Lazarus Home Office
Monday, February 20, 2051
Nearly two months ago, after the Ottoman Incident, a DreamCorp security officer approached the Group with a little information and a hint at a future job. That information was a picture, supposedly taken in the Omaha Exclusion Zone, of a man that looks almost exactly like a slightly older Mac; the job was a scouting mission into the Exclusion Zone itself – a trip no man has yet survived since the missile strike in 2040. The riches of the Exclusion Zone – militiary armaments, classified information, high-tech weapons and equipment – have attracted get-rich-quick schemes and stories of hidden plunder for a decade, but that picture is the first real evidence of any crack in the Exclusion Zone’s armor. And DreamCorp wants it found, documented, and exploited – maybe for a documentary, maybe a new snazzy DreamPark. Hell, maybe they just want to get in there and loot it themselves – but they’ve offered the Lazarus Group the chance first.
The Lazarus Group – minus a few members, absent due to other commitments and/or the inability to get out of bed on time – has assembled at their offices, one week prior to the date that DreamCorp gave as the next window when the Offut defense network is going to be down. They’re awaiting the arrival of Eris Stansfield, the DreamCorp reporter who is supposed to be tagging along with them on their journey East. This meeting is to be the last before embarking on the mission; along with Eris is to be a DreamCorp producer, complete with contracts – and a money belt for the group’s expenses.
Wormwood wanders around the largely empty hangar, kicking at the floor idly. “Hey guys, when we tidy and paint can we leave one corner alone for now? I might use it as a location for my sensie.” To which Pacoy, not entirely enthusiastic about the idea, offers, “Maybe keep that to the basement, Wormie – I’m not shooting the idea down, but who knows what kind of clients we’ll have in here…” Mac looks back at Wormwood from attempting to bounce a dart through the office door onto the obstructed dartboard. “Here? I wouldn’t be able to park my bike there for a month, Wormie. Can’t you find a less… observable spot? I don’t want to disturb you while you’re… filming…”
Wormie grins, “Aw guys, I’d hose it down again after, promise. Ah, never mind. Spoilsports. So when does this reporter get here?” Pitbull marches down from the upper floor, smoketrailing from the cigarette on his lip, and Reaper slung over his shoulder. “You guys’re here. Where’s Candy and Sax-man?” Pitbull growls through his smoke filled teeth. Mac shrugs, giving up on ever practicing his throwing. “I think Saxby’s still in bed. I couldn’t wake him up over that drek that he calls music. Don’t think he could have heard my knocking.” He meanders over to his cup of coffee and reclaims it before looking suspiciously at the corners of the hangar.
As he does, a pint-sized hologram – only a few inches taller than Wormwood – pops into existence in the middle of the room. The monochrome woman, shaded in hues of electronic blue, scolds Wormwood, pointing a finger at him while looking down on him from behind her horn-rimmed glasses. “You should learn your schedule better, young man! Ms. Stansfield and company are expected to arrive at 10:30 AM.”
Pitbull smiles, his smoke rolling to the other side of his face. “Yeah, young man.” He growls in a goodhumouredly mocking voice. Mac laughs, reminded of one of his old schoolmarms, grinning at Wormwood unabashedly, whose look begins to sour, “I know, I know. Who the hell programmed this thing anyway?” Behind a grin, Pacoy offers a friendly reminder, “Hey, Me and Mac wanted a REAL secretary, but we were shot down! This was Bargain Bin material.”
“I bet they’re late,” Wormwood continues, stalking across the hangar space to claim an old beaten-up plastic lawn chair and sit in it. “Those kind always are.”
Through his smile, Pitbull growls, “I think I suggested something a bit militant, but I guess Pac thought I meant ‘disgruntled school teacher’” Mac nods. “So it’s sort of a compromise. A ‘real’ ‘militant’ secretary. I’d offer to get Anita working for us in here, but to tell the truth, she’s not the greatest secretary in the world. Not much in the way of typing skills, if I’m honest.”
