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  • Forbidding Aegis IC

     adamu updated 1 year ago 8 Members · 1,015 Post
  • aria

    Member
    March 7, 2019 at 8:15 am

    [Friday June 3rd, 2078; Citadel Game Host, Seattle]

    ”There!” Silk exclaimed as she surfaced from her trance. Sweeping a three dimensional image of Seattle out of the digital foliage beside her she skimmed through it until she found the location she had Seen. Now that she had detected the minute telltales of their foe’s manipulations she could trace the Pattern for signs of their interference in the absences rather than the positives. They had found a way to cloak their works from the vision of other seers but the subtle signs could still be found with enough dedication. Of course if they knew they had been found they may well create false leads to throw the Choir off but it still warranted investigation, particularly as it was so close to home… this might even be the time when Silk could get a real glimpse of just who they were. Although she had her suspicions there was nothing she could act on, yet…

    ***

    Silk had to carefully consider what team she would put together for this investigation. Normally Al would have been her first port of call but she was unsure if he was even in Seattle at the moment as he was almost impossible to track when he wanted to disappear. She knew that Isaint was definitely out of Seattle, back in Europe somewhere she believed, and Silk didn’t want to drag Robyn back this soon after the altercation with Misery. They both needed the time to reforge their relationship without the distraction that Silk represented.

    Bale and his crew were also back in Europe somewhere nursing their wounds and the Revenants were busy doing something else for her. Perhaps the team that Al had run with in Texas might be available if Silk could find him and then he could pull them back together. There were also some other individuals who might prove useful given the nature of the target and Silk would have to put some gentle feelers out.

    ***

    #01

    • This discussion was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  aria.
  • adamu

    Member
    March 15, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    Al was, in fact, in Seattle. His comm had been off for the past four weeks. If people that knew him really wanted to find him. then his reclaimed auto shop in Orting in the Mechanicals compound in the forsaken middle of Hell’s Kitchen’s trackless wastes redefining both barren and bleak deep in the desolation of the Puyallup Barrens was known to the few he called friends.

    He’d come back here because his snakes were here. And now his dog. Once he and Preston had gotten back to the Emerald City, Al had fired up the Snakehandler, flown to England, scooped up his friend, and then flown back. Lot of hours and a lot of fuel. Some people would say a dog wasn’t worth it. No one that knew Al would say it in front of him. It had been upwards of a year since Al had been back to his little hidey-hole on the Thames, near Oxford. Spike had been fine. The area was wild, and game had been plentiful. And he’d sired two litters by two bitches. So Al had asked Spike if he’d wanted to stay. Spike hadn’t understood the question.

    So back in Seattle. Besides his snakes and his dog, Al liked these hippies he lived with. And he had everything he needed here to work on his Gaz, and he’d started a new project – a banged up Aztechnology Governor with an unconquerable chassis. Lots and lots to do, so interruptions wouldn’t.

    The fact that the Italians in Seattle, and the Chinese, at least most of them, and maybe the Russians here too, were after him was an inconvenience. Or it would be if he cared to spend a lot of time among the bright lights to the north. But they either didn’t know he was here, or preferred not to know because of what they knew it would take to root him out of this place. Another reason to leave his ‘link off, live dark.

    And now it was dark. The black came late this time of year, and this far north, but when it came it came fast. No lights in Hell’s Kitchen, aside from the occasional brushfire that slipped loose from the ferals’ cooking, or something seeping up from one of the millions of live fissures that still scarred the earth in these parts. And the Mechs, they kept a strict blackout policy. Not that they were ever blind, not with the sensor net that stretched a full kilometer from the walls Al had helped them build.

    Al’s blackout curtains were up, but no lights were on in his office-cum-den. He was practicing his card tricks in the dark, sure he knew exactly which cards were which from feel and memory. He could smell Spike, and feel one of his rattlers sliding across a bare foot. The others were curled up somewhere – he took them out of their big terrariums in the summer, when it was warm enough for them.

    He had this theory that maybe if he kept his room completely dark sleep would come. Until then, he just kept shuffling, cutting, dealing, shuffling….

