A98 in Progress

The city was bedding down for the night; the city of analysts and wrench-turners, of school children and factory workers and project managers, that is. The Night City—that parasite that succeeded in entangling itself within and around its daytime sibling without strangling it, that sunless city of teal-lighted windows scattered among the daytime’s disused towers of black glass, of the red-streaks of autocars like fresh blood—that city was just waking up. Zaynab sipped her burnt coffee. Bring it.

She sat in her small Raven hovercopter with the cockpit blacked out, parked on the roof of the Sangisant Robotechnologies building. Normally the megacorps didn’t like the Department playing in their sandbox, but Sangisant was already under investigation for some of their gray market dealings, and Zaynab may have led them to believe cooperation in the form of a landing pad would prove favorable. It was a little gray market deal of her own. Didn’t matter; it served the greater cause.

A thousand drone cameras the size of a gnat’s ass scattered over the city, giving Zaynab an adjustable, 3-D, real-time view of all those scheming, hustling, two-timing late-risers. The criminals here were a lot of things, but they were not stupid. Catching them took a combination of luck, an eye for detail, and a dash of willingness to stoop to their level. It was advantageous to be everywhere at once. She sipped her coffee again and bitterly swallowed stray grounds.

The night wore on, the humidity unrelenting. The camera swarms were short lived and she deployed four sets of them without anything in the way of action. She was closer to sunrise than sunset and had been biting the inside of her cheeks to suppress a yawn when a call came in over the short-beam. “Patrol 22, A98 in progress near your location, please respond.”

A98? Unlicensed AI booting. Agressive; sure to attract a lot of attention. Decoy, or desperation?  Zaynab had the Raven five meters off the pad already. “Copy, Dispatch. Where am I going?”

She wasn’t prepared for the answer. “Sangisant Robotech, 174th floor. Backup inbound.”

Oh shit. She dropped the Raven back to the pad and grabbed the pulse rifle from the rack. Things were taking a turn, and she didn’t like the smell of it one bit.

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