Dateline: December 28th 2050, 0215 Local Time
The team have just heard an all-points security bulletin about a man who was acting suspiciously outside the Ottoman Hotel, where they’ve been contracted to provide extra security during the infamous Grey Auction. When the police approached the man, he tried to run so one cop hit him with a stunning electrolaser – and the guy blew up!
The hotel’s A.I. has identified the same man as having been in the hotel not a half hour before the incident, having used the restroom on the 5th floor mezzanine casino level before exiting the building quickly, crunched over a bit as if in pain.
Now the team are rushing to that restroom, there to check for any bombs the man might have left behind.
However, just as their elevator arrives at the correct floor, they hear in their comms: “Gamma-Pitbull. This is the reception. We had a street urchin at the desk a moment ago who says you know his father, someone called ‘Stick’ if you can believe that? He has a message – apparently someone called Wilson was at their house asking about you and that you’d know what that meant. Reception out.”
Pitbull goes white and slumps against the side of the elevator. “Aw fuck, why now? Guys, I gotta take care of something, go on without me and I’ll be back as quick as I can.” Mac looks at Pitbull in confusion. “More important than a — I’ve got to hear the story about this later.” He strides towards the restroom as quickly as he can without inspiring panic. As the rest of the team exit the elevator on the 5th floor, overlooking the main casino floor, Pitbull thumbs the elevator for the ground floor and the doors close on him as he checks his pistols.
Pacoy cautiously approaches the rest-room doors, dreading the mess he imagines might be left by a terrorist keistering a bomb. He sees a pair of Hotel security standing outside the restroom doors, directing customers to the fourth floor facilities. For all it is after 2 am, the casino is still full and buzzing. Candyman takes up position outside to easing the public away from the work site, “I’ll keep the riff-raff out, just focus on the bomb” Candy says over comms as Able heads straight up to the security staffers, showing his Ottoman badge as he approaches. Mac quips back, “I’m having trouble focusing on anything else.” as he stacks up behind Able, anxious looking and ready to react to anything he finds in the bathroom when they get inside.
One security guard sees the team approach and stands to somewhat-attention. “Dwayne, give one of those chem-sniffers to Mr. Pacoy." He indicates two black instruments that look like minivacs on a table by the wall. Pacoy nods, accepting the chem-sniffers and giving it a brief check before flanking the door.
Candyman gives a curt no-nonsense nod to the staff and goes right to work, “No, sorry ma’am – you’ll have to use the restroom on another level, sorry for the inconvenience” The lady Candyman has spoken to looks down her nose at him. “Well, really!” she huffs as she flounces off in a cloud of perfume and the dander from a real fur coat.
Able reaches for one of the chem-sniffers as well as his appearance shifts and slides, his hair shrinking slightly, facial hair growing out into a full, neatly trimmed beard, his nose broadens. When he speaks, his voice has shifted once more – now, he sounds almost like an academic, but you can hear the guttural sound of a zoner accent buried deep down there. “I’ll handle the other.” Mac blinks at Able, still not used to that sort of sudden shift. “So… have either of you dealt with something like this… before…? Got to admit, not my forte…” Able nods, “Only on the other end; we were taught all about explosives in the military, and we did drills on how to sniff out insurgent IEDs.” Pacoy adds, “Yeah, I have experience with explosives. Had a few thoughts about bomb bots, but well… that’s another story.”
As Able, Mac and Pacoy enter the 5th floor restroom area, the first thing they notice is the luxurious size. The hallways between the male and female facilities is huge and deeply carpeted, with tasteful watercolors of Arabic scenes on the walls. There’s a gilt and marble table at one end of the hall and double doors of black wood on either side. The two facilities are marked with the universal icons. The restroom areas proper are again opulent beyond belief. Each is a huge room tiled in Italian green marble, there are gold-plated fitments on every sink and commode, the stall doors are carved and stained oak.
