February 21, 2011

Billie's Journal - Bye bye Billie

Kimano, Tsimshian, 23 December 2050

Today is my first day trying not to be Billie. But after five odd years of practising a deep Texan drawl, she's proving hard to shake. And I'm sure that I will still have to rely on her when things get nasty. Feels strange talking about her like that. After all she is who I am, who I was, for most of what I can remember of my life.

After our little jaunt into Haida town last night we are all up a little late. Cleo seems the worst for wear, her hair lank and bags around her eyes. We find a cheap diner, that only serves us because the padre, I mean Father O'Reilly is with us. Then we retire back to the hotel to do some legwork. Well mainly for Zero to do some matrix snooping. Finlay is feeling cooped up so takes of for a walk, Cleo locks herself in her room and Gabriel proceeds to down a half bottle of the local hooch. Zero has routed the room's terminal up to the matrix via an IP randomizer so I do a little snooping myself.

Let's just say that my computer skills ain't on par with my pistol skills. I turn up a few dead ends which I text through to Zero. Then my phone crashes. Piece of jap shit that it is. Typical as we're pretending to be employees of some jap corp.

I decide to get some air and take a walk. Maybe I can pick up a new outfit that's a bit less cowgirl. Well I get as far as the first store. The cashier is an uppity indian slapper that won't even serve me till I flash the fake ID and even then she ain't too friendly. I slink back to the hotel in a foul mood.

One thing I noticed when I was out. There ain't no metas here at all. I guess it's been bugging me the last couple of days but only hit home just now. I try to get some figures, but that sorta information ain't public record. I'll get Zero to look it up when she finishes up whatever she's up to in the matrix.

Around dark, Finlay gets back. His mood ain't much better than mine, but at least Zero finally has some good news, even though she bitches about having to owe a couple of favours to some of her decker chummers.

Apparently some dude name of Daniel Shimihand used to run the HNF before the purges. It was assumed this dude was killed but seems like he may still be running around and that he's behind the HNAL. Also seems that the HNAL might have links to TerraFirst, the ecoterrorists out of California. Well there's a link. However, more creepy are some conspiracy theories that the HNF is just a government front to sweep up any unsavoury elements. Now that is just fraggin' nasty.

Now that Zero's done her bit, it's time for the rest of us to pay a visit to the Randy Sasquatch. We rouse Cleo out of bed, although the girl is looking even worse than earlier and has an attitude to match. She finally casts her masking spell on us so we look like injuns and we head back into Haida town.

It's pretty clear we picked up a tail as soon as we crossed into this part of town. And the closer we get to the Randy Sasquatch the worst the place gets. I ain't seen places this bad since I was last in Redmond. The bar is a dump, but the neon sign outside still works. Guess noone wants to mess with the local HNF HQ.

We push through the door into a wall of noise, sweat and stale beer. The locals give us an unfriendly look and we retreat to a table in a dark corner. We nurse a couple of watered soybeers before Finlay spots our mark. A mohawked indian standing at the bar. Shit, didn't see him come in, so either there's a back way or he was already here. We keep an eye on the fella. He seems well known, talking with the barman and a few of the other patrons. Then some brave comes around with a pitcher, half filled with notes. Not wanting to cause trouble we toss in a few bills each. He makes some light conversation, but as we are a Scot, an Irishman and a woman, we keep it down. Finlay spins a yarn about looking for work and the guy seems to buy it.

But when he moves on, we realise that mohawk is gone. He sure didn't come past us, so he must of slipped out the back. We finish up our drinks and leave. Circling around towards the back of the bar, we spot another couple of youths watching us. Finlay slips back as we turn down an alley and grabs one of the little fraggers as he comes around after us. He's a feisty little shit, trying to bite the ork but he ain't got no chance against Finlay's grip.

Still he won't give anything up, so Finlay finally lets him go with a kick up the backside. We make it to the back of the bar without any further trouble, but the delay means our mohawked friend is long gone. Gabriel summons a couple of little cherubs to go look for him while we mosy on back to the hotel.

We shake our tail as we get into the nicer part of town, although that's not saying much. We arrive back at the hotel just as Gabriel's little watchers turn back up to announce they found Nightingale. We make plans. Under an invisibility spell from Gabriel, I lift the commlink from the lazy-ass, porn-watching kid at the desk. Zero does some stuff with it to make it into a spycam and then, still invisible, I head back to where the watcher's say they found Nightingale.

An old lock stops me at the front and my lockpick snaps when I try to open it. I make my way around back. There's a fire escape but it's been welded up, I guess to prevent people like me coming in the back. I take a run up and manage to catch the bottom of it but some fragger's wrapped barbed wire around it and you can bet it's my real hand that finds that. I grit my teeth and get a hold with the cyber arm and pull myself up. I find the mark's appartment and set up the kid's phone so that the camera has a good view of the room without being too obvious itself.

Sharon patches up my hand when I get back. It's late and I'm tired. I go to bed hoping that tomorrow is a better day.

Kimano, Tsimshian, 24 December 2050
It's Christmas eve but even the snow here is grey and miserable. However, we finally get some luck on the stakeout. The little phone is streaming images at one frame every tens seconds or so and eventually captures our mark on the phone. Finlay thinks he's saying Nightingale at one point but all I see is an open mouth. Zero takes a peek into the local phone records and find out where the call went. Game on.

We suit up and head out to what looks like it used to be the commercial district. Except most of the building are run down and boarded up. Our target is a warehouse that seems like it's been long abandoned, except that the lock on the front looks pretty new. A fire door around back is less well protected and with a bit of effort I manage to pop it open. Inside looks like some church or conference room with rows of seats and a pulpit of sorts at the front. There are two rooms at the back. Finlay and Gabriel take one, Zero and I take the other. It's an office and dusty too, like it ain't been used in a while.

I hear a faint humming and spot some cables going into the back of a cabinet. Without thinking I open the door. Some old terminal with a screen and keyboard. Behind me, Zero hisses to close the door. I do as she says just as my brain makes the link that these dudes are working with TerraFirst and that TerraFirst like to blow things up. I maybe manage a step back before the cabinet explodes and that probably saves my life. The blast lifts me off my feet and punches me through the drywall into the hall beyond. Deafened and hurting, I'm trying to get back to my feet but the padre is there easing me back down. The pain hits and I'm twitching on the ground as he pumps mana into me to patch me up. And then the pain is gone. I stagger to my feet as he goes to work on Zero. She looks hurt, but not too badly. Finlay and I take watch for the long seconds it takes for his magic to work then we are out of there.

We make it halfway to the next building when Finlay twitches suddenly. Then I hear the crack of a high velocity round. Frag, sniper. Even injured, Finlay is moving even before my boosted reflexes kick in. He sprints across the open ground and dives behind the next building. My reflexes take over and I follow after him almost without thinking. Frag, I don't even know where the gunman is. I spin as I get into cover, looking behind for the others. Gabriel is nowhere to be seen and Zero is running towards us, bullets picking at her heels. She makes it into cover just as another rifle shot takes out the corner of the building next to her head.

Before we can go looking for the shooters, we hear sirens and hotfoot it out of there. Back at the hotel, Zero digs out the damaged disks we recovered from the terminal and goes to work on them. I grab some sleep. Being blown up tends to take it out of a person.

I wake to hear a voice I don't recognise talking about 'red mask' and biosuits. Zero plays it back again. Well looks like we got us a destination now. She also tells us that her matrix buddies found our Martha and that she's a dog shaman working for TerraFirst's 'northern cell'. Hell and here I thought dog shaman's were supposed to look out for people. Shows how much I know about magic.

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