Lazarus Home Office
Tuesday, February 21, 2051. 9:20 AM
The Lazarus Group is once again gathered in their office, after a day of schmoozing, contract signing, and wishlist-making. Wormwood, who has now had his picture plastered all over the Night City netscape for the past 20 hours after being fingered as the ‘Lipstick Killer’ (though his actual identity remains unknown) has successfully disguised himself to fool a casual lay-person or even a simple facial recognition system, but its capability of spoofing a more serious scan or a close-up inspection isn’t nearly so certain. The team once again awaits Eris Stansfield, the group’s patron from DreamCorp who has secured their services to scout out the nearly-mythical Omaha Exclusion Zone. The catch: The whole thing has to be filmed – and they’re on a tight deadline, which is about to get even tighter.
Waiting for Eris to arrive, Pacoy anxiously works the action on his multi-tool – checking the movement each function. He gives a quick tug at his goatee before drawing his balisong and checking the it’s action. He pauses, tightens a screw with his multi-tool and checks it again before folding it and concealing back on his belt. Damn, he thinks to himself as he considers the contract I was so busy lusting after the payday, it didn’t really dawn on me what I was signing. I’m going to have a trained journalist with multiple robocams documenting my every move for the next few days! I’m breaking Rule No. 1! I gotta figure out how things are going to go down.
“Does this broad know anything about being on time? She was supposed to be here at the crack of nine, and here we are, waiting around again…” Mac sighs, leaning against the wall, steaming cup of kaff nearby, twiddling his thumbs idly. Pitbull sits at the table, smoking his… third?… fourth?… well, his next cigarette of the day while servicing his Reaper, planning to move onto the Urban Fox afterward. The door to the conference room opens and a lean, balding man with a beard, about 5’2" and with the characteristic rolling gait of a lifelong biker strolls in. “Wotcher, guys. What do you think of the new me?”
Pitbull looks up, cigarette hanging awkwardly from the left side of his face, as he beholds what he perceives to be an intruder. “Brah, you better turn right back around and get yo’ fuckin’ ass out of here before I call- wait! Nevermind…” Pitbull grumbles as he returns to his Reaper. Pacoy smiles and shakes his head, glad for the momentary distraction, then goes about checking and re-checking all of the gear he’s packed. Mac grins. “Damn sight more imposing without those high heels of yours. Almost look like you belong in the wasteland. Not going to be like that whats-her-name girl, are ya? Changing faces and names every hour?”
Wormwood laughs, points at Pitbull and makes a gun trigger gesture. ‘Gotcha! No worries, Mac – this fake beard and the latex around the nose are uncomfortable as hell and I’ll have to shave my head every day or it’ll grow back in. I’m getting rid of this look as soon as I can."
Mac cocks his head over towards Pitbull. “Sure he could give you a lesson or two on shaving, pal. Kid’s a mean trick with that knife of his.” He shudders. “I’d take a razor any day, myself.” Pitbull, putting the finishing touches on his Reaper, pulls out his own knife and starts scratching at an itch with it. “You suggesting I take lessons from him, or the other way ‘round? I shave with this knife, just so y’know.” Mac just rolls his eyes at the smirking Wormwood. Somedays, Pitbull needs more than one coffee to kickstart himself.
Wormwood takes a seat, “Um, no. I’ll stick with an ultrasound shaver and depilation gel like I belong in this millennium if you don’t mind.”
The whirr of the holoprojectors sounds in the lobby as old Gladys appears from thin air. “Eris Stansfield has arrived at the gate and shall be here momentarily.” She turns her gaze to Pitbull, lingering a while on the cigarette in his lips. “You’ll burn this place down one day with those things, mark my words.” Pitbull grimaces and gives her the finger with the hand holding the knife as she fades away. Mac grins inwardly, imagining the sight of Pitbull burning down a concrete and metal structure with a single cigarette. “Lets hope our fair lady has got a spot of good news for us, yes?” He heads over towards the door in anticipation of Eris’ knock. Pitbull grunts in reply as he starts to disassemble his Urban Fox, oblivious to most things going on in the process.
Hearing that Eris has arrived, Pacoy stows his gear and cleans his hands before she makes her entrance. The door flings open just as Pacoy starts cleaning; Eris stands in the doorway, once again dressed in ‘expedition’ gear (it seems to be her favored style). She has an angry frown on her face, which she turns on everyone in the room. “Bad news, kids.”