Dwayne steps up behind Pacoy. “We had a quick look before you arrived, both rooms are empty.” Marid comms on the team’s private channel to add more information, “My apologies, but I have no sensors in the restrooms, by my Master’s orders. However, I know that the man in question spent at least two hours at the tables and holo-slots making inconsequential wagers, then visited this restroom, then went straight to the hotel exit.”
Mac groans as he sees the restroom area. “Oh, this is not fair. These bathrooms are larger than my office and apartment combined!” He lifts his hands in the air. “You boyos are the leads here – I’ll help how I can, but I don’t want to be responsible for vaporizing all of us.”
Pacoy opens his jacket and activates one of the tiny little Pinbots to use as an extra eye on the scene. Silently, a 2” sphere with a slender rotor hovers forward. “It’s not much, but it’s an extra eye.” Pacoy informs no-one in particular. The Pinbot, not smart enough to know an IED from a hand dryer, scouts over the stalls looking for anything out of place, especially in the stalls, relaying live feed to Pacoy, who busies himself with the chem-sniffers.
Able takes the left side, towards the female restrooms, while letting Pacoy examine the male side. He peers down at the chem-sniffers, hoping he can understand the damned thing properly. Mac takes up position squarely in the middle, checking the area as best he can while the others use the sniffers to scope out the individual bathrooms. He keeps himself ready to head over towards either of the pair if they make noises like they’ve made a discovery.
Able notices the Pinbott’s movement and glances at Pacoy. “Think he may have crapped out a block of HE?” Pacoy nods to Able “Or left a body, or a REAL mess…”
Not noticing anything by the entrance to the female restroom and figuring that a man trying to remain inconspicuous wouldn‘t use the female restrooms anyway, Able heads into the men’s room, letting Pacoy check upon the actual stalls while he focuses upon the sinks and other fixtures. Mac gives up in the hallway and heads to check out the rubbish bins in the men’s room, digging through them with his hands after discarding his jacket and coat, rolling up his sleeves.
After about ten minutes searching, Pacoy gets a tiny, almost un-noticed, kick in his readouts while checking the third stall from the left. There’s a faint stench of bowel in here, even over the odor neutralizer clamped to the wall. “As if being the only sober, no chip-jingling guts in the place wasn’t bad enough, now I’m on crapper duty!” Pacoy mutters as he cautiously checks the stall. “I think we have a live one here! It’s faint, but it ain’t pretty – positive for chem and BM” Pacoy gripes.
Meanwhile, still directing traffic away from the area of the search, Candy comms Marid, “Madrid, have you noted any other patrons with similar behavior to this purported restroom bomber?” Marid comms back immediately: “Noooo, because I just do exactly what I’m told and no-one asked me to analyze such movement patterns. I’m right on it, Mr C.”
In the restroom, Able moves over from where he’s examining an air dryer to see if he can help Pacoy out. Mac blinks, straightening up. “Oh. That’s good news, right? There’s actually something for use to eyeball and deal with? Not a phantom shit-chase?” Pacoy shakes his head at the idea that they are in a situation where “actual physical shit” is called a positive thing to find… but now both Able and Pacoy’s chem-sniffers are detecting faint traces of ammonium nitrate and methanol from the commode’s bowl.
Candy comms to the team, “I’ve got Madrid checking other patrons for similar habits, they are likely given a stipend to spend on gambling for a set period of time, I would expect more than one was here. With fixed values of cash and a time window to operate within – Madrid should be able to produce a list of patrons we can chem-sniff down without being too obvious. Thanks for the assistance Madrid.”
Able’s eyes raise. “Why would anyone use a fertilizer bomb in here? That’s not normally a portable explosive; it’s what you use if you’re cheap and unable to get your hands on the good stuff and want a big mess.” Mac thinks, washing his hands off in the sink. “…well, they’re out to destabilize the auction, right? No big expense for a big mess – the mess is what they’re after, not particularly an effective destructive tool. It’s hardly in a structural weak spot.” “Sounds more like nut-job flavored terrorists than militant wack-job flavored” Pacoy muses.