“Well, even ‘Gladys’ is better than what you’d have given us, Pits – some drawling Texan drill sergeant getting on my case to stand up straight,” Wormie grouches with a cheeky grin. Pitbull laughs. “No, but I know he’d laugh at your lipstick.” Pitbull widens his eyes and gets a stern look on his face. " What’you call that shit on your face, son?! My mother had better taste in makeup, God-Rest-Her-Fuckin’-Soul, now drop’n give a hundred, Ms. Maybeline!" Pitbull finishes his parody with a fit of laughter so strong that his cigarette falls out of his mouth. “Well, if you were to stand up straight, maybe you wouldn’t need those boots to seem a little bit taller, pal.” Mac eyes Wormwood’s shoes, as though for the first time, his eyes rolling as he does. “Hey, thick soles are the fashion on boots like these, Mac! It’s how they come….and Pits? F you sista soldja!” Wormie grins, pops a chrome claw and begins to scratch a design into the plastic of his chair. “What is this, Pick On Randall Day?”
Pacoy adopts a thoughtful, mirthful look. “It’s not too late to find a nice demure ghost at Amon Zero and load it into Able, have him work part-time when he’s not on ‘Official Business’!” Mac spits his coffee all over the newly polished floor before slapping his hand over his mouth. “Der’mo!” He mutters under his breath as he casts about for a rag in the bag on the side of his motorcycle and begins mopping up the floor. “Just teasin’, bo. No hurt meant by it.” Pacoy feigns innocent “Hey_I’m_ an equal opportunity offender!” “Naw, man! Just tryin’ to keep the mood light!” Pitbull says through his laughter at his own joke.
Leaning way back in his chair until it’s sitting on its hind legs, Wormwood laughs, “Shit, I’ve missed you clowns. The bruisers on the club door are too doped with steroids to think and too muscle-grafted to speak clearly.” Mac wrinkles his nose. “Hell, I don’t think half of us are capable of speaking clearly without muscle grafting. But I’ve missed spending time with you lot too – I get slapped a heck of a lot less around you.”
Pitbull straightens up, still smiling. “By the way, you been practicin’ your shootin’, Worm? Would hate to find out that ma’ tutoring on the subject got nowhere with you.” He growls after picking up his cigarette.
Wormwood buffs his claw and blows on it. “I’m doing not too bad, I think, Pits. I love that new rifle so much, I’m thinking of naming it ‘Precious’” Pitbull laughs. “Odd. I feel like I should know that reference…”
Wincing, Mac looks to Wormwood. “I didn’t take you for a classic literature buff, Wormie. Have you read anything else from that period?” Mac thinks back, yearning for the feel of the broken spine of one of his office paperbacks. Wormie looks baffled, “Read what Mac? I was talking about that NPC from the ‘Lords of Gondor’ sensie game.”
Looking on towards Mac and Wormwood, Pitbull rumbles, “Eh. I didn’t learn how to read ‘til about ten years ago. I grew up a slum-boy, so there was no school or book for me. But the Army taught me, and I think I’m gettin’ pretty good at it. Readin’ the Art of War slowly but surely, myse-” Gladys, the schoolmarm-like holographic secretary, appears once more as the holoprojectors once again whirr to life. “I have just been informed that Ms. Stansfield and company have arrived at the gate. They will arrive at the main door momentarily.” Before she disappears, she turns to Pitbull. “Those disgusting things will be the death of you.” She winks out of existence as the holoprojectors shut down, almost sighing with relief even after that short timespan of being active. There’s a brief pause before Wormwood muses out loud, “What happens if you use a hologram for taget practice…?” Pitbull recovers from Gladys’ interruption, grimacing, and he grumbles something about “seaweed” as he re-lights it.
Wormwood stands, “OK, the client’s here and Candy’s gone off to play Father Pedobear with his collection of waifs and strays – I say Mac and Pac should do the talking.” he grins. “Heh, MacPac, sounds like something you get from a shopping wall.” Pacoy grins. “It’s a value meal!”