Wormwoods claws extend and start clicking on the already-scarred table surface, but he says nothing. Pacoy looks up from his cleaning rags, eyebrow raised. Mac too furrows his brow at Eris, clearly displeased at her manner. Pitbull notices the silence and looks up, shifting the cigarette to the middle of his mouth as he does so.
Eris storms into the room, looking at each Lazarus member in turn. “We sprung a leak. I don’t know who it was – or how it happened – but I’ve just been informed that we’ve got competitors. The Omaha blindspot’s been leaked to the ’net. The Zumbrey Brothers, the Towel-Rag Kid, even some wanna-be nomad group from Arkansas have all stated their intention of getting to Omaha first.” The names she mentions spark some recognition – the Zumbreys and the Towel-Rag Kid are well-known scavengers, and some of the most brutal of the type. “And that’s only the people publicly proclaiming that they’re going to try it. Luckily, it hasn’t gone mainstream yet, and any corporate involvement is likely to be of limited scale – like with us, due to the nature of the zone – but this is bad. It seriously is going to impact the profitability of our scoop.”
Pitbull grits his cigarette with his teeth as he replies. “So we need to kill the sons of bitches, or beat them to the game?” Pitbull grates inquisitively. Mac just grunts dismissively, “Well here I was thinking it was something serious.” At least I know which part of the ‘we’ sprung the leak – doesn’t take a genius to figure that out, at least. “Just means we have to up the timescale a bit, get there fastest. We’ll already do the best job compared to those two-bit scrummers.” Mac looks towards Pitbull. “I’d prefer beating them at their own game myself.” Wormwood laughs aloud. “The leaks in your own people, kid, and Shania Chacon will eat whoever it is alive. Don’t worry, we’re ready to pull out as soon as you approve and deliver our equipment request.”
“The biggest thing this means for us is we need to expedite our shopping list and get things moving ASAP.” Pacoy points out. “Sooner the better, really.” Mac nods, sipping at his kaff, looking over at his bike. “Did you put a rack on the list? I wanna bring the bike along – sounds like we might benefit from the mobility.” “Thought our shoppin’ was done. It isn’t?” Pitbull growls through his teeth as he finally spits out the soggy and spent cigarette butt.
Eris begins pacing around the room. “Hell if I know who did it – you say it wasn’t you, Shaina says it wasn’t us. Maybe one of us was bugged. But this isn’t a laughing matter; we’ve already heard chatter about some of the groups doing this. They aren’t just sitting around; your group’s been mentioned a few times, and the serious scavvers don’t seem to want us involved. And they aren’t waiting for us to go to them.” She turns to Pitbull. “The ‘shopping list’ might be done, but unless you’ve been buying it on your own you haven’t started purchasing the equipment yet. We need to get started now if we aren’t going to be caught dead on our feet.” Mac looks at Eris. “We got the okay to make some quick purchases then, lass? I don’t plan on being dead on my feet for some years yet, so I’d rather not have to walk to Omaha.”
Pitbull reassembles his Fox, and reholsters it before standing. “Alright. We gettin’ down to it? Like now I mean?” Wormwood taps the table to get Erin’s attention, “Can you get us and our gear on a charter airship to somewhere closer, maybe, do a bit of catching up?” He waves a hand at Pitbull, “We need this kid to give us the funds first, Pits.”
Eris nods to Mac. “We’ll need to make them on the move. We think a bounty’s been put out on you – the whole of Lazarus Group.” She turns towards the airstrip. “We can’t authorize use of one of our own aircraft – insurance issues. I’m not sure on chartering an airship, at least not from here – maybe we can pick one up on another leg.”
Pitbull smiles to himself. Awww great. Now I got two bounties on my head. Fuuuun… Breathing a sigh of relief, Mac looks up from his kaff. “Thought you meant me there for a second – fairly sure the Russians don’t hate me that much.” Yet. “Figures… we live this close to an airstrip and can’t charter an airship.”
Wormwood nods, “OK then, we still need the funds to make purchases, or a credit number. And you still owe us our fifteen grand agreed advance.” “Speaking of, how do we plan on making purchases on the go? Get things delivered to us?” Mac shifts over a few feet, tossing a pre-packed bag into his motorcycle’s sidecar, next to the bag containing his shotgun. Eris nods to Wormwood. “Your advance was forwarded to you the moment the contracts were processed. Here’s a credit chit – I’ll have to authorize any and all deductions from the account. I hope you know a place you can gear up quick; we need to pull out of here post-haste.”
