Eric richard gabrielsen
MARCH 2016 ISSUE #8.4
The Impossible Girl - datastream 05
Whisper - datastream 09
Private Sector - datastream 16
Street Clan: Homecoming - datastream 24
Deficient - datastream 31
Spawns - datastream 42
Black Bugs - datastream 50
EVOLVE & DESTROY IDIOSYNCRATIC TECHNOLOGICAL SENTIENCE
This anthology is dedicated to
Lukas Mariman (1972-2016), who
was an important member of the
cyberpunk community. He will be
dearly missed, may his legacy carryon
within the binary.
It’s been a while but as you can see
I’ve gone through a few changes…
now fucking get over it.
In this special edition issue we’ve
rounded up some of the best independent
writers from around the
cyberpunk universe to bring you a
collection of short stories. From the
dark future world populated by psychotic
sex androids, tracking down
copyright criminals through vr, hunting
American expats through a futuristic
South East Asia, Wolf masks
and evil medical corporations,
Women giving birth to android eggs
in the street, to hunting down your
mark in a futuristic penthouse. Point
is the stories are all pretty exciting
Just some housekeeping and to address
- We will continue working on releasing
Issues with the special editions
continuing in the ‘8 series’ and the
full editions with Issue 9.
- The web series is still one of our
goals so stay tuned to the Hacker
Chronicles Facebook Page.
- Sara Elizabeth Joyce
- Isaac L. Wheeler
- Daniel Moore
- Sean P. Nolan
- Alex Chase
- Jennifer Blaesing
- Ian Winchester
- Charmaine Morgan
This issue would not have been
possible without the support of the
- Ville Vuorela
- Bryn Tilly
The Impossible Girl
By Sara Elizabeth Joyce
Belle was always on my mind. Everything, we did together.
From that moment, I knew this was something more
than just sleeping together. We made love while her body
glowed translucently until she changed. She just let the
idea of us just fade away into the illegal stimulants she
was consuming, which I could see was messing with her
programming, making her more paranoid.
She was the first artificial girl I’d ever been with. I never
expected to fall in love with an android, but my life with
her up until that point had made sense. I considered myself
lucky given it had been hard to find love as a transgender
woman. My sexuality had forever been changed
as a result of being with her and her interchangeable
It took me some time to get over the fact that she would
never love me the way I loved her and though I left her, I
felt like I was the one who had been abandoned.
I was at the enclosed pool park by the upper platforms of Gungho City sitting still with the fresh
memory and pain that relationship had caused me. I had fallen in love and now had to deal with
the consequences of that alone. So in my swimsuit, bravely daring the genetically modified public
water, I would swim trying to remind myself that love was something fluid, or something to that
I would regularly get a coffee by the bar after a long slow swim and this time I noticed a
girl smoking just inside the pool area. There was an immediate sadness about her. She looked my
way blowing out a puff of smoke in her sky blue swimsuit and clash t-shirt. I could see that her
eyes were an artificial blue, but other than that she appeared all human.
I walked over to her and asked if she had a spare cigarette and that I’d reciprocate with a cup of
coffee, though the coffee was free. She surprisingly accepted and got up with a childlike energy
and came with me to go to the counter. As I made her a coffee, she gave me a cigarette. I spilled a
bit of coffee on myself and we both laughed in sync.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
Obviously, there was an attraction
there, though I felt it somewhat disingenuous
given I was still getting over
someone else, but she was definitely
attracted to me. She flicked her blonde
hair, took a toke off her cigarette looking
into me with those glowing eyes,
threw the cigarette on the cold hard
metal floor, and put her arms over my
shoulders. Slowly, she moved in and
kissed me. I softly kissed her back and
then for a moment she just looked at
“Come to my place,” she said, “and fuck
“Sure,” I said, “but I gotta tell you something
“What that you’re trans? I saw you tuck
it in your swimsuit earlier. It doesn’t
bother me,” she said. “And you…”
“No,” she said, “I was born genetically
female apart from the glow,” she
pointed at her eyes, “and no I’ve never
been with a girl like you before.”
“So why now?” I asked.
“Cause you offered to make me a coffee,”
she told me.
We held hands walking along the cold
platform barefoot in the ever growing
dark, the glowing city far above the
lower levels away from the worst of
this impoverished nation, not saying a
word to each other. We exchanged the
occasional stare and smile as we came
closer to her apartment overlooking a
suspended artificial beach.
Her place was a mess with black clothing
mixed with a little colour strewn on
the floor, computers on the wall and
every kind of convenience. She took
me straight into the bedroom and laid
me down on her single soft bed. Sitting
on top of me, she took off her clash
t-shirt. I said I didn’t have any protection
but that I couldn’t get her pregnant.
She twitched a bit at that and then
leaned down and kissed me and said
she was safe.
“I’ve only ever fucked clean androids
and a couple of humans,” she said,
turning her head away. I pulled her
gaze back and looked into those deep
artificial eyes. I was so drawn in by her
gaze and her sound that I barely noticed
sliding into her. She was slow and
careful and gentle. Occasionally, she
lied on my breasts and we kissed each
other, as I held her into me. I may have
penetrated her, but in my mind, she
was penetrating me. The pleasure was
ecstatic but so different from being
with a multi-gendered robot. She was
so soft and gentle with me as we slowly
came together. She laid down on my
chest again still orgasming and held
me close kissing my skin. I couldn’t
believe what had just happened and I
didn’t even know her name.
Zoe and I spent the whole next week
together. Learning little bits about each
other, but mostly eating and walking
the empty and depressing streets of
the upper levels.
Occasionally, we stopped for a few
beers and some ramen. She’d ask
about my transition and I queried her
on her life, but often got obscure or
short answers. There was definitely
something or someone else on her
mind. I couldn’t really blame her as it
was the same for me.
She was so beautiful and intoxicating
I thought to myself not unlike an
angel sent from the black sky to heal a
wounded heart.We were again having
sex that evening after smoking copious
amounts of liquefied pot; in fact, we did
little else in her apartment overlooking
the projection of the artificial sea. She
orgasmed early this time and let out
a small belt of satisfaction. She was
always on top and I was content to let
her be. She leaned down and whispered
in my ear.
“I love you,” she said.
I said thank you, thinking about what
that may mean to me as my heart was
still very much in disrepair. She didn’t
expect a response. Though she said it
during sex, I knew she meant it, and, of
course, I felt the guilt creep in.
I got up, went to the kitchen, navigating
through all of her chemical food experiments
to make myself a late night coffee.
I loved her coffee as it was actually
from real coffee beans, or so she had
told me. She promptly followed me just
wearing my tee.
“Do you want one?” I asked.
She stopped at the doorway leaning
against the wall without any underwear,
“I didn’t upset you I hope and I
meant what I said.”
“I know you did,” I said.
“Then what’s wrong? I don’t fall in love
like this every day you know,”
down her arm. I went to hold her and
got her up into the bed holding her in
my arms as she cried. We didn’t speak
she sarcastically announced.
Several hours later, she got up
I’d have a better idea myself.
“I’m still getting over someone,” I told
in a daze and opened her top drawer
her, but the fact was that even though
and took a pill with a glass of water
It was difficult to sleep alone
Zoe was everything I could hope for,
from the bedside table. I realized they
that night. Tossing and turning holding
I hadn’t had the time I needed to get
were anti-depressants, but I hadn’t
my pillow, feeling horny, and missing
over the past. “I’ll make you a coffee
noticed her taking them before.
her. I watched a couple of porn shows
and we’ll talk about it,” I said.
on the net. I thought I might call her,
“Hon what’s wrong?” I asked.
but I knew I needed to give her time
We sat down on her salty
“Nothing, don’t worry about it,” she said,
to deal with whatever she was going
smelling couch with a view of the pro-
staunchly. “Listen I gotta go some-
through. I woke up late the next morn-
jected ocean in front of us. We drank
where, do you mind if…,”
ing and begrudgingly got up pulling
the coffee and then held each other.
“If I go,” I finished for her.
on the sexiest silicone clothes I could
I began to explain how I had met the
“Yeah, but I’ll be back later and I’ll call
find. I had to shave to get rid of excess
ultimate multi-gendered robot girl, who
you,” she said. I got up and got dressed
hairs on my face and put my makeup
was the first person I had been with
quickly and kissed her softly on the lips
on perfectly. I looked hot and ready
since the beginning of my transition. I
as tears silently fell down her cheeks.
and I was going to tell her today that I
explained how I knew it was something
“I’ll call you,” I said.
wanted to be with her.
that wasn’t going to last or be anything
“Okay,” she smiled as I left.
more than sex, but that I had fallen
I called her on the screen
deeply in love with her. Zoe stroked
My place was on a higher
which went straight to a picture of her
my hair as a mother would stroke her
platform a short distance over which
and her sweet voice saying she was
daughter’s and I continued on to say
normally I accessed by hovertrain,
unable to answer. I told her I was com-
how it all slowly and painfully wasted
but I decided to walk as the sun was
ing over and that I wanted to be there
away, but that I still cared for her so
blaring through the tall buildings of
and support her with what she was
deeply. We fell asleep in each other’s
this metropolis. I needed time to think
going through. I caught the hovertrain,
arms to the glittering ocean and a
all of this over I thought. I had to pass
pondering how I would need to be to
through the lower levels to get to my
get her through this, how wonderful
zone and every character you could
we would be together supporting each
The next morning we both were
imagine was on the street peddling
other, and through my transition. The
abruptly woken by Zoe’s comscreen
their wares or selling dreams. Despite
future looked for the first time in a long
on the wall. She answered the call and
the mist and exhaust fumes of this
time to hold a rare happiness for me.
redirected it to her room. I was still a bit
dank and dirty underworld.
drowsy, but I caught something about
As I walked along the platform to her
I found it a peaceful and beautiful walk.
apartment block, I tapped on my ear-
I made out a few words the man said
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized
ring with her card to call her. I looked
on the screen, “They are closing in on
I had just spent a week and a half
out towards the holographic ocean
me,” he said, and something about
away, was wearing her clothes and that
from the deck overflowing into the city
the jig is up. Our perfect little world
we hadn’t spent any time apart since
streets below. And then right in front of
that I now realized we had created for
we met. A cold chill entered my spine
me, a body dropped onto the deck face
ourselves was suddenly fading into the
cold dark reality of the world around us.
Zoe shut the door to her room as
things got heated. By that stage I
was awake. The noise stopped and I
knocked on the door calling out her
name. I opened to door to see her
crying on the floor with her comscreen
as I thought what if I never see her
again. I was so caught up in my previous
“relationship” that I had given little
consideration to forming one with Zoe.
I decided to give her a day and then
contact her tomorrow and maybe then
down shattering their body, the blood
pouring into crevices of the replicated
shape of the metal platforms. It was
a girl with blonde hair. It was Zoe. I
stumbled towards her trying to say
the words but it only came out as a
mumble. I got to my knees and then
screamed for help.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
smashed by her fist and blood running
At the local corporate military police
station, I was all alone in a darkened
room trying to explain to myself that
what had just happened was real
and just trying to understand why. An
officer then entered the room and sat
down next to me at the table.
He said, “ do you want to take care of
that before we begin?”
I looked down at my hands and arms
covered with dry blood. From her. It
happened. It was real.
I must have said that part out loud because
the officer said, “Yes, this is very
He leaned in closer and said, “Can you
It was Belle.
much for real. What was your relation-
think of any reason why she would just
“Hey lover” she said, “What’s brought
ship to the deceased?”
you down to my level?”
“I have no idea.”
“What the hell,” I said, “You’ve been fol-
“So she really is dead,” I retorted. The
officer gave me an unimpressed look.
“Did you know that she had several out-
His shiny and sharp uniform loaded
standing warrants related to hacking?”
“Yeah, well. Just looking out for your
with a number of gadgets I couldn’t
“No,” I said, “She never seemed like that
identify, blinking and blurring in my
sort of person to me.
wet eyes. “Um, I was seeing her for the
“What the hell does that mean!” I said.
past couple of weeks. We met by the
He continued on with ques-
“Oh, something along the lines of this.”
enclosed pool in section 8, over coffee
tions for the next hour, to the point
She punched me in the face and I was
and cigarettes.” The memory of it gave
where it felt like they suspected me of
knocked out cold.
me a smile.
pushing her. I learned later there was a
corroborating witness who saw both
I slowly came to and saw
“What was the nature of this relation-
me on the ground and her fall. I then
I was in a bunker of some kind. The
ship?” he said forcefully.
went in to see her, after washing off her
water streaming down the walls gave
blood from my arms and hands. That
me a clue. We were underground. Had
“We were seeing each other I told you.”
cold shiver was back as they pulled
this been where Belle was hiding? And
“The vid in that section does report that
back the plastic to reveal her sweet
slowly she came into view fading from
you were outside when the incident
face bruised and cut. I burst out into
her translucent shell back into human
occurred. I am sorry for your loss,” he
tears and wanted to touch her, but the
skin form. She was in heat mode.
said almost sarcastically, “However, I
coroner wouldn’t let me.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
do need to clear up some things since
there’s been a lot of hacking of the systems
in that zone. Where exactly were
you when she fell?”
“I was right in front of her on the platform
below the apartment. She just
landed right in front of me.”
I walked out into the midnight streets.
It was freezing, but I was so frightened
by what I was told that I was still warm.
As I passed each corridor on the lower
levels I felt like I was being watched. I
took a shortcut to get to the hover train
elevator down a dark street and right in
front of me she appeared.
“Why the fuck am I here?” I belted out
through my bloodied nose.
“Ah, lover,” she said, “When you left
me I was lost. I didn’t know what else
to do. So I decided to look after you. I
started following you. When I found out
your new girlfriend was just trying to
hack your credits and getting to know
you for your details, I tracked down her
partner who she was secretly
contacting every night via the net and
I slit his throat, drinking his blood from
a gold cup.” Belle produced the gold
cup, “Here I saved some for you, my
love.” She forced the blood down my
throat. I coughed and spat out the cold
coagulated salty taste.
I was still crying when she offered me
a some of her coffee.
“You also killed Zoe didn’t you, you
“Oh yes. But not before I tasted her
too. I needed to find out why you liked
her so much. I needed to have what
you had. Once I had my way with her,
I kissed her deep just as you had, then
picked her up by the throat and threw
her to her little ocean.”
“You bitch,” I said.
“I was protecting you lover girl.” She
came close to me and licked the blood
off my face, then pulled off her jeans,
went translucent, and then started
kissing me. I had little choice, but to go
with it as I was tied up and her strength
was at least ten times greater than
mine. I cried as she penetrated me,
confused with the emotions I once had
for her, the horrible acts that she had
committed, and now was being done
to me. When she was finished with me,
I was gassed and tossed in the street.
I woke in the cold wet underbelly of the
city. Why I thought to myself, did she
let me survive. She knew I would report
her and that she would be tracked
down and hunted like the rogue robot
servants of old.
Sara Elizabeth Joyce - Australia
Sara is the Editor-in-Chief of Machete Girl Magazine, Transgender
Magazine and Republic Independent News. She is the
creator of Machete Girl and all its subsidiaries and Director of
Dark Media (au). A filmmaker, Activist for Women’s, Trans and
Aboriginal Rights and Issues. She also fights against homelessness
and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
I made my way back to the station,
where I reported everything including
her serial number, which by now she
would have burnt off. I was in the clear
and told to wait in the corridor. Sitting
next to me was a girl smoking a cigarette
and drinking her coffee.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
By Isaac L. Wheeler
Whisper walked down a dimly lit access,
her red leather trench coat brushing
her calves with each step. Cold
penetrated her coat causing goosebumps
to cover her flesh. As she went,
she passed identical doors, differentiated
by glowing numbers affixed above
She gazed over the railing that protected
her from a fatal fall. Across the light
tunnel was an identical accessway.
High above, the light tunnel’s apex was
capped with self-cleaning glass which
allowed the sun’s rays to illuminate the
residential sector during the day without
the need for electric lighting.
The tunnel illuminated hundreds of
levels, each with identical accessways
lined with identical doors. People had
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
thrown themselves from up here to
escape from the monotony. All they
saw on the way down was more of the
same, whizzing by until their eyes went
blank, haunting them until the very end.
One of the doors was highlighted in
green by the augmented reality overlay
built into her artificial eyes. As she
stepped up to the door, she wrapped
her delicate fingers, shrouded in red
leather, around the unarticulated metal
handle. Her muscles strained as she
pulled open the heavy metal door and
stepped inside. “56 credits deducted”
scrawled across her vision. The price
has gone up again. Lights automatically
flickered on, illuminating the drab
The door slammed shut behind her.
The sound was absorbed by concrete
peaks arranged evenly along the wall.
She pulled off the long red coat which
was lined with a black satin. Hanging
it on a hook by the door, it took on the
appearance of limp red skin. Beneath
it, she wore a black, long-sleeve t-shirt
which adhered to her fit form, along
with a concealed holster nestled in her
A bed made up with dark
gray sheets dominated the room, and
on one wall lived a small desk with a
dismally gray swivel chair. She stepped
into the small kitchenette immediately
to the right of the entrance and focused
on the 3DP Food Printer. Her warm
brown eyes lit up with blue light as an
itemized menu of options appeared on
her eye’s lens, blueprints for meals she
had purchased over time from the 3DP
Virtual Market. Asian, not in the mood
to wait. Hmmm... Ramen.
The selection for Ramen lit up, “.45
credits deducted,” popped up, and then
the menu faded. A processing sound
emanated from the food printer, and a
count down appeared above it: “3:00”.
Three minutes felt like an eternity as
she leaned against the cheap press
board counter on her elbows, resting
her breasts against it, watching the
countdown. “2:00, 1:59, 1:58,” finally
reaching 0:00. She opened the door
and pulled out the steaming contents.
The bowl was papery and warm.
She took plastic chop sticks that had
printed along side it and took a bite.
Salty heaven. She sat on the bed and
took another bite, savoring the noodles
and the broth they were saturated in.
She licked her lips to indulge in a final
taste, set the papery bowl on the night
stand, and laid down on top of the covers
without bothering to remove her
gun. Her brown, shoulder-length hair
spread out across the pillow, framing
her face. She stared up at the stone
ceiling, which was pocked with air
bubbles, then closed her eyes. VR, Last
The dark behind her eye
lids retreated and she found herself
standing inside the entrance to the Last
Night Virtual Club.
Her avatar was a younger girl in her
20s, though in reality she was in her
40s with the signs of age just begin-
Graves’ avatar breached the “realistic”
ning to show at the corners of her
rule set by the club by having eyes that
mouth. The avatar wore a suggestive
glowed white. His muscles were visible
she made eye contact with a lonely guy
white blouse with a deep v and tight
beneath the midnight blue shirt he
on the dance floor. His poorly rendered
red pants that extenuated her curves.
wore with three of the buttons unfas-
face brightened. Good deed for the day.
Her rich brown hair was replaced with
tened to reveal his defined pectorals.
No way he looks like that in real life.
As Whisper reached Graves
she fell, throwing her arms around his
She passed the threshold of the
“One Black Opal,” said the
neck. The girl he was talking to made
entrance, a grand wooden archway
bartender as he set the drink in front of
an annoyed sound like a strangled
capped with a carved crescent moon,
puppy. Sorry bitch.
and “10 credits deducted” scrawled
“Thank you,” she said placing
across her vision. Electro-pop music
her hand at the base of the martini
Tonight, he’s mine.
washed over her as she stepped up to
glass. “8 credits deducted.” She took
a sip of her drink; it had a berry flavor
Inaudible to those around them, she
to it, and the aftertaste was of heavy
whispered into his ear, “You’re guilty of
A young woman with long black hair
alcohol, probably vodka. She felt the
IP infringement. Care to go somewhere
and a shiny black dress vacated a
depressant effect almost immedi-
more private to talk about it?”
stool, and Whisper slipped into the
ately, code interacting with her brain
woman’s place gracefully. The bar ap-
telling it to make her feel intoxicated.
