Blitt’s Journey, Part 12

A long steel-gray sled was parked in front of the dress shop, Blitt noted as he approached it. “She’s here,” he whispered to himself as Dan’s sled auto-parked itself in the next space. He got out and caught his reflection in the window, startled by not immediately recognizing the new face that the mask was imposing over his real one. It made him feel strange. Almost as strange as his meeting with Priscilla.

Once inside the store Stacy immediately greeted him as if she had been waiting for him the entire morning. “She just went into the dressing room. You’re just in time,” she said smiling back at Blitt.

Blitt briefly returned her smile and remained silent while he waited for Priscilla to emerge from the dressing room. He was worried about what her reaction to his strange face would be, so he tuned out Stacy’s voice droning away right beside him.

“I hope it fits her. I took some liberty and had it sized to a similar dress she purchased not too long ago.”

The bubbly sales clerk hopped out into Blitt’s field of view, forcing his attention back onto her, crossed her fingers with hope and playfully smiled at him. Behind her, the dressing room door opened and Priscilla began to emerge from it, pieces at a time. She was looking down as she walked out, examining the fit of the dress on her slim body. Stacy turned to face her, and Priscilla lifted up her face. She was about to to speak, but her eyes immediately fixed onto Blitt’s. Her confusion quickly dissolved into a skeptical realization of who he was, and then she opened her mouth to speak.

“It looks good on you,” Blitt said quickly before she could start talking.

He let the electromodulation of his synthesized voice drop for a single syllable, so that Priscilla would know that it was indeed him. He froze for a moment, realizing that what happened next could very well define the outcome of his entire mission. She would have to leave the shop with him regardless of whether or not she wanted to come. Blitt couldn’t help feeling the pressure of uncertainty as to what her decision would be.

He kept his eyes locked back onto her cold and discerning stare while he struggled to remove all the emotion from his own face. It was a new face to Priscilla, but behind it was still Blitt’s very own bone and muscle that were capable of betraying each uneasy feeling that swirled about in his head if he were weak enough to gave in to them. Also his eyes, which he knew were like wide-opened portals to his every determination, were the same eyes that had been locked onto hers for countless moments, countless times in the past. He tried his hardest to still them, aiming them at Priscilla’s blue eyes like a pair of sharpened blades.

Stacy turned back and forth between them both, grinning with satisfaction before moving out from between them, doting over the dress in orbits around Priscilla, checking it’s fit all over.

“I hardly recognized you,” said Priscilla. A chill was present in her voice, but as Blitt was relieved to realize, she had been somewhat warmed over by the gift.

“I haven’t been myself today,” he replied with a smile. “But you look every bit of yourself.” He dared a step in her direction, maintaining his contact with her cold eyes. Another step, and before he even realized it he had closed the short distance between them and embraced her, planted a kiss on her painted lips and drew her in closely.

“I’ve missed you,” Priscilla said as she evaporated into his caress.

Stacy chimed in, “Well, this scene just got a bit intimate. I’ll leave you two here. Let me know if you need anything else.”

They didn’t.

* * *

When they left the dress shop, the evening sun had slid noticeably further West, illuminating the ocean with fiery watercolor light. Priscilla had changed back into a skirt and blouse, and held the dress, packaged neatly in a box with a silver bow, tucked underneath her arm. Blitt opened the door of his sled and she gently placed it inside. She stood at the opened passenger door, momentarily making nervous glances back at her gray sled parked beside them.

“Is there something you need in there?” Blitt asked.

“Let me get my things.” She was crying.

The tears hadn’t come yet, but she spoke thinly through them with a swollen throat. From the storage compartment of her sled, she removed a suitcase, and as her crying intensified, she put it into Blitt’s sled beside the dress box. He watched her while she sobbingly sank into the passenger seat, and began to realize that immensity of what she was undergoing. The suitcase meant she had arrived at the dress shop fully aware that she would be leaving with him that very day, never to return. It was, in a way, almost like a kidnapping. The thought of that hit Blitt almost physically when it came to him.

Blitt looked past Priscilla and on off down the length of Bridge street, lined with shop windows and shiny sleek sleds parked alongside them; their bright and reflective surfaces were shimmering in hazy waves of heat splayed out across the horizon. He could not deny having an attraction to this place as he imagined the sort of life she might have had here. His gaze shifted away from the brightness of Bridge Street and resolved once more upon her. Crying much less now, she turned to face him and somehow managed to smile before settling calmly back into the seat.

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My return!

It has been far too long since I’ve practically abandoned this blog. Blitt’s Journey, however, I haven’t exactly abandoned. I’ve continued work on it, an am pleased to release the latest in the story.

I won’t get into the reasons behind my absence, but I will say that I am making every effort to never stay way for so long again. And that I hope to have the next update to Blitt’s Journey up soon after this one.

Thank you, readers, for your patience and understanding.

