November 4, 2012

Billie's Journal - Zero

Seattle 16 Jan 2051
We've been keeping a low profile for a couple of weeks. We might not have made any money on that last run, but most of us are sitting pretty from the proceeds of our little trip to Amazonia. It won't last forever, but at least we ain't starving.

Bunking at Seaside's ain't exactly luxury accomodation. We've got a few cots and some space heaters set up between his collection of cars. Harlequin's or I should say my Mustang has pride of place amongst them. I think the old fella spends more time polishing it than working on getting his other cars fixed up. I've taken it out for a spin a couple of times, but it's not exactly inconspicuous and drinks gas like it's going out of fashion.

Zero suggested ripping out the engine and replacing it with a multifuel and I thought Seaside was either going to drop deap from a heart attack or shoot her on the spot. Talking of Zero, the girl's been acting mighty strange. She's always had the tendency to spend too much time on the matrix, but since we finished our last run, she's pretty much barricaded herself into one of the Hummer's and even spent a day blacking out the windows with a marker.

I know something bad went down with her while we were trekking across Amazonia and hoped she'd open up to me or Finlay about it. As she hasn't yet, I do the only thing I can think of and climb in the front of the Hummvee and plain out ask her.

Poor girl spills her guts. Seems that before we met, she had been hooked up with some Russki by the name of Maxim. Well, seems like this fella wasn't the most stable of sorts but they had something going. He was a big deal with some soviet corp. It's part of Yamatetsu now, but when Zero met Maxim he was number two son of the family business and head of security. He caught her trying to steal some of their data but rather than gank her, he took a shine to her and the pair of them absconded with some paydata and some prototype cyberware.

They were on the lam together for a while until a run against Aztechnology went bad and Maxim got himself ganked. And not in a nice way. Flayed alive and dropped in an acid vat according to Zero. She figured he was dead and moved to Seattle where she hitched up with the padre and Finlay. Well seems like he somehow came back from the dead. Zero reminds me of the time we had to drop her into a bath of ice to keep her from cooking alive. We thought it was black ice but seems like it was something more. She says it was more like the astral trip we took way back in Scotland and that she had a vision of Maxim alive and in a hospital.

She's been trying to find out more since then, but he found her first. He was the one that broke into our garage the night we hit the plantation down in Amazonia. He convinced her to go on a run for him when she should of been covering our asses. It didn't go as smoothly as planned and while she did manage to do what he asked, the mark was the fragger that left his handprints on her neck. That's not all he did to her.

I'm out of the car and halfway to the door before Finlay gets a grip on me. Even amped up, he's too strong for me and keeps me pinned down till I run out of juice and expletives. Turns out she already told him a week ago.

When I've cooled off we discuss options. We can't really go up against Maxim's family or his folk's corp. It's part of Yamatetsu and that means we'd be going up against them. But we need to take Maxim out of the picture plus any data they have on Zero. And the Yamatetsu fragger that put his hands on her. He dies. The trick is going to be how to make it look like it was Maxim and his folks that hit him. We're gonna need the rest of the guys for this.

Unfortunately, when we call Dances he tells us he's gonna be held up at the clinic for a few days. He had been looking to do some doctoring work and Finlay had put him in touch with one of his contacts. While she hadn't been impressed with his attitude, and frankly who is, she had been impressed by his skill with a scalpel and agreed to try him out on the graveyard shift.

Henry Leon is available and he drops round so we can fill him in. Zero thinks that one of her contacts, a hardware supplier by the name of Wallace, might have been the one that sold her out to Maxim. She says he's been acting funny lately and when she checked out his store recently, he had upped the security from 'nothing special' to 'pretty serious'. At least that's what I get from the description she gives.

Problem is that he knows what Zero looks like and none of the rest of us really have the skills to look at his security system. We also don't want Maxim to find out that we're looking for him, so Finlay is arranging a B-team to hit Wallace's place to copy the security logs. That means we need to sit on our hands for a couple of days till Martha sets up a team to hit the place. Fair enough, because I got a bit of unfinished business of my own to sort out.

