Lambeth, London Metroplex
Wednesday 12th April, 2051
After a night in Sharktooth Tony’s palace of once-was-war — a night punctuated by the sounds of laughter, glasses clinking and voices raised in drunken argument until the small hours, then by the sounds of cooking, domestic activities and a baby crying — the Lazarus team rise to find the converted museum busy with the lives of the sixty or so people who call it home. After a breakfast of tea, toast and real orange marmalade worth a small fortune, they are ready to face the new day. Able has been scheming, and has a plan on how to tackle the favors the team now owe Tony.
Mac stretches as he paces back and forth, stuffing his light paperback novel into his trenchcoat pocket. “I hope you guys are well rested. Don’t know how any of you slept with all the snoring.” He rocks back on his heels. “So what are we doing, convincing the local thugs we need the drug shipment? How are we doing that, intimidation or bribery?” Able turns around, a thousand-watt smile piercing out from a brand new face. “We ask them kindly.”
Mac blinks. “I like it. Simple, daring, and it just might work. How are you planning on getting that to work, by the way?” He then sighs as he looks Able’s new face over. “You’re skeeving my stomach every time you do that, you know?” Able spreads his hands. “We replace the target. Lure him out, away from his friends – and insert me to temporarily take his place – and give his boys their orders.” Mac taps his feet against the runner along the wall. “Keen. Having many faces is useful… hard to pull off that plan otherwise.” He stops and flicks open his pocket watch, gesturing with his fingers and throwing a few surveillance photographs into the air above it. “Bit of a problem, pals. Our betty doesn’t go anywhere without his bodyguards. We’ve got to be real creative if we want to draw him out alone. Something properly peculiar.” Able nods. “Yeah, that is the nugget there. Of course, if we had a real Betty it might not be so difficult…”
“Any chance we have info on his vices? Hookers or the like? Even paranoid gangers need private time every now and then – we could operate under the Everyone Has to Pee theory,” Pacoy asks. Mac taps his teeth with his fingernail. “Well, we could get one, or you could certainly put on a facemask or whatever you do to impersonate a proper Betty.”
The curtain separating the team’s suite from the rest of the museum is pushed aside as Marquis Deeds enters. “Mornin’ mates, who needs to pee, did you say?” Able speaks, “Everyone, according to Pacoy. Taking him out in a bathroom would probably work, actually.” Deeds stops in his tracks as he catches sight of Able. “Bloody Nora, who let you in, Yardy?” he goes to pull a Scorpio plastic-8 from inside his jacket.
Pitbull grunts as he lights his cigarette. " We could blow something up not too far but not too close to them. Some of his body guards would be forced to break formation and investigate. That would at least bring down our head-count, right?" He growls as he exhales a fog of smoke. Mac digs his hand into his pocket, feeling the reassuring weight of the hilt of the revolver naturally curve into place. “Hey, bosco, cool your iron. It’s not Yardy.” “Whoa-whoa-whoa! That’s Abe, Marky-Mark!” Pitbull blurts out as he gets between them.
Deeds seems stunned for a second, then: “Woah, that’s heavy. You almost gave me a bleedin’ heart attack, Yanks!” but the pistol disappears again. “So, what’s this in aid of then?” Able’s face shifts again, this time taking the mirror to Marquis himself. “Just one of my many talents.” Pitbull turns to Abe. “Have I ever mentioned how awesome that is? Do one of Saxby if Saxby had an underbite!” Pitbull says with mock-geek level enthusiasm.
Deeds looks pale for a second and grabs the back of a regency chair to steady himself. “Ok, stop that! I get it.” His face becomes calculating. “Wow, if I could do that, I’d own London. Anything I can help wiv, guv’nor?” Able nods, seating himself opposite Deeds. “As a matter of fact, perhaps you could. We need to get Yardy away from his guards temporarily – long enough to replace him.”
