Topple the Giant, Part I

He felt the cold breeze settle into his bones as he stared out at the neon lights of the city. His ears tuned out the noise, listening for the music that underpinned the bustle and life.

Soon, he thought, they would have their chance.

He returned to the apartment, and his lover. She was caught in repose, sleep having taken her hours earlier, head on the armrest of the sofa that he’d purchased when he moved into the apartment.

He admired how Renee could just clear her mind, even when they had a job coming up. He wished he could calm himself as well as she could.

Premonitions of sorrow always seemed to be on his mind.

He made himself a cup of soykaf to warm his fingers and his stomach. The call could come at any moment. If Leo had been right, the synthsteel case holding the access codes would be all they needed.

Get in, make the trade, get out.

But he feared something would go wrong.

And he was glad to have the best nettracer in the city napping in his apartment. He cracked his knuckles, turning to his gear. He scoffed.

A pistol and a blade wouldn’t mean anything to the biggest corporation on earth. Even if they double-crossed him, any of their agents were so expendable—Renee stirred, clearing the thoughts from his mind.

“Are you ready?”

He nodded. She grabbed her jacket, the yellow and white patterns dancing as she slipped it on over her slender frame. They were here together by necessity, but he was glad that fate had conspired to make it so.

Her sat-phone rang in her coat-pocket. She pulled it to her ear, listening for a moment before saying a perfunctory thank you and hanging up.

“Car’s ready. Let’s go.”

They took the elevator to the garage, watching over the city was it ascended across the horizon. Alek could feel Renee’s arm around his back.

“Isn’t it a beautiful thing?”

Like an organism, he thought, but no words came to his mouth.

“This is your last night of silence, Alek. We’ll get the money and be able to afford the treatment.”

He nodded, a tear in his eye. So many things had gone unsaid. He brought his hand to the scar on his throat.

This would be the chance for him to save them both, if he played his cards right.

The car waited for them in the gray of the garage, its rough windswept edges highlighting its raw power. He’d paid good money to the mechanic to make sure it was top notch.

He ran his hand along the chassis, feeling where the armor had been added to protect them if the deal went south. The heavy glass had been replaced with an aluminum alloy, and he rapped his knuckles on it, listening for the weight of the window. Renee simply pulled the handle to disengage the passenger door, then swooped into the seat.

Satisfied, Alek forced himself into the driver’s seat. The engine roared to life with fury as he turned the key in the ignition, the upgrades needed to pull the armor at the speeds he wanted rumbling away in their housing.

They rolled into the neon night with the case sitting between them. Renee looked at her lover, her future husband, and saw the determination on his face.

“Do you think Elric has it in him?”

Alek shrugged. It never hurt to have a second, and Elric was trustworthy. But he couldn’t take on a corporate squad. If they had made a mistake, they’d have to run fast. Not that it had ever stopped them in the past.

Still, the corporations got antsy about their databases. Information was king in the synthetic world, with each trade secret and customer profile worth as much as the buildings and servers it was held on.

Regicide was frowned upon by the kings of old, and corporations tended to lash out against thieves and hackers. When they’d arranged the meet, Hansen had a sour look on his face. Of course, middlemen were prone to conflicting interests, but he’d always done them solid.

Alek swallowed his fear, letting it pass as he pushed his foot down on the pedal.

Syntheternity had been working on its androids for decades. Just two years ago their caretaker drones had crashed the labor market in Japan, and here in the States there were calls to have them investigated and regulated. Fear, uncertainty, doubt.

Neither of them cared. The government had banned the nettracers long ago, and Alek’s line of work had never been legal without a shiny badge attached.

Tonight, they were going to topple the giant. They hardly knew it, but they felt it. The buyer’s price was too good.

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