The Queen’s Ultimatum

Away from the hustle and bustle of Cyber City’s busy streets was the forgotten district of Bondieu, ruthlessly stripped from Corpo investment and left to rot in urban decay. Scattered through the empty roads and graffitied alleys of this once rich colonial neighborhood were abandoned transport carriages and the mountainous rubble of innumerable derelict buildings. Together they merged to form a harrowing scene of depravity and despair.
Two frail addicts were making the hazardous trail into Bondieu by foot. Not even the hiss of venomous snakes could stop these junkies from getting to their pressing appointment. Having passed several faction checkpoints, they eventually arrived at Queen Marielle’s, the haunted Hoodoo hideout and home to the district’s infamous brainpump seances.
The heavy door to the faction’s hideout swung in slowly as the journeymen were met by a tall dreadlocked guard. A solitary tarantula crawled through his hair as he studied their nervous faces. Nobody got past Raymond Kingstown without Queen Marielle’s royal permission. Raymond looked at the appointment scheduler on the corridor wall. A joint appointment, standard fix. Seemed legit.
“Payment please,” Raymond gestured to the wall-mounted terminal opposite his scheduler.
The addicts placed their crypto bracelets against the terminal, instantly releasing the precise amount of Corpo Bucks to pay for their long-awaited fix.
“Final scan now,” Raymond squinted as his in-built eye scanners screened the visitors for weapons. “All clear. Doc will be wit yuh soon.”
The addicts made their way along the ground floor corridor. A thick green fog wafted through the air. The quiet eerie sound of reptiles slithering along the walls kept the addicts walking carefully in single file. At the end of a corridor was a door, slightly ajar, just enough to let a light blue glow escape from within. They pushed it open and were greeted by two empty dentist chairs and a wall stacked full of machinery and cables. The addicts sat down and removed their tattered headwear, exposing several miniature connection sockets located at various points on their heads.
Doctor Dope arrived and proceeded to plug them in. The addicts grinned gleefully as the chemicals released directly into their skulls, flooding their brains with anticipation of what could be. That’s how dopamine works, nothing more than a promise of things to come. The only things that were to come for these two addicts however was a lonely walk back to their homes, relentless pounding headaches and feelings of emptiness.
Doctor Dope stepped outside for a smoke. He knew those two addicts fairly well by now, they wouldn’t dare budge and risk losing their high. He leaned back against the building’s front wall and nodded to Raymond.
“Wah gwaan, Doc?”
“Irie, Fireman, where dem pussycats at now?
“Tyger Fangz? Mi seen no pussycats tiday, bredda. Queen tell mi to keep lookout an mi scan every ting up propa. No pussycat up in dis yard. Mi see dem an blast dem pussycats back to Tokyo, bredda.”
“Dem dun mash up our yard lass nite, Fireman. Yuh keep good guard, bredda.”
Doc finished his smoke and headed back inside to check on his patients. The Hoodoos were on high alert since the latest raid by the Tyger Fangz. Oroku Shuriken knew the business potential of their secret operation and desperately wanted to get his hands on their equipment. No number of fallen soldiers was too large to stop him getting his hands on Queen Marielle’s cash cow.
Back outside, a hovercycle whizzed up to the building’s entrance. It was Snipez, the Nomad courier, with a small box attached to his arm. He pressed a button, releasing the electromagnetic charge that had kept it attached throughout the transport.
“Bless up, Sniperman.”
“Hello, Fireman. I have a package for Queen Marielle. I must warn you, this one’s from Japan Town.”
“Wat dem pussycats wan? Lay it down, bredda.”
Snipez leaned over the side of his hovercycle and left the package carefully on the ground. Raymond put his advanced eyes to use once again and scanned the box for weaponry. It seemed to be safe although he thought it may be best to open it up outside on the street.
“See you next time, Fireman. Plenty more drop offs today.”
“See yuh, Sniperman.”
Queen Marielle had been observing the drop off from her office window and came outside to inspect the package. Raymond opened it for her safely. It was a gray box with a single red button. Raymond went inside briefly and returned with a long metal pole. He pressed the button and a holographic recording of Tyger Fangz leader Oroku Shuriken rose up from the ground.
“Greetings, Queen Marielle. I see that you have sent back some of my soldiers in body bags today. This is not fair game, my dear lady.
“I come to you now with an ultimatum. I will call off my soldiers and leave you in peace. All you need to do is relinquish your precious equipment. These are no such tools for a lady like you. Leave it to us. We have much more experience in these technical matters.
“Refuse this offer however and I’ll see to it that you and your rotten district are permanently removed from this city. Your ground will be flattened and your history erased.
“Return me your message within one day, your Highness. Save yourselves from needless worry and do the right thing.”
The hologram evaporated as the two addicts stumbled out of the building, high as kites and utterly disorientated. Meanwhile, a queue of new junkies was beginning to take form along the side of the building as the evening sun began its descent. Business was good and the Hoodoos were in for another night of riches.
Queen Marielle had worked very hard to get to this place, and she had studied even harder before that. She still had unfinished plans though. She would continue to prosper and use these newfound riches to return her neighborhood to its previous glory. She would bring pride back to her broken people. Bondieu was already forgotten and written off. Nobody had the right to come back now and boss them around. She took hold of the box and recorded her answer.
“Oroku, this equipment is not for sale. And we’re not giving it up without a fight. If you want it, you’ll have to get it yourself. We’ll be waiting. You may have money, you may have power. But we have the strength of a thousand ancestors. Our eyes are plenty, and we’ll see you coming.”