Web of Chaos
Gill Rune sat at the dining-room table across from his daughter. He wore a suit made of carbon nanotubes arranged in a thick mesh. Small metal computer interfaces implanted into his temples glistened, and his eyes had a slight blue square of light coming from his pupils.
Poking his finger at a hologram of a cartoon woman, he pulled his hand back as its dress changed to a different style.
“No, no.” Four-year-old Sydnie poked at the hologram, turning the dress back. “It’s supposed to be this one,” she said oddly accentuating some of the syllables.
“Oh, I see.” Gill leaned back in his chair.
A call came in; a notification only Gill could see displayed before his eyes and an alarm sound he alone could hear. Using his thoughts, he opened the message with the Aivot computer system implanted in his head. He stood. “I’m sorry sweetie, but I have to go.”
“No, Daddy… sit.” Sydnie pointed at the chair.
“I’m sorry, go tell your mother I’m going.”
“Mommy won’t play with me.”
Walking in, Maylis picked up Sydnie. “I’ll play with you for a bit.”
“There’s an emergency I have to check out.”
“Ok, Gill. We’ll see you next week. Say bye,” said Maylis nudging their daughter’s wrist.
Burying her face into her mom, Sydnie didn’t say anything.
Stepping forward, Gill put his hand on Sydnie’s head and kissed the side of her face. She turned away hiding that cheek.
Turning, Gill hurried out of the apartment into a hallway lined with many other identical doors. He hastened to an elevator. It opened upon his arrival. Once Gill got on, the doors closed and the elevator descended. Tapping his right hand’s fingers against his leg, he waited. The doors opened into an indoor garage filled with cars, not a single space vacant. Maintaining his fast pace, he got to his car and its driver side door opened for him. Sitting behind the wheel, he relaxed into the seat, and the door shut itself.
“66th Ave and North Broad,” said Gill.
“66th Avenue and North Broad Street,” said the car’s computer.
Pulling out of the parking spot, the car drove through the garage without Gill touching the driving wheel.
Large identical rusty apartment buildings surrounded him. There were a good many cars on the road and only a few people strolling around.
Earlier, across the street from a quaint old monastery surrounded by large identical rusty apartment buildings, something was going down. A few cars drove by and many people shambled about. A crowd encircled one spot on the sidewalk. Many small drones flitted about like pixies recording the scene. The mob of humans yelled, their voices muddled together. Wendy could make out one phrase shouted every so often.
“Go back to your world,” hollered several in the crowd.
She joined in watching what was happening. Holding up flat rectangular device, she let go of it. Floating, it transformed into a cube and filmed the scene. One newcomer ran up to the back of the crowd and released a spherical palm-sized drone.
A few people kicked someone with ram horns, large ears sticking straight out, and pure white skin with a brown mottled pattern. The short hair on their head also had the white and brown markings. Flat on the ground the humanoid alien tried in vain to protect himself.
The alien no longer responding, the attackers got bored and walked away; pushing their way out of the crowd as a few onlookers threw random junk on top of the unmoving alien.
The crowd dispersed. Their Personal Assistant Drones following them at their shoulders. A few took selfies. The PADs floated a little above head height in front of them and got a shot of the body behind them. Oblivious to everyone’s interest in getting out of there, Wendy stood still, holding her PAD with its camera pointed at the motionless body.
“I think it’s dead,” she said in a soft voice.
A young woman came back for her. “Come on Wendy, let’s get out of here before the police show.”
A non-stop ride later, Gill’s car pulled up to where the crime occurred. Getting out, he walking past a few people hanging around. Gill looked at the faces of each one. The Aivot system checked each face and displayed known information about the individuals. He strolled over to the exact spot where the ram-horned alien had died. The ground sprayed clean by firefighters, the area still smelled of urine. Accessing his Aivot, Gill gave it a list of certain people to scan for and identify.
He set an AI program to search for possible clues. It categorized some sharp objects. “No sharp objects,” thought Gill and the Aivot removed those.
A minute later Gill walked off. His Aivot mapped out a path directing him to the person he figured to be the most instrumental in solving the case. Entering a run-down apartment complex, Gill walked to an elevator, got on, and pushed an icon on its panel. The elevator descended one floor. The doors opened. Getting off, he walked down a maze of corridors past many identical doors, except for the letters and numbers displayed on them. Stopping in front of apartment AU79, he touched the doorbell icon on a panel next to the door.
“Yes, what do you want?” Keren Arwa’s odd accent came through the door’s speaker.
“Hello, I’m Gill Rune. I’m here to investigate your son’s murder.” Gill held up his PAD’s screen to the door’s camera.
“Um, um… Give me a minute to see if your ID checks out.”
“Sure, I understand. I’ll wait.”
A minute later the door opened. Keren had ram horns and white skin. She had a different brown mottled pattern than the other Chrysomallus. She looked Gill up and down. “Please come in.”
“Thank you.” Gill entered the apartment and looked about the room. His Aivot system identified all potential threats; locations where someone might hide, where weapons could be hidden, sharp and blunt objects hard enough to do damage, heat sources, sources of metal. It searched to ID known weapon shapes including attempting to identify bulges in the pockets of clothes. It did not find any.
“Have a seat.” Keren motioned to the most comfortable chair in the room.
