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.

Blitt’s Journey, Part 5

Blitt’s apartment was only minutes away via sled, but it took him over an hour to arrive due to the traffic. Apparently, the police were second to arrive onto the scene after Danathan’s squad of thugs appeared at the garage to ensure Blitt’s safety. They always took a heavy-handed, knee jerk approach to the slightest little disturbance, as if the fate of the world were in peril. In this case, however, they were possibly right. After all, a top-secret intelligence organization had quite nearly apprehended an internationally wanted criminal. A little road block was to be expected.

I shouldn’t have come back, he thought. Blitt needed to lie low in case Briggan’s thugs came for him, or even worse, Priscilla’s dad. But he needed to get something from his apartment before he went into hiding. Mercaster would have to wait. His Hideout there would be the second place any of them would start to look for him.

The first place would be the exact place he was headed to. Blitt needed to be quick and cautious. Priscilla was the only person who knew the apartment’s location, but since she was busy being kidnapped and brainwashed, he didn’t believe she posed an immediate threat. Anyone besides her would have to do a bit of searching in order to find out the location, so he figured the trip back was worth the risk, especially considering the item he was going back to retrieve.

Even still, he checked thoroughly for signs of intrusion before stopping his sled on the street outside the building. There was no one present aside from himself. The suburban city scape was almost conspicuously devoid of activity, which was why Blitt liked the location. It was a shame he would now have to abandon it. He carefully made his way inside the building, double checking behind himself just to be certain he was alone.

Just one thing, Blitt promised himself as he drew his pistol and made his way to his bedroom closet. He ignored the urge to pick up clothing and other objects that he should have wanted to bring with him. He was too disciplined though, to just start grabbing up things and packing them. He just wanted one thing and he shouldn’t even have come back for it.

His carelessness didn’t even occur him until he had gotten his hand on what he had come for and was making his way back outside. So this is what it feels like, Blitt thought as he opened the door to his apartment for the last time. You just can’t help to leave it. The ultimate trap.

Just as he realized how easily he actually could have been trapped into coming back to his home, someone behind him began speaking.

“You came back here for a shoe?”

It was Danathan. Blitt turned around and lowered his weapon.”You were just at your office. How the hell did you get here so fast?”

“Everyone’s got tricks.” Danathan smiled. “Priscilla?” He said, pointing towards the satin ballet shoe that Blitt was holding in his off-hand.

Blitt relaxed his body a bit and nodded in reply to Danathan’s inquiry. “She was a dancer back before the war. She gave me this to always remember her by, said that even if she couldn’t be with me, she could always dance for me, as long as I kept this.”

He bent over and gently placed the shoe onto the ground, where the glowing holographic representation of a ballerina projected out of it and began to spin in hypnotic circles.

“How sweet. And now she wants to kill you.”

Blitt raised an eyebrow back at Danathan. “I don’t know, Dan. Something about the way she fired those shots at me. Shit, to be honest I kept the thing packed away on my closet shelf. Totally forgot about it, just like I did her.”

“So you risked your life coming back for it?”

“Because I thought it might be useful for getting her to come back,” Blitt said forcefully.

Danathan kept his cold eyes fixed on Blitt, trying his best to ignore the spinning hologram in his peripheral vision.

Blitt knew by his look that he was waiting for a better reply. “You know I’ve got to get her back, Dan.”

“And you’re going to do it tonight?” Danathan asked.

“Why wait?”

“Oh, because of Briggan’s guys being on full alert, and her dad looking for the smallest slip-up he can use to make us look like the bad guys.”

“What else is new? Reid’s the one who had his own daughter kidnapped. If anything he should be hiding from me.”

Danathan’s face showed that he wasn’t fully committed to Blitt’s line of reasoning on the matter, but that he somehow still empathized with it. He maintained his stern form and kept eye contact with Blitt as he pulled a dark piece of cloth from his inner jacket pocket.

“Here’s a neat toy,” he said. “It’s just like your body suit, only you wear it on your head, like a ski mask. You know those things secret operatives used to wear to disguise their faces? I was going to use it in case I got caught sneaking in here until I realized that the place is completely unsecured. Nice of you, by the way.”

Blitt interrupted, “I’ve never trusted outside equipment, Dan. Not even when it comes from you. No, especially when it comes from you. Hell, we’re not even at your office right now. For all I know this could be some little off-the-books scheme of yours.”

