There was a dry cough before a rasping voice spoke, “what the fuh.” Broken coughing from a dry larynx, “Where, where am I?”
Drick watched as they struggled to sit upright, hacking up dry lungfulls of air and squinting through eyes gummed by sleep. “Ah the sleeper has awakened. Well hello gorgeous. Don’t try to move too much or those restraints are going to cut into you.”
“What?” Eyes opened now and Drick was quickly recognised, “you,” came the harsh snarl.
“Me,” Drick smiled broadly.
“You are dead.”
“And yet I still appear to be breathing and walking around with all my faculties.”
“For now. When my people find you they are going to kill you.”
“So you have said.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“No idea. I always break into heavily armed clubs; mount a tactical assault to ensure someone leaves the safety of a difficult to access area, into an easier to access area; jump down an elevator shaft; kill a bunch of organics who are trying their level best to kill me; just as an exercise; without having the faintest clue as to who I am going to kidnap. So who are you?”
“I’m the person who is going to urinate on your corpse.”
“Not much of a threat is it. If I am already dead, why would I care if you used my stiff as a toilet? You have a very odd imagination, and this is all tedious. I wanted to have a little conversation. Do you think we can have that without the threats, bluster and general unpleasant imagery?”
“Do you want me to answer that?”
“No. I am actually setting down a condition, since we’d reached a natural conclusion to all the flippancy. I need to know who hired you? In fact, I need to know who that was and anyone else connected to them.”
“You think I am going to give you the name of my contact and their superiors? What makes you think I know them?”
“Well I cannot be certain, but you don’t strike me as a person who extends so much certainty of force without knowing that they are going to be able to collect payment. What would count as insurance if they did pay you and then set their own dogs or the Judiciary on you? What guarantee can a person like you have that they can maintain their seat in the shit heap. The answer is leverage. You have to have leverage.”
“Well that’s all guesswork.”
“It is, but it is good guesswork. You see, you’re a common brute. You use threats, intimidation, force, but without those you have very little. You are not clever enough to be useful, your skill is in supply of heavy support personnel. Probably you deal in drugs, sex, gambling, the usual side businesses to a low league enforcer. But you have little to keep you in this position. You’re cruel, but that’s not an uncommon trait. You have clever people who work for you, but you are just cruel, and maybe a little cunning. No, you have to have gathered something else. That’s leverage. No doubt you have recordings of delicate relationships with enough high level people to make taking you out of the picture more than a slight inconvenience.”
“But you are not denying and I can tell by your face that I am in the right playing ground. So tell me, what do you keep? Where do you keep it? Or maybe you just let me know the little bits of info I need to know. Or maybe I pull it out of your head with a deep probe. ”
“Wouldn’t work. I have nothing stored that would incriminate anyone.”
“So you need to be connected to a network. Clever. Living connection for all business dealings, you are nothing but an encryption key. Well while I play the children listening next door will be hacking the heck out of any network you ever even looked at.”
“Doesn’t matter. They will not get anything.”
“They are good, little key.”
I am more than just a key. And you cannot get at any information I have. Try as hard as you like to break me, even if you succeed, you get nothing. My systems know when I am under duress, even if I were willing, which I will never be. You connect me to the networks and you get nothing. You torture me and you get nothing. You cannot do anything. Your best option is to start running and pray they don’t find you.”
“So it is the hard way.” Drick walked over to a table and picked up a dart pistol. “I am going to give you one last chance before I.” But Drick never finished the sentence.
The shot was fired from over thirty kilometres away. The target was confirmed, was being monitored. Painted as a kill strike with range and flight information by drones. They were a custom build less than five millimetres in diameter. They operated for a short time on a small piece of fissionable material before decaying to a husk. They were hard to detect and worked as a slave mesh unit, each one having a tiny range of transmission attached to a battery of mostly passive sensors. One or two of the devices would have their passive array swapped for a single active sensor such as a targeting beam. There were thousands of them attached to the guidance control of the weapon that fired the shot.
The missile it fired was also attached to the same mesh network. It was composed of a multitude of shells. Most of these contained booster stages for the central unit. This design allowed it to accelerate in a steady progression keeping the originating weapon small, and easier to manipulate. The shells accelerated this particular missile to a speed of over eighty thousand kilometres per hour. Most of the detection equipment would not even register its presence before it hit the target.
By the time it reached the fortified wall it was done with the accelerant shell casings and only had central shells. The first three of these were disposable material piercing jackets. The strike team had done their homework. The first jacket was disposed off after allowing penetration of the concrete outer wall; the second shell took the damage from the ablative shield on the exterior of the building; the third allowed the central core to pierce through reinforced armour inside the wall partition. At this point the projectile itself was travelling at only nine hundred kilometres per hour as all of the rest of the momentum had been absorbed.
It was fast enough for the fifty millimetre expanding gel round to enter Drick’s neck and blow the head, shoulders and arms from their body.