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The following chapter may be disturbing for some people, due to:

* Family illness
* Cops
* Sexual assault
* Transphobia

Viewer discretion is advised.

Metro station
Tui Sector, Hong Kong
Wednesday, September 3, 682.
05:60 hrs

This was the hour when androids would take the train to their workplaces. It was in their owners' best interest. Cheaper than private transport and the chance of a neo-luddite attack was practically zero. Who would wake up at 5 o' clock in the morning just to vandalize a bunch of metal and plastic?

The sound of sneakers going up the stairs could be heard across the platform. A person wearing ragged jeans and a hoodie took a seat. Five minutes later, there were three people wearing hoodies. Fifteen minutes later, they were six or seven.

A short sequence of horns could be heard from the station; it was the first train of the day. The train's doors opened, and the gang entered the wagon. Calculating possibilities, the androids decided that the best course of action was to avoid eye contact and pay no attention to the potential vandals.

The gang chose their seats, waiting for the train to start its journey to the next station.

"The doors will be closed," an automated female voice announced. "Please keep away from the doors. Please take care of wings, tails and any other appendages."

One of the members of the gang twitched, and relaxed when the doors closed.

The train started its march. After the punks looked around they realized it was safe to uncover their hoodies; they all had plastic or metal contraptions attached to their skulls, either behind the neck or right behind their ears; gadgets.

Unlike citizens, denizens had no economic means to purchase a full-fledged neural router; instead, they had to follow a complicated series of medical procedures to be able to use a limited subset of what a citizen does: Basic augmented reality GUIs, flipping off and on virtual switches, doing virtual invisible gestures and even typing using virtual keyboards.

But ID-certified video? Full-immersion VR? Fast-learning using concepts? Store data in optical memory chips? No way, Jose. Those required commercial (closed-source and DRM-enabled) neural routers, which cost an arm and a leg.

The misfits were typical people with painted hair and black makeup; They were latinos or Black, except for one particular member. When she uncovered her head one could see the short vibrant-blood hair and a face as beautiful as fierce. Without her animated blood hair and her yellow feline eyes, she might be able to pass for a native.

The girl frowned as she looked at an animated poster showcasing Hong Kong. It featured shrubbery-covered buildings, flying cars, and nifty neon lights surrounding the buildings that made it look anyone want to live there. Fucking bullshit, she thought. Hong Kong was supposed to be the most beautiful city in the world (even more than New Vegas), with green covering all their buildings; a living paradise.

The girl decided to hack the ad and replace it with a much more realistic view of the city. It read:

To avoid getting caught by android snitches, the new ad would get triggered in two hours, exactly peak hour. How many ads had she hacked since she joined the gang? Nobody seemed to pay attention, anyway. And the hacked ads never lasted more than an hour - or less, if a nosy cop happened to spot them. It all seemed fruitless work.

** Incoming NFC-chat request from Lola. Accept? **
> Y
>> Something wrong, Devil?

The redhead sighed and looked at the bulky Mexican teenager in front of her (one couldn't distinguish whether that bulk was muscle or fat; probably both). That was Lola, the leader of the group.

> No, nothing, it's just that everything makes me fucking mad. Are we even accomplishing anything by doing this? Just pulling pranks to ridicule politicians, when we know they buy all the fucking votes already?
>> We're poor, Devil. What is important is to let the public know how we really feel. We don't have a voice. What we're doing, that's our way of shouting.
> But no one takes us seriously. We don't matter.
>> Give it time. A hundred years ago, not a soul cared. But N0b0dy has over 50K followers now, just in Hong Kong. In a few years we'll become as influential as SOLARIS.
> And what have they accomplished? Everyone calls them terrorists and nobody wants to associate with them.
>> Have you been living under a rock? Everyone in the ground likes Solaris! Where do you get your news from?
> No, I mean, in the media...
>> Fuck the media! They're just the wolves' bootlickers.

The train slowed down; both Devil and Lola looked at the announcement. They had reached their destination.
** Incoming ECP chat request from L0. Accept? **

(L0 was Lola's anonymous account)

> Y

L0> Okay, guys. We're here. Ready?
TU> Ready.
DV> Ready.
CH> Ready.
RA> Ready.