Why would anyone want to own this place… He releases the revolver back into the depths of his pocket. He nods along behind Able, mentally cataloguing the gear he has in his briefcase. I should have brought a change of clothes…
Deeds grins, then says “That ain’t easy, guv – ‘cept for one afternoon a week. Yardy Bob is as nasty a gutter scum as they ever made on the Southside, but he fancies himself a toff, see? Now he’s a rich gangster bugger, he has lunch at the Regency Club, his private club, every Thursday afternoon. Alone, since the club has its own corporate security on hire and won’t let his scumbag yardie lackeys in. If you looked like someone who belonged there, you could way-lay him when he went to the john, I’d think.” Deeds looks pleased with himself. Able mirrors Deeds exactly, right down to the smug look on his face. “Yes. That’ll do nicely. That’ll do nicely indeed.”
Outside the Regency Club,
Knightsbridge, London Metroplex
Thursday 13th April, 2051
Deeds looks over his shoulder from the driving seat of the team’s loaner van and points under the dash so no-one outside can see. “That’s him, the big cove with the ugly face in the fake ashtrakhan coat. See, he’s got three of his boys with him, but they’ll stay in the limo.” He points again to a black C-700 luxury sedan at the curb outside the Club.
Mac winces. “Never did get that style. Too… frilly. Once we nab him and you get in that sedan, Able, we’re committed. Can’t really turn back, and extraction would be difficult. How do we want to get in there? Bop one of the unlucky fobs as they come out of the place, then slip you inside the club?” Able, his face bearing the look of an annoyed French aristocrate complete with Van Dyke beard, steps from the car. “No, monseure. We ask to have some of my good friends from out of the town seated while they sample the clubs fine staples, to be reported back to one of the finer fine dining blogs from the States.” Mac grins and rolls his eyes. “Unnerving, but endlessly amusing. I’m with Pitbull. I want to see a Saxby later.” “After that I want to see a Tom Cruise from Top Gun.” Pitbull adds as he nudges Mac.
“Mac and Able, one of you should take an Areani just in case,” Pacoy notes, offering a compact spy-ball, “I’ll have a Pinbot watching the outside and one inside.” Mac steps out of the van in a clean, well fitted and unwrinkled suit, doing his best to hide his discomfort. “This certainly does look like a fine establishment.” He grins and looks towards Pitbull. “Of course you’d go for a movie with gun in the name, wouldn’t you.” Mac holds his hand out to take the Areani. “Good plan, pal. My stomach is grumbling already. Can we head inside?” Pitbull yanks and tugs at his tie in frustration. “Ack! I’ve been strangled with less strength than this tie…” He growls as he pushes himself out of the car, revealing himself to be in a suit slightly too tight around the chest.
Heading around to the side, the team come to a plain metal door, the servant’s entrance, which faces onto a clean and well-tended alleyway. A camera looks down on the doorstep, and an old buzzer intercom sits beside the door handle. Mac sighs, taking a moment to adjust Pitbull’s tie before fixing his own bowtie. He flips out his notepad and begins jotting down notes on the establishment, looking around casually. Pitbull breathes a sigh of relief. “Air! Fucking delicious air! Thank you, Mac. There was a reason why I didn’t take my dress blues with me.” Mac looks Pitbull up and down. “Probably because you’d stain them with some red sauce? Honestly, can’t take you anywhere these days. At least he cuts a fine figure when we’re overseas.” He thumbs at Pacoy
Able, schwancing up to the servant’s entrance, presses on to the buzzer as he looks up at the camera. Within seconds, the door is opened by a man in a well-pressed butler’s uniform that does nothing to disguise the muscles under it. On the jacket breast pocket sits the subdued logo of the world-renowned Whirlwind security corporation. "Wotcher, “Arry. Thought you was down wif the lurgy today? Who are these coves?”
Pacoy fidgets with his tie while taking note of the Whirlwind logo. Pitbull stiffles a snigger. “Ol’ Whirlwind. We’ve had our share of dealings with these ass-clowns, Abe? Pac?” Pitbull H.U.D. texts the team. “Well, we know we’re dealing with pros,” Pacoy comms back in answer.
Able smiles up at the ‘butler’, speaking in his best French accent – exaggerated greatly, like there is any other kind. “It iz with great ple-share that I announce my ray-tern to the working world. My dear fronds from America here broat with theym a cure-all for my ills, some pro-doct of this man’s lab at GeniTech. The othayrs, they are hare to rey-view the finaste dineng aystablishmonts of Britain for wone of they most highly reygardayd blogs among they Americans. I thought, they least I could do for such dear fronds was to at least get the a seat at the chef’s table for tonight.”
