December 19, 2010

Billie's Journal - Yakuza and Indians

Seattle, 21 December 2050

I think I'm going to have trouble with the Yakuza. I've been keeping a watch on the Green Ronin, but a couple of days ago I noticed that he had picked up another tail. Three suits, two asians and one causasian. I couldn't tell if they were yaks or feds. In either case, I decided to keep my distance for a while.

Then today, I come out of the coffee shop after a meet with Danny Kinkaid. A meeting that didn't go down too well. Danny had found an address for my folks. I told him I wasn't sure if I should contact them after seeing how the senator reacted to the recovery of his daughter. Maybe it would be better for them if they keep thinking I'm dead.

But what about me. I think I need to know and had hoped Danny might be my middleman. Instead he gives me the open palm gesture and tells me he's just a reporter. I was hoping for more but it's not to be.

As I leave, I spot a nondescript car pull out behind me. I'm heading out of town and the car is following me, when bam! Some idiot pulls out a side street right into them. Two asians jump out of the tail and start arguing with the driver of the car that hit them.

I should just of drove on, but my blood was still up from the meeting with Danny so I pull a U-turn and drive back to get their licence number. I make eye-contact with the one on my side and the fragger snaps a shot of me with his phone. I roll on a block then make another turn but by then the cops have arrived. I circle the block until the cops leave and the two asians are picked up by another equally non-descript car. I follow but haven't gone two blocks when I spot a grey van in my mirrors. Frag me, what have I got myself into. I give up on tailing the japs and spend the next hour shaking off the grey van.

I go to ground in an alley just off tourist town in Redmond. As I wait out the heat I get a call. I assume it's one of the crew but the voice on the other end just says, 'Pull another stunt like that and I'll hand you to the yaks myself!' then hangs up. Fragging uppity fed asshole! If he's going to use me as bait, he could at least of let me know.

I'm still spitting teeth, when the phone rings again. Finlay almost gets an earful, but I recognise his number in time. He's got a job. Seems like Martha needs some backup for a deal. I get to be scout. I make my way carefully back to the garage and let the guys know there might be some shit going down with the feds and yakuza.

Zero checks out the licence for me. It's a dead trail, but she says someone else has been in the DMV. Several discreet queries have been made about my license number but didn't turn up anything because someone else altered the number of the plate linked to my fake ID. Means that I better not get stopped by the cops until I can get the plates on the Harley changed as it now belongs to someone else.

I grab some grub and check my gear then head out to the meet. I am running interference. Martha is uncertain about the guys she is going to meet so is sending them on a little drive around the barrens first. I need to check them out at their first stop before Martha gives them the real meet location.

I get there early and find a quiet alley to stash the bike. Unfortunately it's not quiet enough. A couple of gangers roll me for protection money. A 50 gets me a guarantee that they won't frag with my bike. Little racketeering creeps. I would just of shot them, but there might have been more hanging in the shadows.

I climb onto the roof of the building and take up a spot to wait near the heating vents. After an hour and a few sips of Jack to keep me from freezing, the marks turn up. The van is beat up and the goon who gets out looks more street trash than gun dealer. He also seems pissed. I pass on the info to Finlay and the rest of the team who are waiting at the real location and when angry man gets back in the truck, I follow after them. I keep one eye on my mirrors just in case I have a tail, but it seems clear.

By the time I get the bike stashed at the second location the deal is practically done. Martha has a vanload of military weapons and we will get half of what she can shift it for. Hope she negotiates the sale as well as the buy. Although Finlay tells me he thinks new girl Cleo might have cast some spell to smooth the deal.

We are barely back at the garage, and I am just thawing out with some black soykaf, heavy on the sugar and with just a tiny shot of bourbon, when Finlay gets another call. It's Seaside and he wants to see us, like right away.

I gulp down the kaf and get back into my winter gear and we all drive over to Seaside's. He is there with his brother, who has the full injun look going, and doesn't look right happy to see me. I stare him down. He is fussin' over some scrawny woman, who looks sick to me, but waves me away when I mention she needs medical treatment. The brother, Richard explains that his lady friend needs some help from people like us.

The lady says that the spirits led her to a man, David Tom or was it Tom David. Anyway, this guy was on his last legs, but told her that someone called Martha was going to do something that would kill a lot of people up in Timshian territory. I don't know that territory so well, as I usually stick to Salish lands when I need to get out of town. Some of the other territories aint too friendly to whites, particularly those dressed like me. I figure that Timshian is one of those. Turns out it's worse.

Anyway, the lady finishes her spiel and hands Finlay lump of gold the size of his hand. And he's got big hands. She is offering ten times that as payment. Don't know how much that lump is worth but that seems like a lot of cash and damn little to go on. Finlay says as much but the lady cant tell us anymore. Seaside tells us he thinks he can get us in to Timshian through some of his old injun buddies while the padre takes a look at the lady to see if he can fix her up.

