The Raven-Haired Rogue

High Resolution Front Cover_5479174Episode 1

My name is Zachary Nixon Johnson. My beat is New Frisco. It’s the year 2057, and I’m the last freelance private investigator on Earth. Yeah, I know that might sound a little ominous to some and kind of cool to others, but truthfully it’s not ominous at all. No catastrophe killed off the other freelance PIs. It’s just that these days everything is wired to everything else. Information is readily available for just the cost of a few seconds time on a search engine and a few credits surcharge. You’re average first grader can dig up more information in a Nano-second then the best-connected PI could have done just a few decades ago.

That doesn’t mean people still don’t need PIs. After all, some information can be especially tricky to obtain. You know, the type of information that needs a special kind of extra poking and prodding around. The type of prodding that requires a personal touch and what I like to call extra sensitive persuasiveness. I call it that because it often requires finding a person’s sensitive spot and jarring it. So yep, even in this modern mega-tech world there is still a demand for our services. In fact, being a PI can be quite profitable at times.

That’s the other catch to being a freelance PI. If there’s a nice profit to be made you can bet big business will find a way to siphon off as much of those credits as possible. Today there are two big Private Investigation companies. There’s DickCo, which is run by entertainment ultra-mega corporation Entercorp. And there’s EYESRUS owned by technology giant HTech. A PI’s life can be filled with violence and danger making it a natural fit for the entertainment industry and reality TV. HTech jumped in the game after they figured out that technology goes out of date but lust and greed never do. Both these big PI companies have the same MO. Potential clients contact them via their net sites. Then if the company finds the client’s plight interesting (i.e. marketable) enough they will send a team out. All of which is broadcast live over one of the reality HV channels. Certainly takes the private out of private investigator, but some folks eat it up. Lucky for me, some clients still like to keep things more private, which means I do get work. And when work arrives it’s usually quite interesting.

Today is a slow day. I’m sitting back in my real leather chair in my office by the Bay. I’m recounting the tale of one of my early PI adventures to my holographic assistant HARV and my flesh and blood assistant Carol.

“There I was in the crowded theater looking for the e-blackmailer, a mime and an android dressed as a mime were heading towards the crowd. I knew the mime was harmless but the android had a bomb. I only had seconds to decide which one to take out…”

“So what did you do, tio?” Carol asks, referring to me as her uncle in Spanish. I should note that Carol is the niece of my fiancée Dr. Electra Gevada. Carol has the same beauty, charm and temper as her aunt.

“I shot ’em both with a heavy electric stun charge,” I tell her. “Turns out I got more praise for stopping the actual mime than I did the android.

HARV looks at me and yawns. “You don’t have to be me, the most sophisticated cognitive processor on Earth to know that mimes are truly annoying.”

HARV may have a bit of an ego, but he was most likely correct on both accounts. Mimes can be quite annoying and HARV was probably the most sophisticated computer around. Yeah sure, these days pretty much everybody over the age of three wears a Portable Interactive Holographic Interface Personally Optimized Device or a P-Pod for short. And yep, these devices do allow easy access to a constant wealth of information. Sure they even all have their own rudimentary personalities such as the Bob, Betty, Bunny and Bubba models.

Thing is, none of these canned artificial personalities are a changing constantly evolving intelligence like HARV is. Turns out most people are very uneasy about having a computer interface that has more personality than they do. Of course it doesn’t help that HARV can be a bit sarcastic at times. Plus the fact that he loves to appear as a snobbish, balding, British butler doesn’t exactly endear HARV to the average Joe or Jane Doe.

Oh, I should mention that HARV is physically connected to my brain. Having an ultra-mega super computer wired to my cerebral cortex lets me have constant access to pretty much all the information in the known worlds. It allows HARV to tap into my body and the under-armor I wear to let me move faster, take more damage and punch harder than other humans. I can project holograms from my eye lens, which is pretty subzero. On the down side, I have a nosy super computer constantly critiquing my every move.

Carol’s bright green eyes pop open. She puts her fingers to her forehead and leans forward, her long golden brown hair drops down her shoulders. I swear she starts to glow with energy. I should note that Carol is a class I level VII PSI, which means she can do things with her mind most people only dream of.

“Zach, I’m picking up a vibe. You are about to get a call from the Kardasian Towers hotel. The vibe’s message isn’t totally clear. But I do know they want you to find a dog from Mars…”

“I don’t usually find dogs, even ones from Mars,” I note.

“From what I understand they want to pay a million credits,” Carol tells me.

“Of course there is a first for everything,” I say.

“This is also interesting,” HARV tells me. “I have a text message coming in from my creator, the esteemed Dr. Randy Pool.”

“A text message?” I ask.

“Yes, Dr. Pool is far too busy to actually talk to you,” HARV notes.

“What’s the message?”

These words scroll across my eyes: “Zach, I have lost contact with my pen pal. I need you to find her…”

The good news was I now had two job offers. I just needed to choose. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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9 responses

  1. You sure you want critics / editors ? 😉 ok .. it’s a good premise, and the gumshoe doesn’t work out of New-New Orleans ;-). Sometimes the flow of words was too choppy… maybe just say “P-Pod” and dump the expanded definitions (i.e. you didn’t say what HARV or HV was – and that was fine!) – Reading the expanded definition made it seem like I’m reading a technical spec 😉 it bogged me down. The brief definition/functionality you gave in the follow-up sentence was all that was needed to create a “fitbit” band-like image in my brain, and that worked just fine for me.. and a “Bubba” model? oh my gwad… originally from the Deep South, I gotta love that one… but maybe I’d prefer a “Bubba-ett” ..


  2. This is both a good intro for readers not familiar with Zach and his world and also the beginning of what I’m sure will be an interesting case. Although I voted to find the dog, I’m sure Zach will find a way to help Randy along the way. Chances are there is a link between the two choices anyway.


  3. Although both sound like they could be entertaining, my own opinion is Dr. Pool’s would be more interesting as he’s always a little different. Really, they both could be about the same, but I like Dr. Pool.



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