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 16, 2019 at 2:48 am

    Ulrich stared out of the small window of his hiding place. Seattle was as grey and smog filled as ever. Despite outwardly looking calm, he felt a burning rage consuming him – no matter how much he tried to focus himself and control his emotions. They had dared to kill them, his colleagues, his friends… in a sense, his family. Those of his team that had learned about the betrayal in time had been able to take measures. Measures to ensure their survival and that of their collegues that they could reach in time.
    Ulrich hadn’t believed Captain Dern. How could he? A team of runners had saved their lives after they had gotten ambushed. Dern had gone underground, but not before giving Ulrich a warning. Just in time. The attack had been sudden and would have otherwise succeeded. Getting taken and implanted with an alien mind imprint… the end of self…
    He had been reckless, Ulrich had to admit. Calling the aspect of the Destroyer into himself at that magnification level could have left him as a small, smoldering heap. But his will had proved to be sufficient – if barely and at some cost to his health. And yet, it had been worth the risk. The taker team was dead and he had gotten away with as much gear as he could take.
    Over three years he had been on the run now. He couldn’t believe it. An eternity and yet just a blib in time all things considered. There were some connections he had made during that time. Runners, fittingly enough. The only kind of people that he could relate to in some fashion and who were willing to relate to him in turn. There was also the matter of money. He could live comfortable for a while longer. Quite some while actually. But that was not what he wanted. He wanted to hurt the bug minds, erase their patterns from the universal consciousness and resume his duty. That burning desire threatened to consume him during this idle time of waiting. He had reached an acceptable level of consciousness, allowing him to deal with the backlash of extending his mind to the limit as well as gaining a higher degree of control over his personality aspects when he dared to call them in higher magnification. And finally he had learned to purge the negative emotions affecting him for a time, enabling him to use his talents unimpeded. He was as ready as he was going to get without commiting himself to a new cause, to expand his capabilities and wrench back control.
    He took up his new commlink. <<I have received your message. I am prepared to listen to your proposal. Ex-Gladius out.>>

  • mercy

    Member
    March 16, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Alyce
    Friday June 3rd, 2078, a moor, Cornwall, England

    Alone, Alyce stares up at the night sky with unseeing eyes. Alone again. Fox had been the first to leave, the life at the manor was a bit too calming for her and she clearly missed the garage and the cars. Her stay in Cornwall had been less than two weeks. Calista, dear Cali, had stuck it out almost a month more before she, too, had gone back to Seattle. The parting had been horrible for two hearts beating a bit as one, but it was necessary. Cali, too, missed the life of excitement, she missed the deep friendship with Fox, and she missed the other women she had fallen in with in Seattle. Alyce could not deny those things to her lover, not could she provide them to keep her. There would always be a shared heart and memories of their times together. The two had promised to keep in touch and Alyce knew enough people in Seattle that keeping track of her lover would not be hard.

    Having the girls home last summer had helped a great deal, but they are all cruising the Med this summer as a special treat from Alyce. They are not due home until just before time to head back to Cambridge for their last year as undergraduates. All three were doing very well and still looking forward to getting their advanced degree in medicine and law. Alyce is proud of all three, even though she is a bit saddened that events seem to have conspired to drive a wedge between her and Grace, leaving her without someone to share her bed with for the first time in many years.

    A very warm nose nuzzles against her cheek and Alfie whimpers a bit, as if to let her know that she is not quite alone, after all. Alyce reaches up and idly strokes the fur of the massive Hell Hound ans sighs. “You are so good for me. Thank you for helping me out of my blues. Of course, I have other people who care very much for me. Are you letting me know that a week out here is long enough and I need to get back? You are right, I suppose. It is time to go bother Stephanie a bit and see what I can do to help out about the shack.”

    Rolling over, Alyce gets to her feet, using the large hound for support. She sends a quick message back to Stephanie to let her know that she is walking back out of the moor and should be home in a couple of days. Packing up her small camp goes quickly and she tosses the pack over her shoulders and begins the trek home. Along the way, she does her check on Al. She has not heard from him in several months, now, but that does not mean she has not kept him in her heart, nor does it mean that she does not know where he is. She had been so hopeful when the Snakehandler had left Seattle and seemed to be headed to England, but the man had simply gone to his house on the river, picked up his dog, and flown back to Seattle. All without saying a word to let her know he was in England. Her heart breaking, she had been sorely tempted to contact him then, but her mind overrode that by pointing out that he must want to remain alone. Of course, her contacts in the London Mechanica and the Seattle Mechanicals let her know that Al was living at the Puyallup location, but Alyce had let them know that they need not contact him for her. Cali had needed time away from her and Al must need time away from her, so what does that say about her? Alyce starts a mental slide into depression yet again, until Alfie nudges against her, letting her know what she is doing. “Damned hound, you could just let me go there, you know.”