But Danathan, looking back at him with the same set of cold and uncaring eyes, was for the moment not his employer. He was not even his friend, but rather some relation that sits squarely between duty and bond, the only points of compassion possible for dangerous men like them.

“I had the highways blocked for you, Blitt. Just so you could make it outside of the city before things got too hot.” He tossed a ring of keys onto the nearby coffee table. They briefly interrupted the spinning hologram as they traveled through the air. “Take my sled. I’ve got clearance to use exclusive highways, so you should be able to make it to your hideout before anyone else can get a tail on you. Not even Reid’s got that kind of clout.”

Blitt grabbed the ballerina slipper off the ground, scooped up the keys and mask from the coffee table and left the apartment without a word, realizing that Danathan had just unofficially given him permission to do something completely idiotic and dangerous.

Blitt’s Journey, Part 4

“You should have told me,” Blitt shouted. “I even called in just to see if you would say something.”

“I had no clue, Blitt.” Danathan’s sincerity was evident, even through the blue tinting of the mag-sled’s holo-screen.

“She never showed any signs of Keeping while we were together,” Blitt revealed.

Danathan sighed. “I can’t hardly blame ya, kid, having your mind on other matters,” he said with a smile. He was joking, something he only did when he was embarrassed, caught out on something. He got serious again very quickly: “the girl is a looker. A deadly one, though, and we need to find her. You need to find her.”

“I need to find her, “Blitt repeated, almost simultaneously. “Look, Dan, I need to know what I’m dealing with here. It’s one thing to go on a simple mission, but now I’m tracking down ex-girlfriends with the newly revealed ability to use mind-tek. I think I deserve an explanation.”

“And I promised you one, so here it is.” Danathan sat up erect, like he had something important to say. “It’s not just candy we have you looking for.”

“Big surprise there,” Blitt mused.

“It’s something inside the candy, Blit. That’s what we’re after,” Danathan spoke seriously. “What do you know about the Ancient Tahn people?”

“Jeez, Dan. I got it. My old girlfriend is a magician. Ha ha.”

“No really, this is relevant. In fact, Pricilla may actually be helpful to us.”

“After what I did, I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” groaned Blitt.

“You’re not listening. Shut it, and pay attention. Damn it, I swear if your mouth shot bullets you’d be a one man infantry.”

Blitt sank back into his seat and listened to the rest of Danathan’s confessional.

“Priscilla’s presence here is not coincidental, as I’m sure you’ve already ascertained.“

Blitt interrupted, “What did you do?”

Danathan looked up at him, looking almost satisfied. “Not us, her father. But it’s good to know that you’ve still got feelings for her.” Blitt sat back in his seat again, dismayed with revealing feelings that he wasn’t even certain of yet. “I’m not sure if he actually arranged the kidnapping, or if he merely capitalized on the opportunity to get close to Briggan for some reason. You’re going to find out that reason if there is one, and more importantly why he acted as he did.”

“And get back the stuff that’s in the candy, “Blitt interjected.

“And the candy. But I’m rather sure it’s all related anyway.”

“If you want it, I’m sure it’s valuable. And if it’s valuable, then I’m god damned certain that Amsteel Reid wants it too.”

“I’m not going to get into details. You know all you need to know now, so go complete your mission.“ Danathan visibly relaxed within the rectangular frame of the holo-screen, but quckly perked up once more to attention and asked, “where are you to headed now, anyway?”

“Mercaster,” replied Blitt dryly, as he terminated the connection and set the mag-sled’s auto-pilot.

I’m late.

Which is why this Wednesday’s post will be a double one. I didn’t want quality to suffer in sake of meeting the deadline, so I decided to simply wait and release two posts at once. So expect parts 4 and 5 of Blitt’s Journey on Wednesday, June 17th.

In the mean time, here’s a bit of information about the setting. Blitt’s Journey so far has been based in the city of Starloft, a mega-city that was formed when The World went to shit on account of a large-scale ecological disaster. That part is ancient history to the people of the world. They don’t even think about it anymore; they just try their best to make sure that it never happens again.

Meanwhile, strange things have been occurring all over the planet. Magic, it seems, is an arcane force closely guarded by the planet. Given its deplorable state, the planet has ceased production of the resource necessary for controlling magic, terracite. When things got really bad, the planet finally decided that enough was enough, and gave its inhabitants an ultimatum: either sequester themselves to a few choice locations on the planet, or die in the ecological hibernation state that it was about to put itself in for a few hundred years or so.