Marid is back on comms: ‘Oh the Candyman can…or in this case he can tell the genie who can! I have identified a possible eight others who fit the same movement pattern over the last five days. Of course, I can’t be certain since none of them blew up."
Able sneaks a peak out at the C-man. “Get us their identities and current locations. We’ll have to check them out individually,” then turns to Pacoy. “Do you think there’s enough of a trace here that there might be another bomb here, or is it just the leavings of the one who blew up outside?”
Marid comms again, “I have identities on six, all of whom used credit cards to pay for something while in the hotel. I have no current locations, because they all cleared the scene after taking a dump.” Candyman replies for the team, “If its not too much of a drain, keep scanning for patrons fitting that movement pattern Madrid. In the mean time, allow me access to whatever data I have clearance for – I’ll assist in looking for out of place behavior with a human touch.” (Pacoy pauses a moment to imagine the programmer who wrote a flamboyant genie AI that uses the colloquialism “taking a dump” before returning to the task at hand.)
Mac sighs. “I can’t believe I’m asking this. Where did they leave their excess behind? Pacoy, is there anything left in there, or is it just residue? If it’s not there, where’s it gone? Marid, where do the pipes from all of those toilets converge?”
It is Marid who replies: “The Hotel’s human waste is held in a large tank, usually, for periodic draining and recycling by Feng. During peak periods like the Auctions, we may experience occasional overflow into the city sewer system.”
Mac taps into the comm net. “AI, where is the tank? Where is it located?”“In the sub-basement below the two parking levels.”
“Are we talking about a terrorist plot so nutty that it involves pooping ingredients into a central holding tank over a week?” Pacoy say, blown away at the thought. Able frowns. “If that’s what the plot was, why didn’t the guy who alerted us to all of this just dump all of his ANFO down the tube? Why was he carrying enough to detonate after leaving? Just constipation ruining the plot, or what?”
“So… we’ve got multiple rubes doing their businesses in multiple different toilets, all concentrating into the same location.. I have to say, as far as plans go, it’s a bit shit, and no mistake.” Mac groans. “Marid, when was the last pickup by Feng? Also, where’s the nearest sewer access to the large tank? If there’s enough in there to rupture that wall, we could have a shitstorm of bad publicity for the auction…” Mac shrugs then replies to Able’s question: “Maybe he was having trouble performing under pressure? God, what would I call this case when I write it up, ‘The Dirty Bomb’ or something?”
“If it come down to that, some nutters are getting a serious beatdown. I could be fleecing the biggest whales of my life, but instead, I’m looking to foil the plans of the crap-tank squad? Kalokohan!” Pacoy grumbles.
Marid replies to Pacoy’s query. “The access is from the lower parking garage, Northwest corner – there’s a pair of access hatches for the pumps. The tanker normally comes every week. It’s the holidays though so we’re not due another until after New Year.”
Mac curses. “Wait, this is bunko – a tank that size servicing this entire hotel? You’d have to have every patron from here ‘til Sunday in on the plot including his Highness sitting on his own porcelain throne for it to be concentrated enough. As it is, there’s a bunch of shit getting in the way of this being a real threat.” He begins pacing, his mind visibly racing.
Candyman muses, “Probably a distraction, or intended to be seen as a crackpot theory with no merit to it, so creating a blind spot. Chem-sniffers pick up the chemical in the tank, hiding more material in place there already, false positive shroud.”
Able turns to Mac. “That’s when they’ll do it. The New Year bonanza to end all bonanzas – exploding crap flying through the city, taking down the Ottoman in one fell swoop.” He scratches the back of his neck. “ANFO bombs are made from fertilizer, yeah? Fertilizer’s just special shit. Maybe they didn’t come in here to actually take a crap, but instead to gather other people’s shit to make the bomb.”
Mac begins tapping his chin. “…wait, so it’s not got to do with the auction at all, but something a bit more far reaching? That’s… clever. Clever, Able.” He makes a disgusted face. “We’re running on fumes of a theory as it is. We need a more thorough analysis of the samples to get this sorted out. Pacoy, Able, you are the explosives experts. Do you want to sort that out?” Mac steps back towards the sinks, rolling down his shirt sleeves and fastening his cufflinks.
