Dateline: December 27th 2050, 0900 Local Time.
The team has been summoned – that’s the only way to put it – to the penthouse suite atop the luxurious Ottoman Hotel from which the notorious Friedlander Bey rules his domain. They have a good idea why – the Emir is hosting one of his big Grey Auctions at the massive hotel and casino complex over the next three days and he’ll want to rope them all into providing some extra security, no doubt. Their appointment is for 9.30 am, so – in some cases bleary-eyed and grumpy – they all show up at the massive entryway to the Ottoman nice and early. It doesn’t do to disappoint The Emir. After their vehicles are taken by utterly polite and bright-eyed young valets they all walk in through the marble and chromed main doors.
The entire entryway is designed to impress: a vaulted forty foot ceiling painted in trompe-l’œil painting, marble floors, real plants in brass pots, and a low murmur of wealth. Ahead, sweeping hardwood stairs at least sixty feet wide lead up to the main casino floor. However, the team are intercepted before they can set foot on them by a hard-faced, tall, black man in a midnight leather trenchcoat and wraparound shades. He’s wearing a RFID badge on his lapel which bears the hotel logo and the legend “Ottoman Security”.
He smiles, unconvincingly, and grates out “Gentlemen, welcome to the Ottoman. Can I help you?”
Mac steps back and whistles, his eyes tracing upwards. “Wonder if Anita’s ever been in a place like this.” His eyes snap down to the smiling man. “We have an appointment with the Emir. Are those stairs how we get up there? Looks like a hike to the moon if it is.” Candy adds in a light airy voice, “Summoned” letting the subtle weight and meaning of the word sink in. Pitbull stands next to them, a lit cigarette clenched between his teeth as his eyes scanning the area. he looks out of place, like a large predatory cat in a china shop.
As they walk towards the reception area, Able walks in behind them – marching with purpose, holding his head high – no longer chromed in that ridiculous skullcap and once again with familiar features on his face. A Rossum flash is emblazoned brightly upon the left side of his face, shouting out to the world who his masters are. Like a professional in the personal security arena, Able takes in the room before him before turning back to the entryway and tilting his head slightly in invitation. Moments later another man walks in behind Able, his power suit, expensive features, and a spidering of cybernetic circuitry on his face all screaming ‘money’. Able seems to have glitterati company today. They head across the wide expanse of lobby towards the reception desk.
Pitbull’s eyes slide thoughtfully over his compatriots, observing them for any changes, wondering to himself if any of them also blew a ton of money on cyber-work. His eyes rest on the glitterati with Able for a moment too, sizing him up for what he appears to be worth. Catching his double-take, the others turn to see Able. Mac adjusts the new trilby perched atop his head as he appraises Able, not quite sure of what to make of him now that he’s rather self assured and not wearing that strange cap. He tips his hat to the glitterati whom just entered by way of greeting. Pacoy glances at Able’s new “friend” curiously for a brief moment while he waits for the new Temp-Hire goons to get word his name is on the VIP list.
The tall man, obviously security brought in for the event, looks them all over carefully, slowly. His throat works as if he’s trying to speak for a moment then he growls, “Got ya. Messers Candyman and party to see the boss. I’ve been given instructions. Follow me, please.” He turns on his heels and walks off across the wide floor as two similarly clad men drop into position behind you as smoothly as well-trained silk. At the same time a speaker system which has been piping classical Arabic music emits a three tone chime then “Mr. Pacoy Aquino to elevator E, please. Mr. Aquino please go to elevator E.”
“Hmm… apparently I’ll be a moment, guys” Pacoy says as he heads to the elevators. Mac casts a quizzical sideways glance at Pacoy. “We just got here, and you’re already getting pinched for something? Pal, if you need me to do a runner with you, you holler, ya hear?”
The three security guards escort the other three team members – without Pacoy and Able for now – down a wide wood-paneled hall hung with examples of Arabic abstract art and to a bank of elevators near the small and very expensive shopping mall at the other side of the ground floor – bypassing security and gun-check entirely.
Mac walks through the lobby, eyes cast upwards and hands in his pockets, whistling a tune, occasionally spinning and taking a few steps backwards. “Now this is the kind of life a man could grow to appreciate. Even dig the paint on the walls. How much one of those run, y’wager?”
Don’ get the stuff, personally. Never got painting, drawing, sculpting, or much other arty things." Pitbull growls to Mac, still looking around as though someone were about to jump out of a hole with an RPG pointed at them. “They’re just distractions, I always think.”