Mac mutters something about ‘kids today’, looking over towards the main entrance. “That gal sure does have a yap on he—-” He clams up and looks over at Pacoy and Wormwood, then starts sniggering. “The most valuable meal, Pac. Yeah, I’ll be glad to talk t’the broad. Unless Pac feels like calling dibs on her first.” Pacoy nods. “We can share – see how things go. Whoever has the feel for the thing.”
Pitbull laughs as he puffs off of his re-lit cigarette, blowing the smoke at the previous location of the secretary with a silly, sarcastic face. “I wouldn’ do the talkin’ anyway. My whole- ummm- shtick is the intimidating muscle in tha’ background. That’s what has gotten me further than flapping my jaw at clients, I think.” Pitbull growls, as he puffs off of his cigarette again. Wormwood laughs, “Yeah, and getting the door, Lurch – hint!” He makes for the boardroom, hoping to get the seat facing the door, with his back to a solid wall. Pitbull smiles. “I get that ref- I mean, Mmmmmmmmrgh” Pitbull growls as he stomps to the door, comically stiff limbed and hunched.
“Well, as our professional jawflapper has flown the coop, you might have to step up and learn a mite bit of the trade, hoss. ’sides, what if we sidle up to a right classy military broad?” Mac starts off towards the main entrance to greet their guests. With a playful tone and a wink, Pacoy speaks out to Mac, “Well, If she’s classy, she’d stay well away from the likes of Pit!” Pitbull’s head swivels around to shoot a dirty look at Pacoy, “I can act classy if I wanna!” He shouts at Pacoy as he prepares to slide the door open. Mac snorts in bemusement at Pitbull. I do like these kids. Best thing that’s happened to me since Anita.
A quiet tone sounds throughout the building as the office doors open and a woman walks in; dark-hair streaked with blue hides her face for a moment before an onrush of wind as some entrepreneur next door starts the engines on his aircraft stirs it up into disarray. Her face is strikingly attractive if not quite beautiful. Dark eyes on tanned skin look out at Pitbull, standing by the door, as she steps inside. She looks dressed more for travel or comfort than for a high-powered office meeting; she’s dressed in a tank top and cargo pants, with a messenger bag at her side and gloves on her hands.
The woman holds out a hand towards Pitbull. “You must be Pitbull; the short guy’s Wormwood, that one’s Mac, and there’s Pacoy. I’m Eris. Where are Candyman, Able, and that other guy?” Her voice is calm, direct, and a little soothing, down where it counts. Pitbull smiles as he lets her in. She’s a looker. I’d love to find my way up her skirt.
Pacoy extends his hand and smiles politely “Pacoy Tago. Pleasure to meet you, Hopefully it’ll be a pleasure to have you along.” Mac looks taken aback, not having quite expected this, muttering what sounds like ‘krasivyy’ under his breath, before thinking about how lucky his mates might be. “Dame’s done her research. Yeah, I’m Mac. The other guy’s indisposed at the moment. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eris.” Mac bows and tips his hat to the pretty lady. Pitbull takes her hand smiles. “Good ta’meetcha.” He growls quietly, either out of shyness or from trying not to crush her hand. “Abe ain’t here, Sax won’t wake, and Candy went off with his kids. They’ll be back, I suspect.”
Wormwood, who has walked back out from the office area again, freezes almost in mid-step, his eyes unblinkingly fixed on the young woman. After a moment, in which he instructs his implant computer to record every moment with this woman, he steps forward confidently with a smile and outstretched hand. “Good day, Eris. Unfortunately, our companions are otherwise engaged, we will be your Lazarus team for this assignment – one I’m sure you will find will surprise you with its expertise.” Mac nods. “Nothing we can’t handle, Ma’am. Most talented crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.” Pitbull shoots his eyes at Wormwood, and sends Wormwood a HUD text. “Careful, dude. She ain’t Art at least ‘til the mission’s done.”
Eris smiles at the group’s words. “Thank you. I’m sure we’ll all profit off of this venture together.” She steps further into the room, then pops open the messenger bag a bit. “Alright; where are we doing this? We can chat all day out here in the lobby, but a nice proper table would probably be better.”
