Ashburn Hotel, London Metroplex
Tuesday 11th April, 2051
A night’s sleep has sorted out some of the Lazarus team’s jetlag, but it’s a bleary-eyed crew that greets the new day. Outside, the metroplex of London is awakening, and they can hear the whine of aircars and rumble of electric delivery vans over archaic cobbles through the windows of their rooms. Just before the team arrived at their hotel, after evading British security at the railway station, a cold drizzle began to fall. It’s become a downpour now, with their windows showing streaks of grime and small trickles of fume arising from puddles in the window sills the acidic British rain has eaten into the granite over the years.
The team’s instructions for today are simple – get themselves to the South Warf of London’s Docklands, there to catch a boat called the “Long Tall Sally”.
Pacoy walks into the room, finishing a comm call, his bank account a few grand slimmer since last night, but his local resources a little more secure. Mac peers out into the street from behind the curtain before releasing it from his fingers and tightening the buckle on his raincoat. “I feel like I should have a second office here… this very much reminds me of home.” Pitbull downs a mug of coffee before dropping into a fast paced set of push ups, his huffing reminding the onlooking team of a pissed off horse. “Nah, Mac, a classic Gumshoe needs a gun,” Pacoy teases, “Plus, we’d have to get a special adapter to charge you.” Mac grins. “That’s true… I don’t think I could handle digesting the local cuisine here for very long. So much for my brief love affaire with London. I hope you chaps slept well enough. I know Pitbull kept grabbing for his gun when he was snoring…”
Able stands near the entrance to the room, looking out a window down at the street below. “We should get moving soon. This police state is going to make maneuvering without drawing suspicion difficult; we should probably acquire a vehicle not linked to out identities.” Pitbull stops mid pushup. “We should get a black, unmarked van. So suspicious, it’s too suspicious.” He growls before resuming his wake-up routine. “With a little luck, I should have no problem scrubbing our ‘tattler’ chips – a bit of time and equipment.” Pacoy informs. Mac nods as he pulls away from the window, heading towards the door. “We could grab a bus and ditch our tags into the pockets of some random mugs – keeps our ID’s on the moves and undiscovered for that much longer. Don’t mind humping it that much in the rain, even if the bus doesn’t let out near the docks. At least no cabbie will keen to our destination.”
Turning from his contemplation of the street, Able sets his attache case on a desk. Rather than popping it open, he touches a hidden bioprint latch – and the back of the case falls open. Inside are Able’s PD-9 PDW and stealth pistol, both complete with several magazines of extra ammunition. Taking them out of the case, he holds them by the barrel towards his companions. “Speaking of guns, I can provide arms for two of you. Keep them concealed until you need them.” Mac waves his hand at the weapons. “I’ll hold off – I’m not the best shot in the world. Just get lucky on occasion. I’ll distract them with my pretty face until one of you blokes plug them, yeah?” Mac shoulders the door open and shoves his hands into his pockets, keeping an eye out in the hallway. How many two-bit hotels does a private dick see in his career? I guess I have some catching up to do to meet my quota. This place may well count double, though. “It’s not what I’m used to shooting, but if Pit takes one, I wouldn’t turn down the other.” Pacoy answers.
Pitbull leaps up from his pushups into a crouch then a guard position in a quick succession of movements. “I call the PDW.” Pitbull growls as he falls into a relaxed stance, and strides over to the case. “Good, I’d prefer the pistol anyways.” Pacoy nods. Able releases the PDW into Pitbull’s hands, then hands Pacoy the pistol. “Be careful with that; one barrel contains nerve agent delivery capsules. Even if you shoot someone in the foot, they’ll probably have only a minute or two to live.” Mac winces. “That’s… unpleasant. I keep having these morbid thoughts of what would happen to me if I got shot by accident with that thing. Ugh, this brain of mine…” Pitbull sizes up the PDW with the squinting eyes of someone who spent way too much time in the sun. “Sturdy, reliable, low recoil, sufficient if a little lacking in power… Any spare clips?”
