Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

There’s something glowing. Must be close. My vision flip-flops, greys out and back in, then snaps into focus.
I have a digital clock embedded in my forearm panel! It reads 00:01:19:36, the last pair is seconds, and they’re decreasing.
“Hello, Jarn.”
I roll onto my back. The voice in my ear isn’t from nearby in the car park. Not good.
“Listen carefully, Jarn.”
Like I have a choice?
“That timer shows how long you have before the modification we made to your battery turns your cyborg body into a hundred-kilo fragmentation bomb.”
And the rest of me into mince. Nice.
“We’ve blanked your comms, and I have overwatch on your vision, so let’s get down to business. In a fraction under an hour, Ethan Plamswythe will be opening the new CyberWatch facility in Duraton.”
I can only hear him in my right ear. I wonder? I close my right eye.
“Stop that. Reflexive moves I’ll allow. Anything else is out.”
I open it, then close my left eye.
“As I was saying: Ethan. New facility. You’re going to go and kill him. After you do that, I’ll shut down the modification, and you can explain it all to the police.”
Right after the Easter Bunny pops up and gives me a big kiss, I’m sure.
“I suggest you get a move on. Duraton is a good 40-minute drive away.”
No mention of my closed left eye. Which means there’s a rider on my right side, audio and visual only: it’s basic, and easy to implant. Likewise the timer is a straightforward swap of forearm cover plates. Battery tampering presents no challenge – I can change my pack in under a minute if I need to hurry. I’m guessing they swapped my custom cell for a smaller cell, giving room for their control package. After all, it’s not like I’m going to need extended battery life in their plan. The question is: how fancy is their unit? Ah. That’s an easy find.
“Hey, Mister Bomberman, you got wheels for me? My vehicle’s ex-service: still has anti-interference sensors.”
“Good to know you’re co-operating. Use one of the autohire vehicles by the exit stairs.”
Their modification is bottom of the range: a shielded cell would be impervious to sensors. Mister Bomberman is running a budget operation, and doesn’t seem to be aware of what I am. Wait a minute. He couldn’t be that cocky? I look about.
“The way out is on your left. You came from the right, remember?”
“I’m a little fuzzy on details. Somebody compressor pulsed me.”
There’s a chuckle.
“Had to put you down fast. Even stockers like you can be dangerous.”
I’m no stock trooper. My public ID says so, but a second level query would reveal it as a cover. You’re an amateur, Mister Bomberman.
I close my right eye and shout: “What did you do? I can’t see.”
“We did nothing. What are you trying to pull?”
“I’m trying to obey! Shutting down my vision doesn’t help.”
There’s whispered conversation, then I hear a van door slide open – both in my ear, and from my left! I sprint that way.
Leaping two cars, I slide across its roof, then slam the door shut. I unload some pent-up cyberviolence, leaving the van immobilised and them trapped inside.
Finally, I call for help. Then I pop the rigged battery and slide it under the van, before using my whole seventy kilos of non-cybered body to drag myself to a safe distance. Painful, but worth it.
“Better hope the police arrive before the timer runs out, Mister Bomberman.”