May 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm #18640
<<Heh heh. Try four seconds, kemo sabe.>> Al said as he whipped the Gov around the corner to the designated exit point.
It didn’t take much of his attention, and he devoted the rest to spotting trouble.May 10, 2019 at 1:40 pm #18644
As soon as the jamming stopped, Paxi left an ARO with Richy’s number – by calling him.
<<Fetch us now. This whole gig here was a setup.>>May 11, 2019 at 3:01 pm #18663
Rebbeca curses her bad luck. she dresses, and then walks to the Gov and sighs “Apparently my domination fantasies are too hot for prostitutes… got to love my Roger for embracing me and my blades in the bedroom habits… any other ideas? Do we call their pimp, or go visit the astronaut lunatics?”May 11, 2019 at 3:22 pm #18664
Pulling away from the hotel and disappearing into traffic on his way back downtown, Al opined, “If the bad guys din’t leave the whores with no useful info, doubt they got sloppy with the pimp. Ya ask ol’ Al, we head straight fer this Mission-ta-Mars trainin’ camp. That’s the most likely place he’ll be, an’ certainly the best place fer answers on these freaks. Ever’thin’ else is jist a side-show.”May 11, 2019 at 3:34 pm #18665
”Wel they fragged up epically with the analog security cameras. So I am surprised that they knew exactly how to drug the prostitutes so that they would not remember a thing, but would not pass up before Alex is out. So go figure…”May 11, 2019 at 3:55 pm #18666
“Hey Precious, I ain’t sayin’ they’s perfect. Actually, they showed us one thing. Whatever drugs they used on the whores, they were a lot more expensive than a bullet. An’ less sure, too. Lot of operators’d think a lot less o’ spillin’ some blood, especially of a couple o’ smart-mouthed sex workers. But these guys went ta the trouble ta not be cold-blooded murderers. Reckon it’s a good thing ta know about ’em. Now, let’s start workin’ on a list o’ things need doin’ ta git us from here into this twisted version o’ Space Camp.”May 11, 2019 at 4:08 pm #18669
She grimaces ”Most people are waste of air anyhow, a bullet would have been a mercy to these ladies considering how they are going to end up once they start aging. They are elves, so I anticipate plenty of unpleasant nights and numerous rapes before they retire.
She thinks about it for a while and then comments Moral code may be stretching it, they may just be logical… Every action has a counteraction you know. I can totally see someone hiring me to make an example of some asshole runners that damaged a successful business. “May 11, 2019 at 5:18 pm #18674
“Well, I’ll allow ya could have a point there,” conceded Al as he hit the 520 on-ramp. “But I still reckon the counteraction from a dead silent whore is a helluva lot less than the counteraction from a live chatty one. Anyhoo, here’s what I reckon we’s gon’ need fer starters,” he continued, ticking off items on his fingers. “First, the exact location o’ this camp near Mt. St. Helens. The ash fields he said. That’s way south into Salish lands, jist north o’ the Tir. We git the coordinates o’ the camp, we can git started on the physical logistics – visas fer them as need ’em, decide what to drive an’ what ta take, an’ so on. Same time, we gotta think about how we’s gon’ git in once we git [/i]there[/i]. Talkin’ or sneakin’, I reckon. But much as I hate ta say it, reckon it’ll need a game plan either way.”May 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm #18677
Once they were safe in the Gaz, Preston reviewed the footage from the hotel.
*Monkey: it wouldn’t do to have missed anything!
Then with a mental sigh he deleted it all. He refocused on the conversation as Al said they needed a plan.
*Coleman: this is either a good thing, or a very, very bad one
“Survival gear and food, in case we end up having to hang around for a while. Concealable weapons and heavier ones, depending on how it plays out. Without intel about them it is hard to figure out what they might value, to think about clothes or bribes.”May 11, 2019 at 8:22 pm #18678
“All good points. So lots o’ small decisions. I’m thinkin’ they’s some things we can find out afore we ever set foot out’n the Plex, so we do those first. But the clock’s a’tickin’. Say we put an eight-hour cap on all that, aim to head south at dawn. Once we find out what we can, then we can make better decisions on logistics, an’, most importantly, sneak or speak.”