“Okay, I got in touch with some friends, a local fixer should be able to get us what we need to kick things off: we can make a bid for a clean ride and some basic equipment.” Pacoy informs the group. Mac hums to himself as he taps his foot, fiddling with his pocketwatch as he pulls up bus timetables. “I figure we can take four buses until we hit the fringe of the Docklands – it’s gone into ruins since the Thames flooded when Master Gore’s predictions came to light. They stopped servicing there after the busses couldnt cross – it’s a rough neighborhood. If we’re making a detour to pick things up, I can adjust our itenerary – there’s a bus that leaves nearby every twenty or so. Don’t want us to get pinched. Not sure if we’ll need a clean ride if we double back a few times on the public hounds.”
Able points to the attache case; it clearly shows signs of being intended to carry this weapon and its ammunition in the secret compartment. “Two hundred extra rounds, for two-fifty total in five magazines.” He turns to Pacoy. “Sorry, but there are only twenty-four rounds total for the pistol in two magazines. Try not to miss.” As Able points, it is obvious that his hand is shaking – a nervous tremor. After maybe ten seconds, it passes. “That’s usually the plan,” Pacoy answers, “But doubly so since I’m toting insta-death rounds” Mac files the motion away mentally. “Hey, Pacoy, you think your contact has any stabilizers? I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a piece, but it’s a secondary concern.” Able stares at his hand as it shakes, then clamps his other hand down on his forearm. After the tremor passes, he releases some pent-up breath and speaks to Pacoy, still staring at his hand with a frown on his face. “It’s not quite instant-death. More likely paralysis within a minute or two, death quickly following. But I gather your meaning. Remember that it’s packing knock-out and hollowpoint rounds as well, not just nerve rounds – and you’ve only got six nerve rounds total.”
Pitbull ransacks the case, and stashes the clips in the coat pocket of his nano-weave blastcoat. “I’m sure we can ask,” Pacoy nods to the door, “Everyone ready?” Mac nods, eyes and ears already working overtime as he checks the hallway intently, as though the paint itself were made of eyes. “Almost.” Pitbull growls as he continues to get himself situated, stuffing the PDW in the pocket on the other side of his blastcoat. Mac clicks his computer open and closed idly. “Pacoy, you want me to sort us a bus route to get to your contact? We should likely ditch the tags before we get there, just in case.” Able nods to Mac. “Yes. I’m ready.” As he speaks, his clothing – still appearing to be a suit from last night – almost instantaneously shifts into the appearance of a set of normal, casual clothes – the sort of thing anyone on the street might wear. The sort of thing that’s not very memorable at all. Mac nods to Able as he makes motions to leave the hotel, smiling with the silent irony that Able’s outfit will be forever burned into whatever biocircuitry passes for his brain.
As the team head towards the bus stop, Able broadcasts to the team ‘net. “We may need to switch our tourist tags our for citizen tags. The bus may be a good place to make the switch.” Mac spins and walks backwards for a brief moment, studying Able idly. “A lift and drop could work. You got the hands to pull off the switch, buckaroo? You seem about as steady as I like my martinis.” Pitbull tugs and pulls at his clothing, getting everything situated, before straightening into a tough militant pose. He looked every inch a warrior until he took a whiff of the collar on his blastcoat. "Ugh. The stink of the Omaha mission will never come out of this. But I’m ready all the same, dudes." Mac grins at Pitbull. “After spending a week with you in that damned oven, I can’t get your stink out of my nose. I don’t think the coat is the problem, pal.” “Hey, I wash every now and again. You kinda don’t get much opportunity to bathe on the field of duty, y’know?” Pitbull growls, smiling back at Mac.
