Dreamchipper-Part 2

          The Banshee lives up to your every expectation. The brick facade is completely unremarkable, with a broken neon sign announcing the “Ba sh e” is open for business. The heavy steel door pulls open, a common feature for establishments more interested in exiting clients than entering ones. There are no windows. Muffled music seeps from under the door.

          As you enter the bar, you are slightly more impressed. Although last year’s favorite tunes blast from a pair of decaying speakers, the music is clear and loud. The door opens into a narrow hall with a single low window to your left. At the far end of the hall, perhaps twelve feet away, is a steel and wire mesh gate, with a single crossbar that can only be operated from the other side. A single human bouncer tells you to check your hardware with the Dwarf behind the window. The man is unarmed, unless you count the cyber eyes and matching set of razors protruding from the back of his hands. As you move to comply, a gritty Dwarf muscles your heavier equipment into rusty metal racks. Your are, of course, allowed to keep your hand guns. The Dwarf flips a thumbs-up sign to the bouncer, who opens the gate.

          The Banshee is obviously a meeting place. There is no dance floor to speak of, and there is no room for any type of stage. The music is canned, piped into the bar to cover the inhabitants’ conversations. There are several large tables in the center of the room, surrounded by deeply padded vinyl chairs. The only bar is directly in front of you. As you look in, you can see several scantily clad waitresses moving slowly through the thin crowd.

          The bartender continues to rub the wet bar with an even wetter rag. When you ask for Urlan, the bartender looks up casually and scans your group. With exaggerated slowness, he points to the far door. He raises his hand to the Troll standing there and returns to his work. You cross the wet tile floor and are ushered into the next room by the doorman.

          To your surprise, this is not a meeting room, but another section of the bar. There are several tables, of slightly higher quality, bunched in the center of the room and a large redwood bar against the back wall. The music is much softer in this room. The doorman backs out, closes the door, and the music fades altogether. Sitting at the bar, sipping some foaming blue concoction, is your very lovely Mr. Johnson.

          Mr. Johnson ushers you into a small room, set in the back of The Banshee. Inside is a legless vinyl couch and a card table with five straight-backed wooden chairs. A single bare light bulb hangs from the plaster ceiling. Seated on an arm of the couch, next to some kind of electronic box, is a huge Indian. He is wearing a leather jacket with matching fringed breeches and loin cloth. He is not wearing a shirt. Instead, a bone vest, brightly decorated with colored beads and small feathers, covers his massive chest. His feet are covered by thick-soled moccasins, intricately designed with hundreds of hand-sewn beads. On his left foot is the pattern of a snake, seemingly caught beneath the sole of the big man’s foot. On the right is a small green bird, just taking flight up his calf. As you enter the room, he flips a switch on the front of the box and rises to meet you. A faint, relaxing hum fills the room.

          “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Urlan Manes, son of Isheer Many-Manes and Urlan president of Global Technologies. The woman who brought you here is Roxanne Wunter. We would like to acquire your services.”

          “The task is a simple one. Last night, a member of my staff assisted several thieves in stealing three data chips from my company. Although the defense was spirited, all of the thieves managed to get away. The one who turned against me was like a son. But that is no more. I must have these chips back. The actual thieves are of little consequence; the stolen merchandise is vital. Time is of the essence. However, you cannot charge into battle full of pride and self-importance. This run must be accomplished silently. Am I understood? Even a hint of your activities could be disastrous.”

          “I understand the way of the world. The workman is worthy of his wage. I am, therefore, willing to pay competitive rates. However, I must have the chips delivered here, into Roxanne’s hands, no later than 9 A.M. Friday. Its now Sunday night. That gives you four and half days to do your job.”

          You quickly Negotiate a fee of 30,000¥ per Chip per Team member.

          “Gentlemen and ladies, I believe that is all you need to start…”

          Suddenly the only door to the room bursts open, interrupting Urlan in mid-sentence. The team turns to look, but nobody walks through the door. From their angle, they cannot see into the bar. Urlan stands slowly and straightens his vest.

