Waltz of the Macabre

All About the Truck
Mr(s) Johnson Part 2

At the break of dawn Thanatos is up and ready to stake out the Docks for when the cargo ship arrives. A quick ping to the group and Blank agrees to drop him off near by. Grabbing a few soy cubes Thanatos finds himself settling down in the brown fields, and with cubes to his left for snacking and binoculars in his right hand, he lay their for several hours. Just before the ship comes in two guards leave one of the buildings and switch places with the guards in the tower. Watching the ship come in, the drones lift the containers and the scurry of trucks coming and going from the docks like a bee hive.

The high end corp trucks with their shiny finish looking like they’ve never done more than a few days of work completely automated and those that look like they were dragged from the river or the local dump with typical truck drivers set festering in their seats as they follow collection orders from their bee queen.

As the activity quietens down one truck arrives and seemingly stops, no drone is active no cargo being moved. Thanatos scans the area, finally focusing on the guard tower as a man leaves walks over to a crate in the ‘suspicious zone’. He watches as it is inspected, inside and out, then as he walks back to the tower a drone lifts the cargo onto the truck before it scurries away.

A low rumble accompanies the truck as it leaves the dock with its new cargo. Thanatos observes silently, wondering how we might be able to infiltrate and retrieve a heavy container and the only conclusion that can be drawn is at least a simple one – we need a truck. But do they hack into an automated corporate one, or knock one of the drivers unconscious? Both are risky, especially as they cannot be sure if the trucks are tagged in some way. It certainly wouldn’t do to arrive claiming ownership of one container whilst the drones attempt to transport another!

The decision is made to instead try and acquire a new vehicle. Whether the idea is to rent or “borrow” is yet unclear, but the Gentleman is soon scoping the matrix and quickly finds a place that rents trucks. Together, the band of four head over in what has become ‘affectionately’ known as The Party Van. They pull up a street away but as they draw to a stop they see a trio of humanoids heading for the door. Troll, ork and dwarf. Odd companions. Cautiously, sensing something amiss, Blank steps out of the van.

Loud cracks sound through the air, flashes coming from inside the small office. Screams fill the otherwise quiet morning. Thanatos leaps from the van and it’s a long moment before Bo hesitantly follows. The Gentleman decides to use his particular skill set and a small drone flies forward and lands lightly on the glass of a barred window. It projects back the images and they are able to make out the three figures, with another two behind the desk. There is at least a single limp form in the room and the tension rises. These guys are not playing. Their style indicates toward them being more of the uncouth Halloweeners.

Blank and Thanatos flank the doorway, crouching low under the windows. Blank risks lifting slightly to peer through the bottom of the window. A growl, a crack, and a bullet tears through the glass near the spy bot, knocking it to the floor and showering Blank in shards. He nonchalantly brushes of the shards as a huge troll throws the door open. Without pause Blank lifts his semi automatic pistols and fires a long burst. The troll roars and stumble backwards, raising his own weapon, but is unable to retaliate before the dual weapons are utilised again and a few more rounds are squeezed off. 18 bullets, and he finally falls.

Thanatos glances through the open doorway to assess the situation as Bo round the front of the van, ensuring to keep cover. Inside, the dwarf is looking more than a little worried but the ork scoffs and raises his heavy shotgun. He is swiftly disarmed, literally, by Thanatos’ quick thinking. He rushed in and slashes at the offender with deadly accuracy, the sharpened blade slicing through flesh without issue and neatly dismembering the ork. The shotgun, and his right arm, drop to the floor as he screams in agony.

Bo notices the look on the dwarf’s face and knows he’s about to bolt. Blood is still oozing from beneath the large bulk of the troll, dark against the dusty concrete, and the sight of the torn limb bleeding profusely make her gut wrench. She stands up and puts her hands in the air. Mainpulating her voice to an inhuman level, she shouts for them to stop. The dwarf’s face twists, his fear more than apparent. Unfortunately the plea otherwise falls on deaf ears as the ork rushes Thanatos, who is the much more agile of the two. He neatly side steps and plunges his katana into the back of his neck. He puts a boot into the back of the now dead comrade and shoves the body off of his weapon.

Blinking against the sudden escalation of violence, Bo makes her way through the office, carefully stepping around those that were less fortunate. She pushes open the back door and picks the door on one of the trucks. Her gloved hands shake as she attempts to make quick work of the gridlink. A deep breath and she’s back in control, and she’s eventually able to disable it before picking the padlock on the rusty metal gates to the parking lot. She pulls out the panel hiding the wires for hotwiring the truck and as the engine sputters to life Thanatos jumps into the cab next to her.