“What are you talking about?”
peared to be solid polished wood, and
Alcohol Purge. She needed a clear
he said, raising his voice so everyone in
the wall behind was a mirror bordered
head tonight. Graves was talking to a
the vicinity could hear him.
in carved, beautiful, baroque style with
blonde girl at the end of the bar who
cherubs eying the patrons.
was wearing a top that hid nothing and
“You can play me a song, or I
a short skirt in neon pink that barely
can make a different kind of music that
The bartender, a tall young
covered her ass. No way SHE looks like
will fry your brain,” she said matter-of-
man with a chiseled square jaw, wear-
that in real life.
factly, as she drew her fingers deli-
ing a tuxedo, stopped in front of her.
cately along his jaw. A tingling sensa-
“What can I get for you?” he
Reviewing Graves’s profile earlier in the
tion passed between her finger tips
day had revealed that he had down-
and Graves’s real body, where he felt
loaded a 3DP blueprint for a guitar
the tingle travel down his spine. Graves
from an illicit server. Undoubtedly, he
glowing eyes widened.
was telling this girl how good a musi-
“I’d like the Black Opal please,” she said
cian he was, and how he was going
“Get off!” he yelled grabbing
giving him a smile.
to write her a beautiful song. Whisper
her by the ribs and pushing her off into
smiled. Time to get to work. She slid
the crowd, which happily embraced
“Coming right up,” he said
her arm along the bar’s polished
her. Graves’s avatar dissolved, leaving
with a smile of his own. Although there
surface in a faux fall and knocked off
his seat absent. Whisper stood, the
was no need for a wait in VR, the Last
crowd releasing her.
Night introduced a wait to preserve
the authenticity. She surveyed the
The sound of shattering glass melded
“Thanks,” she blew them all a kiss. Exit
other patrons in the club, adorned in a
combination of formal attire and clubbing
outfits. Avatar Recognition, Peter
Graves. At the end of the bar one of the
patrons lit up green.
into the noises of the crowd and the
techno-pop music flowing through the
club. She stood up, pseudo-stumbled
a moment, and worked her way down
the bar, drawing eyes from the club’s
A seductive smile crossed her lips as
VR. Whisper dissolved away as well.
She opened her eyes, her youthful appearance
giving way to the deepening
lines on her delicately aged face. Got
you fucker. A three-dimensional map of
the residential sector popped up in her
vision as she sat up on the bed’s edge.
A room was highlighted two levels
down across the light tunnel and she
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
was displayed as a red dot.
site’s virtual environment was superimposed
over the bleak residential sector.
“Would you be a gentleman and tell me
She stood just outside of a visualiza-
where I can get such a fine blueprint?
tion of a vast web of connections,
She walked to the door, donned the red
I am just dying for a new instrument.”
apparently on an invisible plane. Search
long coat, and drew her weapon. The
She pushed the gun deeper into him,
“Guitar”. The web moved to engulf her
gun was sleek, with a long barrel for
forcing him to sink into the gray chair.
and one of the intersection points in
accuracy. The grip housed a magazine
“This one just drives all the boys away.”
the web came to rest just in front of
with caseless ammo and possessed
her. She was suddenly aware of many
the capability to switch between
“Yeah, YEAH. I’ll give you the server
different guitar styles and designs in
standard hollow-point and explosive
address,” he said, desperation plain in
her mind’s eye. She selected one at
rounds. A smirk crossed her features.
his voice. She removed the gun from
She pulled open the heavy slab of a
door and ran down the accessway
A bar appeared in her vision
to get momentum. Finally, she threw
“Well,” she said, relaxing her
showing the download progress. Map
herself over the railing.
seeds. The web visualization
faded away, leaving the residential
The feeling of not touching any earth
“Here,” he said, alongside a
sector, and the three-dimensional
always filled her with excitement. The
sigh of relief. Graves sat stiffly in the
map appeared again with hundreds of
moment passed quickly as she plum-
chair trying not to provoke her further.
glowing green lines converging on her
meted the two floors. She landed just
A message pinged into her vision con-
position, some terminated in sectors of
past the railing of the lower accessway
taining an address.
Los Angeles and others outside of the
and, landing on her forefeet, rolled to
maps scope. Remove seeds outside
absorb the impact. Using the inertia,
“Peter, I can call you Peter,
the Los Angeles Arcology. She selected
she propelled herself forward into a
right? If this helps me find a new
the nearest one from the remaining
run. She raised her weapon as she
instrument, I’ll forget about your little
paths and followed it.
neared a glowing green door. Moirai
trespass and likely the others I could
override. The Moirai Corporation was
pry from your fragile mind. If it doesn’t,
She found herself leaving the residen-
contracted by the Corporate Congress
we will be having this same conversa-
tial sector and walking out into the
to enforce intellectual property laws,
tion again very soon. Trust me, I’ll find
“star-lit” promenade. The promenade
among other things. The door clicked
you and next time it won’t be so civil.”
was a large open park area in stark
open; her muscles strained as she
contrast to the monotony, a sea of
threw it open.
“When you connect you have to input
green grass and trees surrounded by
From the desk against the
a decryption key, or you won’t get
a vast sidewalk. On the fringes of the
wall a stunned Peter Graves, wearing
anything,” Peter said with resignation.
space there was a myriad of shops,
only his underwear and several days
A message pinged in her vision again
mostly providing services such as
unshaven, stared at the door in fright.
containing a long string of characters.
massages or fashion advice.
His musculature was less than impressive,
and his glowing eyes had been
“Thank you,” she said stepping up to
Ahead of her was a man
replaced with dull blue ones. Smirk still
him and kissing him on the cheek. His
wearing a loose-fitting red hoodie,
tight against her lips, Whisper stepped
stubble felt rough under her lips. “Hope
baggy torn jeans, and an olive-colored
through the door. To her left against
I don’t see you around.” She turned and
backpack, which was rigged with a
the wall sat the guitar. She picked it up
stepped out of the room back into the
number of black cords and had an
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
with her free hand.
Turning the instrument over
in her hand she said, “Fine manufacture,
too bad you didn’t license it.”
She smashed it against the ridged
wall, sending splinters across the
room. Whisper walked up to Graves
and pushed the gun against his skull
through his greasy hair.
Whisper input the address Graves had
so graciously provided, and alongside it
she sent the decryption key in a packet.
She stopped and leaned against the
railing as the site loaded in her vision.
The surrounding area dimmed and the
erect antenna rising from its depths.
The glowing green line terminated at
Whisper’s vision came back into sharp
clarity beneath the artificial stars of the
promenade. She quickened her gait
and closed on the man. When it came
into arm’s reach she seized the pack,
some kind of oil. She looked up, and
her other hand pulling a knife from her
saw the man bounding away toward
belt. The blade, a single molecule thick
the far shops with the pack in hand.
scrawled across her vision, as the
at the tip, cut the olive straps with two
She pulled her gun out from its holster
file copied to her cloud storage. The
with a smooth sound of plastic on
files finished copying. She fired into
metal and aimed for the man’s leg.
the server adding metal and plastic
“What the!” said the man,
Explosive rounds. A burst erupted from
to the gore covering the walkway. Call
whirling to see Whisper now hold-
the pistol. Blood and bone splattered
ing his pack in her hand. She smiled
the sidewalk as his leg exploded. She
broadly, holding the blade up.
pushed herself into a standing position,
“You should have some
feeling grit beneath her gloved hands,
medical assistance soon. Hope you
“It would make my night,” she
as the man collapsed and screamed
don’t get sepsis.” She turned and
said making intense eye contact. He
in pain. She leisurely approached him,
walked down the Promenade’s path.
had diminutive mousy features with
gun hanging loosely in her hand. Kneel-
Cross reference IP addresses with Los
sickly green undertones to his skin, and
ing beside him, she put her finger to
Angeles Arcology records. Whisper
patchy, unkempt facial hair.
enjoyed the artificially crisp, cold air
of the evening. IP addresses scrawled
“Fine, take it!” he said, holding
“There, there. No more screaming. You
across her vision as the LA database
up his hands, which were wrapped in
might wake someone.” He cringed,
was compared to the list she lifted
ratty fabric, and stepping back slowly.
face turning white. She lifted the gun
from the man. Wonder what his name
Whisper sheathed the mono-blade and
and drew it across his cheek as he
was anyway? A short list appeared in
pulled open the backpack; inside was a
gripped the bleeding stump tightly,
her vision. Trace and map. Her vision
small server rigged to be mobile which
“Thank you for running.” Blood flowed
dimmed, and lines appeared leading
bathed the interior fabric with flickering
between his fingers and pooled on the
to the nearby IP addresses. They were
ground, soaking through his clothes.
color coded based on distance. She
She pushed the gun firmly against his
followed the green line representing
“Very clever,” she said aloud to
skull. “Explosive rounds,” she said with
the nearest one. She found herself
the man. She pulled a wire from behind
purpose. The man closed his eyes
reentering the same district as before,
her ear and plugged it directly into the
tightly. Tears escaped between the seal
returning to the monotony.
server. The man’s eyes darted from her
of his eyelids and streaked the sweat
eyes to the server and back nervously.
and grime on his face.
She stopped in front of one of the iden-
A login popped into Whisper’s vision.
tical doors. The door had no indicator,
She looked at the man, who had
“Tell me your login information, and you
as either available or occupied. Reserve
stopped backing away from her, and
get to live another day.” He opened his
391. The system returned, Room 396
was watching restlessly. Reset. The
eyes and stared at her in disbelief.
Reserved. Damn glitches. Cancel
login disappeared and a moment later
“Fuck! Yes! I’ll do it!” he said
reservation. Reserve 391. The system
the initialization screen appeared. Load
returned 381 Reserved. What the fuck.
Codux OS. Boot from Neural Mount.
“Thank you,” she removed the
Is room 391 available? “Room 391 is
The screen changed and opened in a
gun’s barrel from his skull and kissed
available.” Hmmmm... Moirai override
new operating system. Open file direc-
his sweaty forehead. He shuttered, and
391,” 390 clicked. Impatiently, she fired
tory. A searing pain erupted in Whis-
a moment later a message pinged con-
on the door. The door handle disap-
per’s head. As she stared at the man
who gazed back, her vision fragmented
and then everything went black...
Whisper opened her eyes. She stared
at the sidewalk, which was soiled with
taining the login details. She plugged
back into the server, and entered the
login. NeuroSys, !p53ud0p455? She
discovered a file called Black Book.
Open Black Book. A list of IP Addresses
appeared in her vision, with associated
aliases. Copy drives to Nimbus. She
stood patiently, a status indicator
peared with a small explosion, and was
replaced with a hole. She pushed the
door open; inside was the same room,
but this one had the walls plastered
with paper posters of animated characters.
Paper? Really? The room was too
warm; she could feel the heat escaping
into the cooler exterior. Beside the
bed were large server racks and wires
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
which spidered down to the bed and
Flagella unfurled, coating her hands
in a kind of fur. Jeffery’s eyes stared
up unfocused, as he lay limp beneath
her. She placed her disabled hand on
into the 3DP Printer in the kitchenette.
one side of his skull and then put her
corporate oligarchy because they plant
A malnourished form, on the bed
other on the opposite side. The flagella
a flag on it, and then post a guard? I
disappeared into the largest VR helmet
penetrated his skull like two handfuls
she had ever seen. The kitchenette
of grass boring through either side of
was dirty and covered in garbage
head. Each flagellum wove itself deep
“We wouldn’t have the
from what appeared to be months of
into his neurons. Her vision faded until
technology, medicine, and luxuries we
neglect. Months? Could he really have
she floated alone in a white space, with
DO have if it wasn’t for that corporate
been here that long? She approached
a healthy version of Jeffery, both of
oligarchy,” she said, defensively.
the skeletal form and examined the
them naked. He appeared to be in his
servers. Hundreds of blinking lights
early twenties, with some muscle defi-
“We are inside a massive
bathed his pale skin in color, shifting
nition. His eyes were a brilliant green,
structure made of identical rooms.
from moment to moment. The bed
no longer glassy. His black hair was
We are allowed to spend a night rent-
side table was covered in plastic toys
now clean and close cropped.
ing one of those rooms from them,
of the characters that populated the
a transient home. Allowed to explore
“Jeffery, do you have a final
our dreamspace comprised of their
whisper for this world?” she said,
approved content. Do you think our
She holstered her gun and
embodied in her own younger vision of
corporate paymasters live in one room
stepped behind the servers. With
herself, complete with green hair.
spaces they can’t even call their own?
her knife she severed several power
Do you think they restrict themselves
cables in one swipe. The body on the
“Who are you?” asked Jeffery,
to politically correct virtual fantasies?
bed convulsed. She stepped out from
no confusion in his voice.
Do you think they deny themselves
behind the server bank and up onto
anything? We need a more egalitarian
the bed. Kneeling on the bed over him,
she pulled off the helmet. Glassy eyes
stared up at her from sunken sockets
“You’re too late. The corpora-
“And you think yours is better?” she
flanked by matted black hair. Facial
tions took away our lives a long time
asked, raising a green eye brow.
Recognition confirms target: Jeffery
ago. We walk these bleak corridors in
dead subservience,” he said, looking
“Yes. We need a more open
around him as if they were standing in
society, and part of that is access to
“Well, not quite what I was expecting.
the Los Angles Arcology, rather than
information. It’s time we redefined the
Jeffery Thomas, you are sentenced to
floating in an equally dead, white void.
dialogue and create a truly free culture.”
termination for conspiracy to distribute
Vehemence burned in his eyes.
copyrighted materials.” A blast came
“You have been charged with building a
beneath the covers. Her left arm went
massive piracy network. You steal from
“Your vision is noble, but
limp, dropping the knife. The blade
the creators of that content. What do
people are too greedy for a system like
sunk into the floor and stopped at the
you have to say for yourself.”
that to thrive,” said Whisper dismis-
hilt. With her good hand she crushed
Jeffery scoffed, “That content
his wrist. Pulling back the covers
is everything. It is the collective knowl-
revealed a broken hand holding a 3DP
edge of our species. It is the food we
“We are brought up in a world of the
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
pistol. Add printing illegal weapons
to the list of charges. Blood soaked
into her jacket and she could feel its
warmth travel down to her finger tips,
dripping onto the bed sheets. Whisper
pulled the glove off of her flaccid hand,
and then with effort raised her bad arm
and removed the glove from her other
eat. It is the clothes we wear. Those
creators are not the ones who receive
compensation; it is the distributors
through their printers and VR headsets
who are stealing from everyone. Does
the entire universe belong to the
greedy for the greedy. They just need
a chance to see a different world.” His
eyes locked with hers, unwavering.
“I honestly hope your utopia
emerges, but today you become a
martyr to your cause,” she said, allowing
a kind smile to hover on her lips for
“I forgive you,” he said, closing his eyes
and reaching out for her.
Whisper removed her hands from his
head, the flagellum unwove from his
neurons, and his head fell limply to
the side, eyes empty. The void faded,
leaving her alone in the dark room. She
stood up from the bed, one arm still
disabled at her side.
Whisper stared up at the stone ceiling
and curled the fingers of her crippled
arm into a fist. Tiny nanobots flowing
through her veins had begun to repair
the bullet’s damage. She didn’t even
have the pain as company. VR, Void.
The stone ceiling evaporated away until
she floated in a dark void, absent of
anything but her own awareness.
“Rest well.” She pushed her gloves into
the red coat’s pocket. The recording
of Jeffery’s last conversation was uploaded
to her Nimbus drive, alongside
all of the other whispers of the dead,
immortalized in a digital hell of quantum
information. She pushed open
the room’s door and let it slam shut
behind her, trapping the corpse on the
other side of three inches of metal. She
stepped to the walk’s railing and stared
down into the light tunnel’s dark abyss.
Bodiless, without an avatar, she stared
into the darkness until she fell asleep.
Despite her best efforts to embrace the
nothingness, her dreams were haunted
by the faces behind the whispers.
Whisper finally pulled her
eyes from the darkness. Reserve
room. One of the rooms, six doors
down lit up green in her augmented
vision. She trudged to the door, limp
arm lightly reminding her of its presence
against her hip with each step,
and then pushed her way inside. The
door shut solidly behind her, and she
methodically removed her red trench
coat. Attempting to mount her coat on
the hook by the door, it fell to the floor.
Fuck, whatever. She gave the kitchen
a cursory glance, and then walked to
the bed instead. Whisper removed her
holster and dropped it in front of the
night stand. She pulled off her dark
shirt awkwardly around her disabled
arm, beneath it only a black sports bra.
She undid her pants and let them fall
to her ankles, and then thumbed off
her socks with one hand. Leaving the
clothes in a pile on the floor, she laid
down on the bed.
Isaac L. Wheeler - United States
Isaac is a dedicated writer and cyberpunk whose writing
focuses on the intersection between technology and philosophy.
He is the editor for Neon Dystopia, a journalist, and has a
short story published in the anthology, Fields of Broken Steel
by Insomnia Publishing.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
By Daniel Moore
Felt like I was still stateside.
I pulled up the contact’s name, scrolled
down to his number. Typed: Where are
Sidewalks narrowed. People shuffled
Slept all day. Didn’t mean to, just hap-
sideways to avoid one another, repel-
ling from tables parked at the curb
Seconds passed. The cell shook. Mes-
Set my lenses to update, put
and storefronts. Calls came from food
sage read: End of the block. Yum-Yum.
my body through motions to warm up.
carts, offering fishy curry. Sexy girls in
I hadn’t yet arrived. Physically I inhab-
tight skirts begged me to buy a pint at
Red and yellow blinked on me, flashed
ited a hotel room, but my head lived
their bar. They were persistent. I kept
down, repeated the sequence in rapid
two days in the past, still asleep on a
on walking. They got the hint.
succession. Girls in underwear, striped
hard black bench in an empty terminal.
with LEDs. Boys in tight denim. Lady-
The bits between—how I got on the
At the end of the row—the open mouth
boys in cocktail dresses. Skin and meat
plane, landed in BKK, managed to get
of Soi Cowboy—I hunted expats.
smiled it up for the tourists. They stood
myself indoors—all lost to me.
close and whispered and coerced with
Kept my hood low, walked along
During a briefing, six doors down from
light touches. Travelers responded with
the cupboard that passed for my office,
cash and plastic.
I’d looked over SAT video and listened
February, somewhere in the middle of
to an abbreviated lecture on the Asiatic
A German pair posed outside XY with
their winter. You wouldn’t know it by the
For-Profit Conflict (corporate speak).
a tall girl—muscular with a baby face—
temperature. Head had been buzzed
Seemed like an easy place to hunt for
for pictures, blocking a procession
and dyed platinum back home, which
my contact. But navigating between
of Americans from continuing to the
let me breathe, but I stuck parameters,
go-go bars, strip clubs, food carts, and
leathered men dancing outside Burst
wore denim and leather so I’d be
compact boutiques I found nothing but
City. Around them was just enough
overlooked. The jacket was new, still
room for me to get close to the little girl
creaked as I moved. Still, I attracted an
riding her infant elephant. Saddlebags
Most spoke some style of English, but
on either side of the animal offered
Europeans and different were in atten-
burners and chintzy cameras. The girl
Bangkok streets were flooded with
dance as well. Competing with techno
shouted prices to the crowd.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
people, their walls and building facades
housed eyes pointing in every direction.
I lowered the sensitivity on my
lenses; the prosthetic pair found every
face interesting enough to zoom in and
inspect because they were inspecting
me. Somewhere overhead, LOOK
HERE flashed in neon.
and dancehall for attention, finding
the right concentration of sound was
I Grabbed the company cell, checked
the GPS. Tech promised monitoring
of company brands zeroed in within
a meter of the targeted employee. He
Sticking behind the trudging boutique
we made our way through bodies. The
Yum-Yum rainbow sat on the horizon.
They hung around with dancers, these
Japanese men dressed as old-world
gangsters. Tattoos covered all the ex-
was close by.
of his fingers to gesture as he spoke.
The heavy one to his side had given up,
one here cares about your business or
speaks enough English to make sense
kept cool behind his glassy visor, feed-
of it anyway.” He stuck out a hand,
back washing his face in TV blue.
waited for a shake. “Jay, but everyone
He ordered moo satay and Chang in
Dancers paid them little attention, fa-
uses the family name—Kahn.”
an accent that sounded native. The
voring a third—Korean, younger, shaggy
Jay was too relaxed. I was on edge. I
woman working at the blue cart treated
black hair down to his shoulders. His
denied his prompt; stuck to the script
him like one.
smile disarmed, radiated a relaxed
of false names and need-to-know.
state with a nuclear glow. He transi-
He handed me a tray of skewers, a
tioned between joking with the walking
beer, and pointed me down the tarp-
tattoos and charming the girls that
crowded him, clinging to his clothes.
“Samantha? You’re my SA? Where’d
Trying to interpret the conversation, it
home office find you?”
seemed like he’d sealed the deal, and
the party would continue elsewhere.
“From Portland,” he said. “Not by
I needed something electric with many
“It might. Last SA I worked with was a
teeth to cut through the fog of fun
hundred-kilo-plus Nigerian. On these
“Where’d you learn to speak Thai like
clouding them. I opted for a text: Black
streets, security is an issue. So it mat-
Jacket. Ready to go.
