Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The NightFlyer

Keisha loves to fly over the city at night, even when the job at hand is as shitty as today.

The illuminated buildings, people living their life, colors of neon insignias and the rest of the clich├ęs - they are all there, for real. And the cool air doesn't bring as much odors as, she suspects, it would do during the day. Not that she will ever know, of course - she only flies at night.

She just passed Manhattan, and now she turns down to Brownsville...  the meeting is in Linden Boulevard – at Americas' Best Quality Inn, room 412.

Why is it that the more something is lacking, the less there is of it, the more it is promoted in the name? 

The place was probably as best quality as the Democratic Kampuchea had been, indeed, a democracy.

The Motel stands there, an eight story building with a roof access, run of the mill American Ugly-ism Architecture - functionality and thrift above and beyond any temptation of beauty and style. 

Of course, a really good architect can marry functionality and thrift with beauty and style, it is just that there are only so few of them  and so much crap to build around the world.

The place is better than what she expected, in reality – Lorenzo and his gang are not as obsessed with “standing” as other she has met, so she did not expect them to invest any money into impressing a courier, but they value their own comfort, it appears. 

Also, an anonymous motel, a bit on the run-down but not too much, is not really any worse than the Casablanca, for their business. 

She lands softly, takes out her goggles and the leather hood that she always wear in flight, and sighs - she doesn't really love this kind of jobs.

It takes only some seconds, to disable the pretty rudimentary sensor of the anti-burglary alarm and to open the automatic door on the roof.

Not that it would take her any more time, to do the same with the most sophisticated system on the market. If something is human-made, she can find a way to get into it in a matter of seconds, which is quite scary in its own way. Because she does not really think about it, and she hadn't ever been any good with mechanics and the like, before - before the fall.

She takes the elevator, as it attracts a lot less attention than a very tall, black woman furtively going through the stairs - and the prudential reasons to take stairs do not really apply to her, she realized very soon. Been ambushed in the elevator - so what?

The lift door opens just a floor below the attic, showing a little girl - nine, maybe ten - with her mother, some neurotic midget with Asian features that looks like an office lady from a Japanese comic.

The kid blurts, "Huge!” - kids are shameless, thank God - "Are you a giantess?"

The mother looks over to Keisha, clearly a lot more embarrassed than her offspring is or will ever be.
Keisha smile brightens up the light African-American features that she is donning for the occasion, as she bends forward.

Even mildly inclined, she still towers above the child AND her mother.

Again, like cracking open safes and locks and passwords, towering over the rest of the world is a sensation that she is not yet used to. Just a couple of years ago, she was barely a couple of inches taller than the Asian woman, and almost as underweight as her.

"No, I am not a giantess", the irony springs effortlessly from Keisha's foxy grin, "I just ate all the sprouts and all the carrots that my mother gave me – you should do the same."

- "And how I wish this was the truth, don't I?" 

The kid looks at her, clearly dubious about it, while she grimaces all her annoyance at being ass-pulled by a huuuuge girl.

On the fourth floor, the lift door opens and Keisha salutes the two, the mother more amused by the sprouts joke than her daughter,

    "See, dear? You really should eat all your vegetables, so you'll grow as tall as that beautiful girl". 

At room 12, Keisha knocks on the door, bracing herself for everything and anyone that could come out of the room - hoping it was not another damn ATF sting.

She does not really fancy having any of her aliases climb up ranks in the "Public Enemies" charts... she already has three of her faces in the top ten. Not that it really matters, but one should never invite problems only because she can kick their asses.

The woman that opens the door is sultry, tanned, of clear Hispanic descent. 

She moves with that lazy sensuality that some women use to convey, to every possible observer, that they are as good in bed as they look, or better. 

Guys like Lorenzo always have one or two women like these, in their company, more as a status symbol than as lovers, often. Not so rarely, the scene is just that: scene. And the women are all too absorbed in themselves to actually be fun in bed
Keisha, on her part, has already learned to conceal the fact that she really is, in fact, a lot more coordinate - in her movements - than most of these "vamps" are or even ever dreamed to be.