    Alyce kneels beside the Hell Hound and puts her arms about him, letting his ebon fur soak up her tears.

    As she stands again, she receives two calls nearly simultaneously. The first is one she has been expecting for a few weeks. Doctor Pellieur, the Chief of Cybernetic Operations at London General had called to let her know that some time has been blocked out for her on June 8. She needs to respond quickly as the next window might not open for another couple of months. She has a smile on her face for the first time in days as she sends a note back, accepting the appointment. The second message is from Silk, asking her how she is doing. Alyce knows that Silk does nto do this sort of thing just because, so there must be something up. She sends a quick response back. >>Silk. Lovely to hear from you. I am doing fine. I am currently walking the moor beyond my home here in Cornwall, but will be headed to the Great Smoke within the week for some surgery. No, nothing is wrong, but I am getting a serious upgrade for my deck. It has been a very long time since I have had that done and it is time. I think it will improve my effectiveness quite a lot, actually. The down side is that I go under the knives on the eighth and will need some time to heal and work out the kinks, which means that I will be out of circulation for a bit. Sorry if this impacts on something you have planned, but I will be better able to help you once this is done. Is there anything I can do from here before the surgery or while I am recovering?<<

    1

  • mercy

    Member
    March 16, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Tanya/Song Ai
    Friday June 3rd, 2078, Owner’s Suite, Bright Path Casino and Hotel, Chinatown, Seattle

    The gentle buzz from the internal ‘link brings Song Ai out of her nap. Waking, she feels Fu Shings’s arm almost imperceptibly tighten about her and she smiles, leaning closer into him as she takes the message. Smiling again, she decides that an answer can wait and kisses Fu Shing. “Mmmmm. Honored husband, you can wake me with kisses like that any time you want. I know that we have not talked much since the ground breaking and I think we really need to, so how does it feel to be pretty much past most of the planning stage?”

    Fu Shing laughs and rolls closer to Song Ai. “You know it feels like a huge weight has fallen away from us, honored wife. And, by the way, I intend to wake you like this as often as I can. So tell me the truth, how do you feel now that we are out of all of that?

    Song Ai purses her lips and considers the question. “The hospital project has been so much a part of my life for years and I am a bit sad to be left out now. I can only hope and pray to the dragons that Wuxing will do the right thing and continue development of Chinatown as promised. Of course, they do not own everything outright. We have a small stake and there are a number of investors in Seattle that have some of the shares and some of the vote, and you have a permanent voting seat on the Board of Directors, so we will not be without a voice. Perhaps an almost toothless voice, but a voice nevertheless. So I guess I am happy for what we have done here and am ready to move on to other things.”

    She pauses before giving Fu Shing a sideways glance. “Perhaps we can work on making your mother happy. After all, I would hate to keep the Red Dragon matriarch from being happy. Of course, your happiness is important as well.”

    Fu Shing takes only a moment to let her words sink in. “You mean………………? If you mean what I think you mean, then by all means let’s do our best to make my mother happy. Just how happy are you thinking?

    Song Ai chuckles. “Well. I was thinking one to start with, but I am not getting younger and would like to have a couple, if you agree. I am thinking that one will make her happy, but maybe three would make us happy?”

    Fu Shing explodes in laughter as he nods, then gets a serious look on his face. “I can certainly be happy with three. But what does that mean for your alternate life? I suppose that you have thought of that?”

    Song Ai nods as she idly strokes Fu Shing’s chest. “Of course I have thought of that. I am hoping that I can still do some charity work and make appearances as Tanya, and there may be the odd job I take on the outside.” As Fu Shing stiffens, she quickly adds, “But my primary job as your wife and the mother to our children will come first. Always. Shing, this is new ground for me, as well as for you. I want us to be happy, and will curtail everything as much as I need to. I am missing Monique very much. She has always been a strong supporter and a good sounding board for me. I want to front some money to get some implants for her so that she can live here as my maid. Would that be OK with you, honored husband?”

    Fu Shing wastes no time in letting Song Ai know that he would support that. He knows that the two women are very close and moving the French girl here would only help in Song Ai’s adjustment. For her part, Song Ai smiles and begins the process of letting her husband know just how much she appreciates his decision.

