(In my eulogy, as he still doesn't know I'm putting these up here, please note I did NOT name the chapters :P)
Yegor yanked back hard on the crowbar. The shipping crate cracked open with a small burst of dust and splinters. The thumping heavy metal guitar and synthesizers of Cold Night heralded the revealing of its contents to the dull yellow light of the garage. To Yegor, there might as well have been fireworks going off in the background.
Within was a large metallic-gray dog. Its legs were neatly folded beneath it, and its mechanical eyes were closed, but its head was up as though at attention. Yegor’s HUD neatly overlaid the specifications of the drone, as a small 3D rendition of it appeared and began to slowly rotate in a second window in the periphery of his vision.
<Break it down, Aria,> he thought.
His artificial companion appeared in a third corner of his vision, and her casually sexy voice rang clearly in Yegor’s mind.
<The GM-Nissan 2072 Doberman. Colloquially known as the “dog drone” among rigging enthusiasts. The Doberman comes pre-installed with the Clearsight, Small Arms Targeting, Automatics Targeting, and Longarms Targeting software suites. As a quadripedal canine simulacrum, the Doberman is also pre-installed with Walker 2072 Pilot software. A standard weapons mount is integrated into the top of the Doberman. This drone has a three-star rating for force recon and light tactical combat use according to the 2071 UCAS Marines Tactical Force and Recon Guidebook.>
As Aria spoke, Yegor began opening several other boxes and removing their contents. An Eastman Wingspan satellite uplink. A drone datajack upgrade kit. A gas-vent shotgun barrel. An Ares Flash-Pak. A package of Evo gecko grip pads. He set them down on the workbench next to the Mossberg shotgun that Skinny Pete had just dropped off.
* * * * *
“That price is orc-shit, and you know it,” Monolith said, his resonant baritone echoing his displeasure.
The dark skinned, two-headed human icon scowled darkly at him with both faces. “Kiss my ass, greenskin. You think you can find someone that can put together a cracking suite like this for less? Give it your best shot if you want, but you can’t. Take it or leave it.”
Yegor growled. His icon interpreted this by making a sound like rumbling thunder. BitByte was one of the eastern seaboard’s more reputable app fences, but he was also an arrogant ass, and it was considered a breach of the unwritten rules of the Matrix to display knowledge of a contact’s real-life person when engaged in clandestine negotiations.
Two could play at that game though, and Yegor had done his homework.
“I think I can, blade-ear. I’m waiting to hear back from Giga-flex. If I do, I’ll just buy from him. I hear his shit kicks ass.” Yegor had also heard a rumor that Giga-flex would occasionally feed sales info to Lone Star in exchange for immunity from prosecution, but that didn’t matter right now. Yegor’s icon rose from the virtual table as if to exit the node.
Each of BitByte’s heads blinked. He had caught the hacker by surprise, probably both with his personal knowledge that he was an elf, and his knowledge of the Matrix fencing community. “Whoa, hang on now, hang on. Look, you wanted what, a full suite of solid user apps and twelve cracking apps each with a Jackpoint rating of three. What did you expect?”
Yegor kept Monolith on his feet. “A better fraggin price than that,” the expressionless icon boomed.
BitByte’s two heads looked at one another, an expression that Yegor interpreted as the fence giving it some thought. “Look, these are solid apps. Not the best in the ‘Trix, but they ain’t shit. I’ll give ‘em to you for twenty, but that’s it. If you can do better than that price, then I might as well plug my jack.”
That was more like it, although Yegor still could hardly believe he was dropping this kind of cred. His chiseled obsidian golem nodded. “Twenty.”
BitByte reached out over the digital table and spread his hands. Nineteen spinning cubes appeared in the air between them. They each gleamed and sparkled in a rainbow of colors, and Yegor could make out icons on each of them – a pair of crossed swords, a magnifying glass, a shield, a biohazard symbol. It was an impressive array of applications. The two-headed black man leaned back in his virtual seat, allowing the golem to look at the icons more closely.
“This’ll get you started, my man. If you ever want the really good stuff, you know how to find me.”
BitByte waited patiently as Monolith examined the merchandise. The headers all looked good – all of it looked good, in fact. Yegor wasn’t an expert coder, but he would be able to tell junkware at a glance, and this wasn’t that. It looked like the fence was as good as his word.
Monolith nodded again, and held out a hand of his own. His sculpting displayed the movement as his golem handing over a large pouch of jingling coins. His banking app interpreted it as a transfer of twenty thousand nuyen to an un-named account somewhere in Amazonia. Yegor had no doubt that it was being bounced at least a dozen times from there.
BitByte’s icon squinted with all four eyes as he examined the authenticity of the transfer. After a few moments, he nodded. “Good luck, Mono. Don’t get fried. I like repeat business.” With another nod from both heads, the icon rose from the table and abruptly vanished.
Monolith swept the spinning cubes into himself, downloading them from the remote server to his commlink. <How do they look, Aria?> he thought.
<Downloading. The applications appear to be genuine. Toolkits for analysis, browsing, command, editing, encryption, and reality filtration, each with a Jackpoint rating of four. Applications for cyber combat and defense, bio-filtration, decryption, data bomb defusal, firewall exploitation, icon repair, electronic counter-measures, source sniffing, icon masking, and trace tracking, each with a Jackpoint rating of three. Would you like me to begin installation?>
Yegor nodded, and his icon nodded in turn. <Do it,> he thought.
Aria’s eyes twinkled. <Installing.>
* * * * *
“Whoa, whoa, whoa chummah, you want what now? Three years I try to get you buyin’ from me, now you comin’ at me with this kinda order? You wearin’ a bug, esse?” The skinny Latino kid grinned toothily in Yegor’s commlink window, although his eyes betrayed that he was only half joking.
“Fuck you, Pete. You know I ain’t no nark.” Yegor growled.
“You better not be man, cuz if I come through with this for you, I’d be straight fucked if you was, man, you know what I’m sayin? Two Mossbergs and enough smoke and flashbangs to start a rave, man? I thought you had a Moss already, esse… what you tryin’ to do, hit a bank or somethin? You know they don’t carry hard cred no more, right?”
Yegor shrugged. Skinny Pete laughed.
“Naw, naw, Big Round, he got to you man, didn’t he? Didn’t he? You gonna do some runnin’, esse?”
Yegor shrugged again. Fucker talks too much, he thought. Skinny Pete laughed again.
“Man, that’s some shit right there, bro. Aight man, I got you. Gimme a few days and I’ll get some shit together for you, aight? This gonna square us for the work on my ride, right?”
Yegor nodded. “Yeah, I’ll handle it.” The kid wanted some pimp mods done, but he was giving Yegor a pretty good break on the hardware, and Yegor didn’t mind the labor.
“Aight muchacho, I’ll get at you later. Adios.”
* * * * *