Mac looks from Able to Pacoy and Pitbull before whispering into their ears, “You are all never allowed to make fun of how I speak again.” “We are equal opportunity mockers here, Mac,” Pacoy comms, “There is plenty of mock to go around here.”
The big security man smiles and winks. ‘Say no more, me old mucker. Chef Nahim isn’t expected in until six, so as long as your pals behave themselves and are out before then, no-one’s the wiser, eh? Unless the maitre-di catches you and he’s been in a meeting with the wine supplier since ten minutes ago." He steps aside and allows you all inside, down a short corridor to a splendid old kitchen full of modern culinary technology. The rest of the staff, only four for lunch, hardly raise their eyes from their pots and synthesizers, except to nod a greeting. The person Able is impersonating, sous chef Harolde Demezet, is often in charge of the lunch run.
Mac continues scribbling down notes, ever the observant culinary reporter, though his nose is far more active than his writing hand. “You don’t suppose we could have a large lunch here, hm? I’d love to see what these lads can do…” “Harolde” leads the troupe to a table at the back of the kitchen – the chef’s table, situated at the perfect position to view the rest of the cooking area. “I am sure the fare shall be quite appetizing, my friend. I’ll be sure to cook something for you special. For now, situate yourself – I’ll go check on the main dining area.” By private comms, Able gives Pacoy the go-ahead to start using his little drones to stake out the bathrooms. At a gesture from “Harolde”, one of his underlings brings across the first course – a bouillabaisse fish stew served in gilded bone china bowls.
Heading to the restrooms, Pacoy releases a pinbot to scout the area with a brief series of mental commands. Mac takes one taste of the stew. “That’s it, gentlemen. We’re moving here. Absolutely fantastic. I imagine it would be better paired with something with a hint of alcohol, though.” Pitbull does his best to look refined while eating, which is basically just him being his usually slobby self in slow-motion. Mac looks at his comrades at the table before sending a silent communication. “How do we grab him? Force him to the… what do they call it here, poo closet? With some uncooked seafood, then have Pitbull lying in wait to kosh him?”
Able takes a little walk into the main area, greeting the various staffers he sees with a slight nod before popping in to the dining room. He begins a circuit of the tables, greeting each patron to see how they’re enjoying their meals – all while on the lookout for Yardy Bob. As the team are served an excellent Chateau De San Merci Mercurie, a rare white burgundy that compliments the soup perfectly, Able finds himself in the kind of Old World opulence that can only be made possible by decorations and furniture that were in place before global warming and mass extinctions. Italian palatinate marble floors, carved stucco ceilings, and the gleam of wax-polished rare hardwoods in unbelievable profusion and mass. Halfway around the room, he sees the target, Yardy Bob. He’s sitting alone at a massive mahogany table, with a damask napkin tucked under his chin, dining on foi grasse and a real winter salad.
As Able approaches the big man, he begins a broadcast to the rest of the team so they can follow the action. Able leans down when he reaches Yardy’s table, smiling at him. “How are you enjoying the faire, monsieure?” Yardy Bob swallows, dabs his mouth with his napkin and replies in a voice that is deep and trying to sound cultured but still has a hint of Jamaican immigrant slang. “It’s wonderful as ever, Harolde. My compliments. I wonder, is there any Spotted Dick and Custard today? I’d quite fancy a dessert.”
‘Harolde’ smiles at Yardy. “I just got in from some time off, but if the line didn’t change my menu we should have some settling right now. I’ll have a nice big portion sent out to you.” Pitbull sniggers to himself. “Hehehehe… He needs that dick checked, I tell you hwhat…” Mac sighs and slaps his forehead. “Can’t take you anywhere. Can we get another drink for my uncouth Southron friend here, sirs? Something to wet his bob would surely quiet him down.”
As the team are served their second course, the “dish of the day” which they are told is “Faggots in a truffle gravy, with fresh roasted potatoes and mushy peas”, the main doors to the dining room open and two men in long dark-grey trenchcoats enter, then take seats at one of the tables. Pitbull sends a video to the team via H.U.D. of an animated brunette teen, lips curled back from his braces, chuckling dumbly, “Huh huh, huh huh, dick. Huh huh, huh huh.” Pitbull laughs. “Come to think of it, that’s how the Texas Marines serve up their faggots as well…” Mac winces and taps his glasses, temporarily disabling part of his H.U.D. His eyes slide over to the section of the H.U.D. being broadcast from Able, silently dissecting the grey men’s demeanor.