    Two hours later, as she relaxes in post coital bliss, Song Ai returns to the message she had received earlier. After reading it through twice, she sends a response. >>Silk, Tanya Marisart. I have received your message, but it is a bit vague. Is Lace in more trouble or is this something else? I may have some free time, but that will depend on what you need. Please let me know more so that I can make a good decision.<<

    2

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  mercy.
  • aria

    Member
    March 20, 2019 at 8:50 am

    [Friday June 3rd, 2078; Mechanicals Compound, Orting, Seattle]

    Spike growled a low warning from his position on Al’s couch just before a knock came on his door. A girl’s voice called out “Mr Guthrie? Can I come in?” before unceremoniously stepping in to his den…dammit, they knew he let his snakes out… as his eyes adjusted to the lightening of the gloom he thought at first that it was Jazz come a knocking, but although this girl also stood at about eye level to him (or would be if he was standing), Jazz certainly didn’t sport the silvery grey cyber arms showing under the cut off Wuxing tee shirt. Her bare feet also looked like they were formed in the same myomer muscle bundles and polyresin protective plates…maybe she really didn’t need to be concerned about the rattlers. Her eyes, where they caught the light, were a gunmetal grey with striking silver filigree across the irises…but otherwise she looked simply damn young…of course that could be applied to most people Al met these days…

    ***

    #02

  • adamu

    Member
    March 21, 2019 at 10:02 am

    “Sure, come on in,” Al said to the girl that already had. “Jist mind the snakes,” he continued, by which he meant – as was clear from his tone – for her to avoid harming them, not for her to avoid being harmed by them. “An’ that don’t jist mean not ta step on ’em. Keep away from corners or tight spots – last thing I need is fer one of ’em ta feel cornered an’ break a fang on ya.”

    With the light she let in through the open door, he could see just fine. He checked his cards – yup, they were the ones he’d thought they were. After taking a moment to congratulate himself, he said to the girl, “They’s beer inna fridge – toss me one an’ help yerself. Less’t it’s motor oil ya prefer, in which case check the garage. Then take a load off an’ git straight ta what ol’ Al can do ya for. Mind ya, if it’s the usual reason ladies come a’callin’ after dark, I can tell ya right now yer too young by half.”

  • aria

    Member
    March 21, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    [Friday June 3rd, 2078; Citadel Game Host, Seattle]

    >Robyn, I’m glad you’re doing ok. Don’t worry I knew you were out of town with Calista but as Foxglove has turned up back here in Seattle I thought I’d check whether you were heading back here soon too. I have another Project but there are other hackers here in Seattle who can help out, a couple of Prospero’s lads have been pestering me to give them a chance so I may put them through their paces. Take care of yourself and have fun with your new deck. I don’t think there’s anything you can do from a distance, even at matrix speeds, but I will find someone competent to watch Al’s back, well assuming he wants in on this one…
    >Silk

    >Lady T, no Lace is as well as can be expected, thank you for asking. I have need of someone with your connections and skillset and I know you’ve worked with Al Guthrie before. I am hoping you and he can put together a sizable team to investigate and possibly action a Project. I don’t want to say much more now but if I can get you both together that would be great. I know Al hates VR so it would be better if we could meet in person. Somewhere where he won’t stand out too much…
    >Silk

    ***

    #03

  • mercy

    Member
    March 21, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Tanya/Song Ai
    Friday June 3rd, 2078, Owner’s Suite, Bright Path Casino and Hotel, Chinatown, Seattle

    Song Ai considers the offer for a couple of minutes then sends a reply. >>Silk. Tanya Marisart. I would be happy to work with Al again, but you should ask him if he is OK with working with me. He can be rough and crude, but his ideas usually have a lot of thought and merit. Let me know when and where and I can be at a meeting with him. I am comfortable in going just about anywhere for the meet, so let him pick the place and I will dress accordingly. Thank you for thinking of me.<<

    She turns to the man in bed next to her. “I may need to take a short absence from your side, honorable husband. Can you survive without me? I have been asked to attend a meeting that could lead to something bigger, but that is all I know for now. Be assured that I will not participate if the separation looks to be long.”

    Fu Shing shrugs. “I am always safer when you are around, but I fell in love with you knowing this could happen. When do you need to go?”

    Song Ai shakes her head and chuckles. “You always know the best things to say. As for the meeting, someone will be in touch to let me know when and where.”