The first bus is the Number 22 to Brixton. It is a traditional red London “double-decker” whining along on its electric motors. The bus is half full with glum-looking, drably dressed people, all heading to start their days somewhere. Able frowns as he looks down at his hands – which are already shaking slightly. “Normally, yes. But I’m not at my normal level of control. I think the poison is starting to take effect.” “Should we be loud and ass-ish like they think all American tourists are?” Pitbull H.U.D. texts the team with a semi-colon close-parenthesis as a smiley face. Mac curses silently inwards at his ineptitude as he boards the bus. “Don’t overdo it – we don’t want to be memorable.” He sends back. “Who’s got the steadiest hands for a set of dips?”
The bus drives silently for a while, people ignoring each other in the way of all commuters – and even ignoring the scenery as the team pass along the edge of the swollen Thames. From the upper deck, they can see the Houses of Parliament – now the Kriegs Kapital London offices – and other famous landmarks surrounded by muddy brown water.
Mac sends another silent communique as he continues idly sightseeing.. “We’ll run a Bob and Sue – Pitbull, can you sit next to a few marks and talk ’em up a bit? Just run a distraction so Able can lift and drop some tags?”
Pitbull plops down next to a portly gentleman in a jacket, and looks at him with wide deliberate eyes. “Hello! Do! You! Speak! American! Here?!” Pitbull grates slowly and deliberately like he is speaking to a particularly dull small child. The man goggles at Pitbull in utter flabbergasted surprise and sputters “Well…really…I…I…”
Pacoy opens his mouth, shuts it and rolls his eyes.
Able gets up from his seat, looking into his jacket pockets and then all around his area as if he’s lost something before heading towards the mark Pitbull’s settled upon. Everyone’s eyes turn to Pitbull, mostly in shock or a tightly-held disdain.
“Is! There! Any! Good! Places! To Get! A! Bud-! Wise-! Er! Here?!” Pitbull continues in even more deliberate and slow barks, still staring at him like a pissed off nutjob. Able stumbles as the bus rocks, timing the event to allow his hand to drift into the mark’s pocket just as he’s moving. He quietly mutters an apology as his hand retracts and Able continues towards the front of the bus.
The portly man turned purple at first, then took a good look at Pitbull and went pale. “I have no cash…please…leave me alone!” he begs. Able slides his hand into his jacket, releasing the gecko gloves adhesives in order to drop his ill-gotten gains into his pocket. As he approaches the next mark, Able leans downwards as if to look under a seat, his hand resting next to a man’s leg. He slowly, and deftly, slides his fingers into the man’s pocket – after the tasty, tasty loot that it no doubt holds.
“Oh! You speak American! Thank God! What about food?! Or good sights?! Like the Eiffel Tower?! That’s here, right?!” Pitbull grates, his eyes unrelenting in their intensity, but his speech in a relatively normal pace. Mac monitor’s Able’s progress through a reflection in the grimy glass windows, muttering under his breath to the person that he’s sitting next to, “Can you believe the nerve of some people?” He does his best to sound from nowhere in particular, playing off on Pitbull’s distraction to help further distract the next target.
The man looks puzzled. “No, this isn’t Paris…” He visibly gathers himself and a sense of class superiority. “Go away or I shall summon the police, you smelly oik!” Up the back of the bus, two teens with shaved heads and light tattoos down one side of their faces begin to chant “Fight, fight, fight!”, their faces lit with meddling glee. Able finally reaches Mac’s seat, his fingers letting slip his new badges into his jacket pocket. Leaning over the man Mac is sitting next to, Able speaks to Mac. “I can’t find my wallet. I think I may have left it in your suite in the hotel.” He sounds utterly distressed, and when the bus makes a turn he bumps into Mac’s neighbor – and as he does so, Able’s hand slips into the man’s jacket pocket.
“That’s no way to speak to a tourist! I come from Texas, and I tell you right now, we speak to our tourists with respect! You ever hear of “Southern Hospitality”?! We invented that shit! In fact, if this were the Ol’ Lone Star Nation, I’d teach you a thing or two about it, boy-I-tell-you-hwhat!" Pitbull roars, like a combination of a drill sergeant and a drunken hick.
