Chapter 4:


Pyro's Grand Demise

I really should just kill him now. Or better yet, take him hostage and demand a ransom even his parasitic mother would balk at. Yet he seems to sense my churning mind and makes sure to casually show me he’s still holding the taser. He’s not as slick as he seems to think.

“I assumed you were a daddy’s boy,” I confess. My face is neutral when in actuality my heart is racing like crazy. Just being in the same room as him could very well be a ticking time bomb. “I’m assuming your mother doesn’t know where you are right now?”

“No, she doesn’t,” he says, his voice having a hard edge clearly saying don’t ask.

“Why?” I ask anyway.

He rolls his eyes. “Let’s just say we came to disagree on something important.”

“And this something important has to do with whatever it is you want me to steal?”

“Yes. Blueprints.”

“Blueprints,” I repeat and wait for him to elaborate. He doesn’t. “There’s no way in hell you expect me to steal blueprints from the GravityTech CEO without telling me what exactly it is that I’m stealing.”

“Well, it sounds to me like we’re at an impasse,” he says, the tips of his ears burning red. Being a rather pale person with gingerish hair, it’s incredibly easy to tell when he’s angry. He may have gotten good at hiding his expressions, but the blood rushing to his head isn’t exactly something he can hide.

“Only a rich kid would use a word like impasse in everyday conversation,” I point out tartly, if just to see if his ears will deepen in color. I’m delighted when they do.

“This is hardly everyday,” he retorts. “But anyway, you hardly have a decision in this. Either you do this for me, or the footage gets leaked.”

Typical rich kid. Used to getting everything he wants.

I scowl at him. “Is this truly how low humans have stooped? You could at least offer me money in return for my efforts. I can hardly work for free in this economy, ya know.”

His brows furrow. “I assumed the money was already expected.”

“It is. But how much are we talking?”

He scratches the side of his jaw. Beneath the shadow of a beard from not shaving for several days, he has the lookings of the upper class. An expensive haircut, good teeth, and no tattoos in plain sight. He needs to mess one of those up if he’s going to fit in around here.


“Volts?” I squeak then clear my throat.

He jerks his head. “I need this job done, and I need it done right. She can’t know the blueprints have been stolen for at least several hours, so you’ll have to plant similar, slightly different papers. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to get past her security, but I’ll be leading you through every step of the way.”

“Without actually being there, I assume.”

“Precisely,” he says while ignoring my tone. “We’ll use ear pieces to speak with each other the entire time.”

“I don’t like the sound of this. If I’m caught, I’ll be the only one who suffers. Meanwhile you’ll be safe on the outside.”

“It’s a good idea to have someone on your team outside.”

“We’re not on the same side,” I object. “You’re blackmailing me, may I remind you.”

“Only because it’s a worthy cause. Countless people will be hurt if those blueprints aren’t destroyed.”

“Yet you still won’t tell me what they are,” I observe. “Tell me, why shouldn’t I just destroy them once I get my hands on them? Are you telling me these mega-dangerous papers are going to be safer in your hands rather than Mother Dearest?”

He sits down on a swivel stool and interlaces his hands in front of him. They’re calloused and stained dark with engine grease. “The blueprints are on a thumb drive,” he explains. “If the thumb drive is destroyed, my mother gets an alert on her phone.”

I raise an eyebrow. “But won’t she get an alert when her entire security system shuts down?”

“She doesn’t have a regular security system. In fact, inside the house there are almost no cameras at all. Being in the line of work she’s in, she doesn’t exactly trust technology.”

I let out a harsh laugh. “You mean because her own experiments scare her? What, did that time her AI went wrong cause her to fear all things technological? Does she jump when the microwave goes off?”

He frowns. “Funny. But no, she’s more afraid of someone getting access to her cameras. Because of what she does, she knows how easily they can be hacked. Even GravityTech’s security systems aren’t impenetrable, especially if it’s a purple-type cyborg doing the hacking.”

“Purple-type? I thought they were basically nonexistent.”

“They exist,” he returns simply. “They’re just incredibly rare due to the nature of their abilities. Billionaires typically get their hands on them before anyone else, so the chances of casually knowing one are slim to none.”

Purple-types are cyborgs incredibly efficient in hacking. They’re designed with microchips in their brains which allow them to see computers in a way no one else is capable of. It’s said there’s no firewall they can’t break into, which is what makes them so dangerous. Especially seeing as everyone lives their lives these days on the internet.

Despite not being physically inclined, they’re a step up from blue-types such as me. I may be able to fight with muscle and fire, but they can completely wipe a system. If one were to get a hold of the back of my neck, they’d have access to every one of my mechanical functions, as well as to the chip in my skull. The top of the spine is every cyborg’s weakness because that is where they can be body-hacked.

If all cyborgs were to be rated on a scale of how dangerous they were, it’d go: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, then purple. The higher on the scale you are, the more money you’re paid. You can see where I get my ego from.

“So what you’re saying,” I begin, “is that your mother is doing things inside her house that she doesn’t want anyone else seeing.”

He hesitates, then nods. “Yeah, basically. I’m not one to preach about how great my mom is. She’s kind of crazy, to be honest.”

I snort. “That might be the only agreeable opinion you have, Joseph.”

The makings of several emotions flit across his features before he settles on slightly annoyed. “Don’t call me that.”

Everyone knew the Northview family. The brilliant, sadistic mother, the ex-husband who mysteriously vanished ten years prior, and of course the prodigy son, Joseph. If only I watched the news more frequently, maybe I would have recognized him. I haven't seen a picture of him since he was a kid, though, and I wonder if that was somehow on purpose. People hear a lot, but they don't necessarily see a lot.

“Why? Because it’s the name your mommy gave you?”

He stands and retreats further into the shop. There’s a kitchenette in the far corner and he begins rummaging through the fridge. It’s half the size of a normal fridge, probably because there’s no freezer attached. I practically live on freezer food so the sight is unholy.

I doubt Joseph has ever spent nine minutes in the freezer section of Walmart, debating whether cheese-stuffed crust was worth the extra five volts. Not only would he immediately choose the cheese-stuffed crust, he’d probably get it from an actual Italian restaurant. One where the waiters put the napkins on your lap for you.

He surprises me and retrieves two sodas from the fridge. Not nearly as fancy as I was expecting. I accept the one he offers me.

There’s a sofa across from the kitchenette with a crappy television parked too close to it. He sits down and clicks on the tv. I watch with a disgusted expression.

“What?” he says when he catches my stare. “We can keep talking about it, but the game is about to come on. I’ll order a pizza.”

“From where?”


I chew on my lip. He’s definitely not a typical rich kid, then.

“Just call me Joe, by the way. I was named after my grandfather and he was a bigger dick than my mom.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Got it. Joe.”

Seeing as there's nothing else to do, I sit down as far away from him as possible and open my soda. The sofa sinks in a bit too much and it kind of feels like my ass is getting a hug, but I don't mind it too much. If he plans on feeding me, I can stick around. Then, once I somehow survive this job, I’ll be rich enough to buy a new car and drive it far, far away from here.

It's not like I have another choice anyhow. Especially not now that I know how much money is on the line.

Steward McOy
Haru Yumera