作者 主题: 【6E】一路向上 The Way Up P.100-103  (阅读 486 次)


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【6E】一路向上 The Way Up P.100-103
« 于: 2019-10-19, 周六 23:04:06 »
The Way Up

Kevin Czarnecki

劇透 -   :
The eighty-sixth floor. At last.
Hiroki stepped out from the lift to a view of Neo-Tokyo he had only dreamed of. Up here, a Shiawase executive saw the megasprawl like a carpet of jewels spread out before them, a limitless territory ripe for development. He imagined the city divided up in AR, the ebb and flow of populations, markets, profits waiting to be made, and careers with them.
劇透 -   :
The secretary didn’t spare him a glance, speaking in flawless Afrikaans through a headset while he fidgeted. His own modest office, thirty stories below, was nothing like this. He had stepped into the world of gods and was only a mere mortal. He imagined her income—his own salary, with an extra zero—as he took in her Vector cybereyes and Vasocon tetrachrome nails. How much bodysculpting went into that cold, angelic visage? Were those real diamonds in her lapel?
劇透 -   :
“Hiroki-san! My friend!” He jumped and quickly composed himself, his heart failing to calm as his sweaty palm met Sato’s in a shake. The superior executive’s skin was silky, moisturized, confident, and sure. Dry. Sato flashed his million-nuyen smile and clapped the other hand on Hiroki’s shoulder, guiding him further into the executive opulence.
劇透 -   :
“S-Sato-sama, I—”
“I’m so glad you’re here. And so punctual! That’s what we’re looking for, Hiroki. Someone with attention to detail.”
They had shifted past the frosted glass of a meeting room to an office paneled in real oak, stained rich and fragrant from cigars and sake. Sato gestured for Hiroki to take a seat in one of the overstuffed, real-leather chairs while he leaned on the massive desk’s corner with the poise of a practiced Berwick model.
劇透 -   :
“Hiroki, you’re being promoted.”
The junior executive’s heart raced, but he did his best to remain calm. Ignoring the perspiration gathering at his collar, he quirked his brows and struggled to maintain a detached air. “Excellent, sir.”
“我就说嘛!”斋藤大笑,站起来走到餐具柜旁边,往一对水晶杯里分别倒了两指高的三得利03(Suntori ’03)。他把其中一杯递给宏树,又歇回原位。“你在公司已经有十年了,而且记录堪称模范。”随着AR覆盖层(AR overlays)眨动,他两眼闪亮。自己的整个人生在另一人眼中飞掠,宏树对此感到惊奇。
劇透 -   :
“I should say so!” Sato laughed, standing to walk over to a sideboard and pour two fingers of Suntori’03 into a pair of crystal glasses. He handed one to Hiroki as he resumed his perch. “You’ve been with the company for a decade now, and your record is exemplary.” His gaze flashed with the twinkle of AR overlays. Hiroki wondered at his entire life flashing in another man’s eyes.
“你被调到了市场预测及信息部门(Marketing Forecasting and Information Department,见规则书24页)。”
宏树的心跳停止了。“那个……可否认人员(deniable assets)?”
劇透 -   :
“You’re being transferred to the Marketing Forecasting and Information Department.”
Now Hiroki’s heart stopped. “The … the deniable assets?”
劇透 -   :
Sato laughed. “Now, now, Hiroki, what a positively pop culture way of putting it. We prefer to think of them as temporary outside hires. Freelance consultants.” He set his drink aside and rested his elbows on his knees, fingers laced together, a perfect oniisan.
劇透 -   :
“Consider for a moment the independent analysts we bring in. They have access to data and trends even our own experts can’t factor into projections. We aren’t denying that we hire them, per se. It’s simply understood. And anyway, our competitors are certainly doing the same thing. Shiawase has every right to remain competitive, and that means playing the game.”
劇透 -   :
“I, ah … I hadn’t thought about it that way, sir.”
“Of course not! This is a whole new world for you.”
Sato drew two fingers through the air, and an AR document became visible to Hiroki. “I think you’ll find the duties far more stimulating than Human Resources. And, of course, there is the significant remuneration package …”
Hiroki’s eyes danced back and forth on the e-doc before reaching a salary two zeroes greater than his current salary. Sato smiled knowingly at his sipped the Suntori.