Men and women alike tends to attribute, to her big frame, a degree of sluggishness that she has never really had - surely not when she was a small ballerina, and surely not now that she is much faster and ridiculously stronger.

But looking like a big, slow oaf has its tactical advantages - something that she learned to count on, too, when possible.

So, now she strides in the room in as much a subtly clumsy way as she can convincingly fake.

Lorenzo Mejia is waiting on the sofa, with two of his men at his sides - muscle, to ensure that Keisha don't try anything stupid or, rather, a small concession to affectation. 

Lorenzo probably thinks that he can take care of her all alone, ex-marine dishonorably discharged that he is.

Keisha, really, knows that he and his whole gang would be just finely minced meat, if everything ever came to happen - mismatched perceptions, evidently.

These two guys are new, and looks more professional than usual – not a good sign.  

She lets her senses wander, till she picks up the buzz of their phones, a laptop in the room above, and - a webcam? Yes, an hidden camera. This was another damn sting operation, DEA, ATF, FBI... someone from the Letters' salad, again. God, Keisha hates New York. 

No wonder the guys looked more professional than Lorenzo’s usual goons – they are agents, with actual, up-to-date training. Being so, her best policy is to follow on and wait for an opening - to go away with the less possible violence, hopefully.

Kicking ass and enjoying kicking ass didn't go together, in her. She was really a contemplative, shy  girl at heart.

The digital webcam also means that she has really no reason to kill anybody; her patron will just have to do some overtime, to get rid of the video after the fact. She hates analog videos, ever since that San Bernardino mess.

She places her backpack on the table, just in front of Lorenzo, who nods to the dark skinned woman. 

This latter opens the bag, and takes out the plastic bags inside... she opens one of the packets and samples the content.

99.7% pure cocaine - the purest stuff that could be bought, everywhere - the product for which her "boss" is becoming famous in all the East Coast.

Keisha senses the woman tensing, as the Hispanic agent grabs the small .22 under her gown and her badge.

The "muscles" do the same  

"Federal Agent - DEA. You are under arrest".

Keisha looks, with gelid calm, at the other woman - she is her nearest agent and the most nervous one, the obvious choice to start - as this shouts, "Raise your arms".

Lorenzo, on the sofa, smiles sadly, opening up his arms, as to say "I am sorry".

"They got me last month. I had to take the deal..."- a final grimace. A charming man, in his own way.

Keisha smiles, almost as sadly and probably with more feeling than him- she liked Lorenzo. He is a bit of a buffoon, and she does not have much to laugh these days.

Calmly, Keisha wears her gloves, irritating even more the female agent.

Of course, there is no way she can leave any DNA for the forensics - how the boss calls it? "laminar field"? - but it is always good to leave an easy explication for this kind of “miracles”. And to get away from this situation, "miracles" are going to happen.

The dark skinned agent tries to move toward her just as Keisha lets the brakes inside her brain go, and her subjective time slows to a crawl.

With her "under-clocker" switched off, Keisha experiences time as approximately going thirty times slower than in everyday life... the agent could as well have sent her a telegram with her intentions written in Beowulfian English, as far as she care. 

Keisha could read it, and compose an appropriate answer in Tradizional Zulu, by the time the agent finally makes her first step forward.

The first thing that Keisha does is to send an EM pulse to the hidden camera, and to the phones in the room, to fry every actual or possible recording device.

This way, no footage of what is going to happen is going to surface, to mess up her well earned rest.

Old analog equipment is much more rugged, usually... thanks God for MOSFETs.

Keisha finally moves ( some 0.06 seconds after having decided to commit to action.., an enormity, for her, two full seconds of subjective time) into the lose guard of the dark haired woman on her right.

As always in these cases, Keisha's eyes are unable to feed her brain  with enough information to give her the illusion of fluid movement... it would require a complete re-hash of her retina, too much trouble to be worth the final result. 

