A short story by Taikei no Yuurei
It was a pleasant night on Red. The air was cool, the stench was tolerable, and the gunshots were far off in the distance. Nights like this made Jack leave the window open. It was dangerous, but he now lived on the top floor of Westinghaus, so no one was too likely to climb up to the open window in an attempt to rob him.
The girl in bed with him didn't seem to care about the open window, she was out like a light. She was young, too young for some, but pretty, and in need of the flash. Jack had been happy enough to provide her with it, an odd windfall having come his way earlier in the day.
People falling from the sky is hardly unheard of in Red. People from Gold above, some pushed or thrown, some jumping to end it all, came whistling and screaming down as a nearly daily occurrence. It was less common however for them to have a decent chunk of Chyen on them.
Jack had nearly been crushed by the falling man, and not been above taking the corpse's money and things of value. A broken phone, a broken e-note, some nice shoes, and a ring, possibly a wedding band. Others had come and pulled off his impressive, if splattered, clothes and scrambled for the scattered and broken electronics that made up some sort of Term.
Jack wore the shoes, which were a reasonable fit, and the ring to look more wealthy. The money had gone to the apartment, some drugs, and the girl asleep at his side. The broken electronics were tossed in a corner. They were mostly busted, but maybe they'd be worth a high tomorrow to someone who could fix or scrap them.
Thoughts of waking the girl up to enjoy her youthful body once more drifted idly through Jack's mind when there was a knock at his door. It was the middle of the freaking night, and no one knew about his new place. Who the hell could it be? The knock came again, the girl next to him starting to rouse, her naked body rubbing pleasantly against his as she did so.
Still, Jack decided he best see what was up. Maybe a beef with the old tenet or something. Jack was pulling on a pair of pants and walking to the door as a third knock came, more insistent still. The girl on Jack's bed made a sound, but still remained more or less asleep. He had rather worn her out, if he did say so himself.
"Yeah yeah." Jack muttered just loud enough to be heard through the cheap door. He took a moment to peek through the peep hole, and was stunned at what he saw. What he saw was someone that... simply didn't belong on Red. The guy seemed to be a corpie, dressed in an immaculate suit that simply screamed 'I have money, rob me!', yet the man looked completely calm, and the trash that seemed to fill every inch of Red didn't seem to have touched the crisp silk of his suit.
"What?" Jack asked through the door in a slight growl, not trusting to open the door to this oddity in nothing but some pants with no good weapons on hand.
"You're the one who found Mr. Yasim? Who managed to get the stolen information off of him?" the suited man replied.
"Who? That faller? I got some broken electronics... why, what's it to you?" Jack glanced over to the corner where the phone and e-note rested, wondering what he'd managed to grab.
An exasperated sigh came from the other side of the door. "Is your SIC malfunctioning? That man was a thief, a mole, a spy. Everything he has is corp property, stolen. It is highly illegal to keep." the man said, drawing out the word illegal.
"Nah, gives me a headache, I keep the chatter off." Jack replied, rubbing at the back of his neck at just the thought of having millions of voices fluttering around in his skull. How anyone kept sane with it on, he would never know. It did mean he missed important announcements like this sometimes though. "So what... is there a reward for returning this stuff?" Jack finally asked back.
Another sigh floated through the door "Yes, and more importantly, there is a large penalty for keeping it."
"And you'll pay me for returning it."
"Does it look like I'm here for anything else?"
Jack chewed on that for a few moments. He'd been ready to sell the stuff for scrap. He didn't know how big the reward was for the junk, but it had to be more than he'd get anywhere else. Hell, maybe he'd live it up on Gold for a bit with money like that, or even Green. And the guy didn't look dangerous. Actually he looked kind of stupid, wandering alone in Red with a big target of an expensive suit wrapped around him. Hell, it didn't even look like the armored kind, no fancy Du-Wear or neXus logos.
Maybe he could even beat the guy senseless and take his reward and more besides. Then again, you never knew with corpies. He could be half metal for all Jack knew, and Jack wasn't exactly a champion fighter or particularly armed. And it wasn't worth getting whoever sent this guy mad at him. The guy's clone wouldn't remember what happened, but someone might know where the guy last went.
"Sure, let me get the stuff, one second." Jack finally responded. He'd already admitted to having it after all, and he didn't like the idea of a Judge showing up next time, Enforcer ready to condemn him for picking up some random electronic scraps.
Jack made his way to the corner to pick up the devices. Both were broken by the fall, but were at least more or less in a single piece each. Maybe some fancy corp electrician could put it all back together into something usable. Whatever, as long as he got his reward. He huddled the items in his arm as he made his way back to the door, and pushed the button to disengage the lock, opening the door just a couple of inches to peek out again through the crack.
What he saw confused him for a second. It was dark in the hall, black everywhere. It seemed. And then he realized, that wasn't the case. There was a metallic glint all around the blackness, making a circle. Before Jack's brain could full puzzle out what he was seeing, there was a bright flash of light that blinded him, a 'thwip' sound, a burst of pain, and then... nothing.
The girl in Jack's bed rolled over, flicking at the red and gray mist that lightly settled on an exposed arm in unconscious reaction. The suited man replaced his gun in a shoulder holster and knelt down next to Jack's body, staying away from the puddle of blood quickly spreading out from his head. He knocked the phone and e-note from Jack's limp fingers, and quickly slipped off the ill fitting ring.
"Humph, reward. That always gets them. Don't even bother to check the peep hole again, too busy spending the chyen. Too bad your clone won't remember this great day." With that the suited man pocketed the ring, and began down the steps, his stride confident, letting the denizens of Red know that he wasn't an easy target, whatever his suit might say.