Jay tapped his head with a skewer
Rather than check his cell, he looked
“Well, they sent me. That’s going to be
tip. “They gave me the MLAT when I
around, annoyed as if watching out for
was seven. Did pretty well. Parents put
the insect nipping at his neck. He spot-
me in foreign language classes after
ted me, flagged me down with his free
“Just making sure you know the land.”
that. Since then, I just travel, grab the
hand. I didn’t budge.
Jay walked, gave me his back. “We’re
local papers when I’m there, talk to
headed to a club in Nana. Hope you’re
people. I just pick it up. Fun as a party
He gave custody of the girls to the
cool with the industry, because we’re
trick. People eat it up when you jump
tattoos. They objected at first but con-
gonna be deep in the element tonight.”
from Korean to Spanish to Japanese,
ceded when he pointed in my direction.
mimicking the accent as you go along.
The men took at as a joke. The girls
Helpful in this job, but it’s mostly bor-
whispered. He half-bowed in apology
ing. What I’m interested in is what you
as he inched back my way.
He spun around, couldn’t believe what
know about the assignment.”
he’d heard. “What did they give you
With an arm draped around my shoul-
during your briefing?”
“I told you all they told me.”
ders, he whispered, “Play along.”
Away from Yum-Yum, back into the ac-
“I was told that I’d be meeting with you
tive stream down Soi. Once we hit the
and you’d escort me to the location
road, back in the presence of less illicit
where I’d be taking possession of com-
“I don’t need particulars to do my job.
business, I shook myself free. He didn’t
Tell me where we’re going and what I’m
like the gesture.
Jay stopped a pair of women, said
something sweet in Thai. They laughed
“You don’t get points for being a com-
He pitched his head to the side like a
dog hearing a high-frequency whine.
“First time working international?”
His accent was pure California. The
Valley, I guessed.
“You don’t have to worry about cover,”
a little too loud, showed too much
teeth. The prettier of the two gave
him her cell. He swiped a few times,
handed it back, thanked them both
with a kiss on the cheek. “We’ve got
time,” said Jay, producing a fold of
cash, manifested from nowhere. “Let
me buy you dinner, fill you in on the
pany man, or lady, or whatever. You
should always look out for yourself,
know the particulars.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“I was doing fifty-five in Victorville for
embezzlement—swindled a widow out
of forty-five million plus change.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
he said. “This is neutral ground. No
“Which seems particularly stupid when
sixty-billion-dollar-a-year company that
specializes in prosthesis. Arms, legs,
you consider screening procedures in
eyes, skin, bones—if you break it, burn
Almost had a clean break, but I didn’t
this part of the world are some of the
it, tear it, they make a better version of
focus on the particulars and lost it all.”
harshest in the world.”
it. They’re successful at what they do,
“So you’re a conman?”
but with that money comes ambition.”
“For your average criminal smuggler,
“Artist, Sam. Few people do what I did,
yes. But with corporate connections
“Then they grow.”
and most can’t even imagine the same
you can move small parcels without
kind of payment. But no matter how
the invasive eyes of the EU. And once
“Where this strictly consumer tech?
good I was, I ignored the finer points
you’re back on American soil it’s just a
Maybe. Since it’s a select clientele they
on that last job.
question of the right sticker to get your
service, Arbor simply got curious.” Jay
bags past the TSA.”
asked for my cell. He typed in his em-
“When my wife to be found out that I
ployee ID, provided his face to the cell.
had emptied her accounts, she sent
“If they ignore the dogs that’ll be going
“There was a researcher in Bombay—
her son after me. Never bothered
crazy with the drugs we’re smuggling,
Arab by the name of Yusuf. He had a
to look in on him, which turned out
because I can’t imagine we’re picking
taste for the kahoeys, bringing him to
to be particularly stupid on my part
up anything else.”
Bangkok every other month over the
since her boy was a fed. Obviously
last year and a half.
prison life wasn’t for me, so when the
“We would never. You and I are em-
company offered to lobby the governor
ployees of a respected corporation
The company had been monitoring
for clemency and an expunged record
that owes about sixty percent of its
his travels. We guessed he’d be a
in exchange for a ten-year contract, I
annual contracts to the US govern-
good intel buyout, sell the information
took the job. And now that I’m on year
ment. They’d never deal in anything so
to competition back home. Then we
eight, I’ve had enough time to know
pedestrian. No, what we’re here to get
noticed—rather, I noticed—that not just
that working with them is the same as
is a piece of prototypical equipment.
him but a number of Arbor Medical
pulling a con.”
Know Arbor Medical?”
researchers were leaving India for the
Pacific. The difference was everyone
They gave me sight.
went straight to Singapore, but Yusuf
came to Thailand.”
“I triple check everything I’m told before
Atrophied nerve fibers and macula
making a move. I never let myself get
were the result of congenital defect.
“And he looked for the ladyboys?”
caught off balance. That’s advice you
By age six I’d been designated as
“That was my first suspicion, but once
can have for free.”
blind. The family went broke getting
the company started monitoring com-
lenses from the Indian biotech firm,
munications between Arbor’s main
Smiling while speaking, displaying his
but military contracts in the Eastern
office in New Delhi and the research
credentials, offering a helping hand—I
world made Arbor the ideal choice for
satellite in Singapore they found out
was pretty sure the artist was running
prosthesis. Couldn’t remember what
that the whole firm is on lock down
a con on me.
natural vision was like, but their hard-
since Yusuf went AWOL and took with
ware and software wasn’t something I
them the prototype for NC12.”
My skewer tray went into an open
could go without.
Jay was smug when he gave back the
trashcan. I took a pause because my
beer was next. “Tell me what I need to
If we were here to take from them, I’d
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
know, because this trip, for me, begins
and ends with a box.”
“Sammie, it’s more than a box we’re
grabbing. See, Bangkok is the capital
of Silk Road. Anything you want taken
out of Asia and to the Americas comes
have to grab something for myself as
well. When would I get another opportunity?
“Doesn’t matter.” Jay waved his hands
about my face to get my attention. “All
you need to know is that they’re a
On screen, boxed in by Asian type my
lenses begged to translate for me, was
an open aluminum case. Gray foam
lined the insides, cradling canisters of
nitrogen emitting thick billows, veiling
the silver dome resting in the center.
Lights segmented its body, cut up like
the lobes of a robot’s brain.
I pinched and zoomed. “What’s NC12?”
think it’ll be our way to negotiating a
“’The alternative to man’s collective
contract. That’ll give us the opportunity
fate’. That’s the wording they used on
to stretch out into the Eastern market.”
memos discussing how to phrase it for
internal marketing. See, Arbor wants to
do away with decrepitude and death.
The theory is that the unit can record
“Close to it.”
information communicated through
synaptic neurons to collect memories
Draught and satay, courtesy of Jay
in a human brain. They’ve gone as far
who was explaining the different fla-
and implanting mice with the memo-
vors of street meat, how to determine
ries of other subjects. The implanted
legit sources from gypsy vendors who
mice recognized the donor’s mate,
hunt for pets.
eating habits, their unique grooming
patterns. And they were able to reverse
Hunger and thirst left me.
the process, select-edit memories,
which left the original mice forgetting
“If a technician stole NC12, why are we
everything they did, forming new habits
going to the red light? He may hang out
to fill that hole.
here, but he wouldn’t just travel with it
everywhere he goes.”
“Ultimately, what Arbor’s promising is
the ability to store memories, migrate
“Yusuf’s all alone,” said Jay. “No money
them to other subjects, or even outright
to spend, no family to call, trapped in
delete them. It’s an offshoot of their
a place where all there is for a Muslim
larger project: reverse-engineering the
to eat is fried pig on a stick. He’ll only
go where he needs to, and since all he
has is a very expensive, experimental,
“For what? Life extension? I’ve been
highly-sought-after piece of revolution-
He said the name like it was someone I
reading about that since I was little.”
ary hardware, he’s not going to keep it
“We don’t have platforms to upload
in the hotel safe.
it. I mean, a mouse is one thing, but
“Mischa peddles flesh. Most are Rus-
implanting a whole life of memories in
“In Bangkok, there are only three people
sian girls, Uzbeks, Ukranians, Latvi-
another person’s head is another. So,
who’d be interested in what Yusuf has:
ans—easy pickings from back home.
for now, it’s a potentially dangerous
Triads, Yakuza, and the Russian mafia.
And normally this would be about the
way to mess with people’s heads.”
You saw me earlier with the Japanese.
time we’d just call Interpol with his
“And the company wants it?”
Those people are very pushy and
location and have them shut his busi-
sociable. Told them I was the nephew
ness down, but Mischa’s got family
“Arbor does. Their contract with Black-
of a boss out on Venice Beach and
ties to QRT Research Labs in Kiev. He’s
well Services is up at the end of Q2,
they kept inviting me out. Reject them
been supplying them with women for
and the chatter is they’re displeased
and I’m sure they would’ve checked the
fertility research, which is the com-
with the company’s security work for
validity of my story, which would’ve cut
pany’s concentration. But having this to
them in the past. After I reported Yusuf’s
interests and the company found
out about the missing equipment, the
decision was made to take possession
before the technician could put it on
the black market. The higher-ups
my time here short. Chinese, I cleared
out when I first arrived. They seem
clean. It wasn’t until the other night
that I tracked Yusuf down and saw him
with the Russians. Thanks to CCTV
and working girls with loose lips, we
now know he plans to sell to Mischa
offer them could open that company’s
field of research far beyond where it is
now, making Mischa into a king.”
“So where’s his castle?”
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
peepshow to leering eyes, pulling people
closer. Women called after us and
anyone they could see. They mimed
sex with their hands, promised they
Up another dark alley, through a slit
were capable of more vulgar things.
between apartment buildings, pale yel-
Away from the flashy showings at the
away from me and was now sitting
low lights on Sukhumvit faded. Dated
head of Nana, was Gothic Raygun. A
at a less populated edge of the stage.
rap music was drowned under broken
simple green sign presented its name
Before him was a single pole flashing
moped exhaust and honking taxis. We
in retro-future lettering with flanges on
gold, supporting a dancer with inflated
followed pulsing purple from the squat
their ends like a spaceman’s zapper.
breasts designed for some perverse
buildings ahead—the night-time sun at
Each rung lit before it fired, only to
cartoon. Her arms shelled in hard white
recharge and cycle again.
plastic, smooth and glossed to the eye,
refracting gold onto Jay’s face.
“There’s usually a dozen guys working,”
Jay rapped on the door. A screen on
I took to the red square next to him.
said Jay. “All of them are family with the
the wall blinked into existence, captur-
Though he gave his face to the dancer,
exception of a few Thai that bus tables,
ing his face, calculating its vectors. I
followed her twists and turns around
work the bar. Gothic Raygun is the only
leaned away, tried to melt into shadow.
the pole, smiled when she brought her
Russian bar here. The others are Yaku-
Menus manifested. Jay tapped with
body close, his eyes roamed the room,
za-owned or local. It’s an unbalanced
the knuckle of his forefinger, swiped a
marked the exits, lingered on the Rus-
ecosystem where everyone watches
card through the reader when it was
sians drifting about the place.
the Russians all night long. So they go
time to pay.
in, cause no trouble and the others stay
“This whole club’s about stump wor-
happy. “According to what we gathered,
Three seconds of computing, then the
Yusuf’s spent the day being babysat by
the Ivans until his scheduled meeting
“They’re not handicapped,” said Jay. “I’d
with Mischa. And if I’m right, we’re early
Pink mist. It rained on us. The lobby
bet that half of these girls were never
by a few minutes.”
interior colored it, so did its screens of
sick or in an accident. I’d bet money
dancing silhouetted women, making
they weren’t modded before they got to
We crossed a strip of road to Nana
the place feel like a womb. The shadow
the city. Mischa’s got this technophile
Alley, following the flow of people
dancers pointed us downstairs, to
thing turned to eleven. Anything metal
between food carts. Excited chatter,
or shiny excites the guys. He finds
cheers and jeers.
the ones that cause the least amount
Music shook my face. What played
of fuss, leashes them on Special K,
Violet and silver flashed off walls, fun-
powered bodies on stages, in glass
maybe heroin, and it’s all over from
neling down to us in the center of the
cages. I couldn’t look away, not that
there. You get a girl addicted to some-
pit, machine-gunning to the tempo of
there were alternatives, but the particu-
thing, get her to live this kind of life, you
an angry electro beat. It peppered the
lar kink of this place commanded my
can get her to do anything.”
floor with light, flashing onto people’s
faces. Sticking close to Jay, we waded
With the tip of his nose he pointed to a
into a sea of bodies.
Matte fiber, polished chrome, exposed
woman one stage over. Her skin was
wiring—dancers were in a category
shelled in hard plastic and metal, lined
Bangkok had a general seediness to it,
above machine and below human. I
with running lights, segmenting what
the kind of stink that pulled me back to
understood the importance of pros-
were once major muscle groups. She
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
LA. Where we were was some place
more. Nana was its own world, cut off
from the rest of the city, casting the
hyper-sexual displays aside.
Unashamed nakedness. Smartfabric
woven into vinyl jackets windowed
brown breasts and bare laps beneath a
shifting collage of color. Transparency
thesis, but I’d never seen a fetish built
around it. And by looking at the crowd,
their fascination had reached a level
that would humble the religious.
Jay called to me. In my staring I’d lost
track of him, didn’t realize he’d slipped
was a toy gynoid that looked built for
war, but she seemed enraptured, shaking
her ass on a glowing platform.
“Alexandra Fedorchuck,” said Jay.
“Interpol has a fat file on her. I had to
lobby the company to get it for me. Apparently
she was the first of Mischa’s
girls that he pimped out back in Tallinn.
He got her hooked on something the
went from low to high, teasing a
Russians are cooking up and has been
cutting pieces off her here and there.
What you see on stage is what’s left of
“That nickname’s in her file?”
booth across from Yusuf.
“Her last surgeon in China—working
The brunette was serious. Her blink-
Options on my lenses were opened,
out of a black clinic, of course—said he
ing chest flashed on Jay’s face as
normal filters turned off. I switched on
left her with her five vital organs and
she pushed him onto padded booth
the glow. I squinted to limit the spread
not much else.”
seats. He reclined. The redhead was all
of blue light, hoping it wouldn’t spill
giggles. She patted the curtain, colored
out and alert the dancers or the house
Sensitivity increased, I used my
our booth for privacy. It’d turned pink,
lenses to look closer. I locked on Alex5,
much like the mood lighting from the
counted the augmentations to her
wall behind Jay.
Along the back wall, fixed in the left
body, following the running lights.
corner, was a break that curved just
The DJ switched the song, kicked up
I took her by the arm. “Make it clear
over the seats. There was the whistle
the tempo. Our dancer changed. Her
of a draft.
replacement was Thai with gray legs
and hinged knees ripped off an action
My authority wasn’t respected.
Didn’t take effort, the seats were hol-
low. They pulled away almost on their
The redhead looked to Jay for clarifica-
Jay slapped my thigh. “Hang out here
tion. He backed me up. Curtains were
for a sec.”
made clear again.
I hopped over and climbed into a space
that was low and compact. Fluores-
Behind his empty seat, in the corner
Seven minutes had gone by, still the
cent lights were humming straight
of the club, I saw Yusuf walk by, case
same song was coming from the
ahead. I pulled the seat as close to the
in hand. A no-neck Russian led him
speakers. I was grabbed at with artifi-
wall as I could.
by the shoulder through red curtains
cial fingers and pressed against altered
beneath the PRIVATE DANCES ONLY
flesh. I played along, getting agitated
The hole in the wall led to a hallway.
sign that flashed its existence to the
only when I couldn’t see Yusuf’s booth.
Stacked furniture on checkerboard
rest of the club.
Dancers got intuitive, realized that my
tiles. Sealed unmarked boxes pushed
interest wasn’t on them. They gave up
to one side. I did quick check for
Jay returned, flanked by an East Euro-
cameras. Saw none. I took out my
pean brunette with a belly cased in sil-
cell, set it to Survey and pinned the
ver and a Japanese redhead, her eyes
Music changed to aged synthpop with
case’s magnet to the metal plate in the
glowing mauve, brighter than mine ever
boosted bass. Curtains parted and Yu-
breast of my jacket. Now I was being
could, the shade of her arms. I followed
suf stepped out of his booth. His hands
recorded—activity and vitals backed
Jay’s lead, put myself on the inside of
were empty. Satisfaction spread on his
up on a company server dedicated to
the redhead, let her clamp onto me.
face. We watched each other through
clear curtains. His face tightened. He
Sections of booth, curtained, dug into
buried his hands in his pockets and
I looked through boxes, behind furni-
the ground. The no-neck led Yusuf to
sped away. I looked for Jay some-
ture, pushed aside loose ceiling tiles,
a corner, sat him down. Yusuf hugged
where beneath robot strippers.
and every shadowed spot in the room.
the case to chest. The curtain was
I kept low to the ground, slipped out
pulled, its fringes patted. Transparency
gave way to opaqueness. The no-neck
made his way past me, grunting like a
I led the party now, took them to the
from under curtains and scuttled into
It was like our own—plush red couch
curved around the walls and projectors
fixed into the seems for the floorshow.
That was wrong. Had to be. Yusuf
walked in with cargo, left without it.
The trick, I sensed, was low tech, likely
Back the way I came was a door, a
slab of black metal with an analog
lock. Why wouldn’t a mobster spend
a couple thousand on a digital fixture
that give an intruder a bit of trouble? It
was careless. A DO NOT DISTURB sign
would’ve been just as effective as the
copper-and-tin job keeping the door
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
staring me in the face.
I worked the keyhole with tools. I went
manual. TSA had given me trouble on
a flight to Seattle when they found the
lock-pick gun in my carry-on. I was instructed
that Thai security was stricter
still. Besides, working with my hands
kept me sharp.
With the lock turned, I opened the door
a crack. I listened for footsteps, music,
but most importantly I listened for
There were none. The land beyond the
door was barren. I pushed through.
Keeping close to the ground, I shuffled
in low light. The corridor had four
doors. One was for maintenance,
another for electrical controls, one was
unmarked, and the last was simply labeled
OFFICE. My destination couldn’t
be more obvious.
From the space between the door
and wine carpet, I saw no light. I took
a chance, tried the knob. Locked. I
checked the cell. The screen was peppered
with dots—cameras and sensors
were active in the room. That wasn’t
a problem; I could sense the package
out in the open. I was ready to go, but I
needed to secure my exit first.
I worked the keyhole with tools. I went
manual. TSA had given me trouble on
a flight to Seattle when they found the
lock-pick gun in my carry-on. I was instructed
that Thai security was stricter
still. Besides, working with my hands
kept me sharp.
With the lock turned, I opened the door
a crack. I listened for footsteps, music,
but most importantly I listened for
Lights switched on. Satay climbed up
Russian muscle, a mountain of it,
stood at the door. His jaw went slack.
He shouted something he wanted me
to know. I didn’t understand, which
made it a little more terrifying.
He dove for me headfirst. I rolled over
the table and slipped past his big body.
There was no time to react. By the
time I crossed the threshold, he was
kissing the desk, his legs curving over
Music poured into the hall. Traffic was
increasing. I ran for my exit, ignoring
the rumbling behind me. Language,
rough and angry, cutting like a blunt
cleaver, transferred between them. I
sped down the hall, lugging the case
with some difficulty. NC12 was heavy.
It slapped my leg at every step.
I bashed the crash bar with my
shoulder, sending me into a slip down
a sewer channel, rolling in filth. Rusted
support beams crossed over my eyes.
Spiny feet dug into my face. Natural reaction
was to curse the rat crawling on
me, but I was high, endorphins surging.
I grabbed its dry fur tossed it somewhere
behind, got back to my feet.
My body compressed itself, making
me as small as possible, squeezing
through the tight pipe curving around
Nana. Russians argued rather than
try to fit in behind me. Their shoulders
wouldn’t allow it. Walking while
crouched, imitating a duck’s movements,
I could see the street. A few
more seconds and I’d be free of them.
They fired. Bullets tore through the
pipe, pinged off it, shaking me in my
step, tensing my back. Through rusted
wounds I could see people running in
I squeezed through a crack between
carts, scratching the case and my
arms in the process. Nana Alley was
flooded with panicked bodies, their tide
washing over cars, bleeding in all directions.
Beeps from a weak horn called
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
Traveling down the hall and taking to
a corner, I found the first sturdy door
int he place. Heavy and red, secured in
place with a crash bar. The sign in its
center instructed on proper emergency
etiquette should a fire take place in different
languages. I felt between metal
and the rubber lining. The stick of sewage
poured in. Pressing a finger to it,
the door gave. Had I pushed the crash
bar it would’ve flung open.
Back at the office, I worked the lock. I
took a deep breath and switched my
eyes on. Once inside, I made sense of
the dark, spotted Yusuf’s case on the
Jay, sitting on the oldest motorbike in
Bangkok, waved me over.
pharmaceutical runoff. I swallowed
I dove in, kept my focus on him.