Afterwards he tells us she was an eagle shifter, not a real person at all but an eagle that could take on human form. Sure explains some of the weird shit she was saying.

New girl Cleo seems a little out of her depth, but at least we aint under fire. Well shit if I shouldnt keep my yap shut as just then some young girl just wanders into the hangar asking for Seaside. He seems surprised to hear his name. I spot Finlay going for his piece and then the girl shouts out something about 'Saving the planet' and then takes a run at us. Finlay snaps off a shot at her, but misses.

You know all those stories about wired guys that shoot their friends by accident. I always thought they were just street lore. Well, I aint really sure what's going down, but I draw my piece and put a round between that little girl's eyes before I am really aware of doing it. Her head snaps back and blood sprays the padre and Cleo as she cartwheels backward and hits the ground.

Finlay pushes past me and fumbles a detonator switch out of her hand. I move up next to him and open her coat. She is wired with several kilos of C4. Each packet is stuffed full with ball bearings and it's all hooked up to the switch and also to a cellphone. I hear myself shout 'Get out' and then I'm running.

I hear a grunt from Finlay as I run out of the hangar. He's picked up the girl and is heading for the old APC that Seaside has been working on since we met him. He shoves the body inside just as the phone starts ringing.

The explosion leaves me deaf for a couple of hours but the APC contains most of the blast. Even Finlay gets off unscathed, although the door he pushed her through almost takes off his head when the blast blows it off it's hinges.

After searching Seaside's place and finding no-one else around, we decide its probably best to get started on this run as soon as possible.

Seattle, 22 December 2050

Zero does some digging on the matrix, while Finlay and I pack gear. Seems these Tim's have a bit of an issue with eco-warriors. They put them down hard a few years back, although it was also linked to some tribal trouble. Sometimes these braves have more problems with each other than with the white man.

Weather's closing in so we pack for snow. Zero bitches about leaving the city as usual and seems to want to take all her gear with her. Finlay and I end up hauling it for some peace and quiet.

We return to Seaside's around nightfall and load our stuff onto his boat. He takes us out to one of the islands in the sound. One of the indian ones. There is a small airport facility there, little more than a few sheds to keep the cold off a body. Seaside's buddy Russell is waiting for us and introduces us to Osprey. The mohawked rigger flies his namesake, one of them tilt-rotor bastard crossings of a plane and a helicopter. It's set up for hauling cargo, so facilities are limited to say the least. Finlay just stows his gear and tucks his arms into the webbing along the walls. I get the feeling he's done this before.

The flight takes about four hours but feels longer and by the time we arrive I can barely feel my fingers and toes. We unload in a snow-filled clearing and another injun with an assault rifle points into the dark and shouts that our ride is over that way.

On the limit of the lights from the flares in the clearing I can just about make out a limo van. We crunch through the snow. Finlay is playing soldier and edges up alongside. I just tap on the driver's window and it hums down halfway.

Well blow me down. I was expecting some local brave, but the lady inside is a blond, blue-eyed caucasian and when she speaks, I could swear she has a German accent. She helps us load our gear in a hidden compartment in back, then while Finlay gets in front the rest of us pile in the back.

December 12, 2010

Billie's Journal - Catnip

Seattle, 17 December 2050

I am woken in the middle of the night by a frantic Finlay. He's got Zero cradled in his arms. She is moaning and twitching with blood leaking from her nose and eyes. Not a good sign.

Lucky for them I have been going easy on the booze lately or I would just have shot him and gone back to sleep. I roll out of bed, my reactions running faster than my brain. Finlay lays Zero on the bed and I check her out as best I can. I know how to set a broken bone and stop someone from bleeding to death but I'm no doctor.

I bark at Finlay, who is hovering nearby like a worried dog, to go get the fraggin medkit while I check Zero out as best I can. She is burning up, her heart is racing and her milky white eyes are twitching like crazy. It's almost like she's being hit by ice in the matrix but she's not logged in.

Finlay returns with the kit and I attach the probes. Elevated heart rate and temperature, EEG all over the place. I hate being right but I hate it more that the damn medkit is better at diagnosing her than I am. I follow it's instructions, doing my best to stabilise her without any real idea what's wrong.

I tell Finlay to check on her deck, but he comes back to say it is switched off. Then her temp spikes and she starts thrashing about. I pretty much order Finlay to carry her into the bathroom and put her in the bath. I grab up the medkit and follow him, turning on the cold tap as soon as he eases her into the tub.

The medkit's alarms start squealing as I reattach the probes. For the next few minutes things are touch and go as to whether she's going to make it, but then all of a sudden her brain activity drops back to normal then into REM sleep and her other stats begin to stabilise.

We haul her back out of the bath and put her back into bed. All the commotion has finally roused the padre. His breath stinks of booze and his eyes are red-rimmed but he summons his mojo and manages to heal Zero a little. I give her a sedative to keep her out and then go get a glass of Jack to settle my nerves.