    3

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 21, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    The streets felt as unfriendly as ever. Three years here and he still didn’t feel home or welcome. Even with the respirator the air tasted of lead and burning copper cables. The weatherforecast had warned of high ozon concentrations and pollution, so Ulrich couldn’t be sure what was contributing more to his headache. How was it even possible to have this much pollution when the majority of vehicles ran on electricity?
    The heat felt oppressive and despite having showered half an hour ago, he already felt grimy again.
    Still, Ulrich kept on walking towards the mono rail station. He could have used his car or bike, but at the moment he was using his Juan Gonzales SIN and Juan didn’t have a car. He surpressed the idle wishes for comfort. Realizing reality as it was and not as you wished was the first step to being able to change it. The monorail was full. Many low level sarary men leaving their soul crushing jobs to go home to their tiny appartments to find some escape in VR-entertainment and artificial food. Already they were all staring vacantly ahead of themselves, enjoying AR to take the edge of reality.
    Ulrich envied them to a degree. He had been part of the system and had been rewarded for adhearing to it’s demands – until it had made him an outcast. An outcast that belonged nowhere. Now he was forced to cooperate with criminals, mercenaries and other street scum…
    Again he had to halt his train of thought. His rage and bitterness was coloring his thoughts again. That was a very bad attitude to have when appearing for a meeting with an important contact.
    Schwarz was a quartermaster at Fort Lewis and one of the only reasons that could move him to get close to this particularly dangerous place. But then, the dwarf was one of the only contacts he had, that could provide ammo and armor at close to the level that he needed.
    By now his train compartment had mostly emptied – it was too early for the soldiers to return from Puyallup and so there was barely any reason for anyone to close in on the military complex instead of getting away from it.
    Getting out, walking to the gate, presenting is false ID, keeping calm while the bored guard checked it and finally receiving the visitor badge took an endless five minutes. Finally he was free to traverse the streets of Fort Lewis to reach Schwarz’ little “black market shop”. From the outside it looked like an unremarkable warehouse – which it was, except for the heaps of expensive merchandize the dwarf kept stashed between old uniforms and Abrams spare parts.
    I put in the six digit door code, Schwarz had provided for me and entered the warehouse. It was hot inside but at least the filters had kept the air clean inside, so I could take off the respirator.

    “There you are.” Schwarz wore his customary fatigues while drones wirred around between the stacks and shelves full of gear.
    “Good of you to come by so quickly. That will be all I can spare for the forseeable future. What does a spell slinger like you need bullets for anyway?”
    Ulrich replied with a carefully neutral tone: “I want not to be seen with spell or kill all I shoot.”
    He opened one of the boxes and carefully inspected the bullets within.
    “Handloaded to specification. Milled steel cartriges 105% loadout. Drone work with tripple check for weight and integrity. Still, no guarantee that those little bastards won’t just explode your gun. So don’t come crying to me when you break them.”
    “Thanks”, Ulrich replied, “Your work was good in the past. I trust your work is still good now.”
    Ulrich’s words came slow and ponderous. Despite all the time he had spend here, he still wasn’t very conversant in English. No wonder, considering that he had avoided talking much to anyone. He understood everything well enough, but actual fluency hadn’t come to him in all this time. So he tried to keep interactions short, as to not reveal his lack of language skills. Of course he realized that this was only prolonging his condition – but then, sometimes knowing was not the same as acting on that knowledge.
    “I will go now. Here is your cash.” Ulrich dropped a few cred sticks on the table and stashed the heavy cases in the pockets of his coat.
    With a nod and nothing more he left, eager to get ready for the meeting later today…

  • aria

    Member
    March 22, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    [Friday June 3rd, 2078; Mechanicals Compound, Orting, Seattle]

    The girl shrugged, an unconsciously fluid action, and crossed over the fridge pulling out a bear which she duly handed back to Al. Settling down on the couch next to Spike she held her hand out for him to sniff so she obviously knew something about interaction with dogs. The fickle hound obviously found her to his liking as he plopped his head down on her lap and drooled over her fingers.

    “Bit sent me down here, there’s a message waiting for you in the comms room, she said to turn your damn ‘link on or go up there and fetch it yourself. You stink though, take a shower before you go” the last was a completely deadpan observation, so whatever social skills she had didn’t extend to other humans apparently…not that she was particularly human any longer…

    ***

    #04

  • adamu

    Member
    March 22, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    “Heh heh, that’s an air o’ masculinity ta the more discernin’ palette. Nice trick with the dog – they don’t gen’rally salivate over metal appendages – ya been workin’ inna kitchen or somethin’?” He pulled his Docs on with no socks, not bothering to lace them, then stood up and pulled on his jacket. “Okey dokes, headin’ up. Stay or go. Don’t reckon I got yer name, though…”

  • aria

    Member
    March 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    “You can call me Lily, Mr Guthrie. What’s his name?” She asked nodding at Spike

  • mercy

    Member
    March 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Tanya/Song Ai
    Friday June 3rd, 2078, Conference Room, Bright Path Casino and Hotel, Chinatown, Seattle

    Song Ai laughs and swats at Fu Shing’s hand as the man tries to feel her up. “Not now, Shing. You know we have a conference with your advisors in two hours. We need a shower, and dress, and………………….”

