A petite figure stood alone at the center of the dark warehouse. She breathed deeply and regularly as if in meditation. Her black leather pants and jacket stretched taught under the strain of her well-toned yet womanly body.
A brawny arm reached out from the shadows and a hand clamped over her mouth. He crushed her body close to his. “You move, you die.” He whispered. She smelt the gunpowder of the hand weapon at her temple. Another one moved around to face her. His t-shirt revealed bunched biceps and bulging pectorals. His scarred face, that of a street thug, leered at her. “Just be nice and we’ll all be happy.”
Krahs relaxed her body and savored the fear. This she had learnt to do in order to cope with the memory of that devastating day eight years and three months ago. The day she turned 15. The sky had brilliant clarity and showed only 20% pixelation, better than it had been for weeks. The day she had walked down 3rd Avenue, with the soft rain of jacaranda blossoms caressing her face, in expectation of her surprise birthday present. The day they had dragged her into the warehouse. The day her screams had gone unheard. And afterwards, when he drove her home with the others snickering in the back of the minibus. And the last words he said to her in all those 8 years: “You know, you’re always miss high and mighty flaunting your pretty face and wonderful body and your top-of-the-class grades. I guess we agree on one thing, your body is wonderful. Go clean yourself up you dirty little girl.” His friends giggled and jeered.
But that was eight years ago now. She took a small step backwards so that she was pressed even closer against her captor. Then she touched the ring on her right index finger with her exquisitely manicured thumb. A small missile from the back of her belt carried its deadly cargo of nerve poison into his torso. He fell writhing to the floor. His accomplice’s jaw dropped for a brief moment before a leg-sweep hurtled him onto his back. A split second later her stiletto heel punctured an eyeball, and broke through his skull. She pivoted on her heel and his scream was cut short as it penetrated his brain and ended his miserable life.
The petit figure stood alone at the center of the dark warehouse.
Thank you for the workout Mr. Parej she said. A man in a dark trench coat stepped out of the shadows flanked by four bodyguards with automatic weapons pointed at Krahs. His face was pale and strained. “You knew they were my men? They were only going to frisk you for weapons. “ he stammered. “You didn’t have to…”
“They should have asked nicely” she smirked, “and besides, I wasn’t certain that they belonged to you until now.”
Parej mopped his brow. “Get this cleaned up” he commanded his aides, gesturing at the corpses with his handkerchief.
“Mr. Parej, I’ve thought about your proposal, and have decided to go with it.”
“I’m very glad to hear that,” he flashed the most perfect set of white teeth that money could buy, “and as a token of my appreciation here is a down payment.” He gestured and a bodyguard handed her an envelope. She tore it opened and placed the enclosed disc into her personal digital wallet, which immediately registered an additional 50000 credits. She thanked him with a slight bow.
“That’s just a very small first installment. Remember I want the final design of the digireal chip by the end of the year, and progress reports on the research every month till then.”
“I’ll get it for you.” She said.
Krahs mind slipped back to the time of her ordeal while Rick watched the holo-projection. Even though that probably represented one of the worst kinds of trauma a human being could endure, she could think of the incident in a somewhat distant way. After all, the experience was not strictly speaking her own. She wondered if Rick would find it strange that the person he had dominated and broken years ago could deal with him in the calm and calculated way that she was going to. Let him wonder. It was her secret.
“That’s enough, shut it off!” Rick blurted. He was staring into empty space and fiddling with the lapel of his immaculate pinstripe suit. When Krahs did nothing, he reached out and stopped the miniature holo-projector manually. After a long pause, he said weakly, “That’s not admissible in any court – the technology’s too new and untested.”
“No its not admissible, my dear half-brother, but I wonder what your trusting sister, Noil, who also happens to be your boss would think about it? And what about your dear wife, Mindy and the kids who think their father walks on water? And what about the members of the PsyTech corp high council who obviously believe you to be the personification of some exemplary ideal? Besides, why would I want to take this to the courts, when we could come to a much more mutually beneficial arrangement? ”
“All right! All right! What do you want?”
“I want the final design of the digireal chip by the end of the year, and progress reports on the research every month till then.”
“You’re kidding,” he laughed nervously.
“Not at all. Oh, and don’t think you can simply have me removed. If I were to disappear, or meet with an accident, or be struck by lightning or have any such misfortune, the holo-memory you have just witnessed will find its way onto the global UniNet, and will also mysteriously appear on the personal communication stations of a few very key people, including those I mentioned earlier.”
“You bitch! I should have finished you off when I had the chance.”
“You should have.” She smiled coyly. Later this conversation, recorded indelibly in her brain, would be added to her holo-memory archive. The wonders of modern technology.
To be continued? …