In a war between man and machine, he must find a way to protect them all...
After a devastating war forced humans to rely on synths for survival, the two have learned to coexist peacefully.
When detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a homicide, what he uncovers threatens the serenity of this futuristic society. The gruesome murder means only one thing: someone is ready to incite another war. Now, it’s up to Dhata to ensure that the truth stays hidden–to protect both sides of the battle. But can he be unbiased in a black and white world that forces him to take sides?
A loud beeping woke Dhata up and he struggled to remember where he was. His vision cleared and his ICLs came alive, showing the time and his unopened messages. With one blink it was gone and so was the beeping from the alarm. He rubbed his face and looked around. He had fallen asleep on the couch.
Shit, he thought, late again, and he scrambled to the sink to splash water on his face. “Good morning,” came a voice from the direction of the bedroom. He looked around. It was his apartment, but he couldn’t remember having company when he stumbled home last night.
He fumbled for his pistol. “Looking for this?” the voice said. Dhata turned to face whomever it was.
Seated on the counter was a woman in red. She was dressed like a racer in form-fitting leather. She had a thick crop of hair, with knives behind her ears, a minute detail that Dhata spotted instantly. Kunoichi, he thought. I am dead. She dangled his Glock between slender brown fingers.
“Did you bring me here?” he said, looking around for another weapon.
“We did,” said the woman with a slight accent. He saw that her eyes danced around like an untethered cursor on a vehicle’s dash.
Synth Kunoichi. I’m screwed, he thought. I wonder which gangster put a number on my name. “I’m alive, which is obvious, so I’m guessing you’re here to interrogate me,” Dhata said. “What do you need to know?”
She hopped off the counter like a cat, all speed and silence. He saw blood marks on her steel-toed boots, and her pants were torn above the knee. “I’m not here to question you or to kill you. I am your angel wings, Mr. Mays.” The accent was Indian and she was tall, near six feet in height with her killer boots adding more. She walked up to him, close enough for him to smell her, and that’s when he saw that she was definitely a synth.
“Angel wings hint at death,” he said. “Are you playing with your food? Drag me home, wait me out so you can kick me with those boots and watch me bleed out on the carpet?”
She stepped in so close he expected a knife in the gut, or a kiss from her dark red lips tainted with some sort of toxin. But she merely hovered, reveling in her intimidation. “They told me you were dangerous,” she said. “Are you dangerous?”
“Why don’t you just tell me why you’re here,” he said.
“I’ve been hired by someone to protect you, Mr. Mays. The investigation that you are on is very important to us.”
“By us you mean what exactly? The assassin’s guild? Synths? You speak to me as if my intuition can pick up what’s inside your head. Who is your employer, and why does he care? Also, I have a ton of cases so exactly which one are you supposedly guarding me from?”
“I can’t say much but my employer asks that you continue your work on the synth murders. There is evil but it is a mystery. People end up missing, but nobody knows why. You are good at what you do and we”—she gestured to herself—“We believe in you. Believe that you will find out who is doing these things.”
“Alright,” Dhata said. “You got it, lady, but who says that I need protection?”
“Last night I watched you and there was a man following you. A human man, an assassin. I dispatched him while you were drunk. Do not drink while you investigate, Detective, it makes you slow and careless. Continue to work and I will watch. Like I said before, your angel wings.”
The thought of being so drunk that he missed an attempt on his life made Dhata feel embarrassed. Just like that he could have been dead, at least if this kunoichi was to be believed. “Tell your employer that I will stay on this case even if the other Johns won’t. There’s something foul going on and I’m almost there. What I don’t need, and I mean no disrespect, but I don’t need a ninja babysitter.”
The woman placed a hand on his shoulder, then gave him a smile right before turning around and walking towards his door. “That isn’t up to you, Mr. Mays. Just know that your wings will remain behind you,” she said.
Yeah, and I wonder how fast those wings will cut my throat if I take too long, he thought. She was gone just as fast as she had appeared on his counter and Dhata stood contemplating what to do next.