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Van Reiter stood outside on his balcony smoking a cigarette. The view from the second floor was as attractive as a flea infested rat. The people of New Angeles moved by his sidewalk, each unaware of the presence of the other thousand. Walking, driving, hopping, running scared or running angry, listening to tunes that existed only in their minds; Cars whizzed by leaving trails of light and smog in their path, some smoothly, some yelling, others blaring music out their windows. But among all the chaos there was a couple, hiding as best as they could in a niche in the building on the other side of the street.A girl with a distinctive fiber-optic hair was leaning against the wall in the small crevice, laughing lightly as she listened to the words her partner was whispering into her ear. The changing colors of her bright hair illuminated the face of the man. A nice contrast against the dull moonlight and monotony of the night.Van Reiter remembered when he was their age, a rebellious teen working with the mafia doing dirty laundry. He never could afford to take a girl out, or take some time to play cute with a girl - the local teenwhore was the best he could do, and he did it often. But he was glad someone could, he was glad they could, it made his job a little less like hell.A boring tune began ringing in his left ear."Hello", he answered."Rider? We have a problem, get your ass down here as soon as you can. This ain't pretty."The call ended and he knew what where he had to go, back to work. He flung his still lit cigarette out the balcony and walked back inside his apartment. A small place lit up with the screens of several monitors that smelled a combination of smoke, booze and UltraClean - Gets any stain off in microseconds!He grabbed his coat and put on his CyShades as he exited the room. The call sounded urgent meaning he wasn't going to have time to find a legal route down to the underworld of Los Angeles, luckily he knew DreX was in town, a smart girl if he ever knew one, she'd help him out.He left his building and began the walk towards DreX's place. As he did he saw the couple were leaving their little spot in the building. The colorful girl had a dreamy smile on her face as she was guided by her tall partner."Lucky...", he thought."Sir! Please, would you donate a few of your 'reks to this old man? I haven't tasted food in weeks!", a limping old man approached him from behind a dumpster.Van Reiter could see the tell-tale signs of heavy use of Sourjack, the skin on his face was cracked, his teeth were almost gone and his pupils were dilated and grey."Fuck off junky!", he said as he pushed him aside. The old man moaned and Van Reiter realized that his pushing had caused the skin on the old man's arm to rip open and begin oozing blood."For fucks sake", he whispered while throwing and old Federek card at the man, "Clean yourself up.""Thank you, thank you!"The man's voice blended into the noisy street as Van Reiter walked away. He felt sorry about people like that, gone too far, unable to return to a normal life, forever slaves of substances far removed from nature. They looked almost like mutants, thin, frail, large eyed. It reminded him of why his job was so important. To stop the trafficking and the dealing. The addictive drug commerce.He arrived at a small white building illuminated by the blue and purple lights of a large cinema on the opposite side of the street. He pressed a small button on his left ear."Drex", he said softly."Dialing Drex", a woman's voice jingled in his head."Ye' what you want Rider? I don't got much time right now. In the middle of work yu know? Well c'mon spit it out.""DreX, I'm outside your apartment, I need you to talk to you real quick.""Ain't got time man! Just spit it out, wassup!", the sound of keyboards and clicks accompanied her voice."I can't talk about this over the phone, get your ass down here DreX, this isn't a joke.""Shit man, chilly! You better got some good 'reks for me copper. I'm lettin' you up."The doors to the building opened automatically and Van Reiter proceeded to the elevator in the lobby, a small cubicle with no view and a brown stain in the corner. He rode it to the 23rd floor.He approached apartment 221 and pressed a small button on the side of the frame. Almost immediately a woman opened the door."Yeah?""I'm here to see Drex""There's no one here with that name", she said as she began to shut the door."Mom! Mom, what are you doing? He's a friend!""I'm not letting this perp in our home Samy!""Mom, stop it, he's a friend of mine!"DreX came