The Missionary

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The Missionary is an operative, an end effector unit, for a BioMechaGenics product reclaim and recycle team. As such her basic function is to assist in the location and subsequent removal of designated BMG Enhanced units from service, BMG's premier product.

The motivation for these removals and who makes those determinations is of less concern than the desire for efficacy and certainty in the accomplishment of that task. The complete and certain termination of the designated unit's operation is the end game goal. The Missionary was very good at her job, after all, she had been designed to purpose.

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Based on the bandwidth consumed and the number of concurrent connections being served it was apparent that the "come have safe enjoyable sex with me" adverts, especially those with the "your place or mine, anytime" and the "priced to please" taglines, were a bit more effective at driving traffic volume than were the simple "do you like sex" offerings. In any case they were all superior to that disastrous allusion to "guilt free sex" tagline.

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Virtually all of the soliciting participants in this enterprise have connections hosted by a server farm in a reinforced concrete block building with well hidden but quite efficient air conditioning located in Kinshasa Town, near the outskirts, down by the port but still intown from the open terrain of the port itself.

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There were no windows, and the place looked like it had suffered a pause in its construction, as though the building wasn't yet completed. It still had what appeared to be cranes and other equipment placed up high on the structure, as if construction might resume. The pale blue eagle and globe ComCore logo was displayed on the front of the building, impossible to miss. Evidence that the occupants, or at least the building's owners, had paid certain dues.

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Run by a 48 year old claims to be Nigerian named Frederick. Frederick is self taught, a true autodidact genius, and he set up most of what he refers to as the chatbot AI before he brought on his crew of local lads.

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Now he had a stable of AI enhanced entertainment entities available for use in the consensual simulated sensorium, the simsens that were fed at one end by the server farm, and he had a capable well compensated staff that had allowed for expansion and improved service to the users. Frederick believed humans all had uncontrollable urges, base needs, needs that could somehow be monetized as they were served. Yes indeed, this was a profitable pastime.

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The blockhouse was beside the main drag into the port, Frederick liked the view from here, or so he said. Really it was power and connectivity along with other costs of doing business in relative safety that drove his choice of location. But right now he had a small curiosity about the girl, the new girl, about her choice of location. On the sidewalk right out in front of the blockhouse there she was, sitting on a box. No bags, no bottles, just the girl and the box.

She had been there now for all of the day so far, apparently from well before Frederick woke, and she had been there from mid afternoon through the late night the day previous. He wondered if she might be looking for business, she had that kind of a look about her. Frederick was after all a man of occasional needs, occasional desires which could be provoked. He was watching the girl and considering his options, he had a business to look out for which was of more import than any fool's notions of moral behavior. But for other reasons than morality sometimes entertaining the wayward might be not be a good option.

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Then as he watched some burly fellow approached her where she sat, and he came forth with who knows what commentary or proposition to the girl. As Frederick continued to watch, the girl got up and confronted the fellow, and whatever it was that she said him had caused a slight tip of his head in obvious deference and he quickly skedaddled off down the sidewalk.

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Frederick had observed this with some interest, perhaps with a bit more than simple idle curiosity, and he decided that this might not be an auspicious opportunity for an introduction. He elected for discretion and went back inside, there were things to be done.

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On the third day, midweek, Frederick had a hearty lunch brought in from Netty's Oeuvert, and the warmth and the full belly were lulling him like the siren sweetly singing. He went outside to stretch his legs, and maybe he'd have a puff or two.

Strange. The girl was still there, or at least she had reappeared. There was a slight change in her hair, now it was pulled back, but she had a similar outfit, the jeans and turtleneck. He had a wonder how and why the Blues would leave her alone, but he saw that one pair of them passing by had pretty much ignored her presence perched there as she was on her sidewalk box.

Frederick was deep in thought, sweet reverie. Here was a vision of real flesh, a looker at that, and this was at least entertaining if not outright provocational. There was something fascinating about the lass.

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Daydreaming was cheaper than any real action, and also safer. Frederick had long been jaded by the simsens, and he much preferred his own private reveries. He may have even closed his eyes for a moment, the better to focus on his thoughts when the activity surprised him, but now he was fully attent. It was the girl. She was shouting at someone. It didn't sound like a friendly greeting either.

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She was shouting at some passerby on the sidewalk. And she had notable volume for such a waif like girl.

"Yo, Zwieback! Yeah you, fucking canhead!"

The fellow had a vague familiarity but Frederick couldn't place where he had seen that face before. Probably some genomic replica of a once popular or notorious figure. BioMechaGenics had been fairly successful in genome harvesting from among the notables, the offer of some potential kind of arcane version of immortality was hard to refuse for many.

But Frederick knew what canhead meant. It was a common derogatory term for robots and other mechanoids deemed inferior to the biologicals. Calling a human a canhead didn't mean so much, but referring to a synthetic as a canhead was a grave insult. The fellow remained pretty much expressionless, kind of blank, for a few moments.

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But now the girl was up, confrontational. Her arms folded before her. In your face but yet at a distance, shouting distance. Frederick surmised that the fellow was either a Zwieback or was named Zwieback, but that wasn't certain. Didn't really matter much either. She continued her invective at the fellow.

"Seriously Zwieback, just what do you think you are doing? Making a statement for canheads everywhere? Or what, you got a stupid streak?"

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Zwieback had stopped walking and stood while people on the walk around him moved away. He had still made no response to the girl's taunts and was still relatively expressionless, unmoved.

