The Juggernaut

I haven’t seen Juggernaut’s place since I got the TRUchip installed—hard to believe that was almost a year ago. Back then it was hot stuff, only just filtering into millionaire black markets. No way I could have afforded it back then even with a discount, but he’d acquired it from a bad contact. He expected the guy wasn’t 100% clean, which meant Prostheticore might find him and he’d lead them to the Jugg. Turns out if he calibrated it to a person’s SSN, it got registered in CyberCorp’s network under a profile hacked to look legit and they stopped looking for it.

‘Course, he didn’t tell me any of that until the chip was safely embedded in my brain. I was pretty pissed, but he assured me it was all right, and so far, it has been. The Jugg is sharp as hell, and if he screws you, you find out real fast.

His joint’s the remains of a fallout shelter from the 20th century; all brown, crumpled metal, hazard signs faded almost beyond recognition. Inside, though, it’s 100% state of the art—military surveillance and lethal takedown equipment, reinforced blast protection—the works. In the Jugg’s line of work, security’s vital.

Hidden scanners check me for arms, but I left my gun in the car. I know better than to try to pull shit in here.

An invisible speaker crackles.

“Hey Mon, nice weather we be havin’.”

“You really gonna make me run this gambit? Fine: ‘looks like a storm’s coming, though’.”

The door starts sliding open. “Jus’ makin’ sure, mon. Stay frosty, ya?”

I walk in. The walls are bluish steel, and I can see hunter-killer bots all folded up inside them, LED lights flashing like they’re eager to be unleashed on any poor bastard tries to give old Juggernaut a rotten deal.

An elevator leads down through two sheets of solid metal, impact and radiation-resistant. I step out, and he’s waiting for me, leaning against his console terminal. He’s pushing sixty, but he’s a big old bastard, and he’s got his sledgehammer, spray-painted dark red, slung over his shoulder. Jugg’s old fashioned; unless he needs his gadgets, he likes to take care of dirty business himself.

“How’s it going, Jugg?”

He salutes me with a big white-toothed grin.

“Jack, mon! Come in, seet down. Whatchoo wan’ see ole Jugg for?”

I shake my head slightly at the offered chair. It’s got a twin morphine syringe ready to plunge into the ass of some unsuspecting customer who tries something stupid. I know the Jugg wouldn’t have shown me if he thought he might have to use it on me, but it still creeps me out to sit on it now that I know.

“I’m here for some information,” I say. “Bill my account.”

“Of course, mon!” He sits down in his chair, leans back. “Half price for old friends. Whatchoo lookin’ for?”

“I’m looking for information on CyberCorp. Client of mine had her brother turned into some kind of killer cyborg. Now she’s dead. Got a feeling the corporation’s behind it.”

He hands me a fat Cuban, lights one up himself. Takes his time breathing out, savoring the taste, before he responds.

“Mon, what you care for some dead girl? She can’t pay you not, ya? Stay chill, mon, find a new case.” His tone was nonchalant, as always, but I’d known him well enough to detect a warning in his tone. Could it be…

If Juggernaut was part of CyberCorp, then I was up shit creek with a ball bearing strapped to my ankle. If I took him out fast I might have a chance of escape, but once his hands were on his terminal it’d be hopeless. Then again, he might just be talking.

I had to decide whether to trust him, and I had to decide now.

      Take my window of opportunity to get the hell out. Knock him out, then try to jack his terminal and disable his security.

      Trust him.

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