Able’s HUD relays his glimpse of the new diners. The team recognise one at once, although the last they saw him was in the Ottoman Hotel in Night City. He’s a DI5 agent who was attached to the British Embassy there by the name of edgar Cranshaw. Able’s ghostly General personality recognises the other man too – Cranshaw’s immediate superior Colonel Arthur Higginsbotham, head of the London divison of DI5. Pitbull frowns in consternation. “Well, that’s inconvenient…” He growls as he continues his systematic consumption of his food. Mac looks at his comrades, mouth full of potato. “What are the odds. This just complicates things, doesn’t it? How are we going to make a grab from the bathroom now?” “You know, 3 doses of laxative isn’t any harder than one…” Pacoy suggests over the comms. Mac snorts peas all over his almost empty plate, no doubt further damaging international politics. “The irony of your humor is not lost on me.”
Able comes walking back into the kitchen, stopping the first line chef who isn’t horribly busy. “Prepare some Spotted Dick and Custard for me; I’d like to deliver it myself. A healthy sized portion, if you can.” “Yes Chef” the cook replies, and hurries to comply. Soon, Able is handed a bowl of steamed sponge cake, with raisins in it, surrounded by a pool of hot vanilla custard. Able looks down at the custard, then places it on the ’Chef’s table’ next to Mac’s dinner and carefully tastes it with a spoon. “Hmm. I don’t see why it needs any so-called secret ingredient to add to the flavoring…” Able pulls out a vial of unlabeled laxative, pouring it into the custard and mixing it in. “That should do it. Customers and their requests…” He shakes his head as he heads back out into the dining area, sending a digital wink to the team as he goes.
[3/19/2014 10:08:33 PM] Mac: Mac chuckles at Able’s antics before turning to Pitbull, making smalltalk while he sends captions to everyone’s H.U.D. The captions read: “For this to work, I figure we need one bloke in the toilets to bust this fool’s head, one outside to catch the body. Able will likely need to change in there, and we’ll need to exit quick. Body’ll have to stay in the alley until he drives off, then we need to book it to the van and follow as best we can in case something goes off.” Pitbull H.U.D. texts back. “I can do the window. Does he need to stay alive?”
Able brings the spotted dick to Yardy, his brightest smile on his face. “And we are, monsieur. One spotted dick with custard; I hope you enjoy it.” A quiet message is sent back up the chain to the team. “And remember, you need to evade the DI5. I’ll try and stall them while you deal with Yardy, make sure they can’t see one of you dealing with the bathroom.”
By the time he’s finished his dessert, Yardy Bob is looking decidedly uncomfortable, even starting to sweat. With a muttered curse, he jumps up and hobbled, slightly bent over, toward the opulent toilets. Cranshaw, the DI5 agent, notices but only quirks one eyebrow and mutters something to his superior, who laughs cruelly.
Mac grimaces. “I’d rather he didn’t bite the big dick, but we may not have a choice. This is Able’s life on the line here. Pitbull, why not take this excuse to step out and have a smoke by that back window? Impolite to do it in here.” “Death maybe the safest route… unless you think I should try and convince him D15 are here for him, and trick him into hopping out the window himself?” PAcoy wonders into the comm. Mac sighs. “Any way we look at it, we need his clothing.”
Able’s neural circuitry transmits Cranshaw’s muttered “Wow, a gangster who was too greedy, who’d have thought it.” to the team as Pits ghosts into the bathroom, utterly un-noticed by the two internal security men enjoying their joke and good food. Pacoy gets into position, ready to burst in on Yardy, but not before he has to clean up an extra mess. Yardy Bob barely looks at Pacoy as he lurches into the restrooms and heads for a cubicle. He simply says “Got any peppermints, attendant?” as Pitbull stalks his form into the bathroom, breathing a sigh of relief as he notices that there is no bathroom attendant on duty. So his amusement at Pacoy being mistaken for the bathroom attendant elicits a dark chuckle from the tall-bald killer.
