had to get up stairs. I was still the best though. Sonio310 Xr model built to run.
No old 7800 checks me as I hop on the elevator and push the button for the top floor. The building itself scans me the things alive. Employees mill about as Company vids flash on the walls. I watch a new music vid by one of the Company artist. Electro-shock-punks in pinstripe holo-suits. Retro is all the rage in Japan these days. I don’t care for music anymore, I just drink my synthohol and run their damn code.
I step out of the elevator into a board room. An enormous sterile white room. No satellite can penetrate it. My O.S. always funny in here. I stand at the far end of the only thing in the room, a 200 ft. black marble table (no chairs). The board members appear from the floor. Their heads bob and whirl as they stare silently at me. Synthoid attendants sulk about in their black robes making necessary adjustments to keep their frail parts working and whats left of them alive. Some of the older members date back to pre-merger. The CEO blinks slowly his eyes seem as cold and lifeless as the silicon detectors on the border guard.
“Do you (wheeze) have (wheeze) our product (wheeze) Mr. James.”, he says, as attendants rush to pump chemicals into his dying body. I nod as I eject the disk from the back of my neck. I put the disk into a slot on the table. A holo-screen appears above the table. Endless code feeds down. The board members all nod their clunky square heads, vaguely smiling. I have no idea what it says I just run code I can’t read it. All I know is that it’s worth a lot of money, so I ask for mine.
- “My pay?”
- “Two million credits are being processed to your account as we speak Mr. James.”, one of them spits out.
- “2, this is worth 3 easy!”, fucking stiffs! I should unplug these bastards now, these attendants couldn’t stop me.
- “You will except our payment or we will delete you Mr. James”
- “This is highway robbery.” I mumble under my breath. I knew they’d shit me, they always do.
- “Thank you (wheeze)that ( wheeze) will be all Mr. James.” I accept my credits and walk out, tripping one of their attendants on my way out.
- “We will contact you soon.” one of them says, with a smile that would turn my stomach if I still had one.
- “Yeah, you do that!” I say flipping them the bird as the elevator doors shut.