Candy shrugs, “No clue, have been out of the art scene for a decade, but I certainly would not mind if Cabrini-Grean had a bit more budget for decorum…but such things always seem at the bottom of the list. Pacoy did a wonderful job of the basement though.”
The lead guard presses a button on the elevator marked with a prominent brass “Express” plaque and then swipes his badge over a reader on the control panel inside before pressing the very top button. “Gentlemen?” He gestures to get in the elevator. The other two guards do not follow.
Candy offers a curt nod and enters the elevator without a word. Mac squints at Candy. “Pacoy’s into interior decorating? Always figured him more for a grease monkey type.” He steps into the elevator, gleaming shoes sending off reflections from the recessed lighting. “Seen some great war pieces in the museums, Pit. Real moving stuff. Sticks with you, even in your dreams.”
The elevator ascends silently and swiftly, the opaque glass doors going transparent for a few seconds as it swishes up through the main gambling floor and its six mezzanine levels.
Seeing the ants nest of activity on the casino floors, Mac asks the others, “You lot ever try your hand at gambling? Never could get the hang of dice or the slots myself – didn’t like the odds of going up against the house.” Candy smiles, “I gamble every day Mac. I hear Pacoy enjoys the game though.” “Hate gambling, too.” Pitbull says darkly. “A past time that got my parents killed. Another story I dislike talking about.” Mac turns to Pitbull, “Do you have any stories you like talking about pal? Surely you’ve not had all rotten eggs through the years.” “Not really. My work with you guys has actually been the most successful and lucky I’ve ever gotten into.” Pitbull replies to Mac. “From being stuck in a losing war in Mexico with a psychotic bastard of a Sergeant, to my childhood in the slums of Texas, life has actually been kinda ugly.”
The elevator coasts to a halt with a swish of hidden airbrakes, then the doors open onto a wide hall paneled in parquet wooden blocks, with a massive Persian rug on the white marble floor and some tasteful period furniture around the edges. Two men in black trenchcoats, each with a slung PDW, await you. One holds a scanning wand and behind them on a side table are several inhibitor bracelets. The man escorting the three team-members motions them forward just as two other elevators open, disgorging Able and Pacoy.
Able steps out of the elevator and nods to the group. Compared with earlier, he looks almost relaxed now. Not that he ever truly looks ‘relaxed’, but the palpable sense of pressure has been lifted from Able’s shoulders – at least for now. He nods to the others as he joins them. Pacoy walks down the hall just in time to see the others coming out of the elevator. Adjusting his suit, he briskly joins the group. Mac breathes out a little sigh of relief. “So, what’s the rumble, buck?”
The guy with the detector wand begins to sweep you all as your escort gruffs out, “Please divest yourself of all weapons. They’ll be returned to you after your appointment, I assure you.”
Mac looks at the man, then proceeds to slip his handgun from his shoulder holster, looking for a place to set it down before drawing the electrolaser from behind the small of his back and setting that down as well, submitting himself to the search. Pacoy removes his weapons, hesitantly considering holding on to the balisong, but thinks better of it. “Some kind of test – very odd.” he answers Mac. Reaching over his shoulders, Candy divests himself of a Armatech Agonizer and a two foot monoslicer. Laying those on the table, he unclips the Prowler holster and lays the gun on the table as well, “Streets are dangerous.” Pacoy raises an eyebrow, surprised at the hardware Candy has started carrying. Able opens up his trenchcoat, disgorging the little PDW swiftly followed by a small knife and a C7 Stealth Pistol. He carefully sets down the pistol – civilian ownership of which is highly illegal – and backs up. Pitbull winces reluctantly as he gives up the military issue carbine slung over his shoulder. He sighs as he sets it down on the table next to his knife.
The guy with the wand nods once, satisfied, and steps back. The other two begin to buckle EM Inhibitor cuffs on each of your wrists.
Mac cautiously eyes the knives being handed over, stepping to the side slightly as he continues the earlier topic of conversation. “That’s no good, Pit. We’ll have to go out for a night, introduce you to Anita. I’m sure she could scare up a friend that we could go and take in some sights with. Life is meant to be lived and talked about, laughed and shared.” He looks rather surprised at Candy as well.
As the inhibitor cuff goes on Able’s wrist, he carefully keeps his face very still – then twitches his lips and cheek muscles a bit and gives a brief smile before looking to the others. Pitbull twitches slightly at the cuff, but otherwise gives no hint of effect. Candyman seems stunned momentarily, and keeps touching his temples as if he has a sudden migraine. Mac seem least affected of all, with no sign the cuffs have any untoward effect.