to the door and held it open for Van Reiter."Wait for me in my room", she said.Van Reiter walked in towards a dark room in the back of the apartment as the woman studied him with a disapproving look."He's a good guy Mom, just go and do whatever you were doing."DreX followed him into the room and shut the door softly."Shit Rider, you know how it's here, why'd you need to come down here so 'urgent'? I'm busy."Van Reiter looked around the room. All kinds of devices and monitors hung in the walls and desks. The text on a manual NECT terminal scrolled endlessly on one side of the room."Yeah, I can see that... I need you to find the closest and least guarded chute down to LA. I know it's a simple request, I just can't talk about it on the phone.""Ye' ye', yu sed that. Im'a need a couple hundred 'reks k? You come'ere out o'nowhere and xpect me to jus' drop everythin'? Nah man, no way. There's the terminal, make the transfer, I'll tell you what you want. Then we're chilly."Van Reiter took a step towards the desk and passed his Federek card on the device. He'd have to file that under 'miscellaneous' expenses."Oh great man, chilly, ice cold! Let's do this."DreX took a seat at her desk in front of the NECT terminal and began using it with a series of custom commands he had never seen before that were instantaneously transcribed to the screen. After thousands of lines were printed on the NECT monitor DreX took a step back."Alright Rider, here's the juice. There's a chute down at the old train station, guards are patrolling it but there's a shift change in thirty minutes xactly. Time's running out boss, you should get.", she said as she pointed at the door."Thanks DreX, I know I can count on you always having the intel I need"DreX's face blushed and a tiny smile formed on her face."Ye', don't come back with'nt appointment, now get!"”No promises”, he said with a smile.He left the room and walked through DreX‘s small apartment, the woman looked at him again with disgust.”Good evening”, he said as closed the door.Van Reiter looked at his watch, two minutes down, twenty eight to go. He better hurry, if he was late to the station he‘d have an almost null chance of getting past the guards. He rode the stained elevator once again to the ground level and left the building as quick as he had gone inside.On the opposite side of the street a long line of customers were waiting for the premiere to a movie with new sensory input technology; The one that made you feel as if you were the main character and live a bunch of adventures. ”Why don‘t you get a real life...”, he murmured as he crossed the street towards the cinema.He lifted his hand as he saw a bright neon-plagued yellow cab approaching in the street. Its tires screamed as the driver stopped the car abruptly mere inches away from Van Reiter. He made a face of discomfort and opened the passenger door."Where to my brotha'?", a man with a heavy set of cyber shades that looked more like a helmet asked him. His unusually pale skin reflected the color of the traffic light in front of the cab and his bones couple with his cyber helmet formed a strange contour giving him the appearance of a lizard."I'm headed to the old train station, the one on 62nd...""Oh yeah, yeah, I kno' which one brotha', we'll be there in no time", he said as he sped through the red light and got on his way."Interesting shades you got there""Yeah thanks! They're custom made my man, a friend of mine makes these things. It's got all I need.", the driver smirked, "Radar, sonar, gps, infrared, x-ray, ultraviolet, distance control, wake-up calls, weapon detection, radio, the works!"The cab was inundated with souvenirs from all over the world, key-chains hung from every crack, stickers populated all of the surface area, the roof was riddled with old postal stamps and the glove box was overflowing with post cards."Travel much?"The driver laughed, "Nah, brotha', I just collect. I've been driving this hunk of shit for 30 years now and all these you see here are gifts from my passengers, turns out everyone but me has been around the world!"Van Reiter chuckled, thinking of how he had never even left New Angeles, let alone travel to other countries. Some people just had their life on easy mode."If you don't mind my asking brotha', what's your business at the old train station? Rats took over the place you know? You don't wanna get some disease...""Actually I do mind you asking. It's a personal matter.""Oooooh, misterious type! That's cool, that's cool... say... you seem like the type of person who's been down there to LA. I got a question for you... you