They were crossing Lake Washington now. Al loved the way the lights looked on Council Island.
“So i done a bit o’ reseach while y’all were cavortin’ with the lower classes. Seems these folk got a real hard-on fer halfers an’ keebs. Think they’s better suited fer life in space. So assumin’ we go fer speak over sneak, well, Precious here’s the only Spock we got. Though I’m thinkin’ these freaks might take a shine ta Lily here, her bein’ about as transhumanist a specimen as I reckon I done seen since Boston.”
Lily. Whether they talked their way in or stealthed it, he’d gotten used to things working out his way. Almost started to believe he lizard-talk about fate-breaking. But the same folk saying he lived outside the universe’s rules had warned him that Lily might have been conjured as an antidote to that. To him. If he had any brains he’d jettison her this very second.
But Silky was hoping to trust her. Hoping she was on the level about coming over to their side. Whatever side that was.
More importantly, his gut told him to keep her on.
“So what say ya do yer magic, Presto baby, git a fix on the exact location, an’ then make sure whether they even got ground access, and what sorta roads. Maybe see if they’s all isolationist, or if they do regular commerce with regular folk fer regular stuff. Precious, maybe you can use the image captures of our kidnappers’ faces, see if anyone in yer network knows ’em. Me, I’m gon’ talk ta Silky. She’s an’ her crew, they’s heavy into both transhumanism an’ headcase worship, which tie into the anthroforms an’ the Mars angle, respectively. An’ Lily, hon, well, I done worked with these two before. But you, well, ya do anything besides look shiny an’ kick ass?”May 11, 2019 at 10:02 pm #18679
She shrugs ”I can try to be an astronaut, but I am not certain if I qualify for an ‘Elf’ from their perspectives as I was born to human parents, and perhaps likely to mother human children. Not sure exactly how it goes with the world being so new, and my kind not very well researched. It is worth a shot, though” When Al mentions the image captures she says ”I have a police contact working on them, if they made waves then we’ll get something. Might be worth getting them to Silk, as she knows things from her connections and strange pattern mojo”May 12, 2019 at 11:43 am #18682
While the team moved away from the hotel, Becky’s contacts came through:
The “Wayfarer Guild”, as the organization was also known, had purchased a 4 km² large area north of St. Helens from the SSC government. Ash, poisonous gases and jagged rocks made the environment there extremely hostile. A small civilian landing strip as well as a heli pad were the only official avenues to reach the place. Supplies were dropped there through simulated space landings.
The airspace was – except for the scheduled transports – strongly protected by the SSC air force. Whoever went there was unlikely to get back easily.
Slightly easier to access was a recruiting drive within the dwarven community, scheduled to happen tomorrow in Snohomish with the local Dwarven Farmers Association.May 13, 2019 at 1:17 am #18691
Rebbeca thanks Winter for the information, and then conveys the information to the team, her agent neatly adds the information to the team’s folder.
”So my contact says that they are associated with the Wayfarer guild, which consolidates our space travel lunatics theory. They bought a location which is only accessible by air, and well air travel in that area is highly regulated so unless anyone of you wants a skirmish with the airforce, we may want to enter the recruiting drive tomorrow. Perhaps they can give us a lift.”May 13, 2019 at 8:08 am #18696
[Wednesday September 7, 2078; Al’s Truck Heading South, Seattle Metroplex]
“What can I do?” Lily asked in response to Al’s query “You’re right, I was forged to kick ass and the skills they taught me revolve around doing that in the most efficient way possible. But I escaped that and I am allowed to enjoy this wonderful world” this said with complete sincerity, well there has to be one right? “So I can track a bit, work locks, I guess those are the sorts of skills you are referring to right? I can sing…” and she began a whispered rendition of a Green River Burning track, the haunting folk song somehow fitting for this metallic creature with the wide innocent eyes… but when she looked at Becky they were hard “But I believe that every life is important and nobody is a waste of breath. I understand why you did what you did back at the hotel but I will not pretend to like it, and your casual dismissal of their lives is dreadful! I am new at this but I am not completely naive, I know what it is that you do, if not why… I am sorry that you see the world the way you do. Don’t worry, I am not going to be a liability to you but I will also not stand by and watch you kill unnecessarily…”
#09May 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm #18706
“Sheee-it, Precious, a keeb’s a keeb’s a keeb. Yer jist prettier than most, which I’ll allow is sayin’ somethin’.”