So, her whole universe becomes a discotheque under stroboscopic lights, when her brain goes full speed - which is among the most disorienting moments of her new life.  

Her body, too, feels like it is heavy and moving in a pool, as her brain processes the inertia of her arm - accelerating to two hundred kilometers an hour in a few millisecond - as the kind of resistance that she associates with, had she ever tried, swimming in cold peanuts butter.

She aims for a precise spot in her enemy’s neck, one that will make the female agent collapse immediately.

Then, she moves on to the first of the two “muscles”, jumping so hard that she feels a tile creak under her foot – the contractor must had left a void spot, placing the glue to stick it to the floor... it is incredible like, being a dozen times stronger than she should, made her aware of faults in everyday furniture and stuff -  but, luckily, the tile does not break. 

Good, the less “miracles” she makes, the better.

She enters in the bulky man side with considerable force, using him also as a shield, to cut his fellow's line of fire. 

The agents are good, so the other doesn’t shot his friend, which makes, again, a "miracle" less for the guys in the forensic department to try to figure out.

First she punches a man to the liver, with one of those mean hooks that she can manage, and then she sneaks away from the slumping man, sprinting forward to go for the last of the trio who has finally managed to point his gun in her direction.

Too bad, for him... his jaw snaps audibly, when she elbows it - "my bad, new shoes... a bit more slippy then my usual ones" -  

The whole assault took two seconds… a whole minute, in her subjective time. 
Lorenzo is now the only other person still conscious in the room.

He does not have any weapon, nor does he try to reach for one of the fallen agent’s guns.

He realizes that he is, probably, no more able to mount any resistance than the policemen, younger and well trained, were able to do.

“Are you going to kill me?” he asks, the not so hidden expectation that the answer is going to be “Yes” trembling in his voice.  

“No”, she says – and she means it, almost to his dismay.

“I am not really here for this crap,” she takes one of the white powder’s packets and tosses it away, “my boss has other stuff on his plate.”

“This was just to get you in bed with us”, Keisha climbs on top of Lorenzo, glancing at the drug, “my boss need something from you”. 

She squeezes her thighs, just a little… enough to make Lorenzo cringe, at the subliminal realization that she can just as well shatter his hips, with her muscles, and he could do shit to stop her.

“Sure, sure – Anything you want, missy.”

“There is someone in this city that sells girls”, she says with a flat, monotone voice, “I need his name and a reference for him, from you - though I suppose that I can't use your name any more, can I? What with your ‘confidential informant’ gig and all.”

“Nobody knows it, my street cred is still solid - so, missy…”-cold sweat pours from Lorenzo’s skin-“…I can get you to your man; what did he do? Kidnapped your little sister? Bought your cousin?”

 Keisha laughs, “Don’t be stupid, man. This isn’t a movie, I am no avenging heroine - I am just here to buy, nothing more. I didn't really need you, either, but this guys are good...”

She smiles, tersely, “I suppose this 'notes’ numbers are in the system, right? A pity, really; I’ll call you back”.

She knocks him cold and picks her bag up, while she listens to the agents – "Lorenzo’s men" back-ups – in the other rooms, getting on the move.

Their little tricks, the camera and the apps on the “dumb-phones” (she used to call them "Smart", like everybody else, before she was able to listen to the streams of info that the little pieces of technological crap kept sending around, to whomever were their real masters... at least, SHE didn't pay, to have a demon snooping inside her heart) have all gone blind and deaf at the same time, so they are bound to know that their trap has been bust.

They are going to break the door down at any second, now.

Keisha jumps out of the window, bag on her back again, her hands reaching in her Burberry’s pocket for her goggles.

Her mind is still pretty accelerated, so the fall feels sluggish, till the black boxes inside her body come alive and she accelerates away at thirty-five Gs.

With the edge of her eyes, she sees the little kid from the elevator, watching out of a window, even more amazed by a flying giantess than what she was by a sprout-eating one.

