Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Last Street Samurai

This one is a response to Chuck Wendig's challenge "A Game of Aspects"

I didn't do the random number generator thing as I wanted at least a chance of doing a complete entry by the deadline date.

Anyway, coming in at 1053 words, this is a story which incorporates Dystopian/Serial Killer/Fated to Die (not super original, but I love these tropes).

I hope you enjoy the entry - after my ramblings about punk this week, I'm backing myself to not look like a fool. Comments are more than welcome.

The Last Street Samurai

Glancing up through his sun-roof at the looming mirrored glass monolith, Poke shuddered and pulled his coat tight, the oppressive monsoon heat an increasingly distant sensation. The Blaze neurostim was kicking in as the precious seconds crawled past.

In the glare of night time city lights, the sharp profile of the ChrysTech building looked ominous as usual, poised to fall on city like the sword of Damocles. From the stuff in the files he had put together, this wasn't too far from the truth.

With shaking hands, he pulled out a baccstick, and put it to his lips Mixing drugs be damned, he needed to be sharp.

It was difficult to resist slamming the gas pedal down and powering away. They were running late and it was a slow torture to have to sit and wait; each heartbeat was a moment they weren't making distance, getting a lead.

The tension was shattered by a headless body fired through a fifth storey window in a shower of glass and blood. A second, similar figure was thrown out after the first and followed by a vision of menace in gold and carbon fibre. There was a vivid slash of glittering orange against the black night sky.

A spray of gore, five stories up and falling, signified end of mission phase one.


A parked FlightLimo four spaces ahead erupted into a fountain of blood, metal and glass as the falling trio slammed into it at speed.

Swallowing, coughing on nicotine smoke, Poke kicked the accelerator and his ride snaked it's way out of the parking bay. He pulled up to the impact site with a screech of rubber and listened to the rain of vehicle parts pinging off his new paint job.

Rolling down the window he saw the two ChrysTech security corpses were twisted in a gory confusion of car and flesh, a slender figure in a tattered haori and hakama straightening up amidst all of this and turning to face him, cybernetic limbs still shining beneath the layers of grime and ichor.

“You get the cores, Serial?” Poke asked.

His partner nodded and calmly made his way over to the car, stepping out of the wreckage and replying, “Acquired.”

There was a pause before Serial added, “We lost Honey to hostile action.”


Poke cursed and threw away his baccstick, eyes watering with a Blaze-enhanced rush of emotion that threatened to break him. He barely registered as Serial handed him a small bag full of military grade cores, the roughly excised jacks of their unfortunate operators attached, often still with a ragged ring of gelid, cooling flesh left on.

Poke held down his gorge and concentrated on getting the valuable cargo into the shockpod he'd had installed in the back seat, squeamishly prodding all the trailing leads into the container and getting it secure. He shot a dark glance at his partner, Serial Killer, as the hermetic seal hissed and beeped as the lock engaged.

All of the cybered set new that no-one did counter-intel like Serial, but few realised how apt this guy's name really was sometimes. He wondered what Honey's loss would do to the cyborg.

Sighing, Poke pressed another button and the passenger door hissed open, but Serial made no move to get in the vehicle. He seemed detached as he flicked the blade, the flakes of scorched blood fluttering out into the air; he seemed to be waiting. Poke wished he knew what this guy was thinking, but the ocular implants obliterated his expression and even the part of his face showing offered no clues.

Impassive and deadly, Serial looked every inch the grey operative, the tech mercenary, the hitman...

The swordsman.


“Get in, you crazy bastard!” Serial gave a little hissing grunt at Poke's wired, panicked tone, “We've got to get these out before they can get mercs of their own on the case!”

The swordsman paused then, suddenly poised like a hunter, and pointed to the comms scanner he wore, “Armoured reinforcements,” he offered casually.

“Come on!” Poke wailed, moving to open his door and remonstrate with Serial, “We've got to-”

He was cut off as a cold, metal hand forced the door shut against all his efforts. Serial was looking down at him, that creepily direct stare of someone looking through artificial optics. The swordsman seemed to almost hum with suppressed emotion, but turned away to look down the road, letting the sword rest by his side, ready.

“You will go, Poke. I have finished my part of the contract,” Serial seemed to weigh his sword in his hand for a second, before lifting his chin, “I must now seek to satisfy the demands of my honour.”

“Honey left something with you, I believe.” Serial said, not turning to face his partner.

Poke was white, sweating and at a total loss as he activated a hidden compartment, the pocket within holding only a tanto blade, sheathed in ebony and mother of pearl. He turned awkwardly and presented the weapon to Serial through the window.

His partner took it with a nod and a small, sad smile. Far down the road the lights and growling engines of the ChrysTech rapid response team began to stain the surreal quiet of this moment. To Poke, the smile was the most terrible thing he had ever seen on a mission; it was alien and strange on the usually impassive face of his partner.

“I shall buy you some time,” Serial said finally, sliding the tanto into his obi, tucking it beneath the mounting of his katana, making them both, again, a matched pair.


In Poke's rear view mirror, he could see the dwindling figure of Serial Killer silhouetted against the bright halogens of the pursuit vehicles. He watched the street samurai walk away from him and into legend, until he couldn't bear to watch any longer.

In his imagination, the roar of the engine sounded mournful as the car ate up the night, flying through the sleeping streets and open roads. It was a long, lonely journey to the rendezvous and the coming dawn, but he didn't hear the sounds of pursuit.

No one but Poke had made it down that road.


  1. Lots to love here, James!

    All my quibbles are just that. Loved the names (could have done without 'Killer' and Poke's thinking about the aptness of that?), loved the feel of it. I thought the "ChrysTek" thing was going to go into religious imagery for a moment - it didn't, and that's okay, but now you know it was on at least one reader's mind.

    "to hostile action" is unnecessary to my eye - obviously the action was hostile, or there wouldn't be brain-bits :).

    Last, "the tension was shattered" puts the cart before the horse - describing the effect of the collision before the collision itself. If the narrator was more detached that could work, but here it jarred.

    Other little things here or there, but overall this was a nice piece. I really dug the ending - Poke wondering what impact this would have on Serial, and then finding out. It felt a little like the end of a longer story, which is very cool.

    Excellent work!

    1. Thanks JD, I think your comments are pretty fair and I'd probably tidy this up in another round of edits and revisions. Some responses:

      1) The Serial Killer thing was me trying to subvert the challenge requirements by naming the character that way. I'd considered him as a data safety countermeasure hence the 'serial' reference, but the problem was "how the hell would someone refer to him in a conversation?"

      The whole thing was a bit clunky really.

      2) ChrysTek was a bit of a mispelling. It was supposed to be evoking ideas of crystalline forms, clinical neatness and futuristic tech; most importantly it was to try and lend some kind of shape to the building itself, a suggestion of form.

      3) Agreed on the tension. I've got to work on not slipping out of 3rd person limited.

      Anyway, I'm glad you liked it and I hope the next one will be better :)


Hey feel free to leave a comment about what you've seen or read, or just share your thoughts. It should go without saying that politeness and enjoyment are good, but we live in an imperfect world; play nice everyone!