Blitt’s Journey, Part 11

Blitt made it out of the dress shop in under an hour, more time than he intended to spend pseudo shopping. He had to make a convincing show, however, so that Stacy wouldn’t kick him out of her shop and tip-off Priscilla that she had a creepy stalker asking about her.

Blitt thought about how much of a shame it was that Priscilla would never get to wear the dress he bought for her on some fancy night out around Melbrook. She would be leaving the town that night, with either him or Briggan, possibly never to return. Something told him that the relatively easy life she had been living for the past two years was about to change drastically. And, of course, his also. He thought of the recent past in which they had both enjoying periods of relative peace, sandwiched between bitter-sweet slices of life in a chaotic world. Blitt, running himself ragged on missions for Danathan, and she committing crimes beneath the watchful eye of Dade Briggan.

The ocean wind stirred against him gently as he walked towards the mag-sled. He became aware of something, cold and weighty, separate and distant from the warm ocean breeze, washing over him. It seemed to be focused almost squarely at the center of his forehead, an intangible thought nagging him, pestering to get at the inside his head instead of coming out of it.

Despite its persistence, the experience was not unpleasant. It was momentary, lasting less than a second, just enough time for Blitt to notice it. But for something so brief and barely noticeable, it carried an immensely powerful feeling which Blitt realized, as the thought penetrated his skull and transmuted its way through fibrous brain material and into his consciousness, was a confirmation being sent to him by Priscilla.

His mind relaxed, and immediately referenced the shoot-out at the chop shop and how Priscilla had stood completely still, eyes glazed over and palms outstretched, as she broke his nanotech with an arcane rupture of sonic waves by merely thinking about it.

The wondered if the strange thought he was ‘feeling’ was a result of something similar that Priscilla had done? He knew little about the ways of The Keepers, other than that you never wanted to encounter one in combat unprepared. Priscilla’s use of the power had taken Blitt by surprise, while he was unprepared both for reuniting with her and for scrapping with a mind-bending witch dead set on killing him. There were methods to defend against the Keeper’s art, but most of them were as arcane and unpredictable as the powers themselves. Also, most were rather devious in nature, not anything that he could bring himself to employ upon someone that he cared for.

Blitt didn’t feel malice in what he had just experienced, though. Much like how he had noted a glimmer of regret shining back at him through her vengeful eyes while she fired slugger rounds at him, he felt as though there was still hope that perhaps Priscilla didn’t hate him as thoroughly as he originally imagined.

Now he had to put that theory to a dangerous test.

First though, was Blitt’s primary crisis, the candy shipment. Unfortunately, it was incapable of telepathically informing him of how his attempt to acquire it might turn out. So Blitt planned on utilizing the sort of powers that were familiar to him – quick thinking, quick hands and feet, and the clever use of some really fun weapons.

* * *

It was nearing mid-day, and Blitt couldn’t just make a cold approach through the warehouse’s front entrance and have a look around. From a distance, the building seemed little different than the online layouts suggested. Beyond a chicken wire gate there was a large parking lot and the humongous rectangular building, looming in the distance like a giant beast tauntingly hoarding treasure.

The meager security was a warning to Blitt. By itself, it was the sign of an amateur design, but taken in contexts that Blitt knew to be true, namely that the place was owned by one of the most rich and dangerous men in the world and happened to have something of value hidden within, lax security was a glaring red “no trespassing” sign.

Blitt wondered what hidden security measures were present as he guided the mag-lev sled around the corner once more, onto the street facing the building’s main entrance. He did not want to risk another loop around the facility, for fear of triggering some sort of behavioral algorithm lurking within the programming of whatever hidden security systems might have been in place there. Twice around was risky enough, but three times was sure to seem suspicious to any monitoring systems scanning the area for out of the ordinary activity. He was sure that Briggan had put the entire place on high alert, so this was his final chance to put things into place for his attempt at taking the shipment later that night.

Part of that plan was to cover his approach by utilizing holographic decoys that would draw attention away from himself as he infiltrated the facility. Already Blitt had deployed a half-dozen tiny devices about the location, surreptitiously dropped from a compartment on the bottom of the mag-sled as he circled the area. Low-power using projectors, they would likely go unnoticed by any possible scanner sweeps throughout the day, and they were almost imperceptible to the human eye. Together they would work in tandem with other devices that Blitt planned on bringing along with him to create confusion and mayhem while he slipped inside unnoticed.

He hoped that his preparations were enough. Blitt would have liked time to prepare more thoroughly, to wear down Brigan’s patience but he figures that by now the old man had to be aware that Blitt was able to track the package. Blitt needed to act fast. Briggan wouldn’t let it stay around if he was capable of moving it. Tonight was his only chance, possibly even sooner if Priscilla decided to resist him.

