complete novel available @ http://www.amazon.com/Augment-Part-1-Eric-Gabrielsen-ebook/dp/B00GDJ0YDK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392402513&sr=1-1&keywords=Augment
Chapter 13 continued....
Chapter 13 continued....
Shit Street in Pusan had not changed in a hundred years—if you wanted a knockoff of the latest Parisian fashion that would unravel a week later, a full length leather duster that would smell suspicious and leave dye on your clothes, new decks at one-tenth the price, the latest in electronics and wet gear—all legal and illegal and all garbage. It was a perfect port money trap. Rube goes in, credit goes in, rube goes out, credit stays.
Nevada-tan wasn’t sure what she was looking for but would know it when she saw it. There was a cool clinging mist coming off the water; it had a heavy flavor of diesel with just a touch of rotting fish. Nevada-tan moved slowly from storefront to storefront, stepping over several passed out sailors and an ROK Marine holding a bloody rag to his forehead while smoking a bent cigarette. Stopping in front of an electronics store; most of the stock in the windows was dust- covered and out of date. Pushing the door open, she was startled by a loud electronic chime. The store’s interior reflected the window display perfectly. Behind the counter stood a man with a young, unlined face. His hair was cut in a symmetrical bowl that highlighted his ebony ear plugs. A Maori tattoo decorated his chin and lower face. Armless, he was reading a newspaper, turning the pages with a long rubber-tipped stick he held in his mouth.
“Good morning,” Nevada-tan chirped happily.
“So you say,” he grunted around the stick.
Nevada-tan was a little flustered but continued. “Any day you are alive and free is a good day.”
The stick fell to the counter top with a clack. “Really?’
Nevada-tan reddened. “Yes, I think so.”
The man peered at her as if he just noticed her. “Let me ask you a question Princess, may I call you Princess?”
“Yes,” Nevada-tan stammered.
“Well, Princess let me ask you a question. Do your balls itch?”
“ ‘Ah,’ is not an answer. Can you talk?”
“Well?” he demanded.
Nevada-tan thrust her chin forward and replied. “I have no balls so they do not itch.”
“Well good for fucking you. Grab that pointer.”
Nevada-tan grabbed the pointer with both hands and held it in front of her like a sword.
“Now put it down on the counter with the point facing me.”
Nevada-tan did as instructed. “Push it about half way over toward me.”
She did as she was told. To her horror he straddled it and began to rub his crotch back and forth growling, his face scrunched up in something resembling ecstasy. Nevada-tan could feel his weight and movement through the stick. Frozen with dread and repulsion she could not let go. He hopped off abruptly as he had hopped on.
“There! That is probably the most use you have been to anyone in years. Now do you want to buy a deck?”
Nevada-tan let go of the stick and pushed it away from her with her fingertips.
“I need a chip and flow access.”
“Chip?” The man behind the counter looked confused. “Lady, everyone in the Pacific fucking rim has a chip. It comes with your fucking belly button.”
“You have a scanner?”
“Of course I have a scanner,” he rolled his eyes. “This look like a charity to you?”
The man ducked behind the counter and popped back up with a hand scanner in his mouth. He dropped it on the counter. “Wave your right wrist over it.”
She did. The scanner read nothing. “Wave your left then, slowly.”
She passed her left over slowly. Nothing.
“So fucking what. You moved it. Pick up the scanner and pass it over yourself.” She did, covering her arms, legs, torso and head—nothing.
“Hmmm. Wave it over my right shoulder.” She did and it beeped on the screen came up his I.D. and credit balance.
“Holy shit. I didn’t think it was possible. It’s like walking around without a head. How the hell did you make it through school or buy a bowl of kim chi for Christ sake?”
“I was different, special.”
The man behind the counter shook his head. “I guess. What the hell can I do for you?”
“Can you get me a chip?”
“Hell, you got enough credit I can make you King of Thailand. How much you got?”
“If I can get access to the flow I can get as much as you need.”
The man smirked. “How? Magic? Integral baffles prevent any unauthorized transfers or even contact with accounts not keyed to your chip.”
She shrugged. “Let me try.”
The man made a farting noise with his lips. Then he turned his back and stepped through a beaded curtain. Nevada-tan stood there, unsure of what to do. He poked his head back through the curtain and said, “You coming?
She walked around the end of the counter and went through the curtain. The front of the store looked like an operating theater compared to the back. Piles of opened crates with all manner of ephemera: electronics, spoiled foodstuffs, sex toys, and a moth eaten pair of shrunken heads. He led her to the back wall and a small desk. On it was what appeared to be an arcade-grade crown with filaments; she was sure of dubious cleanliness.
“This is it?”
“It ain’t Sony labs, Princess. It’s what we got.”
