Zero takes the news about as well as expected. She curses in French, throws a few things around and retreats to the back seat of one of Seaside's Hunvees with her deck. Like we all didn't see that coming!
While she is off breaking things in the matrix, an uneasy calm settles over Seaside's. I am chilling out watching some trids and cleaning my Cavalier Deputy, when I get a call from Martha. I tell her I'm in the middle of something and will call her back, then head downtown away from our watchers.
She is pretty pissed that we might have compromised her number and identity. I can't do much more than apologize but we agree that whatever she was planning to line us up with can wait while we sort out our Russian problem. I tell her we'll be in touch when we've cleaned up our mess but she is clearly worried.
Returning to Seaside's I find a team meet going on in the APC. Seems Zero channeled her anger into hacking the Russian node our mob friends have been sending their data to. Not the one downtown, currently being scoped out by Dances, who was happy not to have to hide in the crane for a couple of days, but the one in Russia.
The node turned out to be pretty ultraviolet, or military grade, as she explains to me. And it had a lot of data on us and our contacts. She wasn't able to get any of it downloaded as she was worried about getting spotted but she says it had a very detailed file on her, then me, Finlay and Dances. They didn't have too much on Henry, just a brief profile but what is most worrying is that they did have information on a lot of our contacts. She did find out that only two or three people had access to the node, and two of them were Maxim's brother and sister. I'm willing to bet that the third one is the dude pretending to be Maxim.
From what Zero knows of Maxim's siblings, they are at least as cuckoo as the man himself was and that they have a serious vengeance thing going for Zero. She also found that fake Maxim will be contacting us soon to set us up with a run that will leave us dead or worse. And by worse, she tells me that at least one scenario ends up with me back in the hands of the yaks. Did I mention I picked the wrong fragging year to give up drinking?
Seattle, 29 Jan 2051
I don't sleep well, worrying about getting handed back to the yaks. So I do the only thing a girl can in these circumstances. I go shopping. Crime Mall may not have this year's latest fashions but it does have what I need. Guns. I find my way to a dwarf by the name of Trigger. He's got long sideburns that are clearly dyed grey to make him look older. I suspect he ain't much older than me but keep quiet on that.
He is initially suspicious of the black clad goth chick asking for guns, but I show him my main carry, one of the Kimbers, and after examining it closely he relaxes a bit when he realizes I ain't just some emo teen planning on geeking her classmates. His selection is pretty street level, mainly AKs and Predators so I ask if he's got anything a bit heavier. He nixes my requests for security armor or LMGs on smart firing platforms, but does show me an impressive selection of mil-spec ARs and SMGs on his tablet.
I pick out something that has some cred without going full battle rifle. It's an Ares XR1 assault carbine, hot off the back of a military convoy. It's capable of single shot, burst fire or full auto, has an integrated smartlink, imaging scope and an underbarrel grenade launcher. It takes 30 rd clips of 5.56 and can fire two short bursts without any recoil. It looks cool too.
I take it along with 1000 rounds of regular ammo, 150 each of EX-EX and APDS, a couple of boxes of HE minigrenades and a bag of spare magazines. I throw in a pair of Predator IIs as backups to the Kimbers as well as a few hundred rounds of nine-mil just in case, and leave with my credsticks a cool ten grand lighter.
Trigger doesn't have any explosives but he gives me the name of a kid who makes his own. I find him at a stall on the next level of the mall. He looks even younger than me and is less worried about selling explosives to me than the dwarf was. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much in stock. All I can get is a half dozen blocks of C4, just one of C12 and a handful of Chinese timers that look older than the two of us put together. Frag it, they'll do. I was planning on picking up a few kilos of nails and some 'cleaning' products at the hardware store to bulk them out anyways.
I spend a few hours rigging up my bike and the Mustang as well as planting a few surprises around Seaside's just in case anyone tries to make a move on the garage. I sleep better tonight.
Seattle, 30 Jan 2051
Just when I think things can't get worse, Zero announces that she needs me to go shopping with her. And not gun shopping either. Fake Maxim has called and has set the meet with her in the fragging Seattle Needle restaurant. You know, the one that normally has a six month waiting list. Anyway Zero says she needs a new outfit and wants me to come along with her. Frag, I'd rather face a roomful of yaks in my underwear.
We hit like a hundred stores. At least that's what it feels like. The sales staff are snooty as hell, tutting at my lack of boobs, hips and manicured nails. However, they usually shut the frag up when they get me down to my skivvies and see the scars and the arm.
Finally, we both have new outfits. Not sure how I ended up with one too. It's a figure hugging little black dress cut asymetrically at the neck. It covers my right arm and neck, leaving my left shoulder and arm - the meat one - bare. Black mesh gloves, low shoes and a tiny purse complete the outfit. I feel overexposed but the salesgirl assures me it has enough armor to stop a light pistol round. I sure don't plan on testing that out. In fact, I doubt I'm ever going to wear this five grand of next to nothing outfit anywhere other than my bedroom.
Seattle, 01 Feb 2051
Tonight's the night. However, while Dances and Finlay play chaperone for Zero, Henry has asked me to back him up on a little visit to his parent's graves. It seems like a strange request but when we arrive at the location, I realize why he asked. His folks were interred at some downtown grave parlor that's been shut down for suspicious activity - never a good sign.
While looking for a way in, a fire exit clicks open. Sure its suspicious, but at the same time you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, whatever that means. We sneak inside only to be confronted by some sort of ghost spirit. I resist shooting it and it leads us through the building to a cellar. To cut a long story short, it seems that the suspicious activity has something to do with the owners feeding the bodies of the recently deceased to some fragging ghouls in the sewers under the graveyard. I put a couple of rounds in one and they leg it but not before one calls out a warning about being betrayed.
Henry is clearly upset that his folks remains have been fed to a bunch of flesh eating fraggers. But he explains its more than that. For him to become a better mage he needs to honour them and that ain't gonna be easy if they've been eaten by the ghouls. Looks like we are gonna have to come back and deal with them before Henry can unblock his juju problem. And that's gonna take more than just the two of us.
The only good news is that while our trip may have been a bust, Zero's meeting with fake Maxim went down without any major hitches and that she is down Club Penumbra celebrating with Finlay and Dances.