see, the other day I was with some pals over at that "Dirty Nookie" place and I gotta tell you, those are the goddamned dirtiest nookies, I ain't never seen shit like that... So I guess my question is, how bad is the pussy down there? I' heard all kinds of stories.""You don't wanna know 'brother'""Oooh shit! So you have been down there, shit!""Yeah, here, hang this around someplace", Van Reiter took a small 'Hollywood' keychain from his jacket and handed it over to the driver."Oh man! I got nothing from LA, this is gonna be great for my collection. Thanks hombre! Say, what's your name?""People call me Rider, I guess you can call me that too.""Nice to meet you Mr. Rider, Mr. Man! I call myself the Street Surfer!", he snorted a laugh, "Thanks for the key-chain brotha', it's the best damn thing to happen to me this week."The cab slowed down and stopped at the gates of the abandoned train station. A hundred broken windows gave an eerie look to it. A thousand pigeons flew by and hid themselves in every little space available on the roof. A foul smell of dead animals and piss surrounded the cab.Van Reiter passed his Federek card on the cab's terminal and opened the door to leave."Thanks", he said."Hey no problem Rider, stay out of trouble!""Too late for that...", he said as he closed the door and faced the entrance of station. He looked at his watch again, eight minutes to go.Enough time for a nice cigarette.Van Reiter paced himself outside the large arc that was the entrance. The street lights barely illuminated the inside of the large station. He could see some old ticket machines in the entrance along with a ton of paper laying on the ground alongside dark stains of suspicious origin. Deep inside the station a few lights illuminated a small office with people in it. The guards. He checked his watch again, three minutes to go.He scurried his way into the station and hid behind a large pillar on the side of the arc entrance. The darkness there was impenetrable but smell gave away the general direction of a dead animal of some sort. He cringed and waited.He saw a guards exit the small office behind him. If he left before the other two arrived it would be the perfect opportunity to get inside the chute and go down to Los Angeles. It didn't seem right though, there should be two guards. Maybe the other one was still in the office. He saw as the first one approached the entrance of the station. A scrawny looking guy, thin, no visor, a small gun. He wouldn't be a problem.The sound of a closing door reached him and he saw as the second guard left the office. An enormous body builder type carrying what seemed like a bazooka or maybe a gatling gun. He had trouble written all over him. He carried a heavy set of shades and held the giant gun in his arms. If that visor had infrared on it this could be his end. He would either have to run for it, or try to explain to this titan that he was actually an undercover cop. Neither choice seemed good enough for this situation.He had no choice but to wait until the second guard left the building to try anything. The heavy footsteps of the man echoed through the station and just as he was about to exit the train station he stopped."Hey Junto, you see that?"Van Reiter crouched to the ground."What?""You idiot! Put your visor on!"The scrawny guard scrambled for his visor and placed it on his head."What? What?", he asked alarmed."Look over there, you see that? There's something there""Yes sir, sorry... yeah I see it""Go check it out""Ummm... really? Isn't our shift over sir?""Your shift is over when I say so dumbass, go check it out."Junto began walking towards Van Reiter's position."I... I think it's just a scared dog or something sir", Junto's voice echoed in the room."Well get it outta here then.""Shit", Van Reiter whispered.The sound of footsteps began inching closer to his position and the moment had arrived to make a decision. Van Reiter stood up revealed himself to the guards."Hey fellas, sorry to interrupt your evening. Let me explain...""Don't move!", the giant screamed and the shattered windows trembled. He pointed his oversized weapon at Van Reiter.The scrawny guard fidgeted with his small gun and managed to point it at him as well."Yeah! Don't move asshole!", he yelled with a squiggly voice."Woah! Woah! Calm down, I'm a police officer!""Yeah right! Get your ass over here! Slow!"Van Reiter began walking towards the large man, he could see his outline through his shades. He could even see the enormous hole on the end of his gun pointing straight at him. One shot from that thing would leave him in a pile of smoldering