All the runners I’ve ever known—the ones still living, anyway—say to never go on a bender the night before a big job. You do too much boozing, chipping, whoring, whatever, and your brain’s gonna be duller for the whole rest of the day after you wake up. Synapses don’t fire as quickly. Slower reaction time. A nanosecond’s hesitation can get even the best runner in his prime killed.

So, why in the hell do I have this Turing-cursed hangover?

First thing I notice on waking up—besides the buzzing in the back of my head and the throbbing at my temples and the base of my neck—is my left arm, just a few centimeters from my face. It’s depilated, to better show off my nanotattoos, except I can’t even make out the design from this close. I slide my arm away from my face to bring the rest of the world into focus. Everything sharpens except for the tattoo. The programmable nanite design is something unrecognizable. Rubbing my eyes of sleep and refocusing them doesn’t help; it only accentuates the wrongness of what used to be a painstakingly crafted gold-and-red draco occidentalis coiling around my forearm. Now it looks like blocks of garbage code, like the 256th-level glitch from that ancient 2D game with the yellow ball that eats ghosts. The mirrored nanotattoo on my other arm is likewise wrong. Placing both arms side by side, the patterns—seemingly random at first—match each other perfectly, as though this was intentional.

Must’ve had too much to drink to have done something like that, because I sure as hell don’t remember reconfiguring it. I close my eyes—not because I have to, but because it helps to shut out the light right now—and access the tattoo nanites’ programmable function. Buffer recall easily restores the twin dragons in seconds. Should be faster, but this hangover is slowing everything down.

I don’t understand this. Don’t remember having anything to drink last night. Okay, maybe I had one drink, but that wouldn’t dull me like this. In fact, I don’t even remember quite what I did last night.

Think, Ragno. What did you do last night?

I sit up, wander into the shower. Water always seems to help jog the memory. Last night was … the meet at Sulla Vite with Signora