劇透 -   :
“It’s all simple.” He repeated Sato’s words, a slow mantra and he flipped through the MFID virtual rolodex. Faces, statistics, observations. The eyes of killers and maniacs, traitors and anti-corporate terrorists he was expected to pick and choose from to get a job done right. They were the types of people he’d invested nuyen into avoiding. He’d rarely left the safety and surety of Shiawase territory; there was no call for it. His every conceivable need or desire was right here, and more affordable with the corpscrip options he took in lieu of universally recognized nuyen.
他做了个深呼吸,从桌前站起来,转了转肩膀,看见视野角落的钟。凌晨两点,他工作超时了,即便有睡眠调节器,靠升职的津贴他终于把它偿清了。他转身览看这间新办公室。不像斋藤那间那样大,当然,而且有些贫瘠。它缺乏居住和经历的痕迹。他想象相框和奖杯,作为一段职业生涯黄金时期的纪念品和标准象征。眼下,这里只有望远镜和他从旧办公室带来的一幅复印的纸质海报,人的剪影被橘色的夕阳勾勒出来,在一座陡坡上向上攀登,下面有句话:“拼搏带来高度(The Struggle Proves Elevation)。”他转向窗户,饱览七十七层的风景,想象着自己十八岁生日时送他这张海报的父亲,想象他若能活着看到这景色,现在又会如何称许。
劇透 -   :
He took a deep breath and stood up from his desk, rolled his shoulders and signaled the clock in the corner of his vision. At 2 a.m., he was working overtime, even with the sleep regulator his promotion bonus had finally paid off. He turned to take in the new office. Not quite as big as Sato’s, of course, and somewhat sterile. It lacked the touches of habitation and experience. He imagined the holopics and trophies, keepsakes and touchstones of a career in its prime. For now, there was only the focus and the hardcopy poster he had brought from his old office, a silhouette of a man set against a broad orange sun, hiking up a steep incline, with the words below:“The Struggle Proves Elevation.” He turned to the window and took in the view from the seventy-seventh floor, imagining his father the day he had given him the poster for his eighth birthday, imagining his approval now if he had lived to see this vista.
劇透 -   :
“If only you could see how high I have climbed, Otousan.”
His eyes returned to the display before his desk, and he softly muttered, “And how much higher still I shall come.”
劇透 -   :
He was establishing patterns. Sato’s advice had been sparse, and his first assignment had come so quickly he did not have time to meet any of the other “Tanaka-sans,” the men who shared his vocation and used the pseudonym to maintain their anonymity. He wondered at that: Any so-called shadowrunner worth the pay should be able to discover a corporate-registered identity in short order, yes? But that had given him inspiration.
劇透 -   :
The files were as thorough as they could be. True, the ideal assets were SINless, but no one could entirely avoid leaving a trail in this age of ubiquitous monitoring. But that provided him with the litmus he needed. The obvious choices were those who had worked for Shiawase before. Previous operations were largely redacted, even with his new clearances, but the general nature of the job, the expectations, and how they were met were documented by previous Tanakas, often with an informal grading system. Some even permitted themselves a flourish of creative liberty in their observations of the assets. There was hidden value there, as well. But it was too obvious for what Sato expected of him.
劇透 -   :
“Your first priority is to reduce the bottom line, Hiroki,” he had said. “Results must come first and foremost, but we require lower investment points. This is your objective. And to incentivize it, while we have a pay range for any given operation, the more you are able to shave from your budget, the more you will be rewarded with a bonus for your hard work.”
劇透 -   :
Hiroki was less motivated by money than advancement, and that meant he needed success. Money would take care of itself in due course. His job was to refine the system. So what was he looking for that no other Tanaka, or at least a successful Tanaka, would see?
劇透 -   :
That was the key. A shadowrunner must go unseen. There was a balance of success and surveillance, completed ops and a lack of documentation. The less known, the more potential. It was a gamble, but one he felt confident would pay off.
劇透 -   :
He swept his hand across the desk, discarding the profiles that had mugshots. No good. He also filtered out any long-term assets. Reliable, yes, but they had worked with other Tanakas, and his experience said he needed his own small family of mercenaries with whom he could build his own relationship. Moreover, less experience meant he could better dictate the terms of payment. He cross-referenced the stables of fixers, which Sato had kindly “loaned” him. He would be expected to make his own connections in time, but these would get him started. He had basic profiles of skill sets, aptitudes, small notes and even warnings politely proffered by the fixer to make meeting them easier. He compared them to the objective at hand. Narrowed. Focused. Selected.
His hand shaking, he took a deep breath. Dialed the fixer.


