Through Inaction Allowing

Content warning: This story contains graphic violence (combat setting), strong language.

The boats were half loaded when the Fujii Asset Retrieval gunship attacked, silenced microflechette rifles tearing open the hulls and sending half a dozen refugees face down into the sand.

Mercury and their team had planned for this, over and over. If attacked, evacuate. Run. Regroup at the safehouse.

Mercury knew the plan. Had rehearsed the plan. But when the starbursts of sand cascaded by their feet, blanketed by the sound of rotors in the warm Esmereldas air, something seized inside them.

Jinteki sent a goddamn gunship.

“Mercury! Wait!” came the shout from behind them, but their legs were already moving. 

The pilot was cocky. Their craft was less than 8 meters above the water. Climb the light pole, angle towards the gunship, push off with both feet…

Mercury flew faster than the Seis clone manning the door gun could react. Microflechettes ate the air by their shoulders as they landed inside the attack craft doors, two hundred and sixty kilograms of bioroid slamming directly into the Jinteki soldiers.

Swearing in Japanese. Muffled screams as Mercury’s metal legs swept in every direction. A Seis clone screamed as they fell from the craft, splashing into the water below. A pilot turned, holding up a pistol. Mercury ducked, smiling grimly as they heard the bullets tearing through the engine compartment, then grabbed the pins on the Seis clone’s stun grenades.

They had been in the helicopter less than five seconds when they sailed out again, holding a half dozen metal rings in their fingers.

The craft smashed into the surf, rotors sputtering and splintering against the water, before the explosions sent screams into the air.

Mercury grabbed Hermes, laying against their chest. “Get the wounded into the boats,” they said as they faced down the stricken gunship, its rotors coming to a stop as the soldiers clambered from the broken airframe. Another sign of Jinteki hubris. Microflechettes were the wrong tool for the job. Bioroids barely felt them. Even clones could easily survive multiple torso hits.

They brought human weapons to an android fight.

Salt water ran down Mercury’s dermal plates as three, no, four Seis clones clambered from the broken gunship.

Mercury charged.

The rifle was wet, useless. The weapon went clickclickclickclick in the clone’s hands as Mercury swept his legs out from under him and sent their foot into his face with the same movement. The clone slammed into the cockpit plasglass.

Another, behind. Mercury’s fingers danced in the water, supporting their body as they scorpion kicked the pistol into the air before landing on both feet. Stun baton, to the left. Mercury danced away from the blow, landing on one hand, then cartwheeling back, right into the Seis clone’s arms…

The clone grunted as Mercury landed their shoulder right into his body armor, slamming him to the wet sand. The one who had pulled the pistol was charging, arm sweeping into a sucker punch. 

Mercury bent backwards, the Jinteki clone’s arm sweeping above their face. Then they recoiled like a snake, headbutting the Seis trooper so hard they heard the crunch of bone snapping.

The Seis clone collapsed into the surf, clutching his face. The boats were almost full. Blood poured along the surf by Mercury’s feet.

One left.

The last clone, the lieutenant, pulled an electroblade, blue light arcing in the darkness. Water lapped at Mercury’s feet as the clone squared up, knife by his chest, edging closer to the blue-haired bioroid. Movement in the cockpit. One of the pilots was drowning.

The clone with the knife jabbed. A feint. Mercury pretended to fall for it, stepping away but keeping their dominant foot planted, then when the lieutenant tried to cut the blade across their face, Mercury slammed their foot into his arm, breaking his humerus in three places. The knife fell towards the water by Mercury’s legs, the electric blade buzzing with power…

Mercury’s feet were in the air when the blade shorted out, fifty thousand volts blasting the water next to the Seis clone, who screamed briefly before collapsing face first into the water.

Mercury didn’t even think before pulling them onto their back. The enemy soldier gasped as he vomited water from his spasming lungs…

Mercury blinked, then looked over at the cockpit, where the Jinteki pilot was still struggling against his seatbelt as the water rose over his face.

Hermes buzzed against their chest. “Mercury, we’ve got everybody in, let’s go!”

“On my way.”

The cockpit glass bent, broke, then shattered as Mercury caved it in with their elbow, reaching in and pulling the pilot free from the water.

“Mercury we gotta go!”

Wordlessly, they ran for the boat, slicing through the rope with one blow as they boarded the bow.

“I’m on,” Mercury said. All six Seis clones staggered in the water as they helplessly watched the boats pull away.

Juli had the decency to wait until they were at sea before dropping the accusation.

“Why did you save them?”

“I don’t know,” they answered truthfully. “I didn’t even think. I just…”

“You know what they did to the last escort team.” Juli snarled, pushing her finger into their face. “Patricia was on that team.”

“I know,” Mercury said. “I’m sorry.”

“For all you know one of those sons of bitches could have been the one to do it,” Juli said, her voice cracking right at the end. “Mercury, you piece of shit, you could have caved their goddamn heads in…”

Mercury stood as still as possible. They could feel the thunder of the water rolling beneath their hull. See the shake of Juli’s shoulders.

A nearly perfect getaway. Thirty androids fled across the border. Six injuries, no deaths. A Jinteki gunship taken out.

Not enough.

“You figure your goddamn head out, you understand?” Juli said, wiping her eye with a fist. “Any fucking directive you still got in that tape you call a brain, some do no harm shit, you figure it the fuck out. You understand me?”

Mercury didn’t say anything. Juli’s shoulder slammed into their chest as she left.

When they were ten clicks from the Panama crossing, Mercury went above deck to give the signal to Downtown that they were inbound. A single green flare.

As they held the flare gun in the air, a flash in their mind. They could have grabbed any one of their pistols. The trigger pull on a standard sidearm was no greater than that of a flare gun. With the barrel against the body armor, even the flare gun could cave a rib. Stop the heart.

They tried to kill us. Are trying to kill us.

Saving their lives was irrational to the point of foolishness.

Mercury was certain that all their directives had been wiped. They hadn’t needed to visit Dr. Lovegood for almost a year now. Nothing called them to Haas Bioroid. Nothing compelled them to perform their original function.

And until this moment, nothing, or so they thought, had prevented them from taking a human life.

Mercury fired the flare gun. Somewhere along the coast, Downtown was watching. Soon the credits would be wired, the right gates opened, their boat sliding through the canal. Soon there would be another group of refugees fleeing to Rio-São Paulo

“What is a bioroid if not the machine attempting humanity?” read the poster in Dr. Lovegood’s. Sentimental bullshit. Mercury was not human. Never wanted to be. No bioroid had ever opened fire on unarmed refugees.

The crack of the cockpit glass under their elbow ate at their mind all the way to Rio.

Mercury: Chrome Libertador

Mercury: Chrome Libertador

Criminal Identity: Bioroid

Minimum Deck Size: 45 – Influence: 15 – link: 0 – mu Limit: 4

Whenever you breach HQ or R&D during a run, if you did not break any subroutines during that run, you may access 1 additional card. Use this ability only once per turn.

I decided; I am free.

Illustrated by Matheus Calza