“One has a DocWagon on the way,” he announces grimly. “We should hurry.”

Bo looks up to see the Party Van already tearing down the street and puts her foot on the gas. They had a truck.

Bo straightens her long blonde hair, combing it out and fluffing it around her shoulders to try and make it look more realistic. She strides forward and round the corner, confidently approaching the guard posted in the booth at the front gate. She smiles widely and bids him a good morning, which earns her a strange look.

“I’m a new recruit, I was asked to report here today?” she hedges, clasping her hands in front of her.

The guard raises an eyebrow and just points at the card reader next to a small gate in the fence where personnel access the compound. Her smile falters a little but she places her forged keycard against the device and, when the door clicks open with a buzz and he doesn’t cast so much as a second glance at her, she decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Looking around, she quickly orientates herself with the descriptions Thanatos gave her and heads for the rear building where the guards should be. To the left of the building, right by the quarantined containers, is a heavy steel door leading into the building.

“Luck must be with me,” she murmurs as the door swings open under her touch. The hallway is completely empty, with not so much as the whirring of machines to be heard. The first door leads to a small lounge where the guards must take breaks. Further on, there is a staircase leading upward before the corridor turns sharply left. Glancing up, she continues on for now. She steps lightly, not wanting to be caught off guard nor prematurely announce her presence.

Here there are two wooden doors to the left and a steel one to the right. A flush and the sound of running water filters through the first wooden door, answering questions about that room, but her curiosity is peaked by the final one. She approaches and tries to peer through the windows, but thick shutters have sealed out any nosy visitors so she knocks sharply on the door. When there’s no answer, she takes a moment to listen but can’t here much other than a quiet beeping. She tries the door and finds it also unlocked, and steps through. She freezes when she sees a large man in a chair, surrounded by monitors, but he doesn’t move. She holds her breath for a second but it becomes obvious he is not going to react and she edges around to see that his eyes are staring blankly forward and a small wire is plugged into a jack at his temple.

Bo wave a hand briefly in front of him but again he doesn’t even flinch. She stands back and messages the team.

“I’m in,” she whispers, activating the link to her contact lenses.

“We can see,” she hears in her head. “Looks like you found the security detail.”

“Doesn’t seem like much of a threat, but good to know where he is,” she replies, casting her eyes over the multitude of displays in front of him.

She spies a locked cabinet in the corner and moves to it, slipping her lockpick out of her pocket. A quick twist and the cheap metal lock opens up. She pulls the door open and finds varying guns and some riot gear. Sadly, nothing very shiny. Poots could pick her up something much classier quicker than she picked the lock! With a small pout she refastens the doors and leaves everything as she found it.

Back in the hallway, she makes a beeline for the stairs and jogs up them. The door immediately to the left of the stairwell opens out onto a generously size balcony area, littered with cigarette butts. There is also more wooden doors but her attention is caught by the one at the end. A large window shows several men in uniform observing many monitors and through the room she can see that this room then has a large external window too, giving good visibility across most of the compound.

Bo puts her friendly smile back in place and knocks, letting herself in. Three of the occupants don’t even look up, but the rear guard turns to look at her expectantly. “Hi, I think I’m supposed to be here, right? The company sent me over to help out only I’m a little lost,” she offers with a self deprecating smirk.

He raises a sceptical eyebrow but nods her in. “Didn’t know we were getting anyone new,” he says, a hint of suspicion in his tone.

Bo frowns. “Really? I was told that you security should have got the message.”

The guard rolls his eyes. “Bloody lumox. Of course he didn’t tell us.” He shrugs and continues. “Well, there’s not really much to be done right now. It’s a slow day. But up there you can see a display of the containers that will need inspecting. Most of it runs pretty normally, it’s boring as shit.” As if to punctuate his statement, one of the other guards gives a large yawn.

“When one needs inspecting, we take a look and tag it with one of those,” he signals to a box of red RFID tags. He picks one up and Bo moves forward, peering in. Taking her opportunity, she slips a tag into the inside of her sleeve. A quick glance about and she’s sure she wasn’t spotted.

“If tagging these things is as exciting as it gets around here then, mind if I come along?”

He shrugs again. He’s clearly not paid enough to care much about what goes on here. “Whatever, it’s your life.”

He picks up a machine from the desk and presses a few buttons. “First you gotta program it with the shipping ID,” he points to the screen with the red box on it and a single string of 12 random characters and taps the tag against the screen of the hand held machine. “Then we go check it out.”

They move toward the staircase as he explains. “Truck will arrive that will be transmitting the same RFID code from under the bumper, which is how we know to let them in. The drones match what they’re here for and handle the rest. I won’t actually tag this one yet though so I’ll wipe the tag when we get back.”

