Tully swung at Van’s jaw with as much power as he could draw up. The connection was perfect, sending Van down so hard that he kissed the doorknob before flopping to the linoleum floor. Tully took a second to admire his work – sturdy strength was his constitution – then he snatched the suitcase and took off down the corridor and out the side door, straight into the night.
The further Tully ran, the smaller the university became; until eventually the darkness swallowed it up whole. It was only then that he felt safe enough to send a d-note to his boss. He took cover in an alleyway and pressed the COMM button on his wrist. The holographic screen appeared. “Secured”, he whispered into it, and hit send. The message was sent directly to its linked COMM, Sera, who did not respond. The fewer the correspondence, the fewer the hackers knew.
Afterwards, he crouched and placed the suitcase gently in front of him. He was under strict instructions not to open it. Not that it would have been all that easy to if he had dared. The case was made of a metal denser than any Tully had ever encountered, and its bolts were DNA activated (something he didn’t have, anyways). None of that child’s play fingerprint recognition stuff – whatever was in that case was on lockdown.
The thing about being a professional thief is that you had to have a precarious nature to begin with. It meant that secrets were liable to get leaked. That’s why people came to Tully when they had something worth keeping plugged. He was one of the few who could get the job done, and be satisfied with the payout alone. Most people would not risk their asses without knowing what for. But Tully wasn’t most people. In fact, he wasn’t people at all. Being a droid had its benefits, and this was one.
Back at the safe house, the suitcase exchanged hands along with the money. Tully thanked his client – the man in white – and went on his way. Another mission down and another penny closer to Indigo. Yes, being a droid had its benefits, but Tully was sure being a man had more. Indigo was the only one out there with the technology to help him realize his dream, but she didn’t come cheap.
That night, Tully was mimicking sleep as he always did, when the d-note came in. “RETURN TO BASE.” It was an odd request at this hour, but Tully was only self-aware enough to notice that, not to question it. He certainly hadn’t been programmed to challenge Sera or her orders. So, he picked himself up and headed to base. Once there, Tully waited longer than he had expected to for Sera to arrive. When she finally did, she did so with a clatter, swerving in without elegance. Her hovercraft was noisy and dented, and she poured out of it dizzily.
“Accident? Are you in need of medical assistance?” Tully asked.
“You could say so. My hover was used as target practice this evening. A war with the Looters is inevitable, unless we beat them to the kill.”
Tully tilted his head and sent a signal to his chip to decrease room tone. He was unsure he had heard her correctly.
“One kill, Tully. And you’ll have your Indigo money.”
“But – I’m not programmed to -”
“You will be.” Sera hailed over her mechanic, Whisk.
It took only an hour of programming and rebuilding for Tully to be mission-ready. He was excited. His propensity for violence had been amplified, and he was that much closer to buying Indigo’s services.
“I don’t know why that’s so important to you,” Sera sighed as Tully geared up. “You have everything you need now – strength, intelligence, and as much reason and emotion as any person would need.”
“I only have what I’m programmed to have. I want to exist outside of this,” he pointed to his head, indicating his personality chip.
“Nobody exists outside of their heads Tully. We’re all just programmed. And the irony is that your desire to have the impossible – well, that makes you as human as they come.” Sera smiled, and sent him on his way.
Tully found the Looters exactly where he was told he would. From outside of the warehouse, he had to increase his ear chips to be sure, but once he heard their riotous thunder he was all systems go. With his leg and arm power set to max, he kicked in the steel warehouse door, sending it flying across the room and into a Looters’ throat. The rest of the gang raised their firearms which were some of the most sophisticated Tully’s info-read had ever picked up. A danger warning displayed in his line of sight for a moment, before his new ultraviolent programming overrode it.
It was a massacre. Five on one, but the Looters didn’t stand a chance. They were all at one time state-funded criminals, trained for battle in a time of less efficient droids. Some had even been backseat drivers, controlling droids in battle from a safe distance, which meant they had rarely even put their ill-training to use. Tully came at them with a force they could not have predicted. He was stronger, faster, impervious. Their fire bounced off of his strong metal skin. In hand-to-hand combat, his blows were fatal, while their caused more harm to themselves than to him. By the end, the five men lay mangled, sodden in their own blood.
Tully took a second to admire his work. His last job. Tonight, he would pay a visit to Indigo, and she would give him what he wanted – or else.
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©