Russian cut through the commotion.
Guns went off, people dropped down.
Japanese came next, followed by fire
of their own. The crowd found the motivation
to run further, faster. I managed
to stay afloat, pushed through to the
alley where Jay sat. I felt the rush of fire
whip past my face.
The Yakuza heavy was next to Jay,
visor perched on his head, pulling the
trigger of a long-barreled pistol with
cool calibration firing with calm.
Jay pulled me on the motorbike with
one arm and steered with the other.
Gunfire and angry language vanished
as we turned down Sukhumvit Road.
Jay secured the door behind us. He’d
been living in a Chit Lom high-rise. By
the look of the place, he’d been here a
From the kitchen window I could make
out the street. Nana was far away,
hidden behind highway lanes and
thousands of drivers. But still I was hot,
compressed from all sides.
Springs popped. The cell gave me
clearance—signals set to broadcast
from inside rerouted to company servers,
making them invisible to Arbor,
Mischa, or any other unwanted eyes.
The chrome dome sat in its nest, just
like the image I’d seen. I grabbed the
cell, prepared for the final step.
Jay grabbed the NC12, turned it over
in his hands, exposing its underside.
Connecting appendages folded inward
like crab legs. He swiveled them out of
place. They protracted, enlarging the
unit, opening it up.
“Imagine this digging into your head,”
he said, “plugging into you. Doctors
freak me out on their own, and now
they’ve got hardware like this.”
I reached up for the prototype and felt
a tear across my back. The pull of skin
off flesh burned with the disconnection
of nerves to meat.
Jay set the unit down and put his
hands on my back. With one long finger
he dug into a brand new hole in my
brand new jacket, touched the wound
beneath my t-shirt. “Looks like you got
Thought it was the sun burning my
face. Could have sworn I sensed the
Bangkok’s tropical heat. But it was
halogen in rod form.
My body communicated two sensations
at equal volume: restfulness and
pain. I could’ve been in a coma and
beaten everyday of it. I pushed myself
to sit up, used both arms to pull it off.
My ear had been pinned to my shoulder,
held in place by the hard black
bench I’d been sleeping on. Draped
over my legs was my jacket. There was
a hole in the back. I’d just bought it.
Above me, booming down in femme
android, was a sobering reminder that I
was sitting alone in a LAX terminal.
I put in a call to the home office,
listened and nodded mostly. I went to
the dining table, dropped everything
there, set up the cell to read the case
as I worked on the twin locks on either
side of the handle. Tiny German things,
complex by design.
Jay put a bottle of Singha betweeen
me and my work. “Drink.”
My hands shook at the locks. They
“Boozin’ brings you back down. I’ve got
pills if you prefer that.”
I didn’t. I took a swig of beer to keep
him quiet, then regretted it. The brew
was bitter and chalky, a taste of
I turned to look. The wound was in a
spot that eluded my sight. “Is it bad?”
“Well, you’re bleeding a bit, and you’re
never gonna wear this thing again, but
there’s no bullet in you. It’s not even
that deep.” He pulled my jacket off, and
with it went my strength. “Let’s clean
Jay offered a hand to help me stand.
I pushed it away, tried to lift myself
off the chair. My thighs shook. Knees
buckled. I fell forward, right into him.
Everything split, registering in my
lenses in triplicate. He talked to me,
sounded like shouts from underwater.
The taste of Singha flushed from my
tongue and washed the roof of my
Daniel Moore - United States
Moore is a freelance writer and
journalist from New York City. He’s
been a regular contributor to Neon
Dystopia, and has had works of
fiction published by Black Denim Lit,
Mystery and Horror, Afterburn Science
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
Street Clan: Homecoming
By Sean P. Nolan
What the hell am I doing?
What the hell is the whole frukin’ world doing?
Here I am. Back in the old neighborhood, slummin’
it with my old crew and the dope boys and all the
while trying to start a frukin’ revolution. My wifes
left me. Kicked me out halfway across the world
and here I am back where it all fruking started.
Fruk this shit. Sure, I’m comfortable. My family’s
here. My clan’s all here. They take care of me and
me them, same as always. But what the hell is that
all for? Didn’t I leave for something better than this?
What if that’s why she left?
What if that’s why she fruking took up with that prick Fredriksen damn near the moment I left
Kleria. Maybe that’s why she’s moving in with that fat mother fruker. That fat mother fruker who
played at being my best fruking friend in the whole world when I didn’t have my clan to lean on
when shit got tough. Maybe Fredriksen, being that hypocritical cuntbag he has shown himself to
be, played that shit up in hopes that he could move in as soon as I was fruking deported, thinking I
would just write it off as my clan taking care of my lady.
He forgot one frukin’ thing.
He’s not my boy.
He’s never run with my gods damned clan.
Mother fruker don’t know shit.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
My crew wants to fruk his ass up something shocking. It took all I had not to jack in and
hack his frukin’ InfoNet file and notify his fruking boss that he’s boning another man’s wife. I’m
sure a Scripture teacher at the Cult of Athena Middle School shouldn’t be doing things so scandalous.
But fruk him.
I’m breeding revolution in the streets of Durik. Been gone for years,
hanging low, staying out of sight from the Central Gaian Intel Ministry and the fruking police state
they’ve enforced since The Wars, and you know what? Here I am, running with my boys, tweaking
and drinking with the dealers, just like nothing ever fruking happened. Here I am, back on my old
streets, seeing the jack-boot of the C-Feds pressing down harder than ever on our necks. Here I
am, with all my knowledge weaned from the fruking data-dreaming I did, surfing the InfoNet.
Here I am. Breeding revolution.
work as separate as possible from my
home life. Mom rarely asked where the
It’s about eight at night in the L.E. Sec-
credits for the food and rent had come
jacket over my shoulders and secured
tor when Manny rolls up in his sleek
from. No matter how tweaked I was, or
the clamps on my boots as their nano-
little Jimungan Hefflon Corp TX-2999
how good I was with an electro-blade,
machines clung to the form of my feet.
sports car. Two tons of sleek black mi-
Mom would have kicked my ass to Ha-
I checked my dreads in the window
cro-carbon-weave beauty encasing an
des if she knew that cash was hacked
to make sure they were in their proper
eight conductor JP11 engine. Manny
from the C-Fed Bank.
top knot and tied my blue holo-cloth
got it while I was gone during a street
bandanna over my forehead.
war with our rivals, The Grey Shunjini,
Even after being gone for
from 55th Street. Their warehouse was
four years, after having been in love
I paused to look at the man in the
ceded to our clan in the peace negotia-
and married in a different country,
tions, and since Manny had been the
after dealing with the isolation and
one who’d hacked through the security
nightmares from the guilt of exile,
The man I thought had been left
to attack it in the first place, he got
here I was again. Sitting in my room
first pick of the spoils. Now our clan,
in the tenement block. Mom sleeping
The Blue Katanas, was at the top of
on her cramped bed a few feet from
the heap. I’d left right when shit had
me, and the blood-red sunset coming
started to hit the fan, mostly because
in through the window with the noise
of my connections to political dis-
of my boys coming up for our ride. It
sidents I’d reached through the Black
was coming home to another fruking
I went out the front door and
Net in order to get us arms.
life that I’d damn near thought was a
down the stairwell, all the while under
dream when I was in Kleria. It was the
the electronic eyes of three times more
Unfortunately, our Shogun
soggy smell of the afternoon drizzle
security cams than had been in my
had deemed the politics that had
drying up on the plascrete pavement.
tenement before I’d left. Sign of the
rubbed off on me as too dangerous for
It was the Pound Punk music from
times I guess. I paused on the bottom
a clan already being watched so heavily
across the street wafting over like a
floor to let the retina scanners run their
by the Confederate Government. Said
tribal dirge from the highland rises. It
lasers over my eyes. I had no wor-
that since Durik City State had been
was the shouts of Mike, our drunken
ries. The Shogun had set me up with
under military control since the end of
neighbor upstairs, yelling about his
some implants before I came home.
Seperation Wars, the C-Feds had been
days in the V’Halsen Army in the wars
No C-Feds were gonna get his boys.
farther up our asses than a recharge
and how the C-Feds were all a bunch
Even if he had to threaten his own with
jack in an android.
of fruking “cow’rds”.
his electro-blade for bringing down
so much C-Fed heat. Death before
I had been a liability, but now I had no
It was home.
dishonor. All that shit.
other fruking choice.
I was back.
Gods, I fruking hated it. Pulling the jack
Manny was waiting outside for me,
out of my neural port, I rolled up the
leaning against the side of the car, but
I heard the hum of Manny’s
chord and slid my data-pad under the
at the sight of me he whooped and
engine from my window at my mom’s
couch. I stood up and shook off the
place. She’d just gotten off of a twelve
jack-happy endorphin rush that came
hour shift at the Cyber-Disease Rehab
House she worked at, and the crazed
jackers had taken a lot out of her. I was
glad she’d found the work, mostly due
to my clan’s help. She’d been unemployed
first due to the Wars and then
due to the recession that followed. All
in all that was almost ten years of being
poor and hungry for me and my kid
up on me like the tide with the moons.
I’d been chatting with some of the
dissidents on a secure Black-Net room
about some news from the burgeoning
revolution. News I intended to share
with my clan. Making sure my electroblade
was secured to the mount on my
forearm, I pulled my proxy-leather
“Sal! Mother fruker! How
you been?” he said, his brown dreads
trailing from his top knot in the wind
like rotting cables. We slapped hands
and exchanged the quick hug you only
see guys with knowledge of life on
the streets do. Brotherhood. Unity. I’d
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
brother. I’d always kept my street
Pretty much everyone had been too
preoccupied with avoiding C-Fed
“You alright, Sal?” Manny shouted over
bombing raids and V’Halsen Militia
the music. I took out a cigarette and lit
enforcement squads to be moving in
“Not too shabby, Manny,” I said, grin-
up, turning down the stereo.
on each other’s territory. But now, no
ning for the first time since I’d been
one gave a shit.
back over the past few days, “Still
“I dunno.” Manny’s face went
blank, the dragon holo-tatt on his face
Luckily, the Vannies had left a
coiling up for sleep.
lot of unused military-grade tech when
“Frukin’ hell, Salmon,” he said, using
The Noble Lady, Lady Katra V’Halsen,
my nickname that I’d acquired due to
“Is it, y’know. Her?” I shook
was taken down by the C-Feds. Al-
migrating uptown for a certain lady a
my head and lied.
though she was the traditional leader
few years back. “Everyone’s gonna be
of Durik City State and all, I couldn’t
so stoked to see you, man. Seriously.
“Nah. Just still a shock being back and
have been happier when she got a
They’ve been stoked since The Shogun
shit.” Manny nodded and turned the
fruking death sentence for treason.
told us last week.” His bandanna turned
music back up, patting my shoulder
This was for two reasons.
into a swirling summer blue sky as the
holo-cloth read his excitement.
I guess now would be a good
One: Her Militias were full of
time to explain who “she” was and why
self-righteous assholes who busted
“Yeah...,” I said, tugging at my
I was still such a fruking mess over her.
my little brother’s knee caps for not
dreads. “I’m surprised he stamped his
It really came about as a fluke to be
addressing them “properly”.
seal of approval.”
honest. When the street war was starting
up with the Grey Shujini, I had been
Two: No-one paid attention to where all
“Meh. At least you’re back in.
busy hitting up just about every Black
the V’Halsen War Chest was going or
It’s been a few months since you’ve
Net feed I could to try and get my clan
where their arms were.
been back in the C-Fed, and I was be-
some goods. I was the hacker for the
ginning to think he’d never let you back
clan. The Shogun loved what I did. I’d
That meant money, mother fruker!
in.” I shuffled my feet back and forth.
gotten us enough credits from C-Fed
Years of guilt weighed on my shoulders
banks and megacorps that we’d all be
I spent most of my nights
like Athena’s scales. Manny put his arm
able to fund just about any venture we
jacked in and sliding around on the
over my shoulder, walking me to the
needed in order to keep our cut of Durik
Black Net to try and see where I could
City under control. My work had gotten
procure a decent amount of things
our boys false I.D. Tags, good electro-
such as EMP mines, sub-machine
“Come on, Sal.” he grinned,
blades with clean scancodes, and
guns, and stun grenades. Gods knew
adamantine teeth glimmering in the
enough dope to keep that cash flowing
there were plenty lying about in all
sunset. “Tonight, we party.”
in like Klerian sailors to a whorehouse.
the anti-government groups running
Manny blared his favorite Slimetechno
around the InfoNet in those days, and
band, Slave Port, the moment we
When we’d expanded our operations
Gods knew they all needed the cash.
got into the car. Accompanied by the
so much that even the police didn’t
In a few Net meetups with dealers, I’d
sludgy techno vocals and shrieking
want to fruk with us, the Grey Shujini
usually end up getting to talk with them
electronic soundtrack, the already sur-
got nasty. They wanted in. Their first
about politics. They sent me some
real experience of being back in Durik
strike was to cut up one of our clan
interesting stuff, especially stuff that
turned downright ethereal. We drove
dope boys and flay his hide across the
was found by a VHM hacker named
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
past sights I hadn’t seen in years, places
where friends had been arrested,
enemies cut up, and girls fruked. Each
street corner, each layer of pavement,
neon light and holo-sign told a story.
Held a memory. Memories that had
haunted me. Memories. More like fruking
nightmares. Man, I never thought
I’d see any of this shit again. Not since I
overpass that led into the L.E. Sector.
Just about everyone saw it. Fruk. Even
the InfoNet news feeds were streaming
footage of it for about two days when
it first happened. People got scared.
There hadn’t been a big war between
the street samurai clans in Durik City
since, well, before the V’Halsen Wars.
Gods-damned lunatic I had thought.
All that talk I started to get meshed in
with started to bring some extra heat
met her. Not since I loved her.
down on myself and the clan. The Confederate
Gaian Military Forces who had
pretty much put the City State on lock
south-western end of the Sector, by
down to make sure it wouldn’t break
Jerri-Boy, the baby of the clan. His mo-
away again. Their shadiest branch was
hawk bobbed from side to side as he
varying amounts of red stripes on the
the Black Ops, and the more dirt I was
ran up to me and gave me a rib crack-
sides of their bandannas. They were all
presented about them, the more there
ing hug, my arms pinned under his.
still soldiers, not full fledged samurai
were weird unmarked vans parked on
like myself or Manny. The mohawks
my street and everyone else’s street.
“Hey, kid.” I groaned loud enough to be
signified that. The red stripes signi-
Phones went missing only to show
heard just barely over the bone-shaking
fied something which was important
up the next day with some features
music blaring from the building. “You,
to each and every street clan in the
disabled and weird interference on
uh... Got strong, my friend. And, uh.
world’s many mega-metropolises;
certain calls. A few of my guys got
Big.” Jerri let go and laughed manically
the wounds earned through battle to
caught up at a routine check point into
and called over my shoulder to Manny.
become fully initiated. It took me three
the downtown Sector and detained for
years to gain the mandatory five. Jerri’s
seven hours. No reason was given.
“‘My Friend!’ The mother
arm was his fourth it seemed. When
The stress started to get to me.
fruker talks like a gods-damned Klerian
I left he’d only had one, and that was
I was worried about my mom and
now!” Jerri patted me on the shoulder.
just a cut to the leg he’d gotten in an
electro-blade duel. Now here he was,
just barely still an initiate.
I was worried about my clan.
I clutched my ribs and rasped, “Hera’s
tits, Jerri. When’d you get the augmen-
Hell. There were a lot of
Then I started playing around on a VR
tic work done?”
initiates all through the building. There
Wargame based off of the V’Halsen
were at least five times more mohawks
Wars. I was playing on the CGMF side,
“During the war with the
than dreaded top-knots. All through the
half in case the Black Ops were watch-
Shitjinis,” he said, using our derogatory
building, fresh faced kids only eleven
ing, and half because I still did not and
term for our rivals. He pulled back the
or twelve with one or two stripes on
do not have any love for those hijacking
sleeve of his jacket to reveal carbon
their colors flashed me the sign, drank,
V’Halsen bastards. That’s around the
nanoweave sinews glimmering in the
and popped pills. Like a ripple, they all
time she messaged me. Here. I still got
glow of the street lights. “Lost it running
seemed to notice me. I had no idea
the convo transcript recorded in my
into one of their houses. Took a double
who most were, if I even knew any of
internal CPU. Check this shit out:
shot gun blast of acid shot. Man, it
them. They sure as fruk knew me. I
Server: Mountain Front 23499
frukin’ hurt like ass when my arm fell
shot Manny a glance as we headed
off!” He paused and glanced at me, still
Room: CGMF Air Assault Base, Cafete-
doubled over and wheezing for breath.
“Oh, shit man. I just got it last year.
“How do they know who I
Setting: Out of Character Discussion
Sorry.” He bent over and tried to help
am?” He grinned.
Users present: 05
“Jerri-Boy told all the new
“You got it last year, Jerri-Boy.” Manny
recruits after the war know about you.
said from behind us as we walked in-
You’re like a fruking hero to them, man.”
side. “That means you should be used
to it by now. Either that, or you’re a
“Why?” Jerri-Boy turned to
Sorry. I don’t think I’m ready to show
you that yet. Besides, the party’s about
“Sal!” I was greeted at the
door of our clan castle, a three floor
apartment building on the
fruking idiot who can’t get a handle on
augmentics.” We walked up the steps
and Jerri flipped Manny the finger, grinning.
I made the gang sign to the kids
hanging out on the stoop and they did
it back, grinning to each other.
They had mohawks like Jerri-boy and
me with an expression better suited to
a teacher talking to a dull student.
“Because you got out.” I
smiled half-heartedly and looked
around the room. What greeted my
gaze was a floor packed with raving
top-knots, a flurry of blue, green, and
yellow strobe lights, holo-dancers and
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
vids, and the full gut vibrating force
“Let’s party.” He walked away toward
of thudding sub-woofers. There was
a tub packed full of glossy metal beer
hazy and beginning to ache. I was bent
drinking and drugs here too, but in
bottles. Suddenly, the sweet smell of
over, hands on my knees, and I raised
even more massive quantities. Boots
perfume curled up my nostrils. The
my head just enough to glare at her in
pounded the ceramite floor with am-
room faded away in a hazy crush of
a way I hadn’t glared at someone in
phetamine-fueled fervor to the music.
bodies, colors, and music. A hand
Knots snorted lines of crushed pills off
brushed mine. The smell got stronger.
“Fruk you.” Her face twisted
of some giggling and nubile concu-
I was being circled like a wounded
into a mask of disgust, her eyes glisten-
bine’s stomach. Sweat dripped from
animal. Circled by a wolf.
ing in a way of truth, lips suddenly
under throbbing navy blue bandannas
as eighteen year-old street samurai imi-
“Hello handsome.” A she-wolf.
“Oi! Get out of here, Taina!”
tated fruking the sweet smelling teen
I turned my head just a fraction of an
Manny shouted from behind me, point-
girls in short poly-nylon weave kimono
inch and saw her face right next to
ing at her, bottles in hand. “He doesn’t
dresses to the music.
mine. White powder covered her high
want you right now!”
cheekbones, underscored by blush.
“Welcome home.” Manny
Blue glitter eye makeup blended near
“Oh, he wants me more than
said, suddenly next to me and with an
seamlessly with twinkling green eyes.
he knows, Manny.” She turned away to
arm around my shoulder. I stared at
Her brown hair, highlighted by green
stripes, was held back in a loose bun.
Her red lips brushed my ear.
“Fruk you slut!” She gave him the finger
“Yeah. Home.” Manny noticed
without looking back, her hips swaying
Jerri-Boy standing and gawking.
“Been a while, Taina,” I said,
beneath her kimono. Manny helped
“Hey! Get your ass down-
closing my eyes to fight off the wash
stairs! You know the rules.” Jerri
of pheromone-laced perfume, “Good to
see you.” She leaned in, only a sliver of
“Fruk her, man. You’ve been
barely felt air between our lips.
through a lot. You don’t need her cock-
“Seriously, Manny? I mean, I
teasing you again.” I managed a grin
wanna see-,” Manny hit him in the back
“Same, Jakk.” There were only
and took a beer as he offered it and
of the head.
a few people in the world allowed to
knocked back a large gulp.
call me by my real name: my mom, my
“Respect your fruking elders,
little brother. And my wife.