劇透 -   :
Hiroshi fidgeted as he waited in the corner booth of the Sakura. He was denied the view of Tokyo Disney’s faux New York skyline, but there were fewer cameras here, and he had a straight view from the bar. He did his best to ignore the pair of security personnel Sato had assigned him, leaning nonchalantly and sipping their sodas as though they weren’t made of cutting-edge cyber and bioware and were masters of hand-to-hand combat.
劇透 -   :
Two tourists approached the host, and, glancing around the room, they spotted him and waved, making their way over. The lead, a woman he guessed was of European descent, wore a turquoise sundress and sandals. She called to him. “Tanaka-kun!” Her partner, a short Japanese man, followed, his glaring LiveThread bowling shirt as bold as he was quiet.
劇透 -   :
She outstretched her hands, grasping repeatedly so that her long nails, matching her dress, clacked loudly. She squealed in delight, leaning over Hiroki to embrace him as he sat. She whispered in his ear, “Just play along. Helps us hide in plain sight.”
劇透 -   :
The man, who might be the one the fixer called Suzumebachi, slid in first, stiff, a short, bristly mustache and bulging muscles decorating an otherwise utterly generic face. He didn’t look like a rigger; he looked pedestrian, like a janitor. The woman must have been wearing a disguise, as she didn’t look like the distorted security footage he had seen. That figure had a mohawk and numerous piercings. This one had long brunette hair and an excellent tan, the lines from time spent on a sundeck in a bikini showing boldly. Was this Draht?
劇透 -   :
“Very public place for a meet, Tanaka-san. Clever, but we didn’t have much time to compensate.”
He had practiced his responses. They would try to test him, throw him off. He had to see them purely as employees. This was no different from any accountant or data processor across the desk. He did have whiskey this time, and they were trained killers, and they were in a Disney funpark, but otherwise it was the same.
劇透 -   :
“Our mutual fri—” He cut himself short as the waiter came for the order. “My tab,” he said. She ordered fresh orange juice. The man went for the much less expensive Yamazaki twelve-year.
“Your handler says you are capable of a data extraction?”
劇透 -   :
She nodded—too enthusiastically—reaching across the table to touch his hand gently. The tone didn’t match at all, cool and professional. “Absolutely.”
“Depending on the remuneration,” Suzembachi intoned, his voice as bland as his expression. “And the commensurate risk.”
劇透 -   :
“Yes.” He reached into his suit jacket pocket, a Rhine-Gold subtly disguising his origins with Evo cufflinks. He slid a chip across the table. Draht watched with amusement. She and her partner touched their fingers to the chip, the details on closed loop to their PAN. He watched their eyes scan the document he could not see; he called up his own copy for his contacts.
劇透 -   :
“The data is on a remote server, so you’ll need to retrieve the physical storage drive. Moreover, we require the job to be done within forty-eight hours.”
“Not at this price,” she responded politely.
“Why not?”
劇透 -   :
She smirked, and Suzembachi muttered, “Decreased time frame increases risk. Increased risk increases pay.”
“Those are competitive rates.”
“Are you telling us to see if the competition can do better?”
劇透 -   :
He flustered, and Suzembachi’s meaty fist closed sightly. The waiter returned with their drinks.
She leaned forward. “You’re new at this, aren’t you, Tanaka-san?”
“You don’t need your guards. We’re not going to hurt you.”
Hiroki tried to appear cool. “Guards?”
劇透 -   :
She laughed. “Why do you think I hugged you? Your boys tensed up, and our guy spotted them.” Hiroki saw their waiter across the room shoot him a small wink. Was that Kage? “And you don’t seem to know the steps to this dance quite yet, though you’re doing an okay job.”
Suzembachi made to rise. “Let’s go, D.”
劇透 -   :
She stopped him. “No, no, our Tanaka-san here is doing his best, and we’re all professionals here. He wants to make a good impression, and I don’t think he’s out to screw us over. So let’s give him a chance.” She turned back to Hiroki. “How about this? We’ll take it at the indicated rate, half up front, as a show of good faith. We do the job, you make your bosses happy, and when you’ve moved up the food chain a little bit, you can offer us juicier work. Maybe slip in a few bonuses.”
劇透 -   :
He shouldn’t have let any emotion slip out, but the tension washed out of him. She was a dream, nothing at all like he had feared. He could get to like working with someone with this mindset.
”Excellent. You can contact me at the attached number, and we’ll arrange for your payment.”
Everything was going better than he could have thought.