Sitting down, Gill looked up at her. “I would appreciate any information you have.”
“What can you do? It was locals.”
“And do you believe Anlon would have sent me to investigate if that was all there was to it?”
“…No, I suppose not. What are you saying?”
“It appears as if some locals have joined up with the G.E. Anlon wants them eliminated.”
“Eliminated? And you mean what I think you mean?”
“I’m sure some will end up in prison. However, groups this hardcore tend to end up dead when attempting to apprehend them.”
“I see. So you will avenge my son?”
Keren sat down, sadness enshrouding her face. “You know we would have left Earth if we could have… You know right?”
“Yes, I know how it works.”
“I know I’m too old with no skills Anlon wants… But could you help me get off this hell of a world?”
“You help me and by extension him, I’ll see what I can arrange.”
“Those people on the corner,” she said looking down at the ground. “They’re waiting for me to come out.”
“They are to make a call when you do I take it?”
“Yes, then the ones you are looking for will probably come out.”
“And you’re willing to risk your life?”
Leaning forward Keren looked Gill in the eyes. “Yes, I’m willing to die to get them for what they have done.” Clenching her jaw and holding her head high, she sat back.
“Then, I believe that’s worth the money for a ride off-world.” Gill stood.
Keren walked to the door.
Gill put his hand on her shoulder. “Pack a suitcase. You won’t be coming back here even if you live.”
“I see,” she said frowning and her head nodding down despite wanting to leave.
Accessing his Aivot, Gill searched for ships owned by or working for Jovan Anlon. He cross-referenced with Chrysomallus controlled worlds. One particular ship showing got Gill’s attention. It showed a course set to go to multiple Chrysomallus worlds concluding the trip on the planet Colchis.
Not much later, Keren came out of her small bedroom with a large bag full of items.
“You do not have anything better to carry your stuff?” Then Gill thought. “What the hell did I say that for.“
Keren did not reply.
Gill did not blame her.
As they made their way out, Gill worried for Keren. Used to being in dangerous situations, he figured Keren was much more on edge. He hoped she would be able to go through with their plan. “Texted your PAD. Accept it, and I’ll be able to track you. Just in case I lose sight of you.”
“Ok.” Keren took out her small PAD and tapped on the message.
“Once out, turn right and head North. If I need you to do something else, I’ll text you.”
An AI program supplied Gill with multiple predefined messages based on what would most likely be said in such a situation. Gill glanced them over, ready to send at a moments notice.
Exiting the building alone, Keren departed in the direction Gill had told her to go.
In a minute, Gill came out of the building following her. His system scanned people, windows, doorways, vehicles, rooftops, and anywhere someone might be watching from. Releasing four palm-sized drones, he directed them to fly up high above him and spread out.
A block ahead of Gill, Keren lugged her big bag of personal items along. Three blocks away from the apartment building, Gill’s Aivot system picked out two men walking across an intersection. It analyzed their gaits and body size. They matched what cameras had picked up the previous night from people leaving the attack. Gill ran and pulled out a Falchion gun which was in mid-transformation.
Noticing the body language of the two men coming at her, Keren knew something wasn’t right. She braced herself for the first hit.
Close enough for his system to ID the men, the Aivot listed their personal information in Gill’s eyes. Seeing both had lengthy criminal histories, Gill aimed his gun. His Aivot calculated where it pointed, showing him a circle and cross-hairs on his display. He fired. A red bolt of energy burned right through one man’s head at the ear. The man fell face first with a thump.
Startled, not believing what had just happened, the other man froze.
Running at him, Keren rammed him hard in the shoulder with her horns.
Yelling once from the sudden pain, he sprawled about on the ground. The guy tried to get up, desperate to make a run for it.
Gill was right next to him in a second, aiming the Falchion gun in his face. “Don’t move, and talk fast. Who recruited you?”
“Fuck you man, we’ll kill you.” The guy sat up. Fear and anger wrestled for control of his face.
“I work for Anlon. You or your friends hurt me and the whole galaxy comes down on your heads.”
“Shit! Man, you’re bluffing.”
Gill turned to Keren. “Go to the location I texted you and follow the instructions.” Using his Aivot, Gill sent her the address he had saved.
“Ok, thank you.” Standing tall, yet trembling like a leaf, she hurried off as best she could with her bag.
Turning his attention back onto the guy, Gill stepped closer to him. “Now, the more we wait here, the more likely your friends will show up, but that won’t end well for you. As soon as they show up, you’ll be the first to die. I only need one informant alive.”
“Ok.” Taking a deep breath, he looked up at Gill, his eyes wide and palms facing up. “Look, there’s a place in New York.”
An alarm blared in Gill’s head. The drones he had released earlier spotted many registered violent criminals converging on his location. Not waiting for a reply, Gill decided plan B would be less dangerous and ran for his car.
The man got up cursing and shaking. He stomped over to one of the men who showed up. Seconds later police sirens could be heard and the streets cleared.
Sitting in his car, Gill watched his display as it showed the movement of the man he left. His AI system had hacked the man’s PAD; Gill had location, sound, and video access.
Locating Keren, Gill offered her a ride to the ship off world.
She looked at Gill, then looked away. She fidgeted with her hands.
Gill would not tell her he did not kill the man and was using him to collect more information. They rode on in silence.