It eventually awakened, and the few Humans who finally got the message survived. Not to mention, the Tahn, an ancient race of first inhabitants who were among the most outspoken opponents against ecological genocide. Their civilization flourished, despite the odds, and brought about the restoration of magic to the world, something that Blitt is about to experience firsthand.

Starloft emerged, on the other hand, as a technological wonder, haven for those few who held onto the old ways. Those like Blitt and his employer Danathan Dowells, or rather their ancestors, who settled there ages ago without a choice, making the best with what they had.

It is there that the story begins. By my next posting, however, Blitt will have traveled to the far reaches of another safe-settlement, the region of Mercaster.

Blitt’s Journey, part 3

Blitt’s arm instinctively raised to a level where he could easily read the digital imprint etched into the skin of his forearm. He pressed on the word ‘Danathan’ and was momentarily greeted by his employer’s voice sounding directly in his ear via bone conduction.

“Kidnapped yet?” he asked.

“Not yet. But I’m about to make a good try at it. Care to guess who my captor will be?”

“I wouldn’t dare to fathom. This case is getting more interesting each time I speak to you.“ His voice indicated that he was not amused, despite the small talk.

“Briggan’s here. “ Blitt smiled as he spoke.

“His men,” Danathan growled, matter-of-factly.

“No,” Blitt was all too pleased to reply. “The man himself.”

‘Shit, Blitt.”

“Man, Dan,” was the usual amusing reply. “But that ain’t all though. Funny you should mention kidnapping.”

Danathan was obviously thinking as he spoke in interruption of Blitt’s words. Slowly and calculated he said, “Look, just get out of there. If we’re dealing with Briggan then this is out of our jurisdiction, out of our league.”

“By who’s directive? You know there’s an open order on Brigg. We can take him down.“

“Not we. You. You’re alone, and I don’t like that. You’re not doing it. Sit tight and I’ll have backup there to help you take him down.”

After saying “I’m never alone.” Blitt disconnected almost immediately.  His hand went back to the arm interface. Danathan’s name was gone and in its place was a grid marked with various symbols. He pressed one of them, shaped like a circle with a lightning bolt through it. Instantly, the body sheet snapped away from his form. Blitt caught it mid-flight and gently shook it out like a dinner napkin, a cloud of fine light blue dust billowing away from it in a swelling haze. The sheet contained far more of the dust than seemed possible and it quickly fell to the ground where it formed into a neat ball about the size of a bowling ball. The ball, as if upon command, morphed into the shape of a dog. The medium-sized Doberman came waist-high to Blitt and perked to attention as he patted his head. Blitt gave a mental signal to his pet and its ears pointed straight back as it bared a set of snarling canines and emitted a low growl.

Wrapping himself once more with the body suit, Blitt mentally willed the dog around the corner to stand directly in front of the closed garage door. He hoped that his algorithms were good enough as the dog began to bark and snarl madly. To Blitt, the effect was convincing enough, but he waited anxiously as the garage door began to open. The large guard stepped out, toting the rifle. He motioned with the big gun and said “shoo.” As he did so, Blitt willed the dog into action, lunging forward at full speed, fangs blaring. The guard, frightened, quickly readied his plas-rifle – much quicker than Blitt would have thought possible, and fired a volley of pure white light. The dog, comprised almost entirely of microscopic light-receptive sensors, reacted just as quickly, dividing in two mid-lunge. Each piece formed into a densely-packed pointed shape resembling daggers that effortlessly ripped through the big man. Behind his falling form, the dog materialized again and let rip a blood-chilling howl.

Blitt nodded approval to the robot dog as he came around the corner, quickly holstering his pistol and picking up the rifle from the ground. He shouldered it and entered into the garage shouting, “Briggan!” The place was empty.
“Briggan, I know you’re here. And if I don’t get you, my dog will.” Blitt stepped over various sled parts on his cautious walk over to the fork lift. “I’m not here for you. Just the candy.”

God, he felt silly saying that. still, he maintained form and readied his weapon, realizing for the first time just how dangerous this was. “There are three of you, and the girl. I’ve only got me and my dog, but I promise you that as soon as you come out, you’re all dead unless you have your hands up and let me scan you.“

He was nearing the fork lift. It was parked next to a sanded-down sled chassis. It was the most likely place they would be hiding, so Blitt stopped right in front of it. “Last chance,” he called out. “You’ve seen what my dog can do. Don’t let him come after you.”