That’s what Al had said when Becky had expressed doubt about her ability to pass as a wannabe-Martian. And then the conversation had progressed considerably before the cyberprincess got onto her soapbox about how she was a real girl.
The info on Space Camp’s location was a huge step forward, as was the tip on the recruitment drive. He immediately started calling up topographical maps of the area. The terrain was a lot like Hell’s Kitchen, a place he’d rebuilt the Gaz to thrive in. For a truck like that, a ground approach might be impossible…or it might not.
With his agent locating those maps, he got busy whining about the Snohomish thing. “Well that’s one hell of a how-d’you-do. Anyone here think they can pass as a dwarf farmer? Presto baby, if it’s a recruitin’ drive, they gotta be gittin’ chatty with folks. Think you can git on they boards an’ git some conversations goin’? See what they joinin’ criteria is? Most especially if they take non-halfers?”May 13, 2019 at 1:51 pm #18708Spoiler:
Al’s agent was doing an admirable job painstakingly mapping a potential path through the volcanic wasteland to the compound. And despite his SOTA data processing the route calculation took ages. At least it felt that way. But then, about five minutes later, he had a workable solution on his display. It required three makeshift bridges across fissures that would take an hour or so to improvise, with the whole trip taking the better part of eight hours, but it was doable.
The recruiting drive was not open and not restricted – except maybe that the DFA likely had a lower ceiling in their assembly hall.May 13, 2019 at 2:06 pm #18710
“Well amigos, they may think they ain’t got road access, but I can git the Gaz up there. She ain’t got the creature comforts o’ this baby, but point A ta point B, she’s where it’s at. So sneakin’s still an option.”
He got off the 520 as soon as they’d cleared the lake.
“As fer sneakin’ in, say by gittin’ recruited an’ gittin’ airlifted, well, I think we would still want ta consider leavin’ someone on the outside even if the others talk they way in. Someone ta provide a link ta the outside, or crash the gate as an’ when. So a drive is soundin’ good. Not ta mention they perimeter may not be as tight as it oughtta be, if’n they think the place is inaccessible.”May 13, 2019 at 3:40 pm #18715
Rebbeca replies to Lilly ”Look, Lilly, first of all, I want you to be comfortable with your team. I do not murder people for no reason, and since you have your moral code we will work within it as much as we can. Internal friction is not good for us, and I am the most flexible since I have no concept of morality. Rest assured, that the Johnsons that want a body count would not hire people like you or Al, so no worries on my account. I know who I work for and what is expected of me.
Second, if you really want to open the morality debate then the way I see the world, everybody kills. From large enough cooperations to big nations, and of course, the entire criminal world kills when it serves their interests. Murder is a billion dollar industry and your personal code does not change that. If any, I admire you for having it as it means that I can charge a premium for my services. One thing for certain, people killed each other since before I was born, and they will continue to do so long after I am gone. “
To Al she says ”I can wear my body armor and pretend it is a space suit… these people pretend they are on Mars so it may show some enthusiasm.”May 13, 2019 at 3:40 pm #18716
* Oleg: objecting to what people were willing to do, but didn’t do, seems like it could burn a lot of energy and bridges
* Eliza: Lilly may not have had many opportunities to cross bridges twice so far, given the hints about her life.
