Akio awoke with a start, the very action impulsively trying to force his body upright, but all he could do was arch his back as solid immovable restraints held his arms and legs against whatever it was he was currently strapped to. The previous events were a blur to him but he remembered the Eagle deck, the sensation of both flying and falling as well as being able to see the world for what it was, as a mixture of the physical and the digital. Memories began to return to him, of a Hydan in full-body armour and the pain of a dermal press injecting a drug into his system. Then awaking here, in this room of darkness unable to see a thing, strapped to a bed.
“Mother-fuckers!” Akio shouted in rage. Clearly he had been abducted and to make matters worse they had unplugged him from his deck.
As if in response to his outburst a door creaked open allowing the faintest of lights to penetrate the dark. The silhouette of a figure entered the room. It did not walk however, no Akio thought to himself as the figure got nearer and nearer, this person was waddling.
The figure continued past Akio, it’s body and musky smell far too close to his head and leaned over him before the familiar clicking sound of a light switch filled the room. For a moment nothing happened and then as if in a delayed stupor a light hanging from the centre of the room sprang into life. It cast a garish blue-white light over the room revealing a space no bigger than four feet by eight, only slightly bigger than the bed he was strapped to. Akio looked at the figure who hovered over him, his eyes meeting those of a elderly Hydan.
“Where?” Asked Akio, his voice feeling harsh and dry. The Hydan looked down at him and gently waved an index finger in his direction before straightening up and waddling out of the room.
The room itself was covered in peeling blue-green paint revealing what looked to be white plaster underneath. The paint was the colour of the budget hospitals that littered the Block. Akio knew all about them, he had studied them during his time at re-education, how they were a symbol of the Block itself, how they were hastily built in areas uncontrolled by the gangs that terrorised it’s law abiding citizens but as the gang’s influence spread they would be abandoned and new ones built else where. He considered his location, how he was held in restraints and the dilapidated state of the room and it was obvious that it must be one of these hospitals he was being held in. But who were his captors?
So far he had only seen Hydan, which ruled out the Red Claw. While the group are not above taking hostages it is almost unheard of them working with a single Hydan, never mind two. It could have been the Flaming Fists or whatever the called themselves. They were made up of both Hydan and Humans but we're not known to grab people, they were a smash and grab gang, preferring to rob credits and gear. Then there was the Jokers, mainly made up of Hydan and famous for abducting people. He hoped these weren't the Jokers, those who disappeared in Joker ground were known to appear days later missing their skin and vital organs. That left the Trydan.
The Trydan were the crime lords of the Block and everyone, even those who were not Block residents knew of their name. There wasn't a drug deal or smuggling operation within the Block that the Trydan didn't know about it have a hand in. Until now Akio had never had any dealings with the Trydan, nor had he any reason to but he had heard many stories about them. Most importantly was the gang’s inherent xenophobia for non Hydan. It was rumoured that they only ever recruited from their own race and any dealings with others was always via third party proxy. Out of all of the gangs operating from the Block, the Trydan were by far the most militant and nationalist, their very name meaning Pure-Blooded Hydan.
The door opened further as two more Hydan entered the room. One held Akio down with both arms while the other untied his restraints from whatever surface he was tied to and retied them to each other, stopping him from being able to move his arms more than an inch and his legs incapable of walking. Running was clearly out of the question. The Hydan wore black and red, skin tight body suits that looked very similar to his Eagle suit he had worn earlier while hacked into his deck. He recognised it almost instantly as a Stealth Suit, capable of camouflaging the wearer in almost any situation, but the suits he was used to seeing worn by certain elite soldiers in Nova Casa was a bright blue emblazoned by the logo of the Accord but these suits with their black and red patterning held a small breast motif that until now Akio had only seen on digi-vids; the symbol of the Reavers.
Akio was picked up in almost silence and slung over one of the Stealth Suit wearer’s shoulders. He was carried for what felt like a good five, maybe eight minutes before he was thrown off to land into a hard metal chair. The force of his landing nearly knocking himself and the chair onto the floor. As he felt gravity began to take control and his balance shifting, a large buckled army boot slammed between Akio’s legs. The toe of the boot caught the front lip of his chair and Akio was steadied. Akio stared in bewilderment at the boot and its immediate proximity to his most private of body parts, the two separated by a mere centimetre or two of air.
Akio looked up following the boot past the baggy brown camouflage combat trousers, up past the reinforced armour playing and into the face of a Hydan. Akio realised with a start that he must have been looking at the gang leader due to the bright white tattoo that circled his neuro-patch, a sign he had seen on videos that he knew denoted that this man’s brain belonged to the gang. It was his responsibility to watch out for his members and in the moment he was deemed unworthy then his tattoo; laced with micro combustible elements, would ignite and quite literally fry the connections between his Patch and his brain. The process would leave the gang boss alive, but equal to that of a vegetable, unable to think beyond the very most basic of thought processes.
Akio was right, these were gang members of the Trydan, which meant that every other member had a similar tatoo, theirs on their left breast ready to burn out their heart if given the right command by their boss. This was something that Akio had always found both amusing and respectful; the command to kill his gang members was held by the gang boss. But that same command to burn out the boss’ patch, that was held by the gang members themselves. As a group they both figuratively and literally were responsible for the lives of each other.
The Trydan boss leaned forward and parted his rough scarred lips.
“Our contact says you’re an up and comer” the Boss paused before breathing deeply and letting out a harsh cough “he says that you; Jinn, will be able to solve our little problem”.
Akio clenched his teeth. He remembered how the gang member he had met at the train depot had known his handle; Jinn, but how he had only decided to use it after his meeting with Tangle in the ‘Mantiverse.
“Tangle; you mother…”
“Yes, yes we all know who we’re talking about, but how much do you really know?” The Trydan boss replied.
Akio looked at the Trydan with puzzles eyes.
The Trydan smiled before coughing dryly once more.
“How much do you really know about this Tangle?” The boss asked again as he held out a digi-pad. Akio could read most of the pad’s display and he felt a knot in his stomach.
The digi-pad displayed an image of the very same Hydan he had met at the Train Depot, underneath was a second image, this one of his ‘Mantic Space trader; Tangle. The boss nodded.
“That’s right Jinn, he’s one of ours!”
The boss stood carefully and began to walk behind Akio with an almost determined look in his face.
“It’s amazing what you can do in ‘Mantic Space with the right deck and cartridge. All that time you were dealing with him? You were dealing with us”
The boss landed a firm open palmed grip on Akio’s left shoulder.
“You see, we’re everywhere, even on your side of the Divide, we’re controlling everything and most of your monkey-bred race doesn't even realise it!”
“So why me?” Akio asked, his body tensed as he waited for the inevitable punch or throttle from the boss’ firm hands.
“Like I said, we have a job for you. The one you know as Tangle? He’s our; how do we put it? Our recruiter. Searches for hidden talent and helps bring it to the foreground. That’s what we did for you. Remember your Eagle? We got it for you, and at such a great price too! We practically have it away. We’ve even got you lodging with your own kind, including rent paid up for the rest of the year! All you gotta do is do us a small favour when the time comes. Think you can do that?”
Akio strained his head to look at the crime boss as he replied.
“I guess I don't really have a choice do I?”
The boss released Akio’s shoulder and paced back to his own chair.
“Not if you want to keep your parents breathing” the boss smiled up one side of his mouth, his lips parted revealing a row of teeth sharpened into points, they looked more like that of an Earthen Shark than an omnivorous Hydan.
“Ok” came Akio’s reply “I'll do it”.
“I knew you would”.
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley