from "Rat Queen to Black King" by S L Koch

Skyscraper windows showered outward from a force grenade. A thousand strands of reflective safety glass vomited out the side of the Calibration Logistics building, showers of pain erupting in arcs across filtered rays of light, reflections dancing on a thousand glimmering walls.

There was a moment of gut-hunch panic before K8T enacted C-15 and tossed the grenade, before she ever saw the cracking elevator door.

Sideways through the thousand-foot drop, she scrolled through her app suite in her left eye. Hand-tailored Daedalus stood by in the right, opening city blueprints for her eyes only. Captain of her app crew. The maps changed, shifting to reflect complex codes from her Contingency Database. K8T often refined entries long into the morning, and Daedalus used its algorithms to offer her a choice.

Life was all about choices, she had programmed it to say each time.

Class A was a choice of never being seen in the first place.

Class B was to go out swinging, because there still might be a chance.

Class C, from which C-15 was pulled and presented, meant get the hell out. This is what she chose.

Sonic grenade and a leap of faith.

Smart? No. Not inconspicuous either. Security had her now, she’d have to burn the disguise. K8T didn’t feel like taking a bullet today, a choice which left her tumbling through a hurricane of glass toward speeding traffic into foggy streets below. Besides, death wasn’t really a thing. Not if you could pay. Just a coma, white-light tunnel and revival. K8T had a Carter Blue premium medical package that boasted sub-percent reaper rates, so a bullet today would only hurt like hell.

Luckily she kept an iron grip on the suitcase as she plummeted.

There were ten seconds before the rushing city canyon ran out and she got intimate with a mega-highway packed with land transports. Nearest tubeline one half mile, Daedalus flashed in bold print. Most Walks spent their time going no further than that. But then again, most Walks tended to meet violent ends, preyed upon as they were from all angles. Hard to run from a hovercraft.

There were few things more degrading and looked down upon in the city than those who walked everywhere.

A drone whizzed past her face, bulky and old.

Junkie reflexes whipped the rod she held; it rolled out like a party favor into thin fingers on a flat metal robot hand. The drone dipped in confusion when the hand grabbed it, readjusting engines to stop their plummet as her MT403 Monkey Tongue tethered them together. The drone struggled and the micrograv bonding receptors simply would not let go.

Her sweaty palms might.

Trajectory changed. They fell sideways. Daedalus painted a curved green arrow in her vision through the valley of skyscrapers and circled the nearest tube exit.

“Contingency: C-2. Ride a tube. Be safe, ma’am.”

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- from "Rat Queen to Black King" by S L Koch

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