“Human feces wouldn’t be nearly as effective as something you could pick up with a contractors license. Still, THEY might not realize that – we could send someone down to check the tank.” Pacoy points out.
Able starts pacing opposite of Mac, his voice going into something akin to ‘lecture mode’. “Yes. These terrorists are harvesting shit from Glitterati bathrooms to make their fertilizer bombs. They’ve got to be gathering a lot of it, since ANFO bombs are typically pretty big. But then they’ll shower the city in a Glitterati-fueled shit-storm to ring in the New Years. Probably document the entire process as some kind of perverse PR maneuver.” He stops pacing and turns to Mac, then shrugs. “I can operate the detector, and I know a little about explosives – but it’s just a little. I have no chemists loaded in my databanks, and it’d take a while to download one from HQ. Pacoy, what do you think?”
“Gah. Nutters that hate money. The worst kind!” Pacoy Moans, “Is it wrong that I’m hoping this is just a cover for intelligent Mafioso maneuvering? The only thing checking the tank hurts is time. as long as we have open eyes elsewhere, I say lets check it out."
Mac shakes his head. “It might just be that, but that doesn’t mean we get to sit back and do nothing. Right. Lets make tracks, gents.” He begins collecting his jacket, coat and hat before heading out to see Candy. Marid’s voice suddenly booms out on comms, over-riding all other conversation: “Omega! Shots fired, Theater level!” There is no general announcement on the hotel’s P.A. system however. “Hey cat, you fancy another trip through the muck like we had getting into Car—- Shots!” Mac begins running for transportation to the theatre level. “Moving”, Candy runs in towards the elevator.
Able’s head jerks upwards for just a moment before he sprints out of there like the devil’s on his hindquarters. “Move, move!” He shouts to the two security men by the bathroom door, tossing the bulky chem-sniffers at them as he passes them.
Pacoy recalls the Pinbot and sends an activation code to the Buzzbot in the theater area as he grabs the chem-sniffers and heads out of the restroom. Handing the sniffer to the staff, he races to the closest stairwell, deciding to activate the bot stashed there as well. Pacoy’s Buzzbot immediately relays its sensor feed. There’s chaos on the theater level, Glitterati trying to his behind side tables and in the concession area. Four dark-clad figures – one female, three male, are flattened against the wall of the Concert hall, by the door, which stands ajar. All are holding pistols at a ready position. Pacoy’s visrec program instantly ID’s the female: Lady Yan, a well known Night City music artiste.
Able heads straight for the quickest route to the theater level he knows, bypassing the elevators and relying on sheer groundspeed. He can feel his heart pumping in his chest, just aching to activate his neural booster, but he holds off just yet – no reason to jump the gun, and it’s better to arrive in force than one lone man standing off a group.
Candyman comms his lieutenant back in their hotel suite, “Hugh, we have an incident in the theater level, Pacoy relays four hostiles. If you’ve any bots in the area, assist, C out.” The reply is instant, “On it, Pater”. Mac trails along behind Able, his trenchcoat whipping behind him as he holds his hat with one hand firmly onto his head, his right hand reaching inside his jacket, finding the electrolaser behind his back and drawing it.
As the team reaches the stairs up from the sixth floor, they meet a crowd of panicked Glitterati coming down. They can actually hear two more shots – sounding like a small pistol – from the floor above.
“Hey, Guys, It’s Lady Yan!” Pacoy beams, taking it as the first good news since being told no liquor or gambling. “I say, she’s gone absolutely potty!” one Glitterati yells to Able as he pushes past the crowd. Mac throws a look at Pacoy. “You’re dizzy over a canary when there’s gunfire? Although I’d love to get her autograph once we save her life.”
