The Sigma Imperative

Human/synth relations are suffering… And Dhata Mays is stepping in.

Two years after stopping a wicked serial killer, former detective Dhata Mays is called in to investigate a kidnapping. After all, he’s the new “fixer” in town. But when Dhata discovers that there’s more at stake than a missing woman, he knows he’s up against an evil entity that might destroy everything.

With help from his partners, Dhata uncovers a plot that not only involves genocide, but a brand new model of android. It’s the final hour and time is running out, but can Dhata Mays pull a hat trick, and bring an end to the synth crisis?

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It never used to rain in Tampa the way it did now. Always overcast with the slick, wet asphalt a glistening shard of glass reflecting prisms of neon lights. The people of the city knew that the rain wasn’t natural, but it came to define the age. It was part of the residual post-war fallout, what some liked to call angel’s tears.

Dhata Mays leaned against the hood of his large white Buick, pulling slowly on a dark cigar. The rain was massaging his smooth, bald scalp, and he was enjoying every bit of it. He loved this city and its people, but someone or something was trying to tear it apart. Humans were preying on their synthetic neighbors, and naturally the androids were fighting back.

The police were calling it “the Synth crisis,” but unlike them, he was on the frontlines. He knew that the implications went beyond a “crisis” and what they were facing was something substantial. He held the smoke inside his mouth and the tobacco worked its magic, adding to the moment.

A tone in his ear brought him back to the present and he was suddenly aware of his wetness. Touching the tiny node near his ear, he opened the interface and answered the call. It was Ariana, his police contact, calling from what appeared to be her house. This he saw through the augmented visual projected from his ICLs.

“Hey Ari,” he said. “What’s the drama for today?” He squatted down to push the last of the cigar into a puddle.

“Hey, Dhata, how are you?” Ariana said in a tone too casual to be natural.

“Wet, I’m wet out here in this wonderful Tampa Bay weather. Soaking up this toxic juice.”

“Careful, Dhata, you know that people have been reporting complications due to too much exposure to the rain.”

“Oh yeah? Well aren’t you a sweetheart, calling me after all this time to check on my health,” he said.

“I can hear you smiling through all that sarcasm, but I’m not calling about anything good.”

“What’s up, Ari? What do you need?” Dhata said, paying little heed to her warning about the rain.

“There’s been a kidnapping. A young woman. But we’re backed up with a lot of cases, and since the victim is synth … well, you know how that goes,” Ariana said.

“Snatching synths? That sounds like a bounty hunter. Easy money if they get away with it. Black ‘em out, pull out their spine, replace the central nervous system. You can’t program synths, but you can transplant body parts, and an old, used up Mary could be an upgrade for someone else.”

“That’s horrible,” Ariana said, and Dhata was surprised. All these years on the force and she doesn’t know these things? he thought.

“That’s what we’re dealing with here, Ari. Synthetic body snatchers. They’ve been running rampant since way before our time. What makes this one so special that you’re calling me to look into it?”

“One of my girlfriends saw it happen, and I promised her that I would investigate,” she said.

Dhata inhaled the night air, then wiped his face. “What’s the pay?” he said as he slid into the Buick.

“Pay? I’m cashing in that favor you owe me,” Ariana said, laughing.

“Fair enough. I’ll find your girl. Let me get the number of the witness who saw it happen,” he said.

Ariana transferred the number and he filed it away inside his internal implant. He was working for The Unsung now—a secret society of powerful synths—and business like this, while important, would come secondary to whatever they needed.

He got off the call and started the engine. It was too late to call the witness, but too early to call it a night. If Lurita was home he would propose a rainy date night, but she was overseas, visiting her father. The only thing waiting for him at home was loneliness and a bottle of liquor that he was trying to avoid.

“Let’s go down to Ybor,” he announced to the car, and the cobalt lights of the dashboard danced. An image of a map floated above the center panel, then expanded into a three- dimensional hologram of Tampa Bay.