Waltz of the Macabre

Mr(s) Johnson

Part 1 - The Drive By

Three commlinks beep and three different eyes access the same message.

“I’ve got a job for you, if you’re interested.”

One man pings a quick, flippant reply and rolls over and returns to his disturbed sleep. Another accepts immediately with nuyen signs in his eyes, and a female elf smiles before pinging off a quick reply. Across town, the sender claps his hands together as he receives three positive responses. Chuckling, he strokes his long red beard and heads off to tell his client the good news.

The first to arrive at the designated rendezvous point is a thin, tall man with a distinguished air. His top lip raised in a sneer as he assess the pathetic bar he has found himself at.

It’s a dilapidated street, with buildings in various states of disrepair. The directions have led to a sleazy looking bar, where a bright pink neon sign hovers above the doorway, reading ‘ Deep Dive’. The ‘i’ flickers, and the poor lighting only illuminates the grimy walls and street, debris littering the pavement and road. Looking around, the general distaste in this man’s judgement is only enforced. He deploys a drone to sit in an alley nearby, lens turned to the entrance. Steeling himself against his surroundings he adjusts his monocle, the gold rim glinting in the low light, and heads down the concrete steps that lead to a broken wooden doorway.

Immediately, the stench hits him and it’s actually worse than outside. There are only a few patrons; and they are the types that you would expect to find in an establishment such as this. Quiet, greasy loner types, sullenly nursing the murky brown liquid that passes for beer here. The floor makes a noise he doesn’t want to examine too much as he makes his way to the bar. He gets a few curious glances, but no one enquires about him.

An ork bartender looks up at his approach and grins at how uncomfortable he clearly is. The man clears his throat and pulls his extravagant greatcoat tighter around himself. Ever the gentleman, he keeps his composure and confidently asked for a drink, head held high. The bartender raises an eyebrow but pours the pint and accepts the small change for payment. The glass thumped down in front of the newcomer is as filthy as the rest of the place, the contents looking as awful as possible. He tentatively picks up the pint, but doesn’t drink from it.

The ork observes him for a moment, his hands spread widely on the bar’s surface. The man keeps his cool under the silent scrutiny, and the ork nods towards a door somewhere to the left. “Out back,” he grunts, before grabbing a dirty dishtowel and swiping ineffectually at the cheap wood. The man offers a tip of his top hat and makes his way there.

In the room is a simple wooden table in the centre of the room with six chairs. He shrugs and closes the door, taking the first seat and his eyes lose focus. His cybereyes whirr quietly as he connects to his drone, just in time to see another character approach who also appears rather out of place…

Several augmentations and more than one piece of weaponry sends the sensors in the drone wild, alerting its master within to the presence of a new person. The larger fellow throws the door open and practically jogs up to the barkeep.

“Get me something hard!” he exclaims confidently in Orkish.

The ork observes him sceptically and openly laughs before shrugging. Perhaps something didn’t translate; it had been a while since he had conversed with actual orks, and it was a difficult language. Still, he thought he’d done okay.

“Alright, " the server replies in English, and pours a pint of a dark liquid with a vaguely green hue. “This is our strongest stuff.” He places the pint in front of him and holds out a hand for payment.

Transaction made, the man grabs up the drink and points to the door to the left with a curious look. The ork folds his arms, amused look still in place, and nods.

A young elf approaches the bar with a slight look of trepidation. She is not unfamiliar with neighbourhoods of less fortunate circumstances, but the reassurance of the light pistol at her back under her leather vest is comforting as she strides forwards, the intricate tattoos that flow up her right arm glowing in the darkness.

She glances around the bar as she steps through the doorway, assessing her surroundings. Doors lead to back rooms to the left and right of the bar, otherwise her only way out is the exit behind her. It’s relatively empty in here, although loud music is blaring from somewhere, the bass rocking through her body. A quick adjustment and she activates the sound filter in her cybernetic ears, reducing the noise somewhat as she approaches the bar.

A large smile for the bartender and she flicks her long dark hair back, asking brightly for a pint. She gracefully hides the grimace as a another grimy glass is thrust in front of her and politely thanks him as she hands him the payment.

“You’re wanted out back,” he growls at her.

