Bryan Beal

Target Revelation (Terminal Deep)

“You're no cyber!”, shouted the irrate heckler from the front row.

Lucky for Neon Traxxon, the stage in Terminal Vibes was low. She lifted her treasured guitar slightly. A blur of motion was all the warning anyone got. A plasteel boot slammed into the young man's lower jaw with head-whipping force. At least three teeth flew from his open mouth as he fell back. He tried to get up, but he just wobbled and fell back to the floor. Security found him in seconds, grabbed him by the ankles and dragged him from the place. Neon did not relish him his fate.

In less than a second, the wailing sonics from Neon's modded antique guitar resumed. The remaining crowd filled the empty space and took up their jumping, high impact dance, thundering the floor with their heavy boots. For some of them, boots and feet were one and the same.

One more song, Cyberchill Chick, sated the fans and left them ready for the next band. Neon clicked off her hearing dampeners as she walked with Hades Ulthar and Pene Cryo off-stage. The staging room was a level below the main floor. Neon could hear next to nothing of the band above. All three slumped into the butt holders. Anyone else would have called them chairs, but the three of them were not anyone else.

“When you fragging that old piece of crap?”, Pene smiled, which looked like a leer with half her face cyborged with chameleon metal.

“Like never. When you going to quit asking?”, Neon shot back.

“Never.”, Pene laughed.

“Shit, if you wanted to play a sitar, it'd be cool by me. We'd still be carving our own way.”, Hades said, barely more than a murmur.

Pene groaned as she leaned over to get a MindBomb from the cooler. She had just taken her first gulp of the fizzy energy drink when there was a knock at the door. Her eyes shot wide, possibly from the MindBomb.

“Yeah?”, called out Neon.

“Neon Traxxon?”, a voice, a woman, replied.

Neon's hand gripped the edge of her butt holder as she exchanged questioning looks with her band-mates. They both shook their heads.

“Who's asking?”, Pene called out.

“NTS.”, came the reply.

Neon had already clicked through her security and had a visual on the two officers outside the door. Her heart started pumping a little faster. Since when did the NeoToyko Service come down here? The NTS were what passed for cops in the upper levels. They sometimes acted as punishers, as well. She had never seen them come down this far.

“What do you want with Neon?”, Neon called out.

“We want to talk to you.”, the woman answered. “About your personal safety.”

Neon looked at her friends again. Pene's face was blank. Hades nodded. Neon accessed the door and the locks popped open with quiet clicks. The slim woman walked in first followed by her partner, a male officer who was carrying a savage looking Firebrand Suppressor, standard issue for the NTS special branch.

“May we talk in private?”, the woman asked.

“Here is good. Anything you have to say can be said with Hades and Pene.”, Neon replied, motioning to an empty holder.

“Okay.”, the female said as she sat down. “I'm Agent Conners and this is Agent Ruben. It appears the up-coming musician Neon Traxxon has some new enemies.”

“What? Who? That dude whose jaw I modified tonight?”, Neon voice was indignant.

“Ryan Schill? A two-bit street-level nobody. No, yours are far more serious players.”

“Who then?”, Neon asked.

“Does the Godless mean anything to you?”, Conners asked.

“No.”, Neon's face was blank. “Should it?”

“Not until now. They have somehow learned of you and what you are.”

“What? They have something against Cyber musicians?”, Neon's eyebrow shot up as Hades and Pene sniggered.

“I'd take them seriously.”, Conners snapped at Pene and Hades. “The Godless are a group of fanatics for human purity. They fought hard against the Equality Laws, even murdering people and allies. After the Equality Laws became law, the Godless vanished underground. They did not stop. They just got more discreet.”

“That was nearly a hundred years ago. What's that got to do with Neon?”, Pene asked.

“These two don't know, do they?”, Conners said to Neon.

“Know what?”, Neon asked, nervous.

Ruben and Conners exchanged a glance.

“When were you born?”, Conners asked.

“Fifteenth of June, 2476.”, Neon replied without hesitation. “What's going on?”

“Give us a few, will you?”, Conners said to Pene and Hades.

Neon's two friends looked at her and she nodded to them. They left the room and returned to the club above.

“What's your official ethnicity?”, Conners asked.

“Organic, ME. Why? What's happening here?”, Neon's voice was starting to shake.

ME stood for 'mild enhancement', a broad and unclear category in NeoTokyo.

“Do you remember your parents?”, Conners pushed on.

“Of course, I do. Now tell me what the hell's going on here.”, Neon growled.

“If you were Organic ME, the Godless wouldn't care about you.”, Conners said enigmatically.

“So, why are they after me?”

Conners looked at Ruben.

“No lies. She's being honest as far as she is aware.”, he told her.

“This is going to be a shock to you. But the Godless believe you're a synth.”, Conners said in a soft voice.

“What does it matter what they think?”, Neon shot back.

“Well, for one, they want to kill you for it. For another, we think they're correct.”

“That's impossible.”

“Is it? Ever broken a bone?”

“No. What's that got to do with anything?”

“And yet, you fell over four storeys seven years ago. You fell onto concrete. And that was not the only accident you've come through remarkably well.”, Conners looked right into Neon's eyes.

“Okay, so I've been lucky a few times.”, Neon scrambled to think.

What this agent was saying was nuts. Neon could remember growing up and everything. Heck, she even remembered her first tooth coming out and the few credits she got for it.

“All constructed. I am really sorry to put this on you, Neon.”, Conners even sounded genuine when Neon mentioned her memories.

“But why?”, Neon needed to know.

“We don't know. We don't even think the Godless know that answer. They just know you're synth and famous. That's enough for them.”

“So what now?”, Neon slumped down into her seat.

“We move you and make sure you're safe. The laws protect your rights as a person.”, Ruben said and Conners nodded her agreement.

©2023, Bryan Beal

#TerminalDeep #Cyberpunk #NeoTokyo #SciFi

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