Late evening rain. Water down the gravity well. Atmosphere saturated with the friendly form of hydrogen and fairly clear of the usual nano. And here I am waiting on another potential candidate. It’s late spring yet it’s cold. I’d rather be anywhere but here, propped against a modern brick wall, well back in from the front of the office building, slowly getting wet. Waiting for the contact, just waiting, as the downpour occassionally washes across my face, blown in with the unseasonably cool air.
Meetings like this aren’t by nature punctual, which makes them so difficult. Alone from the feeds, not a byte in sight, my gear is all off. Just alone in the silence that is a cacaphony of little globules racing towards the dent in space time below my feet. Air rushes by in gusts that distract the flight paths of migrating water.
Down below me I can see the walkway the prospect needs to take to meet my proxy a few blocks away. A not so clear 60 meter stretch of sidewalk in a nondescript office park, newtown style curated vegetation all around. Traffic, there is always traffic, in a slow stream of mostly silent vehicles passing beyond the walkway. A kind of techno color blur of neon, steel and asphalt. The occasional chugging of one of the remaining petrol pushers interrupting the otherwise monotonous whizzing of the street. "How did anyone ever get used to that noise?", I wonder as if I couldn’t remember the time. Flashes of memory nearly blast my endocorticals back online. Fuck I’m too old for this. But still I wait.
Gait’s a match I think as I size up the person on the walkway moving quickly, nervously, in wet clothing. I can’t see their face as they look away from me at the traffic, but the size and build matches the description I dug up. The mechanical clicker in my hand makes a noise I can’t hear. The person has stopped looking down the road away from me, half wrestling with an umbrella in the moderate wind gusts and spray. And oh did I know a lot about this candidate. Elizabeth Cho, 33 years old, married, one child, degree in Psychopharmacology from the University of Proctor and Gamble Implant Tech and an honest and outdated Biology degree from Cornell from back when brick and mortar education was a thing, likes cats, reads too much, drinks too little. I had hundreds of data points on her that I meat-space memorized for this meeting, things she probably thought were very personal and privacy protected, given she was a Humanity+ political party member and an online privacy advocate. A common misconception among so many people was that achieving privacy, or at least some degree of subterfuge, was something you could achieve with a few tools and changes in online habits. Even in the general chaos of the fall, AI’s and vast computing networks combined with pervasive sensor nets combine to make even hiding a simple act something of a feat of dark wizardry far beyond most mortals.
A somewhat loud, but very base thump emanated from the direction of Mrs. Cho at the same time her head snapped back to an unnatural angle away from the black SUV she was looking at. This was new. Her face was completely intact and a match as good as the view from 40 meters would allow as it caught the street lights. Her body was arching slightly over, as if pushed rudely but not with clear malice. The second person on the sidewalk was now moving clearly from the void in the rain now not clear at all despite the streetlights. Maybe the second person was wearing miltech, but it was hard to say as they moved fast to catch Mrs. Cho and hustle her into the briefly stopped SUV. Definitely something new. I couldn’t say if she was incapacitated or beyond. That deep base sound was unique, almost metallic but not.
Eh. I can almost reach the ceiling of the half exposed stairwell as I stretch, need to be careful not to touch the strategically placed membranes but still grab the zip cord. A quick three long steps up the next flight of stairs, pull the zip cord and the membranes come down and retract into the little carrying tube, soon to be just a metal cylinder of nondescript biological goo in a tube.
Fifteen minutes of some rather complicated maneuvering, changing of clothes, two different disinfecting sprays and casual looking but determined walking later, I slip into the generic looking geosmart car. There is some degree of protection here, so I awaken some exocortical implants and spin up my local net. I’m not ready to go online yet, but it’s safe enough to review everything the remotes collected. Candidate ID confirmed, interception fully recorded, electro and acoustic signatures captured from whatever that "weapon" was they used on poor Mrs. Cho, no ID’s on the interceptors, the SUV seems to have just appeared into the sensory net from nowhere and disappeared just as quickly as it drove away. Ah.
There we go. The candidate picked up seven probes on the sidewalk and two are pinging outbound, stuffed on the back of some normal channel that’s leaking EM on the south Lakeside Conservatory comm tower. Well that wasn’t a total loss...