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  • Waxing Kriger
  • Jeffrey Yule

After they waxed Kriger, he was supposed to stay dead. Kriger, that Kriger anyway, was a rare one. Wanted nothing to do with reconstitution. Reconstruction was okay, for light stuff. You lose an arm or some brain tissue, maybe even a whole lobe, of c ourse you get that fixed. He wasn’t a fundamentalist. But the part about no reconstitution was supposed to have been an actual clause in his contract. That was the word out about it, anyway. Of course you hear rumors about all sorts of things in this business and a lot of it’s crap. Still, I think that story was true. I say that because I talked to him about it once. Not much, but it was enough.

I’m not saying the guy took me into his confidence. He didn’t. I’m no big operator myself, but Kriger—well, that Kriger anyway—he was good, as big a deal as everybody says. He didn’t talk much to people like me, only even ran into ‘em every once in a while and never for very long. We were just subcontracted labor. But I did a job for him in Belize once, and that’s where I got the impression the stories were true. Down there, they called him the man, el hombre, but the way they said it was like in capital letters—El Hombre. They wanted to call him el hombreisimo, you know, like he was the most incredible of men, but he didn’t like the way it sounded. So it was El Hombre, pronounced like with capital letters. And wit h the job he did, he earned that too. During some down time on that job, I asked him what he thought about reconstitution. I was thinking about it for myself for after I could afford it, but I was also curious about him. Even then he had quite a reputation.

What he said was, “Guys get re-sti clauses, they don’t have to worry much anymore. They get sloppy.”

He said it like he’d seen it happen, and I guess that’s why he didn’t go in for reconstitution. He didn’t want to get soft. Maybe because his work was his art or maybe because if he got soft, he wouldn’t pull down the same sort of money on each job. M aybe both. And maybe he was right, because he was sharp then. He was almost too good.

You still hear a lot of stories about Kriger, but who the hell knows for sure what happened and what didn’t? I don’t know that anyone could ever sort it all out now. But I know this for sure. On that Belize job, we had two teams setting up perimeter d iversions for him so he could go in solo somewhere else along the line, into this guy’s compound. No names, okay? But you know the type. The guy had his hands in some of this and some of that, major supply contacts with different organizations, some of them competing—Mafia, Tong, Yakuza, everybody. As a consequence of his clientele, he’s a real security freak, trying to make sure nobody’s going to pay him a visit—cut him up, kidnap him, maybe even make an example of him. Mess him up bad but keep sh owing his reconstitution company that he’s alive so they can’t replace him. He was a real paranoid operator. Too much white powder and cash will do that to people. Given the type, of course, his place is wired every which way: motion sensors, IR trip b eams, countermeasures, everything. We even ran into some cyborged guard dogs his security people were running off an AI system. Nasty things—godawful tough to kill. Plus he’s got guards all over the place with IR equipment. But it’s a very strange si tuation. There’s this self-contained, high-tech fortress, built right into the side of a mountain, right? But the people who grow the man’s plant live in huts, so all around this place things are...

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