“No. No. I don’t need that
Jerri! Fifth stripe! No sooner!” Jerri
shit.” It was then when a seven foot tall
rubbed the spot on the back of his
“Shit.” I pulled away from her,
wall of muscle and augmentics in a
putting my hands up and fell away
leather jumpsuit walked up to the two
from the arousal inducing fog. She had
of us. The back half of his skull was
“I think I earned it for that...”
just been about to lean in for the kill
encased in a gleaming chrome cap
“What was that?” Manny
and was left off balance. She recovered
that was sutured to his bald head. A
snarled at him with his metal teeth.
with the trained grace of a concubine
twist of jack chords were held up into
and reached into her cleavage for a
a top knot. His eyes were nothing that
“Nothing,” Jerri said, heading
pack of cigarettes and lit up with a
could be described as such. They were
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
back down the steps. I watched him
walk away, shoulders drooped, wondering
if the reason he’d gotten his arm
eaten away by acid infused buck shot
was because he’d wanted to be able to
get his fifth stripe so he could welcome
me home. An irrational twist of the old
guilt wrenched my stomach.
sly grin. She blew smoke and called
out to me over the music which was
pounding away like the erection that
had suddenly sprung in my pants. “You
alright, sweetheart?” Taina said, walking
over to me but stopping outside of
the effective range for the perfume, “Or
did that Klerian girl take your dick along
with your pride?” My head was still
two mounted pinpricks of blue LED
light which gave the man before us an
otherworldly look and enhanced sight.
A long electro-blade katana hung at his
waist on his right side. On his left was
a holstered 211 Megamax .50 Caliber
Slug-Shot pistol loaded with incendiary
rounds. How’d I know it was loaded
with incendiary rounds, you ask? Be-
“Come on.” Manny said.
cause it’s the fruking Shogun. That’s
Manny prostrated himself on
the ground to show respect. I stood
and stared at the man to blame for
my altered life. He grinned, and an
enhanced voice box boomed out over
“Salmon. I see you’re still as
disrespectful as ever.” Manny looked up
“What the fruk are you doing,
Sal?” he hissed. I ignored him and
grinned back at the Shogun.
“Yeah, same old me,” I took
another swig of my beer, “What’s happening,
Shogun?” I punched him in the
arm playfully. The shogun took a deep
“Yes. Disrespectful as ever,”
the giant said, with his giant voice, “Tell
me, Sal. Why do you think I brought
you back here?” I shrugged. Even
though I was playing the asshole, I’d
never truly thought about it. I was
already in such a bad way back in
Kleria with the whole divorce (it stings
just saying it) that I’d never questioned
the Shogun’s intentions for bringing
me back. I’d actually hung my head in
shame when I knew I’d have to be back
in the game, but alas, here I was. Again.
I had no fruking clue what I was doing.
I took a blind swing.
The party had come to a halt. We were
the main show now.
“So, what do you need me to
do?” I asked, not wanting to push my
luck unless I wanted my chest burnt
out to a husk by one of the slugs from
his pistol. He continued to circle me.
“Remember how you got your
name? Seeing that girl from uptown,”
he said, with a panther’s growl, “I
need you to see her again.” I suddenly
became aware of Taina’s eyes on me
from across the room.
“Yeah? What for?” The Shogun
“For what else? I need you to get something
for me.” My stomach dropped.
“Can I ask what it is?” I choked out. The
Shogun stopped behind me.
“No. That’s a need-to-know
matter for the time being. Something
dealt with better,” he laid his massive
hands on my shoulders, “in private.”
I took a deep breath. Revolution was
going to have to wait.
“Now!” he called out to the
whole room, “I thought this was a fruking
party!” Everyone jumped to their
feet and cheered. The music and dancing
started again. The Shogun leaned
into my ear.
“Welcome home, Sal.” He
began to lead me to the stairs for his
chambers. “Welcome home.”
“Because you need a hacker?”
The Shogun grinned a grin that made
corp execs piss themselves and cops
“Yes. Exactly.” He began to walk around
me, and I noticed that the music had
stopped and that the whole floor
around us was packed with the rest of
the clan samurai prostrating themselves
like Manny. Even the holo vids
Sean P. Nolan - United States
Nolan is an author and activist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. His book Shades
Of Grey is available on Lulu.com and Smashwords.com. Find the rest of
Street Clan on his blog, bornoutofbinary.blogspot.com.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
By Alex Chase
Ezra’s eyes rolled back into her head.
Her body lurched and strained against
the stained sheets of the hotel’s bed.
The uploading of one’s consciousness
to cyberspace tended to cause bodily
spasms, her lithe body twitched for several
moments before finally lying flat.
Everything went white. As Ezra looked
around through the endless blank abyss,
streaks of color began slowly trickling
down from the top of her vision.
This part of the transference would always give her a feeling of vertigo, no matter how many times
she dived. Vertigo, she echoed. Would that even be the right word? It didn’t seem to do the feeling
justice: the disorientation upon having your consciousness ripped out of your head and put into a
worldwide collection of megaservers. There should be a word for that.
Moments later, the colors began to take form as Ezra’s avatar was loaded. Her extremities came
first, fingers and toes materializing out of thin air; then the top of her head, and so on until, finally,
an avatar that looked strikingly similar to her real body was formed. The space around her was
blank again -- white, unused. The impossible vastness granted by cyberspace used to excite her.
Now, she stared at it with dead eyes. Today she had come here, not to play, not to code, but for a
much more painful reason. She made a hand motion, summoning a lit-up menu display in front of
her. Upon reaching ‘Avatar Presets,’ she selected an option that caused her avatar to morph. Her
skin became gray, supple details removed, face distorted in a swirl of emptiness.
“Run cyberspace area 44e illicit,” She said in a garbled voice. “Interrogation Room.”
A ding echoed in the vastness. Lines of light drew themselves around the gray avatar, tracing out a
small room. The walls then began to fill in with lifelike texture and color, simulating something one
might find deep within the confines of a police station. A desk and a pair of chairs soon followed,
with another item spawning on top of the table: a pair of handcuffs with a bright red WARNING
sign circling around them in a ring of light. Ezra approached the cuffs and tapped them, quickly
moving through a prompted menu. The warning disappeared and a blue READY sign replaced it.
Ezra trembled. It was now or never.
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
back alleyways, you think you know
what is best for humanity. Your company
seeks to take evolution into its own
hands. Eugenics. Culling.” The man’s
“Execute program ‘mousetrap,’” Ezra
look of fear turned to guilty panic,
because the enigmatic avatar in front
said, her voice shaky. She almost
his gums showing through an over-
of him booted up a new program. In a
gasped at the sound. Her hands grew
wrought frown. He cast his gaze down,
matter of seconds, Ezra held a loaded
clammy. No turning back now.
his eyes darting frantically before once
pistol just inches from the man’s face.
A couple moments later, a ding once
again looking up. While it was obvious
again resounded, prompting the lines
he was desperately trying to put on a
“We are not negotiating. You will atone
of light to converge on a point a couple
calm face, Ezra could see right through
for the murders. The countless children
feet in front of her. Within moments,
an avatar that depicted a middle-aged
man appeared in front of her. He was
“What do you want?”
“Children?! Those things were
on his knees, facing away from her,
barely human! Autism, aspergers,
wearing sleepwear and looking bedrag-
“You’re going to announce to the
cerebral palsy -- deformities that would
gled. As soon as the avatar finished
public what you’ve done. What Aegis
have caused them to be useless in
forming, the man whipped his head
has done. Killing any children born in
society. Deformities that we’ve almost
back and forth. He whimpered -- the
your facilities that don’t meet certain
weeded out! Aegis is raising the bar
confused, panicked whimper of a dog
‘requirements.’” She paused. “Well, let’s
for what it means to be human! Those,
stranded on the roadside. The man
call it what it is. Murder.”
those things were --”
started to stand. Ezra quickly stepped
forward and touched the handcuffs to
“Look, you’re confused. I don’t know
“They were human!”
his wrists. With a mystical motion, the
what kind of technology you’ve used to
handcuffs sprung from her grip and
keep me from logging out, but if you let
“They were deficient!”
latched to the man, bringing his arms
me free, I promise to --”
together and violently forcing him back
Ezra shoved the barrel of the gun in the
down to the ground. Ezra’s heart leapt.
A jolt of electricity ran through
the man’s avatar, causing his speech to
devolve into a wild scream.
“Don’t you EVER call Jack deficient!”
The man turned his head to view his
The gray avatar gasped and took a
captor. His blue eyes went wide at the
“You know, that wifi con-
step back. The man looked at her,
sight of the featureless avatar in front
nection chip you have implanted in
first in shock, but then with a look of
of him. White skin grew a shade paler,
your brain makes it ludicrously easy
and Ezra could have sworn that his re-
to do things like this. Hardwiring is
ceding brown hair shrunk back another
much safer, even if you have to have a
“... Ezra? That’s you, isn’t it? Ezra?”
somewhat unsightly jack in your skull.
Let me tell you again in case you didn’t
A gunshot resounded. The man’s
“Wha-- who are you? What are these
hear me correctly. You are going to
avatar fell to the floor, life-like blood
cuffs? Why am I in cyberspace?” The
come clean. I’m going to start a record-
splattering behind him and seeping
man’s voice was frantic. Ezra would
ing and tag every major news station.
onto the virtual stone. Shit! The gray
have smiled, if not for her face being
You will tell all of them what Aegis is
avatar made a motion like it was pulling
devoid of features. Smile, me? She
doing.” The man’s avatar drooled as he
something from the side of its head.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
thought. Not now. My joy has left me.
“We know what you’ve done,” Ezra
said, her voice masked with a state-ofthe-art
voice changer. “Aegis Medical,
the company you work for, is guilty of
You make the final decisions, in the
stared at her, teeth gritted.
“My wife will have woken up because of
the dive spasms. If you let me go, I can
still tell her --” Once again, the man was
interrupted, but this time it was
Ezra felt an intense pain, as if someone
grabbed her by the neck and yanked,
hard. Colors swirled away from her in
an impossibly fast vortex before, finally,
she opened her eyes. The musty smell
of carpet soiled with vomit hit her like
a pillowcase full of bricks as violent
breaths overtook her. The world spun.
She threw her legs over the stained
lofty corporate offices, in the scummy
bed. Without taking so much as a
moment to compose herself, she
quickly grabbed her console and ran to
the window, opening it, hanging off of
the ledge. She dropped from the second
story window to the alley below.
Normally, she might have been thinking
Wolf: I have the next plan.
No doubt Alan was telling the truth --
about how much she’d like to shower.
his wife most likely had already alerted
Now, only one thought overtook her
Centra security. A light rain pattered
mind. She kicked the dumpster.
against her long, braided, black hair as
Wolf: Got Mr. President’s home ad-
she whipped around the corner, going
“Fuck! Fuck! Shit!” Her boot
dress in the Crescendo.
from alley to alley as fast as she could.
slammed over and over into the metal,
She blinked and held her eyes shut
the sounds dampened by the storm.
Viper: You’re fucking with me.
long enough to make two deliberate
She fell to her knees, sliding down the
horizontal strokes with her pupils, acti-
front of the hulking metal box. Tears
Wolf: You paid well. Besides, I hate
vating her augmented reality display. A
joined the rain on her cheeks, running
Aegis as much as you. Well. Almost.
map of the surrounding district quickly
past her full lips. Sobbing restricted
pulled up in the corner of her vision,
her breathing until a mental command
Viper: So? The plan?
alerting her to nearby police presence
broke her suffocation. She breathed
with small, red dots.
deeply: long, desperate breaths. A
A sound of static and a low beep sur-
beeping sound echoed from her ear
prised Ezra, making her gasp.
Run signal jammer!
implants. Her AR display pulled itself
up. In the top right corner of her vision,
Wolf: Traced. Line compromised.
Ezra turned another corner and
“New message from ENCRYPTED”
Gonna have to come to me.
yanked the cover off of a dumpster.
flashed. She placed her hand forward,
She jumped inside and watched her
touching the air where the blinking but-
In the top right corner of Ezra’s display
display. Smells of rotted meat, mold,
ton was displayed in her mind. A text-
a “new coordinates!” icon popped up.
and soured milk hit her nostrils. Her
based messaging system appeared.
She looked back to the conversation
heartbeat pounding in her ears. The
window but it had already been closed.
world swirled around her as the stimu-
Wolf: What happened.
Shit. Ezra’s hands shook. She’d never
lus threatened to overtake her. She held
met up with Wolf in person. The plan
a hand to her mouth.
Viper: Complicated. Alen’s fried.
was just to pay him for some illicit tech,
and for her to get Alen to come clean to
Don’t puke. Don’t puke.
Wolf: There goes that plan. They’re
the world. Wolf pressed her when she
gonna follow you.
first bought from him, so she let him
After a couple moments, the red lights
in on the plan. That way he (or she?)
began to flicker yellow. The signal jam-
Viper: I planned on it. Jammed the
could tailor the tech to fit the situation.
mer did its job, and the police now had
signals, was diving from a hotel in
She couldn’t argue with the efficacy of
only a vague idea of her location. She
the slums. They’re probably all over
the cuffs or the room code. The gun,
would still have to move quickly. Secu-
the place arresting four different Dive
on the other hand, was something Ezra
rity measures would be implemented
wrote. In hindsight, a terrible idea, but…
in this district soon. The calm pitter
some things just couldn’t be helped. At
patter of the rain quickened against
Wolf: So what now.
least, that’s what she told herself.
the lid of the dumpster, turning from a
You giving up?
sprinkle to a pour. A sigh of relief trailed
into a coughing fit brought on by inhaling
trash fumes. She threw the cover
to the dumpster open and jumped out.
The scent of the rain mingled with the
rotted trash, making her grimace.
Viper: What the hell am I supposed
to do? The plan failed. Gonna have to
think of some other way to get those
assholes to come clean.
Wolf: Wipe em up, you might say.
Viper: Not in the mood for jokes. Get
Ezra mapped the coordinates
using her GPS program and set
up the route overlay in her AR. Wolf’s
place was in one of the many slums
of Centra, the sprawl that dominated
the greater middle section of California.
The closer you got to the middle,
Silicon Valley as it used to be called, the
ritzier it got. That’s where Ezra’s house
MACHETEGIRL ISSUE 8.4
was… Was, she reminded herself.
another, and a door that lead to who-
“Yeah. I don’t suppose you have actual
booze here, do you? Or is that just AR
knows-where. The room smelled of
magic as well?” The man in the wolf
rust and sweat, completely betraying
mask reached under the bar and pulled
There was no going back now. The
her visual information.
out a glowing blue bottle, somewhat
Vice President of Aegis Medicine was
resembling a lava lamp, and poured a
dead. Her almond eyes narrowed,
Really gotta get those scent neutral-
shot. Ezra downed it without a second
the cool rain rolling down her cheeks,
thought. Her eyes were unfocused,
mixed with dried tears. Her black
staring past the walls as the alcohol
hoodie and jeans were damp with rain
A man sat at the bar, wearing a wolf’s
stung her chest. The biting warmth
and trash residue. She ran a hand over
mask and a stylish vest over a long
that crept down her throat and the
her face, wiping the rain and staring
sleeved button up shirt. Ezra raised an
chemical, almost medicinal taste
at the city lights through the darkened
certainly confirmed it was some type
of hard liquor. Ezra once again looked
I can’t stop now.
“Really? A wolf mask?”
at the Wolf mask.
After flagging down a cab,
“To be honest, I didn’t expect you to
“So you got Peter Armistead’s address.”
she was quickly on her way to the Ada-
actually show me your face. Figured
gio District. After tipping the cab driver
you’d have some sort of overlay.”
an exorbitant sum to have him keep
quiet about seeing her, she stepped
“Well, I’m a fugitive now, aren’t I?”
“The CEO of Aegis. You just happened
back into the neon jungle and strode
upon his private residence.”
toward her destination. A set of stairs
Ezra walked over to the bar and waved
led downward, cramped in between
her hand at one of the stools. It was
“Well, I didn’t just happen upon it. I did
two tall buildings. As she descended,
real, so she sat. “No need for all these
a notification popped up on her AR
formalities. Plus, what the hell is this
room? You the kind of person that goes
“Why are you helping me?” The man in
to those Hippie Fairs?”
the wolf mask began to respond, but
Would you like to sync AR?
stopped himself. He looked down, put-
“Hey, its classy.”
ting his hands on the bar.
A virtual space, Ezra thought.
Should have guessed. She allowed the
“Sure. Anyway, I’m here, and I’ve
“We’re fucked, Viper. Well, not us,
switch to take place. The gray, concrete
damn near given up. I killed Alen,” Ezra
specifically. Our society. Our culture.
and metal scene before her slowly
paused. She rested her elbows on the
People are so god damned brain-
began to meld into something new,
bar and buried her face in her hands.
washed that they’ll let scumbags like
starting from the corners of her eyes.
“Maybe that’s enough?”
Aegis run rampant. They’re so bought
Through the doorway at the end of
into this idea of ‘national security’ that
the stairs she could now see a gaudy,
“Pretty casual about taking a life.”
they’ll get a brain implant installed that
retro-styled room- if one could even
will constantly surveil everything they
call it a “room.”
“When you work in medicine for long
hear, everything they see. You could
enough -- especially the type that Aegis
probably have made Alen say what you
Wannabe bachelor pad is more like it.
performs -- you start to get real accus-
wanted to and people wouldn’t care.
She strode forward, careful but pur-
tomed to death. I’d been ordered to put
They’re asleep. I’m not.”
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
poseful in her steps. As she stepped
onto the purple shag carpeting, the
door squeaked shut behind her. She
resisted whipping around. She didn’t
want to show any panic -- didn’t want
to show any weakness.
The space consisted of a
single room, an old-school flat with a
dozens ‘out of their misery.’ Would have
gladly done another dozen too, until --”
“Until it was yours.”
Ezra paused, looking into the wolf
mask, trying to scry its intentions. She
scoffed and looked away.
“Wait, you don’t think my plan would
have worked? Then why the hell did
you help me?”
“I figured if it worked, more power to
circular bed to one end, a bar to
you. If not, then we’d do things my way.
I hate them. So. Much.
“Okay, so what’s your way?”
Ezra screamed and threw the shot
it’s cheaper than outfitting all the outli-
“Do what they did to you. Peter Ar-
glass. It shattered against the wall,
ers with cybernetics.”
mistead is deficient. Not mentally, but
digging tiny shards into the carpet. She
emotionally. He, and the whole world,
stood up and started walking toward
“I mean, yeah, I heard but… no
need to be taught that humans can’t be
the back door, unzipping the front of
way that’s true.”
treated like cattle.”
“You’d be dense not to believe
“So, what, pull Armistead into cyber-
“I’ll do it. Tell your boy to get chopping.”
space and cuff him too? No way in
hell he’ll ever say something like that
The world was foggy. A couple blinks
“Shit, I mean, even if it were
on live TV, I’ve met the guy. He’ll stick
didn’t serve to remove the mist -- a
true, what does it matter if the defi-
to his guns. Plus, his cybersecurity is
strain to focus seemed to make it
cients get offed --”
probably the strongest on the market.
worse. Ezra tried to lift her head, but
I’d end up killing the guy.”
immediately set it back down. Her
Ezra’s body shot up from the
whole body felt as if it was fighting
surgical table, tendon and wire flexing
“Exactly. But this time, we do it the old
against her. Her senses were twisted
and tightening. Before Wolf could blink,
and backward, her skin alternating
his chopboy was being held a foot off
between tingling with sensations of
the ground, Ezra’s hand firmly gripping
heat and cold. The taste of iron and
his neck. The loose, stained gown Ezra
alcohol left stale on her tongue only
wore fluttered. Her skin shimmered
“You’re going to go into the back. My
served to further confuse her senses.
with an unnatural tint. Eyes that now
chop Doc’s going to do some work
Ezra turned her head. She could hear
glowed neon blue glared deep into the
on you. You’ll use the tools we give
chopboy. The man, eyes bulging and
you and break into Armistead’s house.
lips sputtering from the inhuman grip,
Kill him, record it. I’ll do the rest.” Ezra
“So what’s the girl gonna do
looked back with nothing but horror at
stared at Wolf slack-jawed.
with all this, anyway?”
“I -- I don’t think I can --”
“She’s going to exact re-
“You might want to watch
your tongue. Viper, let him down. You’ll
“You know what you have to do. They
killed your son. You want revenge, and
this is the way to get it.” Ezra’s gaze
Something clicked. Ezra
fell down to the bar in front of her. The
realized what had happened and she
empty shot glass felt all too real in her
whipped her hand away, causing the
hand, smooth and still cool from her
back-alley surgeon to fall to his knees
drink. In the side of the glass, she could
“What, the hospital guys?
with a loud thump, coughing raucously.
see a small reflection of herself -- her
A stark difference from just moments
thin face, her dark, near-black eyes,
ago, Ezra’s head was now crystal clear.
her full, light-brown lips. Her heart was
“They killed her son.”
