Dateline: December 28th 2050, 1700 Local Time
The Lazarus Group – Candyman, Pacoy, Able, Mac and Pitbull – have been contracted to help protect Friedlander Bey’s Ottoman Hotel during his “Grey Auction” – a three day sale of stolen goods and massive party which draws the rich and famous from all over the world. They’ve already foiled an attempt to blow the hotel up using a gene-tailored bacteria that turned the contents of the entire buildings waste system into explosives, and captured the people responsible – members of the enigmatic 23Enigma group of techno-nihilist terrorists.
Now the team has had to postpone interrogating their prisoners at Candyman’s headquarters in order to rush back to the hotel in their luxury AV flyer. Bey has called to say he wants them there for the second auction session – and in any case Able’s masters at the Rossum Corporation want him to be their proxy in bidding for a consignment of prototype weapons which will come under the hammer in this session.
As the team lands at the Ottoman Hotel’s capacious mid-tower AV hangar, they find the hotel’s gruff security chief, Jonathan Haroun, ready and waiting for them.
“Took you long enough! The Emir wants to see you before the auction session, in his penthouse. I suggest you run.” The man seems to have watched too many pre-collapse cop movies and thinks he’s the precinct Captain.
Candy steps out of the AV and smoothes his suit, “On my way, Marid still down?” Haroun growls, “Yeah, he’s still down. Fucking AI gave away the jackpot on the slots three times in ten minutes!” Pitbull scoffs as he stomps past Haroun. “Ok, Agent Johnson…” He mutters as he puffs off of his umpteenth cigarette of the day.
Candy stops a moment, “I’m sure it was not his fault, Marid only does what he’s told. Try not to be so hard on him Haroun, it only hurts you, blood pressure and what not” and continues around the corner without waiting for a response. The AV’s camera tracks the conversation just outside, short identifiers and threat-assessment summaries appearing beside each person as the camera moves to them each in turn. The AV’s engines slowly shut down, the landing lights turning off – and the pilot canopy pops open. A small datajack eases out of the socket at the base of Able’s neck as his eyes open, blinking as he re-inserts himself into the real world. Pitbull stops an inch from the entrance, before sighing and stomping back to the V-TOL and deposits the Reaper in the back seat. “Sorry. Forgot the Emir and people and panicking and shit…” He half grumbles to the group.
Mac follows Candy, wobbling a bit as he does, glad to see solid ground again. “I still maintain that if we had been meant to fly, we’d have wings and not have made them ourselves. I’d prefer if we could leave it to the birds next time.” He glares at the bus behind them. “Three times, eh? Pacoy’ll be pissed.” Exiting the Av, Pacoy does a quick pat-down of all of his gear, then heads off to the penthouse, wondering if he’ll get a chance to look at the inner-workings of Madrid. “Nah, Mac, Slots are for grannies and drunks… and one time with Candy…. There’s real gamble there, but I bet it sure was a pretty sight to watch ‘em spill!” Pacoy answers. Smiling wistfully, Mac’s shoulders rise and fall. “Still, those one-arm bandits giving cash away like sweets on Samhain?” He lets a whistle escape from between his lips as he makes his way to the penthouse. “Yeah, Pennies from Heaven…” Pacoy ponders the image.