Mac’s skin starts to crawl all over his body like cockroaches in a dumpster. Not here, not now. Please. “Why don’t we move to the board room. Wormwood, would you please get our guest a glass of water?” He starts to beckon Eris to follow him to the board room. "Right this way to the Conference Rooms, ma’am.” Paco gestures and leads on.
Wormie sends back to Pitbull, “A week is hardly enough to even begin with this one”. Meanwhile, he says aloud, “Yes, a solid table would be best – and some water of course.” He heads of to the small kitchen to try to find a clean glass. Pitbull marches after Pacoy, Eris and Mac, puffing on a cigarette he was near puffed-out on. Eris follows Pacoy into the conference room, smiling brightly at the men. As she enters the room, she reaches into her bag and pulls out a folder of flimsies – small flexible computers commonly used as a replacement to office paper. She puts one flimsy in front of each of four seats; she has four left over, and sits down at the foot of the table, holding one out.
Mac frowns at the flimsy in front of his chair before sitting, looking at it suspiciously. “You don’t happen to have a paper copy of what you’re about to show us, do you? A map or anything?” Pacoy grabs a flimsy and begins browsing the contents. Pitbull doesn’t sit down, but scoops up the flimsy and activates it, staring down the information as he does so.
Eris gestures with her flimsy. “It’s a standard two-week work-and-record contract. The flimsy’s got the biometric ID sensors to verify you are who you say you are; we don’t do paper contracts any more after that snafu with Bjork in 2023.” Wormwood returns with a tray holding a pitcher of ice water and some glasses. He huffs at not being able to get his preferred seat, then sits elsewhere, but side on to the door.
Mac frowns and picks up the flimsy. “Not my bloody fault that someone would impersonate a broad doesn’t know up from down.” He begins filling the glasses with ice water and passing them around, starting with Eris, then Wormwood, Pacoy and Pitbull. At least Saxby isn’t around to spill water all over one of these infernal contracts. He begins delving into the contract, scanning through it rapidly, wanting to be prepared before signing. Wormwood looks directly at the DreamCorps representative. “So what does this thing say?”
Eris waves her hand and leans back, spinning in a little arc in her chair. “Just the standard stuff. You agree to escort me to the Omaha Exclusion Zone and perform a reconnaissance of the area while I record the whole thing; you give DreamCorp the right for me to record you; you agree that in the all-too-likely event of your death DreamCorp holds no responsibility, though we will pay an indeminity of $30,000 to your survivors should any of you perish during the operation, etc., etc.”
Mac whistles. “Say, if this goes big, do we get a cut of the revenues? A percentage of the profits the film makes? I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a star.” He looks off in the distance, rolling the terms of the contract over in his head, looking at them as though dissecting a puzzle. Wormie waves Mac down, “I’m more interested in a bottom line. How much is our fee, does Dreamcorps provide a suitable method of travel and supplies for the hazardous area? Do we get to keep what we find or are we on a percentage of that? I mean, DreamCorps are the client here – if they want us to provide things like supplies and transport our price goes up, right?” Mac snaps his fingers. “That only makes sense. I mean, I typically get my hourly rate plus expenses when I’m working a job. Hazard pay if required, advance notice of hazardous situations.” Mac sips at his water, laughing inwardly at himself. Nobody’s ever warned me about a hazardous situation before. It’d be nice, for once.
Eris holds up a hand. “Of course. If you’ll look at section three, paragraph four, you’ll see that we’ve taken all of this into account. On completion of the mission, the Lazarus Group will be paid $30,000. You’ll be paid an advance of $15,000 cash as well as a $50,000 expense budget for supplies and services essential to the mission – I’ll be the arbiter of what you can use the expense budget for. Your pay includes $25,000 in hazard pay due to the location, as well as salvage rights to anything you can carry out of the location yourself prior to March 6, 2051. After that point, the salvage terms and conditions of this contract are revoked.”