Her AR display was updated to show
beating hard and fast. Tears welled in
vital signs of those nearby, track heat
her eyes and her legs moved uncomfortably
as she fought back the wave of
emotions. A single sob escaped her.
I miss you, Jack. I miss you so much.
“You’re fuckin’ with me.”
“I’m sure you’ve heard the
rumors. Eugenics. Manual manipulation
of the human genome. They think
they’re gods, and any that don’t fit into
their human ‘mold…’ well, let’s just say
signatures, and some other applications
she couldn’t recognize. Her body
felt different. Strong. The chopboy
stumbled to his feet and out of the
room, still coughing and holding his
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“How much do I owe you for all this?
The chop, the suit.”
“No charge.” Ezra frowned.
“What…” Ezra said. “How did I…” Wolf
over in her gloved fingers. The suit’s
stepped over to her and placed a hand
“Look, I’d rather not play the
material didn’t block her tactile senses
on her shoulder.
whole ‘owe you a favor’ game. Last
at all. It felt like she wasn’t wearing
thing I need when I’m trying to clear
anything. Pretty sweet.
“Don’t worry about it. He’s
out all my baggage. All I have is money,
a slummer, come back from worse.
and I won’t have that too much longer.”
“So, what’s the plan?” Ezra asked.
Those were your new adrenal ampli-
Ezra waited a moment, but Wolf didn’t
“Glad you asked. You’ll go to the resi-
fiers kicking in. You just got a cocktail
respond. “Also, are you gonna keep that
dence and locate the entrance. The
of chemicals that will send you directly
fucking mask on the whole time? You
windows are hyperglass, the frames
into fight or flight mode. Seems this
just saw me naked and cut up, least
magnetically sealed. Coincidentally,
time you chose ‘fight,’” Wolf pointed
you could do is show me your face.”
your fingers have been equipped with
to a desk in the corner, on top of
magnetic reversers -- just activate the
which was a folded-up black suit. “Get
Wolf fidgeted and then sighed. A
app through your AR and you’ll be right
changed. You might be mostly robot
hand accented with long, pale fingers
in. From there, it’s a simple assassina-
now but I’m assuming you still want to
removed the mask. The face that
cover up.” Ezra furrowed her brow and
appeared was one of a young man,
pulled at her surgical robe.
somewhere in his twenties. His skin
“You know, there’s one thing I’m still
was fair, unblemished- almost certainly
unsure about. How exactly is killing
“... mostly robot?”
altered, either genetically or cyberneti-
Armistead going to fix anything? I
cally. Green eyes and choppy brown
mean yeah, the VP is already dead so
“Joking. Only thirty percent or
hair completed the package.
organizing and promoting will be a pain
in the ass, but won’t Aegis just rebuild?”
The backroom was small,
“Oh, but you see, the assassination is
and it looked even smaller crammed
just the first step. That’s why I said you
with so much medical equipment. In
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Ezra took off her
must record it. I will take the deaths
the center was the surgical table, com-
gown. She wondered if she should be
and spin a campaign against Aegis
plete with an array of vitals-readers and
embarrassed, showing herself to this
Medical, showing what happens when
other clinical tools. There were several
man. Emotions like embarrassment
corporations try to play God.” Ezra
glass cases containing what Ezra
are just in such short supply when
mulled it over, but eventually nodded.
could only assume were quite illegal
you’ve… Even in her mind, Ezra paused.
“I’ll need a weapon.”
substances. She walked over to the
When you’ve given up. Wolf turned the
desk and grabbed the suit. It was made
other way, prompting a surprised huff
“And I’ll provide two.” Wolf produced an
of a material she’d never seen before, a
from Ezra. “How about a name?”
intricately designed handgun from his
metallic-feeling mesh, black and shiny.
“Is there a reason why you’ve decided
back pocket. Then, he pulled a smaller,
There was a long-sleeved top and a
to get personal now?”
stranger looking device from his op-
pair of leggings, both form-fitting, as
posite pocket. It looked like a miniature
“I’m probably not going to come back
from this. I figure I might as well die
knowing the name and the face of the
“What’s that thing?”
guy who helped me.”
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“Yes. You don’t want to look
like a floating head when you turn on
your active camouflage.” Ezra raised an
“Nice. How much?”
“What do you mean?”
“Does Aegis have any, say… memory
“Oh shut up. Fine, no name. Wolf it is.”
“That would be preferred, Viper.’
She zipped up the front of her suit, but
still held the mask in her hand. Resting
“It’s something of my own design. The
Wracker. This will allow you to implant
a device into Armistead’s brain. Once
there it will interface with his wireless
VR chip and pull him into virtual reality
with no chance of escape. He will face
every kind of horror and torture available.
If anyone attempts to remove the
against the desk, she ran the mask
device, it will release a toxin, killing him.”
Just who the hell is he, anyway?
Not that it mattered. This was
her grave. If only I believed in heaven,
“That’s a bit… much.”
Jack. Ezra slipped the mask over her
A guard dressed in black stood at the
head and activated her camouflage.
doorway, a tactical vest covering his
“After everything he’s done to human-
torso and a rifle in his hands. He wore
ity? To children? No. This is just des-
Ezra carefully strode across
a military-style helmet with a binocular-
the street and made her way to the
like visor covering his eyes. The lenses
side of Armistead’s house. She used a
were colored red, but they switched to
“You know, I’m still not sure why you
thought-command to pull up a menu
blue with a click. The man gripped his
decided to help me.”
in her AR display and selected ‘bonding
rifle and bared it at Ezra.
touch.’ She put a hand to the wall. It
“I believe in your cause. And I believe
stuck. Carefully, she began to scale the
Shit! How can he see me?!
in you. Sometimes, in order to win, it
wall, using her suit to stick to the poly-
takes someone who is willing to lose
brick. The second-story window came
“Freeze --” the man began
everything. Of course I could just pick
into her view. Without hesitating for a
to say. He was interrupted as Ezra
up any lifeless slummer with nothing to
second, she activated her magnetic
dashed up to him, clearing the space
lose, but you -- you have conviction.”
reverser and touched the frame. A soft
in the small room in a split second.
“You just spent thousands of credits
click resounded. She slowly slid the
Her powerful, modified arms lashed
outfitting me with illegal tech because
window open and climbed in.
out, hands gripping the man’s jaw and
of my conviction?”
back of the head respectively. With
Ezra landed gracefully on a
one, swift movement, Ezra snapped
“I did it because you will succeed.”
floor made of hexagonal polymesh
the man’s neck. His body went limp in
and looked around. She was in a child’s
her arms. As she went to lay the body
Ezra half-smiled. She took the weap-
room. The small area was decorated
on the ground, a rustling of blankets
ons and holstered them, then put on
with posters, crayon drawings, and
caused her to whip around. The young
toys. Sorrowful pain stabbed through
boy brought himself to a sitting posi-
her as memories flooded her mind. A
tion, rubbing his eyes and beholding
“We’ll see, Wolf.”
bed sat in the corner, a sleeping form
the scene playing out- which, to him,
underneath cartoon-character pat-
must have looked like his bodyguard
The rain came down in sheets, drench-
terned covers. Tears welled in her eyes.
awkwardly dangling in mid-air, being
ing the grimy city in a humid shower.
Try as she might, she wasn’t able to
held up by some invisible force. The
Ezra stood on the sidewalk of an
conceal a yelp. A soft beep resounded
child’s mouth opened to scream. Ezra’s
almost laughably pedestrian street. In
in her head, with a prompt showing up
vision slowed down.
a sprawl the size of Centra, most of the
in the corner of her vision:
cityscape was dominated with slums
Adrenal Amplifier: ON.
and densely packed industry. This
Regulate mood? Y/N
looked like a cul-de-sac from a century
Before she realized what was
ago, though admittedly, the houses
At first the message confused her, but
happening, she was across the room,
were more modern in design. Lot’s of
Ezra realized that it must have been
one hand tightly clasped around the
hyperglass and geometric shapes high-
a new piece of tech installed in her.
child’s mouth. In her haste, she had
lighted these buildings as heralds of
She snorted. So touchy that he had to
dropped her camouflage- the turmoil
Centra architecture. The elite could af-
install a mood regulator, huh? Not that I
in her mind must have tripped the AR
ford this kind of luxury. Armistead was
smart to pick a residential plot rather
than something gaudy like a mansion.
This was safer. Combined with the
stringent adherence to never letting his
address be known, the man was nearly
untouchable. Ezra was still baffled that
Wolf was able to figure it out.
can argue, I suppose. The thought “yes”
caused the prompt to disappear and,
in a matter of seconds, the waves of
sorrow that threatened to drown Ezra
subsided. She was calm.
Then, the door opened.
As she held him, her hands shaking,
she looked down into his blue eyes.
He was crying. Ezra’s mind was a
whirlwind. How much of this was her,
and how much of this was her new…
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
Was that what she should call it? Was
I am retribution.
Activate Magnetic Reverser.
she making these decisions, or was
her newly-implemented tech some-
As she walked down the second-story
The metal door clicked and slid open. A
how pushing her, pushing her to take
hallway, her camouflage once again
whizzing sound and a jet of air tickled
more drastic actions? The child put his
slipped over her, caressing her form
Ezra’s ear as a bullet flew past her
hands over hers, weakly begging her to
until nothing was left. She rounded a
head. A man and a woman, both in
loosen her grip. Quick, shallow breaths
corner, and two more guards came
pajamas, curled against their head-
pounded through Ezra’s chest. Her
into Ezra’s view. The end of the hallway
board. The man’s quivering hand held a
eyes darted back and forth across the
was a large metal door. The guards
pistol. Ezra walked into the room, drew
child’s face. What should she do? What
stood stoically, wholly committed to
the pistol that Wolf had given her and
was her goal, again? To kill?
their jobs. Probably programmed to be,
fired, hollowing out the woman’s skull.
essentially, guard dogs. Sorry about
Brain matter splattered on the man’s
To kill this child?
face. His hand lowered, dropping the
gun. Ezra’s camouflage receded. She
For a moment, the look in
Ezra flew forward, her footsteps loud
walked up to Peter Armistead, the man
Ezra’s eyes changed from one of con-
and reckless. The lenses of the guard’s
responsible for the massive scale of
fusion to one of conviction. Revenge.
visors turned blue as they were alerted
death in the name of evolution. When
That was why she was here. Armistead
to the sound. They bared their rifles
she was face to face with him, she
took her child. He deserved this. The
like teeth and barked, shots ringing out
took off her mask. Ezra’s eyes, filled
child looked up at her through clouded,
through the house. Ezra swiftly ap-
with lethal confidence, stared at Peter.
crying eyes. Ezra’s breathing reached
proached, bullets grazing her forearm
Her face was twisted and frowning.
a fever pitch before finally, she held her
and her side. An uppercut struck the
The elderly man, bald and brown-eyed,
breath. Eyes still locked with the child’s,
elbow of the right-most guard, violently
sputtered desperately, attempting to
she exhaled. Slowly. Calmly.
breaking his arm and causing splin-
speak. Ezra slapped him, causing him
tered bone and blood to fly. A second
to cease his gibbering.
Ezra paused. She shook her
volley of fire from the non-injured guard
prompted a spin from the intruder as
“Peter Armistead. We’ve met once
she crouched low to the ground. The
before. My name is Ezra Derringer, and
No. I am in control.
bullets peppered the other guard, lodg-
I used to work for you. For Aegis. You
ing themselves in his body armor, a
killed my son,” she paused and stared
She loosened her grip so that
precious few embedding themselves in
at Peter. He seemed to be grasping the
she wasn’t hurting the little boy. Her ac-
flesh. In a single, whirling motion, Ezra
situation, albeit with a loose, slipping
tions tonight would rip everything this
stood and threw a kick into the stom-
grip. “He was autistic. They diagnosed
child loved away from him. It wasn’t
ach of the firing guard. Twin smashing
it while I was still pregnant, but I didn’t
fair. She knew that. She was doing the
sounds rang out as the reinforced foot
want to believe what they would do.
same thing that they had done to her.
hit the guard’s torso and the guard
I thought, ‘I work here. I’ve done this.
But that’s what revenge is, isn’t it?
slammed into the wall behind him.
Of course they can’t kill him.’ And then
Besides, she planned on atoning for her
Too loud. Armistead must have heard
he was born. And then, he was killed.”
sins. All she could hope is that one day,
all that. More are probably on their way.
Ezra pulled out the device Wolf had
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
this child would understand. She set
her bionic strength to 10% and swatted
the child’s head, knocking him out but
hopefully not causing any permanent
damage. She stood up and walked
toward the door.
That’s right. I’m in control. This is my
decision. I have chosen to be the one
Ezra strode in between the incapacitated
men and touched the metal door
behind them. It was cold. She was surprised,
again, that she could feel so well
through her suit. A moment passed.
The smell of gunpowder mingled with
blood. Her arm and side ached from
given her- The Wracker. Stupid name.
“I am your retribution. I am going to kill
you. And here is the reason: you are
Upon hearing that word, Peter’s eyes
cleared. His expression widened
solemnly and he made a small nod.
A calmness passed over him that un-
to show this man his sins. I will accept
This was it. Retribution.
Such an emotion was misplaced in the
The cold metal barrel kissed her
those like him.”
scene she’d created.
temple. Her eyes closed, tears now
leaking out from her eyelids.
Ezra cried. She cried because
“Yes, Ezra. I remember… it’s vague,
she knew he was right. Because as
but… I remember you,” Peter looked
“Wait!” A voice resounded in
much as she wanted to pull that trigger,
to his side, the dead body of his wife
she could make a difference. Through
slumped over the bed, leaking vital
gritted teeth and drool, she spat a
fluids on the smooth linens. His cheeks
tensed, showing teeth. The look confused
Ezra: that was the look someone
“Ezra. You can’t.”
gives when driving by an accident, not
when their wife has been murdered
“Thank you… for everything
right next to them. He looked to her
you’ve done up to this point. But this is
with a calculating gleam. “You worked
the only way.”
Ezra leapt out of the bedroom window,
for Aegis. You must understand why
the magnetic reverser kicking in while
we do what we do.”
“No it’s not.”
she was in mid-air. As she fell, with
her body moving according to mali-
“I do. That doesn’t mean it’s justified.”
“I can’t live with everything
cious programming, her camouflage
“These are things that we have the
I’ve done! With this fucked up world!
caused her to blend into the rainy night.
power to change. We can help people
You said it yourself, everything has
The rain mirrored her tears as she ran
have better lives, as a whole. You don’t
gone to shit!”
toward the heart of the neon.
want to think of it like this, but if you
kept your son, he would have made life
“Ezra, listen, we can fix it.”
much more difficult --” Ezra pressed
the device against his skull.
“I’m not debating you.”
“I know you’re angry, but your experi-
ence with us must have taught you
that getting rid of these obstacles --”
“My name. Ben. Ezra, listen.
“Obstacles? You mean human lives?
This is only the first step. We can really
How can you talk about others like
change this fucked up world. With the
that? No human deserves to die.”
footage I’ve taken from your opti-
“Don’t broken toys deserve to be
cal camera, we can run a campaign
against Aegis. The head of the serpent
has been cut, add this in and they’ll
Ezra grabbed the man’s face, covering
his mouth, and pulled the trigger on
Alex Chase - United States
the device. Peter’s body immediately
“And what about me?”
slouched down against the headboard.
Alex Chase is a writer and speculative
His mouth hung open loosely and his
eyes rolled into the back of his head.
Ezra turned and sat on the bed, her
legs dangling off the side of it.
I did it. Now, to finish up the job.
Ezra dropped The Wracker and once
“Remember what you just
did. You just broke into a top-security
residence and made short work of all
the precautions. You’ll be our enforcer.
You will be our revolution’s retribution.”
fiction enthusiast who also delves into
game design and many other creative
fields. His debut short story, “Deficient,”
sets the stage for a strong legacy of
poignant tales with dark themes. Follow
along with all of Alex’s releases via
his writer’s page, facebook.com/alexchasewriting.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
again pulled out her pistol.
“Don’t die in his name. Live to save
The gummy fluid transformed even
By Jennifer Blaesing
more now, attempting to match the
woman’s body shape and colors.
Her dress, vague shapes of eyes
Everyone walking the bustling town
center’s streets stopped and gawked.
It was one thing to witness a woman
giving birth on the sidewalk; it was
and mouth, skin tone, and blond hair
developed into mirror images on the
reflective surface. The woman lost
all fear. She reached for its hand as
another to see one give birth to a
it reached for hers. Once the form
touched the woman’s hand, it materialized
into an exact clone of her. They
The slimed, egg-shaped
chunk of lengthwise grooved steel,
the mass of a bowling ball, plopped
from the screaming woman’s skirt as
she sat on the sidewalk with her legs
spread eagle on the pavement, right in
front of Alana’s Boutique.
I sat a fortunate distance from the
incident, only to remain perplexed,
albeit stunned, and unusually still for
my twitchy self. The machine didn’t
frighten me, but the woman had me
connected eyes and shared a mutual
understanding – some kind of knowing
of their fusion. Then as identical twins,
they dropped their arms, turned and
walked forward in unison with poised
grins. You couldn’t tell one from the
“No! It’s not me! Don’t touch
it!” She crab crawled backward away
concerned. I had to admit she was
quite lovely, even crying in horror. Her
That’s when I ran.
from it on her hands and feet.
Now why on Earth would
anyone think it’s her?
floral pink and black mini-dress and
golden blond waves. Christ, Jack. Get
with it. The woman is in crisis and all
I sprinted and couldn’t stop.
I might have been traumatized after
you can think about is her pussy juice
witnessing such a thing. My body
The Sunday shoppers gasped
and bolted in the other direction, some
stopping for a moment in shock, looking
closely, doing double takes before
running. A mother walking between
her two children yanked the sleeves of
their matching jean jackets, directing
their attention to the Dalmatian tied to
a roped down sapling nearby.
slathered all over that device. That
lucky bastard... God damn, I’m an
“RUN!!” she howled. Anyone
standing within thirty feet jumped and
scurried off, more frightened of the
woman now than the funky object resting
just beyond her feet.
struggled to shove the images out of
my mind and I tried to focus on survival.
So I ended up running all the way
home. Once I walked through the door,
I didn’t even take my shoes off, loosen
my tie, hang up my jacket or anything,
I just collapsed into my couch and
stared into space.
“Help! Run away! It’s not
me, please!” She sobbed in terror and
I wasn’t sure whether she had been
pregnant with a human baby before, or
I heard a pop and witnessed
jagged cracks break deep through
the thick shell. Then one by one, each
piece dropped away and melted into a
There had to be some logic
to this. I suppose it was possible the
woman was a TruDroid, but I’d never
seen one have such an extreme emo-
she had somehow randomly dropped
thick, silvery liquid extending outward
tional reaction. Even though they’re
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
a metal egg from her vagina.
like a river forming an X, bonded in
the middle. In a fumbling fashion, the
molten substance peeled itself off the
concrete and faced the woman, who
was now dumbfounded in shock. She
had stopped screaming and crying.
Mesmerized, she watched it in silence
and stood up. The X reached a limb out
to her, which gradually formed into an
designed to think, feel and grow exactly
like humans, they’re usually pretty
stoic. Still, they never wanted to hurt
anyone. All they ever talk about is becoming
a real human. The humans are
the real assholes. They destroyed the
previous android generation - the Bots
- about eight years ago for stealing all
the jobs. They were short-lived.
Lying in bed to sleep, masturbation was
an automatic occurrence. Of course,
the crazy shape-shifting alien woman
lingered in the back of my mind, giving
my session a “fear for my life” sort of
sobs, and made me watch. Fucker
flavor. The worse part was, it turned
wouldn’t even let me look away without
spongy and tasted stale.
me on even more.
socking me in the face and breaking
my jaw. Had to tell Mom it was a slick-
I had to talk to her. It was kill-
The following day after work, I decided
boarding accident. To this day, I’m sure
ing me. I could help her. Maybe I’m the
to treat myself to dinner at Bakci Oxy-
I’d slice his throat if I saw him.
best one available to her now. Maybe
lounge. This was by far my favorite res-
I’m meant to help her.
taurant. Nano-infused cuisine plus pure
The woman still had that
oxygen pumped into the air equals new
same smirk. Does she even remember
This is stupid. I need to get a
life breathed into each dish continu-
that a robot was birthed from her and
grip. I slouched at my table and stared
ously over time. Steaks fresher than
morphed into her just yesterday after-
at the salad.
the moment the cow was slaughtered.
