Electric lights gleamed on the fake wood and shone through the translucent white plastic of his xanyan-styled apartment in Binang. He’d just bought the place using half his savings; with his current income, it represented about five years pay. It had one room for sitting and accessing his multicom; a tiny, immaculate kitchen with brushed metal surfaces; an oddly spacious shower in the bathroom; a beautiful window out onto the gleaming city; and, of course, a teleport link instead of a front door. Teleporters had revolutionized a lot, but one of the most daily things he noticed was the lack of hallways, stairs, or elevators in the new apartments. Of course, if the power went out, you were stuck. But it really let the people pack in like never before using all that space.
He sat on his synthetic fiber mat, gazing blankly at the multicom before him. He didn’t want to access any data today. He was a tiny part of a massive corporation with holdings here and on other planets; the corporation that manufactured the teleporters now used everywhere, even by the military. He didn’t want to work today; he was angered, he felt trapped.
His name was Hiralaj Gbunil, and he was a consciouness-loaded clone. He owned seven more exact copies of himself in an installation in Dubnil; each time he died, his consciousness was downloaded into a new clone, seamlessly. This latest time he had been reclining on a mat in a Binang hotel, had wandered off in his own mind, thinking about mundane things, when someone had snuck up and murdered him right there. There had been a person on the next mat over; they hadn’t even blinked. As soon as Hiralaj awoke in his new clone, he had one thing on his mind – vengeance. But no one knew who his killer had been, or no one would admit to it. He went on his corporate channel and asked advice, but was told not to retaliate but instead seek justice through the law enforcement system. This didn’t feel like enough, so he teleported back to Binang to find his killer.
Back to the hotel he had gone, its red carpet and cozy gold trim fit for international businessmen, and he had found the place where he’d been killed; already not a trace of corpse or blood. There was a man kneeling nearby, and he looked guilty, so Hiralaj quickly pulled out a lazer pistol and opened fire.
Even with the element of surprise, the adversary quickly returned fire and killed another of Hiralaj’s clones. Even more angry, he now sat in his apartment contemplating his next move. His corporate superiors were angry that he had not followed the proper channels for justice; but it didn’t feel like justice, not deep inside, to fill out a form and hope someone else did their job somewhere.
His mind wandered…it was a strange city, Binang. He’d met manipulative whores, freedom seeking androids, and avoided raging gun battles in the streets. He’d wandered abandoned alleys studded with blinking neon signs, found beautifully landscaped artificial gardens, made real contact with practically no other human, yet somehow it felt like home so much he’d spent half his savings on this apartment. Half his savings. He didn’t even know what the other half might even be for. He had no friends, no corporate ambitions, no…nothing. Just…anger. It shouldn’t be this way, he knew. Something was wrong.