One of the youths takes a circular object out of a satchel and tosses it into the air. It buzzes as it flies – something akin to one of Pacoy’s buzzbots – then unleashes precise sprays of multi-color paint at the white ceiling of the bus. In seconds, a mural take shape.
Mac taps out a message in morse on his pocketwatch, timing his taps with the rhythm of the chant as he broadcasts a message to his team. “Always wondered if all the bits about the hooligans were true…” He looks up at Able and nods. “Don’t worry, I’ll cover our lunch. We’re almost off anyway, aren’t we?” Able relaxes as the wallet falls into his pocket. “Thanks, man. I don’t think I could take another day without a lunch break.”
The portly man by now is looking into the middle distance as he speaks. “Yes, I’d like to report an assault in progress. I’m on the Number 22 bus in Hammersmith.” Mac seizes the image into his memory, standing as the bus approaches the next stop. “Just don’t do it again, okay? You owe me a week of lunch at this rate.” He stares back at the portly man, wincing as he broadcasts a silent text. “Didn’t I mention it would be best not to overdo it? I feel I may have forgotten..” Pacoy admires the mural-bots work as he readies himself for Fight-or-Flight options
One of the youths yells, “Shite, he called the Razors! Scarper!” Both jump up and run to the back of the bus, then throw themselves out the open door onto a street corner. “Whoa-whoa-whoa, pardner! No need to get the cops on it! I just lost my temper is all!” Pitbull grates, his eyes now wide in his best rendition of shock, his meaty hands over his head. “Too late, you hooligan! I shall press charges, you can be assured of that!” the man yells back, looking around out the windows as the bus comes to a halt at a bus stop. “If I were you, I’d make myself scarce.”
Mac scarpers off the bus. “If that fool realizes Able just Bobbed him, his tag is going to be useless. We may have to get a new one. Lets get going to your contact, Pacoy.” Able casually steps onto the street, deciding that this is an excellent stop – especially if Pitbull’s antics were going to bring the police in.
“Fine! Fuck you, you limey bastard! I hope you choke on your ‘trickle’ tart on tea time!” Pitbull roars as he rushes his massive frame out of the bus in high-gear, knocking some in his his relentless stride. Mac winces, muttering under his breath, “I swear, I don’t know him. Can you get that man’s tag, Able? I fear we may need to ditch it. It may become a liability.” Able sighs. “Unfortunately, all these tags are probably going to be worthless shortly. Once the police arrive, everyone will realize their tag is missing and then they’ll just cancel them.” He pulls out the wallet. “At least I lifted some cash for the experience.”
Looking around on the pavement, you realize you’re in a busy shopping area just as the stores open. An early crowd of workers and shoppers throng the streets, masking your progress from any onlookers on the bus swiftly. Able starts walking to one of the stores, looking for something – almost anything – expensive to buy. ANd where there’s a nice set of cameras. As he walks, his clothing, face, and hair begin to change as they pass an area with no direct cameras – replacing the old Able with the spitting image of one of those youths that graffiti’d the bus earlier. Mac sighs. “We need a better Sue. Good to see you didn’t go all motel-love-bed on the marks… Pacoy, which way gets us to your contact?” He tails behind Able, counting time silently in his head. “Guys, lets get to someplace private: I can re-code the badges!” Pacoy points out.
Mac’s face splits into a grin as he keens to Able’s plan. “Pure class. I don’t know where’s private – would it take long? We need to get to the boat today, so we can’t afford too many detours.” Able tosses his jacket to Mac and, mimicking the chav that ran away after yelling about the Razors earlier, tells him to “Keep that fer me a moment. Gotta pick up a bosh a’ gems.” Leaving the others for a moment, Able steps into a high-end jewelry store, waving his newfound credit card. “Oy! Shopkeep! Gotta black card and dyin’ to spend it!”
