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.


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 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 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.

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.