January 10, 2020 at 3:48 am #23186
AM sighs in relief when things are done. >> Giod job Mato Nothing for me, thanks for offering but I am still too tense with this card around.”
January 10, 2020 at 2:45 pm #23191
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Gilga.
Mato slots the credstick into his commlink as he walks back to the car, then distributes the proceeds to the team. Then he leans in through an open window, counts out the corpscrip and hands wads to AM and Jawsey.
”We’ll take a haircut on this anywhere but Renraku, but you might find it useful for bribes.”
He backs out of the window and then heads inside of McHugh’s, figuring that doesn’t know when he’ll have the opportunity to eat again.
McHugh’s value proposition is (the illusion of) security, not food quality. The front doors have a huge potted planter on either side of them. These planters are rooted into the ground with reinforced steel rods and are thus intended to prevent vehicles from ramming through the door. There are metal detectors around the doors and, well, Mato sets those the hell off. The guard sees the extensive cyberlimbs and decides not to trouble himself with a full body scan, so Mato procees into the lobby.
The lobby is like every other McHugh’s in existence: large, faux-clay floor tiles and wide open seating. Customer seating consists of macroplast tabletops and chairs made of metal poles. There are no booths that would provide cover in the event of a firefight. The counter features an interactive console where customers can make their order by speaking or pushing the appropriate buttons. Most prefer the buttons, since the voice recognition tends to screw up orders, but Mato goes for the voice option.
”I’ll have The Hugh™,” Mato begins (soyburger with processed cheese-flavored food and Pick’ls™, ¥3), ”and The Squealer™” (pork-flavored soy patty, infused with BBQ flavor! ¥4).
>>Very good, sir. Would you like to try The Kriller™? Shaped krill patty, grilled to perfection. Now with Pick’ls™! 3¥, or the Kriller Deluxe™, with processed cheese-flavored food for ¥5?<<
”No, that’s okay, but I’ll take a soykaf.”
>>Very good, sir. ¥8, please.<<
Mato slots his payment and waits for his food, trusting that his nephritic screen will take care of any food poisoning, indigestion, or acid reflex.January 10, 2020 at 5:07 pm #23192
Jawsey messaged Mato <<Thanks for handling the hand-off. Figured they’d give you more respect. You were good.>>
And to both Mato and AM <<Yah, McHughes would be good. Well, not good food, but a good idea, you know? It looks like it may be a long day.>>January 10, 2020 at 5:40 pm #23196
Mato collects the food from the metal counter and leaves with it. He goes back to the car and raps on the window.
”Cheeseburger or BBQ pork?” he asks Jawsey, handing the appropriate one through. ”Here’s a soykaf. I’ll get something back at HQ.”
McHugh’s food is famous for how bland and inoffensive it is. Mato hardly knows why he paid the extra ¥1 to get the cheese-flavored food on The Hugh™. He wonders why it costs ¥2 to add cheese-flavored food to The Kriller™. Maybe the krill patty needs the upgrade more than the soy patty does.
Mato sets off on foot and eats as he goes. He could get AM to drive him home, he supposes, but he has the time to spare. Plus, it feels good to walk after eating McHugh’s so that it doesn’t just sit in your gut like a rock. He doesn’t envy Jawsey, who is going to be stuck in the car while driving to Renton. Maybe the soykaf would help his digestion.January 10, 2020 at 10:32 pm #23197
As they let the car drive them, Jawsey muses to AM “this McHugh’s takes me back to my childhood. I was pretty much a shut-in except my dream roaming –what I know now is astral projection. Anyway my Dad would try to cook good food, but he was a lousy cook. Every now and then he’d bring this sort of stuff home and I’d be in heaven. I remember thinking that when I grew up I’d eat it every day. I guess I don’t, but it still makes me smile.”
When he was finished eating and reminiscing he said “one of us should probably be with our bodies. Mind if I do a five minute astral swing, then I’ll come back if you have matrix to do?”
He took a run back to the gallery to look around, now that the card was gone, then followed the expressway until he found their car. That last part ended up being harder than he’d expected and he reminded himself to talk to the others about putting a permanent mark of some sort that he could see from the astral.January 11, 2020 at 3:24 am #23198
The gallery was clear of any activity at his hour. Without the card there, the whole gallery looked a lot less vibrant, even the emotionally charged items looked a lot dimmer – except for the crucified leather statue at the entrance. That one still had the creepy, malevolent vibes in spades.
