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.

 

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.

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.