Thursday, November 14, 2019

Too Little, Too Late

Byrant flew into meet me at the friendly neighborhood White Dragon. Took Gaff with him. The sushi master waved when he saw the two. Getting to be old pals.

No food, three Asahis. We found a greasy table and sat down.

"This better be good, Deck. What do you know?"

"I know what they want."

I had his attention and Gaff's contempt. Bryant was considering the possibility that I wasn't a total screw up.

"I'm all ears, pal."

I started to speak. Gaff cut me off.

"Sir. He's told me this theory. He thinks they're still trying to break into the --"

"Shut up, Gaff. What do they want, Deck? You tell me."

"They want life."

"They want life. Christ, Deck. They want life."

"Sir ..."

"We've been thinking too much, that's what we've been doing. It's so damn obvious. Reset the four-year lifespan."

"Only Tyrell can help them with that."

"That's why they're trying to get to him?"

"That's why."

"That’s an elegant delusional architecture, sir. I ..."

Bryant ignored him. Looked me in the eyes, now taking me very seriously.

"What do we do now, pal?"

"Warn Tyrell. Tell him to lock the place down."

Gaff couldn't take it anymore. He exploded.

"It is locked down, sir! It's been locked down since the first two incidents! The pyramid is the tightest of sphincters."

Bryant politely asked Gaff to shut up again. Like a pal.

"How do they get in?"

"There are back doors -- no damn pun intended."

Bryant looked disgusted, let down. Thought I was talking about the Tyrell computer network.

"Jesus, Deck, they've been trying to breach his system since day one --"

"Literal back doors. Physical entrances."


"Black projects. Chimeras, violations of UN law. He's big, but not untouchable. Tyrell has to move things in and out of that damn building without any vid records in case he's investigated."

"Coming from where?"

"Subcontractors. Zaibatsu."

"Guys like Chew."

"No. These guys are off the books. Outside the law."

"So the reps find one of these shady characters, that's how they get in?"

"That's the theory."

"Great theory, Deck. Brilliant deduction ... Or inside information."

Bryant flashed me a look. The look said: Rachel told you this shit, huh? Sure. Far as she knew, she's Tyrell's niece. In on the whole show. She knew about these back doors, shady subcontractors. Pillow talk with a replicant, Deck?

Gaff spat, muttered another curse in cityspeak. Missed the whole implication. Just pissed I'm making points.

"Sir ... it's crazy! How would they even find these people? Even if they cracked Tyrell's system, they're not in the system! No names. Need to know basis!"

I heard him say all this, but I kept my eyes on Bryant. Stated the obvious.

"They'd go through the names they know."

"Yeah. Find legit contractors and beat the names out of them."

"Which explains the social call on Chew -- and he's the only casualty. They got lucky the first time."

"They got lucky yesterday."

"Safe bet they're not wasting any more time, huh?"

I nodded.

"It's only a hunch, sir."

"His hunches are good, Gaff. Yours aren't, lately. Do me a favor and act like a cop, not a damn clothes horse. You mind doing that for me?"

"No sir."

A kick in the balls. Gaff took it. And the next one.

"That's great, Gaff -- now be a pal and warn that lousy mad scientist two wind-up killers are coming in the back way. They'll say he's unavailable. Scream bloody murder, get through to the top security asshole, go through him to Mr. Tyrell. You talk to the boss or you cut of his balls."

"Yes sir."

He hobbled off across the street to the nearest VidPhon.

"I'd tell him to run, but ... you know."

Bryant shouted to Gaff.

"Hey Gaff! While you're at it, get the names of Tyrell black project boys. Names, numbers, addresses. Get the list, flash it to the station. We'll warn these characters too, then lock 'em in place and use 'em as bait."

Telling Gaff how to do his job. When it happens to him, it's funny.

"Deck'll stake out the most likely target. I'll put Resch and his crew on the rest -- depending on who's left alive."

Gaff nodded, then started talking on the VidPhon. Talking turns to screaming. Screaming turned into louder screaming.

"Gaff! You seem frustrated! They putting you through to this Tyrell asshole, yet?"

"No, sir. He’s doing his thing with the stock market. Very special time, can't be disturbed. He says."

