AUTHOR'S NOTE: In Last Stand, Larson references an organization of radicals. I began fleshing out details of what they're trying to accomplish and how they might operate. Miyu is a character concept for this. This short contains no spoilers and can be read independent of the other works.
This is a short. It's not a full story, but it is a character and concept study. If you'd like to see more of this storyline, please leave comments.
RED, BLUE, GREEN
Miyu crossed the street, titled her head so her sweatshirt’s hood draped over her face, and stepped inside the bar. An assault of bass and decade old music accompanied the smell of spirits and sweat. She pushed past the crowd, down a crimson hallway, and into the restroom. A click as she locked the door. With both hands she leaned on the sink, glanced up. Brown eyes, twenty-something face, a crescent of color-shifting hair dangling over one cheek.
“Breathe,” she said to her reflection. She reached under the sink, searching, and caught something. A blank, square card. When she pressed the corner a keypad inked itself onto the surface. As she eased the pressure the digits sank back into the card. She pocketed it. The door handle rattled behind her.
She went out the door, down the hall. A man tried to flag her, get her to have a drink, but she pulled her arm away and then was outside, flowing with the crowd, the streets a neon mix of electric blue and carmine red. When she was a few blocks from the bar she ordered a cab, composed herself as she sank into its seat, and stared out the window at the endless rectangles of streaking skyscraper lights. Ten minutes later she was taking the elevator to her apartment on the twenty-sixth floor.
Accent lights awoke as she opened the door. She crossed the room to her balcony, slid open the glass panel, and grabbed a slate off a table. The twinkling spiderweb of city lights and streets greeted her, nearby buildings showing glimpses into people’s lives.
A telescope rested here. Miyu sat beside it. The coordinate screen illuminated as she considered her square card. A press of her thumb revealed the keypad. She tapped in her code and two rows of paired digits raised up beside her thumb. She transcribed the first row’s digits into the telescope’s coordinate screen and servos whined as it adjusted to the destination.
She peered into the eyepiece. Through the lens, a black-haired man sat on a bench, hands in his pockets. Miyu reached up with her right hand, tapped a black cylinder mounted atop the telescope, then clipped a mic onto her right earlobe. A synthetic voice in her ear said, “Tightbeam connection established. Handshaking. Encryption active.”
“Okay,” Miya said, “spotter on comm.”
The man nodded, “Nice night. First time?”
Her hands shook slightly. “No.”
“You sound a bit nervous. Linked up?”
“One second.” She entered the second row of digits from the card into the telescope. It swung off axis and pointed high in the sky. There, barely perceptible against the stars, a black drone hovered in silence. Miyu spliced in the tightbeam link and the synthetic voice said, “AV datafeed. Slate link enabled.”
She tapped the slate and it paired, displaying the drone’s video. From its altitude the city was a spindly lattice of amber and sapphire light. Miyu pushed the man’s coordinates to the drone and the image zoomed onto organic green shapes with circles of light. The figure on the bench was small but in the wide field view she could see all of the adjoining streets and the flow of traffic moving past. “Yeah. We’re good.” She leaned back into the chair, tapped the slate, and patched the telescope feed into a separate window. “What should I call you?”
“Let’s stick with protocol.”
“Sure.” Runners are red, spotters are blue.
Red stood up, began walking. He was maybe thirty, handsome. Looked familiar. He left the park, headed down Wayburn Street. Both the telescope and drone followed him.
“You done many runs?” Miyu said.
Red glanced around at no one in particular. “Green online?”
A hesitation. "Not yet.”
“Not going to get very far without him.”
Miyu’s earpiece chimed from an incoming connection and a young man’s voice joined the channel. “Uh, hey, guys. Sorry. Running late.” A moment of no one talking and the man seemed to take the cue. “Oh, yeah, uh, breacher on comms.”
She resisted the urge to look around, to try and guess where Green was watching her. He’d received a card with her coordinates the same way she’d received one with Red’s. “Welcome to the party, Green.”
Red walked briskly now, crossed a sidewalk, waited at an alley entrance.
Miyu eyed the drone’s feed. “Clear.”
Red entered the alley, went to a dumpster and knelt down beside it, fishing underneath with his right hand, then slid out a black case and opened it. Miyu zoomed. Two silver cylinders, a slate, and a pistol. He gripped the pistol and spoke a passcode. The gun’s safety light cycled to armed.
Miyu placed her hand over her mouth as Red tucked the items inside his jacket.
“Well?” Red asked.
She snapped back to attention. “Sorry. Street’s clear.” A hesitation. “What’s the gun for, Red?”
“I thought this was just a data breach.”
Red walked with his hands in his pockets, determined. “You just need to get me into and out of the Onyx building. Let me and Green worry about what happens in there.”
Miyu panned the telescope to the Onyx building. A few office lights scattered in remote patches. “There’s still…there’s still some people there.”
“And Green’s going to keep me away from them.”
Miyu heard Green taking quick breaths on the comm. He said, “Hey, Blue, don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t worry about it? Red’s got a pocket full of binary explosives and a pistol.”
Red’s voice raised, “You should be watching my back, not peeking over my shoulder.” He was one block from the Onyx building.
“It’s fine Blue, we got it,” Green said. “C’mon, c’mon, we need you.”
Red sighed. “We can do this without her.”
Green hesitated. “No, no. We need her. Stay on the line, Blue.” He waited a second for her response. “Blue?”
Miyu furrowed her brow. She watched the top-down view of Red walking, twenty meters to the entrance, then she looked to the side, thinking. A quick tap of coordinates on the slate and the drone swung off axis, panned, zoomed to her location sitting on the balcony. She swung its view down to street level, pulled it back to wide view. Moving in the darkness along the alleys flanking each side of her building were two lines of figures. She tapped the image into daylight mode and saw the agents, the rifles, the government logos. Both groups came to a stop just before the building’s front, waiting.
The air emptied around her and she struggled trying to take breaths. She grabbed her forehead with a handful of hair and tried to think. She knew where Red was. Red didn’t know where anyone was. Green knew where she was and where Red was going.
Green’s voice had an edge, nervous. “Still with us, Blue?”
She panted and swallowed, summoned enough spit to speak. “Uh, Red.” Her voice shook. “Green’s burned us. Run.”
Miyu grabbed the slate, saw the agents surging forward towards the main entrance. In her earbud she heard men shouting, Red breathing hard, the sounds of running. She ripped the earbud out and tossed it off the balcony, then she bolted into her apartment, opened the closet, found the go bag. The slate was still in her hand. She swiped it into offline mode, dropped it in the bag, grabbed the duffel, and ran to her door, cracking it open.
Through the slit of the open door she saw the elevator up arrow glowing, floors ticking higher. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. She opened the door, stepped out, closed and locked it, then ran to the stairs. She took the steps two and a time, going up one flight and emerging into the hall. Apartment 2704 was three doors down. Leon’s. Sales engineer. Always traveling. She’d hacked his manual entry code a few months ago just for this reason. In a second she had the door open and was inside. It was nearly directly over her apartment one floor below.
She hit the manual switch before the lights turned themselves on, keeping the room in darkness. Quietly she locked the door, crossed to the kitchen, and leaned one hand against the wall, trying to catch her breath. Right about now the agents were overriding her apartment lock and swarming in with rifles drawn, claiming what was once her life. She could never be Miyu again.
A gleam of reflected light caught her eye, and she spied Leon’s liquor stash in the nearby cabinet. She found a nice bourbon, splashed some in a glass, and tried to steady her hand enough to take a sip. As its warmth filtered through her, she held her hand to her mouth, crying without sound.