          As the team begins to check out the door, two Orks step through. Both are dressed in three-piece suits with walking capes thrown over their shoulders. Each sports an Ares Sliver-gun, resting the weapon in crossed arms. The room is dark, but both wear mirror shades. They move to flank the door as a third Ork enters the room.
Dressed like the front two, the third Ork is easily six and one-half feet tall. Built like a linebacker, his muscles bulge beneath his suit. Uglier then most Orks, he has made no attempt to hide his grim features. A pencil-sized toothpick is lodged in the side of his mouth.

          “Junior.” Urlan attempts to cut the large Ork off, but Junior is already in the room, heading for the couch.

          “Urlan,” Junior hisses, and the lovely Roxanne." You can feel your skin crawl as Junior extends a hand toward your Mr. Johnson. “It seems I was not notified of this impromptu company meeting.” With a swirl of his cape, Junior sits on the couch.

          “I left a message,” Urlan smiles. “Perhaps if you check your machine?”

          “Of course.” Junior looks over at his guards, and the three laugh. A sick kind of wheezing, like a dying hyena. “I assume this is your ‘team.’ How delightful. They will, no doubt, prove as efficient and loyal as your pet, Tee Hee.”

          Junior stands as Urlan reddens. “If you need my assistance, well, you know where to find me.” Urlan glances at Roxanne and then glares at the departing Ork.

          “Of course, Junior. I will be in touch.”

          Junior waves a hand over his shoulder as he exits. The guards retreat slowly, closing the door behind them.

           Roxanne barely waits for the door to close behind Urlan. “Ladies and gentlemen, if we could get started? I have all of the information we were able to acquire on Tee Hee.

          ”Hee started with Global about two years ago, straight out of the University of Seattle. He has been a valuable member of our design team, leading the way to several breakthroughs in the areas of skillsofts and simsense. Although a talented decker, he seems somewhat lost when not Jacked in to the Matrix. He is very naive and forgets things constantly. Like how to get to the store. I must admit, Fm surprised he has lived as long as he has.

          “We sent a team to his apartment first thing this morning. Seems he forgot to pay his rent and was kicked out about two weeks ago. Our personnel entered the apartment and found that it had not been entered in at least several days. No thermal, thick dust, the works. An extensive search revealed nothing. We have no idea where he has been sleeping for the past two weeks.

          His office was a little more interesting. I had the entire contents of his desk brought here. You can make of it what you will. Good Luck.” Roxanne reaches behind the couch and pulls out a three-foot plastic cube. Inside are the contents of Tee Hee’s desk. She sets it on the table with a thump.

“If you have any more questions, let me know. Here is my private number. You can reach me here day or night. This room is rented for another… (she looks at her watch)…23 minutes. You can stay if you want.

          ”Keep in touch. If you don’t have some sort of results within four days, go home. There won’t be any point in continuing."

          On that dark note, your new contact hands the team leader a plastic business card with her picture on the front and the number 567-3272 on the back. She then turns to leave.

          Digging through the box you come up with a breadboard, two circuit boards to a cyberdeck, a miniature toolkit, an electronic toy that does the twist when activated, several resistors, tickets to last week’s Urbanbrawl game at the King-dome, a disposable lighter, a stack of data chips, a simsense player with eight disks, a holocube and a package of herbal tea.

          Most of the items are of no worth to you but you find that the tool kit, a complete computer and electronics microtool kit that would allow a person to use the Computers Build and Repair Skill is inscrbed with the words, “Future Good Luck, Flair”. The holocube has eight pictures most of which are Tee Hee and friends, one picture stands out as Tee Hee is not in it. The picture is of a white haired man, cyberterminal in hand a coffee cup in the other hand says “Flair”. The caption on the picture reads Dr Hendrix . The package of tea is labeled, “Orion’s Special Blend, Orion’s Organic Grocery, Cascade Road, Redmond.” Finally the lighter is decorated with a circuit board pattern, worked into the pattern are the words, “Breadboard Quaff & Stuff”.

          Taking all of this information into consideration, you decide that a trip to cascade road would be in order.

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Dreamchipper-Part 2

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