    The man laughs and continues his pursuit of the woman next to him, interrupting her words with a kiss. “Hush, wife. Two hours is more than enough time. Let me prove it to you.”

    One hour and forty-five minutes later, Fu Shing and Song Ai leave the master suite and board the private elevator to the ground floor. The three security men in the upper lobby look at each other and smile as their leader sends a message to the security team in the main lobby, letting them know that their boss is on the way down. In the elevator, Song Ai turns to her husband and grins. “OK, OK. You proved it, even though the shower was a bit rushed. Quit gloating.”

    Fu Sing kisses Song Ai again. I think that I am allowed to gloat in this case. You are so often right that I take every victory as a major one, suitable for gloating about.”

    They pause at the open elevator door so that Song Ai can wipe a small smudge of lipstick from Fu Sing’s face. “There, all presentable.” The pair make their way to the hotel conference room, nodding at the people they pass on the way. Already in the conference room are Fu Shing’s head of personal security, the casino”s head of security, his financial advisor, and three members of the community at large. Fu Shing had instituted the latter additions to his council after recent events had shown that he was out of touch with the people who rented properties from him and lived in his area of control.

    Fu Shing nods at the others and assumes his seat at the head of the table, joined by Song Ai, who sits immediately to his right. The others take their seats and the meeting begins, first with reports from the security men, followed by the finance guru, then the locals. The news on the financial front is guarded but optimistic. Repairs to the casino and hotel are completed and there is a noticeable uptick in tourist and local traffic. There is a good chance that both the hotel and casino operations will be recording profits in the next quarter. There is a short exchange of information about the financial involvement in the new hospital and research center. The good news is that construction has begun, but any shared profits will be years in coming. Since this is expected news, no one at the table seems disappointed. All of the repairs to the buildings damaged in the Triad War have been repaired. Revenues are down for most of the activities the Triad has traditionally engaged in, although the arrangement for a greater share of the black market pipeline in goods and arms is proving in unexpected ways. The loss of income from protection, metahuman trafficking, forced prostitution, and drugs will be missed, but there are good signs about that as well. Fu Shing gets a report that the profits from prostitution have actually gone up since the boys and girls were given their freedom. Many took advantage of the option given them to stay in the brothels, where they would get a competitive wage and health care. The cost of services rose, but the prostitutes were far more energized to earn the higher fees. All of this served to make the customers happier with Fu Shing’s establishments than with those of his competitors, thus bringing in additional profits.

    The three locals added that the people seemed to be happier than before, but they do have a list of grievances to bring to Fu Shing. He nods and listens to each issue, giving directions if he has an answer, and letting them know that he will consider the issue for the ones he cannot immediately address. The afternoon is past as the last grievance is heard, bringing an end to the meeting. Refreshments are brought in and Fu Shing thanks all in attendance, paying special attention to the three locals.

    Soon enough, Fu Shing and Song Ai are the only ones in the room. She reaches out to touch her husband’s arm. “So have you given the good news to Fu Li Han?”

    Fu Shing laughs. “Are you kidding? Do you think I could keep that a secret and still live after she found out? No, wife, I passed that information on right away. I would be surprised if my mother and grandmother are not on a plane to Seattle in the near future.”

    By the dragons, Shing. You did tell her that we are still working on this that a birth is not imminent?”

    Fu Shing nods, a thoughtful look on his face. “Of course I said that. But I am not sure what she heard.”

    “Oh, Shing. What if she comes here expecting me to be in my ninth month already?”

    “Well, she will just have to learn to live with the disappointment. She is certainly used to that from me by now. But I would not worry overmuch. Perhaps we can have some good news for them when they arrive. Of course, that would require more practice.”

    Song Ai gently pushes against Fu Shing’s chest. “Yes, lots and lots of practice, but not right now. You have agreed to walk through the community after the meeting and dinner is being provided by Xuan Li at her restaurant, remember. We need to get moving. I promise you more practice tonight, husband. You will not be disappointed.”

    4

  • adamu

    Member
    March 22, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    “Call him Spike. Suits him. Not sure about yer moniker, though. Maybe the flower parts onna inside.”

