The Courier

A William Gibson/Neuromancer inspired fanfiction

author/Electric Monk

A dark wave of rubble rose against a colorless sky, beyond its crest the bleached, half-melted skeletons of city towers. The rubble wave textured like a net, rusting steel rods twisted gracefully as fine strung, vast slabs of concrete still clinging there. The courier picked his way through yet another rubble-strewn street. He cursed. The war had started with the flutter of stealthy ultralights assaulting Russia, for all intents and purposes it had ended with the nuclear destruction of Bonn. Despite that triggered fission expansion, the Russians had lost. This directly led to his current irritating situation. He hit his foot on another rock and staggered off. Steel toed boots losing against concrete. Loosely organized groups of barely human scum ruled this wreckage that had once been a city. Gangs in name only. Fighting with brutal simplicity over scraps authority's provided. Stops constant assaults on defenses ringing the city.

Warily the courier entered a new gang's territory. In a cultured motion he drew a pair of textually fractured black guns. The messy killing of anyone that menaced him had guaranteed a measure of safety. The gangs didn't have enough resources to waste to fuck with him more then once.

A chopping noise echoed overhead as a military helicopter made its way across the sky. It's slick black form absorbing light as it hunted for people entering the Zone.

The first line of defense in making sure that no one breaks out of the cordon surrounding Bonn.

No one wanted hordes of street tough feral kids roaming around Europe. Used to the streets of the world's largest city, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis the courier was unimpressed by this street. He looked around, seeing a few eyes gleaming off reflected light, protected by chunks of concrete and brick. The courier mused, stuck here, in this quiet, unassuming hell until he found one man, Riviera who was just enough of a sociopath to attract outside attention. The question was from whom? He didn't know but it was a powerful unknown to get him here and through the cordon with such ease. Better off not even wondering about those things, rarified heights of corporate maneuver.

He looked around, looking for yet another guide, one of a number that existed to move Outside people around in return for passes out of here. The courier called out, using his now standard trick, "I have one pass, I need a guide to find a man, name of Riviera." Scrabbling erupted as the people behind the concrete fought for the honor, or the pass. After 32 seconds, according to his skin implanted watch, a kid walked out covered in blood but obviously the victor. The courier didn't have an expression, he had seen this all too often. He held up the passcard; the only way out of hell then tucked it away. The kid's eyes lit up. The courier gestured, the kid turned and walked off, the courier following. It took a few more hours of crawling through this pit before the kid finally found what the courier was looking for. Or at least that's what the courier interpreted pointing at a man made collection of concrete chunks 50 yards off with a the twisted steel girders of a former skyscraper behind it.

The courier put on a pair of mirrored glasses and pressed a small button. The glasses tapped into his optic nerve and the terrain lit up with data, dangerous radiation levels scattered around but none close. The target he wanted was a human, he turned towards the boy. The glasses limited intelligence correctly interpreted his glance and bounced the request for information about the boy to a satellite hanging 22,500 miles up bought through a hundred cut-outs, concealing whoever did it. Within a few seconds, the information, moving at the speed of light bounced up to the satellite then down to New York then up to another satellite or bounced off a piece of orbital debris and so on until it reached, after a dozen cut-outs reached Zurich, Switzerland and then came back through a new set of cut-outs. Aidan, John EU# 48196573 BONN EXILE blazed the red headline across his glasses but he had expected no less. He swung around, looking for any other humans - he found one and his automatic request bounced back up and came back eventually Riviera, Peter EU# 73954680 BONN EXTRACT came up on his glasses. He smiled slightly, tossed the passcard at the boy - who caught and disappeared it in a second - and started to walk towards Riviera. He knocked, once, twice, on his glasses he saw Riviera jump up, grab something from a low desk. Concrete. An ideal braining weapon. The courier called out-sardonically "Riviera? If you are I have a package for you."

"Fuck off" came from inside.

"Oh goody" the courier muttered and slammed through the makeshift door, spinning and dodging the sliver of glass in Riviera's hands. Glass? Where'd the concrete go? He knocked it to the floor and punched Riviera's nose, so hard it cracks. The courier leaped back, easily dodging Riviera's weak blow. Riviera sat down, hard, lost and cradling his noise with his hand. He stretched out his other hand; the courier reached into his pocket and handed a package to Riviera who pressed his thumbprint to it. The package opened silently, memory plastic sliding into shape. Open configuration. A single piece of paper lay there; Riviera picked it up and began to read, slowly. After a few minutes Riviera looked up and said quietly "I'll take it."

The courier handed another package to Riviera; this one contained a passcard, a passport, a Swiss bank chip, and several plane tickets. Riviera asked, "How are we getting out of here?"

The courier pressed the other button on his glasses. He took them off slowly and dropped them to the floor. "Any minute now." The courier informed Riviera and then stomped hard on the glasses. Riviera opened his mouth but the sudden noise of a descending 'chopter drowned out any possible remark. Overhead it hovered, scanning for others. Then it settled to the ground the rotor's slowing slightly. The two men clambered in and it lifted off fast, heading for a small airfield in the middle of nowhere, to the two men it didn't matter - they were happy just to get out of the hellhole called Bonn.

The kid watched them go. His pass didn't work, but he wouldn't know this until his body lay bleeding in front of the cordon.

The courier turned to face Riviera. Riviera turned to face him. The courier looked at his gun in Riviera's hand. The car would have to be cleaned. Riviera leaned back in his seat, specks of blood and fragments of bone littering his shirt. The courier leaned forward, missing a head.

He never looked back.