"At Any Cost"

A Short Story


Logan T. Hoffman

For nearly two hours Robbie McDonald, a blade runner for the New York City police department, had been chasing down a man identified as a replicant. The machine had recently escaped from the Tyrell Corporation. He was ordered to retire (kill, in the blade runner lingo) the replicant "at any cost". At least that's what his boss said. At any cost. Do they really mean that when they say it? McDonald wasn't certain. All he knew was that the job had to be done. He was the man to do it.

As he walked the darkened streets of New York, he thought he caught a glimpse of a man dashing down an alleyway. Robbie cautiously drew his gun, suspicion slowly building up in him. He followed the man down the alley.

Bingo. It was the target alright. Only problem was, the replicant was holding an old man at gunpoint. Robbie kept his blaster pistol trained on the replicant.

"Don't do anything foolish," the replicant replied. It was a Nexus 6 model, the most recent in a series of increasingly human-like androids. If Robbie didn't know any better, he would of thought that it was a real man.

"Put the gun down," McDonald instructed. Yeah, right. This machine is not about to give up it's advantage.

The replicant chuckled at the blade runner's order. "I'm afraid I don't operate that way. You see, I'm the one who gives the commands here."

The old man shook violently with fear, locking eyes with McDonald. For a long time they gazed at each other, exchanging silent words. Then, slowly, the old man nodded. "You know what to do," he said shakily.

Before the replicant and his hostage could react, Robbie McDonald fired several shots from his blaster pistol. The machine and the old man both collapsed to the ground, dead.

Robbie walked over to the two dead bodies. The hunt was over. He would report to the police station and collect his bounty money. "At any cost," the blade runner whispered to himself.

No, he said. Not anymore. Not like this.

McDonald took his ID badge from out of his wallet. He tossed it onto the two bodies.

If it costs a life, I don't belong here.

Robbie McDonald, ex-blade runner, walked away from the scene.