Wormwood turns to Mac, “If we can get the vehicle here and now and a credit line, we can order ahead on the Net from stores in SoCal and pick them up there tomorrow.” “We can always have things delivered to an airport cargo service or shipping depot and pick them up on the go,” Pacoy says “Saving a little time.”
Mac nods. “Sounds like a plan. I’m all packed and ready.” He pulls out his pocket watch, twirling it around once before flicking it open and running a search for a nearby car rental locale. Wormwood takes the credit chit and hands it to Pacoy with a grin “You’re the designated Quartermaster, Pac. Get on the horn and find us an Amur ready to drive off the lot, willya?” Pacoy nods and patches into the servers of several outfitters, divvying up the list so that no one place gets too large of an order.
Mac smiles. “Ura!” He bunches up his fingers and then makes a flicking motion, sending the number of the Amur dealership to the team’s HUD. “Anyone fancy giving them a ring? I hate dealing with car salesmen, even renters.” “I’m on it!” Pacoy answers, adding the Amur rental to his task queue. Pitbull laughs, imagining the shout-fest he’d get into with a car dealer.
Wormwood stands, “Eris, we’ll be ready to roll soon. Do you have all your own gear with you? If not, I suggest you go fetch and get back here fast.” She nods. “It’s in my ride. I’m all-set.” He heads out, making for the armory and his own stash of ammunition., tossing back over his shoulder, “then I’ll open the main door and you can bring your car inside. It’ll be safe here.” He then goes and disassembles his new Storm Rifle into three parts, carefully packing them into his holdall along with the rest of his gear and ammunition.
Pitbull follows Wormwood’s example, reminding himself that no one wants to see anyone holding a highly illegal rifle through a shopping area. He stomps into the armory and loads up on the rounds he had gotten from Stick, grimacing that Stick was already all bought out on APHEX rounds as he found the standard rounds for his Reaper. Maybe next time…
Mac calls across the room to Pacoy, “Just make sure that used rental has got a rack for my bike, P. We gotta pick it up – I can take maybe two along with me, or we can swing on back to pick people up.”
Returning to the conference room with his bag packed and his other gear loaded on his person, Wormie settles into a chair and begins to help Pacoy place orders for camping gear, medical supplies and automotive supplies. He also sends out a spider to sniff down every online biography for the DreamCorp woman.
Pacoy flows through a round of phone calls, placing orders with outfitters, shops and rental agencies of all kinds, trying to spread out the list as best as he can without sacrificing time. Wormwood comms Pacoy, “We need to be on the road. we can be in SoCal in ten hours if we move it. Have everything delivered to their stores there and we’ll pick them up on the way past.” Pacoy nods and holds up a finger as he rattles off another list into the phone. Hanging up he looks at Wormwood “Done. Let’s get grab our gear and go, it’ll all be waiting for us.”
Mac asks, “Is the Amur we’re renting a stick, or an automatic?” He heads over to his bike. “We should go pick it up if we’re ready, come pick everyone else up back here?” Wormwood looks at Mac, then taps his temple meaningfully. “Stick, shift, hit it with a club? It’ll be smartchipped for interface like every other vehicle built in the last 20 years, Mac. Which century are you from, again?” Grinning, Mac winks at Wormwood. “The best one. Come on, we need to get to that boat and get moving – the more time we waste, the more of a head start we’re giving the competition, and I hate being second to crack a case.” Wormwood gets up and follows Mac, calling “Time to move out fellas. Lock the place down and activate the security!”
Eris hops on one foot then the other as everyone mulls about, seeming to forget about the urgency she just spoke of. “We have to leave, people. Is your transport ready?” Mac grins. “Transport’s always ready, lass.” He slides onto his motorcycle, patting it affectionately before stowing his gear, allowing for someone to ride in the sidecar. “Should be able to pick the Amur up, right Pac?”
Wormie hops in Mac’s sidecar, flicking his thumb at Pitbull, “Too slow, bro!” he grins.