Shit, he realized, she’s a liability no matter how things turn out. the words became pictures in Blitt’s mind as he pondered the dangers posed by his emotional connections to her. There were things, though, that Blitt always considered essential, and Priscilla, his past with her, and her well-being was one of those things. That thought immediately connected him to Danathan. While not essential in the same sense that Priscilla was, Blitt would be a fool not to consider his employer’s motivations and intentions. And in this case, absolutely nothing that Danathan Dowells was doing made sense. Yet, trust was a factor almost as compelling as love, and Blitt was not yet ready to try to make any sense of the strangeness that he had encountered during the past two days.

He checked status of the tiny modules that he had just deployed about the warehouse, and seeing they were ‘OKAY,’ uploaded his custom script to their memories as he drove off to meet with Priscilla at the dress shop on Bridge Street.

Blitt’s Journey, part 10

The entirety of Bridge Street was devoted to fancy clothing shops and cafes. Blitt wore a randomized face on the mask Danathan had given him, chose one of the countless shops and entered. A sales clerk turned, looking surprised to see him.

“Hello, how can I help you,” she asked with a smile.

“My wife shops here, I think.” The softness in his new digitized voice startled him as he spoke.

“You think?”

“I mean that it’s one of these places. There are so many along this street I can’t remember. And your shop has the sort of look she wears. Here, let me show you.” Blitt pressed a series of buttons on his watch and a holographic representation of Priscilla sprang to life in front of them.

“That holopic must be pretty old. The Anton Carmical ensemble she’s wearing is 3 summers ago. But, she’s got good taste, and I should know because I sold it to her. Nice to meet you, Mr. Reid. I’m Stacy.” She extended her hand and a warm smile.

“It’s Littman,” explained Blitt as he shook her slender hand. “She kept her maiden name.”

“I never knew she was married,” she replied, beckoning him to a dress display.

“We’re separated. Things are just starting back up again and I want to get her something nice for this weekend.” He smiled back at the woman.

“Congratulations. Rekindled romance can be just as hot as finding new love, and I’m going to make sure I find the perfect gift for her to remember this special time.”

“Thank you,” Blitt said as he begin perusing dress styles. Might as well make something out of this and get her something nice, he thought.

Danathan’s paying for it.

* * *

At noon, Priscilla received a card informing her that a gift was waiting for her at Carriage. “please make an appointment for fitting,” it read, signed ‘B. Littman.’

She sighed, wanting to crumple up the neat, gold-trimmed card, but finding it too elegant to do so. She set it down next to the dinner plates she had been stacking and tried to get back to work, to forget about the note and forget about Blitt and to let things stay the way the were for a just a bit longer. She wanted Blitt to remain a warm memory,for Danathan Dowells and her father to disappear, and for her odd relationship with Briggan to continue and remain as it had been. But she knew that she couldn’t do that. Her father wasn’t going away, and Blitt wouldn’t wait. Given the circumstances, she knew that he couldn’t wait. And Briggan had been too good to be true from the start.

She couldn’t drop everything and go see Blitt, because that meant literally dropping everything; the cafe, her life with Briggan, Melbrook. Everything. And in return, she thought, she’d have to go on the run, probably protected by Blitt, and most definitely still subject to her father’s abusive scheming.

But she could be with Blitt.

She weighed the decision. Thinking about Blitt brought up memories of her time with him before her kidnapping. They had been with each other during the eight months following the Garden Wars. Priscilla was a dancer at Starluft’s Academy of Performing Arts and Blitt was a soldier come back from war front, missing his family and still shaken from the horrors of combat.

When they met, both of them had apprehensions about becoming too involved in a relationship with each other, but the attraction was obvious. Blitt, with his good looks and war-forged persona, and her with graceful poise and a delicate upbringing that hungered for the thrill of a hardened edge like his.

Blitt provided that hard-edged thrill and more. She had also discovered within him a softness that, coupled with the ice-cold steel that had been forged within him, made him an exciting presence to be immersed in. So she did. She wrapped herself up in Blitt’s hard exterior and used him as her shell. She fancied herself protected from all sorts of threats, physical and otherwise. No one could harm her. Not even her father.

Blitt’s protection and love had come into her life, sweeping away her pains and insecurities and then was swept way itself by her father, Danathan Dowells and Blitt’s dangerous excursions for them both. From the time he started up with them, she feared that he might not return from one of them. Tragically, that time came when she needed him most. She hated him for that, but she hated herself even more for still loving him.

She sat at the cafe table, stacked high with clean dishes of fine porcelain, thinking solemnly about the events currently at hand, intermixed with those of the past. They were confused thoughts. Some of them were horrible ordeals when she went through them, yet she found herself harboring a strange sort of fondness for them in hindsight. Others that felt wonderful at the time hurt immensely while she reflected upon them. Dating Blitt. Getting on with Briggan and his gang. Actually belonging, even though she knew that she was still being controlled, but in a different way.

