An Ass-Kicking

The big Irish bastard topples backwards clutching his broken nose. Bet he sure didn't expect anyone to start headbutting with that metal plate in his face.

Two of them come at me swinging. I catch one in the gut with my boot and slam my elbow into his neck--he goes down without a sound. I duck under the third guy's fist, grab my chair, and as he recovers from the swing I lift it up and smash it over his head. The chair splits down the middle and the guy stumbles back, bleeding from his scalp. The last two are helping the big one back up, and he's got a wicked looking wrench in his hands.

CRASH. The old bartend brings her metal taser-arm hard down on the counter. Everyone in the pub jumps a solid foot, then turns to look at her.

"Sure, you take yer shite outside."

I wipe fresh blood off my knuckles. "Come on, you bastards." No way I can take them all in the open, but I've got a plan. Soon as I step out the door I jack into the web and start hyperscanning. Data streams fly by... crap, crap, more crap--there! My hacking software shows there's hardly any live programs matching this address--just a register terminal and a few spy cameras. But there's also a big maintenance bot, twenty years old minimum, dumped out in this alley. It's such a can that it's not even updated with basic encryption. I take it.

And so, when the big Irish guy comes stumbling out after me, clutching his bloody mess of a nose and waving that big-ass wrench, the last thing he sees is a fat metal talon the size of a fridge land square on his shiny metal skull, which crumples like a foil wrapper. Watching through nearby spycams on the Interweb, I almost grin.

"Get the point, assholes."

They get the point, and take off back through the bar.

I jack out and pat the bloated, rusty can of the bot. It belongs in a museum--they don't make personal bots bigger than housecats these days, but this old thing's built to clear wrecked cars. It's body's like a huge sardine can, with a flat head and two huge pincher claws. It's maneuverability is shot, not that it had much in the first place, but it still has enough power to crush metal and demolish stone.

"Jack Fenix, I presume," comes a voice from the shadows. What the hell? I've been out here a full two minutes and didn't even notice.

She steps out, clad in sleek black leather, her skin like brown toffee, nails and lips dark crimson, like the tint on her sunglasses.

"Who're you?"

She starts forward, fingers flexing. She moves with a sleek, dangerous, robotic grace. I code a command to the maintenance bot, and it leans over me dangerously. She stops, glances at it with a slight frown.

"My name is Tess. You are having troubles with CyberCorp, and I’ve come to assist you."

"Where’d you get those ideas?" Suspicious as hell.

"I have my connections. Now, do you want to listen to what I have to say, or not?"

      Maybe she does have something useful to tell me, and I need a lead. "Let's hear it," I say.

      I don't trust her--who knows who she's working for. I point down the alley. "Get lost, honey."

      She’s obviously a spy. Better take her out now.

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.