by schizi@aol.com

The drive was the same everyday, it always had been. Tiya knew that she would lead a life of corporate subservience, but she had been born into a Renraku family. In the corporation of Renraku, women were to be good little geisha. It was rare enough for one of the wealthy families to have a female prodigy, but she was the daughter of two secretaries.

Her father had served with the assistant’s pool, he was almost important. Her mother was just a typist who had instilled in her the hatred of jacking into the matrix. When she grew up in the small school, she had implanted a small chip-jack with a little internal memory. The implant was the minimum she could get for her intended job, assistant to the officer in charge of novelization of Renraku sub-products.

Her boss was a minor official in charge of a minor side effect of the operation of a mega-corporation, but she was also the daughter of the Japanese owner of a sizable portion of Renraku. Young Tiya Winsome was to help her run the small section, in fact doing most of the work for her boss. Even as they left the meeting that she had laid out for Kiko Osaka, she felt the unjust world pressing down on her.

The driver was a friend of hers, they were often standing outside waiting for Ms Osaka. The young man was always dressed in a sleek black suit, the datajack implant that tied to his vehicle control rig having been installed sub-dermally at the request of their boss. They spoke little during the drive, they were all involved in their own little worlds, with their own jobs to do.

Tiya heard the screech first, looking through the rear door at the speeding Ares vehicles. The missile flew from a shielded battery striking the rear of the small sedan. Tiya felt the vehicle rolling, the impact driving the car over the edge of the road into a water filled ditch. Water quickly began filling the vehicle, the chauffeur, Arik Redgar, shattering the glass to get to Ms. Osaka.

Tiya swam to the front, for the first time wishing she were back in the boring life she had possessed just moments ago. Rising to the surface, she looks into the barrel of a small rifle. She freezes in her tracks, Osaka rising to her side. The man tracks to point at Osaka, the man smiling as he squeezes the trigger. Tiya feels the pain rip through her body as she jumps to push Osaka out of the way.

The small room is too brightly lit for Tiya’s sensitive eyes. The drugs she feels racing through her body dull the pain. She feels a strange lump is in the base of her neck, but she is unsure of what it might be. Restraints hold her to the hospital bed, even her head is held in place staring at the ceiling. The sound of whispers comes from the hallway, though she knows she should not be able to hear them, the distance being too great.

A strange feel, the lack of her skull, brings her to the conclusion that she is alive. The feel of metal pressing against her insides draws her attention again. The door to her room opens, the doctors coming in with a strange man, Mr. Osaka. They tell her how lucky she is to be alive, but she knows that it was an accident, they thought she was Kiko Osaka.

The amount of money used to keep her alive was astronomical compared to her position, but the doctors had received the signal that Osaka must be saved at any cost. Mr. Osaka flew in from Japan at the earliest, the day after the accident. Kiko had been kidnapped and the team dressed as Ares had placed counterfeit identification on Tiya.

When Arik walked into the room, it was as if she was once again in the familiar. She was allowed to sit up in her bed, though she still wore strange restraints that felt like they held her from moving. When she looked into his eyes, she saw that he was still shaken. He told her that he had also been hit, though his armored vest had stopped the full impact. He had been knocked unconscious, nearly drowning before the Renraku team got him out.

Renraku had contacted Ares, and the ensuing arguments had nearly ruined several long-standing contracts. Finally, Mr. Osaka was assured that the true abductors were disguised as Ares and not necessarily working for them. In the meantime, the doctors had been trying to decide what to do with Tiya. They had tried to save who they thought was Ms Osaka and they had used the most cutting edge of cyberware to do it.

The spine that had been shattered was repaired with a move-by-wire system. Her body was sped up to superhuman levels, and the restraints were designed to keep her from hurting herself. Her head had been nearly caved in, and so a replacement skull was ordered along with cybernetic eyes and ears. When they had discovered she was not Kiko Osaka, but instead her assistant, the problem became one of money.

She was not naïve enough to believe the corporation was a benevolent entity, she knew that they would remove the cybernetic equipment if they needed to. When Mr. Osaka had ordered the replacements left in, he had done it because she had saved his daughter’s life. The state of the art move-by-wire system was hers to keep, though she was not sure that she would sill be a simple assistant.

©1998, schizi@aol.com - used with permission