Glazed, dark walnut tables contrasted
“Can I get you anything, Sir?”
the white leather booth seats and chair
Pay no attention, Jack. This
The large African waiter wearing a
cushions. Thriving green ivy vines,
only leads to trouble. Just chill here,
white suit with black trim and white
so alive they almost spoke, sprawled
eat your fresher than fresh filet, and be
gloves seemed to appear suddenly.
across the ceiling and hung down the
done with it.
sides of the sleek, black onyx columns.
Could he? This nasty lettuce
Maybe she’s suppressed
could use some life. “How about some
They seated me in a corner
the memory herself. She sure as hell
cheese?” I shot a sarcastic grin.
booth with my back along the wall
seemed traumatized yesterday. Man,
sitting opposite an empty chair, next to
she looks even more gorgeous than
She remained in my periph-
two middle-aged men in suits cack-
yesterday. I didn’t even care that she
eral. A blur, nonetheless, but that didn’t
ling about their co-workers. Just as I
wore the same clothes two days in
stop the energy of her form from etch-
placed my white linen napkin on my
a row. She was dirty but had a glow
ing into the side of my skull, piercing
lap, I jumped in my seat.
through, begging for me to turn my
head. Fuck! I meant to glance for just
To my distant right, it was her.
Probably because she was
one second and look away, but she
Sitting alone at a booth in the corner of
pregnant not even 24 hours ago.
was staring right at me with this gaze.
the adjacent wall like nothing ever hap-
Was she? Yes. She really was. I hadn’t
pened. She even wore the same dress
Jack! Stop! Your addiction is
seen it before, the allure of her deep
only trying to find justifiable excuses to
violet eyes. No, no. I had to look away.
talk to her so you can rip that dress off
Heart palpitations. Difficulty
later on after a couple bottles of wine,
I took a giant deep breath.
swallowing and instant sweats ac-
suckling on those delectable tits. Stop
companied by an itch-sting sensation
Then gruyere plopped in front of my
shooting throughout my body. All
face with a head nod from the waiter.
symptoms of panic attacks potentially
What does it matter? Why do I even
related to PTSD. I was no stranger to
try? Sex has been the most common
Gruyere? What was I even
either of these syndromes. Half my life
addiction for the past two decades.
saying? I don’t need any cheese. Who
I dealt with images flashing through
Around 80% are inflicted and everyone
the fuck puts gruyere on a salad?
my mind of that fat, slobby, cocksucker
babysitter guy across the street from
my parents’ house who molested my
baby sister. Made her beg him for more
while she choked on her mucousy
makes a mockery of the issue. “There
certainly could be worse problems!”
But I know it makes me weak. There
are still those few of us who recognize
The Boston lettuce in my
salad was not quite as crisp and light
as it usually was. The leaves weren’t as
I was bored of food. I stood
up and walked toward her table. She
was smoking a cigarette. Approaching
her felt like I was in a movie.
“Hi,” I said.
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“Strange?” There it was again.
“Why do you keep answering
my questions with other questions?”
“Me? Uh, I work in soundware. I’m a
“Hi,” she said, with that same mag-
She laughed and shrugged.
tech.” I nodded while fiddling with the
netism in her stare, like she had me
“I’m sorry, I guess I’m just fine. Nothing
napkin before me.
pinned. I didn’t even know what to say.
I couldn’t look at her, her eyes were like
“That sounds fun,” she smiled.
laser beams that I still felt even when I
I shook my head. “I could
Smile and nod. Look back at
swear, she looked just like you. She
the table. Nothing yet. “So, what about
even had the same dress as you.”
“Sorry, I,” I said. “You look just
like this woman I saw yesterday, who
“Oh?” she motioned her eyes
“I’m a nurse.”
was in trouble.”
downward as though trying to peek
under the table.
A nurse. Of course, she had to
“Trouble?” She smiled with a
add that to my already vivid fantasy.
gleaming glamorous smile. A million
It was hard to decide what to
bucks, this woman felt like. But I had to
make of her. She was shapeshifting.
“So Jack,” she said, in a sort
fight that. My thoughts were painting
Maybe this was the clone woman?
of flirty whisper, “What are your dreams
her into a picture that I couldn’t tell if it
“Don’t you want to sit down?”
she asked me, rubbing her hands on
“My dreams? Uh…” I wiped
That’s how it works, the ad-
her legs beyond my sight under the
my palms on my jeans and swallowed
diction. It makes everything look like
the gulp in my throat. It was hard to
something to fuck. It gives everything
I gulped. “Sit… sit down? I uh…”
tell whether this woman was actually
a reason to fuck it and strive to fuck
I pointed and turned around to check
talking to me this way, or if I was just
it. That’s basically the primary way
on my seat. “I have a table already. Over
interpreting it like this. It was hard to
pleasure is defined for you, in all your
say if she was really this attractive
experiences. I know this now.
She giggled and smiled. “Well,
or not. This flirty or not. It was very
I don’t have any company.”
possible she was just as nervous as I
“Yes, but, maybe it was the wrong per-
was, and begging for help due to the
son?” I asked. Not sure why I asked it.
That, she did not. I took a
tragic incident she faced yesterday but
deep breath. “Okay.” I took the seat,
wasn’t able to speak about it. The only
She raised an eyebrow as she
stalling the situation by glancing back
reason she wants me to sit with her
turned her head like a question mark
at my own table, as though someone
is because I seem to know about this
was in her mind.
was going to clear it and take it while
incident and she’s praying inside that I
I was still waiting for my steak. “So…
I started sweating and shook
what’s your name?”
my head hard as to snap out of it.
That’s one possibility. That
the disease is painting the picture this
“Are you ok?” she laughed.
way. To make her an easier thing to
“Miranda. Hi Miranda, I’m
fuck. To show me more avenues. This
I looked up, but she was a
Jack,” I reached over to shake her hand
is my focus. Maybe she isn’t caressing
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
different woman this time. Not totally
different, just didn’t have the same
luster as before. The eye-fucking was
gone. She was still cute though, in a
more innocent way. It even seemed like
her sleeves were shorter before. But
this was definitely the same woman
that I saw yesterday. “You didn’t have
anything strange happen to you yester-
though I was tempted to kiss it.
“Hi Jack,” she shook back and smiled. I
turned and peered back at my table.
“So what do you do, Jack?
her creamy thighs beneath the table at
all, but wiping off her sweaty palms, like
Or maybe she is the clone
and she’s out for my blood.
Jack, what do you really want
from this woman? God, it was tough
The steak was perfect. Thank God.
not to gawk at the glistening of her
Snap out of it, Jack. Clearly I am not
The following evening while having a
cleavage, the sound of her heaving
at the point in my treatment to handle
beer in my sweats on my chenille, olive
breaths, the way her curls hung over
these situations. To try and perceive
green couch, flipping through channels,
her flawless succulent rack.
and treat women as real human beings
I shit you not, that same dweeby guy
with feelings and stuff.
she was seducing was on the news.
“My dreams are like, I don’t
No mistaking those glasses. Someone
know. Weird. A bunch of weird ass
Girls don’t make it easy on
got it on video. This dude was walking
shit all the time.” I turned to check on
us, that’s for sure. Women are addicted
down the street and suddenly grabbed
my table again, distracted by both the
too. All of them everywhere are easy
his balls, like someone kicked him. His
steak and her tits.
as pie. They want us to want them.
face scrunched in pain. He screamed
It kind of works as a perfectly oiled
in a high pitch, just standing there in
“Do you dream of swim-
machine, actually. But the problem with
the middle of the street. “My peenie!”
it all is the breeding. Everyone is always
His screams turned into little whimpers
having kids they don’t want, and no
and his mouth folded into a frown.
“Swimming? I did have a
one is into adopting trash babies. Hell,
Then he wailed and fell to the ground,
dream about swimming once, I think,
it’s not even all that crazy to see some
holding his crotch and sobbing. Just
woman giving birth on the sidewalk.
as with the woman, people scattered
Okay, maybe it’s a little weird, but still.
away from him. He unbuckled his belt
She flipped her hair back over
They are popping out kids in port-a-
and ripped his pants off, and even
her shoulder and gazed into my eyes
potties and behind dumpsters all the
boxers too. “Crap! Crap!” he screamed.
again. “Wanna know what I dream
time. Why not a machine? Who knows?
No one questions anything. They just
You could see his belly begin
accept it as reality and move on. No
to swell. Very fast though. And the
“Sure.” I took a sip of water
swell rolled down from his belly down…
and realized it was hers.
There was a blur over his crotch, but
Still, I didn’t want her looking
his piercing scream and reddening
“Cock,” I had to force myself
at me. It was all over if I got stuck in the
of the blur told all. The thing came
not to spray her with the water I just
prison of that gaze. There would be no
blasting out right through his dick hole.
drank and coughed it down the wrong
saving her if I let that happen.
He lay on the ground, still screeching,
hole instead. “…tail parties,” she contin-
ued, “my, you’re jumpy!”
But then as I allowed my peripheral
to have a look at her, she was
Even men were birthing
I laughed and coughed. “It’s
hand-feeding a strawberry to some
these things, apparently. On the news,
sweaty in here!” I wafted the corner of
scrawny guy with coke bottle glasses
they said there were witnesses of this
and a comb-over sitting across from
sort of event happening on four other
her. What the fuck? Was she just some
occasions over the past 48 hours. The
“I bet you’re boiling,” she said,
easy whore? Whatever. She was a
woman I saw must have been one of
reaching under the table up the inner
robot now anyway, whether she was
them. And she must have made that
side of my thigh, and instant boner. I
the clone or not. I was better off leaving
man into another one of them.
laughed again and jumped out of my
her be and just letting her fuck that guy.
seat, hitting my leg on the underside of
the table and causing it to tip slightly.
Just then my steak arrived, giving me a
perfect excuse to leave. “I gotta go.”
Back to my seat. I hid behind the guy
next to me, trying to keep myself out of
her sight, lest she try to come over and
He probably has no clue, either.
I knew then that I had to leave the city.
This was going to spread faster than
anyone could handle. I hopped off of
the couch and frantically threw some
clothes into my suitcase.
Five incidents over 48 hours.
These things double up once they’re
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
seduce me there.
born, split up, and try to spread it to
laying around everywhere. Couldn’t
find a single piece of luggage in my
“Come on Jack, this is natural!”
initial ten-second search, so I grabbed
Unfreakinbelievable. I dropped
a trash bag and just started hauling his
the bag and bolted straight for the
someone else. Are they ever dying?
clothes in. Eddie just stood and stared
door, back to my car. They got Eddie
How can they be killed? Five after 48
at me, picking at his ear, and I peered
too? And the males were even trying
hours? At least five. Maybe more. If
up at him. “You coming with?”
to take other males? I guess that isn’t
each of those birthed another over
that weird. But Eddie?! Eddie has never
the next day, there would be ten, then
“Oh! Uh, well... You know,
shown any sign of being gay, so this
twenty the next day. And that’s if they
Jack, there’s something I should tell
was definitely not natural.
only birth one each. Maybe they get
many in a day. Who knows? How many
I hopped in my car and drove
My arms dropped. “Now?!”
off, no place in mind. Then I recalled,
an old friend lived out in the country
I stopped to get my neighbor,
He shrugged and stepped
about five hours east of here. Maybe
Eddie. He never watched the news. I
toward me, gesturing with his hand.
I could crash there. Had the infection
knocked on his door and he answered,
spread over there yet? I decided to give
hair all ratted up around his bald spot
“Well you know... Jack...” He kept
her a call.
like bozo the clown, standing in prob-
stepping closer, speaking in a sort of
ably weeks-old tighty whities and a
sympathetic tone. Was he finally going
“Leslie? It’s Jack, from St.
to apologize for all the times he locked
Xavier? Remember, the theoretical
himself out and had to crash on my
physics FAQ guy?”
“Hey man, I’m headed out of
couch? Even for three days that one
town. Have you seen the news? Heard
“Jack with the painted beard?”
about the spawns?”
“Eddie, whatever it is, you can
That’s right, she did always say that
tell me later. Now, we gotta go.”
about my beard - how it seemed to
have formed its own outline, even after
“I know, but...” He waved his
I shaved it.
“Yeah, didn’t think so. You
hand through the air as to try and get it
should come with me.” I stepped for-
“Yep, that’s right.”
ward partially as to enter and help him
“Everything’s cool, dude. Don’t
pack a bag, displaying the urgency of
worry about it. Just help me put your
“Ho… ly…. Wow, seriously?
How are you?”
“Wait, what’s going on?” He
He took a deep breath and
“Been better. Not sure if
scratched his head and turned aside,
placed his hand on my shoulder. Defi-
you’ve paid any attention to what’s go-
allowing me into his apartment.
nitely weird now. “Jack, you know, I...”
ing on over here in the city.”
He wiggled his fingers around as to try
“Spawns. People are having robot
and caress my arm.
“You mean the spawns?”
babies. They turn people into robots or
aliens or something that produce more
“Dude!” I yelped with a serious
“Yeah, so you did hear?”
robot babies. And they’re turning up all
tone and jolted back.
over the place.”
“Well I didn’t think it was real,
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“Hmph.” Eddie didn’t seem too
concerned, he never seemed worried
about anything. I saw him go to work
in the mornings, but the remainder of
his existence consisted of porn and
I scurried around to find a suitcase in
“Just, you know we’ve always
been real close,” he said.
I flung his hand off my shoulder
and he looked up at me. Straight
into my eyes. Really deep, like the
woman at the restaurant.
“What?! You’ve gotta be kid-
“Yeah!” I nodded aggressively,
even though she couldn’t see me.
“Yeah they are, totally a real thing, I’ve
encountered a few already myself.”
“Are you serious? What are
“I don’t even know. Creepy,
his wreck of a home, garbage
and it’s hard to distinguish them from
egular people. Even my grody ass
neighbor guy started hitting on me.”
“Fine. See you in a few hours.”
Leslie dated my friend in col-
“Would you know if you are
lege. She was always the smart and
sassy type, wouldn’t let anyone get too
close. Her way of preventing the preda-
Interesting question I hadn’t
tory populous of the day from taking
thought about. “I’m not. Or… I guess I
advantage of her. Frat boys didn’t even
don’t know, actually. I don’t recall ever…
care that she was taken.
delivering… one of those robot things
but it seems their memories are re-
Her driveway went on forever. Over a
pressed after it happens. So I guess…”
full minute for sure. Then I pulled up to
a little log cabin.
“Are you calling me to see if
you can stay here? Because if you are,”
She opened the door, soaking
she sighed, “if you are, then… jeez, how
wet. A smile grew on her face and she
am I supposed to know if that’s safe?
threw her arms around me and yelped,
I haven’t even talked to you in like ten
her arms and chest imprinting water
spots onto my shirt. “Oh my god, I can’t
“Leslie, listen, I swear to God
believe you’re here!”
I am not infected, and if I am, you can
blow my brains out the minute I get
“I know, it’s been so long!”
weird, ok? I wouldn’t want to put you in
Leslie was always cute in a fierce
Once she released me, she
chihuahua kind of way. A petite woman
“And how would you know if I
noticed she had spread her wetness
with freckles and dark hair. She wore
had it? How would I know if I had it?”
to me. “Sorry, I was gardening and it
it chin-length and straight these days.
started pouring. Come in! Do you want
Back then it was long and wavy.
“You don’t really seem to be
some coffee? Or I have tea, too.” She
acting like the ones I met that had it.”
turned and walked toward her kitchen
“Yeah I guess I’m hiding out
and I followed with a big stupid grin on
now too,” I said.
“How did they act?”
my face. “Yeah, coffee’s good, thanks.”
“I can’t believe this is happen-
“Well, you’d be begging to
It was a rustic cottage with
ing. Well actually I guess I can believe
jump my bones right now.”
the logging exposed inside and a pot
it, not much of a surprise really, but it’s
belly stove heating the room from the
really happening now!”
“Heh, right! Nice try, dickwad.”
northwest corner. Couldn’t be more
than one bedroom, if that. It was puny.
“You’re not surprised?”
“No, seriously, that’s what they acted
“Wow, this place is great!” I took a seat
like. So it’s not a good thing if you want-
on her couch.
She sneered. “No, are you?”
ed to jump my bones. I repeat, for once
in my life, I do not want you to desire
“Thanks. Nothing fancy, but it’s a roof
“Uh, well, I have to say I never
my dick. You wanting my dick would
over my head.” She returned with a
suspected people would start having
now be a terrifying thing.”
mug of hot coffee she had already
“Ugh, Christ, do you have to
brewed before my arrival and sat next
be so vulgar?”
“Can I please come by? For just a bit so
I can figure out my plan? I don’t know
what else to do and the thought of
staying in a scummy old motel in the
boonies somewhere is freaking me out
to me. “Besides, I spend most of my
time outdoors.” Her eyes were dark
brown, could barely see the outline of
I nodded. “Hiding out?”
She smiled. “I guess you
Men .... having... robot babies.” I gulped,
unable to get the image out of my mind
of that guy pushing that egg through
“Well, it seems obvious to me.
I mean droids were designed to be like
us, even in their motivation. Of course
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
could say that.”
they want power, everyone wants
“No kidding? Anyone new these days?”
my head and harshly blew it back out
Foot in mouth. Who was I
again. My mind didn’t even want to go
power. And with everyone all sex-
fooling? I knew where these questions
there. I hated thinking about that.
crazed egomaniacs everywhere, well...
were going. You’re a piece of shit, ass-
They want to be like real humans, and
All those memories con-
now they are. It’s just a natural conse-
She sat beside me. This time,
stantly flooding my mind, stinging me
quence. And honestly, the engineers
a little closer than last, facing me with
constantly like a million little piranhas.
are fucking idiots for not realizing this
her hand propping up the side of her
The thought of that question oddly had
head, her hair interlacing her fingers.
that feel of drowning to it. The disap-
I could see my own hands in her hair,
pointment and despair. The endless
I was stunned. “You’re a ge-
gripping at her scalp, pulling her body
searching. Sometimes I wondered
nius.” She always was, too. I am a fairly
towards me with each thrust...
what I was searching for.
smart guy, but Leslie always seemed
light years ahead of me. She under-
“Nope, no one new,” she said
I wanted to lie to her and tell her about
stood people and the world better than
after a pause. Damn it, she was even
Nivena, or maybe Danica. Those were
anyone else I’ve ever known. I just
smiling at me a little. Was she, really?
probably the closest. They were great
know numbers and laws of physics.
Please god no, how am I ever going to
lays. And they were cool too. But even
work through this? “You?” She started
after just a few months, the novelty
She shrugged her right
speaking in a sultry-sounding voice.
of their squirting and dirty talk talents
shoulder. “Not as genius as the droids.”
But again, could be my imagination.
wore off. But the way her eyes scanned
An awkward silence accompanied the
me for a thread of dishonesty informed
sudden knowing in the air - that I was
Gah, damn it, Jack. Why the
me that was a bad idea. “Not really,” I
there because I was running away
fuck does it always have to happen this
from potential apocalypse. I scratched
way? The biggest reason it’s tough to
at a spot on the rim of my coffee mug,
let go of the illness is because some-
Her gaze shifted to my hair,
but it was only paint. “Do you think it’s
how, it seems to give you this power
my ears, my lips. “I always thought you
safe here?” I asked.
over pussy. When you give in to the
were cute,” she smirked.
illness, you become a pussy magnet.
“Hard to say.” She stood up
It flocks to you, and getting amazing
That was it. My body lost it
and headed toward the stove to push
women to suck your dick and want all
and I grabbed her face and pulled her
around the wood inside, and there it
the rest of you to themselves is effort-
lips towards me and she practically
less. Why would anyone in their right
sucked my tongue right out of my
mind resist this?
mouth. “Yowza!” I yelped, my mouth
Jesus, look at that tight ass...
still entwined with hers. I had never
Come on, Jack, not Leslie!
“Not seeing anyone at the
said yowza before. This woman was
She was like a sister back in the day.
moment,” I informed her.
hardcore. It was clear she hadn’t gotten
Still the x-ray vision clicked on and my
any in a long time. It had only been two
mind’s eye saw her in a lacy black bra
“Has anyone special come through
days for me. I grabbed her hair just as
and panties with back seam stock-
your life? Someone you’ll forever com-
I imagined earlier and tried pushing
ings... Argh.... Hearing her moans in my
pare everyone to?” Her eyes were sym-
her downward, but no effort was even
pathetic like she wanted to get to know
required. She was already headed that
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
Get a hold of yourself, Jack!
“So, whatever happened between you
“That guy? We split when he
graduated. We always planned it that
way anyway. We still talk. He has two
a different side of me I never showed
anyone back then. Leslie liked to get
into everyone’s deep dark secrets but
bit the heads off of anyone who tried to
get into hers.
