Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Revy leaned heavy against the bathroom sink, his reflection in the streaked mirror staring back battered and bruised. Stitches poked through pink flesh behind his jaw and beneath his hairline, bloodshot eyes sunken and dark. How long since he’d slept? He couldn’t remember.

In the corner of his vision lurked the promise of ability. He focused, and a window zoomed into focus. “Status: Online, Idle…” He wished he knew how to make it do something. He winced through the pounding in his head, swinging open the vanity mirror to expose bottles of pills. Mixing a fistful of pain meds and anti-biotics, he dry swallowed them, feeling the fizz as they partially dissolved in his mouth.

Cho said the pain would go away in a few weeks.

Cho. He remembered Cho. He’d bought illegal bio-tech from him a few times, but this was different. “Real serious shit,” Cho had said, “top secret shit. You pay big cash money.”

Revy’s head ached as memories forced themselves to the surface. The money he’d stolen, from whom he couldn’t recall. The operating theatre, Cho gowned and chatty, the nurse counting backwards with him from one hundred. He remembered a recovery room, the feel of his battered face through bandages.

Revy closed the cabinet door and studied himself in the mirror again. The stitches were dry, maybe a week old. They should come out soon.

Cho was dead.

Those memories clawed at the fog inside his head. Cho talking about training, promising to teach him to use his implant. He remembered the silent thunder of booted feet, men shouting. Cho screaming outside his room, words he could hear but not fully comprehend.

He remembered gunfire.

It had been days since he’d found himself curled up on the fire escape of his apartment building outside his kitchen window, bare feet screaming from the cold steel and the snow.

“Status: Online, Scanning…”

Sound overwhelmed him as he stumbled out of the bathroom; the fan in the kitchen, a music player from the floor below, the old recluse coughing from his apartment near the elevator. The noises were amped up, wrapped in soft static. He leaned his head against the thickly papered wall, watching his front door through the haze of his living room as it shimmered in and out of focus. He heard the elevator door open, and the door to the stairwell. He could hear boots, men. Revy closed his eyes, listening as they made their weapons ready while closing the distance to his door, to him. The pounding of his heart increased in frequency. Adrenaline flooded his system, clearing the fog and easing for the moment the throbbing in his head. Revy retreated into the bathroom; the window wasn’t too far from the fire escape, maybe he could jump.

He could hear them with high fidelity now, right outside the door. White light and pain shot through his head and he clutched at his ears in a vain attempt to block out the sensation. Had he been flash banged? Had he waited too long? His eyes squeezed shut, he waited for the heavy hands, for barked orders that didn’t come. Revy opened his eyes tentatively to find himself outside in the hallway, door pushed open to the stairwell, listening. The old man by the elevator was coughing into his phone, wheezing about gunfire and screaming. There was no screaming now. Revy found his hands comfortable on a large assault weapon. Scattered around his apartment doorway Revy counted eight bodies amidst spattered and pooling blood.

“Status: Disengaged, Idle…”

The only thing he knew now for sure was that he couldn’t stay.


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