She was going to betray one of them. And they both knew that it had to happen, only they didn’t have a clue about how she would decide, or any way to aid her in the decision. That, most of all, weighed upon her. The future. Immediate and terrible, she saw it right in front of her like an unavoidable storm raging against the horizon.

She decided that she wasn’t going to make up her mind just yet. At least not without first seeing what sort of gift Blitt had gotten for her. As she settled upon that choice, an unconscious wave of emotion stirred within her, only noticeable for the briefest of moments. She thought it odd, reminiscent of the mind techniques that Briggan’s Keeper had taught her, but quickly dismissed it as she returned to polishing the gleaming surfaces of dinner ware.

Unnannounced two-week hiatus

The story took a pause for a bit while I gathered my thoughts and did some life stuff. Blit’s Journey is now back, however! Enjoy Part 10. During the hiatus I did some restructuring of the story’s direction, as well as think up some ideas for new stories that I may post in the near future. So stay tuned and feel free to follow!

Blitt’s Journey, part 9

Blitt rolled himself out of the hotel unit and slid his DynaCred card through the payment slot. The sun was a rapidly unrolling place mat on fire, spilling out over Starloft’s skyline and illuminating it against the Eastern horizon. Another benefit of small towns, thought Blitt, you can see the sky. He looked at his watch, yet another reminder that he didn’t have time to waste sky gazing. He had less than two days now to get every task that had weighed upon his mind last night completed.

Briggan was smart enough to know that Blitt wanted to come after both the candy shipment as well as Priscilla, so he definitely wouldn’t let them both be in the same location at the same time. Blitt needed to verify the candy shipment’s location first. He didn’t need to take it just yet, but having the details about its location firmly in mind was crucial to being able to execute both plans.

The first part of Blitt’s plan was to scout the location and determine how safe it would be to infiltrate. Knowing Briggan, it was bound to be as secure as possible, perhaps even impenetrable. As he headed in the direction of the tracking signal, Blitt called up the coordinates onto his contact lenses. A holographic representation of the location floated in front of him, almost lifelike. Hovering just inside the upper right corner of his vision however, were words, written in red:

“ERROR: Representation Data out of date. Most recent imaging data is from June 17th, 2035. Details may not accurately represent location’s current state.”

“Not surprising,” Blitt said to himself.

There was no doubt that Briggan had requested a holographic imaging data stop on the warehouse’s location. The image on file was nearly three years out of date. The warehouse was listed as Melbrook Importers. Fitting, Blitt reasoned, for an organized crime operation. “Importers” could mean just about anything, and probably did, so Blitt had to be very careful as he approached the location in a government-sanctioned sled.

He wondered if Dan had put any government-sanction toys on his sled. He pulled up the computer console again and requested a full system feature scan. There was a pause, three dots blinking on the screen as the scan completed, and then a full read-out of the vehicle’s internal systems.

“Power-train, No,” Blitt read aloud. “Stability and Suspension systems, no.” He kept going, reading line after line out loud and finding nothing of any offensive relevance.

“Dan’s got to have some firepower packed away somewhere on-board.” It wasn’t like the spy-master to go anywhere unprepared. Also, Blitt wanted to believe that there was a reason Dan had loaned him the vehicle.

He checked the glove compartment. It was refrigerated, he noted, and besides the government-issued documentation and licensing papers stacked neatly on the warm side, two cigars in humidity-controlled slots and a bottle of champagne chilling on the cold side, there was a military issue plasma pistol snugly holstered in the compartment door.

Blitt didn’t need it, though. He had his own pistol. He placed the heavy weapon back into the holster slot and noticed something that had been previously hidden underneath the weapon: the hair thin outline of a button, almost imperceptible to anyone less cautions than a highly trained field agent like Blitt.

Blitt pressed it with his thumb, immediately feeling stupid for activating what could easily have been a trap, panic button or any other such danger. But he was quickly relieved to hear some sort of mechanical activation occur within the glove box. The compartment door detached from its hinges, rose slightly and flipped over to reveal a terminal panel, its L.E.D. screen scrolling “- – WELCOME!! – -” across it as the sled’s computer began to speak.

“Defense mode activation request acknowledged. Please place your right thumb on the scanner and state your activation code.”

Blitt touched the scanner pad with the same thumb he used to activate the “Defense Mode,” but he didn’t have an activation code. He didn’t want to trigger a fail-safe shut-down procedure, so he remained silent, expecting the computer to just cancel Defense Mode and go back to normal after he removed his thumb from the scanner, but it began to speak again.

“Facial recognition, retinal, and thumb print patterns match one authorized field agent, Alpha-IP zero nine three, codename ‘Blitt.’ Please state activation code in order to continue in Defense Mode.

“Of course,” Blitt said.

“Code not reconi…” the computer responded. Blitt ignored it, continuing to think in his head this time. Of course Dan would make sure that I had everything I needed.