Wormie nods slowly, “So, about a month of earnings for a week’s work in a hazardous area each. Nicely pitched – I like dealing with people who do their research properly. I like that what we can find and carry we can keep too. We’re quite good at that bit.” Mac shrugs, looking briefly through the contract one last time, thinking about the pre-war treasures that could be salvaged, smirking at Wormwood’s words. “That’s an understatement. If we can arrange proper protection and transportation, count me in.” His hand scrawls out a signature on the flimsy before setting it down and sliding it down towards Eris. “Provided we can get a bloody paper map of where we’re going, mind.”
Eris shrugs at Mac. “We’ll provide you with the data we have, but it’s sketchy. All pre-war. No satellites or recon flights have survived going over the area. You can print it out as you like.” “The more pre-war the better. Things were simpler back then.” As much as I don’t like going into this as blind as we will, my palms aren’t itching like something bad’s going to happen.
Wormie wonders aloud, “How long until we leave?” Eris turns to Wormwood. “The security window we identified will open on February 26th and close on March 6th; we need to be in-place and recording by the evening of the 26th for you to have met your obligations under the contract.” Pitbull smiles as he sets down the flimsy. “I knew I read that right. Well, mostly.” Pitbull growls as he sets the butt of his cigarette in the ashtray and lights up another one.
“So, are we agreed? If so, feel free to sign the contract at the bottom, then press your hand into the flimsy to record your biometrics for authorization.”
Pitbull scan his eyes across the information and finally signs it with the stylus that accompanied the flimsy, grinning. “Sounds like you’ve got plenty of hostiles in the area. Recon flights get shot down with a mere rocket or two, and anyone these days can get a hold of a satellite jammer.” Pitbull growls like he knows what he’s talking about. Pitbull shrugs. “If it’s jammed, we can find where their holed up just fine, but we won’t know what’s in there. Drug kabal? Maybe. Rampant cyberpsyched deserters? Could be. Gangers with a new fort? Hey, y’never know…”
Pacoy signs the contract, the dollar signs practically visible in his eyes as he pictures the things to come out of this. Wormie nods. “Five days to prepare, good.” He signs. “I assume you’ll be responsible for your own safety equipment, Eris?” She almost smiles. “Yeah. I can handle myself there.”
Mulling the trip over, Wormie starts ticking items off on his claws. “We’re all going to need rad-resistant skinsuits, we’ll need food and a vapor condenser. I wonder how much to rent one of those big wagons like Candy has for two weeks?” Mac’s eyes narrow, wondering how concerned Wormwood really is for Eris’ safety, before pressing his hand to the flimsy. “Something with cargo would be nice, if we’re salvaging. Is there going to be a film crew along with, or will it just be you?” Eris smiles. “I am the film crew; don’t worry, we’ll get plenty of angles. I’m fully wired and will be bringing my own camera drones.”
Nodding in approval, Mac looks to his large friend across the table. “That’s less to secure, right Pitbull? I wish we had more time to get to know the area we were heading into. Pacoy, you’ll be able to suss out any tech we find that’s worth salvaging?”
Fancy drones, attractive woman, chance for interesting loot plus a nice paycheck. Perfection. Pacoy thinks to himself as he nods subconsciously. “Yeah, I’ll bring some salvage equipment with us, no doubt.”
“So, this budget – is that going to cover transport and decontamination equipment? I’m not keen on picking up a tumor for a TV show.” Concern spreads across Mac’s face in a strange new pattern of anxiety. Wormie, smiling, says, “Never mind all that for now. Eris, we’ll do it. Give us your contact number so we can put together a shopping list and get back to you for approval on it.”
“Transport and biohazard equipment are allowed as part of the expense budget, yes, Mac. So, does that mean you agree to the contract?” Eris pointedly looks down at the contracts before you, waiting for the signatures.
Mac nods, sliding the signed flimsy over towards Eris. Pitbull slides his flimsy over to Eris, his eyes locked onto her. “I think the terms are more than accommodating.” He growls. So this is what it feels like to use half of my vocabulary in a sentence… Pacoy presses his palm to the signed documents and passes them back, “Looking forward to setting up a shopping list and getting to business.”
Mac pushes back from the table, stretching his legs. “I think this could be quite a challenge – worth it, but unlike anything I’ve ever done before.” A good chance to see if I can dig up anything on my Grandfather, too, but she’s not paying me to do that.