Outside in the quarantine area he gives one container a curious look. “We’ve only got one on our records, wonder why that one’s still here,” he says absentmindedly before throwing open the heavy container door of the one they’ve gone to inspect. It’s just full of crates, and he lifts one up but doesn’t appear to find anything of interest. He shuffles through and peers into a few more, poking some of the miscellaneous stuff lying on the ground and exits with a disappointed look. “Always hope to find something good, like gold or something.”

Scuffing the ground with his foot he gives a disgruntled snort and heaves the door closed again.

“Well, maybe I can come down and check on this one later, just to make sure nothing fishy is going on,” she suggests.

He waves his hand in an uncommitted manner and leads Bo back to the control room and shows her to a seat at one of the terminals. She sits and observes the room for a minute and huffs out a long breath, spinning in her chair.

“I’m Alice by the way,” she offers, holding out her hand. The guard hesitantly takes it with a firm grip and introduces himself as Jeffrey. “Can you show me how to actually use that machine, Jeffrey?” she asks curiously.

He considers her for a moment then looks back out at the silent compound. “Sure. Grab one of those tags.”

Bo retrieves a single red tag and walks to his side. He hands her the machine an tells her to type in the number of the container downstairs, then place the red tag against it. She touches the tag against the top as instructed, slipping the other briefly into her hand at the same time before pushing it back into her sleeve.

“Now make sure you wipe it again,” he says, pointing at a few buttons on the device. “Just press the tag against it again. Anywhere near the scanner will do the trick.”

Bo taps the keys and presses the tag against it. “That’s all?”

“That’s all.”

She nods an tosses the tag back into the small box, replacing the device. She glances out over the yard and the lines of containers. Her eyes are drawn back to those near the building.

She paces a little, then turns to Jeffrey. “I might actually go check on that one now, give myself something to do, y’know?”

He shrugs again. “Be my guest. But let me know what you find down there, me and the lads got a pool going.” There’s a small chuckle from one of the other guards, the first interaction any of deigned to give her, and he glances over his shoulder.

“Will do, sir.”

Back at the container now, she pings the Gentleman with the code she has programmed the chip with. For show, she pulls the heavy doors open and peers inside. In the centre there is a large grey oval, shining in the sunlight filtering through the opening behind her. She steps inside and walks around it, but makes no attempt to touch it.

“Showtime, boys.”

She leaves again and pushes the door closed, shifting the tag from her sleeve to her hand and affixing it to the crate, then returning to the office.

A quick bit of work on one of his small spy drones and the Gentleman has his little worker flying underneath the truck and fixing itself behind the front bumper, transmitting an RFID signal with the matching code as sent by Bo. Now they should have no trouble getting in and retrieving the container.

Using the smart system in the older model, he navigates it forward to the front gate. There’s a small beep, then the great metal gate noisily slides open. It trundles forward into the loading bay and stills, waiting. A tense moment follows as they wait to see what happens.

“Anything good?” The main guard asks as she comes back in.

Bo wrinkles her nose and shakes her head. “Nada, I’m afraid. Just boxes of musty old clothes and some furniture that’s seen better days.”

He sighs and gives yet another signature shrug. “Damn, I had my money on organs,” he replies with a slightly sinister grin.

She laughs nervously, taking her seat again. She hears the gate creak open and looks across the compound to see a truck drive itself into the dock. This is it…

The group collectively hold their breath and, after what seems like much longer than the ten seconds it must have been, A low buzzing accompanies the sight of drones flying to one of the containers in the quarantine area. The one the have been requested to retrieve is slowly hauled into the air and placed on the bed of the truck.

Bo allows herself a small smile. “Just in time too. Although why anyone wants that junk is beyond me.”

The truck reverses back out into the road and returns to the side road a little ways away where Blank pulled the van up.

The Gentleman pings Bo a quick message. “Okay, time to get out. I’ll cover your tracks.”

The hacker is soon back in the security system of the dock and has erased all traces of the shipping container, and a chunk of the time that Bo had spent poking around the security office. Finally, he spoofed the company system and sent a message to the main guard. They shouldn’t be looking for her anytime soon.

Bo spends another twenty minutes looking over the silent screens and getting more bored by the minute. Two of the men are talking in low tones in the corner, giving her sideways glances and laughing. She fights the urge to roll her eyes. No one else has even bothered to talk to her. She stretches slowly an casually stands, making her way to the rear of the room. She quickly reviews her excuses but find none of them necessary as they don’t even glance her way.