"You mention the fucking killers on the way? Got the names?"

"Hai! But he still won't put me through to Tyrell. Pissant thinks he'll get fired ..."

"You mention his balls, yet?"

"Several times, sir!"

"Well, fuck this shit. Tell him we're coming personally then get back here."

Gaff comes limping back. And Bryant stops shouting.

"Deck, trot back to your goddamn conapt and get your car. I'll give you the most likely address over the squawkbox. Gaff, let's you and me take the Spinner. Zip on over to the pyramid, meet up with the SWAT team just like old times."

"Sir, even assuming Deck's crackpot theory is true --"

"Gaff. I think there's a damn good chance he's right and a slim chance it'll do any damn good. I'm thinking it's pretty much too little too late at this point, but let's try, OK? If our happy Band of Brothers does manage to keep the big man out of a body bag, you might get the promotion you're always kissing my ass for. Worth a shot, don't you think?"

Gaff and Bryant flew off and the cavalry rode in. Too little, too late. About the time Shimato-Dominguez hit 100 points, Eldon Tyrell and somebody named J.F. Sebastian stopped breathing.

I was driving down LaBrea when I got the news.

On my way to Dr. Cunningham's clinic. Some crackpot geneticist working on LaMarkian evolution. Would've saved Tyrell a fortune in R&D. Top name, wrong name.

Bryant's voice came through on the com unit. We were talking on the air now.

He told me to forget Cunningham. Forget Tyrell, too, while I was at it. One of those closing the barn door after the horse ran out situations. Roy made it up in a private elevator like I'd figured.

"Turns you were right, Deck. Too bad you weren't right yesterday."

"Tyrell's dead?"

"Well, that's sort of an understatement. One of the smartest brains on the planet, until recently. Now his head looks like a watermelon dropped out a high window. Messy scene, which I had the joy of witnessing personally." 

"How many?"

"Oh, just two. Could've been worse. Body identified with Tyrell was a twenty-five year old male Caucasian by the name of  J. F. Sebastian -- and the kid's not even on the list. Not so messy. Quick kill. Must of liked him, I guess."

"That's funny."

"It's funny 'cause it's true, asshole.

"Why would Roy like him? What's the profile?"

"Well, it's an interesting profile ... IQ 185. Recluse, pretty much, rich, owns that whole damn building he lives in. Says here he suffered Methuselah's syndrome. Boy genius with premature aging. Poor kid's gonna die young."

"Just like Roy and Pris."

"Great minds think alike."

“Hey, J.F. You’re outside society. We are too. Let’s be pals. The friendly approach, as opposed to strong-arm tactics. They set up a happy home."

"Good bet Roy's on his way home."

"Where ...?"

"Address Bradbury apartments, ninth sector. NM46751. Get down there."

I got down there, or tried. A Spinner swooped down on me and cut me off, lights flashing. Police, but no external ID. Voice boomed down at me from a loudspeaker.

"This sector's closed to ground traffic. What are you doing here?"

"I'm working. What are you doing?"

"Arresting you. That's what I'm doing."

"I'm Deckard. RepDetec. Two sixty three-fifty four. I'm filed and monitored."

My blood turned to ice water. That voice from the sky sounded like my voice.

There were rumors -- urban legends -- that the replicants we caught were the tip of the iceberg. That they'd infiltrated the earth to the extent they'd created a shadow network of Blade Runners. Without warning, they'd pick you up and take you there. To their RepDetec station. You disappear. A replicant hits the streets with your face. They pick us off one by one, until we're all replaced. But that's not what happened. He just hovered there.

"Hold on. Checking. -- Okay, checked and cleared. Have a better one."

He flew off.

While I'd been talking, a gang of literally little people ripped some gear off my car -- the air purifier unit. I pulled away, heard one go thud, and kept on going. Just for the hell of it, I called Sebastian's conapt. Unbelievably, Pris answered.


"Hi, is J. F. there?"

"Who is it?"

"This is Eddie. An old friend of J. F.'s."

Pris killed the call. 

"No way to treat a friend."

I said it out loud. She didn't hear me, of course.

I'd have to tell her in person.

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