Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

With those sleek shoulders and sculpted faceplate features, I would have guessed her be a Russian model.

Hard to tell with the standard techniques. The criminals always had their own serial numbers sanded off and I2P addys scrambled. I don’t know how it’s possible to live like that.

I’d seen the initiation ceremonies for those involved in the ferrogangs. I understood needing a sense of belonging but the bosses of those gangs were so brutal. Plus, having your identifying marks removed in a shower of sparks just didn’t seem to me like something that a friend would do.

I was made by a good parent company, though. Still in business, still under warranty, still protected. I guess I’d never really know what it would take to become like the unit here in the interrogation chair in front of me.

I had guessed her make to be a relatively recent design going by trends. I’d have to check the catalogues. Wear and tear made her look to be about thirty kilocycles old. She was more likely sixteen with no repairs or upkeep. I’d never know her serial number but at least I’d able to pinpoint year, make, and O-stats with a little research.

Her chipsets were a mess. They’d been booby-trapped, privacy-looped and dust-locked to the point that it was a wonder she could form rational sentences. A low-level soldier for the gang, I’d say. Expendable to the point of being borderline scrap.

I had the wiretap link spooling across the table from my head to hers. It was touch and go. I was sniffing around in her head to find evidence without tripping a defense charge that would kill her. She sat silently during the process. She knew that her life was in my hands. She had to trust that I was a careful detective.

Colleagues of mine cared less about the fates of units like this. I had seen fellow officers hook up, go in and laugh when their clumsy antics triggered their prisoner unit to freeze up and smoke. Feeble excuses and a few months of probation later, they’d be back on the street. It made my wires cross.

I probed slowly, looking for something circumstantial that seemed harmless to her internal watchdog programs but might lead me to a physical location that we could search later for something more incriminating.

Trawling through her memory directories, I found .3pegs and bitmap snapshots of units she’d allowed herself to love and save in non-password protected folders. Their faces were pixilated to me, of course, but the backgrounds weren’t.

There. A signpost in the background. 12th and Iron Ave. Next to a rundown house that was a ferrogang hovel if I’ve ever seen one.

Feigning boredom so as not to alarm her, I copied the shots into a viral protected temp folder in my memory and jacked out.

She looked up at me. “Find anything, sparkpig?” she asked with a sneer.

“No. You’re free to go. Don’t leave town, though. We might need to ask you more questions later.” I said.

“Screw you, bolt-fucker.” She said.

I buzzed for the flatfoots to come in and escort her out.

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