There was still an hour or so to go before the meeting with Chou, so the team had time to rearange their attire and weaponry.January 12, 2020 at 2:27 pm #23199
AM responds ”My dad was a lousy cook as well but he makes really good chili con Carne. He used to take me all over Sioux. Plenty of open space to drive around, and cook on an open fire. We used to sleep in his van to reduce costs, but I had my share of McHugh’s , and all the fast foods. ” there is a grin on her face when she mentions her dad. “Fast food reminds me of him, these are fond memories. Accompanying him were the only opportunities I had to ever leave my home town.”January 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm #23200
Mato walks back to HQ and reflects on the private chefs and catered meals that he grew up with. This is drek, he thinks to himself, looking down at the the soggy wrapper around his dinner. You are what you eat? God, I hope not. Otherwise I’m greasy, flavorless soy.
Mato – with a deep inferiority complex instilled in him since birth – doesn’t like the comparison and feels badly about himself until he gets back to the HQ and changes into his suit, which makes him feel somewhat richer and thus somewhat better. Then he gets into the Americar – the McHugh’s of family sedans – and drives back to the gallery.January 13, 2020 at 2:45 am #23201
Mato arrived just in time to see the junky troll climbing into his container – probably to score with the latest new and cheap designer drug.
The gallery was still and silent. Only towards the back alley light from the small office window showed that the owner was still working.January 13, 2020 at 5:50 pm #23210
Mato has the BTL in his pocket in case he needs to properly motivate the junky troll to do something or other. Mato stands at the mouth of the alley, gives a quick look left and right, the disappears down the darkened alleyway toward the office window with a light in it. Mato is cautious about his surroundings. K-E is prone to be suspicious of an ork, but hopefully his suit will provide some social armor should it be necessary. Conversely, the suit might make Mato a target for the dispossessed and the desperate. He’s not so worried about his physical safety, because c’mon, but he is concerned about the integrity of his suit. He’d hate for it to get slashed, or shot, or – equally worrisome – dirty. Alleys are not exactly the cleanest environments after all.
Having progressed down the alley at a sufficiently quiet and casual pace, Mato approaches the office window. He considers leaning against the wall to affect a casual pose but then thinks better of it. Squatters like to urinate on alley walls, and tall squatters – like Mr. Troll back there – can piss pretty high.
Mato wonders if he should keep a packet of cigarettes on hand to pose as a smoker during times like this. But instead he just stands in the alleyway at night like that’s a normal thing to do in a suit.January 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm #23211
Seeing the light coming from the little opaque office window, Mato curiously went closer and listened.
At first he could make out only a murmur – a one side of a call. As he got used to the murmur he could make out words – Janet was making calls:
“…Yes, yes I know. I took care of it… A detective agency… I know one of them from back… Yes, exactly, the savages. Listen, it’s not my fault. If someone wants to kill your son that’s beyond my control. You are supposed to take care of your own security. If you want I’ll call off the Vernisage – but that won’t get you your money…
You are not listening. I already paid them to find the perpetrator and I’ll tell you as soon as they tell me… What else am I supposed to do? Do you expect me to run around the city and look for… what do you mean, Irish Bastard? Do you know who wants your son dead?…
What’s that supposed to mean?… Fine, fine, I get it, none of my business who wants revenge on whom – but then don’t expect me to have answers…
Yeah, yeah, see you tomorrow.”
The call ended and Janet sighed deeply.January 13, 2020 at 6:52 pm #23212
Mato nods and starts to walk back toward they alley entrance. The ‘savages’ quip rolls off his back like water. He’s been called worse in the past, will be called worse in the future, and – if he’s honest with himself – Janet is not entirely wrong. Janet doesn’t have to like them; she just has to pay them. Of course, it made selling the card and cutting her out of the proceeds that much easier, not that Mato had many qualms about it to begin with.
Mato pings AM and Jawsey:
<<How are things going in Renton? I’m back at the gallery and just overheard Janet on a call. There was reference to an ‘Irish bastard’ targeting someone’s son, so it sounds like the Lucky Charms Fellow in the alleyway is indeed our target, and not – say – some magically disguised 1.5-meter Asian fellow.>>
Walking down the alley, Mato looks up to see if there’s a fire escape he can leap to, or something he can easily climb on, in order to reach the gallery roof.January 13, 2020 at 10:04 pm #23213
As they approached the club, Jawsey said “Time for a quick check on the situation.” and he went astral. Heading out in front of the car he checked around the outside of the club for anything disturbing. Once they went inside they’d be at the buyer’s mercy, but Jawsey didn’t think he was the sort of man who would kill in cold blood inside his club just for profit.