    Al squinted disapprovingly at his dog, still licking the girl’s metal hand. Then he went out into the night, headed up the hill to the compound’s main building – almost a keep, it was. There were sentries, but most of the security was automated. He wasn’t challenged. Some of these hippies had issues with tobacco, but it was their house. He stubbed his smoke out on the back pocket of his jeans and left the butt in the mud outside the main door. Stopped at the mess hall for a coffee, then made for the comm room.

    “Reckon you can send robo-girl ya could jist as well have sent the message with her. Ol’ Al’s a busy feller, ya know.”

  • aria

    Member
    March 23, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    “Busy my skinny arse” Bit snorted as she sat on her prodigious behind behind the comms console. “I told Lily to tell you to turn your ‘link back on… if you were busy ya coulda done that! ‘Sides, good to get you outa ya pit! Silk’s chasing ya down, some gig in exotic parts no doubt. Said you’d call ‘er when yous freed up…”

    “And” she glared at Al “you be nice ta Lily ya here me? Poor mite bin treated like a robot too long!”

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  aria.
  • adamu

    Member
    March 23, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    “What? I was nice. Offered her a beer. Left her on my sofa with the dog. That’s about as red carpet as ol’ Al gits. But whadday mean ‘too long’? Less’n they make chrome that grows with a maturin’ physique, she can’t’ve been wared up like that fer long. Anyhoo, never mind – sounds like I’d better go find my ‘link. Might be in that drawer next ta the sink….”

    Al spent the walk back to his place telling himself that Bit was just guessing. The ‘no doubt’ at the end of her speculation had indicated a lack of certainty. It was probably just some sort of social call or info dump. He’d just started working on a new magic trick, and his work on the Governor was complete but not shaken down yet. Not to mention the new season of Max Wild was launching tomorrow.

    Lily was still on the sofa when he got back, still communing with Spike. Al rummaged through the drawer next to the sink for a while before remembering that he’d been using the customized Fairlight Caliban to play online bingo on the head. There it was on the floor in a puddle of something not quite yellow anymore. But at least this offered him a modicum of privacy in case this did turn out to be super-secret shadowrunner stuff. He fired the device up and dialled Silky’s number.

  • aria

    Member
    March 25, 2019 at 8:51 am

    [Friday June 3rd, 2078; Mechanicals Compound, Orting, Seattle]

    > Al, thanks for getting back to me. You’ve no doubt guessed but I’ve got another project for you if you’re interested? I need someone to put together a team for a job here in Seattle. I’m hoping you’ll agree to work with Lady T again and bring in some of the guys you worked with recently. Although initially its only recon and investigation work I’m willing to finance a larger than normal crew to ensure the bases are covered and the Choir, what’s left of us, are lending resources to the effort too. Can I leave you to liaise with Lady T and sort out a meet? I will come to you, I know how much you dislike virtual meets. This is important Al, it could give us a measure of understanding of who the foe really are!

    And did you meet Lily? What do you think? I don’t want to lay more burdens at your door but I think this also might be important. I have my suspicions that she was created specifically to counter the effects of you and Isaint… I’m sure you’re bored of hearing about it by now, but you twist the Pattern around you somehow to your needs, but no matter how hard I try Lily stands outside the Pattern somehow so your Gift won’t affect her. I cannot read her and therefore I can’t predict her…that may be a clue about how they are managing to stay off the radar…and if you see her in action you’ll know how damn scary that prospect might be! She has escaped their clutches, or so she says, and I believe her for now. I need to know more about her circumstances before I’m ready to truly trust her, but if we can send her back against the bastards that made her then she could be extremely valuable to us…

