My old man was a gambler, he was addicted to it. Cards were his favorite, but he didn't say no to dice, or off track betting, or playing the spread on sports he didn't even know anything about. The problem was that he was just good enough that it never broke him out of it, where he had enough money. He was also just bad enough at it that he was on very familiar terms with the loan sharks, and the bookies attached to the gangs. They were always willing to take his bets, cover his losses, and the rest. Most of the time he was able to pay them back or work it off by doing things that no one wanted to do.
Then his luck, such as it was, ran out.
He busted, he busted badly. All of his bets came up losses.
Half a million bits due in three days.
The old man committed suicide. The police found his body and took him down. There was no funeral, only a notice in the dailies. They didn't find me, unfortunately.
Three of the Green Nails Tong found me. Their runner, a chinpira named Daisy Cutter, took me in. At first, I thought this was good because I was scared and hungry. I had been locked in an apartment with a corpse for four days. Daisy gave me a place to sleep, a bathroom to get cleaned up, and food. It wasn't long before I found out what the real deal was.
My father didn't take his debts with him to the grave. Daisy said the Green Nails believed in family, that the son must bear the sins of the father and that I was on the line for the half mil he owed. The good news, they said, was that they weren't going to apply interest to the debt until I was of legal age and that I had the rest of my life to pay it off.
Daisy groomed me. After a month, she put me to work. I was a runner, carrying messages, finding people, carrying small unimportant packages, and getting things that important people wanted. They started to recognize me, who I was. They knew my old man, what he had done. I didn't realize then, these were the people he owed the money to. The people he tried to fuck over when he hung himself.
This went for about a year, give or take a few months. Then Daisy dropped me off at the Bath House. It was some sauna that was made by tapping into the heat of a thermal exhaust from something a few hundred feet deeper in the geofront. Hot water, lots of privacy. It was as swanky as places in the geofront got. I thought I was going to run for them instead of Daisy.
I lost my virginity at ten.
I worked at the Bath House, as an attendant. It was carrying and folding towels, cleaning filters, and cleaning up messes that had been made. It was also being juiced with Moon Arcana and letting discerning clientele fuck me. The drugs would make me docile, submissive, and euphoric, and sometimes I would hallucinate. I was their plaything.
I would have killed myself too, if I could have figured out how, or if I could have gotten my hands on one of their weapons.
But then Daisy would come over, and play mother, and make everything alright. She was microdosing me with soma and other relaxants so that I would calm down. Then she would tell me about how well I was doing, and how much the men were paying for my sweet little asshole and hairless body. My debt was coming down, they were charging ten to thirty thousand bits for me.
I was twelve the first time I had an orgasm.
I did try to kill myself after that.
A couple of Green Nails guys found me, and they made me vomit up the pills I had swallowed. They beat the shit out of me for being a coward like my old man. I ended up staying with Daisy for a month after that. She took care of me. She took me to a back alley clinic, Medica Machina. I didn't know what they were going to do, but they put me under. I woke up nine pounds lighter and felt like a ball of pain knitted together with wire made of ice. They paid the Tong for the organs they took.
I quote unquote sold them a kidney, half my liver, gall bladder, a lung, and one of my testicles.
Daisy told me that it cut what I owed in half, and I should be very happy about that, and that there was nothing they took that I couldn't live without. With the donations and the sex work, my half mil worth of debt was down to 200,000 bits. Not a bad bit of work for a 12 year old.
After two months of recuperation, my debt was bumped up to 225k, because I wasn't working or making any money and I would have plenty of time to make that back for them. I wasn't welcome at the Bath House anymore, the men didn't like the scars from my involuntary surgery, and I started growing body hair and had acne.
It was back to being a runner for the Tong. My stamina wasn't what it used to be, having only one lung. I didn't run so well anymore. The tong was more than willing to let me borrow some money, putting it against my debt. I got a cybernetic respirator, a face mask, and a rebreather that both filtered the air I was breathing and had an oxygen-condensing function. I was back up to 300k, but I could breathe again and started getting over-the-counter treatments to improve my muscle function, my reflexes, and all that.
I grew quickly with those treatments, which were very much not intended for teens.
I turned fourteen, had the body of a 25-year-old, and all the aggression and hostility that my endocrine system could pump out. I let Medica Machina do experimental work on me, what did I care if it went wrong and I died, it wouldn't be my problem anymore. They bought my other organs and used them against the cost of prototype cybernetic and cyberorganic implants. My heart is no longer flesh and blood. My nerves are electric, my muscles are the same fibers as the bundles that move mecha, and my eyes are artificial. I was a golem, a monster.
It was at that point I became addicted to the drugs they were giving me for my new implants. The painkillers and the euphorics were the things, they were fantastic.
Then Zipper came into my life. She was a short woman, Hindu-European blood, and she was also a runner in a situation not entirely unfamiliar to me. She owed the Tong money, and they said she was going to crash in my place for a while she adjusted to living with a debt over her head.
I had sex with a woman for the first time shortly after that.
Daisy found out about Zipper being moved in, and her response was aggressive and territorial. I had never considered Daisy as a sexual partner, she had always been a pseudo-mother to me. She was cybernetically enhanced like I was, but more. Under the runner gear she wore her body looked more like the Bride of Frankenstein. No breasts, but the gleam and bulge of chrome, blinking lights, and several wired ports. The sex wasn't good, and it was more of the old trauma. The thing about having a dick is that it responds to stimulation, even if it is unwanted. Near the end of my work at the Bath House, sometimes I would become erect when one of the customers was balls deep inside me. Sometimes I would go right up to the brink. That was the point that really ended my work at the house, the men that were paying to fuck me didn't want me hard, and they certainly didn't want me to nut on them.
