“The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” – William Gibson
The train bridge bisected the sky like a carbon fibre rainbow, all colour subtracted. When the train hurled itself across the span, everything below rattled. A fine grained dust rained from crumbling concrete walls. Jules wiped his cheap sunglasses with the cuff of his sleeve, leaving behind a smudge that was barely an improvement. Behind him Otto and Lou fiddled with the rotors of their recently salvaged quad-copter. As they worked, they bickered. Some things never changed. Others did. Jules was going to make sure of it. As if reading his mind, Otto and Lou stood and looked over at Jules.
“Ready to go, boss,” Otto slurred, probably still a little drunk from their pre-job celebration the night before. Jules nodded and slid his phone out of his pocket. With his other hand, he tapped the arm of his glasses and the tinted plastic became opaque. After a second, a pixelated mess appeared before his eyes.
“Cheap shit as usual,” Jules muttered as he flicked the arm of his glasses with a dirty fingernail. He made a mental note to pay Vicki a visit, remind her who she was dealing with. The blow seemed to have knocked something back in place because he was suddenly presented with a close-up view of rough asphalt. Thumbing his phone, he heard the drone’s rotors spin up, quickly bouncing the machine into the air. The view in his glasses juddered and rose up. He turned his head carefully, and the heard the servos on the drone pan its camera. The first person view inside his glasses lagged less than a half a second behind, but for the little bit of recon he had planned, it wouldn’t make a difference.
Soon he was hovering above the roofline, scanning for any nearby foot traffic. A few cars drove themselves past boarded windows, but otherwise the neighbourhood was deserted. Jules cranked the quad-copter’s speed as high as it would go, knowing there was no one nearby to hear the increased noise. He was nearing 350 metres above ground, level with the peak of the bridge’s arc. The train would be moving slowest here, as it reached the top of its ballistic trajectory. The connection to the little machine was still strong, and wind hadn’t increased substantially. Turning a full circle, Jules was reminded why. The arcologies to the east, and the macro-construction facility to the west acted as windbreaks, leaving his crumbling ghetto in an artificial valley. A low point where the city’s detritus accumulated.
“What’s it look like up there, J,” Lou sounded nervous. He’d been burned before for messing with the Arcolytes’ hardware. They took the protection of their technology seriously.
“Exactly what we expected, my man. They don’t think anyones crazy enough to actually climb up there. Just a light shell, some anti-drone netting. Little rail along the side for repair bots. That’s our attach point,” he could practically hear them nodding. “You gotta speak up when I’m flyin’ this thing, I can’t see you, ya know?”
“Oh yeah, boss, yeah,” they said in unison. They were far from stupid, though someone from outside might take their accents as a comment on their intelligence. That was fine, it only worked in their favour. Jules only rolled with the smartest, hardest bastards outside the arcologies. He had to if he wanted to keep stealing tech and live.
“I’ve got everything in the usual place,” Otto said. There was no usual place, they employed a random number generator to select different drop coordinates for every job. They’d share them using a one-time-pad before the job.
“Well, then, gentlemen, we wait until the appointed hour,” Jules hit the return command for the drone and tilted his sunglasses down so he could see the other two, “then we risk our lives.”
Lou smirked, “And then we get rich.”