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Miss Conduct

By gabrielvaljan All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Scifi

Twelve

He had clicked the chip into his vestigial gill behind his right ear. The algorithms washed his data boards first. He was inside the array, looking for a toehold exchange. Finn searched for a sticky end in the genetic stairwell. He was chipped and streaming, doing some serious DI, data intake, through the port above the scar, courtesy of the military.

His eyes turned ocean-blue. He was ready to tile genetic sequences and add them to his own. For all the technology in Medio, nobody had yet figured out how to stop eyes from changing colors during DI. No wonder Data Runners resorted to contact lenses.

He felt the sting in his forearm. Com console. He rotated his wrist, read the inner aspect of his arm. Priority One. The assignment bubbled up through his skin to the surface and then sank back down into the skin and disappeared. The rest of the details would soon flow through his connection and overtake his boards.

He had thought that he had the weekend secured. He had ridden the crummy elevator up to his flat, with the expectation that he would be able to enjoy his modest box overlooking the jagged skyline. He had so wanted to watch the smog burn off first.

He waited for the download.

Finn felt the cool sensation of linkage. Incoming transmission. He was parsing and slicing it behind his eyes. Why had Mother picked him? He was low-key, the gray man among the other Defenders.

He peeled the polysilicate trodes off his pulse points. After sixty hours of chasing Sleaze and DRs, he was on-call again. Time to suit up. He chose micro-carbon body armor. He verified his ammo and holstered his weapon. Back to the prowl and to unwinding the DNA of the bad guys. He locked the door behind him.

His neighbor opened her door and stuck her head out. He said hello; she said hello. She seemed stuck on the precipice of puberty. Forever twelve. The stasis so imprinted her identity that her name became Twelve.

“Hi, Finn,” she said.

“Hi yourself, Twelve. What did I tell you about those outfits?”

She reviewed her ensemble with slow mischievous eyes from her bare feet on up. She knew what she was doing. The toe ring was new.

“I’m comfy and besides it’s time for bed,” she said.

“Yeah it is, as in you in bed alone. Got it?”

“You don’t like me, do you Finn?” Her arm crawled up the door’s ledge and let her body rest against the door in sultry resignation. That was new, he thought. Her lips, slick with contraband gloss, moved. “I might look twelve, but I can assure you that my mind isn’t.”

“Still the same, Twelve, some things just aren’t right. Go get some sleep.”

He wanted to get down the hall. The elevator wasn’t the most cooperative piece of machinery. Damn relic.

“I’ve seen the girls you’ve dragged home,” she said. “You’re not one to judge.”

“I’m not judging you.”

Odd to hear her use the word ‘home’ since he was barely in his and her parents were never around. This moment just like every other they had would have been awkward had it not been for Milo, her pet, who showed up, paws on her ankle and dark eyes and head tilted upward at him. She picked him up in a panic.

“Please don’t tell,” she said.

“I won’t,” he said and stepped closer to her. “You know pets are illegal.”

“You’re a cop, so look away. You guys are good at that.”

“I’m not that kind of cop, Twelve, but I’ve told you a million times to be careful.”

She held Milo close. Nothing endearing about a rat, but the poor thing looked scared. His little pink paws complemented the black scallops of her bra. He couldn’t blame her for wanting companionship since only Sleaze would take an interest in her. As for her ding about his occupation, he was a straight GCD, Genetic Crimes Division and not some hungry grub in a uniform.

“Promise not to tell?” she asked again.

“I promise. Go on inside.”

“Sure you won’t change your mind.”

“I’m sure.”

He watched her door close. He heard the sound of an airlock next.

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