She lifts a hand with a gasp. “You didn’t even ask my name!” she retorts mockingly, throwing him a wink and heading for the door to the left.

She enters and sees two men already sat at the table within. She offers them a nod and takes a seat close to the door she came through. As she does, the door to the rear of this room swings open and a short man walks in, instantly recognisable as a dwarf. Firey red hair surrounds a grumpy expression, frames by a beard that flows down to his midriff. His face is weathered, belying his age. He wears an ornate coat with a large red hand motif on the back, a crisp white shirt and overly large belt to pull in a bulging gut. The trousers are ornate, probably faux, leather, with a rippling pattern flowing down each leg, forming into faces and hands. His boots, seemingly overly large, finished in tan leather and the rim topped in what appears to be cat fur.

He greets them gruffly, with a thick Scottish accent. “So, ye accepted the job.” He starts, looking between them. “Problem is, this be a four man mission. No offence, lassie.”

The woman grins and waves a hand dismissively. “I might know someone,” she offers lightly. “But it would depend on what we need them for.”

“Quiet.” This is the only thing he yields.

She waits a moment before chuckling quietly. “Sure, I think I know a guy.” She goes quiet for a moment, as if contemplating something. “He’s on his way, he should be here soon.”

And indeed, it was not long before the man in the suit and top hat stiffens. “I think he has arrived.”

A long dark coat sweeps in the wake of the next entrant to the Deep Dive. Lengthy, sleek dark hair and a battered brown leather jacket, paired with the sheathed katana on his back make an intimidating figure. Careful eyes watch everything, as he enters and approaches the bartender. As his comm pings with a new message – “Back room” – the ork catches his eye and tilts his head to the nearby door. The Japanese elf offers a nod and changes direction to head straight there.

On taking a seat to be the fifth member of the group, the dwarf stands again. “I’ll let ye be and get our client now,” he says, retreating back through the rear door. Almost immediately, an older woman steps through and claims her seat, placing a small glass of clear liquid in front of herself. She is older than she initially appears, and motherly in her presence. She wrings her hands a little, unsure of how to begin.

“Gin and tonic?” the dark haired female asks, nodding at glass with a warm look.

A bewildered look and a short reply. “Rum.”

“Ah, a woman after my own heart,” she says with a grin. A pause, then, “You have a job for us?”

“Ah, yes. I have an unexpected delivery… a shipping container. I need it. The contents are important and I wish to have it within the next two days. You can do it however you want, but there cannot be any record of the container. In return, you will receive 5,000 nuyen.”

“Each?” the gruff fellow asks, arms crossed in front of him as he leans back in his chair. The woman looks at him strangely, as if waiting for him to laugh.

“Excuse my friend here, he doesn’t realise that his sarcastic voice sounds a lot like his normal one,” the female elf says, giving a charming smile. The woman returns it slightly and seems to relax. “It sounds like it could be quite a venture though,” she pauses for effect. “8,000 nuyen. That’s 2k each, a nice round amount, and everyone goes home happy.”

The woman is silent, assessing the youngest member, and taking a sip of her drink. Finally, she nods. “That’s a fair deal. I have the shipping information here,” she pushes a small card across the table. “The time it’s delivered, and the ID of the container. Message your fixer when you have possession of the container and I’ll arrange to meet you then. And please remember, discretion is the better part of valour.” She gives a tight smile and finishes her drink, then stands and leaves.

Silence falls over the four strangers, slightly uncomfortably. The girl stands and says, “Well, I’m going to go and find myself some of the good stuff,” pointing at her untouched pint with a wrinkle of her nose. She heads back out to the bar and waves the bartender over.

“A little birdie told me there might be some rum around here,” she says.

“If you mean your Johnson, that’s her private stash,” he says, unfazed by her friendly demeanour.

“Aw, not even a tiny glass?”

He sighs, “Yeah, we have some. But it’s top shelf stuff, 5 nuyen a glass.”

She tries to hide a wince. “Call it 3.50 and we have a deal.”

He barks a laugh. “I buy the stuff for 3.50, love. I’m not gonna give the stuff away. Look, 5 nuyen and I’ll even clean the glass for you.”