“We need to get to Brixton. it’s on the other side of the river from both South warf and where we are, then back to the warf, so – like five buses away.” Pacoy answers Mac. “Better hit the boat first, I guess: it would be a good place to hide from ‘bobbies’, or what ever the hell they have here.”
A well-groomed and sporty looking young woman looks askance at Able but smiles a fake smile. “How can I help you…sir?” Mac fades into the nearby crowd, hat covering his face as he keeps it tilted down to avoid the cameras as he silently sends out to Pacoy and the team, “Jackbooted flatfoots, I think the term is. Next bus will be around in fifteen. Able should be clear by then. We’ll clear out to Brixton.”
Able gives her his biggest ‘stupid fucking chav’ smile and points to his ear. “Been eyein’ somethin’ special fer me missus. A nice special rock, ya see? Then she up and drops me ass like chowder thrown in the sea. So, I says to meself, I need to spend that money on my own damn self. Got just the idea, too. I’m buyin’ that rock I was gonna give her and wear it meself right on me ear here for all the world to see.”
The girl swallows. “We have several nice pieces sir, in both synthetic and natural gems. Have any caught your eye?” Able gives a grand grin. “Yep! That natural perty right there, middle of the shelf. Nice and big, don’t ya think?” He doesn’t actually think much about it, just notices that the price of the stone has several zeroes behind it and it’s got about the right sort of glitter for the ignorant chav he’s pretending to be. “Gimme the whole thing, ring an’ all. I got a boy to do me the conversion to earing just waitin’ for the rock.” “Certainly, Sir! Can I have your credit card and ID badge to swipe please?” The girl is still smiling, not quite believing her ears. She pulls out a data stylus from the top pocket of her uniform blouse. Able drops the looted credit card and the (proper) ID badge on her counter, a big smile on his doofus face.
Mac sidles up to Pacoy. “I figure we hit your contact first – I doubt when we hit the boat we’ll be able to head back ashore for some shopping. We make a quick buying run, nothing we can’t carry, then we take a detour bus, then hit the boat fast and hard.”
The girl runs her stylus over the card, then the badge, and a little LED light on the side flashes red. She scans both again, then smiles weakly. “Excuse me a moment, please sir, I’ll just arrange a box for the ring.” She turns away and takes both badge and card towards a flatscreen terminal behind the counter. An older woman walks over to her and the two whisper together. then the older woman shrugs and the girl returns to Able with a small box. “Here you go Sir.” She returns both badge and card, along with the box. “We’ve had to add a special fee for handling but the card was good for it. Please let your father know he should make his own purchases in future, though? have a nice day!” There’s a peculiar stress on the word ‘father’.
Able gives a good grin as he winks to the two women in an exaggerated manner. “Right that, miss. Right that.” He tips an imaginary hat to the two women as he walks out, deliberately in clear view of any cameras in the area.
“Hey Abe! Nice to see that your ole man appreciates yer ass. Maybe you won’t get backhanded for coming up short” Pitbull H.U.D. texts Able. As Able meets with the group at the bus stop again, he tosses the package to Pacoy as he looks at the receipt, checking to see just how much they got out of their likely one and only use of the credit card. The receipt inside says five thousand HUB credits, some 8,000 British pounds.
Mac sighs and shakes his head. “I should feel bad about that, but that’ll put them off our trail for long enough, I expect.” He offers the coat back to Able. “So, two busses to Brixton, spend some more money, then we get on a lovely dinner cruise. How’s that sound?” “Provided Abe’s Pimp don’t get pissed. Eh? Deuce Bigalow?” Pitbull guffaws as he walks with them. Able nods comfortably at the figure on the receipt as he accepts his jacket back. “Excellent. And at least if the ID chips fail us, we can bargain with some hard currency.” Pacoy checks the box before palming the package, “Should but a big dent on our shopping list.” Mac smiles as he leans against the bus stop, barely out of the rain. “Can’t be buying that much, can we?” Pacoy grins at his android friend “You know, for a guy with a bootable, perfect memory, you seem to have forgotten our last few shopping trips pretty quick!” Mac sighs. “Last time we bought a car! We can only carry so much! I know I’m just looking for a roscoe and some slugs at best, in case things get Sally’d. Then again, on the black market, that may be on the expensive side of things.”