However, as soon as the cuff hits his wrist, Pacoy drops as if felled by an axe, and lies twitching and moaning on the floor. Immediately the man with the wand pulls it out again, running it over Pacoy and making frantic adjustments. “it’s cool – not dangerous.” He gets a nod from your escort and flips the EM cuff to “off”.
“What the hell did you do to him?” Mac drops to a knee and tries to make sure Pacoy isn’t hurt. Able nods down at the inhibitor cuff. “Pacoy’s running unshielded cyberware. A Speed Demon booster is most likely from the effects.”
The two guards pull Pacoy gently to his feet as one says, ‘No hard feelings – this is a new wand they gave me, I’m used to the one at the club".
Pacoy shakes off the horrendous experience, muttering to himself about the fortune he’s spent here as he pats down his clothing and regains full control of his faculties. “I’m okay, Mac – cyberware kinda keeps me standing…” Mac blinks, then shakes his head. “Damn – Can’t say I know what that’s like, bo. Don’t have a lick of the stuff myself, but to rely on it completely? Eesh.”
The original escort asks, bluntly, “Did you get that ware installed by choice, or is it for neural damage?” Then he shakes his head. “Never mind, it’s not too much of an augment to handle. We’ll live with it.”
Pitbull gives Mac a look. “No cyberware?” Mac shrugs. “Never saw the need.” He taps his head. “Got everything I need right here. Born with it, don’t need no more.” Pitbull shakes his head and chuckles to himself. “You really are a blast from the roarin’ 20s, aintcha, boy?” Mac laughs. “Born and raised. I’d have got a tattoo, but you know me and sharp things…”
The team’s escort, meanwhile, having satisfied himself that Pacoy is stable on his own two feet, walks over to a large set of brass-paneled doors on the other side of the hall and waits, his throat working again. A second later the doors hiss and swing inward – revealing they’re about four inches thick with multiple locking bars of bright steel. beyond is a short hallway that opens out into an open-plan suite of impressively large proportions. Behind him, Mac’s voice drops off along with his mouth, unable to cope with the wealth being presented in front of his eyes.
There are three men in the room. The Emir himself, for once hatless, is standing by the far windows. His lieutenants Desmond and Jacob the Juice are closer to the entryway. As the team enter, Desmond gets up from his sofa with a whirr and click of exoskeleton under his robes. He nods curtly to the escort, who withdraws as the doors close, then bows and salaams. “Welcome to Mr. Bey’s home, on his behalf. You are honored guests. Please, come be comfortably seated.”
Able places his hands together in front of his chest and gives a short bow in reply, seemingly perfectly at ease. Mac looks to Able and follows suit, stepping forward and doffing his hat to the Emir, bowing a bit more deeply, holding his hat in hand. Candy bows too as he looks out over the penthouse and through the huge picture window to the city beyond. “It looks so beautiful from up here”, he notes sardonically. He walks swiftly over to Desmond, “Thanks, we really like being in your home, umm his home,” Candy gives a overly happy nod to the Emir, “I like the sounds you make when you move.” Candy holds a hand out with a foolish grin on his face.
Bringing up the rear, Pacoy gives a slight bow to the Emir before heading to the indicated seating while Pitbull doesn’t bow at all, he simply steps carefully to the sofa and sits, dragging out another cigarette as he does so.
Desmond joins them on the leather sofa set, and proceeds to pour small thimble sized cups of a dark liquid that smells strongly of actual real coffee for each. Then he opens a small soapstone box and offers what appears to be a handrolled cigarette of dark, real tobacco. “Please, accept my Emir’s hospitality. We are all friends here.”
Candy reaches out, “Thanks, this looks like real coffee. It’s been awhile since I’ve had it last – the Emir is such a good host. I don’t want to smoke though, sorry, it’s really nice to offer.” Pitbull takes it the cigarette with a mild look of suspicion that rapidly melts away as he lights and puff of it. Pitbull smiles as he sits back and exhales a thick black cloud of smoke. Pacoy politely declines the tobacco, he has enough health issues on his mind, but happily accepts the coffee. Mac leans forward and accepts the thimble cup delicately in two hands, his hat perched on his knee. He simply holds the cup and inhales deeply . “Dark, like the moments right after the sun disappears from the sky.” He takes the cigarette and places it in the brim of his hat so he can focus on the brew at hand.
Friedlander Bey strolls over from his contemplation at the window and sits down in a leather armchair, accepting a coffee and a smoke. He smiles expansively at them all then turns his attention to two in particular. "Mr. Able, so glad to see you again. Please extend my sincere thanks to your superiors for allowing me the use of your unique talents over the next few days. Candyman, my brother, how goes your family? I trust all is well with you and your many ventures?’