Able begins another circuite of the room, checking on everyone’s dining experience – especially the DI5 guys when their time comes. Cranshaw and his superior nod their approval to “Harolde”, showing no sign of alarm or even suspicion. Mac sidles out of the kitchen, cigarette bummed from Pitbull in hand as he heads out towards the rear window.
Inside one cubicle, there’s the prolonged sounds indicating Yardy Bob is purging himself of his rich and heavy lunch, and finally a flushing sound. The cubicle door opens, with Yardy Bob still fumbling with his clothing and breathing hard. As Pitbull stands just out of the way of the opening of the restroom door, smirking in anticipation, Pacoy raises the pistol, augmented reality highlighting strategic options throughout his field of view, and fires off a knockout round from the stealth pistol. Bob coughs once, then his eyes roll up and he slumps bonelessly, fast asleep.
Pitbull steps forward and catches Yardy Bob as he collapses, growling “Surprise, mothafucka” as he keeps his arms clamped around Bob’s torso. He yanks up his unconcious form and throws him over his shoulder as he marches him to the window. “Help me get this tool’s clothes off, Pac.” Pitbull growls, showing no discomfort from hauling the man’s body over his shoulder. “Man, Pit, this better not become I habit!” Pacoy mutters as he helps strip the large man. “What? Knocking out grown men and taking off their clothes? Sounds like Wormie’s Wednesday nights from what I hear…” Pitbull growls as he gently puts the man down and undoes his shirt.
Mac looks back and forth up the alley, unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, remembering earlier gaffs in his career as he checks around for cameras. He looks about the alleyway, eyes sharp, ensuring there are no cameras then looks up towards the window. “You boys done faffing about with your boy in the bathroom?” He calls up wordlessly, waiting for the body to begin it’s descent. “Okay, Pit, as soon as we get our frat buddy here out, you climb out the window, then help catch me as I come out, avoid D15.” Pacoy advises.
Able, having taken care that nobody else walks in on the team during their snatch-and-grab, slips into the bathroom after sending a pretty young server with a complimentary bottle of wine to the table with the DI5 agents. “Looks like you’ve done good work. Let’s get this thing going.” Able’s face and body begin changing shape as he slips his own clothes off and puts the ostentatious stylings of the yardy on.
Pitbull finishes with the man’s undressing, leaving only his luridly terrible Union Jack underwear on him for a little dignity. He hurls the body through the open window, grating “Catch Mac!” before leaping through himself. Mac bends his knees as he catches the man across his back, almost grunting with the strain before laughing at himself internally. He stashes the still breathing body against the wall, covering it with his jacket before waiting for his colleagues to join him. After tossing the K-O’d gangster out of the window, Pacoy helps Pitbull into position for the jump, prepared to follow him as soon as possible.
Able tips an imaginary hat to the others before tossing his gear out the window. “I’ll keep in touch when I can.” Making sure he has all of Yardy Bob’s clothes and accoutroments, Able walks out of the bathroom and heads to his table to settle the check with Yardy’s credit chits.
Pitbull lands with a loud double crack of his dress shoes, lighting a cigarette as he straightens himself back up from a crouch. “That was fun.” He growls simply. As soon as Pitbull clears the area, Pacoy follows. “Texans and their ideas of fun!”
Mac laughs silently to himself before sending a comm to Able. “Give us a heads up when the car’s on the way so we can get this filth into the van.” He shakes his head. “Figures that Pitbull’s idea of fun is stripping a man naked in a public restroom. I wonder what your girl would think if she saw you now.” “At least I didn’t go with my first idea of snapping his neck. That might’ve made the undressing a little more messy.” Pitbull growls, smiling big at Mac.
As the others scramble around the mirror of Able’s new body, Able steps out the front door of the club, raising a hand to his new yardy buddies in the waiting sedan. As the car opens up at his approach and he slips in to his nice plush seat, Able smiles over at the new marks. “Boys, I scored us the job of a lifetime. It’s time we stuck it to that toothy shark but good.”
Soon, Able is ensconced in Yardy Bob’s limo, speeding away into a rainy London afternoon towards Bob’s nightclub lair, while the rest of the team and the unconscious Bob are back in the van and speeding in the opposite direction back towards the docks and Lambeth. Mission accomplished, now for the next phase of the plan.