As Blitt spoke the dog growled his low grumble and the body suit responded, gently vibrating on the side of his body that the dog sensed trouble. Blitt turned quickly enough to see a dark figure rising from behind a rusting sled chassis, pistol in hand. Blitt could almost feel the visual recognition algorithm crunching space coordinates, determining the type of weapon being wielded against him. His brain was faster. It was a slugger. A loud shot rang out as the pistol fired, unmistakably a big high velocity round, but Blitt’s dog was again faster, its pieces lighter than air and propelled by minute chemical reactions on the molecular scale. This time, it formed a thin sheet of tightly packed particles, a shield protecting Blitt as he fired back instinctively. The shield was smart enough to allow spaces for Blit’s plasma fire to burst through. It hit the well-dressed man, instantly burning him, suit and all, as his slug rounds impacted uselessly against the near-impenetrably hard surface of Blitt’s nano shield.

Blitt was quick to circle behind the sled chassis and take aim at the old man, The Suit, and his Girl. “I told you he was fast.  You give up? Or do you want to end up like him?”

It was the woman who came out first, hands up. She wore a disgusted look on her face that suggested inconvenience more than it did dislike. Blitt stared blankly at her before visually checking her for weapons. “And The Suit. You next. Real easy.” The well-dressed man stood, hands raised, and Blitt’s dog immediately paced over to him, sniffing at his jacket.

“Get rid of the gun,” Blitt said. “Slow, so he don’t eat you,” motioning to the dog.

He pulled the weapon out from his inner jacket, slowly with two trembling fingers and dropped it onto the ground. The dog kicked the weapon towards Blitt and visibly relaxed. So did Blitt. He said, “well, I’ve got a valuable prize here.

“No, I’m the one with the prize,” the old man immediately spat in response.

Blitt eyed him coldly and said, “I was talking about the candy. Not her.” He nodded at the woman standing next to Briggan. She sneered back, shaking her head with defiance as if he’d just been caught kissing her step-sister. “I was giving you the chance, but I now I can see that the reports are true. You really have joined the old man’s gang, Priscilla, haven’t you?”

There was no response from her. Briggan’s goon, however, quickly eyed his weapon, still on the ground near Blitt. The dog growled.

Blitt looked at him and grinned “Now how’re you coming over here to pick that up, big guy?” A slight-but-swift movement caught his attention, momentarily taking it off of the goon and towards Priscilla. Before he could react, the dog quickly crumpled into a heap of pale blue particles, their cohesion broken up by a blast of high intensity sound waves, far too high a frequency for human hearing. Still, the nano particles maintained their ability to travel quickly, and instinctively swarmed over the large guard like clumps of ants. The effect was harmless, however, absent the swarm AI’s ability to form into a dangerous shape in the presence of the intense sound waves.

Blitt quickly discovered the source of the interference: Priscilla, standing calm and erect with her left hand stretched out and upturned, but obviously concentrating on something other than the conversation between the two men.

Blitt mentally recalled the particles, executed a particle scatter algorithm and ran out the warehouse door. The scatter bought him enough time to get a good lead in his escape. Running, he willed the bodysuit to reclaim its particles from the guard dog program. It instantaneously clinged to him again, this time giving his real clothing a shiny transparent appearance – reflective coating that would protect him against plas-fire. Blitt knew, however, that the gang probably had sluggers. Priscilla for sure always kept a tiny revolver on her. Sure enough, just as he was about to turn the corner, he heard a shot ring out, accompanied almost instantly by the ringing ‘ping!’ of a ricocheting bullet.

He mentally willed his contacts to split his vision so that the top half revealed what was behind him. It was her, followed by the last of Briggan’s goons, taking aim as well. Blitt could feel the body suit’s processor grid crunching algos as it generated obfuscation patterns to throw off the laser weapon’s auto-targeting systems. As he rounded the corner he switched the algorithm to transparency mode, rending him nearly invisible to the attackers trailing behind. Priscilla and the goon both fired a wide volley in his general direction in an attempt to hit him, but by then, Blitt had already reached and entered his mag-lev.

He took off in it and immediately made another call to Danathan.