Wormwood signs his contract and hands it to Eris, flashing some data on possible vehicles to Pacoy, along with a request that he get bids for a three week rental on each. Pacoy nods to Wormwood, having received the info, and starts a basic search.
Eris collects the flimsies as they come in, flashing a smile to each of them in turn. “Excellent doing business with you.” She stands and begins heading out the door, but stops at Wormwood; she looks down at him, then leans forwards a little bit as she reaches up to her chest with one hand, dipping it below her top and into her bra. She pulls out a flat, solid-white business card and slips it into his hand; it’s cold, the familiar feel of a SmartPlas Card, and when he holds it out in his hand to look at, a small holographic image of Eris appears above the card on the right, her contact information taking up the center. “Here you go. Stay in touch, boys.”
Eris sashays out of the room, leaving silence in her wake.
Mac blinks, stunned momentarily. “Classy broad. She had a perfectly good satchel she could have tucked that away in.” He frowns and begins pacing around the room, mind racing about the potential of the Exclusion zone. Wormie slides out his left-hand claws an clicks them in a rhythm on the table as he stares at the plasti-card in his right palm. This one will be a challenge, no mistake he thinks to himself.
Pitbull’s eyes widen as he HUD messages Wormwood. “I also meant careful to apply to this scenario. She may be wise to your game.” Wormie looks up and answers Pitbull aloud. “Of course she is, my old friend. She works for Shania Chacon, do you really think they haven’t done their homework properly? This will be a most stimulating trip, I think – a battle of wits and subterfuge as well as a journey into danger.” Pitbull shakes his head. “You’re profession will be the death of you, like mine will be mine.” Pitbull growls as he smiles through another plume of smoke. Mac smiles sardonically. “All that’s left would be for me to investigate myself out of existence and for Pacoy’s robots to turn on him and we’d all be in a right proper state.”
The second-hand holographic projectors begin to whirr once more as Gladys materializes into existence, this time in the center of the conference table and in miniature, appearing even smaller than Wormwood himself. She’s looking straight at Wormwood, wagging her finger at him. “You should be ashamed of yourself, boy. A good boy stays nice and quiet and out of the spotlight.” She shakes her head. “You should have some sense.” She fades out to be replaced by a news vid – the Lazarus Group’s old friend, Veracity Blaze. “Have I mentioned how glad I am that we hired Gladys?” Mac doubles over with laughter, half nervous and all genuine. Wormwood sits gobsmacked – lectured by a hologram!
“I’m a mercenary, Mac. Or an assassin, thug, goon, bounty hunter, or whatever else my select skills call for. My profession can mean that I may not ever be home again. Pacoy may blow up with his drones, and you may investigate the wrong person, but those are possibilities. I have a higher possibility of meeting a stray bullet than either of you in regards to my only way to get my meals.” Pitbull growls a little solemnly before noticing Veracity.
Pacoy thinks about Mac’s comments on our various ironic ends – after that photo, this investigation may just lead to Mac’s undoing… Pacoy frowns before catching himself and turning his mind back to business at hand. Mac sours a bit at Pitbull’s words, facing Veracity from the corner of the room. “Every day we go to sleep, we may never wake again. But does that mean we fear to face the night? No, we live on again in hope, Pitbull. As long as I’m with you, I’ll make sure that you come home, if I can.”
Veracity speaks in excited tones. “This is Veracity Blaze reporting live from downtown Night City. Sources within the Night City Police Department report that the notorious Lipstick Stalker has struck once again – only now things have turned more serious. The Stalker’s latest victim, Abigail Brentwood, an Initiate Librarian for the Amon Zero cult, was found tied up and murdered in her Franklin Ridge apartment this morning with the tell-tale black-lipstick kiss on her cheek. Miss Brentwood was previously a victim of the Lipstick Stalker, but it appears he came again.”