It was a question no one had
ever asked me before. The thought of it
made me breathe in what seemed an
Who’d ever thought I’d be here at Leslie’s
cabin in the woods, getting a world
class blow job from her, ten years
down the road? Jeez, she had a mouth
like a vacuum cleaner, god damn! Girl
must be hungry as fuck!
infinite amount of air before I dropped
On top of it all, it happened to take
place while I was running for my life
from sex-crazed robots at home. And
here I was in my safe haven with the tip
of my dick being massaged by Leslie’s
“Awww!” My eyes almost
bulged out of my head as I gasped in
horrific pain. What the fuck? It felt like
the bitch had stabbed right through my
shaft and wasn’t letting go. I couldn’t
breathe. Shit! Shit! You stupid dumbfuck,
Jack! How did I not see this?!
Jennifer Blaesing - United States
Jennifer is a lifelong writer, weaver,
and tarot card reader from Chicago, IL.
She is currently finishing up her debut
novel and plans to launch early 2017.
Find more about her work at her blog
Slowly she released her lips
from me and pulled her head back
while I was already in tears. Her tongue
had taken the shape of a sort of scaly
pewter snake tongue that she had
stabbed right into me. She retracted
her tongue and looked up at me with
her blacker than ever eyes. “Gotcha.”
The nightmare was only
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
By Ian Winchester
This wasn’t supposed to be my job.
The step van’s doors popped open and two of
Mao’s heavies jumped out to secure the area. Tachi and
I waited inside. This sort of work was supposed to be reserved
for people like them. People who install strength
enhancements in their prosthetics, carry an arsenal of
weapons under their black coats and wear mirror shades
on rainy nights like this. People like that are meant to be
the stars of this kind of show, I’m just a backup singer.
One of the heavies, the woman, voiped the all clear. The
technicians began their work, setting up their equipment
in the back of the off-white van while the heavies waited
out in the rain like chrome gargoyles wrapped in pleather.
A battery of sealed containers, each one with a big red
light in the corner, formed a wall between the cabin and
the back of the van.
The van and the navy blue uniforms we were wearing had all been borrowed from a small electrical
company Mao had a grip on. Even with my eyes closed I could tell they were a matching set,
the AC in here had blown out an eon ago and the smell of burnt plastic clung to the fabric like a
Tachi glared at me from the other side of the van. He was not happy. He’d traded in his
powder-blue tuxedo for a fluro safety vest, a set of grubby coveralls and an electrician’s belt. None
of which matched with a face that could lead a Hong Kong romantic comedy.
“What happened to no strings attached?” Tachi said over the cyber-voip. His lips never
moved but I heard his voice as though he was speaking right into my ear. His voice didn’t match
his face either. Tachi’s voice betrayed his Oxford education. Sometimes by speaking, usually by
“I say a lot of things, Tachi. You can’t expect me to be right all the time.”
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“Ha! Once would be a good start. Wake
up Dust, we can’t afford to be doing
“So now that’s Mao’s run out of blood-
this, we have too much to do on the job
relatives he’s started on his old war
we’re already on.”
sending the pictures from my wet drive
“The program has changed
Tachi still hadn’t looked at me.
over to him.
Tachi, get with it. We need someone to
I saw him clench his hand into a fist
hack for us on the Hamilton job. This is
then slowly open it again.
“What the devil?”
how we get that someone.”
“Would you please relax?
I shrugged. I couldn’t blame
“And what if something goes
Tachi, I’d asked the same thing when
wrong? The Hamilton job is a delicate
Mao’s done the hard work already. I
I first saw the pics. Mao’s mark had
operation, especially compared to this.
checked over every inch of his recon
undergone extensive cosmetic surgery.
We can’t afford to waste time.”
work and it’s every bit as good as it
He’d bleached his skin milky white and
was when I served under him. All he
had colour-changing contacts installed
“I already told him that.” I said
needs us to do is stick to the script.”
in his cybereyes. From Mao’s info, the
scratching the stubble on my chin.
mark’s eyes would turn from an eerie
“Mao promised me this would be a
Tachi lazily swivelled his head
gold to dark red on mental command.
one-night job and provided we come
back my way. “Oh yes, the script. That
His hair could change colour too, the
back alive he’ll put us in contact with a
is not a two-man job Dust.”
long white locks turned to black as
hacker who’s done good work for him.
the wearer desired. Some reinforced
All we have to do... is retire this one
“No.” I said. “It’s not. It’s a one-
fangs and hand-rippers completed the
man, one-cyborg job.”
Tachi leaned back in his seat
and crossed his arms. “I don’t like it,
Tachi may have looked like
Tachi didn’t say anything.
just waltzing in, bold as brass and plug-
any other suave, unreasonably hand-
The techs did their signal checks
ging the mark in his own office. It’s so…
some bastard, but everything from the
for the cybervoip. The lights on the
uncouth. Like a common thug.”
brain down was a prosthetic. He was
boxes flicked from red to green and a
a collection of vital organs in a biopod
swarm of micro-drones crawled out
I held back a sigh. “I didn’t ask
controlling a replicant human body
of their containers and into the alley.
you to come with me.”
from inside the torso. They were all the
The drones looked about the size of a
rage in Japan.
large cockroach, the kind you’d get a
Tachi snorted, ran a hand
hammer to kill, just in case. But they
through his painstakingly perfect hair
Me? I had the standard Australian
resembled ants in design. The swarm
and looked away.
Army Augmentation Package (or AAAP
crawled down an open drain and made
for short. Unlike the US the Australian
their way into the mark’s building
“Thuggish and blunt are how
Army doesn’t base their acronyms on
through the utility pipes.
Mao wants it. He’s making an example
what would make a better G.I. JOE toy).
of the mark so he needs it to look like a
So I had a string of interface plugs
And then finally, once all the drones
throughout my body and a pain editor
were in place, they gave us the green
in my neural processor. That and lots
“We never go in blind like this Dust. Do
of squishy, squishy flesh. That may
you even know why your ‘friend’ wants
sound like a lot, but I’ve worked along-
According to Mao’s briefing,
side 4RAR Commandoes, those boys
the mark had holed himself up in a
“It’s a family matter.” I said.
“The mark killed Mao’s daughter, then
his son went after the guy and wound
up dead himself.”
and girls have chrome on their chrome.
“Do you even know what the
mark looks like?”
“He looks like this” I said,
private office he operated out of on the
top floor of a backpacker’s hostel. After
Mao’s son had his turn at killing the
mark, the Dracula wannabe had hired
a squad of muscle boys to look after
I had to confess, Tachi’s incessant nag-
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
ging was justified.
patched over, but the smaller ones
moment you hit the emergency stop
Any other day of the week if I walked
button the lift makes a phone call to
Two of the Mark’s goons
into a job like this one I’d walk straight
the security office or reception desk
were waiting for us at the elevator.
on out again, wouldn’t even wave
and you find yourself talking to the air
They were the scary type of personal
goodbye. And yet here I was.
while they ask you what the problem is.
security with the shaved heads and
Some even have security cameras in-
the tattoos. Mao’s feed showed them
Lieutenant Stephen Mao said jump and
stalled. If the mark’s upgrades included
turn towards the door and tense up.
I paused just long enough to ask how
a well-hidden camera, we were dead
I couldn’t see a weapon of any kind
yet, but Mao probably couldn’t get the
Tachi and I crossed the street.
That last thought didn’t help.
drone in any closer without alerting
I took a deep breath at the doors and
walked into the lobby. At this time of
I slipped my Tech Specs over
Which gave me an idea.
night, there was no receptionist at the
my eyes and set them to magnify. Un-
front desk, only an outdated robotic
like Tachi, my augmented vision came
I slipped my pistol from its
vending machine advertising a million
with a battery life.
holster and began screwing the sound
different ways to distract yourself dur-
suppressor onto the barrel.
ing your stay. The sort of thing a bunch
My powered screwdriver had the lift’s
of fliers used to do in ages past. The
control panel open in a few seconds
“Hey Mao, can you use the
barely contained noise of the nightclub
and I managed to wedge it into the
drone to get the guard’s attention
next door conjured images of cavorting
tamper-switch, hopefully before
before we open the door?”
German backpackers and other good
security was notified. With that open I
began splicing wires and hooking them
up to a wireless router the size of a
I hit the button for the lift and it opened
Through the control, our
straight away. It was little more than a
installed router gave me I brought the
box of once-polished steel. While Tachi
The fibre-optic line the lift used to
elevator right up to the top floor and
got the lift going I keyed into the tech’s
inform the building’s maintenance of
held the door closed. As Mao moved
its status gave me a back way into
the drone into position I saw the guards
the card reader and the other system,
exchange fleeting glances. They’d seen
“How’s it look?”
which turned out to be a fingerprint
the numbers count up to the top, but
scanner. With the install finished I
now nothing was happening.
Mao’s voice replied over the
sticky-tacked the router to the inside
cybervoip. “The target doesn’t have
of the panel and screwed the faceplate
Then Mao positioned the drone right
many lights on so we’ve switched
back into place.
above one of their heads and detached
most of the drones over to night vision.
it from the ceiling.
Target appears to be working quietly on
“We have control of the eleva-
a laptop in his office.”
tor”. I reported.
With a smirk, I opened the doors. Just
as they parted we heard the unfortu-
“Gimmie the floor plan.”
“Good.” Mao didn’t bother to conceal
nate guard release the first of a long
the relief in his voice. “Get to the pent-
line of expletives. His partner turned to
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
I accepted the picture message
and organised the display so it
sat in the corner of my vision. Then
I checked out the lift’s control panel.
Every building’s system is different, if
you bring a lift to an emergency stop in
some buildings you’ll be lucky to be out
house floor, I’ll patch you into the feed
from the drones”.
The Penthouse floor was not
a fancy as that word normally suggests.
The fittings were okay but the
carpet had seen better days. A strip
of maroon separated the plaster wall
panels, the more obvious cracks were
help him just as Tachi and I stepped
out with our pistols up. I sighted up on
the guy without the robot ant crawling
down his back and tapped two rounds
into his face. He toppled like a felled
tree. Beside me, Tachi silenced the
panicking one. And he joined his friend
face down on the musty carpet.
by next morning. In others, the
“Anybody hear that?”
managed to secrete his drones into.
Mao cycled me through
We’d gotten most of the room from the
a bunch of different streams from
earlier shot. Some business furnishings
around the building. “If they have
lined the walls but the couches and the
the flesh. The milky white skin and hair
they’re keeping it to themselves.”
big desk took up the majority of the
were as pale as the moon and offset
middle. A small shower room lay to the
his golden eyes in a way that was
Tachi jumped in. “Where are
right of the desk and a picture window
downright creepy. The whole package
the rest of the guards?”
took up most of the wall opposite it.
(especially with those full-inch canines)
would have been awe inspiring if I
The screen in my vision split
I readied myself at the latch of
couldn’t detect the faintest hint of urine
into two. “Most of them are down the
the door and Tachi raised his free hand.
in the air.
hall, two of them are with the mark in
He held up three fingers and counted
I centred the crosshairs in
the middle of his face and tensed my
I looked at the thumbnail
screens. The majority of the guards
“Wait!” Mao called. “I need to
were sitting around on a couch in a
verify his identity.”
common room, watching the Maroons
slaughter the Blues. The two with the
Tachi threw the latch down
Relief broke out on my fore-
mark were standing around uncom-
and we burst into the room. I put the
head. “Waiting on you”.
fortably while the Mark got up from the
first bodyguard in my sights just as he
couch in his office and moved over to
went for his pistol and tapped out two
The video feed shook itself
the heavy-looking, rosewood panelled
quick shots and then another two until
to crap as the drone scrambled across
desk with the lion’s feet. His office had
he fell down.
the ceiling. The mark cautiously looked
a couple of black leather couches fac-
up at me, tears streaming down his
ing each other before the desk, making
The mark dived off his chair while
it looked like it doubled as a living
Tachi filled the second bodyguard full
of holes. While Tachi’s target crumpled
I remained motionless, a
against a display case full of what
statue brandishing a pistol.
I couldn’t see it clearly from the small
looked like taxidermied rodents the
screen but something about the Mark
mark dashed across the carpet and
He slowly started to back
looked off. I expected someone who
into the shower room.
away from me, until he reached the
dolled himself up like a creature of the
shower and ran out of space.
night to be more theatrical even when
“They’re alert.” Mao warned.
I remembered the snarling, ravenous
it was just him and his people. This guy
“He must have a silent alarm.”
beast from Mao’s picture. This could
seemed quiet, almost reserved.
not be the same person.
“I’ll block the door,” Tachi said.
Tachi and I crept through the
“Hurry up before he panics. Is
corridor towards the office. Just in
I raised my pistol. “I’ll finish
it him or not?”
case, Mao had slipped up somehow
and missed some extra guards.
I cautiously slid open the door
We reached the office door
to the shower room and aimed my
I pulled the trigger.
and took up positions on either side of
it. “Give us the layout of the room Mao.”
Mao switched both feeds to
the two side of the room he’d
pistol inside before following it in. There
was the mark, sitting in a ball on the
floor, covering his head with his arms.
Evan Mao’s photo hadn’t
prepared me for meeting this bloke in
“Something’s happened!” Mao
gasped. “Get out of there right now.”
I was already moving.
I rushed back into the main room and
saw Tachi stack the second couch in
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
place. With both couches and the
I’ll ask again.”
Another heavy blow landed on the
door, this time it was less thump and
“I can’t say anything,” I replied.
more snap. The couch on top teetered
“My employer has a drone in this room
over the edge of the stack.
fancy desk up against the door even
listening to our every word. Even if I
augmented guards would have dif-
wanted to give him up, I wouldn’t make
Tachi turned to me again.
ficulty getting through.
it to the end of the street.”
“How strong do you think that window
“So we’d locked ourselves in,”
“If you don’t, you won’t make
Tachi said. “Now what?”
it to the end of the room.”
I glanced over my shoulder. “Tempered
Then a voice through a
I shrugged. “Don’t see that it
glass.” Then I looked at my pistol. “.45
speaker stopped us both in our tracks.
makes much difference.”
ACP, it’s worth a shot.”
“You’re different from the last one.” The
male voice said in a Baltic accent. “I
“I’m sorry you see it that way.”
Tachi and I pumped every round
wasn’t expecting a Caucasian man.”
Tachi looked at me. He looked
we had in the mag into a nice, tight,
as worried as I felt.
8-inch group in the window. The glass
“That’s not possible.” Mao
spiderwebbed around the impacts and
“I’ve got a way out of this.”
turned a bright white but didn’t actually
“I want you to answer a ques-
crack. While I reloaded my pistol Tachi
tion for me.” The voice asked. “I have
grabbed a chair and took a running
a team of armed men in the corridor.
“I should hope so.”
slam at the grouping that broke the
If your answer pleases me I might
wheelbase clean off.
persuade them to let you live.”
Mao’s voice came back on
the line. “Give me a minute.”
The window wobbled a bit and some
“But you just shot him?”
shavings of glass came loose, but we
A loud thump sounded from
hadn’t actually succeeded in creating
“Wake up!” Tachi said. “He
the other side of the door, followed by
said he had a hit squad next door.
the crack of fibreboard and punctuated
I locked the slide forward on
by a puff of sawdust.
my pistol again. “Wasn’t looking forward
to shimmying down the drainpipe
“They’re rushing over from
“We don’t have a minute
the other room.”
The sound of tearing fibre-
Another thump sounded, this
board brought out attention back to
“Who sent you?”
time the couch on top of our stack
the door and the squad of goons about
jumped an inch.
to come through it. The top couch
I didn’t say anything.
dropped down to the floor. “Mao, what
“It’s a shame.” The voice
the hell is this plan of yours?”
“Who is this bloke anyway?”
continued. “I was hoping I could return
the favour to your employers, I guess
“We’re about to switch off the
“That’s the voice of the man
another team of hitmen disappearing
you just killed”
into the ether will have to do.”
“What do you want us to do
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
“Who... sent... you?”
I could feel a single drop of sweat make
its slow, pondering way down the side
of my face. I glanced at Tachi.
“Only with your cooperation
Tachi glanced up at the ceiling.
“Likes to talk, this one”.
I winked at Tachi. “The welldressed,
articulate ones tend to.”
Tachi gave me an unimpressed look.
“Now?” He said. “Really?”
Then the second couch got
kicked straight off the top of the desk
and we got a clear look at our adversaries
and vice versa.
Then the lights went out.
I strafed to the right, putting round
after round into the space where the
can you hope to leave this room alive.
doorway had been.
I switched on my Tech Spec’s low-light
vision and in the green light I saw the
first bodyguard slump onto the desk,
dead. His comrades pulled his body
back into the corridor. I knelt down to
improve my firing position and saw a
flicker of something pass through the
A second later I heard something
hit the carpet and then the flash
Blinding light turned my world
an agonising green. I tore off my Tech-
Specs and jammed my eyes shut for a
second’s relief. I cautiously peeked one
eye open and tried to look around, but
a black and purple stain appeared in
my vision wherever I tried to focus.
Hearing more bumps and
thuds, I tried to shift my turn my
peripheral vision towards the door and
could barely make out three figures
vault over the desk and join us in the
I opened fire, trying to use the
edge of my vision to aim but my shots
went wild. The nearest goon charged
headlong at me with a retractable
Whatever our Dracula wannabe was
paying these guys it wasn’t enough. I
got to my feet and tried to hold him off
with my free arm so I could bring my
pistol to bear.
He brought the baton down
on me and I put my forearm in its way.
The solid steel stick bounced painfully
off the bone before my pain editor went
to work. I pulled the arm away to protect
it and squeezed off another shot
with my pistol. When the next thing I
felt was the baton smacking me across
my gun-wrist I knew I’d missed.
The pistol fell from my grasp and I
threw a wild punch at where I could
only guess the goon’s face was. He
slipped past my hand, grabbed me
around the waist and pulled me off my
With barely a heave of effort, he threw
me to the ground. I tried to distribute
the impact evenly across my shoulders
and brought my arms back up to
protect my head.
More pain flared in my
forearms as his foot stomped down on
me. I grabbed his shoe before he could
retract and threw it hard to the side
before kicking out his other foot and
toppling him forward.
I caught him as he fell on me. Pulled up
my hips and rolled him over until I was
on top. He wrapped his legs around my
hips so I couldn’t move any higher up
his body and swung at me again with
Somehow in the middle of all this, I had
an idea. I pulled my head out of the
way of the swing and jumped on the
voip. “Mao. Can you turn the lights back
on for 1 second?”
“Tachi, close your eyes.”
I did as I’d advised and felt
the world outside my lids flash red for
a moment. When it was dark again I
heard the goon beneath me groan and
saw him covering his face.
I fell onto the arm holding the baton
and pinned it to the floor. The guy tried
to grab me so I raised my hand high
and brought it down in a hammer-slam
on his nose. Two more of those and his
grip on the baton loosened enough for
me to yank it out of his grasp.
One backhand across the jaw later and
the guy’s legs went limp. I extracted
myself from his hold and stood back
My vision was mostly back now
though it was hard to tell with just the
streetlight bleeding in from the picture
window. A lone figure stood to the side
Mao kindly turned the lights back on
and I saw Tachi standing over the
broken bodies of the other two goons.
The knuckles on his prosthetic fists
dripped with blood, but his synthskin
was bruised all over.
He looked up at me and
blanched. “Is that you Dust?”
I rubbed my hand across my
face and discovered a broken nose and
a lot of blood. “What’s left of me.”
“Well.” The disembodied voice
said after a while. “That was disappointing.”
I looked around on the floor
for my Tech Specs and pistol. The .45
was okay, but at some point in the
excitement, someone had trodden on
my specs. I policed them up anyway.
“This is not over.” The voice
began. “I will find out who you are and
who your employer is. That is only a
matter of time...”
“Come on,” I said to Tachi.
“Let’s get out of here before he starts
yelling that he’s gonna get us and our
little dog too!”
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
Ian Winchester - Australia
Like every author says in their bio, I’ve
had stories bouncing around in my
head for basically forever. Action and
conflict have always fascinated me.
People who put their lives and bodies
on the line to take up arms against a
sea of troubles as the immortal bard
said. And so, like any good author, I
did my research. But I don’t learn from
books and interviews as effectively as
I learn from rolling up my sleeves and
getting my hands dirty. With the aid of
some filmmaker and stuntman friends
I’ve made over the last decade, I’ve
been doing my research at the sharp
end. I release all of my work for free on
my website at IanWinchester.net at a
rate of 1000-odd words every couple
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
FOUND IN THE ARCHIVE:
MOCK-UP COVER DESIGNED FOR THE WEB SERIES ‘AIRLOCK’ WHICH NEVER MADE IT
TO THE SHOW...
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4
MACHETE GIRL ISSUE 8.4