Brixton, London Metroplex
Tuesday 11th April, 2051
Two more bus journeys later, the Lazarus team are well South of the swollen river, looking at a much poorer district. Here the roads are cracked, the buildings sometimes derelict and various unsavory-looking characters loiter on street corners. It’s not The Gray of Night City, but it isn’t a nice area. Pacoy’s contact is located in a building that might have been anything once but is now a textile sweatshop making cheap knock-offs of street boutique clothes.
Mac takes a brief look around before feeling a twinge of grief at not having seen his tailor in some time. To no one in particular, he says aloud, “It’s hard to find a good tailor, these days. A dying, but noble profession.” “Yeesh. It’s like a block from my childhood out here.” Pitbull growls as he watches a pair of half naked children playing swords with grimy looking strips of wood.
As you approach the building, two burly figures step out of the shadow of the doorway. One, a man with a mohawk hairdo and several chrome plugs in his face, growls, “Yeah?” The other has his hand clenched around one end of a long silvery tube – perhaps a stun wand. Able steps to the side, flanking the two men as Pacoy takes center stage. Able’s eyes immediately go outwards to the rest of the zone, looking for any sign of surveillance or police. Mac stands back, hands shoved in his pockets, leaning against a conveniently nearby broken lamp-post. He studies the men coldly, keeping one eye checking on Able occasionally.
“I’m here to see Niki, her tito sent me.” Pacoy says, smiling politely to the thug. The man’s eyes flick across the street for a second, then he turns back to Pacoy. “Who are you again, guv? You didn’t say.” Able tilts his head slightly, catching Mac’s attention. He sends him a quick message, pointing out a man watching them. “What do you make of him?” Mac’s eyes idly slide over towards the man running the curry-cart, scrutinizing him across the distance, his ear filtering the sound in from Pacoy’s conversation.
“I’m Mark Pacquiao, Pac. She should be expecting me.” Pac answers.
Mac casts a quick glance at the bouncers as he sends a message back to Able, “He’s a smooth operator. Has the kind of dosh that gets a quality haircut updown.. don’t think he’s ever sold curry before a day in his life. Either he’s got a clicker in his pocket, or he’s looking to put a hole in someone.” Able messages Mac back. “That’s how I make it, too. Probably a police officer or corporate security, and the bouncers know or suspect he’s there. May be their boss. Keep loose – this may get ugly.” Mac grins, sharing the conversation with the group, tacking onto the end, “It’s already ugly. The Texan’s here, ain’t he?” A smile creeps onto his face as he looks over at Pitbull
The big man with the face shrapnel nods slowly, “Yeah, she said you might be around. Listen now, don’t look behind you but see that guy with the food cart behind to your left?” A slight smile appears on Able’s face. “The guy with the fancy hair? We noticed.” “Yes,” Pac says without looking “We’ve noticed. Not one of yours, I take it?”
The burly man continues, “He’s a known snitch, gets paid well for information and for dobbing in dissidents. So I’m gonna shout at you to bugger orf and Bert here will wave his nightstick. Then you’ll head down the street, around the corner and go up the first alleyway there. There’s a metal door there. Someone will open it.” The doorman takes a deep breath then yells “Hell no! This isn’t a whorehouse you stupid berk! Bugger off before my mate knocks seven bells outa ya! G’orn now, beat it!” He takes a step forward and raises a hand clad in a Zap-fist as his friend steps forward with his stun-wand raised.