Able is the last to accept one of the cups, but he too refrains from the tobacco; he’d prefer to have one of his hands free. He nods to the Bey in recognition. “Of course, Emir, and they send their compliments and well-wishes for the auction.” Candy forgets the coffee with a soft clatter on the table as he turns to the Emir, “Yes boss, my kids are doing very well. Fran has been working on things while I was under the knife, but I’ve picked up and got a lot more done in the last month.”
Bey nods, “Good, good. I wish we could spend many hours in happy talk of plans and family today, but alas time presses and so I must be sinfully rude. Please forgive me. Desmond, proceed.” He sips his strong Moroccan coffee, then takes a pull on the Black Sobranie cigarette in one perfectly manicured hand.
Pitbull takes a sip of the coffee handed to him, eyes widening at his first taste of coffee that isn’t made by InstaCaff. He takes another puff off the cigarette and grunts through the smoke, “All ears.” Candy smiles and nods his head energetically, “It’s fine, we are all ears, at least I hope theirs are. I’m having a hard time thinking, sorry.”
Desmond does a double take, then reaches over and unfastens Candyman’s EM cuff. After watching for a second in which he determines that Candyman is no longer looking disoriented he leans back and a holo projection of the Ottoman in all its night-time glory fills the air above the coffee table.
(Able puts a little note in his implant computer, ’Bey’s men have appallingly poor information on hireling’s cybernetic enhancements’. Pacoy sips his coffee listening to the Emir while his mind tries not to dwell on how much it’s going to cost to get all of his cyberware shielded, and how much fun Candy could be if properly drunk… )
Desmond indicates the holo-display, which now shows a schematic of the hotel itself and some linked icons, one of which he expands with a wave of his hand to show a strange logo, “As I’m sure you all know, we’ll be hosting a very special event here at the Ottoman for the next three days. The Grey Auctions, allowed by a quirk of the city’s legal code. Normally we use selected Imazighen as additional security for the duration, but this year we’ve had word of a couple of possible problems that mean we’d like to add some more…specialist…help”
Pitbull cracks a grin at the man’s wording. “Is that what we’re called these days?” he mutters to himself as Able leans forwards – Elkins won’t like to hear of any problems with the auction.
“To be specific, we’ve had threats purporting to come from a group called 23 enigma, which have been net-mailed to local TV stations and to the hotel itself.” the holo-scene changes to a fuzzed and probably entirely computer generated view of a head, with a soundtrack coming from hidden speakers in the table and walls. “…a perfect example of the corrupt and debauched existence of the ruling elite which will be destroyed as an example to all…”
Able nods, frowning. “The anarco-nihilist cult. I can see how that could prove troublesome.” Mac is quick to agree, “Troublesome and dangerous. They’re a bunch of no-goodnicks no matter how you cut it.”
Candy stares at the display, “I see why this is a problem, where this 23 enigma has likely studied the capabilities of the Imazighen, we are an unknown. Quite troublesome, have they provided any hints as to the method of their attack, that they might claim credit?”
Able continues, turning slightly towards Candyman, “Rossum ran into them a while back in Cascade, detonated several bombs in our factories there.”
Pacoy and Pitbull wisely stay silent for now as both study the map with a professional eye – one looking for ideal spots for bots and drones to assist security blindspots, the other the vary points of security, wondering how well they could be bolstered with his own military knowledge.
Candy shifts his eyes to Able, “Rossum did an investigation then, do we have a case file on this organization, their typical methods of delivery or other habits.” Able holds up his hands. “I don’t have that information on me. I will contact higher when I can and get as much as I can on them. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be perfectly applicable here, however – these terrorist organizations typically utilize a cellular structure.”
The holo changes again, to show a very fat man, at least as big as Desmond himself, sitting in a chair not unlike the one the Emir is sitting in. “We’ve also heard from the streets that the Tambov Syndicate intend running some annoying spoiler attempts on the event, so as to discredit my Emir and weaken his influence with the city’s elite. We don’t expect anything overtly violent there, but crooked gamblers or actors hired to create embarrassing scenes, or even small acts of sabotage, are very possible.”
Mac winces, The Tambov? “If they had any of their muscle show up it could be a bad day. They’re quite capable of causing trouble if they set their minds to it.” Able, however, only blinks. “That seems a little less of a proper security threat, but still important to keep an eye out for.” He then goes silent for a moment, staring off at what must be a particularly interesting spot of carpet for several seconds.