Should have seen it earlier, he realized.

Blitt activated Defense Mode with his standard passcode and was given a brief rundown of all the defense features of Danathan’s mag-sled as he approached his destination.

They were all completely adequate to infiltrating the warehouse of Melbrook Importers.

Blitt automatically figured that finding Priscilla Reid was going to be a much more eventful task than scouting Briggan’s fake warehouse. It was a much more dangerous task, both for the reasons that it was obviously a trap that Briggan had set for him, and that Priscilla still wanted to kill him regardless.

Still, he needed to get to Priscilla before he made an attempt to get the candy shipment. If he managed to get it before talking to Priscilla he’d lose her for good, possibly even putting her life in danger. Regardless of how Priscilla might feel about him, letting her be killed wasn’t an option for Blitt.

He had to figure out a way to find her within 24 hours and somehow convince her to come with him. He needed to speak with her, but he was certain that she was under constant surveillance by Briggan, which meant that trying to do so could jeopardize his efforts to steal back the shipment. Both tasks conflicted with each other, so his only hope of doing them both was to get a message to her that only she would understand and then hope that he could act quicker than Priscilla could ruin his plans, or in the best case, actually side with him and help to execute them.

Blitt had to think of ways to get through to her. He knew Priscilla well, perhaps better than anyone else, but nothing he thought of out of all his memories of her of resulted in giving him an idea that could currently be useful to him. So he put the past aside and thought about her as she currently was. Or at least how she seemed when he saw her at the sled-shop. She was the same old Priscilla, dressed sharply, made up, and stunning. She was the type that never left home for any reason without looking her best. Blitt figured she probably didn’t even get kidnapped without first checking herself out in a mirror.

And she was still a horrible shot, Blitt reflected.

She was just a woman caught up in things that she shouldn’t have to deal with, he reasoned. Her father’s world of crazy had finally blurred into her own and put her in danger’s way, so she learned to adapt in order to survive. In a way, she was very much like Blitt.

Adapting, apparently, hadn’t meant giving up the finer things in life, which meant that Priscilla was still being taken care of in the way she preferred, probably pampered and spoiled by most measures and most definitely by kidnapping standards, which made sense to Blitt, given the circumstances regarding that kidnapping. Briggan would want to one-up her father, make himself seem better than him in every way possible. It only made sense that he would give her a good measure of freedom in order to keep her strong-willed spirit in check, all the while actually holding it captive. That, coupled with Briggan’s own vanity and constant need to always appear in charge, gave Blitt the beginnings of a plan.

He needed to check all the fashionable places in town in order to find Priscilla, so he began searching The Holonet on the sleds computer, looking for exclusive upscale pampering locations that would appeal to a woman like her.

Blitt’s Journey, part 8

The Mourningbird Cafe was the only place Priscilla felt comfortable anymore. She had been given full run of the place just 3 months after her kidnapping. Briggan had turned her defiant spirit into a tool for his organization by providing her with proof of her father’s involvement in her capture. He then further built upon the odd relationship by gradually instilling confidence in her, eventually handing over a bit of power within the organization to her, to further fuel the rebellious spirit she already possessed. Briggan put that spirit to good use, running a small part of his elaborate money laundering operation through the restaurant, and making small dents in Reid’s heavily concealed criminal activities.

Priscilla eventually proved to be as loyal to Briggan as any of his men. As soon as she learned the sordid details of how her father had actually arranged for her to be taken as a part of some scam he was involved in, she was compliant with Briggan’s offer to flip the script on him and aid her in revenge. Somehow revenge translated into taking over the small upscale restaurant, which was nice for her, but it left her with no imaginable explanation of how it could result in returning her father’s cruelty.

She began to silently question her loyalty two years after being softly conscripted into the gang. Her need for revenge was wearing off, and she began to long for parts of the life she had left behind, even though she knew that she could no longer return to them. The previous few months had been particularly difficult for her, as hopeless depression finally began to settle upon her.

Then Blitt showed up again. Priscilla discovered that he had been working with Danathan Dowells, and wanted to kick herself for not guessing it sooner. All of a sudden, she began to feel her criminal excitement returning to her. The fact that Blitt was still alive, and openly working alongside Danathan meant that he had probably bargained for his life somehow, she imagined, leaving her behind at the behest of her father, when he actually could have saved her. Priscilla’s plan for revenge came to include Blitt as well.

As she sat in the cafe, dimly lit by only the flickering flames of tea lights worn down to nubs, she thought about the events at the warehouse earlier that day. She had known that she would encounter Blitt again, but she hadn’t actually prepared herself for it. It wasn’t supposed to have gone the way that it did.

