Blitt’s Journey, part 2

Tracking an object using quantum wave entanglement is either really simple or universally impossible. It’s really simple if you have a tracking receiver that is attuned to the signal being emitted by whatever you’re tracking. It’s extremely – no it’s impossibly hard to track anything without the use of such a device, or by using one that isn’t attuned to that exact tracking signal. In this case, Blitt was lucky in that there was only one package en route from that ill-fated warehouse this early in the morning and that there was no chance of another package leaving the same depot any time soon. The fact that every item within the shipping crate was tagged and Blitt had no way of knowing which signal was the one he was after was irreverent so long as the crate stayed on the truck. He only had to watch the glob of packages moving about on his tracker’s screen in order to determine the exact location of them all.

It was moving up the District Main Expressway. Blitt decided to simply watch it and see where the lift-sled exited. Perhaps the absolute BEST feature of quantum tracking tags was the ability to track from anywhere within the known universe.

Blitt decided that if he was going to steal back a shipment of – *sigh* – candy from a gun-toting gang who wanted whatever it for who-knew-what purpose, then he’d better be prepared. He drove his mag sled to his apartment to pick up some of the gear that he neglected to bring with him on what was supposed to be a simple candy fetch mission. First, his highly-modified plasma pistol, which he didn’t carry often due to its illegal status.  It was a gray area, but if he ever got into trouble with the law he’d prefer to not have that little issue hanging over him on top of whatever he’d gotten himself into in the first place. Not to mention the fact that the modified blaster wasn’t nearly as reliable as the much smaller and less powerful factory stock one he normally, stowed safely away in the glove-box of the mag-sled.

Second, was what looked like a large, silver-metallic sheet of micro-thin cellophane. This device, currently folded up into a neat square, unfolded into a large 10 x 10 sheet which when activated would cling snugly to the body and display a projected image that could be used as a disguise visual, tracking beacon, or whatever the wearer had programmed. Of course, Blitt had personally modified his body sheet to react to tiny electro-static fibers woven into his clothing so that it clinged to them seamlessly. He mentally activated the sheet and it sprang upward from his hands, unfolding into a large silver blanket as it stuck to him like a thin layer of soap.

His desired effect was anonymity, and the body sheet would provide that and more. Although capable of rendering him in any of one of a thousand outfits, Blitt didn’t care which one he used and randomly picked casual street attire as he hopped back into his mag-lev and sped in the direction of the tracker.

They had exited with the package on Crest Street. Blitt  trailed behind by more than eight miles, but since he was in a light and fast single-passenger sled the distance quickly closed. By the time he’d reached the exit, the big trailor-sled had come to a halt. Blitt zoomed in on the location. It was a garage. One of the shady places the local teenagers took their sleds to have stolen parts mounted and firmware serial numbers re-written.

Blitt didn’t want to drive up to the place and draw a lot of attention to himself, so he left the sled levitating down the street a way, near a row of office buildings. He footed the rest, thrusting the custom pistol into his shoulder holster and the smaller unmodified one into his waistband at the small of his back. He then mentally activated a body sheet program that camouflaged him against his surroundings. It wouldn’t fool anyone who was directly observing him, but it was the ideal thing for approaching a guarded location without being noticed. Still, Blitt kept low and clung to the nearby buildings for cover. The body sheet wouldn’t protect him from plasma fire as long he ran this particular program and he didn’t want to push his luck. It definitely wouldn’t protect him from bullets, if they were nasty enough to have some of the heavy fire mixed into their arsenal.

The garage was a row of three spaces on either side of the building. The metal doors on all the spaces visible to Blitt were closed, and he would bet that the ones on the other side were too. Outside there were a couple older model sports sleds, half taken apart, the now-abandoned dream visions of some maniac mechanic. Although the place was scattered with various sled parts it still managed to remain somewhat tidy by most chop shop garage standards. There were no signs of guards, or any other people. From his position, Blitt couldn’t even see the trailor-sled that was supposedly parked here. He reasoned, however, that it must be parked on the other side of the building and cursed himself for choosing this approach without checking the place out first. Note-to-self, Blitt thought, let’s see if Danathan will spring for an auto body sheet for any future mobile recon missions he may want to trick me into.

As he rounded the corner of the shop, being sure to stay low and close to the building so as to remain in the dark shadows, he wished he was under the protective shell of a mag-sled chassis. As he came round, however, the thought faded, and the lift-sled came into view. There were men unloading their spoil from it. One of them was guiding the forklift down the narrow, makeshift ramp that was leaned up against the trailor-sled bed while another, dressed in a smart gray suit, directed him cleanly off the lift-sled with hand signals. A third was unmistakably the thug toting the plas-rifle, which he still shouldered in a menacing manner, casually looking about, as if just waiting for something to jump out of the shadows so he could shoot it. Blitt wasn’t about to jump out and get shot. Not just yet.

