She was beautiful. Her hair was long and dark, brushed straight to her lower back, and her skin was slightly darker than his, but her eyes captured him the most. Her name was Anita Six.
Damascus was the last place Jordan Beck expected to find a connection with another person but Anita wasn’t a person in any traditional sense. She was artificial, one of sixty just like her. He was a homicide detective for Interpol and he was investigating the murder of the geneticist Mallister. She was a suspect.
She came willingly to be interviewed and sat opposite him with her hands in her lap. He was staring at her and relieved he didn’t have to go hunting for her.
“ What? “ she asked. “ Do you have a thing for Fakies? You’re looking at me like you’ve never seen an artificial before. I know I’m not your first. “
He composed himself, “ Excuse me. I was simply admiring you. You’re exceptional. “
“ Thank you, “ she said, blushing.
“ You’re the first I’ve interviewed about this matter. No-one else has come forward. Do you know why you are here? “
“ Yes. Doctor Mallister is dead and you think I did it. “
“ I don’t think that at all. I’m not going to assume or allege that. I only want to know where you were and what you were doing the day he died. “
“ I was at home having a day to myself. My occupation is a factory cleaner for Wonto Cybernetics. Even us Fakies need a day off. The security footage in the building where I live is evidence I was home all day, leaving my apartment once to take garbage to the chute in the hall. “
“ You don’t really see yourself as fake, do you? “ Beck asked, feeling a surge of pity for the woman. “ I’ve heard that term a lot but I’ve never believed it. You’re allowed to vote and think for yourself. “
“ I know what I am, a detective. I was grown in a lab with one purpose and that’s to work. My skin and organs are synthetic and I will never have children. I retain no memories or feelings of my biological host. She died seventy-five years ago. Whoever murdered Doctor Mallister will have her own reasons for doing so. It should be easy to find her. There’s only five like me in Damascus. The rest of us were sent to other parts of the world. “
“ I understand. I travel the world a lot. My next case is in Kuala Lumpur. It’s tiring. The case files never end. “
“ The world is a big place, detective, but it doesn’t make it a good place. “
Beck interviewed her for an hour and it was determined with one hundred percent probability she was innocent and no longer a suspect and her story checked out. He was relieved. The only outcome for anyone guilty of murder was an on-the-spot trial by a Justice of The Peace, sedation, and death by lethal injection.
Society was rife with crime and the murder rate was at an all time high due to overcrowding and the judicial system was equally murderous and Beck was not happy with his job. Academically it was the only job he was suited for.
Three hours later he was off duty and sitting opposite Anita once more. They were at a restaurant and it was coincidence they met, so he told himself. She was there when he walked in and she waved him to her.
“ You’re doing it again, “ she said. “ You’re staring at me. “
“ I’m sorry, “ he said, clearing his throat. “ You’re a remarkable looking woman. “
“ Do you have a wife, a detective? “
“ Call me Jordan. Please. “
“ Okay, Jordan. Do you have a wife? “
“ No, “ he smiled. “ Never. I did have a son once. He was an artificial. He was twelve when I adopted him. “
She was interested, “ Really? Where is he now? “
“ He turned eighteen and left home. He does his own thing and doesn’t speak to me any more. I’m fine with that.
Beck felt guilty for lying but it wasn’t really a lie. It was refusal to upset her. He had adopted an artificial, he did love the child, but the boy contracted leukemia at age fifteen and died. Even Fakies get sick. It was a time in his life he now preferred to ignore.
Anita said, “ You must be a good man. “
Now she was becoming attracted to him and the more he opened up to her she discovered he was humanitarian and she was glad he didn’t like his job. She also recognised neither of them had been in love before.
In the following days he found Mallister’s killer. Anita Nine. Her reason was revenge for assaults sustained at Mallister’s hands. It was a shock to the scientific community and they kept it hushed.
She was executed quickly and afterward Beck went to see Anita Six and she held him as he sobbed. He was so glad it wasn’t her. They were in love and there were no laws against that.