Pitbull lights a cigarette while the guy’s talking, exhaling a jet of smoke as he continues to watch his surroundings, until the guy starts yelling. “Aye, man! Aight! We just wanted to see! Sorry, bruh!” “_SO Sorry_, Sir!” Pacoy feigns embarrassment as he backs away and heads down the street.
Mac shrinks back from the doormen, suitably cowed. “Shame about that guy being a snitch and all… I could go for something to eat right about now. Even if it is… local food.” He begins walking off down the street after Pacoy. Able steps backwards, spitting at the ground in front of the bouncer. “Well cross me an’ fly to ‘ell! Just ’cause we wan’ some bird’s fine feathers don’ mean you gotta yell! Shite!” He heads down the street with a swagger appropriate for a stupid chav, looking out for the corner and the door.
Dodging into the first alleyway around the corner, the team come across an elderly Indian woman standing in an open doorway. “Quick now, Gorah-Sahib, This way!” Swiftly, the team are taken up a stairwell and through a door into what might have been an office – but now has a hole cut in the masonry connecting this building to the next. From there, it’s up two more flights of stairs in that building to a room on the top-most floor.
Mac idly thinks about all of the meals he’s ever eaten to distract himself of the circuitous route they find themselves taking, hoping to not hear sirens, or the local equivalent, while they are here.
The top floor is set up as a rather fine living area, with old but well-maintained wooden furniture and leather sofas. By the walls stand four obvious goons, all with bulges in their suit jackets. In a leather armchair sits a middle aged woman, who gets up as you approach and holds her hands out to Pacoy. “Cousin, so good to meet you! You come highly recommended by our mutual Uncle. How can my humble operation help you?”
Mac looks around at the decor, thinking to himself. Humble? Hardly… and they’re cousins? … come to think of it, why have I not heard much about Pacoy’s family? Pacoy grins and offers a hand, “Hello, cousin – friends of the family said you were the one to see around here.” Pitbull tips his head to the side like a confused mutt. Related? Don’t really look it.
The woman shrugs her shoulders, clad in an expensive vat-grown sharkskin armored jacket of the kind a Glitterati might wear. “I try my best, Cousin. What do you need? Oh, but you must be hungry! Sit, all of you.” She claps her hands and one of the goons heads downstairs, presumably to arrange food.
“I was thinking we could do each other a bit of magtulungan – my friends and I could use some gear, maybe a few minutes in a workshop? Kabigin and see what we can do for each other?” Pacoy smiles “And, yes – food would be very welcomed.”
Mac’s stomach growls aloud at the mention of food, causing him to look slightly embarassed as his sinks into a seat. Pitbull chooses a sofa and sits rigid, constantly alert, but not attempting to look threatening or apprehensive. Able seats himself on one of the wooden chairs, waiting to see what happens as Pacoy does his business with his ‘cousin’.
“Of course, Cousin. Nicki Matalang knows how to ’get along to get along.” She smiles. “Let us see how we can enrich each other by trading, shall we?” As she speaks, three young girls of obvious Filipino extraction arrive bearing trays. “These are my daughters. Come, eat” The trays are uncovered to reveal a chicken and sweet-potato dish in what smells like a spicy sauce alongside a big bowl of prawns and noodles.
“MMMM, Delicious, cousin!” Pacoy licks his lips and grabs a plate. Pitbull is anything other than neat or civilized in his consumption, as he devours his first plate in short order. Mac wastes no time tucking in, eating what would likely be considered ‘more than his share’ in any company other than a devout Italian grandmother. Mac looks up at the young girls who bore the food in, then at Pacoy, thinking to himself, They don’t look anything alike… there’s no way that they’re related. Something fishy is going on here, but I’m not one to look a gift prawn in the mouth. Able’s silverware makes the loudest noise in the room as the tremors in his hand vibrate his fork repeatedly against his plate. Slowly, and careful not to spill anything, he eats his meal, determined not to let his failing body distract him from his goal.