Pacoy calls out, “Pit, ride with me, and we’ll pick up the Amur, return the van to the Hangar and get out of town.” Pacoy says, already heading for the van. Pitbull scowls then grins at Wormwood. “‘Kay. Now, who’my riding wi- oh. Alright.”
Eris breathes a sigh of relief. “Alright. Let’s get out of here.” Eris walks out of the open hangar doors and heads to her Infusion motorcycle – a high-end, high-powered all-terrain variable wheel-depth vehicle with extra storage space in the attached saddlebags. She hops onto her vehicle, tossing on a helmet. “One of you get on behind Mac; the other can ride with me. Let’s not waste time.”
Wormwood scowls, wishing he’d waited now. Mac takes one look at Wormwood’s scowl and begins snickering. “Oi, beautiful, get over here and hang on.” He snaps his fingers at Pitbull. “Pac, get behind the pretty lady and try not to fall off, we have some time to make up.” Pac looks at his van and sighs, adjusting his gear to ride on the back of a bike.
Eris smiles over at Wormwood, then winks at Pac through her transparent motorcycle helmet. “Hang on. I don’t believe in waiting around.” She guns the bike and it nearly pops a wheelie, rapidly accelerating down the street towards the discount automobile dealership half a mile away.
Pitbull’s face displays his confusion. “Thought I was going with Pacoy?” Mac laughs, “Bit late for that now. Come on, saddle up cowboy.” Pitbull shrugs, and stomps on over to Mac and Wormwood. Kinda off today, aren’t I? Better get my head outta my ass before the trip, or I’ll be deader than a sleeping cat on a highway.
Wormwood comms Mac and Pits over the sound of Mac’s bike engine, “Ever seen a woman so in a hurry to run up her own ass? Typical low level corp trying to prove she’s got get-up-and-go before it is all got-up-and-went. We should watch her, her haste could be the deaths of us.” Mac guns his motorcycle, accidentally popping a wheelie due to Pitbull’s added weight before slowly pulling out of the hangar so they can lock it up, then racing down to catch up to Pacoy and Eris. “I hear you there, pal. Ten to one she leaked that story her own damn self.” Pitbull nods. “We stoppin’ for coffee or anything like that? I can chip in for it. Need somethin’ to put my head back on straight.” Mac chuckles, “We’ll get you a coffee while Eris signs the loan docs.”
Under remote operation, Pacoy’s van pulls into the rental agency a few seconds behind the pair of bikes, ready to be unloaded while the paperwork for the Amur is filled out.
Within minutes, Mac pulls into the rental agency, having made a detour to pick up some coffee for Pitbull. He dismounts and begins unloading Pacoy’s van. Eris hops off of her own bike after Pacoy gets off, looking around the dealership’s little parking lot with an expression of mild distaste. There aren’t very many executive-quality vehicles in sight – though there is a half-million dollar AV displayed on a stage near the front of the dealership’s building, and a few shiny, bright-colored roadsters can be seen on the dealership’s main lot. The Amur, though, isn’t quite in sight. Wormwood looks around, “Which Amur do they say is ours?” Mac answers, “They’ve probably just taken it inside for a spit and shine, Worm.”
A young man with slicked-back hair and a checkered jacket comes out of the building, waving his hands and smiling even before he’s close enough to talk. “Welcome to Jake’s Discount Dealership, where the killer deals live! You the boys from Lazarus? We have a fine beauty for you, oh yes we do!” Pitbull finally gets off the bike and scowls the moment he lays eyes on the garishly dressed little man. Wormwood looks him up and down, “So where is it? My colleagues will want to check under the hood. And I assume you’ve arranged an extra full can of fuel and the trailer we ordered for the bikes?” He then leans in and lowers his voice, "And you do realize we’re notorious Edgerunners, right? So we have to shoot people who try to rip us off, because of our street-rep and all. "He straightens and laughs, “Just kiddin’!” then goes absolutely straight-faced and intense.
The salesman nods, putting on his ten-gallon hat as he indicates to you to come forwards. “Of course! We’re just getting it hooked up in the garage, over there-” He points to what almost looks like a shack on the other side of the lot, but when you look closer it isn’t quite as run-down as its outward appearance might seem. “The trailer’ll be an extra $50 per day; we’ll throw in the extra fuel gratis. Come this way, and we’ll get everything settled.”
