The artist stalked through the streets. The recharging had given her implants a temporary boost, but she knew that they would soon fail again. Not much longer now. She had to get to the chop shop in time.
She saw it suddenly before her, rising out of the steam that filled the streets here now.
She pushed on the door.
The voice came from her left. She spun, drawing her pistol and aiming it one move.
“Who are you?”
The man stood there, smoking a cigarette. One of the old ones, one that actually burned.
“I guess you could say that I’m with the Arcernment. Or you could say that I’m someone looking out for your best interests. Both are true”
He squints at her and takes another drag on the cigarette.
“You really are her aren’t you? The Butcher?”
“The artist. And what happened to Michael?”
“Was he the last owner of this place? He got killed a month or two back. Its been used as a gang safehouse since then. I shooed them out when I heard that you were back in action. But I’m gonna bet that you have questions. So shoot”
“Who are you?”
“I am like I said. Who I said. Just someone with your best interests at heart. I’m assuming that you are back here because your implants are failing you?”
“How did you know this?”
“Because you have sub-par ones. All the ones that are not military are sub-par. You put ‘em in, you use em for a month, you stop using ‘em for longer than a week, and bam, they freeze up on you after the first bit of use. Its classic”
“And you can fix this for me?”
“Sure. You just come with me back to the nearest hospital, and we can get you fitted out with some real good implants. Ones that won’t break down, wear down”
“And what will this cost me?”
“Only one thing sweetheart. Something that I think you were going to do anyways. Go kill Agent Jor for me”
“Jor? The sniper?”
“…Sure, whatever you say. That guy. Kill him, and we’ll call it even”
“No other loopholes?”
“You won’t implant something in me that gives you control?”
“Nope. You have my word on that”
“Your word on what? As what?”
“You really want that?”
“Fine. Then my word as an agent of the Arcernment, I will not-”
His sentence was interrupted by the discharge of a gun. The bullet caught him in the throat, and tore out the back. He staggered backwards, hands reaching, before collapsing.
“I have had quite enough of the promises of the Arc, and the promises of agents. And the promises of so called friends. I can stand these ‘sub-par’ implants until I can find another chop shop. Until then I will just recharge them more often”
The Butcher turned and left the dead man. His cigarette still smoked slightly as it burned itself out.
The artist sat up and flexed her limbs.
“Much better. I thank you all”
“Don’t mention it ma’am. Someone like you, who can pay us well, well, we don’t ask no questions or nothin’. We just do the job”
“But how do I know that you did it right?”
“Whaddya mean ma’am? We always do it right”
“No, I think I need to test it on something”
“Whaddya mean test it on somthin’?”
“I mean kill ‘somethin’ ’. Like you”
The chop shop filled with screams as the artist tore her way through the men who had, moments before, saved her life from the implants that had been killing her. She felt no remorse, only joy at the art.Only joy.