As he runs, Able pulls up the hood of his Night Ranger trenchcoat from the back of the collar where it’s normally stashed, lifting it up into position. As it falls in place, the active camouflage systems activate and he almost vanishes from sight – a blur of motion is all that lets you know where he is. He pulls his stealth pistol out, forgoing the Vortexo! for the more reliable C7 Assassin and his neural boost goes into full effect.
As the team reaches the seventh floor, they see Tomas and a crew of four Imazighen coming down from Eight. All have PDW’s slung but their Vortexo’s drawn. Pacoy orders the theater-level Buzzbot to keep on eye on the scene and coordinates with Madrid to open the doors above and allow the stair-assigned Buzzbot to check out the commotion on the floor above, then draws and readies his prowler, advancing with caution. Candy shifts the color of his stylish overcoat to mimic the rich red oak of the theater walls even as he palms his foot long monoedge in one gloved hand, “Fan out.”
At the top of the stairs, concealed behind an overturned table, crouch Veracity Blaize and her cameraman – only it is now Veracity with the camera, as her big companion has produced an evil looking shotgun from somewhere. Veracity has her camera trained on the far end of the hall, at the four outside the Concert Hall. Mac curses under his breath before commenting subvocally, “Of course she’s here. Of course.” He books it away from the reporter, seeking cover in the opposite direction Able darted off in.
Able is indeed off and moving as others try to shake themselves into order. As soon as Yan and her people come into view, he’s like a whirling dervish, firing all four sleep-darts in a single flash of motion, one at each of the potential targets. The four darts spear forwards; one strikes Lady Yan right in the face before detonating, one on the chest of the first personal security team member, the other two on the wall behind their targets – but the cloud of sleepy gas covers them all. Yan immediately falls unconscious, and one of her PST members follows suit shortly thereafter. Another PST member has enough time to look in vain down at the shattered remains of the sleep-dart before he, too, falls. The third staggers, glaring up at the location from which the darts originated, but doesn’t succumb.
Pacoy follows the lightning fast action as able downs the opposition, only to realize his silver-lining is now the opposition. “Just…. Galit!” Pacoy huffs to himself, “I can’t have ONE good thing this weekend?” Mac starts laughing at Pacoy. “Mate, once this is done with, I’ll treat you to a day here, okay? Besides, the weekend is still young yet!” He eyes the last remaining security member cautiously, peering out from a gambling table. He mutters subvocally, “What were they shooting at?”
Seeing Able with everything well in hand, and Miss Blaize on scene, Candy edges back into the crowd before she can spot him. Likewise noting the reporter, Pacoy attempts to fade out of sight, using the Buzzbot to give trajectory to the best vantage on the standing rent-a-goon while staying out of the lime-light. However, the last security guy sees his companions and his boss fall, spots Pacoy backed by several Imazighen coming up the stairs, and swiftly raises his hands in surrender.
Able turns from the four downed tangos and looks for any others brandishing weapons, his gaze focusing upon Veracity Blaize and her cameraman. “Well, I guess an autograph and a private serenade are out of the question, should I check the floor above?” Pacoy comms, still trying to stay out of camera sight. Mac hastily shoves the electrolaser in his pocket, waving for one of the Imazighen to bring a few sets of ’cuffs. He grumbles about the reporter being there, and makes to secure the combatants once the cuffs arrive, planning to put the question to the last remaining guard.
Suddenly, a small caliber pistol shot comes zinging out of the Concert Hall door, which is ajar. It misses everyone, impacting high in the wall opposite. At the same time a female voice yells “Don’t tell me what to do! I own you! That bitch isn’t coming in!”
Able is already moving towards the reporter duo, fading back into sight once he’s close enough. His stealth pistol is no longer in his hands; instead, he carries the Vortexo! gas launcher, and it is aimed squarely at the cameraman. “Put away the weapon, please, and allow hotel security to handle the situation.” The big man looks levelly at Able, then growls “Sure, dude – as soon as the situation is safe and my girl here is out of danger. Go do your job, mercenary!”