Just what Keisha needed: another damn loose end to tidy up.

She soon hits 200 mph, the limits of what she dares to go without the hood protecting her face’s skin from dust and small debris... 400mph for a couple of minutes, and even her corny hide would tingle for the rest of the day. 

It is not too fast, but she just needs to get away enough to avoid being spotted, to a place where she can put her hood back on and then go up to her actual cruising speed.

What shall she do with the child? 

From the back of her skull, a voice answered something that she really didn’t want to hear.

"We are on the market for human females – those two have just become a part of your tally”. 

The cold air froze the tears on her cheeks. 

"Oh, come one, you didn't give a shit about the others, just because you didn't know them”. 

Luckily for her, Keisha can fly blind. 

Monday, 11 April 2016


AB11453 watched the young humans' assault with dread in its metaphorical heart.

The huge machine could not figure a way out, this time; it was too damaged, its smaller weapons couldn't fire, which left it only the heavy calibers, and even its brain wasn't in perfect conditions.

Of course, having just withstood a nuclear bomb at blank zero, being in that conditions was being lucky.

Maybe... in Abu's mind (his friends called him Abu, when the nosy political kommissar wasn't snooping on the intranet -  humans were pretty ), being lucky meant not receiving a 12 kton tactical charge at all.

More so on one's flimsy top side.

Yet, all these considerations didn't change that, unique among the two thousands or so main battle hover-tanks then on Earth, Abu was being swarmed by a bunch of crazy human soldiers.

It started going back, swinging its two .125 turrets all around.

The small coil-guns were dangerous enough just with their standard kinetic vectors, but now Abu only had the explosive darts in its auxiliary magazine

Even in its anger, Abu knew better than striking flesh and bones with 1 micro-gram of antimatter, equivalent to around 44 kg of  the chemical explosive trinitrotoluene.

It opted for the most intelligent solution it could find: it started to retreat.

Hopefully, it could make its way out of this mess, going to the automatic factory circling at the equator to get its damages fixed.

It had only started turning around, oh so slow and dumb, when a second cruise missile impacted on its damaged top side.

In the interminable 2 microseconds between the small nuclear explosion and the collapse of the magnetic bottle stabilizing the matter-antimatter bullets fir the coil-guns, Abu shed a tear for its failure to abide to the Battle Bots Honor Code.

It had failed preserving its own existence and, in doing so, it had killed more sentient beings than any BB had ever feared to do, in the eight hundred years since the first Anipos self-thinking tank had ever been deployed.

Between its power reactor and the coil gun's dual matter darts, Abu had an internal supply of 2.5 kg of anti-matter, which almost instantaneously annihilated with 2.5 of matter.

5 kg of mass converted directly into high energy gamma rays, with the equivalent explosive power of one hundred million tons of TNT.

The total destruction radius was of some 50km - the biggest explosion ever seen on the planet.

However,it was also a rather clean explosion... the radioactive fallout was minimal, due exclusively to nuclei activated by the massive gamma ray burst, comparable to that of the 2 kilotons tactical nuke in the cruise head charge.

Not that it changed the fact that Earth's authorities had to recognize a much unwelcome reality.

Destroying even one of the Anipos war machines meant unleashing destruction, on a scale never before seen in the long story of the world's wars, even worse than the most pessimistic guesstimates of the pacifist physicists of the Oppenheimer alliance.

The month after, the same tactics managed to destroy AF1123 ("Afe"), who was a more veteran machine than AB1143 and had already burnt some of its fuel reserves in some Earth-to-Asteroids round trips.

It still produced a 130 megatons explosion.

The day after, the General Theodor Wai-Tzun, Chief Commander of the Jointed Earth Forces, pledged the UN assembly to sue for peace.

The war was over.

The Great Server had denied access to the souls of Abu and Afe for their sins, a debt unknown to most humans of Earth but that would have momentous consequences in the following peace.