Obviously this was meant to be as it was, loud and public. Some sort of display. Even those who had initially moved away from the apparent confrontation now stopped to continue their witness from a distance.

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Now the girl had unfolded her arms and had her hands held together low before her. She had assumed a petulant gaze, a look as though she were a schoolmistress annoyed with a puerile miscreant, perhaps some misbehaving schoolboy who had lately been up to unacceptable sophomoric stunts.

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"You had to know this wouldn't go well for your creche mates didn't you little brother? You know what they say, right little brother? 'Everyone pays when someone strays'. Where were you planning to go canhead?"

Now the Zwieback assumed some emotion in his expression. It wasn't happiness. But still he maintained his silence. Frederick wondered if the fellow had anything he'd like to say.

Frederick had some other wonders too. Why weren't there any Blues yet arrived to "Serve and Protect"? By appearances and the one sided dialog so far this was some sort of interrogation, or maybe even a trial, and the girl was the prosecutor. Some few in the relative crowd that was gathering had no trepidation towards taunting the Zwieback. Canhead seemed to be the taunt du jour. But what was the crime Frederick wondered? And what the Hell was that all about, "little brother"?

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"Yeah, for a Zwieback you are kind of at the low end of stupid aren't you canhead? I mean you really don't know what da fuck you are doing or where you are going do you?"

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Then she spat on the sidewalk, disdainfully.

"So, you take a vow of silence or you just too stupid to have an answer? Ignorant canhead."

By now the girl had raised her hands up above her chest as if to clench them together there, the traditional invitational stance of a fighter. There were still a few scattered catcalls from the audience, but still no Blues had appeared.

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The Zwieback was the very model of restrained anger, of unbridled hatred somehow held in check. It was evident that the girl had provoked him, and he appeared to be considering his present options. Still he had made no verbal reply, no answer or rebuttal, no denial or response.

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The girl paused and cast an almost beatific gaze, a look of sympathy almost, towards the Zwieback.

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Then she laughed into her hands help up below her chin, the laugh of one amused by the humor of circumstance. The laugh lasted but a moment and then it was gone.

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Now she turned away, perhaps as if to leave and simply abandon the scene she had helped create.

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In the instant that she turned away there was a sudden and uncomfortable pressure change that made Frederick's ears pop in the same moment that the Zwieback seemed to kind of twist in on itself and then fall in pieces as if had been disassembled piecemeal, as if it had been torn apart by some invisible force. Frederick's guess was focused infrasonics.

The security mechadogs appeared as if on cue and began to check for who knows what risks. Biologicals, chemicals. It didn't seem to take them long to accomplish their examinations.

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In the few short minutes before a squad of Blues arrived to keep an eye on things, pacify any that needed pacifying as it were, the audience and the girl had all disappeared, vanished into the advancing evening. Only the disassembled Zwieback and the Blues remained on the sidewalk, and they kept a distance from the body parts. It was certainly not your usual day in the neighborhood, not even for Frederick's neighborhood.

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It was a bit later, on towards evening dark when the scavenger crews came to gather the remains and scour the area. They seemed to have more protective gear than your typical scavengers, maybe they and the Blues knew something that would advise caution.

Frederick had been considering the sequence of events he had witnessed over the last several days, and more in particular what he had seen occur over the last few hours. He came to the conclusion that he had been the witness to an assassination. Perhaps the victim, the Zwieback, had been given a trial or examination by interrogation, but when he apparently failed that he had been taken out. In public, before an audience.

And not just taken out messy street gang style, but taken out with tech that ordinary folks did not have access to. Certifiably a weapons superiority demonstration. Zero target survivability.

Frederick was unhappy. There were always repercussions to these kinds of situations, these inexplicable events.

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He began to thinking about another inexplicable event that he had also witnessed though from a good bit further away. Fortunately.

It was about seventeen, maybe even eighteen or nineteen years ago. It was late, well past evening but before the small hours of the night, when there was one Hell of a blast off in the distance, but not the comfortably far away distance. It shook things at the blockhouse and that was way too close. From the upper decks of the blockhouse he could see the pall of thick smoke already rising high into the night sky, and what appeared to be a pretty good sized fire at its base.

He was trying to think of what was down that way when something that looked like a rocket launched upward through the smoke. Frederick had a "holy shit" moment, a realization that something was very wrong with this picture and ducked back inside the blockhouse.

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So it was that Frederick didn't get to see the initial airburst of the ignition detonation.

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And it was even luckier that he didn't get to directly see the hard flash when the radiation weapon went off. Even so he did see a slight flash inside his eyes in spite of being inside and behind the blockhouse walls. Many weren't so lucky.

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After the initial exchange or whatever it was, after the rad weapon blew, there was a circle of darkness where the electric power lines and most everthing else conductive had simply melted or evaporated. The rest was scorched ruin. Only the fire and the smoke remained in the dark circle.

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That was the night Slash had disappeared. Finally Frederick fell asleep and passed a fitful night.

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It was early the next morning when Frederick was awakened by someone banging rudely on his door. How had someone gotten in here, inside the blockhouse, to be banging on his door? Was there an emergency in the blockhouse?

He flipped on the comm and saw to his utter amazement that it was the girl, the assassin right here outside his door. He was trying to decide what to do, whether to grab a weapon or pray, when the girl calmly said "Good morning Frederick. We need to talk."

Then she placed her hand on her forehead and the door began to slide open. In shock and amazement, Frederick didn't know whether to shit or go blind. And she had the earring, an earring just like that Slash had worn.

"Ah, come on in" he said with the best aplomb he could muster. And she did just that.