Fair warning: this is your last Delilah snippet! Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger. Get on the list to see the ending for zero dollars, or hold on for a store link.
If you haven’t encountered the awesome of Delilah before, start at the beginning.
The room had one exit, a double door leading further into the facility. A double door meant they were used to taking people through here on a gurney. It was secured, biometrics and link security barring entry. Her optics scanned the room beyond, giving her overlay something to work with. It looked like another guard facility, desks and coffee machines and humans arrayed around. Delilah didn’t care about desks and coffee machines, but she cared about the three guards. They were already moving towards the door. Perfect. One less thing to hack. She waited for them to reach the other side of the door, watching with the relaxed ease of overtime as the hard red lights above the door’s security panel to turn a pleasing green. She huddled behind the reception desk for cover.
With a beep, the door opened. Delilah raised her hand, discharging a massive EM pulse into the guards. Her overlay said low power warning, but her gun was hungry in her hand. She waited until she could see people through the gap in the door and fired. The first guard she took through the left knee, the pelvis, and the heart, the Kevlar in his wool suit doing nothing at all against her bullets. The second guard fired on her, bullets sparking bright crystal flashes near her face as she sighted around the desk. She returned fire, her sidearm hitting his shoulder, his shoulder again — fuck this fucking arm — as her broken bionics betrayed her, and his heart. That last was a lucky shot, her lattice stuttering with failure.
The final guard in the room spun like a dancer as her gun tried to find him. There was something more top-shelf in his movements, maybe a defector from another syndicate, and her bullets found nothing but empty air. Her last round — another lucky shot, and she’d done nothing to deserve those odds — hit the rifle he carried, fragmenting the weapon.
They stared through a haze of gun smoke. One heartbeat, two, and then they ran at each other. He pulled a thread-thin knife from underneath his jacket, the monoblade transparent. He lunged at her, cutting air with the same ease the blade would cut her if he hit. Delilah stepped back, then back again as another strike came for her face. On the third swing, she stepped in, catching the blow against her damaged arm. Bionics hissed, complained, and gave, the blade plunging forward into her shoulder. Delilah would have screamed if this had been normal time, but instead she brought a knee up — the groin is still the gold standard. As the man stumbled back, she reached up with her good hand, pulled the knife free, and embedded it in the top of his skull.
He slipped to the ground, a broken puppet without its master.
Delilah stepped through the opened security door, her only company the low power warning on her overlay.
The room behind the guard facility looked like a standard prep-slash-wet room. Floors you could hose down, four workers — low-level techs — who looked terrified, and a bunch of computers lining a wall. High-tech server hardware, useful for crunching through the defenses on someone’s mind. Coring them out from the inside. Reed were doing budget cuts for sure, the pretense of this facility barely skin deep. Sampson wasn’t here; Delilah caught herself looking for his chair and listening for his voice. She found no trace of him, the floors dry. If they’d finished with him, this would be the disposal area. There was a big old-style roller door leading outside, an elevator leading to the roof, and a double door leading further into the facility. Smart money said Sampson was through that one.
She owed him for what she’d done. It didn’t matter she’d been tricked. She should have done the work, overlooked the bonus. Delilah remembered Oliver and thought: you’d never have looked that hard. It was possible that even with neon pointing out the obvious, she might have turned away. Oliver would have called it willful blindness. Her old Metatech commander would have called it corporate expedience and management material. Delilah knew one damn thing for sure: she wanted fewer ghosts in her head telling her what to think.
She eyeballed one tech. “Sampson.”
He jerked a hand towards the door leading further into the facility. Bingo. “He’s down there.”
“Sampson,” she said, but slower. “Is. He. Alive.”
“Should be,” said the tech. She noticed a wet stain on the crotch of his pants, but his voice didn’t waver. “I, uh, his tech is strong.” Meaning, they won’t be done with him for a while.
“How about you play hide and go fuck yourself?” said Delilah. The tech gave a jerky motion of his head that might have been a nod if it was slower, scampering for the door she’d entered through. She should have put a bullet in him and be done. His three companions scurried after him, and Delilah knew she should have put bullets in them too. It was sloppy work, leaving witnesses. Especially if you were leaving witnesses whose testimony could show a breach of contract with a syndicate. If she made it out of this, there were good odds on her having a bad future. Work would be scarce. But maybe that would be okay. Maybe she could sleep at night. Maybe Oliver would forgive her.
Delilah asked her optics for a scan of the next room. Her overlay flickered, static fuzzing the edges, and she got another low power warning. Well, fuckit then. She kicked the double doors open, gun nosing the way. Inside: two med techs. Sampson, in a chair between them, head lolling, thick cable trailing into a mess of computers. Bodies on slabs, some covered with sheets, others naked, nothing covering where the techs had dug for bionics, secrets, or just to deliver pain. There was an adjoining door, closed. Delilah pointed her sidearm at the electronics sealing it and fired. Plastic and sparks rained to the floor, the red light holding strong. There might be people behind it that wanted her blood, and that would slow them down.
“Wait,” said one tech, so Delilah shot him first. Only need one. His head snapped back in a spray of red that coated the perfect white of the wall behind him.
She moved her sidearm to cover the other tech. “So,” she said. “What have you done to him?” She didn’t mean, have you cored his mind, but, have you trapped his link so other syndicates can’t help him.
The tech looked at her gun, then met her eyes. “Nothing,” he said. “Not that I’d tell the likes of you.”
Delilah supposed that was true, so she shot him twice in the chest, his body jerking as the big bullets hit home. Brass tinked at her feet. She walked to Sampson, place a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said, then stood back. He didn’t respond, his mind locked in whatever loop the techs had him under. She couldn’t risk removing the mind jack to his link without knowing what they’d done. Delilah flipped the tech’s body over, eliciting a groan. “Not dead, huh? Well, this will sting a little.”
She unspooled her cable, nestling it at the socket in the base of the tech’s skull. The man tried to crawl away, but the movements were feeble, weak. It didn’t matter if he was alive or dead for this, but reports said the black icebreaker would cause mental discomfort if the recipient wasn’t dead or comatose. It felt like justice as she clicked the cable home, her hard link reaching out, hungry like the wolf. The man jerked once, twice, then flatlined, his heart giving out as his link’s storage buffer revealed its secrets.
They hadn’t tried to trap Sampson’s link; hell, they hadn’t got in yet. Sampson must run some A-grade bling in that skull of his to run interference against Reed’s mind thieves. She disabled the software, Sampson’s eyes fluttering as the program died. Delilah stood, trying to think of something to say.
The door she had disabled the lock on burst open, three guards coming through. Still with the nice suits. Bigger guns this time.
Power levels critical.
She tried to trigger the overtime but there just wasn’t enough juice, time stuttering around her, letting the real in like a ragged blanket let in the cold. Delilah pointed her sidearm anyway, praying to the God that never listened. She pulled the trigger, the round striking true, the guard spinning away, top of his head gone. Delilah felt like a child against the lightning as Reed’s troops moved like ghosts through their overtime, their speed incredible. A salvo of bullets hit her in the chest, the laminar armor doing its best, but already weakened from her encounter at the mansion. She coughed blood as she fell to the ground.
Power levels critical. Shutdown imminent.