He didn’t have a plan. Other than somehow obtaining the shipment, which would be considerably harder now that it had been unloaded from the trailor-sled, Blitt had not given much thought to how his re-commandeering of the cargo should take place. He was, however, certain that he had not been noticed since he hadn’t had to dodge a laser blast, which was as much as he could ask for at the moment.

He gripped his pistol and watched the forklift wiggle its way down the ramp. He thought about just popping off a few shots just to see if he could take out the rifleman. Then he might be able to hold the other two off from drawing their weapons while ordering the forklift driver to load the package back on the lift-sled. Given the situation, and the fact that his body suit camo just might grant him a few crucial seconds of cover, Blitt thought it was a decent plan. The gang was clearly willing to kill in order to get whatever was inside it, but they’d have to be crazy to strap off point-blank against a guy carrying a mod blaster and wearing ‘flect armor. Unless they had bullets. Blitt was rather sure they didn’t, but what he couldn’t be remotely sure of was whether or not there was only three of them, or if there were more armed persons inside the building.

As the thought occurred to him, something caught his attention that made him raise his weapon again. It was a sound, the sound of one of the garage doors opening up, meaning that there was a fourth person inside, possibly more.  Shit, he thought as he pressed his back to the wall of the building. He peeked around the corner again. There was a woman, not the normal sort that ran with criminal scum, but some leggy goddess who carried every bit the untouchable air that her male associates did. She was dressed smartly in a short grey skirt and flowing green blouse that snapped about like a flag in the crisp morning wind. An older man had come out of the garage with her. He looked to be at least 50, wore glasses, a dark blue designer suit and a funny brown hat.

The man looked clearly pleased to see the shipment and clasped his hands together as he inspected it upon the forklift. He then escorted the driver into the opened garage with a sweep of his gloved hand and the entire group followed it inside. The garage door closed.

I should have brought more firepower, thought Blitt.

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Welcome to the blog

This blog was originally meant to be the home of a serialized sci-fi/fantasy novel that I have now reconsidered into a traditional novel. For now, you can enjoy a serialized novella, entitled Blitt’s Journey, along with other short pieces of fiction that were inspired by or take place in the same setting. Periodically I may also make posts relevant to the setting or about writing, story-telling and world design in general.

The blog will be updated each Wednesday.

Blitt’s Journey, part 1

“So what is it this time? Someone steal something,” Blitt asked his boss as he stepped into the frugally furnished office.

“No, far simpler. We just need you to take back a shipment of candies that got misplaced and then forget you ever heard of it.”

“I forget all our conversations, Dan.” Blitt smiled. His old friend was immune to the sarcasm.

“As long as you remember that we can always make you forget if it becomes necessary,” Dan smiled back at him, unaffected. “That’s why I got you, Blitt. I mean, a candy shipment, for god’s sake? Don’t you think I’d rather bother the junior division about this if it was anything other than urgent to national interests?“ He waved his hands about, as if wafting away the mere thought out of the air. “It’s important enough, so take it seriously, please. Who knows, lives may even be on the line. Hell, even I don’t know, I don’t know anything other than that shipment better be back at the Double-Dulce Candy Corp. warehouse by day’s end. Now get out of here and retrieve it.”

It was always with such sudden outbursts that Blitt was dismissed by his contractual employer, Danathan Dowells. He went over the security-enveloped LED-paper that was given to him as he left. It included details of his mission – the location of the warehouse, contact names and comm codes, and a list of every retailer the Double-Dulce Corp. shipped to within the region. “Great,” Blitt mumbled to himself as he tossed the envelope into the passenger seat. The document showed that someone had inadvertently sent out a shipment to the local warehouse that they shouldn’t have. And now the company is demanding it back. Probably corporate trade secrets or some nonsense, he reasoned.  These days, the corporations have about as much power as old gov orgs did, so an order from them could conceivably be tantamount to national security. But still, thought Blitt, Candy is candy. And a job is a job.

He drove his mag-lev sled across town to the shipping warehouse. It was still early, and Blitt didn’t want to overlook the possibility that the shipment hadn’t even gone out yet before he started going down the list of grocery stores and convenience marts one-by-one looking for the damned thing. As he approached the aging building, his trained instinct kicked in, telling him that this job wouldn’t be as simple as it seemed. He wished that he knew more precisely he was looking for. He wished he’d brought along his pistol.

Right inside the entrance, a security guard was sprawled out on the floor.He was probably dead, but Blitt didn’t even consider stopping to check the guard’s status. He instantly noticed that the guard’s clothing bore the distinctive burn marks normally left behind by a plasma weapon. He retrieved the downed guard’s weapon from the floor and carefully proceeded through the entrance, side-stepping the body like a pile of dung. Inside, a young woman lay slumped across her metal secretary’s desk, no doubt wounded in the same fashion as the guard. Blitt didn’t even check.