flesh and bones."Ok, that's far enough! Show me your ID!"Van Reiter's luck turned for the worse, he never carried his ID as carrying it with him could mean death."Uh... I'm an undercover agent, I don't carry an ID.""Oh really? Well that's convenient isn't it? Junto! Get your ass over here."The little man ran and stood next to the giant."Call the cops Junto, tell 'em we got a junky from LA tresspassing."The big man turned to look at Junto as he called the cops and Van Reiter took the opportunity to take a run for it. He sprinted with all his might towards the innards of the station. A thousand deafening shots resonated through the station and Van Reiter saw the big orbs of energy exploding in the in front and beside him. Then the sound of screeching tires and shattering glass exploded in the station. Van Reiter turned in time to see a glowing vehicle strike the titan full on. The large body of the guard was thrown through the open station sliding all the way to the wall at the far end. The limp body of the guard made a sickening smack.The small guard had sprinted away in the midst of the action."I told you to stay out of trouble Mr. Rider!", a disturbing laughter came from within the car and Van Reiter recognized the voice. Street Surfer."I told ya' these shades's got all I need! Good luck in your business brotha'! I won't be there next time!", he laughed again maniacally and sped his way out of the station leaving a trail of luminous particles on his way."Thank god for psychos..."Van Reiter hurried through the station with the assistance of his shades and found himself before the abyss in no time. Before him a 150 meter drop to the underworld. To his birthplace. To the noisy, crime-ridden, gun powder smelling city of Los Angeles. He could see a few lights dancing around at the bottom.At least he wouldn't be lonely when he arrived.He sighed and grabbed the first step on the almost infinite ladder to the ground.The chute down to LA smelled of dust and old grease. Cut cables were exposed everywhere and there was a strange silence in his descent. He was used to being in the city, where even sleeping in the comfort of your own place noise from people and streets bounced around the walls. Where you never completely rest, where you are never completely awake.Van Reiter had climbed down twenty meters when he began to hear the scuttling of something in the walls of the chute. Too loud to be rats, to soft to be machinery. He knocked on the wall next to him and he could feel it hollow."I'm not getting into this now", he thought.The wall broke open gently like that of a giant egg being cracked open. Thin pieces of concrete fell into the abyss below him."Hey Mister, I know a quicker way down"A child walking on all fours appeared in the crack in the wall. He was wearing ragged clothes and was covered in a thick layer of dirt. His bright green eyes almost glowed in the darkness of the chute."Oh yeah? What's that?""This way mister, come this way, I'll show you the way down.""I think I'll just go down this way...""No, please mister. We needs your help mister, please, you'll be down in a few minutes"Van Reiter looked at the hole in the wall and down at the ground a hundred meters below him."What's you way down kid?""We have an elevator mister, it's working, please mister, we just need you to deliver a message."Van Reiter knew the scams of Los Angeles well, that could easily have been a trap but the urgent tone in the child's voice convinced him othwerwise."Alright kid, make way for me."The child crawled back inside the dark hole in the wall and Van Reiter heard the soft scuttling again disappear in the distance."Shit kid, wait for me", he whispered to himself.He grabbed the edge of the wall and pushed himself into it. Once inside there was only one way to go. A grid on top of a myriad different cables and pipes lead him into a bigger opening. He climbed down into it in pitch black darkness. A smell of urine and garbage filled his nostrils."Hey kid, where'd you go?", he whispered loudly."Hold on mister, it's too dark for you"He heard steps going back and forth in front of him. There were definitely more people there. He began to doubt the decision he had made, he pictured himself dead beneath New Angeles, robbed naked, bled to death, his guts open and his organs sold in the black market. No one would ever know.A yellow light bulb begin to shine in the small room. Four dangerously skinny children, all walking on all fours sat in front of him on a pile of dirty old clothes."They don't speak mister, but we need your help", said the boy on the far left. The