Chapter 3:


Pyro's Grand Demise

My lips are pressed into a thin line as I gingerly prod at my stomach. I immediately snatched the taser from the man upon grabbing his hand, but it soon became evident he’d brought two of them. He truly was becoming a pain in my side, and that can be taken figuratively or literally.

So now my entire abdomen aches and I no longer feel like trying to get my way out of this situation through brute strength alone. Albeit, punching him in the jaw sounds like a lovely idea. One that will have to wait until later.

I follow him through the dank alleyways until we reach a dilapidated parking garage. Inside he’s left his car, which looks far too pricey for a man like him. It’s a newer model and has been decked out with all the fancy features, like a thermostat that senses your body heat, radio AI, and of course karaoke.

The interior is black and plush; I sink several inches into the passenger side before settling. His driving is decent, and by that I mean he’s neither a speed demon or jerky with the wheel. He uses his blinker.

“Do you want music?” He asks after a while.

“No, I think you should deal with my uncomfortable stare in utter silence a bit longer.”

His jaw clenches in either annoyance or an attempt to hold back a bitter smile. He’s not used to playing the role of asshole kidnapper, and I can tell. I have an inkling that he’s a rich boy whose daddy buys him expensive cars. There’s no way he makes this kind of money from that back-alley shop of his. The only reason I went to it was because it was so grimy and hidden.

There is also the possibility that he stole this car. Car theft has become an extremely difficult art due to the newer cars’ anti-break-in technology, but he’s already proved himself to be a mega-nerd. It’s probably one of his hobbies.

We go in the opposite direction of the Warf, so I don’t have to see the orange flames in the distance. But if I roll down the windows just a tad, I swear I can smell smoke. We’re far past my scent radius, so I know it’s just my mind telling stories.

I’m not surprised when his car rolls into the cracked parking lot of his shop. Only a moron would take a cyborg home. That is, unless he sleeps here, then he’s a complete moron.

“Stay in here,” he says before shutting the door behind him. The doors automatically lock me in, which is kind of funny because I could pry the doors off their hinges.

The shop is surrounded by the taller buildings of similarly-decrepit businesses. A chain link fence surrounds the parking lot which, by the sounds of it, he is currently locking. The barbed wire on top will keep out the common riff raff, but certainly not those with metal appendages. Not that cyborgs would even come here--they’d be hired to rob places with higher market value.

He opens my door and says, “Come on.” I give him a flat stare before sliding out of the plush vehicle and into the rude awakening of an abandoned parking lot.

“Do you get a lot of business?” I inquire, making it obvious what I think the answer will be.

“You came here,” he points out.

I shrug my shoulders and follow him to the front door. “I chose you for specific reasons, some of which the normal client would try to avoid.”

He looks over his shoulder while jimmying with the sticky lock. “I don’t exactly have normal clients.”

The lock finally turns and he shoves in the door. The smells of metal and engine grease coat the air like a second skin, so I turn my scent preceptors down a smidge. Even cyborgs can get headaches.

He makes sure to lock the door behind him, which takes almost as long as unlocking it. During this brief moment, I take a scan of the room, sensing any dissimilarities from last time I was here. Believe it or not, that was only a day ago.

There are tables with metal pieces strewn across them, followed by even more, larger pieces on the floor. A motorcycle sits in the middle of the shop and it looks as if a booster of some sort has been strapped to the back. It looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Then there are the blueprints, and damn if they aren’t everywhere.

Plans for robots, cars, and gadgets. Things I don’t even have a name for but look incredibly complicated. Plans for Not Me, which should have been scrapped the moment it was finished. I snatch the paper from its place pinned to the corkboard.

“Hey,” the technician reprimands, “don’t touch my stuff.”

“This--” I wave the blueprints in the air “--is not yours. We agreed it would be burned upon completion of the project.” Yet another thing he lied about. Then again, what else was I expecting from a greasy engineer/technician?

“Yes, you’re right,” he relents. “However, those plans have no connections to you and will be highly beneficial for any future blueprints I create. You had a lot of insights I don’t normally have access to. It’d be a waste to destroy them.”

I scoff. If I had control over my firestarter I’d light them up. Instead, I crumple them and throw them over my shoulder like a child.

“Tell me what it is you want before I set this entire shop on fire,” I bluff while examining my nails. I may no longer be confident in my left arm, but he doesn’t need to know that. Besides, if I really tried I could probably get a fire starting. I’m just not completely sure I wouldn’t get caught up in it too.

The man’s mask is beginning to crack and he looks kind of pissed. For some reason this excites me, being the instigator that I am.

Unfortunately, he takes a deep breath and steels himself. “I have a job for you.”

I frown. Interesting, but also kind of a let down. I was expecting something more dramatic, I suppose. “What kind of job?”

“I need you to steal something for me.”

“A thieving job?” I ask with a hand on my hip. “Really? Couldn’t you have asked anyone else to do that? I mean, with that car you obviously have the money to hire a cyborg for the job.”

“This isn’t just any job, though,” he counters. “I need you to steal from the CEO of GravityTech.”

I snort. “You’re joking.”

He doesn’t say anything, so I continue, “GravityTech is the most highly-advanced Cyborg and AI company in the world. Not to mention, they also specialize in security. How the hell am I supposed to get into their headquarters without immediately being spotted?”

“You’re not breaking into headquarters, you’re breaking into the CEO’s mansion.”

“Like that’s gonna make it any better!” I exclaim. “That fucker has more than a few screws loose. Didn’t you hear about the human testing going wrong? Not to mention, she’s behind the murders of hundreds of cyborgs. Probably thousands, if we’re being honest.”

I look at him, waiting for any of this to make sense. For him to tell me this is a fucking joke. But he doesn’t relent. “You’re crazy,” I say like I’ve finally solved the puzzle.

“Listen,” he says with a sigh. As if I am tiring him out. “It’s not as impossible as it seems. I know how to get past the security system.”

I narrow my eyes on him. “And how exactly would you know that?”

“Because I’ve lived there my entire life. The CEO is my mother.”

"Well, that... that definitely changes things."

Steward McOy
Haru Yumera