Think / hope. One of those.January 13, 2020 at 11:05 pm #23214
AM did the same as Jawsey, only she closed as much as she could, and then used her remote senses to physically survey the place while pretending to be distracted by AR. Better be safe than sorry, so she looks for anything suspicious before they enter the lion’s den.Spoiler:January 14, 2020 at 5:41 am #23216
Mato found it easy enough to climb on top of the gallery and found a somewhat comfortable spot next to a vent where temperatures were bearable.
At the club Jawsey and AM found no magic waiting for them outside, and although the emotional turmoil from inside club gave the astral a very vibrant look and some small increase in BGC, there was no sign of hostiles in the astral either.January 14, 2020 at 10:09 am #23217
Having checked things out as much as seemed reasonable, they told the car to park by the door to the club. Jawsey took a moment to straighten out his clothes and smooth back his hair, then nodded to AM when he was ready.
He wasn’t normally particularly given to chivalry — and in AM’s case he was sure she could take care of herself perfectly well — but for once he held the door open for her. It seemed like the type of manners that would appreciated at a place like this. He tried to keep up the genteel display, bowing and shaking hands as seemed indicated with whoever met them.January 14, 2020 at 2:24 pm #23223
Mato paces around the roof, periodically checking the street and the alleyway before returning to the vent to warm himself. He finds himself wishing for one of those Mortimer of London overcoats – the Greatcoat, or Ulysses, or Argentum – or maybe Vashon Island’s Synergist Business Line where the suit stacks with the matching longcoat. But, like most things, it came down to nuyen. Mato is still in the hole with the Koshari. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for now he has to make due with McHugh’s for dinner and living in Touristville.
He runs sweeps with his radar sensors every once in a while. He’s not expecting to find anything, but it’s one way to keep tabs on Janet. It also lets him keep an eye open for anyone creeping around while invisible, or any spirits that manifest unexpectedly inside the gallery. It also helps stave off boredom, although Mato is an old hand at watching at waiting.
In his spare time – of which there is plenty – Mato’s mind wanders to what AM and Jawsey are doing. Mato feels slightly guilty sending them off on their own. They can both talk their way out of trouble, and magicians have lots of tricks up their sleeves, but they’re just so… frail. Jawsey has his cane sword that he can play Zorro with, but not the muscle mass to actually make it hurt. He’s better off relying on Granny Tetanus-Teeth to defend himself. AM is nimble but has the physique of a starving Barrens waif. Mato can’t help but feel slightly protective… but why? Because he can? Because it makes him feel like he might be good at something and that assuages his inferiority complex, if only for a moment? Maybe, maybe not, but it was interesting to think about.
He does another round of the roof, watching the night life pass by on the city streets below.January 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm #23224
The club was full – dangerously so – but the bouncer took a look at his list and – to the dismay of the waiting people in line – let them in regardless.
Deafening Neo-Techno and seizure inducing flashing lights made navigating the packed crowd a real challenge. Talking to people was impossible without actually screaming in their face.
After a full ten minutes, Jawsey and AM reached the stairs that led up to the private areas. Here too a bouncer checked a list before letting them up.
Suddenly free of the press of people, the two felt disoriented by the noise and light. Only thanks to their highly disciplined minds they had developed as a necessity to work magic allowed them to keep their composure somewhat.
Stepping on the platform above was like passing through an invisible curtain: The noise died away to tolerable levels and even the strobing lights seemed to be muted through the better illumination provided by craftily placed spotlights around.
Chou saw them and waved at them to join him on a leather sofa where he sat with a drink in his hand.
Meanwhile Mato saw how Janet left the building and turning the corner to either walk down to the street to catch a cab or to fetch her own car. Soon after that it became really boring…January 14, 2020 at 10:01 pm #23225
Jawsey gives an appropriate bow to Chou before taking a seat (he makes sure to put AM in the middle — she is small enough that she’d be blocked out from conversation if she was on the outside). “It is good to see you again. Your club seems to have become even more popular in the past month, I’ll need to make sure to get back here some night when it is not for business.” As he makes small talk he glances down toward his chest pocket, and back up with a slightly inquisitive look, as if to ask “do you want to see it now?”January 15, 2020 at 2:53 pm #23226
The man replied amiably to Jawsey’s attempt at small talk: “It’s mostly nostalgia and drugs – but this is actually the busiest day of the week. You’d probably enjoy the Sundays more – it’s less crowded and you can actually talk to each other.”
That done, he nodded: “To business then, let me see. Or rather Natasha.” He raised his hand and a tall, black haired girl in a very tight fitting dress made her way towards them and set beside Chou, who almost unconsciously dropped his hand on her back.
“Natasha will evaluate if this is really the object you think it is.”
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