bald kid with the green eyes.Van Reiter felt a combination of sorrow, pity and disgust. He immediately thought to abandon his other plans and get these kids to safety."Where are your parents kid?""I don't know...""C'mon, I'll get you some help in New Angeles""No! Our parents are in Los Angeles!", he whimpered."Well then c'mon, I'll take you down there""No, we can't go... they'll kill us, please mister, we just need you to give this to our parents, please."The green eyed kid handed a small piece of paper to Van Reiter. On it there was an address and a message on the other side."Mom wre stell wating for you, plese harry"Van Reiter didn't dare to ask how long they had been waiting. But he had a bad feeling."I'll deliver the message kid, but I'm telling you now... If I don't find anyone at this address I'm coming back and taking you to New Angeles to get help""Thank you mister, the elevator is right through that tunnel. Well... it's sort of an elevator, but you'll get down real fast"."Ok, hang in there kid, I'll be back in no time"He scurried through the tight tunnel and emerged on the far side to a cliff-like view. A contraption that looked like a window cleaner's platform hung there at the end of the tunnel. Two buttons glowed in the darkness of that place. He climbed on the rackety contraption unsure of his safety and pressed the button that seemed most appropriate. Down.With a loud bang the elevator begin to climb down in an almost free fall fashion."Holy fuck!", Van Reiter grabbed the edge of the railing as the wind entered his clothing and made his coat look like a cape. Withing seconds the platform began to decelerate and stopped when it was three meters above a back alley of Los Angeles."Thanks kid, that was fast indeed", he thought as he climbed down the contraption with shaky hands.He jumped to the ground and found himself behind a large seemingly abandoned building. The street lights could only just illuminate the entrance to his location.Van Reiter made his way to the main street of the building thinking of the call from Horton's lair. He was taking too long to get there. He looked to the ground and next to the entrance, two heavily augmented girls lay on there in each other's arms moaning and twitching severely. Spit and tears leaked from their orifices, their hands intertwined. He noticed plugs on many of the girls augments sticking out like cancerous tumors.Bad quality plugs, heavy addiction, suffering."Home, sweet home"A block away to his right a group of people gathered around the official chute to New Angeles. A few of them with numerous LED tattoos stood out from the crowd. They seemed to be walking around aimlessly, bumping with each other, walking in circles, he watched as one of them tripped and fell face first into the floor where he remained motionless.He pushed the button in his ear."Lazaro""Dialing Lazaro"Apart from the twitch-sisters and the confused group of people the street was alone. A few pieces of litter accompanied him. The humidity from the lack of sunrise made the heat worse and everything had a slight moldy smell to it."Rider, what the hell! I called you fifty minute ago!""Chill Laz, it's not that easy coming down here just like that. I need you to come pick me up.""Fuck you man! Where the fuck are you?""I'm at the chute to NA below the old train station... Hold on, I'm at...", he looked around trying to find the name of the street."Rustic Lane", said one of the girls behind him. She had woken up from her pleasure comma and was looking at him from behind a pair of swollen eyes. He gave her a thumbs up."Rustic Lane apparently...""Fine! Don't move from there"The call ended and he turned back to thank the girl for the street name but she had already entered another plug pleasure trip."Thanks", he said anyway.The girl lifted her spasmodic arm slightly off the ground and gave him a weak thumbs up. It brought a smile to his face. It was the simple acts of humanity that reminded him that even the worst most addicted junkies laying on the street leaking fluids on the sidewalk still had a human inside, wanting interaction, wanting to live, wanting to be happy. The only difference is they had taken a wrong turn in the road of life and had ended up in a dead end.He sat on the sidewalk and waited for Lazaro to show up while he took the last cigarette from his coat and began to smoke it. He looked at his watch, 23:47. A window on the small building on the other side of the street lit up. He zoomed in with his CyShades. The silhouette of a woman appeared in the window, she was frantically searching for something on a small