As Pacoy sends the Buzzbot racing to the door, Mac freezes. “I think we got the wrong guys.” His voice has dropped to a bare whisper, even sub-audibly. He follows Pacoy’s Buzzbot, trying to close the distance without getting near the opening of the door. Pacoy opens the comms. “Madrid, open the theater door and expose the shooter!” Pacoy calls, aiming his Prowler pistol as the Buzzbot gains a vantage point.
At the other end of the hall, Able nods at Blaize’s cameraman, but his trigger finger quickly flashes upon the grip of the Vortexo! Veracity’s companion moves in a blur. He stands and a blunt, wide, tube pops up from his forearm. There’s a bright flash as the gyro round it contains fires. Able throws himself out of the way desperately and the gyro round flashes on until it hits the far wall, where it discharges with a blue flash and a KZZAPPP!
Hearing the discharge of a stinger round Mac wheels on the cameraman, DTMB Electrolaser appearing in his hand. Out loud he grumbles, “Not my team, you don’t.” He coolly depresses the trigger as he sends a blast towards the man who just shot at Able before he’s done turning. The big guy, Bill Farthing, takes Mac’s electrolaser shot dead center. He lets out a cry of pain then crumples, stunned by the shock and unconscious. Able leans forwards to Veracity, who is covering the action quite aptly. “Don’t disobey hotel security in the middle of a crisis situation.” He turns, disappearing as his camo goes active once again and he turns towards the now-opening theater doors, Vortexo! out and at the ready – a scowl on his face as he imagines the Bey’s response to tonight’s little telecast.
Under Marid’s control the Concert Hall doors swing open, to reveal Kawaii Kali! struggling with a member of her own PST and her sound engineer as they try to take a 4mm silvery pistol from her without hurting her and she curses at them to let her go. Before Able or any of the rest of his team can reach the concert hall, a slim ivory figure drops lightly down from above, falling some 30 feet but landing lightly beside the struggling threesome. Rising, she plucks the gun out of Kali!’s hand – and crushes it.
Pacoy raises his eyebrows “…Clebutante Cat Fight, season 1?” he mutters, pistol still trained on the target. Mac chuckles, his electrolaser pointed up towards the ceiling, throwing Veracity a glare. “That’s good television, Pac. I think this means I won’t be running security on the Kawaii Kali! concert and picking up an autograph..”
The Glitterati huddled under tables and such rise up and applaud the slim new arrival as Kali is taken off by her handlers, back to her suite. Tomas and his team swiftly move to Lady Yan and her men to administer to them. “What the HELL did we just witness?” Pacoy seems dumbstruck. Mac watches the security team work while he mates his Electrolaser back with its hidden holster. “Bunch of roundheels having a squabble? Maybe she wasn’t letting her in for sound-check?”
Able’s scowl deepens as he leaves the scene and he grills the Marid AI. “Next time something like this happens, feed us a more detailed target profile than just ‘the theater level’.” Marid comms, “Noted, Mr Able. Can you be more specific?” Able shoulders his way to the sidelines, dropping the active camo as he moves. “Identify the actual shooter, if you can. Maybe the room. And tell any civilians to clear the fucking zone.” “Noted, Mr Able.”
Mac whistles. “Hey, Pac-man? Lets make the Universe unperturbed. I’ll see if I can’t grab a deck of cards, and after the shift, I’ll let you try and lose some money to me, yeah?” Pacoy nods, “We’ll see what the boss-man says – I was told no drinking or gambling for the duration of our stay…” Mac laughs. “It’s just us – I’m pretty sure he meant not against the house, letting us get distracted. What’s the harm in a few hands before bed?”
Luckily, Blaize seems to have disappeared with her cameraman, to wherever he’s been taken until he comes around. Yan and her crew are whisked away to their suite. The slim ivory woman – who as she comes closer is obviously a cyborg, a full body replacement, comes gliding over with a wiggle of ceramic hips.
“Evenin’ boys. I hope you didn’t mind me interruptin’, but I do so dislike having my off-duty time made into on-duty time.” It’s a soft Georgia drawl, deep Sprawl inner city style.