    ***

    #07

  • jack_spade

    Administrator
    March 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    The pockets full of highly illegal ammunition, Ulrich made his way back to his hideout. He felt somewhat relieved to place the boxes there, but if he was honest with himself, he dreaded going out again. The leaden sky felt oppressive like a blanket made of chains. Still, he had one more chore to do before he could consider himself ready for tonight.
    He changed the filters on his mask and stepped outside again. He felt hot and cursed himself for not taking the chance to hydrate himself – but then he had endured worse. Much worse. ‘Take it as an incentive to move fast than’ he told himself.
    So he took to the streets. It was a long walk to a place where no public transport would bring him. The barrens had a bad reputation that was well deserved. Why Stone&Smith insisted to stay there with their business was a mystery to him, but maybe the obscurity and danger of the neighborhood was worth it if you considered that those guys sold some of the finest tailored armor money could buy. They certainly didn’t lack for customers.
    About a kilometer out from his target, Ulrich noticed that he was being followed. Some of the more cunning animals in human skin had likely spotted the fact, that his clear transpex gas mask was much more expensive than the usual ratty respirators the local population used. Damn. It was details like this he kept tripping up on.
    There were still options open:
    1) Start to run – not a good idea but still an option – in his current cover he wasn’t suited for a foot chase
    2) Enhance himself and fight them – slightly better but not good either – a fight would draw attention and he didn’t want to risk to lose this SIN just now by drawing attention to himself with a showy display.
    3) Leave the main road and try to lose them in the labyrinth of dilapidated houses, debris and refuse. A good solution to escape his current pursuers but almost a certainty to run into someone worse.
    That left him the fourth option: Intellectual dominance.
    It took him but a moment to create a mind construct and send it towards the larger of the two. The connection was stable and so whe could feel how the artificial intellect struggled for a moment with the natural one. The contest was decidedly onesided as the mind construct took hold. ‘Hurt but do not disable.’ The command was obeyed instantly: The large man swung his improvised club so suddenly against the kneecaps of his companion that Ulrich could here the crack 50 m away. Without slowing his stride he continued onward while behind him fierce screaming started. He dismissed the mind construct and left the predators to themselves so they could sort out their new social order within their small group.
    Ulrich rounded the corner just as he heard the first shot fired. ‘Animals…’

  • adamu

    Member
    March 25, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Al stood in the toilet and listened, feeling the pit in his stomach grow blacker and deeper as certain key words in Silk’s pitch – ‘Choir’ and ‘the foe’ – let him know she was sending him back. They were getting closer together, these jobs. The ones he most wanted to refuse. Which also happened to be the ones he never could.

    And cyber-Lolita on his couch was likely as not working for the other side. So when Silk stopped talking all Al said was “Roger roger, baby. Call ya later.” With all that ware, no telling what sort of audio suite the girl was packing.

    He went back out and gathered up his snakes, each of the three heavy animals calm as kittens as he placed them into their large, heated terrariums. The girl didn’t seem to mind a bit of silence, so he didn’t speak much as he gathered a couple of bags’ worth of gear up. “Thank ye kindly fer bringin’ the message. I’m guessin’ you’ve got a story or three ta tell, little lady, an’ I’ll allow I’m eager ta hear ’em. But I got some things ta do tonight. Hang with Spike if ya like, let yerself out. I never lock the place anyhoo.” Then he picked up the bags, went through the door into the garage’s work area, and tossed them onto the rear seat of the Gaz’s extended cab. Climbed in and pulled out, leaving a beat-up step van on hydraulic jacks in his wake. This would likely be a city job, and the Governor was really as ready as she needed to be. But unlike the Gaz, she wasn’t built for the trackless ash wastes and razored lava flows of Hell’s Kitchen. He’d park both at Mordecai’s boat house and work from there.

    He called a Mechanicals guy he knew with a heavy-duty flatbed. They’d already talked about this. It was just a matter of moving up the timetable. <<…that’s right, same address…tonight if possible.>>

    That done, he voice-to-texted a series of messages as he drove through the Barrens night.

    For the first he used no name, never knowing which she might be using from one day to the next. <<Guess you’ve heard from Silky. Gatherin’ talent, sortin’ a meet. I’m thinkin’ twenny-four from now, back room of a joint called Zero’s, jist south o’ Puyallup City. Lemme know if that’s a problem. I’ll send ya a guest list once they’s confirmed, an’ you do the same. Cuts down on friendly fire.>>

    Then: <<Ichante, princess, if’n yer back inna Emerald City an’ wanna work, reckon ol’ Al can turn ya on ta somethin’. Bad news, could be more o’ the same. Good news, I can guarantee a stand-up J. Meet’s in twenny-four, so lemme know soonest.>>

    He sent similar messages to Preston, Jazz, and of course Becky. The first two were unavailable for some reason or another. He crossed his fingers about Becky. Tanya would probably do better, she had a real habit of collecting acquaintances. But he hated to show up for the party empty-handed. On a whim, he also reached out to Dern, the no-luck Firewatch renegade. Not a bad guy, even if he hadn’t measured up to the standard of the real Ares guys on the trid.

    Finally he texted Silk back. <<Waitin’ on confirmation from Tanya, but looks like Zero’s tomorrow night. Now fill me in on yer little Mancurian Candidate…that were a hell of a back story ya hinted at…how long ya known her?>>

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