table. Money, drugs, a gun? He could hear the opening and closing of drawers and cabinet doors, a desperate fidgeting of papers and glassware were apparent to him from the street. The sound of knocking on the door reached him and the woman stopped her frenzied behavior. She hurried to window and opened it with a swift one handed movement. She looked outside. A decent looking woman with red hair that looked to be in her mid forties. She looked back at the door. A second wave of knocking. She hesitated for a second and then lurched herself forward. No scream, no squeal, no emotion on her face. She dropped to the ground from the fourth floor and landed head first on the pavement. Her skull cracked and her neck disappeared under the full weight of her body. Brains exploded from her head and blood oozed into a sewer near the sidewalk. At the window another woman looked down and stared for a brief moment at the corpse before she disappeared again."What the...", Van Reiter stood up and was about to cross the street when a roaring sound of a chopper motorcycle echoed through the street. Lazaro parked next to Van Reiter."Fuck man! I told you to keep still, not go around and murder people!""She just jumped from that window over...""Shut up Rider! Did it sound like I care what the fuck happened? Yeah? Well I don't. Get on the fucking bike and don't talk to me."Van Reiter got on Lazaro's bike and rode silently through the streets of Los Angeles. The monotony of the bike's rumble and the humid greasy wind hitting his face brought flashbacks of his youth. Learning to drive with his gang pals, screaming through the windows and throwing pointy objects at people. Robbing the convenience store and getting shot in the foot in the process. Seeing his brother hanging dead from a rope in his closet. Precious memories.They reached a large storage facility in downtown Los Angeles. The street lights had been shot and almost complete darkness enveloped it. He followed Lazaro toward the entrance and watched as Lazaro knocked on a small door to the side."It's Lazaro, I got Rider with me, let us the fuck inside Benny."The door swung open and Benny - an obsolete looking android - made a signal and pointed the way to the inside.Dull yellow lights illuminated the way through a narrow hallway that lead into the main area of the facility. Four men stood stood disorganized and a fifth one sat on chair in a dark spot behind them.Van Reiter began walking."That's far enough buddy.", the man on the far left said.Van Reiter began to notice a strong smell of iron and something akin to the breath of a junkie in the morning. A rotten smell."Ok", he said, "What's up?""Mr. Horton would like to talk to you."The man sitting on the chair in the dark stood up, his eyes seemed to glow red, most likely some sort of vision enhancement implant."Rider... I believe we hadn't met. It's a pleasure...""It's a pleasure to meet you too sir.""Don't interrupt me Rider! Never interrupt me!", Mr. Horton sighed and continued, "I'm going to lay it down as simple as I can. Some shitheads which you don't need to know about were supposed to bring me a truck full of Triton. Earlier today said truck arrived and I was ready to have a nice day. But oh, instead of carrying precious tons of Triton, I got a truck full of chinese people. Now... what am I supposed to do with sixty chinese people walking around the warehouse? Huh?", he paused for a moment, "Yes Rider, it's a question for you, what am I supposed to with sixty chinese people?""I supposed you could...""Wrong Rider! I can't do anything with sixty chinese people, so I shot them. That's what you're smelling right now Rider, it's pile of chinese people rotting in the corner over there.", he pointed to a place behind Van Reiter.Van Reiter turned around and saw it. A pile of flesh, blood, bones and gore."Tell me what's wrong with that pile of dead chinese people Rider.""Um... they need to be disposed of.""Wrong again Rider! What's wrong is that it's a pile of fifty nine chinese people! You see... an augmented girl called Tracy Tzu by according to their documentation seems to have gotten away from these idiots you see here in front of me. It appears she's carrying digital video and sound as well as gps coordinates of this location and me. I've heard good things about you Rider, that's why Lazaro gave you a call. I told him to. Now here's what you gotta do. I'm going to say it loud and clear because I don't want you to get confused. Ok?""Yes sir", said Van Reiter."Find Tracy Tzu! Find Tracy Tzu! FIND TRACY TZU!"

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