Tsimshian, 21 December 2050
Our driver's name is Sharon and she is indeed from Germany. What she's doing in the arse end of injun territory, she declines to say. As she pulls onto the main road, and from the maps she gives us what looks like the only road around here, she does tell us that she has been here for about six months acting as a guide for 'special tourists' like us.
She fills us in what she knows of the locals. Tsimshian and Klingit braves basically run the place. Haida and Kwakiutl are the oppressed minority. Anglos come after that and then metahumans. Frag, our pilot wasn't kidding when he warned me that my outfit wouldn't go down well with these injuns.
I catch her checking us out in the rear-view mirror. Her gaze seems to linger over long on Cleo, before she asks if she's okay. The cat lady does seems to be a bit green around the gills so we pull over and she moves up front between Finlay and Sharon to see if that makes her feel any better.
The padre is bitching that the limo dont have a mini bar and wants us to pull into a gas station. Sharon informs us that the next station is about a hundred klicks up the road or a couple of hours given the snow and crappy roads. The padre cusses, but settles down for a snooze till we get there. Zero is also quiet. And truth be told, has been that way since she took that bad turn that damned near killed her.
After a couple of hours we finally reach the gas station. It's little more than a couple of pumps and a shack. Sharon tells us it's best if me, Zero and Finlay stay in the car. The pump attendant, when he does finally come out to tank the car, is an obnoxious redskin who only seems willing to help us because the car has Mitsuhama plates. I'm starting to take a strong dislike to this place.
The padre at least seems happy. Although the booze smells like hooch and he coughs down the first taste. Second one don't go down any easier, but he's persistant. I give it a try but it's about the worst I've tasted and the Souix Orks make some pretty rough stuff down in Salish territory.
After about another hour, Sharon points at a bridge ahead and tells us we're nearly there. Then the bridge blows up. Finlay shouts rocket launcher as light rounds start spanging off the side of the car. I have to give the lady her due, she pulls us to stop right before the big fragging hole in the bridge and has us in reverse before I can get my Kimber drawn. I can make out muzzle flashes up on the hill, about 200 meters away, well 205.6 m exactly according to my eyes but who's counting. All that matters is that I ain't gonna hit shit at that range with the Kimber, and the Winchester is in the trunk.
Up front, Cleo starts screaming. Did she get hit? Finlay grabs a hold of her and starts shouting all sergeant major style at her to shut the frag up and calm down. It seems to be work and by the time we are back up the road and concealed in the tree line, she has calmed down enough that he lets her go. It's only then I realise that she has a fragging monofilament whip in her hand. That would of been bad news if she had triggered that inside the car.
The padre turns the car invisible and somewhat abashed, Cleo creates a phantom car to distract the locals. It seems to work as nobody shoots at us. Then as dawn turns night into a miserable grey, we drive back down to the bridge. While Sharon and Finlay examine the damage, I trudge up the hill through knee deep snow to where the ambushers were. They sure weren't professionals as they left the empty rocket launcher and shell casings behind. They were also all clumped up together where a single grenade would of taken them all out.
With help from Finlay, Sharon negotiates the narrow strip of road next to the hole and we continue on our way. Over the rise we finally get a view of the town of Kimano, our destination. Looks like someone took the barrens and let it go to seed. I don't think I've seen a shittier looking town in my life. This place makes Redmond look like Renton, and that's just the better parts.
Rolling into the centre we get pulled over by a police blockade that's got more guns than the UCAS army. I count three assault rifles, a couple of auto shotguns and a fragging ugly fucker of an injun manning an MMG on the armored car that passes for a copwagon in these parts. The cop is only slightly unpleasant to the padre who is acting as Mr Johnson, letting us through after only a few sexist and racial slurs.
We finally make it to the Kimano Palace hotel. It might once have lived up to the two stars still just about attached to the hoarding out front, but not this fragging century. We haul our gear inside while the padre negotiates with the young brave manning the desk. It takes a flash of his fake Mitsuhama ID to get the kid's attention and some further haggling to get us some rooms. I'm beginning to hate this town.
I hate it even more when I see my room. I've been in cleaner hunting lodges out in the Salish wilds. I'll be sleeping in my bag that's for certain. Zero swings by to check the place for bugs, of the electronic kind, but neither of us is too keen on doing a thorough search. We stash our gear and go looking for food.
The kid at the desk is less than helpful, seeming more intent on leering at Cleo and Zero. He does mention some place called the Randy Sasquatch, but it smells like a setup and mental images of an injun version of Duncan the octopus leave me less than hungry.
The diner is another shithole and while the padre, Cleo and Sharon get a relatively decent table, myself, Finlay and Zero are stuck in back near the toilets. And we only get served about 20 minutes after the others. And they screw up our order. I give the waitress a look but hold my tongue. I then hear her blabbing to the padre that he should sack his uppity staff as she overcharges him for the tasteless processed krill that passes for food round here.
After that we decide to take a drive out to find the family of David Tom, the dead Haida National Front guy the eagle lady told us about. We get more shit from the cops on the roadblock then they flag us down as take the turn off into the Haida section of town. The cop warns us off and points us up the hill towards the Mitsuhama aluminium plant. We turn back but take the first off ramp once out of their sight.
Turns out to be a bad move. Downtown might be shitty, but this place is a lot worse. The roads are in bad shape and most of the housing looks like its ready to fall down or is currently in the process of doing so. We haven't gone a hundred meters from the road when some little shit of an injun takes out the driver's mirror with a catapult. More rocks start pinging of the car, taking out the other mirror, then I spot a bottle arcing in from above. I shout floor it to Sharon and her reflexes are good. The first molotov falls short, but a second lands on the roof. More rocks and a couple of bullets ding the paintwork as Sharon tries to get us out of there. I shout directions from the map and the padre calls up an elemental to douse the burning roof. We make it out shaken but intact, pulling out onto the road near the Mitsuhama facility where the padre gets the third degree from some corp goon about damaging corp property.
We drive back to town giving the cops a laugh at the state of the car. I catch a short nap, the trid is all corp propaganda, then when it gets dark we all slip out the back. The padre turns himself, Finlay and Sharon invisible. Cleo makes herself, me and Zero look like local braves and we scoot back into the Haida hellhole.
This time no-one bothers us and we make it to the Tom's house. I rap on the door and a young girl opens it slightly. When I ask if she if Miss Tom, her eyes go wide and she calls out 'Mama, run'. She tries to slam the door on me but I'm too quick and strong and hold it ajar. I try to assure her that we ain't here to cause any trouble but she keeps pressing on the door so I let it shut. I keep talking through the door and after a bit she cracks it open again wanting to know if I am from the government. I tell Cleo to drop the mask on me and the girl's eyes go even wider but at least this time she lets us in.
I explain, and not necessarily in the most diplomatic or sensitive way that David is dead and that it was the HNF that killed him. The girl denies he had anything to do with them but won't look me in the eye, so I call bullshit. She sighs and admits that okay maybe he was but that they never did any of the violent stuff the government claims they did. Yeah right I reply and she tells us that there is a splinter group called the Haida National Army of Liberation or some shit that is more radical and is into the violent stuff. Apparently they also got some links to and support from the confederates down in Calfree. Their local recruiter is some brave called Nightingale who frequents the Randy Sasquatch. I feel a shiver run up my spine at the mention of that watering hole. The girl confirms it aint the sort of place a lady ought to set foot in. Shit, I sure wasn't planning to if I could avoid it.
I offer my condolences for their loss and after Cleo makes us look like injuns again we head back to the hotel.