But she had shot at him. And she wished that she hadn’t missed. But now, alone and afraid for the first time since she’d settled into her new role, she also wanted him to be there with him. Knowing that he was still alive was not quite the same as actually having him there, and shooting at him was a feeling unlike anything she had ever felt before. She had really wanted to kill him, and she realized at that moment, hours later, that she didn’t understand where that feeling had come from, and that for some reason pulling the trigger of her old slugger and firing at Blitt seemed to take it away.

Suddenly, the restaurant felt like a strange place to be, absent the vitriol that drove her to tend to it every day for an ambiguous purpose. The candle lights cast strange shapes upon the walls as they eerily died one by one, releasing thin trails of smoke upwards towards the swirling fans fixed to the ceiling. In the mist-strewn darkness, Priscilla resumed hope that Blitt had come to rescue her. And if he hadn’t, then she was going to shoot at him again and do her best not to miss this time.

 

 

Adrenaline wash-out can be a bitch.

Blitt needed to rest, only for a few hours, to metabolize the adrenaline that his phys-packs had pumped into him earlier during the warehouse shootout. In such a way-side town, full of the rich and privileged, it was easy to book a hotel unit anonymously. He did so, checked thoroughly for any signs of intrusion or followers, and laid down to sleep.

When he interfaced the quantum scanner with the mag-sled’s computer, Blitt had also interfaced to it with his internal personal computer, so that he could always quickly track exactly where the package was with a moment’s thought. From there, he was able it to link to an alarm that would mentally notify him should the parcel’s location ever change, or be broken down into the individual items contained within it. Blitt was able to sleep without fear of losing track of it.

As he drifted off he became aware of the effects of the day’s events upon his body and mind. Perhaps, he thought, these new-found feelings were the result of the adrenaline, overworking his brain’s emotional response after suppressing it for the duration of the fight. Blitt had felt adrenal release before, but never while also experiencing so many other strange events. There where undoubtedly still traces of the chemical still pulsing through his system, so put his mind to work, thinking through his problems as he calmed himself to fully purge it.

Blitt focused his thoughts first on the Priscilla, shoveling all else away into an empty space he reserved in his mind for special things that were too important to push completely aside, but too ponderous to focus on for the moment. The moment, he estimated, was two days. He needed to be well on his way off the mainland, across water and into Mercaster by the next couple of days. Being able to locate Priscilla, convince her to actually come with him before she killed him, and get the both of them away from a group of professional killers, all while taking back a crucially important box of candy that they were determined hold on to, was a pretty tall task, but not impossible. Not for Blitt. He had done more impossible tasks before, and he refused to doubt himself now just because things had gotten a bit weird.

He needed to focus on one thing at a time, however, and the first thing was Priscilla. Fuck the candy for now, he thought, tired of thinking about how stupid it sounded. He would worry about that after he’d gotten his mind around what could have possibly gotten into Priscilla.

Danathan wouldn’t mind his putting the candy mission aside long enough to sort out the kidnapping. After all, the package was accounted for and was being tracked. Not to mention the involvement of Amsteel Reid, practically Dan’s arch-enemy. Blitt was sure that his scheme figured into the stolen candy shipment somehow, even if Dan wasn’t yet able or willing to reveal to him what it all meant. He had that sort of trust in him, as both an employer and now as a…  friend? Blitt wasn’t sure, but their recent interaction had led him to believe that perhaps in some distant way Danathan could be that to him.

As far as Priscilla went, however, Blitt didn’t need to even think about it. She hated him. As Dan had pointed out, she had tried to kill him, an act that was very much promised the last time he had spoken to her, but had not believed to be sincere.

You never know what a woman like her could be thinking about, he thought to himself as he drifted off to sleep in an unfamiliar bed.

Blitt’s Journey, Part 7

–     Two years prior     –

Priscilla Reid had spent her first week captive to Briggan in a converted wareunit. It was a tiny space with a bed, a small bookshelf, and a bio-drain. A food dispenser was bolted onto the wall next to the hatchdoor. For a converted storage unit, it was very fancy, the sort of cheap living space that was popular even among low-profile lifestyle enthusiasts who could actually afford a proper full-sized apartment. The fancier you could make your unit, the cooler you were to the lo-pro community. The holographic butler in Priscilla’s unit was a deliberately ostentatious touch that she figured had made some lo-pro’er smile like a devil whenever he got to show it off.

As fond of automation technology as she was, the amusement provided by the hologram quickly wore off. Priscilla had been locked inside the unit, completely sealed off with no interior hatch release. The environmentally controlled micro-mansion was the perfect prison for the daughter of a wealthy clothing magnate. The butler came around every 9 hours to remind her that she needed to eat, and suggested a variety of dehydrated capsule meals which were dispensed by a contraption set inside the wall of the unit. She finally tried one on her second day of capture. Just as she figured, it was a bland mash-up of vegetable extract. She swallowed it only to rid herself of the empty feeling in her stomach, which it sufficiently did. Nothing, however, could remove the hopeless feeling of loneliness and helplessness that set in once she realized that she would not have contact with other human beings for an extended period of time.