Reluctantly Preston twisted around to face Lilly. He’d rather that Al addressed this with some homey wisdom, but that didn’t seem to be happening. And since Lilly had aimed her complaint Becky’s way, Becky wasn’t in the best position to seem dispassionate.
* Oleg: Coin toss on whether I make it worse.
* Coleman: If it is going to get worse now, it would have gotten worse eventually anyway. Better to get it out in the open now.
“Lilly, you aren’t wrong that killing people just because it is convenient is pretty black-hearted. But if you muck around in the shadows long enough you will hit the occasion where the only way to get what you really want — justice, revenge, survival, or maybe just breakfast — is to do things that you consider to be wrong. And I’m not talking about heat of the moment, but cold, calculated, decisions to be terrible. Basically you have to decide if the ends justify the means. If you survive, maybe afterward you feel good about it, or maybe you spend the next couple years numbing your mind with the finest pharmaceutical and technological brain-blitzers of the twenty-first century, until you can get over your choice. And then something will come along and make you choose again.”
Preston looked out the window at the horrified look on a four-year-old’s face as his world exploded, then turned back to Lilly “Those ladies walked away alive because Becky’s judgement was that we could risk the calls they might make, or what they might tell the people who come asking about us. In fact they walked away damage free, and got paid. We might not have played nice with them, but by shadow standards we were downright decent. In a bit we’ll find out if we survived that decision, and we can decide how we feel about it. Hopefully this time being half-decent people was a good call, but we could yet come to regret it. None of us like killing, but before this job is done we might well have to ice one or more people, quite possibly in cold-blood. Is this going to be a problem? If it is, we need to collectively decide how to cope with that. Take a moment and think about it, please.”
“And speaking of the finest pharmaceutical brain blitzers, and dwarves, and heck the rotten under-belly of high-roller society, there is somebody I’d like to talk to, an old contact who just seems well positioned to maybe know something or someone.. Lilly, have you ever considered getting a make-over? With your look, she might actually do it herself.”
With that Preston sat back, called up Radiant Shadow’s private line, and sent her an ARO to Radiant Shadow: dwarf, bon-vivant, and both stylist and drug-dealer to the fabulous of Seattle’s society.
<<Herself [Preston] Hi, I’m digging into something where you may have heard a bit of this and a bit of that, and no doubt built a business plan appropriately. And I’m working for an entertainment company that thinks they have a hit on their hands, so the expense account if gratifyingly deep and murky. Without going into details that could draw you a visit from the sort of smiling professionals that have mono-whips in their finger tips, there is a group, whose mental stability I would not dream of judging, who seem to think that elves and dwarves are the perfect colonists for Mars. They call themselves ‘The Wayfarers Guild’.>>
<<They are running a recruiting drive at the Dwarven Farmers Association in Snohomish, which is definitely NOT your usual clientele, but I’ve heard rumour that they’ve been recruiting in better off circles too, including entertainment. So maybe you’ve heard talk of them, or maybe you’ve even met some of them?>>
<<My first question is do you know anything about this lot, and if so do you have any opinion on whether they are serious or if it is a scam? Second, if you do know them, do you know anything about their style? Like, I they into some special cult robes or matching jump suits or whatever, or do they have a particular way of talking, or anything like that? And finally, do you have contacts with them? To me they sound like the sort who might convince themselves that certain highly purity drugs would make the trip go better, but I don’t know much about them yet, I could be off there.>>
<<If they do have a certain look, would you be able to manage a last minute appointment to give a couple of us the right look to maybe ease a first conversation?>>Spoiler:May 13, 2019 at 5:30 pm #18722
While Preston messaged his contact, Al chimed in on the moral discussion. “Long as we’s collectively decidin’ on who ta kill, I’ll make it real simple. Kill them as deserves it. Don’t never ever kill them as don’t. An’ that’s all they is to it.”
And then Al realized he was driving exactly nowhere. The next thing on his to-do list was to call Silk, but he could do that from anywhere. And the Snohomish shindig was a long night away.
“Anyone got a destination in mind, or need droppin’ anywhere?”
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