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Outrun Stories #44

Manford Manning

Reckless, that’s what they called him along with countless other adjectives that will probably be best if I left unmentioned. Reckless was always the one that stood out though, that was the one that made my stomach turn and my jaw clench, it was the one that really beamed like a big bright neon sign when I drew him as a partner.

Just my fucking luck, right? Every time I thought I’d caught a break, every time I thought I’d seen the back of some asshole partner and was going to get a bit of time on my own to do my job, some other dickhead shows up.

Well, Manford Manning, there is he, shows up one-day, big blonde beard, unkempt hair, holes in the knees of his jeans and the strip lighting of the headquarters drawing out his bloodshot eyes and dry skin. I remember thinking, what the hell am I going to do with this guy?

Turns out, it wasn’t what I was going to do with him, it was more what he was going to do with me, or for me at least. The last assignment I wanted or I needed to get with this guy was trying to go undercover with the GOReX Temple.

Scary fuckers the GOReX and their followers. The monks reckon they’ve hooked themselves deep into the Planetary Core AI. No one’s been that deep into the old cities for centuries. They’re buried under hundreds of meters of cabling and piping and steel and concrete. No way down there and even if there were, there’s no way back. The AI keeps its own secrets these days and as long as we don’t pry too much, it keeps things relatively stable. Why would you poke an ant hill, unless it was disturbing you? Anyway, all the same, these fuckers think they’ve hacked into it somehow, got this following, getting bigger all the time, just another cult if you ask me, but hey, they don’t ask me, they send me in to gather information, and if necessary, bring them down from the inside.

So, we get kitted out, me and Manford Manning and all I’m thinking is, why this guy, why this reckless motherfucker, he’s going to get me killed, he’s going to get me killed. All the while he’s like ‘Yes, Ma’am, no ma’am,’ no one’s called me by my proper title in years but all of a sudden, this guy thinks it’s appropriate?

Well, anyway, we start up the process, deep undercover, infiltration at its finest, we’re picking up leads and we’re gathering intel on these GOReX assholes, and I’m thinking shit, this is almost too easy, and it was.

We’ve been deep in there for close to nine months, we’re realising that this cult is just that, some cult and not much else. They’ve not hacked shit, they’re no closer to the AI Core than anyone else has been for the last couple of hundred years, but they’re good at convincing people they are, they’ve got a good hook and a strong leader and before we know it we’re being taken to him.

Reckless, that’s all I remember when we’re in there, getting taken down and down into the depths of their lair or base or whatever you want to call it and I’m just hoping Manning doesn’t snap, but he does and god damn, when he does I’ve never been more grateful of a reckless motherfucker to have my back. He saw what they were up to, saw the end coming ten steps ahead of me, and saw the exit and that exit was to go fucking insane, let rip and not look back.

Turns out we make quite the team, me and this guy called Manning, fuck it, I’ll never doubt a sonofabitch again.

Musical inspiration: Turbo Slash - Drug