She had heard the horror stories of sensory-deprived kidnappings, most of them much worse than the one in which she found herself. They were convenient ways for criminal organizations to separate themselves from their crime while still collecting a ransom and ensuring that their victim did not die. In most stories, the victim was held in hallucinogenic sleep while their relatives were extorted for the ransom money. Priscilla thought her elaborate prison to be some sort of joke about her wealth. Well, her father’s wealth, anyhow.

“Do you desire entertainment” the butler asked her after she consumed the capsule meal.

She looked back at the hologram with surprise, and regarded its features, which were pretty shabby by comparison to technical capabilities at the time. “Who programmed this,” she murmured to herself, as she leaned back against the metal wall.

By day three Priscilla had given in and taken advantage of the butler’s offer of entertainment. Holographic card games and Chess, and even a replica flower garden for her to admire. Between the games and exploration of holographic environments, she momentarily forgot that she was being held captive. But brushing up against the cold metal walls of the ware-unit, and hearing the hollow ting! reverberate throughout the tiny room was enough to bring her back to reality.

On day 4 the holographic unit ran out of power and needed to be recharged. Only external power was provided to small units like the one she was kept in, and for that someone had to pay extra, so she reasoned that whoever had done this to her was unwilling to incur the additional charges.

Her dinners were no longer announced, and she forgot to eat. She wanted to play cards. She wanted to have companionship. Panic began to settle heavily upon her, and for the first time since she first awoke inside the unit, the metal walls seemed to crowd in upon her, and she wondered why she was there and how long she would remain. Someone obviously had something in mind for her, since they were keeping her alive. She figured that the hologram unit being given to her and then taken away was no more than a cruel joke.

She finally remembered to eat, after her stomach’s growling, accompanied by the empty pangs of hunger, broke the long silence. She put down her book, now her only source of entertainment, and began to operate the food dispenser.

“So, you’re finally eating,” a voice suddenly rang out. It scared Priscilla, and she flinched violently before suddenly realizing that she had probably been watched the entire time. Perhaps, the hologram butler was just a trick to lower her defenses, to make her behave.

“Let me out of here” She screamed.

It was a man’s voice, coming in thin and metallic through the tinny speakers set inside the ware unit’s walls. “Not yet. Our client hasn’t provided us with your ransom fee yet. He was instructed that your well being would depend on how willing he was to deposit credits into an account to pay for your care.”

“Do you mean my father,” She asked. “Are you talking about my father?”

“Who else is wealthy enough to matter and would be willing to cooperate with criminals” the voice said with an air of haughtiness.

“He’s plotting your death,” Priscilla spat back. “I can survive, and he knows that. Your precious ransom is being paid to the best mercenaries money can buy so they will come here and kill all of you.”

“We are the best mercenaries that money can buy, sweetheart,” came the reply. “And your father isn’t so keen on hiring the second best, either. Believe me, I checked.” After a pause to reinforce the helplessness of the situation, he continued: “If Daddy won’t pay, then I’m afraid that the relative comfort you’ve enjoyed so far will have to be dispensed with. We aren’t in the baby-sitting business, after all. This is a kidnapping.”

There was a discernible click as he finished speaking, and Priscilla wanted to remain strong and not cry, not show any fear, but she couldn’t. She knew how her father was, and the suggestion that he wasn’t paying for her care was quite likely the horrible truth. His refusal to pay her ransom reinforced what she had known her entire life, that her father simply didn’t care about her. Were it not true, her captives – whoever they were – wouldn’t have bothered using it to manipulate her. She felt, for the first time, completely hopeless and she lay lifelessly on the bed and wept for hours.

During the next three days, she kept trying to get the man to speak with her again. The dull silence was twice as unbearable as the loneliness. Just as she felt to be at her breaking point, she heard a loud mechanical movement at the ware unit’s hatch-door. She shrank back upon the bed, folding into a corner as the door began to open, revealing an old man, dressed in a black suit and tie wearing white gloves and a gray bowler hat. He stood with two men at either side of him, one with a pistol and another brandishing a pair of plas-cuffs and a handkerchief.

“Time’s up,” said the old man. “You are free.” His voice wasn’t nearly as threatening as it had been coming through the ware unit’s tiny sound system.

Priscilla was shocked, she didn’t understand, believing the men to be hallucinations, either imagined or holographic. When the pistol-wielding man entered the unit and tightly grabbed her by the wrist, however, she knew that it was real. What she wasn’t certain of, though, was whether or not what the man said was real. “Why are you letting me go,” she inquired.

The man chuckled coldly. “What a question for a freed prisoner to ask. Your father never paid to get you back. It’s as if he doesn’t care about you.” He entered the room also. His dress shoes made clicky footsteps that reverberated off the metal walls. “But what concerns me more than your father’s parental neglect is the fact that he tried to manipulate me. Which is why I’ve decided to let you go. If you want to that is,” the man added, as if it were a completely normal thing to follow-up with.