“Yes, ma’am, we were just discussing duty ourselves” Pacoy says with a polite bow. Mac plucks his hat off of his head, offering her a low bow. “Awful sorry to trouble you, miss.” Able paces back and forth a bit as his neural boost winds down, but he nods to the woman. “Of course, Ms. Barnett. We at the Ottoman are always pleased when a matter such as this is taken care of. Did you happen to catch the actual confrontation that incited this whole deal?” “I most surely did, honey. The big diva objected to the little diva wanting to do her own sound check, and flipped out some. If you ask me, the big diva is lucky the little diva didn’t fill her fulla holes, mind you. I heard stuff about that Lady Yan. They say she’s a runner for kicks.”
Mac sighs. “Some people are never happy with the lot they have in life.” He leans against a nearby table, setting his hat down.
Trudi Barnett (the team’s installed visrec programs pull up a profile) chuckles, a surprisingly warm sound from a metal and silicon throat, “Now ain’t that the truth, my friend. look at me. I shoulda been dead or floatin’ in a vat. Instead I’m havin’ a blast.” She turns to look at you each in turn. “Looks like none of y’all were exactly content with what life gave you either.” Able turns from that. “This is what life gave me.”
Suddenly she sticks out her slim hand, “I’m Trudi Barnett, if’n your computers haven’t already told y’all. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Pacoy shakes her hand. “Mam.” Mac smiles. “This is what I do, what I was born to do. Well, slightly different than this, but still…” He stands, taking her hand to kiss it with a bow. “Trenton Machesky.” “Well now, a traditional gentleman. There ain’t many left. A pleasure Sir.” Mac smiles, “Pleasure’s all mine, ma’am.”
Able turns to the woman, sticking his own hand to shake after Mac. “Able.” When she reaches for his hand, his Rossum flash glows, the ID tattooed to his face lighting up. Barnett freezes for an instant as the tattoo glows, then finishes the move to shake Able’s hand too. “Well now, you are most certainly not what life gave you, Mr Rossum. Tell me, do they ever let you have any of your own memories back?”
Mac casts a sidelong look at Trudi and Able, comming to Candy and Pacoy, “What does she mean by that?”
Able looks down and tot he side, not meeting her gaze. “No. I don’t know if they even keep them around.”
Candy gets a feed from one of Pacoy’s eyes in the sky, “Well Mac, there are those who work for the Corps and there are those owned by the corps. So they keep a shorter leash on some – the tattoo shows ownership not employment. He is valuable property and any damage to him is an attack on Rossum assets.”
“I think they must, somewhere, you poor thing. Ever see someone and feel drawn to them even though you don’t know them? Maybe you knew them, or loved someone enough like them to make the memory stir from its sleep. I knew someone like you once. Knew him before, I mean. I wouldn’t wish that on a living soul. Why honey, I’m more human than they let you be.”
Mac lets out a short whistle and rocks back slightly. “That’s… that’s not right. A man should be his own master. That’s what makes him valuable.” “You know how Able can swap personalities, right? Well he’s a Janissary, none of those personalities are his. He’s who ever his owners want him to be.” Pacoy explains quietly to Mac with a touch of sincere sadness.
Trudi takes a step back. “But here I am, distractin’ you gentlemen when you’re working. Where is my professionalism? I’ll see you around, boys, maybe even buy you a drink when you’re off duty.” And with that she turns and walks smoothly away.
Mac stares off blankly for a moment. “That’s… horrible. Who could do that… I… I think I need a drink. Nobody should be able to change the nature of a man so freely… it undermines everything we are…”
Able looks back at the woman, part of him aching to continue that little chat – but the rest of him rebelling from even thinking about it. He’s silent for a minute or two, his face unreadable before he turns to the other two. “We need to find out what happened to the girl. Why the fight started. Might have been more than just a diva’s ego.” He’s clearly attempting to divert the conversation away from the previous subject.
“Anything can be bought” Candyman stares up at the ceiling of shining glass and amber light and says quietly to only himself, “and it seems anyone sold as well.”
To Be Continued