They were good together, he made her laugh, and they each felt peace tangled naked together in her bed. Her skin was warm and soft and naturally smelled of lavender. He didn’t want to leave her but she knew he would and he did.
At the airport, he promised, “ I’ll come back to you. I love you. You’re special to me. You make everything better. “
“ I know, “ she smirked. “ I’m what you never knew you needed. “
She stayed at the airport until she could no longer see the plane in the sky and then sat on the seat and cried inconsolably. An android sat beside her and said, “ Sorry to bother you, my lady, but I read his vitals when he looked back at you. He intends to return. “
The android gently patted her on the shoulder, continuing, “ There there, my lady. All is not lost, “ and handed her a tissue.
In Kuala Lumpur Beck hunted a serial killer and tried to contact Anita every day. She never answered and he was worried about her and then he got a reply. It was a single love heart. What he didn’t know was that she was unused to yearning. She was busy indulging in her job to soothe her feelings. She knew he loved her.
Eventually Beck found the killer, a transhuman named Ian Alpha Neptune. Neptune had killed five Justices of The Peace with his gang The Sigma Hoods. All were caught and swiftly executed. It was then he requested to retire and return to Damascus.
“ You can’t, “ his superior told him. “ If you retire you have no valid reason to be there. They don’t accept immigrants. You know that, surely. “
“ No, madam, “ Beck said, shocked. “ I was unaware. I have someone there I need to see. I promised. I am psychologically unfit for this job any longer. “
“ A woman, I presume. Who is she? “
“ I’d prefer not to say. “
His superior placed a finger to their lips and thought for a moment, then said, “ The most you can do for your predicament is apply for a travel visa but you won’t have money for that. I accept your retirement but I am unable to help you. Keep an eye on your messages. I’ll send you confirmation. You are relieved of your duties. Hand in your weapon and your badge. I’m sad you’re leaving us, Jordan. You’re one the best we’ve ever had. You deserve a lot of happiness. “
Beck did as he was asked and within two hours he received an anonymous message. Attached was an address and reference number and the prompt: Ask for Eliman.
He went to the address at midnight and was astonished to find Eliman was a teenage girl, a transhuman. Her hands were cybernetic. She was bubbly with pink hair and rolled on inline skates.
“ So, “ she said, cheerfully, “ you’re here for a tune up. It’ll be my pleasure. Don’t worry about a thing, big man. You’re already paid for. “
“ By whom? “
“ That’s anonymous. Let me see those fingerprints. “
“ What you’re doing is illegal. “
“ Pfft! “ she scoffed. “ You’re no longer a cop, dude. Oink oink. I knew all about you before you got here. I know you need an identity and passport and bank account with some bank in it and you want to go to Damascus. Why? Is it a girly girl? Is she trans or a Fakie? Or is she like you, just a boring biological? “
“ That’s none of your business. “
“ Okay. I’ll give you a new profession and birth certificate, too. It’s all digital. See? “
She showed him her monitor.
“ What? “ he said, unimpressed. “ My new name is Mo Daniels and I’m a driving instructor who was born in Damascus? And that’ll work? “
“ Mmm hmm, “ she said, nodding, sure of herself. “ All from your fingerprints and eyes. Now let me see those eyes. “
The process took less than an hour and before he left, Eliman asked him, “ How does it feel to be on the other side now? “
“ I don’t know what you mean. “
“ You’re hi-tech lowlife scum. Your whole life is now one big digital forgery. You’re a criminal. What are you waiting for? Go get the girl. “
“ What makes you think I’m doing this for a woman? Maybe I just want to disappear. “
“ And you have, “ Eliman laughed, closing the door.
Beck stood in the street under flickering neon and felt free.
Two days later he passed through customs but was made to answer questions. Quick thinking saved him and they accepted his answers.
He caught a taxi to Anita’s apartment building and he knocked on her door, nervous. When she saw him she covered him in kisses. He told her all about it and what he had done and she didn’t care.
The next morning they stayed in bed and not only did he feel free, he felt peace, and they each knew they were loved.
Anita Six knew he was all hers and never again would he fly away to become a speck in the sky and then gone.