It was like that, her mouth on me. I wanted her to stop but my idiot appendage responded. The grinding of hips brought back the same feelings, the emotional revulsion and the physical pleasure.
Did you know that a man's biological imperative to reproduce is so strong that a corpse can be coaxed into having an orgasm? Dead men tell no tales, but they can still come one last time. The horror of it.
Daisy left after that, and I didn't see her again for a long time. Zipper sat in horror because it had all happened in front of her, two people who were no longer fully or really human engaging in what can only be described as non-consensual fucking.
She settled in, and I put it behind me, put that trauma in the compartment in my mind where I put all the other horrors and nightmares. Zipper was a good ten years older than me, and had some experience with augmented people. She started taking care of me, when she wasn't doing whatever it was for the Tong. She told me it wasn't sex work, and then she would start dogging down on herself, about how she wasn't pretty, or smart, or attractive, and that if someone did look past her face, they would be disgusted by her body, by her plumpness and that her snatch wasn't pretty or the right color.
It was clever on her part.
I talked her up, gave her compliments, and eventually, we started a relationship.
Things seemed okay, I was paying down my debt again and working. There was this sort of home vibe, because she could cook, and was usually there. I like to think about her being my actual first, the one I would tell people about. It only took about a month before she was pregnant.
Then she left.
I understand that I have a son, out there, somewhere. Part of her paying down her debt was pumping out a kid for them. A kid that if either of us kicks off can assume our debts. Two for one, the kid would get my debt and hers. She never liked me, never loved me, it was all manipulation because the kid knocked 100k off her debt. None off mine, but then the Tong guys said that my payment was getting her pregnant, then there were a bunch of jokes about me still being interested in women considering how many men had taken me up the ass.
I became a monster after that.
I carried out contracts for the Tong. I hurt people, I collected money that they were owed, and I killed people. The people I killed I carried to Medica Machina so they could harvest their organs. The money paid against my debt, and I used a good deal of it to further my transhuman enhancements. I did too many drugs, I developed a lavish lifestyle, very much live it up because tomorrow may be the last day of my life. Who was going to do me in? A city cop? A corporate security goon? A rival triad or tong capo? My own people?
For several years I ran that razer's edge.
I slowly became more and more machine. I lost an arm the first time I squared off against an ArcoBoy. He was fast and flashed a hyperedge blade. My armor tanked most of the hit, but my arm was gone. He was used to facing mercs and runners, not some gutter boy juiced and chromed, and I broke his skull with a brick. I looted him, sold his shit, and got bottom dollar for the cybernetics I ripped out of his corpse. They were damaged, but Machina could use them for research purposes. I got a new cybernetic arm out of it, and I kept his sword for a while. Lost it on a run out into the wastelands, but not before using it to hack a bunch of locals into raw meat. Then, I lost my legs to an anti-tank rocket. The kid got off a lucky shot, but he was dumb. He was in a concealed position and when he fired, the backblast from the rocket killed him. You don't fire stuff like that from inside a niche in a wall.
The Tong said they still owned me since I owed them money. They weren't very happy when I paid them off in cash, along with a few choice trophies from my collection. I wasn't Tong, I wasn't part of their family, and I was a liability to them. It wasn't really a surprise what happened after that.
The Nikado Rebellion was hell on Earth. Across the geofront, the various gangs, triads, tongs, mafias, and Yakuza all went nuts. Most of the violence was directed upwards into the Arco that towered over us like a golden tombstone, and outward into the sprawl. There were fires, and the ArcoBoys rolled out in their armor and riot gear. The police also came out decked for war, and they got it. I saw Daisy again.
The Green Nails put a bounty on her head because she jumped ship and started working for the Jina triad, the Running Monkeys. The Jina ended up putting a bounty on my head, just because I was annoying to them, I messed up their boys, and they wanted my slice of hell to be part of their turf. Daisy came for my head, for the 50k the Jina was offering. We fought, and it was a fantastic scrap.
I collected the 100k bounty the Nails offered for Daisy, and I even managed to keep her alive, after a fact. The boffins over at Medica Machina were able to turn her corpse into a genome computer, and she is plugged in back at my place. The best part is that somehow she is more than just the computer drive, inside the closed network she is still alive. I can talk to her, and do whatever I want. Considering what she did to me, I have her as a prisoner, and I torture her when I feel like it. I've killed her a dozen times over, and let the system reboot her still screaming from the last death. Running in dream time, she might not see me for months by her perspective. She might also spend days being pulled apart. The one thing I can't bring myself to do is sexually violate her. She did it to me, she groomed me to be a victim of it, and kept me alive. She got paid for it too.
Despite that, I cannot bring myself to give her that, even if she does deserve it. It seems counter-intuitive but that feels worse than pulling her body apart, one bone and joint at a time. I think when I can bring myself to that, that's when I have no humanity left.
I don't have much of that left now. After the fight with Daisy, I was in bad shape. The Medica Machina people retrofit what was left of me into a heavily modified Anderson Mk. III battle armor suit. I have a carapace of military-grade heavy composite armor, an actinoid plasma reactor core, and weapons to match a 30-ton combat vehicle. My home is buried deep in the roots of the Geofront, and I am still doing drugs and generally being a monster, and to my own amusement, I've been killed nine times. What they don't know is that each time I have been killed, they really only killed a bioroid modded to look like me and that I was using a direct cranial link to the meat robot to control it. I felt the pain, and all the other biological emotions, of each death. I also felt the pleasure and joy of the things I did when I was wearing the meat suit.
I'm still looking for Zipper, for my son.
If there is anyone I would actually give a chance at releasing me from this hell, it would be him.
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