Seattle 17 Jan 2051

When we tramping through the Amazonian jungle it finally hit me what the tissue sample in the padre's container of liquid nitrogen probably was. Martha, the toxic shaman, or one of her cronies. I remember him acting a bit strange at the abandoned camp we found up in Aglonkin territory and figured he must have found something there. I place a call to a number listed only as 'Crow'.

I swear I can smell cheap cigarettes when the person on the other end of the line answers. I tell her my name and then we have one of those strange conversations where we talk about the subject at hand without saying anything about it directly. She tells me she'll call back and sure enough I get a call in less than half an hour. She tells me to take the sample to Council Island and not to worry, they're expecting me. I tell her she'll need another container as I need to keep the one we have. I don't tell her that's because the other sample in there is the few drops of Ehran's blood that Dances recovered from the rapier. She just tells me to get there ASAP.

The Rapier is fast but it just don't have the class my Harley does. Unfortunately, the cowboy package aint that common and the yaks are still likely looking for it. So it's sitting next to the Mustang at Seaside's. The roads are wet and a little slippery, but as I'm sticking to the speed limit to avoid attention from KE it's nothing I can't handle.

The injuns guarding the main access to Council Island barely look at me. In fact, they look at me like I got the plague or something and hurry me through. I can guess who's behind that. The woman at the reception obviously either didn't get the memo or is working for 'smoking woman' as she nonchalantly hands me a tourist map and points me to the path towards the totem poles.

I wander along the path. It's cold and wet and no real tourists are out in this weather. As I approach this one totem pole with a big raven or more likely a crow on top, there is a young couple waiting for me. They are dressed like tourists but carry themselves like spooks. We quickly make the exchange and then I make my back to the main entrance.

On the way I come across an old injun wearing just a loin cloth. Frag, must be a medicine man, because I'm wearing thermals under my armor and I'm still cold. Worse, the last time I ran into one of these dudes in some backwoods bar up in Salish, I clocked him for calling me a bitch. Turned out he was actually calling me 'she-wolf', apparently it's the same word in Salish. Also turns out he was actually trying to give me some medicine man juju advice about my totem or latent adept abilities. Too bad, I only found that out when he posted bail to get me out of the local jail. And then only two days after the local law had locked me up for my own protection. So needless to say I give this one a wide berth. He doesn't pay any attention to me, just carries on singing and dancing around one of the totem poles. But the big ass, ghostly wolf he summons does watch me all the way back to the exit.

Seattle 18 Jan 2051

Today is quiet, the main highlight being Finlay trying to set up Henry with the daughter of one of his contacts. He knows some old lady in the archives at city hall. She has been more than happy to give him copies of old building plans on the off-chance that the big ork would take her daughter out on a date. When Henry discovered Finlay had a contact at the archives he was mighty interested and more or less volunteered to take the girl out on a date to get access to the archives for whatever little side project he is working on.

Then, late on in the day I get a call from Crow. She suggests I might be interested in the late news. I switch from a rerun of some old space cowboy show to the news. There is an item on a fire at a biotech firm. Several employees are reported dead and there is also at least one other body belonging to the 'eco-terrorists' that started or caused the fire. Did that sample let them track down Martha and the fire was the same spell used to toast the padre? Doubt that Crow will give me the satisfaction of confirming it, but for now I guess we can close that chapter of our lives.

Seattle 19 Jan 2051

Or maybe not. Today we get a call from Dances. He's been out of the loop for a few days. Apparently some dude came into the clinic where he was working with some sort of nasty virus. He was in bad shape when his buddies dropped him off and didn't last long. Dances didn't want to take any chance of it spreading so locked down the clinic.

When he mentions the symptoms, my stomach drops. Finlay asks him if he can send us a picture of the body. Frag me if it don't look like the Red Mask. I tell the team about the news item and we put two and two together and get five. The only good news is that we know the virus burns itself out in 48 hours, so Dances and the other people at the clinic are in the clear. However Dances says that the dead dude was brought in by a couple of guys, who may well have been infected. Great, so even if that fire killed Martha, we still could have a Red Mask plague on our hands. Now, where the frag did I leave that respirator?

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