Wormwood sputters and his chrome claws dig deep furrows into the table’s hardwood surface. “Fuck me sideways with a monoblade.” Mac turns his gaze from Veracity to Wormwood, his gaze hardening. Pitbull’s eyes widen as he rolls this information in his head. “Well, Wormy, I was wrong. It looks like your profession has killed you. What’s your next move?”
“Detectives with the NCPD have confirmed that they are dedicating more effort into catching this elusive Lipstick Killer, and that, with the help of the noted neuroscience experts at Rossum Universal, aspects of the victim’s mind were able to be recovered in an emergency ghost download. The victim’s final moments were not recovered, but enough data has already been processed to begin to create a composite image of the Lipstick Killer from her previous encounter with him.” A picture appears next to Veracity; it’s not complete, missing parts of the eyes, the nose, one ear – but it’s clearly Wormwood. “The NCPD has set up a tip-line atLipstickKiller@NCPD.com; if you have any knowledge that could help the brave men and women of the NCPD to stop this emerging serial killer, please – send them their way.” The image disappears.
“…Wormwood, where were you last night?” Mac’s voice tightens up, obviously struggling with some internal emotions. I had just cleared him.. I thought he wouldn’t go this far… “Or do you have an impersonator? An admirer?” Pitbull growls, returning his cigarette to his lips. With the feed cut, Pacoy sighs out a breath he didn’t even realize he’d been holding. So much for low profile.
Wormwood looks shocked. ‘I swear to you I did not kill that girl. I’ve been fucking framed by someone." Pitbull steps up to Wormwood, and crosses his arms as he looks down to him. “You sure? Lying will only make this worse.” Pitbull growls harshly. Mac lets out an audible sigh, as though a massive weight had been lifted off of his chest. “…I… I’m sorry – I didn’t actually think… but… who would want to frame you…? I mean…”
Wormie scowls, “All they had to do was compare the lip prints – notice they didn’t mention that? Someone’s getting at me for some reason, maybe to get leverage on all of us.” Mac shakes his head, as though clearing it. “Sorry – sorry. No, you’re right. Someone’s playing a game, and I bet that Wahlen might be involved somehow. That’s where I’d have my money to start off the game.” Pitbull stares at Wormwood for a hard few seconds, before finally speaking. “Alright. I believe you. My second guess is a better one: You may be framed or you may have an impersonator. Y’know, the most literal case of forging art that can be seen.”
Wormwood’s claws lift curls of shaved wood from the tabletop, “Whoever it is, I’ll find out and when I do… Pac, think you can whip me up a voicechanger and get me a burner phone? I need to talk to Blaize.”
Mac whistles. “Oh how I’d love to get on the actual evidence in this case. Everyone tampers in their own way, and I think I’d be able to backtrack whoever’s making the alterations to lead them towards you.” Well, this is a first… I never thought I’d be actively considering aiding a serial anything when I started in on this business.
“I’ll get right on it, Worm.” Pacoy says, glad for an excuse to head to the workshop and clear his head. Wormie nods, “Thanks Pac. Mac?” He slides a 500 dollar credit chip across the table. “I need you to go to Mornington for me, the Buchanan Gallery Mall there. they have a store called Dr Elburn’s Theatrical Costumery – fancy dress store. I need fleshtone latex in a spraycan, a tube of theatrical latex putty, some fleshtone makeup and about a foot of brown theatrical hair. See if they have a set of green plain eye contacts too.”
Pitbull nods. “And I think I’ll see what I can dig up. There’s probably some scum bags and dick heads who had a hand in that framing who aren’t too rich to get a talkin’ to.” Pitbull growls as he stubs out his cigarette and prepares to grab his Urban Fox. “Might stop by Stick’s and see if he’s got anything, either in hardware or info.”“You got it, bo. Not going to get you nipped without having a fair go at it. Keep your head down until we can get out of here to the Exclusion zone – at least no Facial Rec out there. And maybe I’ll pick up a different lipstick color for you – I don’t think black is in fashion right now.” Mac slides off to his bike, setting off to pick up the disguise for his friend.
The Lazarus Group splits apart to come together for their founding member in his hour of need even as the ticking clock of a time-sensitive mission continues to ring in the background.