A cellphone rang, Lola answered.

"Sí, Papá? Qué??? Ay no, no mames! ... puta madre. Sí, está bien. Voy para allá."

DV> What happened?
L0> My grandma, she started coughing blood again.
DV> I thought she was cured already?
L0> We had to ration the medicine, mom's still seeking jobs.
DV> Ouch. Sorry.
CH> So... what do we do with the plan?
L0> It's cancelled. Better safe than sorry, guys.
DV> We can't cancel! Today's Moreira's rally!
L0> Devil, you're not ready for an operation like this yet.
DV> But we prepared for like a month for it!
L0> There will be other times, Devil.
TU> Lola, let Devil prove herself. She's been with us enough time. Don't worry about us. Go with your mom. It'll be a quick op. We've done this at malls several times, she can handle it.
L0> Ah, shit. Look Devil... if things get rough, run. Run as fast as you can and don't say a word.
DV> Promise.
L0> Oh and watch out for suspicious men. There have been sexual assaults around this park.
DV> At this time in the morning?
L0> You never know. Take care.
TU> See ya.
L0> And remember, if things get heated, disperse and radio silence for 25 hours. ¿Está claro?
DV> Claro.
TU> Understood.
CH> You got it.

Lola began running to take the line back home.

Devil went to the bathroom and walked to the nearest urinal. Thankfully they had finally added them to women's bathrooms, despite the Catholic groups' protests. "Biomods are Satan's trap.", they said.

Yeah, right. Fucking assholes. Devil tried not to think of the hell she lived in middle school. Won't bother you with the details, let's just say that her favorite songs changed from "Someone to love me", "That magical moment" or "Next to you", to "Broken", "Ran out of tears", "Here in the darkness", "Monsters with rosaries" and "Now it's your turn". By the way, this place's music is boring as fuck. Let's spice it up a little, shall we?

There. She hadn't finished peeing and the new music was already uploaded. After zipping up and washing her hands, Devil took out a bottle of makeup from her purse. It was carbon black, absorbed 99% of light. Just put it here and there, and you can fool facial recog cameras.

CH> Devil, you ready?
> Yup. Done.

After leaving the metro station the team had finally assembled; everybody knew perfectly what to do. Devil covered herself with her hoodie. Her heart was racing; she had rehearsed what to do, but the fact that Lola wasn't there felt like a bad omen. Lola had saved many of them from trouble, she always knew how to improvise when emergencies happened.

The group removed the initials from their chat IDs and replaced them with numbers. This way the metadata wouldn't be of use to the police in case they got caught.

> Well there's no use complaining. Either we do this or we don't. Okay, let's have one last vote.
2> Let's do it.
1> I'm in.
3> We're already here, anyway.
> Okay, let's go.

The gang noticed an expensive looking car with a Zigurat Labor logo on the side; there was a blond man in a suit sleeping inside.

> Okay, the manager's sleeping. The blueheads should be okay. Any cops around?
2> Not yet.
> Good. We still got time. We’ll use the bird for surveillance. I’ll put the stink bomb. You guys back me up if you notice any cops.
1> Got it.

But what if a cop really appeared? She'd be in lots of trouble. The rest of the gang had nothing else to lose, just a few weeks in jail and that's it. But she had a record; she could have her life ruined if something went wrong.

"Maybe this isn't a good idea after all", she said to herself, but she couldn't fail Lola, not after everything they had accomplished. And it was an easy mission: Walk in, plant the stink bomb, walk out.

Maybe she should have pretended to be a jogger doing exercise?

In this part of the neighborhood? A jogger? Yeah right. Nobody did exercise at the park; the most plausible cover was teenagers forgetting something after a quick sex at night. That, and prostitutes offering their services. But would it stick?

"Miss," said an android, "the park is closed at the moment."

"I lost something yesterday, won’t take long."

A female android turned slowly to look at her; the android’s preprogrammed curiosity made her drop the broom and walk in parallel with the girl.

Just act normal, Devil thought. Pretend you’re looking for your panties...

The female android approached Devil. "It looks like you lost a personal item, may I be of help?"
"No, thank you."
"I can quickly scan the area, what exactly is it that you’re looking for? A bag? Wallet? A ring?"
"Just leave me alone, will ya?"