Pitbull, catching on to Wormwood’s game, stalks up behind the guy and firmly but gently lays his hand on Jake’s shoulder. “You sure it’s all good? Oversights happen, but not easily forgiven.” Pitbull growls, trying to be subtle but menacing. The salesman holds up his hands, shaking. “Hey, now! I’m Honest Jake – I wouldn’t rip you off if you were deaf, blind, and dumb. It’s Crazy Jake you gotta watch out for, and he doesn’t work here anymore. Come on, let’s get this deal signed.” Pitbull barks out a laugh. “I’m just yankin’ yer chain, man! Relax! You’re among friends!”
Wormwood waits patiently while Pacoy saunters over to the garage to check out the Amur. Pulling out his mechanics tools, Pacoy gives a good look at all of the major components of the Amur. Wormwood turns to Eris and smiles, “Don’t worry – anyone who gets there ahead of us will be dead by the time we get there, but will hopefully have thinned out the opposition some. And if not, we’ll take whatever it is from them. We’re professionals at this.”
[3/20/2013 9:56:52 PM] Mac is a little taken aback by Wormie’s aggression, “Well, I’m a professional detective… not so much a professional at… that…” Wormie gives Mac a thumbs-up, “You find it, I’ll steal it.” Mac can only grin and nod.
The garage door finally opens, revealing a shiny-looking Amur, maybe five years old. The vehicle obviously has seen some wear and tear – it still has a few bullet holes that haven’t been patched over, and the inner workings have obviously taken a bit of a hit. It won’t have quite the range of a top-model Amur – even less with it carrying a trailer on top of a full load – and the steering wheel seems to stick a little, making it a bit harder to control than a brand-new model, but it’s definitely functional. If not exactly aesthetically pleasing – it’s a very bland shade of tan, and the bullet-holes don’t exactly scream ‘wealth and power’.
“That’ll do, I… guess…?” Mac looks somewhat disappointed, but manages to hide it from Jake, wheeling his bike towards the trailer. Pitbull looks it over, then smirks. “I can probably give this thing a little service. It looks like it needs it in spots.” Wormie comms Pacoy, “Hey dude, does the ride check out OK? Miss fancypants is getting skittish here.” Pacoy replies, “It’s not gonna land you the prom queen, but it’s fine for what we want.” Wormie sends, “great” and signs the rental with a flourish, placing “Lazarus Group, partner” underneath his signature with a broad smile. “That felt good, that did.” “Let’s load’er up and head out.” Mac smirks. “Has your van ever landed you a prom queen, Pac?” He begins securing his cycle to the trailer bed. Pacoy smiles at Mac “You’re thinking of Candy, I stopped chasing after prom-queens LONG before I picked up my van…”
Mac turns to Wormwood with a grin. “Bet it did. Feels even better that the lady’s footing the bill for this monster.” He finishes with his bike and laughs a bit. “Good – there’s a word for people with vans that go after prom queens. So, who’s riding up front?” Jake smiles at Wormwood. “Excellent. That’s $450 per day for the vehicle, $50 for the trailer, and an extra $5000 for the hazardous duty work authorization. That’ll be $11,000.” Eris authorizes the payment, then starts loading her vehicle into the trailer. “Alright, boys. Let’s get the show on the road.”
“I’m driving.” Pitbull growls low but loud enough to be heard. And with the tone that he’s not asking but ‘telling’. “Shotgun!” calls Wormie, heading for the big Russian-built SUV. Mac finishes stowing his gear and clothing in the trunk of the SUV before taking his trenchcoat and hat and storing them as well. “Lets get this shindig kicked off, yeah?” Pitbull stashes his gun case and his travel bag in the back before snatching the keys and jumping in the front seat. Parts inspected, gear stowed, Pacoy climbs into a seat, ready to go. Mac asks, “Say, did anyone remember to bring any music?”
From the shadows of the dealership’s parking lot, the music of gunfire rings loudly into the midday turmoil just as the Lazarus Group finishes packing their new SUV and gets ready to begin their journey. The bullets flare into the Amur’s garage, ricocheting throughout the confined space. A bullet hole appears right in the driver’s side window just inches from Pitbull’s face, the passing shockwave feeling almost refreshing upon his skin. In the first hail of gunfire, none of the Edgerunners are hit – but out in the dealership’s lot stands Jake, a giant bullethole ripped right through his ten-gallon hat.