She returns the laugh at that but shrugs. “Sorry, guess I can’t treat lil’ ole me this evening.” She swivels off the stool and turns back toward the door. “Thanks anyways!” She gives him a little wave and heads in.

As she does, the guy who seems on edge is asking the elf for his name. ‘Thanatos’, is the reply, his accent thick.

After a moment, the man who asked simply says, ‘Blank’. After a moment of stares that would suit the name, he clarifies that this is his moniker.

“C’mon boys, you can do better than that,” she encourages, leaning against the door frame and cocking her hip as he own arms fold across her chest.

Thanatos looks like he might have rolled his eyes before he replies. “Infiltration is my skill. I’m deadly with my friend here.” His arm reaches back and his fingers gently tap the black wrapped handle of his katana.

Blank twirls a gun in hand. “Firearms are more my speciality, although I’m quick on my feet.”

She nods. “Okay, so Shooty McFireson,” she says, pointing the Blank. “And Hack n’ Dash over here.” The finger moves to an unimpressed Thanatos. ‘You lovely lads can call me Bo.’ She drops her hand and turns to the silent member of the group. “What about you?”

‘You may call me simply The Gentleman.’

Bo considers this but nods. “Sure thing, G-Man,” she says with her ever present grin. She ignores his harrumph and continues, a serious look changing her features. “So, how about a plan?”

The four of them sit there in almost silence, wondering who would do the first part of the planning. Suddenly The Gentleman stirs and places his commlink down with a map of the Mitsuhama Automated Docks.

After a few minutes of studying the map, an idea of the layout was all they would gleam from it. With the sun settled for the night the four of them decided to pay the docks a visit. Bo slipped onto her bike and was gone in seconds, a red streak into the night. Thanatos, Blank and The Gentlemen were left to travel in the Party Van.

As they approach, Bo peels away to the left to weave through the industrial area. A flash of colour catches her eye as she passes a small group, bright green glinting in the light of a streetlamp. She registers it’s not unusual enough, so she continues on her ride. She slows about a block away, parking her bike in an alley out of sight. Swiftly and quietly, she makes her way north toward the docks. From the shadows, she is able to see the front of the compound, and see two tall towers illuminating the street. The lamps glare into the darkness though, and even her keen eyes are unable to discern much beyond the chain link fence surrounding the compound. Otherwise, only the blinking of small red lights are visible.

Deciding that there’s not much she can do from here, she decides she needs to get closer, and retreats back toward her bike.

Meanwhile, as the Party Van pulls up in a deserted nearby street to the west of the docks, a dark shape slips silently from the doors and into the night.

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Thanatos is able to use the darkness provided by his western approach to his advantage, keeping low. He finds himself approaching across open space, the ground covered in dead, brown grass. He skims across it without sound, even the dry brush barely crunching in the night. He finds a weathered stone wall, dubious in it’s stability, but he flexes his gloved hands and tries his grip against the wall. He finds that his modified gloves hold him steady and he is able to nimbly scale the surface like a gecko, perching on the top. He scans the compound, seeing some of the containers and the shadows of the buildings that had been visible on their map. Squinting hard, he thinks he sees movement in the tower. A quick message to the group and he too decides that a closer inspection may be worthwhile.

Bo accelerates around the east corner of the estate, the glowing docks in her sights. As she drives past, she slows slightly and, mindful of Thanatos’ message, pays particular attention to the towers. No guards are outside, the front of the compound as silent as the night around her. Within the towers she is able to pick out a person inside. Although she is not able to pick out much detail, the bland garb and glinting badges show them to be basic security. Probably the generic rent-a-cops a lot of the corporations hired to protect their assets.

Seeing no one nearby and not risking a stop, she reports her findings back to her team and continues west past the gates and turning left a block away with the intention of circling back. Another left turn and she is heading back toward the van. Not far away from them, she notices that she is coming up on a group of three men, one of whom has a rather vibrant green mohawk. Hearing her bike, one turns to look at her and she sees that they’re wearing masks and she is certain that these must have been the people she had spotted earlier. A group from the “Halloweeners”, one of the prominent Seattle gangs that she had encountered previously but never tangled with.