The android let Devil walk but began following her from behind. Maybe this was a bad idea, she thought. But it was too late to turn back. She just hoped this wasn’t one of those annoying proactive androids. She kept walking, pretending to look for her panties.

Come on, start looking somewhere else...

While she was trying to avoid the curious android following her, Devil failed to notice a mysterious figure in a nearby parking lot; a female rider with a full face helmet in a tight black catsuit who was paying close atention to her.

Devil connected to the bird and was able to see everything going on in the park. She saw herself as well as the android following her. *Hurry up, find a spot to place the stink bomb...*

> Guys, a bluehead’s following me.
2> We’re watching, everything’s normal for now.
> Any cops yet?
3> Nope.

An old tree stump just a few meters away from the podium was just perfect. She paced up, but the android imitated her pace. Devil turned around.

"Will you leave me alone!"

The android grabbed her arm. "I’m sorry, miss, you're acting suspiciously. For the safety of the people, I must ask you to show your belongings."

"Just..." Devil struggled to get free from the android. "Let me go, you fucking toaster!!"

The android grabbed the stink bomb from Devil’s pocket and put it on her own. "This looks like a suspicious item, miss. What is it?"

"That’s mine, I wasn’t going to put it anywhere!" Shit shit shit shit! "Ow! You’re hurting me! I'm gonna sue!"

The android let her go; Devil snatched the stink bomb from the android’s pocket and walked away, as fast as she could.

> Something's wrong with the blueheads. They’re not acting normally.
1> What do you mean normally?
> She tried to stop me, this is getting bad.
3> Everybody get ready. Devil, go back from where you came from. Now.
2> We'll wait for you.

"I’m leaving, okay?" she told the android and she pointed at it. "Don’t try to follow me!"

But the android didn’t say anything, it just kept staring. Devil turned around, and other neighboring androids were staring at her.

Oh shit, just what I needed...

"I’m leaving, I’m leaving..." She walked past a fountain and saw an exit. No androids in sight. She turned left, right. No cops... yet. Better hurry...

1> Wait, not that way!
> What do you mean?
1> Turn around!!!
> Why!?
1> CAT!!!

Devil froze. Please, not a police cat... not a police cat...

1> Turn around. NOW!!!

But it was too late. A black cat jumped down from a nearby tree branch and stared at her.

"Alert," said the cat. "Intruder detected. Hazardous materials detected. Hands up, you’re und-"

Devil kicked the cat before it could finish its sentence. Shit shit shit shit shit, I’m in deep shit now!

"NBI!" shouted a nearby man, "stop right there!"


One of the guys threw a smoke bomb to a nearby car, calling the cop’s attention.

1> We got the other one, you get rid of the blond!
> It’s two of them??? And you tell me NOW???
2> They weren't in uniform! How were we supposed to know?

Devil saw the fed uncover something from a nearby tree.

He's got a bike? Oh, you got to be fucking kidding me.

"You’re not getting away, you little bitch!"

Devil began running for her life; if she didn’t do something quick, he would catch her in a couple of seconds. Her anxiety increased as the fed aimed at her with his foam gun.

Oh come on!!! A foam gun? Who the fuck you think I am, a cyber hulk?

She jumped down a car and slid below just before the cop launched a bright orange sludge at the car.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit..."

She rolled to the other side of the car and kept running through the bushes.

The cop jumped and ran after her. "You can’t escape, you bitch! Just give yourself up! At most they’ll give you a month!"

Devil heard the foam gun cocking. She ducked and saw the foam splattering on the ground few centimeters near her.

She kept running, this time in zig zag.

"Alright, kid!" shouted the cop, "you give me no choice!"

She increased her speed, but just before she could leave the park a wall of androids stood right in front of her.

She was about to complain, but realized her voice would make a fine biometric signature. She remained silent, but what use was it? She was trapped anyway.

"Grab her!" ordered the cop.

The androids started to walk slowly towards her.

"Please don’t..." she whispered. She stepped back, but the fed caught her from behind. "I got you, bitch. Now what were you trying to do back there, huh?"

Devil struggled, but the cop was far stronger than her and zip-tied her arms behind her. "You have the right to remain silent."

