Aphelion Issue 204, Volume 20
March 2016
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Love Thy Ministers


Joey To

You tug the line tied to your harness. It's tight. Towers of concrete and glass glow against the night, making a nice view. Too bad the air's thin and total crap up here. It's nothing your military-grade respiratory system can't handle but not everyone has those… Well, about to start fixing that problem.

You scan your comms-net: some background noise but just within tolerance. The progress meter in your vision extends to 97%; it doesn't hurt to upgrade your neural shields whilst waiting for the go-code. You focus on the two drones circling high above and—

"Shots fired," you hear through your comms-net.

You don't bother asking details, the location pinging from the 151st floor. Target must have spotted your inside man. You unholster your handgun, leap over the edge and dive. The air slams against your face as you count the floors, the hotel guests oblivious of your presence: 265, 245, 215…

"Objective still in suite on floor one-five-three?" you ask.

No answer. Not even static.

Switching to thermal vision and spearing toward the 153rd floor, you only have a moment to identify the Resources Minister and take him out. A moment is all you need.

Except the bastard's gone. The suite's dark. And just as you're about to curl to crash through the glass two floors below, your neck cramps and a screech blares through your comms-net. You grit your teeth, force your body into position and hope for the best…

You miss. Instead, you plough into the 134th floor. Straight into the coffee table. Oh look, a replay of Resources Minister Pressburg's speech on TV.

<<…rising price of air due to increasing maintenance costs of atmospheric processors. Relocation of residents in sub-standard sectors is facilitated by the government with the aid of various private corporations if…>>

Yeah right, apart from the money trail between him and the private sector.

You wince and drag yourself up. At least you still have your weapon. Damn neural hack. Must have encrypted the virus in the background noise—

You hear padding behind you and spin around. Unblinking eyes and a paring knife staggers toward you. Great, probably hacked all occupants in the building.

The guy drools. "You. Shall. Love. Our. Ministers."

You ignore him and dash into the hallway. The air's way better indoors. A glassy-eyed maid lurches at you so you elbow pass her. Then a man in a fancy suit stumbles around the corner and hurls himself at you as well. Now you know what happened to your inside man. You pistol whip him in the face and bolt for the staircase. You look up. No one. You connect to the drones: no signal.

"Send in reserve drones to cover the roof," you say.

Your comms-net screeches. "You. Shall. Love. Our. Ministers."

Dammit. Spotting your inside man is one thing, hacking the whole team is another.

You connect to building management: the target and his security are in the elevator, going down. You holster your handgun and jump over the handrails, dropping landing to landing. Quickly breaching their temporary shields for building management to cause their elevator to fail is practically impossible but they're devoting much bandwidth to the building-wide neural hack…

You smirk, finding a pinhole in their personal neural defences. You still can't hack their neural cores but you can access building management through their own connection and cut the hotel's air supply. The prick won't expect that. Hotel guests and staff will be fine but he'll have to stop for air given his enclosed space… 74, 73, 72—

The elevator stops. You sprint into the hallway of the 72nd floor. Ding. The elevator doors slide open with a hiss. There they are: four bodyguards and Minister Pressburg gasping for air. You put a bullet in the head of each bodyguard when the minister's eyes bulge.

"Wait! I've done everything Northcliffe Corporation asked," he rasps, wheezing. Then he frowns. "You're black ops…"

As much as you want him to breathe through the barrel of your gun, you lower your weapon slightly and nod.

Minister Pressburg takes a breath. "Def… Defence Minister Lockwood agreed that…"

Well, if Lockwood is in on all this, then that explains Pressburg's ability to neural hack the military. But you smile anyway and raise your weapon. "Thanks for the intel. I actually work for Franz, the Vice Minister of Defence and you shall love your vice ministers."


Joey wasn't interested in writing when he was young. However, he was always the creative type, enjoying visual arts. In recent years, he developed a penchant for creative writing, partly to amuse himself. One day, he was told his writing "wasn't that bad" and so he submitted his work. Website: www.joeytoey.com

E-mail: Joey To


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