I pretended to be a pilot, and that is when the murders began.
Disclaimer: This is not a polished story, simply an exercise in writing.
I am not a great liar, except the time when I flew the super VIP-taxi for the large corporation Novis Mytos. It did start as a lie and then I just went with it, keeping the initial lie floating until nobody disbelieved it.
It had been months rummaging around the vast city of Protarys looking for work. Any work, any job, at the time I did not care what the job entailed. I was just so desperate for creds [ed. money] that I could probably have shot someone for a warm meal and a beer. I did have some creds for emergencies like when the police pick you up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then you need creds to get out of holding or else you will probably be forgotten in the system.
This day I had searched the ghetto-like western districts and the reception was lousy so I did not see the notification from my friend Korb until later when I got back downtown. The message said:
“Found a job for you, taxi driver for Novis Mytos. You said that you had experience with piloting the APEX models right?”
I stared down at my watch, fixated on the words. I was relieved, it took me another thirty seconds to process the message. With a small cloud of smoke from the wide tires my motorcycle thrusted on to Wuylon Strada. I held on tight, feeling the g-forces in my stomach almost peeling me off the bike. This was the best feeling in the world, moving fast, swerving between other cars and imagining the wind blowing through my hair (I never got the AR-add on for my helmet.)
The bike came to a quick stop at my garage, and I looked down at my watch and it had only taken me 20 minutes to get home instead of the 45 that I expected. I got of the bike and turned it off with a push on my watch. With a glance down the street I entered my apartment complex, looking, watching for police or CORPSEC [ed. private police for corporations] that would arrest me for speeding. But the street was calm.
I gathered my things, some new clothes, my trusted gun and transferred money from the emergency account and was out the door in five minutes. My neural implant sent a message to Korb alerting him that I was coming over and for him to prepare the ID-forgery machine. I was feeling confident that I could fake my way through the application process.
The bike shot out from the garage and onto the street directly in the path of a delivery truck. I swerved hard right and barely avoided a crash. “Fucking lorries” I thought to myself, they always drive so slow.
A few minutes later I parked outside Korb’s tragic excuse for a home. Three young punk were trying to open a car on the other side with a plasma cutter. I made sure to use the SecureLock locks that I bought for theses situation. Too bad that I cannot afford a few more hours of SecureLock per month. “If they steal my bike I’m going to murder them!“, I thought.
It took some effort to open Korb’s door since there was a huge pile of trash right behind it. I stepped over the trash, locked the door and went straight for his workshop.
“Are you going to clean this mess?”, I said loud enough to let him know I had arrived.
No answer, I proceed into his shop-room, finding him deep connected to some virtual reality game. I pulled one of his earpieces out and repeated the question. He twitched in sudden fear and shot away from me with his chair.
“Are you MAD Derek, you cannot just pull someone out from VR!”
“I told you I was coming; did it not say urgent in the message?”
“Nah, it must have gotten lost in translation.”
“Never mind, just take off the machine. I need a piloting license.”
He took off his remaining VR-gear, revealing a thin man in his twenties. Sitting in worn-out clothes, jacked up on sensory amplifiers and with a twitch in his leg as the lack of stimuli made him restless.
“So, you are going to take the job I take it.”
“Korb, you are bad at small talk; just fix my license.”
The ID-forger was an old model but it crafted a pilot license for me in a few minutes and I transferred almost all of my emergency creds to Korb. He proceeded to jack into the game and left me with a “Good luck.”
“Yeah, good luck to you too, junkie”
He just flipped me off and got comfortable in his chair.
I drove more calmly over to Novis Mytos’ Taxi-department. Fearing again to be ticketed or put in holding. Now it wasn’t just the g-force that made my stomach feel funny. I was nervous and I am usually never nervous about anything. But if I screw this up, I am totally fucked. Out of creds, no job, no way to pay off the bike, no nothing.
The Novis Mytos building was built with real concrete and glass instead of bio-plastics. The entrance has a huge revolving door made from glass and steel. I took confident steps into the lobby and up to the receptionist.
“Derek Moors for the taxi job.”
“ID and pilot license, thank you.”
I gave her the license and pressed my thumb on the scanner. A jolt of anxiety flashed before me but I managed to calm my nerves down. I should have taken downers before this.
But didn’t need the neurotransmitter blockers, the application went through without a hitch.
“You are clear for work sir. You can pick up your things in staff area to the right. Any questions?”
“Good, have nice day.”
Was it that easy, they must really be in dire need for a driver I thought to myself.
She pointed haphazardly to the right at a door marked “Employees only”. I went into the staff area and picked up a CORPID-card complete with my name, picture and relevant personal statistics along with some work clothes. My watch beeped. It was instructions for a trip and the location of the taxi.
I made my way up to the taxi hangar and picked up my taxi, an APEX model ST94, matte powder black with all the luxury options. I held my CORPID against the door handle and the door opened and I got in. I pressed the start button and the engines revved up more silent than my bike. I was amazed by the quality of the car and the silence was refreshing. I drove out from the hangar to the pickup location.
A private helipad on the side of a towering building came up on my right. My landing was smooth and really got the feel for how the ST94 handles. A woman dressed in dark leather pants, black boots and a puffy black jacket ending at the waist approached the black taxi. I made sure to make myself presentable.
“This is it”, I said quietly.
The door was opened with nonchalance and the woman got in. She brushed her blond hair back with her hand.
“Do you have the location?”
I checked the cars positioning system and on the dashboard display a map with a point had been marked.
“Then what are you waiting for? Drive.”
The ST94 took off fast and quiet but I could feel the engines roaring to keep the metal box flying. This woman looked no more than nineteen what could she need with a private taxi. I persuaded myself that was none of my business.
We came around to the location where she wanted to go, a building in the finer area of the western district. Probably a shopping mall or something. She leaned forward and held in her hand a credstick [ed. similar to cash].
“There is five thousand credits on this, it’s yours if you keep the engines going and don’t ask questions. Lijie?”
“Yes I understand”
I grabbed the credstick. She stared straight at me with a seriousness in her blue eyes that I never thought I would see from this teenager.
“Yes I understand”, I repeated.
She let go of the credstick and exited the taxi. Fifteen minutes later the woman returns, opens the door carefully and gets in. I can hear that she is winded, her blond hair is tied off in a bun and she has black gloves on. What did she do in there? I do not ask, and I drive away with both her and me in silence.
I drive her around Protarys for maybe three hours and then return to her helipad. She swipes a blank CORPID at the payment badge. She exits the taxi and before closing the door says:
“I will need you to come here tomorrow at 14:00.”
“Yeah... OK miss.”
I drive back to the taxi hangar, park the ST94 and get on my bike home. It’s when I get home and my home terminal boots up that I manage to add one and one together. On the news feed I hear that the head of security for Terminus Incorporated has been murdered and data stolen from their data centre in the western district.
That little girl is a corp. assassin. Right then and there I decide to not keep quiet the following day. That’s the day that all the murders started.