Eight years ago, Harbor Corporation hired Trez as one of its Strikers, cybernetically outfitted commandos who carry out high-risk missions to advance the company’s semi-public corporate wars. It should have been the perfect job for an adrenaline junkie: break into the opposition’s building, dispatch the guards, find the target, do whatever the higher-ups demand. But Trez can’t cope with the violence anymore.
She also can’t afford to retire any time soon. Her hapless father owes money to the Makos, the most powerful crime ring in the city-state of Portland. If Trez can’t pay off his debt, the Makos will expose Trez’s carefully hidden past misdeeds to her employer. Forget being out of a job: she’ll be jailed for life if Harbor doesn’t eliminate her first.
Luckily, her longtime friend, colleague, and onetime fling Eric is determined to help her fix her problems. Can Trez swallow her pride, navigate mob politics, evade a colony of robot iguanas, and face down an anarchist cell before the life she’s built for herself crumbles?
Content advisory: drug use and abuse, parental abandonment, murder (past events), sexual content, alcohol use, post-traumatic stress, violence, depression
A sudden screeching noise made Eric’s danger sense flare. What could be … his eyes widened. That was one pimped out dirtcycle headed his way. It careened hard into a nearby storefront with a loud crunch, throwing the rider a few meters down the road. Eric ran toward the cyclist even as the other pedestrians gave the bike some distance. Dirtcycles spruced up like that often had some crazy volatiles in their tanks. You never knew what could explode when.
“You all right?” He checked the crumpled figure for obvious injury. The rider was breathing and conscious. The half helmet, now dented in near the right ear, had taken some of the impact. He wore a suit with a sharktooth motif. Mako member then. Probably suffering massive road burn under there. Maybe even broken bones.
“Ugh,” said the cyclist. He shook his head as if there were an object in there he needed to jar loose. “What the … Shit …” His face turned toward his bike, now embedded in the cement next to the front door of a building signed ANUPAM’S SYNTH SWEETS. “Well, fuck me.” He grimaced, and braced his hands on the road to get back on his feet. He failed to push himself up then he collapsed.
A beat-up truck swerved onto their street, and two goons wearing flannel bandannas to cover the lower half of their faces came out. They didn’t sport any Mako symbols, and red-and-green plaid was definitely not a Mako color combo. One of them had a baton attached to their belt. Eric’s metal detector didn’t pick up any other weapons.
He hadn’t acquitted himself well in the earlier fight today. Here was a chance to impress the Makos. Never hurt to be in good graces with the mob.
Eric’s heartbeat sped up. He had been tired, but he could feel a second wind coming on. This could be more fun than he’d expected. He turned to face the thugs, angling his body and putting one foot forward. His farther hand made a fist. “Looking for something?”
The two figures stopped short. One tilted their head at the other’s. “This isn’t your business.”
The words came easy. “Sure it is.” Come and get it. He smiled, not kindly.