All the King’s Horses #cyberpunk

Welcome to the 20th installment to The Nothing’s Child. It’s been a fun run, but all good things must come to an end. And this is the final installment of the story. I can’t believe we made it here.

If you are new to how the links work, each section shows all the links for the specific section. Otherwise there is a link for the start of each section. It is easy to catch up to where we are now.

Section 1
The Nothing’s Child
Section 2
Life is a Dumpster Dive
Section 3
Bleuthor Encryption
Section 4
Behind the Bookcase
Section 5
Interrogation with no Egg to Stand On
Section 6
Mental Warfare
Section 7
Cracked Eggs
All the King’s Horses

All the King’s Horses

My apartment was trashed, still. Course I hadn’t spent any time in it in days. I didn’t look for my hidden stash the other day when Michelle was in here with me. Now that I was alone I could check for my hidden stash of cred sticks and back up deck.

I know, it seems a bit odd considering I live alone. But I learned a long time ago that you don’t want to keep everything out where other people can find it. You never know when they might raid your place and either break or steal your hoard. Gotta protect your own if you want to survive.

All I had for a gun was the cheap crap-o-matic I picked up from the goons, but it would have to do. I might be able to buy some freedom soon but I felt naked going in without my Desert Eagle.

New message from Jen on the datapad. She thought I was gone for good after Ghost and his crew broke into the lab and grabbed me. She wanted to meet up to make sure I was ok and help hide me from further trouble.

She meant well, I am sure she did. But somewhere along the lines I think we just grew apart. There is no going back after a certain time I think. Or maybe she was just becoming too much like the corps she was running for?

All I knew was I didn’t want to get caught up in the politics anymore. The two corps wanted the egg. Hell, they could have it for all I cared. I just wanted to get out of the crossfire. Maybe carry on with my life as I should.

I sent Jen a message back. I wanted to meet up with her in the park near the bridge. The place was open but not too open. Use the cover of darkness to hide anything switching hands. I set the time and place on my terms. I could see it now. A quick exchange and on my way.

Who was I kidding? She would show up with support. My odds of making it out of that were slim to none. And the kid, no telling what would happen there. I can’t see them running a daycare for digital babies.

I had some plans to work through but there was a way I could still come out ahead in all of this.

All the King's Horses

Flickr Creative Commons via Trancemist

The park at night, some might call it scary. Turned out I picked a good night for shady dealings. No moon cast its light over the ground below. Centennial Park was a last bastion of the forests that once were. At one point the powers that be in the city realized that part of nature would need to be preserved. You know how they are with things that cost money. Hate to spend it, but they gained a tax right off and good will of the people.

To this day the grounds are meticulously maintained. The groves of fruit trees and oak trees are cared for to prevent rot and disease. It has done wonders for keeping the forest lands safe and secure. It’s also a great area for secret rendezvouses. You see, with no moon in the sky and the forests around the area, it can be easy to hide an army if you intend a double cross.

This was a big reason I knew Jen would go for the exchange. She wasn’t going to just let me go. Not if they thought I might still have the egg in my head. And the datapad would not be enough of an exchange. But it was still something I needed to try. There was always a chance that I would be able to drop the package and be on my way. And at this point, that was all I wanted to do.

She met me at the top of the bridge. Jen, still beautiful, still on the wrong side of a bad argument, where did we go wrong? He troops didn’t bother to hide. I knew she wouldn’t be alone.

“And so, it’s come to this,” I said. “We had something once.”

She didn’t smile. I think that was what hurt the most. Our life had become little more than a transaction. “You stuck around for the losing side,” she said.

“That’s what we’ve come to then? What did you trade it all for?“

“I needed something more,” she said. You knew that, yet couldn’t bring yourself to go beyond.”

She was right of course. She wanted something much more than I would ever be able to provide. You have to give her props though. She didn’t wait around for someone to save her. She saved herself.”We going to make this exchange or what?”

I wasn’t a hero. Hell, I wasn’t even a goodman. I could have traded the child for money at least, instead I bartered for Greybunny’s life. “Where is she?” She was at the foot of the bridge. A couple goons held her. “You ok?”

“Bout as good as can be expected.”

“This was never about either of you. You know that right?” The look in Jen’s eyes, I wanted to believe her. She looked at me like that when we were together. I think that’s what hurt the worst.

“I never thought it was,” I said. “Business is business. Let her go. I’ll leave it at the bottom of the bridge, but not before I see her safely away.”

“Fine, do what you have to do.”

Greybunny didn’t run. The impulse was to put as much distance between you and them as possible. But she played it safe. The girl knew how to protect herself. When she was a safe distance away, I backed down the bridge. At the entrance I set the datapad on the rail.

“Maybe the next time will be under better conditions.” Once I saw Greybunny was at the edge of the apple trees I turned and ran. This was a moment when discretion was the better part of valor, as I scrambled to the crack of weapons fire behind me. I had to make the trees, though chances were dicey as bullets cut the ground around me.

Business is business. As runs go, I could probably have gone to a safe space by simply giving up the child to Jen and her team. Once we made it through the woods and they had secured the datapad, things would go back to normalish. I mean sure, I could probably spin my way out of this business with Ghost and his team. But the odds, the odds are never in the runner’s favor. Sometimes you have to know how to set up the right screen that will get you out of the Net and back home. Safety is never guaranteed.

See, this deal I had made with Jen, it wasn’t the only deal I had made today. Sometimes you have to know how to play both sides. Now the deal with Ghost, that one was a bit more important than anything as crude as money. Sure I was saving my life in the process. But the offer was the competition, all in one place for easy resolution.

The UC troops poured out of the woods around me. Two squads were enough to take out Jen and her goons. It was a small price to pay for a little piece of mind. Besides, once the dust settled again I had work to do.


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