Bo reduced the throttle a little, slowing as she drew nearer, and saw that they all held weapons, including a rather large club. These guys were looking for serious trouble. Knowing that she was not one to actively stop them, she again accelerates toward the van hoping that the engine will be enough to draw attention of activity to those that may remain inside. As she passes, one of the men wolf whistle at her and ask her for a good time. Bo laughs and tosses a careless, “You wish!” over her shoulder. She takes the first turn after the van and shuts off her Suzuki, slowly making her way to the main road again and peering around so she can see the group.

Near the shore, the darkness is overwhelming. No light is able to reach past the stacked containers here and even with his elven eyes Thanatos himself unable to make out much. Cautiously, he makes his way along the fence, scanning the area. At the edge of the low glow of the first hints of tower lights, he notices a red light on the fence. Crouching, he scoops a small stone from the ground and tosses it past. A quiet whirr and the light seems to move ever so slightly as if tracking the movement.

He sends out a commlink message: “Red lights are cameras.”

Squinting in the meagre light, he looks over the ground. No consistently squashed grass indicating any sort of patrol route, which was good. Sticking close to the fence he steps a little closer. The camera now swivels his way, and he spins quickly, hoping that his face hasn’t been caught on film. Slipping into the shadows, he moves rapidly back to his original spot. Perhaps it was time to call it for tonight. He had learned all he could for now. Tomorrow he would return and find more.

Blank heard the guys, but what happened? I know they went on their way but did he poke his head out and growl at them or…?

On Thanatos’ return, the men decided it was time to head back and consider their strategies. Bo looked around, running her options over in her mind.

“You guys go on ahead. I’ll meet you tomorrow,” she says, swinging a leg over her bike.

“What are you thinking?” Blank asks curiously.

“I have a hunch,” she replies with a grin, fixing her helmet in place and taking off toward the highway.

Soon enough, just a mile or two out, the sight of flashing lights off the main road light up the sky. Taking the exit, Bo parks up nearby and heads inside. The Cube is a lot more inviting than the Deep Dive she frequented earlier, with a few people milling around outside. Opening the door, the deep bass that could be heard from the road suddenly pounds through her chest, filling her being. Patrons bump into her immediately, jumping to the beat of the music. She pushes her way through them, observing the types that are seeking entertainment, comfort and company. She very quickly spots who she had been hoping to find here.

As possibly the nearest bar to the docks, she had hoped to find a member of the security team that may have finished their shift recently. In the throng of people is a larger male wearing the traditional white shirt and beige trousers that denote the security uniform. His tie is loosened, and still lightly marked no doubt with the powder from the stereotypical donut. Sweat pours off him as he really goes for it, throwing shapes more energetically than any around him. People around him give him a bit of a berth, giving him the room to express himself in dance, and smiles and smirks grace the faces of his observers.

Taking the opportunity, Bo slips forward and beams as she matches his enthusiasm. He seems encouraged by the attention, and gives a little bit more. She steps forward and places a hand on his chest, leaning closely to speak in his ear. Her words are lost in the beat of the music though, and he barely seems to notice, intent instead on freezing as the beat drops before showing that he does indeed have the moves like Jagger. Bo chuckles as he spins, stopping with a hand in the air and another on his crotch in a pose that would make MJ proud.

She shakes her head, realising he is lost in his bubble, and she envies him for a moment. He is having a great time. Another spin and his keycard slips from his belt, swinging around him as he goes. Bewildered for a moment that it really could be that easy, Bo glances around her and watches him a second more. A move around him, a slight shimmy, then a wink and she’s gone, vanishing back into the crowd.

She steps outside and makes a call to the Gentleman. “Hey, think I’ve got something for you.”

The Gentleman access the weak point in the network he detected earlier and searching for the employee ID that Bo relays to him. He finds that the man at the club is an employee of the standard, well-known security firm of Seattle, and likely the ones stationed at the docks. The guy in question is no longer in the employ of the company though.

A quick configure of the file and the ID is once again active. “You’re good,” he replies back to Bo.

Satisfied, Bo returns home to work on doctoring the ID. Tomorrow she would start her first day as a new security guard hired by the corporation. It was her civic duty after all.



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