“Of course I want to go,” she began to say.

“Or,” the old man interrupted, “you could come with me, and see the place your father suggested you be held captive. I chose this place, and I think you’ll find it to be far more accommodating than what he had in mind.”

He folded his hands in front of his chest and nodded to the man who still held her by the wrist. The large man lifted her, somehow guided her feet to move even though they were not willing, and got her to the doorway. The other man, holding the cuffs took a single step in front of them to block off the exit as the old man spoke to her again from behind.

“You can wear the cuffs and be driven back home tied down in a lift sled, or you can ride with me, unfettered, in my limousine and discuss plans for getting revenge. Your choice.”

He brushed past her and both of his men, and walked out of the unit. Priscilla watched him disappear around the corner as she slowly dropped her hands down by her sides and reluctantly began to follow him, suddenly filled with rage against her father.

Blitt’s Journey, Part 6

Tracking an object using quantum wave entanglement is really simple. Especially if you have a tracking receiver that is attuned to the signal being emitted by whatever you’re tracking. In this case, the signal was a very special package of candies being transported by a most wanted crime lord and his newly kidnapped girlfriend.

Blitt tracked the signal, a blip of white pixels conspicuously isolated from the other group of pixels left behind at the warehouse. Thanks to the tracking receiver, he knew exactly where, Priscilla, Briggan and the package were at.

Danathan’s mag-sled was much faster than Blitt’s, and he was glad to have taken it. It glided along at supersonic speed on the lonely stretch of frictionless government-only highway. Blitt looked over at Priscilla’s slipper and the mask Danathan had given him, resting on the leather passenger seat and thought about the encounter with Danathan. It was the first time Dan had ever been to Blitt’s home, the first time they had even been together outside of a mission or official business. It was definitely the first time Dan had ever showed anything even approaching compassion, something Blitt had figured the old desk agent incapable of.

He put aside thoughts about his boss and flipped the steering wheel up and out the way, tucked inside the dashboard receptacle. Behind it was a video touch-panel displaying information about the trip in progress. Blitt had already coupled the quantum wave tracker with the guidance system onboard Danathan’s sled, revealing the destination to be a coastal region just outside the city, home to many wealthy and famous people.

“How the hell could he have been hiding there?” Blitt asked himself aloud. “The one percent must be pretty tight.” He closed the navigation window and pulled up a different program, a terminal screen that dumped out lines of green text in neat waves.

He mentally interfaced the onboard computer with the mask in the seat beside him and it began to glow with a soft blue aura, indicating it had been successfully turned on and connected. Blitt looked over the lime green lines of code that sprawled down the screen, quickly discerning what each one meant, and marking those that he decided were the least bit ambiguous. By the end of the data dump, he had some 300 lines set aside for close analysis.

It wasn’t that Blitt did not trust Danathan. His line of work would be impossible without the trust shared between them. But Blitt was first of all overly cautious, and secondly, curious as to whether Danathan had intentionally hidden some functionality within the otherwise mundane device. Although highly useful, Tek-masks weren’t exactly cutting edge technology, so Blitt was uncertain whether or not he was overlooking yet another of his employer’s paranoid failsafe that he might want to know about.

There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary within the mask’s code, so Blitt closed the output terminal screen. Then he called up the mask’s visual interface and browsed through a selection of possible disguises and chose one at random. The mask suddenly sprang to life, transforming the dull, dark grey material into a highly-realistic representation of human skin, awash with pinkish ruddy color and vein patterns.

“Neat,” said Blitt in response. He scrolled through the menu interface a bit more, and selected another option:  “Randomize Identity.”

This time the transformation was less dramatic. The nose, cheekbones and jaw structure melted slightly and formed into a different face, completely unrecognizable from the previous one.

“That’s really cool,” he said before turning the toy off, forcing it to form once more into the rubbery grey mask. “Too bad no one would ever buy a complete stranger showing up out of nowhere the same day you make a big score,” he realized.

Blitt also realized as he spoke to himself that Danathan had probably thought the very same thing, and that whatever reason he decided to give the mask to him was unaffected by those thoughts. Awesome tools are no substitute for an awesome mind, he had always said, and Danathan’s gift of the mask was, to Blitt, almost like a subtle restatement of the adage.

The sled reached the destination that Blitt had programmed into its autopilot, a cliff overlooking the ocean-side town, about a mile from the package’s location shown on the tracker. The view of the blue sea next to rows of opulent mansions was enthralling. Blitt reluctantly turned his attention away from it and grabbed up the mask from the passenger seat. As he folded it neatly and placed it into his jacket pocket, he took one last look at the ballerina slipper, resting in the seat next to him as a reminder of the job he had to do.