As she makes her way toward the exit she fires off a message to Mr Johnson to let her know they had the package, and almost instantly receives a response containing simply an address. She nonchalantly strolls out of the building, across the tarmac and out of the gate. Very soon, she is back in the Party Van with the other three and on their way to the rendezvous point.

Another alert pings up on the security guard’s screen.

“Alice Higgins has been reassigned. Her efforts are required elsewhere. Apologies for the inconvenience.”

Shame, he thinks. They never seem to last long here.

They pull up near to the meeting point, finding themselves in a derelict industrial estate. Bo and Thanatos jump out of the van and head forward, asking Blank and the Gentleman to stay behind and watch the cargo. They were at a distinct disadvantage here, with no idea what they could be walking into.

Inside an old warehouse, they see their client. She seems relieved to see them and steps forward, her look quickly turning apprehensive. “Where is the cargo?”

Bo raise a hand slightly, smiling to calm the nervous woman. “We have it. We just wanted to meet first.”

The woman appears slightly affronted. “Why on earth would you… Bring it, now.” She demands.

Bo’s smile turns to a smirk, throwing up both her hands and stepping back to placate the irate female. “Okay, okay. It’s just not our first rodeo is all. Although the first to not try something,” she adds, nodding respectfully. “We appreciate that.” She sends off a message to Blank to let him know it was safe to bring the truck through to the yard outside.

They exit the warehouse to see him pull up to the doorway.

The woman looks at the container with dismay. “You brought the whole thing?”

“It was the easiest way,” Bo reassures her. “And there’s no trace, as you asked.”

“I was really rather hoping you might just bring me the cargo,” she ponders a moment. “An extra 100 nuyen each if you can get rid of this,” she waves her hand at the truck.

Bo considers the offer and looks to her team. After a moment she nods and accepts the offer. “Yeah, we can do that.”

She relaxes a little and offers her own smile. She approaches the container and pulls open the heavy door. She steps up to the grey oval and places a palm on the surface. A panel slides open and she inputs some code using the keys presented. A low hiss sounds as the top shifts off the apparently pressurised capsule.

A gasp sounds and a young woman sits up suddenly, her long dark hair tangling around her face. She takes a moment to gather herself as the group attempts to squash their surprise. “What took you so long?” she breathes, grinning at the client who holds out a hand and gently helps her out of the container.

Bo frowns a little, a faint memory tugging at her senses. She’s sure she’s seen her face somewhere but can’t quite pinpoint why she seems so familiar. The Gentleman’s voice sounds quietly in her ear. “I think she’s something to do with Renraku. I definitely recognise her face. I’ll start a search on local reports.”

“Thank you,” says the woman, drawing Bo’s attention again. The elf smiles and accepts the warm hug. Her comms ping with a direct message. If you ever need work, you let me know.

Bo smiles gratefully and nods. “And we’ll take care of that truck. Do you have the credsticks available for us now?”

The woman’s eyes widen. “Oh! Of course, of course. Here,” she says, handing Bo four small red sticks. “2100 nuyen on each, as promised.”

Bo holds out her hand, and Mr Johnson takes it. “Thank you.” She glances at the new woman. “We’ll let you get reacquainted.” Blank slams the container doors shut and Bo jumps back in the cab. With a little wave, she drives out of the compound and toward the bay, with the van containing the others following.

“We should just drive the whole lot in,” Blank says, arms crossed as he holds his position firm.

“Those people though,” Bo chews her lip thoughtfully. “It’s bad enough that those thugs attacked them. This is their livelihood.”

Thanatos just shrugs and scuffs the ground with his boot disinterestedly. The Gentleman, ever the pragmatist, speaks up. “I rather fear that I must agree with Blank. We are here and it would be easy to just heave it in.” Blank grins in triumph. “However you raise a good point. We would be unfair of us to inflict more unfortunate circumstance upon complete strangers who did nothing to bring it upon themselves.”

“We wore gloves, and I wiped it down just to be safe. That crap house didn’t have cameras either, so there’s no evidence, nothing to come back on us. It won’t hurt to give it back,” she tries to rationalise.

Blank grumbles but relents. Bo pulls off the tracking tag and, once the Gentleman confirms it has been wiped, uses a lighter to burn the edge. It doesn’t burn well, but it is small and she is able to damage it enough that trying to get any evidence off it should be unlikely. She tosses it as far as she can and then between themselves they are able to heave the container off the truck’s bed and into the ocean bay. They watch it sink quickly and, satisfied that it can’t be seen, return to their vehicles.

Within ten minutes, the truck is back outside the rental agency as if it had never been used and the four of them, credstick each in hand, go their separate ways. Mission complete.

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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