Normally, he wouldn’t even wait around to see the finale in an incident such as this. He should have high-tailed it back to the Mag-lev and full throttled it just about anywhere else. Today, however, he owed the Dowell’s Corporation a mission, and there was no anywhere else he could go to that would be far enough away to sufficiently distance himself from the inevitably subsequent shit-storm that would sure enough arise and follow him there if he didn’t make good on his debt. So he slowly continued further into the warehouse entry foyer, cautiously peeking through the chicken-wired windows that lined the hallway as he went. At the end of the hall was a metal door, a single small window at its center barely revealed the greater warehouse area beyond. Blitt checked the handle. It was unlocked.

The warehouse area was about as decorated as anyone would ever imagine a warehouse to be decorated: scantily. Aside from a few posters bearing barely dressed pin-up girls taped to the wall just above the corner drinking fountain, there was only row after row of four-foot tall plastic shipping containers stacked floor to ceiling. The place was mighty quiet. Early morning hours should have meant forklifts roving about lifting and forking, and overall-wearing warehousemen hubbubbing about, making jokes and small talk as they worked. This morning, however, Blitt was quite sure that the shift had been cut short due to the unfortunate and unexpected arrival of a deadly assault team. Most important to Blitt was whether or not the assault team was still there. And then, of course, why the hell was there a need to send armed men to retrieve a giant god-damned box of candy and why he of all people had to get involved.

He knew the answer to the last one, at least. He was involved because he was the best at resolving these kind of situations, and he reassuringly maintained that thought as he began carefully stepping down the long corridor of shipping crates stretched out ahead of him. He was too aware of the near-silence in the place, broken only by the sound of his own footsteps against the concrete floor, and he gripped the pistol in both hands, as if expecting trouble to burst forth at any moment. He was rather sure, however, that any trouble was most likely either already gone or already dead. As he reached the end of the row of crates, he noticed the source of the only other sound in the building, the low persistent rumble of an abandoned forklift, still running. He approached carefully, leaned inside it and turned the ignition key to “off.” The silence was momentarily unnerving, but within it, he was able to hear another noise, shuffling to his immediate right.

Blitt raised the pistol ready, aimed at the stack of crates in that direction and called out, “either come out or shoot. I’m pretty sure I’ve a better chance of hitting you even though you’re hiding.” There was a moment’s hesitation before a husky, yet fear-stricken voice called out in response.

“All right, just don’t shoot. You can take whatever you want. I got kids, man.” A burly worker unfolded himself from in-between two crates, hands upright.

“Relax; I’m not going to hurt you. What happened here,” Blitt asked. He didn’t lower his gun.

“We’re just getting started working when we hear someone blastin’ a pistol up front. Manager runs out here to the floor and shouts for us to get the hell out, so everybody just ran for it. No heroes. Everybody got out except for me, I guess. Da fuck are you?”

Blitt ignored the man’s question and kept the pistol readied, aimed just a bit to the right of him. “Did you see who it was that came in?”

“Yeah, it was two fancy-dressed guys with some big merc carrying a plas rifle. Fuckers meant business. They hopped on a forklift, grabbed a crate and drove it right into some trailer-sled that pulled up outside that dock.” He pointed towards the large rolling steel door leading to the loading dock. “All that for one damn crate?” he shook his head.

Blitt lowered his weapon. “I’m sure there’ll be police here soon enough, just stick around. But for now I’ll go secure the place, even though I’m pretty sure they’re gone by now.” In his head, Blitt was second-guessing everything he had said except for the last part. They were gone alright, but the fact that police hadn’t already come meant that there was a good chance that when they finally did arrive they’d just be doing clean-up for some inside operation. And in that case Blitt should get himself going too. He did not want to get involved with either the police or a highly-connected organized crime syndicate. But, he still had to get hold of that shipment, which unfortunately meant he needed to stay a bit longer. He stepped up to the open warehouse door and peered out across a nearly empty lot, dotted here and there with parked trailer-sleds. Blitt turned to the worker behind him. “How do you track your packages?”

“There’s a holosite…” the man began.

“No, not how you do it. How’s it work? RFID, Satellink, quantum wave?”

Blitt was relieved as the puzzled man’s face lit up in recognition of the term ‘quantum wave.’ “Yeah, we got some mobile receivers in the manager’s office.”

Blitt was gone. He nodded to the man and shouted thanks as he ran off in the direction he had just came, hoping that he could still manage to be long gone before the police arrived.

After retrieving two quantum wave trackers from the warehouse front office, Blitt contacted Dan’s office. He just wanted to let him know he was alive, given his being sent off on a dangerous mission with absolutely no warning. He spoke loudly at Danathan’s image on his sled’s com screen.

“Yes, they took the whole shipping crate, Dan. They also shot up an entire office full of innocent people. By the way, I’m fine. Now what the fuck is this you have me after?”

Danathan grimaced the way he always did when things weren’t going exactly as he had planned them and said “just get it back. You’re a big boy. You know there can always be danger involved when I assign you a mission.”

“I’m not arguing that. Just, for crying out loud, CANDY? Look, if there are really nuclear weapons inside that crate, you can tell me, all right old friend?”

“Not quite. Get it here and I’ll tell you as much as I can. Promise.” He then terminated the connection.