She sat at the desk and placed the last prophylactic sleeve in the dispenser over her head, adjusting the crown to fit. It formed a fit slowly, tightly gripping her head. She felt the pinprick pressure as the microfilaments bore in. The connection was fuzzy and indistinct; not anything like the connection at the compound. She focused and pushed her way to into the flow. Letting herself drift until she came upon a financial beachhead. Getting herself in as a loan query she moved among accounts, taking small amounts from only the largest and readjusting the totals, depositing these small withdrawals into an earnest money account for a large corporate real estate auction. Finally, she keyed that to a blind account accessible by the counterman’s chip number. Closing all the portals behind her, she pulled back into the flow erasing, her wake as she withdrew. Disconnecting, wincing as the filaments withdrew; she was covered in a light dew of sweat from concentration she expended in the effort to stay in the flow over such a poor connection. The man was watching her closely.
“Well?” he asked.
“Access your account at this number,” she said, rattling off a series of digits.
“Hold on for shit’s sake.” He moved to the counter, picked up the pointer and tapped a series of commands into the scanner. He leaned in with his shoulder to scan his chip. As he peered at the small screen, his eyes grew to the size of saucers. Dashing to the front door he flipped over the sign to Closed, locking the door with his foot and switching off the lights. Running back to the counter, picking up the scanner in his teeth and returned to the back room. He dropped the scanner and looked at her in a state of high agitation.
“Is this fucking for real?”
“The credit is in your account.”
“Can’t be traced?”
“I would break it down into smaller amounts. Spread it around. I’m sure someone of your…” she paused, “…economic class would draw some attention from the authorities.”
“No shit.” His eyes couldn’t leave the tiny screen. “What exactly do you want?”
“A chip, and then you never saw me.”
She sat watching a small wall screen that had been hidden behind some crates of plaster-chipped Chinese dragons. It was a Singapore soap opera called Properties about a beautiful young real estate agent working for a large agency. It seemed to involve a lot of attractive vaguely Eurasian males who had a lot of trouble keeping their shirts on. She was enthralled; she had never seen anything like it.
“If you can pull yourself away from that for a minute, our man is here.”
She turned and saw a tall thin man in a tank top and shorts. Except for his face, every centimeter of his skin she could see was covered with tattoos.
“This is Han; he does chip switches on occasion. He will be able to fix you up.”
Holding a small case in his hand, he placed it on the desk and hit some switches she couldn’t see. It flipped open, exposing a piston-operated medical device and two small cylinders. He reached down, pulled the covering off the end of one and screwed it into the handle of the applicator. Reaching into his pants pocket, he removed a small transparent container. Inside it she could see a small black cylinder with some tiny white numbers etched on the outside.
“Is that the chip?” Nevada-tan asked.
Han looked at the counterman. “No questions,” he said.
He placed the cylinder into the dispenser, it hissed as it locked into place.
Removing a spray bottle from his shorts pocket he reached over and pulled up her right sleeve. He sprayed her wrist before laying the muzzle of the device against her skin.
“Is this going to hurt?” she asked.
“No questions,” the man replied.
“Is it clean?”
“Where did it come from?”
“No fucking questions!”
Nevada-tan closed her eyes and heard the injector hiss. She felt a burning in her forearm which caused her to jerk.She was shocked to see just a tiny red spot and no bleeding.
“It’ll bruise. In a day you will never know it happened.”
“Thanks Han. I’ll walk you out.”
Nevada-tan looked at her wrist. She had just joined the human race. No longer something from a lab, an experiment, she was normal.
The counter man reappeared.
“Where did it come from?” she asked.
“You don’t want to know.”
“Is it stolen?”
“What do you care?”
The man smirked. “I’ll call Han back. He’ll yank it.”
Nevada-tan covered her wrist protectively. “No. I’ll keep it.”
“I thought so. Let’s see if it reads.”
They walked over to the hand scanner. She picked it up and ran it over her wrist.
“Put it in the base by the screen. We’ll take a look at the bio as well”
Nevada-tan put in the base and hit the power stud. The screen sprang to life with a photo of young dark haired Asian women. Her stats were listed under the photo. Height, weight, age, nationality and credit balance.
“Not bad. She looks like you.”
“ It says I’m Korean.”
The man looked at her. “Is that a problem?”
“No. She doesn’t have much credit.” Nevada-tan tapped into the earnest account and shifted half of the credit.
She heard the man grunt behind her. “Is that a problem?’
“No,” he said sullenly.
“I didn’t think so. That amount will be redeposited when I get to my destination. And no one finds out I was here.”
“That’s not a problem with me, sister.”
“Good, thank you, Mister…?”
He looked at her and said nothing.
“Right, no questions.”
The sun had burned off most of the fog. She stood and watched the street surge around her with a life and vitality that had not been evident three hours earlier. Across from her was a public screen with a throng of people around it . She crossed the street and inched her way closer to the screen to see what was happening.
On it was a picture of a smoking reactor. Underneath ran a tag line: “Kyushu meltdown. Japan powerless. A nation in the dark…..”