Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.
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I still peered around the corner, just to make sure. The drones were in heaps, sparking. The doors at the end of the hall were open, inviting even. Samuels begrudgingly holstered his gun; I tucked mine behind my back. Lincoln fell into step behind, stopping to sniff at the broken machines as we came in to the central hub chamber.
I whistled in mock drama as I looked around. A large set of steel blast doors barricaded the way to the roof, though they had been shot by a high caliber weapon several times. A dead lab tech or orderly was crumpled by the chair where Scorpio sat. He was a massive man, easily six and a half feet tall. His shoulders were broad as a house, and on his shoulder was an integrated miniaturized cannon. It rotated around and tracked our movements.
"As a show of good faith, could you turn that off? It might accidentally go off," I said.
Scorpio snorted in a laugh. "Nothing I have ever goes off, except when I want it to. But fine, if you're such a pussy."
The cannon pointed toward the ceiling. That wasn't what I asked, but I didn't think it was smart to start arguing semantics with the man at this point. Samuels and I put some distance between us as we started to approach the terminal.
"Well, hurry up, get the doors open, now," Scorpio said, snapping his fingers at us. His hands were gloved in some heavy armoring; the top of his left arm was integrated with his cannon, or maybe had been removed entirely to fit in a space to store the belt feed. Targeting computers and other tech seemed soldered onto his face. His eyes were distant, probably because he was only even partially here.
When he stood up, I heard the servos or the gears or whatever was in his joints creak. His steps were steady, but lurching. Like an old imagining of Frankenstein's monster, he was a bit lurching. Or maybe it was Igor? Only instead of a hump, he had a fucking cannon strapped to his shoulder.
"You like what you see? I didn't buy any of this from the doctor's discount bin," Scorpio said, turning in a runway twirl.Various tubes ran along his back, but I wasn't sure what they were for. Maybe liquids, maybe wiring?
"That's a lot of hardware," Samuels said.
"Isn't that the wave of the future Samuels?"
"That's exactly it," Scorpio said as Samuels took to the console, carefully typing away. I don't think he really had a plan, and neither did I. "I shoot faster, punch harder, eat less, sleep less -- everything a man can do I do better. Hell, the bitches tell me I fuck better."
"Whores tell that to every John," Samuels said. At first I thought Scorpio was going to lose his cool, but instead he just smacked his knee, creating a little metallic ring.
"That isn't what your mother said last night."
"Really?" Samuels said, as Lincoln sat next to me. "'Your mom' jokes? At a time like this?"
"It's clear someone hasn't had their sense of humor augmented yet," Scorpio said.
"Yeah, well, I don't need a prosthetic dick to make--"
"That's enough, both of you," I said. "We've got bigger things to worry about."
"Maybe if his was a cybernetic one it would be big enough to worry about," Scorpio said. Samuels just shook his head and turned back to his console. One thing that was good about Samuels elitist attitude is that when he looked down on people like Scorpio, he did it with pity and contempt, but not anger. He saw Scorpio's raging as a sort of adolescent temper tantrum.
I realized it for what it was: The raving of a man who would like to shoot us, but has just enough sanity left to prioritize his long-term goals ahead of his short term ones. We were useful; once we weren't, I'm not sure if we'll stay in the 'do not shoot' category of Scorpio's binary brain.
Scorpio and Samuels both exchanged a glance and that seemed to settle that. I sat at a separate console to see what I could find, but most of the functionality was locked out. For some reason, I could still play solitaire on it though. Scorpio paced as Samuels and I clicked away. He eventually seemed bored enough to kneel down and scratch behind Lincoln's ear.
"The dog real?"
"Real as you or me," I said. "Well, at least real as me."
"Damn it Roscoe, get over here and show me what you want me to do. I'm not having any luck."
Scorpio went back to the door, and pounded on it with his fist. The steel clanged, but it didn't so much as budge. I looked over Samuels' shoulder, but it was all Greek to me. I pointed at a few things at random before he finally waved me away.
"Tell me what you know about the doctor," I said.
"That she's going to die for fucking with the wrong people," Scorpio said. I gave up on that line of questioning. What brought Scorpio here was a personal vendetta, a violation of some street code. Dozens of gang members were here, dead with their implants ripped out of them.
"What is taking so long?"
"It's more complicated than it looks."
Samuels turned and faced the door, roaring impotently at it as he fired his shoulder cannon into it. The bullets ricocheted around the room, Lincoln and I instinctively dove for cover. I stood up when I heard the cannon reloading.
"Samuels, think this through with me," I whispered. "The chief's never ordered us off a protection detail before, right?"
"Never someone who is up to date on their fees."
"How expensive were the implants you got from the department?" I asked. He seemed to regard the question with a bit of shock, then the point of my question hit him. He shook his head; he didn't know. "And we didn't know that a street doc with a flimsy cover identity had moved into our beat? Do you see my point?"
"You think we've been getting cheap gear by ripping it out of gangers using Dr. Crane?"
"It's a possibility," I said. Scorpio had finished reloading but seemed satisfied to just try staring the door into submission.
"Didn't think the chief had it in him to be that dirty," Samuels said in what I couldn't tell if it was awe or shock. "We can't prove anything though."
"Override the security system," I said. "If my hunch is right, then the reason the clinic went off the grid is that the department cut them off. If my hunch is wrong, then nothing'll happen."
"If it does turn off, that means they're running the same software we are," He said as he opened his finger port. He stuck it into the socket, and the machine started to hum. The cameras started to go dead, and then the door started to creak open. Samuels and I looked at each other; whatever I thought of him before, I needed him now. We were on to something; something big.
"Fuck." He said. "I mean, it is a novel way to thin out the gang population, but, fuck."
"We'll worry about filing a report when we get back," I said. "Explains why he didn't want us nosing around though. For now, Scorpio, let's move out."
He was watching as the doors opened; I think I heard him chuckle a little before he broke out into a complete mad laugh. When he turned to face us, I could see madness creeping into those empty eyes.
"Well gentlemen," Scorpio said, his cannon slowly realigning on us. "I want to thank you for getting me this far. But, revenge is a solo sport. I'm going to like shooting a couple of pigs. And your little dog too."