For the rest of the night, Finlay and I take turns keeping an eye on her and as light finally dawns late in the morning, she opens her eyes and asks for a slushie. I think she'll make it.

Seattle, 19 December 2050

Zero is getting better. When I gave her the remote for the trid she just glared at it for a second then threw it at me. We gave her sugary drinks and her deck, mainly for our own sakes.

She gets a call from Martha who has been contacted by Zero's new friend Cleo. As a sort of test to see how serious Cleo was about getting out of the corp and into the shadows, Zero pulled some sort of matrix trickery to make it look like Cleo wanted to have elective surgery to get some secretary ware installed. Looks like she's taken the bait and wants a meet with a decker to find out who set her up. Of course, Martha immediately thought of Zero.

Against the medkit's and my advice, we haul Zero out of bed and help her into a suitably street outfit of knee-length black platform boots, a short denim skirt, a too-tight t-shirt of some rave band I have never heard of and a denim jacket that matches the skirt and is cut to conceal her Glock's shoulder holster. I am wearing jeans and boots, a heavy check shirt and duster. And my Cavalier is in it's quick-draw leg holster.

Figuring that Zero is not up for driving to the meet herself, we call Jamal. His fake Jamaican accent is as bad as my texan one, but he agrees to take us down to Redmond tourist town.

We arrive early and after settling Zero at a table, I take a quiet booth at the back, while Finlay sits up at the bar. The padre drew short straw and gets to cover the ouside from a damp alley across the way.

His grumbling turns to surprise as Cleo arrives with some muscle in tow, a red-leather clad street samurai. The sam' enters first. He could be the real thing but if he is, he's not top class. He completely overlooks Finlay at the bar, sitting amongst the other orks, and his gaze doesn't come anywhere near me in the back, focusing instead on the denim clad Zero. She does have that effect on men, though.

He heads back out and returns with Cleo. She hesitates a moment when she spots Zero, but recovers quickly. She moves over to speak with her and Zero just asks her directly if she is Mrs J. I can hear the padre sniggering over the comms at that.

Cleo quickly comes clean, but as Zero set up the whole thing, we already know the details. Nonetheless, she pushes her hard, initially asking for four thousand then letting Cleo negotiate it down to three and half before demanding half up front.

I can see Cleo's eyes widen at that. There is some negotiation, then Finlay steps over to the table to escort her to one of few armored ATMs still working in this part of town.

Her friend complains but she convinces him to stay and watch Zero. I settle back to wait for them to get back only to hear a deep, accented voice near me say 'Cavalier?'

I glance to my right. An older guy, with short-cropped graying hair, and an obvious cyberarm and eyes nods towards the table. I grunt a yeah and give him a quizzical look. He shrugs and points at his ears saying he could hear me working the cylinder and that if he could hear so could Harry. I ask him who Harry is and he tells me he's the bartender. Frag. I put my hand on the table and tell him that it has a mind of his own. He holds up both arms and says he knows all about that. I ask him how he got them, choice or accident. He says it was a stupid accident.

We chat guns to pass the time. He likes automatics, bigger clips. I say I can understand that and tell him I have a pair of Kimbers for when I need to be quiet. Nice guns he replies, asking where I got them. I shrug and just say that they came into my possession. He smiles at that. He tells me his name is Vlad and that he's from Lithuania. Could by Vory. I tell him he can call me Billie. He asks if it's short for something and I tell him it's just Billie.

Finlay and Cleo turn back up around then. Cleo hands over a credstick and then she and red-leather jacket head out. We give them a few then call Jamal to come pick us up.

Seattle, 20 December 2050

Next day it's back to Redmond for the follow-up meet. Zero spent the evening pulling together a nice little file pointing to Green Ronin as the decker who sent the message from Cleo's terminal.

Cleo seems disappointed, wanting to know why this guy was setting her up. Zero plays it cool and offers a number of realistic reasons. Then Cleo asks Zero to help get her out. Bingo. Finlay, the padre and I join them at the booth to discuss the 'extraction'. Cleo already has a cover story, so she just needs a place to chill and a new ID. We tell her we can help with that. Finlay seems uncertain, but I feel like I owe it to her. After all, when Shariff pulled me out of that Bunraku palace, he did the same for me.

The padre asks her what skills she can bring. We know she's a mage of some sort but not what. Her eyes flicker for a second going a bit wider as she scans us. I guess she's putting the old astral sight on us and wasn't expecting to find a mage and two adepts sitting next to her. Her nose twitches as she focuses on Zero, then she looks somewhat confused and disappointed.

Padre says nice try, but that no heathen witch can overcome the power of the Lord. Don't know what she tried but for a change the priest had his spell defence up. Hope he remembers that next time we are on a run. We spend the next ten minutes listening to him ranting about shamen being the devil's servants.

Then we try to dissuade her, saying that the shadows are not a nice place to be in, no matter what she has heard. Finlay even tries the 'have you ever killed someone' angle. She gulps but say she would if she had to. Guess we got ourselves a new team-member.