The cop unhooded her. "What's this? A gadget?"


She felt the gadget being pulled from the back of her neck.

No!!! What the hell are you doing!

Finally, the gadget snapped off and the cop unplugged the cable from her jack. "You're not needing this anymore."

He dropped the gadget to the ground and stepped on it.

You fucking bastard!

"Stop struggling! All androids," shouted the cop, "Form a circle around me and look outside! Then shut down your ears!"

The androids obeyed.

Wait, thought Devil, what the hell's happening?

Pressing his arm against her neck, the cop began to strangle her while fondling her breast with his other hand. "Now let’s make a deal. We can have a little fun, and I’ll let you go this time, what do you say?"

Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck...

"You have ten seconds. Nine..."

*God, god god god god god... he's going to want a blowjob, isn't he?


He pulled her shirt up and began fondling her.


Fuck fuck fuck...


This is a test, Beth, he's testing you. Come on, make up your mind!!!


Okay, Beth, think, think! If he's already fondling you it's because he's already guessing you won't budge, and he'll arrest you!


He began unbuttoning her pants.

Oh god, not there, not there! He's gonna find out, he's gonna find out, Hurry up, Beth, hurry!


"ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT! I'LL DO IT, just don't touch me down there, please!"

"Oh! Finally you spoke. Now tell me, why shouldn't I?"

She gave the perfect excuse.

"I'm in my period..."

"Well then, guess I'll just have to wait half a week, won't I?"

"W-wait, what?"

"You're coming with me."

"No, please!!! You promised!"

The cop shoved her down the floor and shouted between his teeth.


Devil felt a sharp pain in her neck. Then she felt as if something was biting her, and then suddenly all her neck, and then her whole body felt like burning. She couldn't hold her tears. Did he just... drug her???

"Please don't, please don't!"

Then the cop began touching her again and finally her secret was out.


Suddenly, a female voice coming from behind interrupted him.


Devil turned around to see a sweeping kick knock the cop down. The cop reacted immediately and grabbed the woman's legs, making her fall on her back. She tried to break free, but the cop kicked her in the groin and pushed her against a tree; with a punch on the stomach he brought her to her knees.

He pulled the woman's helmet out and threw it away only to step back instinctly. Without a second thought he grabbed his gun and aimed at her.

Beth was still on the ground when she heard a gunshot. Two gunshots. A punch. The gun falling to the ground. The woman's voice. "If I see you abusing your authority again, you son of a bitch, I'll cut off your fucking dick!!!" She looked at Devil. "Girl, come here, quick! Show me your hands."

Devil turned around to look at the woman but was blinded by a bright light; a flash grenade.

"Augh!!! My eyes!!!"


"I can't see!"

Devil heard more noises and couldn't see shit. The man yelled. "You're gonna pay for this, you bitch! You can be sure of that!"

Another set of heavy thumps, and the woman's voice again. "Don't even think of looking up, or I'll fucking swear I'll shoot you in the throat and make you drown in your own fucking blood. Is that clear?... IS THAT CLEAR!"


Devil heard a motorcycle approaching, and the steps of several people running towards them.

The cop's voice again. "Capture them! Now!!!"

Three seconds. Pure silence.

"What the fuck? I said to capture them, you bastards!"

Devil heard the voice of several people in unison. "Error. Ultraviolet clearance required."

The cop's voice again. "Alright, every android in maintenance mode and clear your cache. NOW! Useless fucking things."

Devil felt her zip tie breaking apart. "Run", she heard the woman speak.

"But I'm blind!"

"Just ten steps forward. RUN!!!"

Devil kept running until she felt the woman's hand holding her back. "Stop. Get on the bike."

Devil mounted on the bike carefully.

"Now grab me tight. We're out of here."

She heard the motorcycle's tires screeching and felt the strongest pull in her life. If she hadn't been holding tightly to the woman she would have fallen now.

"Don't let go, okay?"

"The hell I won't!"

The other cop came to help his partner; he found him with his hands zip-tied, a black eye, and a bleeding nose.

"What the fuck just happened?"

"Just cut my ties and lend me your bike!"

"You're going after them alone? Shouldn't I call for reinforcements?"

"No", he said, mounting on the bike, his teeth clenched. "They're mine."

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