劇透 -   :
Fifty hours later, staring down the barrels of Shiawase security forces assault rifles, Hiroki wondered where he had gone wrong.
“I—I really don’t—”
“It’s fine, Hiroki. Really.”
劇透 -   :
Sato’s charm was as present as ever as he adjusted his cuffs, standing over Hiroki in what had once been his new office. The desk had been removed, along with the plant. Only the poster remained.
劇透 -   :
“We all get greedy, sometimes. You, though … so early into your promotion. I knew you were ambitious, but really, colluding with Mitsuhama?”
“But I never—”
“You were sloppy, Hiroki. That’s what disappoints me the most. I could at least admire disloyalty if the traitor was a clever opponent, but you just …” He tutted, looking again at the EMP gun in his hands he had fired at Hiroki, presumably to deactivate his commlink or any other gadgets he might have concealed.
劇透 -   :
Hiroki stifled tears, his voice rising. “I would never
The guards raised their rifles to take better aim. Hiroki shrank back in his seat, and Sato smiled. “You’re my failure, you know. I should have looked closer. This will look very bad for me, Hiroki. I’m just some… disappointed.”
He felt the will drain from him, sank into the leather.
What were they—
Sato’s eyes rose, narrowing behind Hiroki before he raised his HERF and shouted, “Open fire!”
劇透 -   :
before the bullets began flying. Time seemed to slow, and he took in the details as though it were simsense: the municipal police drone hovering just outside the window, the glass shattering from sustained fire from both it and the guards, Sato blasting at it, the sparks flying from it as it absorbed the assault. A shape spearing from across the street, a woman with a mohawk sliding into the room on the zipline it carried, firing as she went. The rounds slammed the guards, another drone coming from above the broken view of the neighboring building. Draht turning to him after Sato had fallen, his impeccable suit soiled by the blue of the gel rounds. She reached out to him, he scrambled for the poster, and the world spun and went dark.


劇透 -   :
He was lying down, rough fabric under him. The room was spare, concrete and lit with spools of lumicord along the walls and detritus of the space, casting strange shadows in the strange world. Kage, now in a tank and fatigue pants, called through the door to his companions.
“He’s up.”
劇透 -   :
Hiroki sat up, his head spinning, as Draht walked in. She was the picture of Neo-Tokyo punk, her fishnets padding bare on the concrete. She wore a sad smile and rushed forward to pull a bucket from the bedside for him as he vomited the last meal he’d had as a Shiawase employee.
劇透 -   :
Kage laughed while Suzembachi leaned against the doorframe. “He’s worthless. This was a mistake.”
Draht glared at him as she patted Hiroshi’s back. “It’s okay, Tanaka-san. Your first firefight, right? It’s only natural. I did the same thing. It’s fine. Adrenaline and shock. You’ll be fine.” She whispered to him until the world stopped spinning. When he sat back on the cot, Kage tossed him an electrolyte pouch. He nodded gratefully as he uncapped it and swigged its contents.
劇透 -   :
uncapped it and swigged its contents.
“How … why …”
“How did we know you were set up?”
Hiroshi nodded.
“You’re new. You tried really hard to hide where you were from.” Suzembachi joined in, listing items on his fingers. “Saeder-Krupp? No way. Evo cufflinks? Nope. And Disney? Renraku’s interests aren’t with Mitsuhama, they’re busy keeping Sony from expanding into their hosting contracts.”
劇透 -   :
Kage grinned at him. “Or maybe it’s because the data we took was about Sato?” Suzembachi glared back.
Draht pulled up a chair, crossing her arms over it’s back. “Sato was selling information to Mitsuhama. That drive wasn’t just their shadowrunner asset index, it was their corporate leaks. Sato wanted to clean up his trail, but he needed someone to pin it on.”
劇透 -   :
“Gotta say, it’s refreshing to watch the Tanakas stab each other in the back instead of us for a change.” Draht waved off Kage, who shrugged and gave Suzembachi a playful kiss on the forehead as he left. The short man blushed slightly but kept his stony gaze at Hiroki.
劇透 -   :
“He … he used me …”
“I have to report this to—”
“No point.”
劇透 -   :
Hiroki looked to Suzembachi. “What?”
“You’re a Tanaka. Probably erased your SIN. Better
hope that’s the case. Otherwise, it’s criminal now.”
Draht reached on the desk behind her and offered a crumpled piece of paper. Hiroki opened it to find his father’s poster.
劇透 -   :
“How about a little payback, Tanaka-san?”
“Hiroki.” He looked up from the poster. “My name is Hiroki.”
The struggle uphill had only just begun.
« 上次编辑: 2019-10-20, 周日 15:45:10 由 Ace »