Every person had a place in Kerra, whether they wished to be there or not. Drones walking back and forth in amongst the garbage raining down from the upper layers, always looking up and never down. It was always a dream of every Drone to rise to the next layer - it was this hope that kept them alive and greasing the wheels of the Corporate Organism.
There were less legitimate ways of making a Kis. If you turned of the WetWare, the darkness of the Foundation was almost complete, a darkness of shuffling feet, muttered voices and the constant rain of the never ending garbage. A quick knife could get you a few Kis for a bionic off of another starving Drone, or an upgrade for yourself if you didn't care about risking a NetVirus. However, once you start taking up the corpse knife, it's hard to stop - you need to keep treading or you'll drown.
Ripping another chunk of meat of the skewer - too hungry to ask what meat it was - Pecker examined the crowd through the neon visage of the WetWare. The built in low light vision turned the darkness to twilight, the crowd into white lined frames moving with their own motivation and destination. Kerra Classics played through the WetWare giving ease to the quiet stamp of cold feet over cold, uncaring concrete.
Kerra was never warm, but the people liked it that way. In the Foundation you were born cold and died cold. If you had a problem, you could get a thermal implant authorities said. Pecker never did though, considering the biofuel to cost far too much. "I'd rather get Artificial Digestion than that hole in my wallet." He had said.
Today though, he wished he had gone with the thermal implant.
He had gone with Artificial digestion in the end, as a way to recoup food costs. He could sell the overflow for some Kis if he was ever really in the gray(thankfully, it had never come to that), but it didn't make the cold any easier.
In the early days he had a upgrade path, before WetWare became all bogged with the BioFarma Embargo. Now though, it was based on what he could get, when he could get it. His Mainframe was a patchwork of BioFarma, Mitchuagga, and Enrosoft, held together with duct tape and wishes. Tonight though, he had his eyes set on Mitchuagga tech, and to finally get rid of the last piece of Enrosoft crap he had installed.
Datacarts flashed up as his eyes scanned the Drones marching back and forth. Lubricator. Sanitation Engineer. Second class garbage scow operator. Indentured servants of the upper levels, heroes in their own little plays of mediocrity. If his info was right, the man should be coming through soon. Every now and again though, his scanner would hit on one of the missing. One of those who were disconnected from the city. A living ghost living in a dark world, adapted to living in a city without eyes.
He shivered at the mental image. That wouldn't be him.
An alert played in his ear, and one Datacart lit up above the rest. The person had a FaceShield installed, but Peckers WetWare could crack it with no problem. He was a Mitchuagga employee, but the jobstamp was clear - probably moving to a new Corporate center. Peckers WetWare had silenced any alert this drone had on his Datacart, but something was different here. The name, the sex, everything but the company. That made sense - Datacart tech was slightly different for each large Corp, and often had to querry a key from a server so they could track people like him. They could be cracked, but it took time.
Pecker jumped down from his ledge and melted into the crowd, following the Drone. Alliance said that Enrosoft would pay good money for his Internal Storage, so that was his ticket. The spinal implant was just a bonus. Rippers might give him some change for anything else, just have to find a good place to do the deed.
For aeons the two flowed through the crowd until the encryption broke. It was a woman - referring to her as it helped him work - and her name was Ellison. A ScrimSoft writer - a rarity down in the Foundation, but not impossible. Might have pushed something live that reduced the Stock Price. Probably just a punishment for a Corpo mistress, taught the only lesson Corpos know. Didn't matter - no one looked into skin suits the Foundation claimed. If a Drone went dark, the others would just swim away through the darkness. Curiosity in the Foundation lead to death.
Finally, the Corpo left the sea of drones and approached a door in one of the non-descript concrete walls. Pecker entered with her - it was an elevator for one of the coffin condos lining the structure of the Foundation. As the doors closed, she reached up and turned off the FaceShield and stuck a cigarette between her teeth.
"So, you're the slime they sent to do me, huh?"
Pecker blinked. Never once had a client addressed him during a stock.
"Don't act so shocked. You're good. You would have got away with it too if I hadn't installed a honey pot. Yeah, you didn't ping my boss and your script silenced my alert, but when you accessed the data - I saw you. So, what'd they offer you?" Her black hair hung in rivulets around her face, now that it was no longer obscured by software.
Pecker coughed. "Your implants."
She blinked, and then took a long drag off the cigarette. "That's it, huh? Ko-yang. There's that part of you who always thinks 'when they sell me, what's it gonna cost'. Never thought I was worth a couple of thousand used Kis. Ko-yang ha-tache."
The elevator rung and she pressed her thumb against a panel. "Come on then. If I'm going down, I want to have a drink first."
Pecker prepped his claws, but nodded ascent. If this could be done private, all the better.
"Did they tell you what I did?"
"No," Pecker Responded. "I never asked."
"Smart. You might make to the mids."
She walked through the door, opening into a small room, less than two hundred feet across. Grabbing a glass and a bottle, she poured herself a drink and downed it. Than another. Pecker stood in the doorway, unable to strike, like a startled cat.
"Ko-yang he she soyang! I was so close." She said, slamming down the goblet. "I'm not ready to become an echo."
"You ain't going to become an echo." Pecker said. "I don't make echos".
To this, she snorted. "Yeah, the expert you are. Foiled by a simple honey pot. You ever really broken ICE? No, just another Scripter. Pfft. Let's make this quick then."
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