Candy’s lips curl into a frown, “The incident on the news, do you think that was an honest mistake on Miss Blaize’s part or do you think a bribe from Tambov or the first move from Enigma? Maybe I’m jumping at shadows…" The Emir breaks in, quietly addressing Candy, “Ms Blaize does not make mistakes, in my experience. I am certain she has information about some disruption and smells a story in it.”
Pitbull glares at the image. “He just sounds fat and rich. Hardly a physical threat.” Pitbull growls through another stream of smoke. “He probably couldn’t wipe his own ass without paying someone else to do it for him.”
Desmond barks a high laugh and turns to Pitbull. “He may look fat, young soldier, but I don’t doubt he could break you in half as easily as I could.” Pacoy coughs, slightly startled at Pit’s choice of words in present company.
Mac whispers under his breath to Pitbull, his voice coming through the comms: “How much dosh would it take for you to do something like that? They couldn’t afford me, that’s for sure. I’d bet there’s some fear involved too.”
Pitbull chuckles at Mac’s words and replies to Desmond in a loud-and-proud baritone, challenging by his very tone, “I’m sure both of you could, especially right now.”
Desmond pats Pitbull on the arm, his exoskeleton whining beneath his loose robes. And so, in brief, my Emir would like to hire your services for the three days of the Auction, as a free-roaming security team to ensure that no nasty troubles disturb our esteemed guests. You will be provided with smart-badges such as you saw on our security outside, discreet communications devices tied into our hotel’s net, and a wearable computer with complete schematics for the building. You will also be given non-lethal weapons and be allowed to retain pistols with lethal ammunition and any hand-to-hand weapons you prefer. My Emir will pay $30,000 a day to your team for this service, which he could not possibly impose upon you without such a gratuity."
“Well, maybe sometime down the road, when this blows over, we could pitch some kind of cage match. I’d certainly enjoy seeing Mr. Desmond cracking some bones – show the new blood where the fire resides.” Candy chuckles softly. “I’m most interested in seeing event’s play out with minimal damage to the status quo and as little light shined on our interests as possible. I’d be honored to assist.” Candy looks to the others. Mac nods. “I think you’ll find me diametrically opposed to any hijinks. They won’t be able to sneak anything past us.”
Desmond now returns the holo to a 3-d schematic of the hotel, slowly rotating in the air. “Any questions?”
Able looks up from where he had been focusing, takes in the schematic with a once-over gaze, and nods. When he speaks, his voice is different – and it’s not a subtle change, either. As he talks, his physical features shift and change before your eyes, growing bolder, a bit wider of a jaw, a fatter nose, and his hair settles into a simple parting, darkening to a near-black. Able settles back into his chair, almost casually, and shoots the Emir a smile. “With the op you’ve outlined, this little shindig should go just swimmingly. We’ll give them a right good show, and if the little terrorist fuckwits decide to screw with us they’ll get a right good buggering back.”
The Emir raises one eyebrow, as Desmond actually rocks back on his seat slightly in surprise. Then the Emir speaks, “Salaam Alaikum, General. I have another one of you in the vaults, to be sold at the Auction, you know. One of the star exhibits.” The General/Able nods. “We suspected as much. We’ll just need to keep the auction going good as Pete; no sense you losing out on your investment in my worth. I expect in a few years I’ll have dozens of little offspring pitter-pattering around the globe, tearing my secrets back and forth.”
Candy does not bother to hide his frown at the Emir’s words, but Pitbull simply broadens his smile at the sudden British outburst. “Well, I would like to know the level of opposition we’re expected to face. Will they be state-of-the-art military or just scavenged half ass knockoff equipped goons?”
Meanwhile, Mac cocks his head at Able, unsure of what to make of the new speech style, and he finds his hand cease tapping at his hat at the Emir’s words. His mouth silently mouths the ‘what’ that forms on his lips, but he keeps quiet. “Esteemed Emir – if we’ve got to squirt metal to stop this problem, how are we going to keep the plugs from getting in the way? We don’t want to do any damage to your gin mill here, nor your reputation.”
Desmond answers for the Emir, “Those are good questions. We don’t expect serious military threats, unless these 23 enigma people get more low-tech than they usually do. Their strong points are usually covert insertion and imaginative disasters using their scientific know-how. I would discount the notion that Stasakov’s boys would come at us with serious firepower too – it’d only provoke a major police response and the Hotel isn’t exactly a soft target – more a disguised fortress. Still, if serious shooting does start up, you’ll each have a database of the VIP guests on your computer too, so that you can identify and protect them.”
Able nods, but raises his hands. “I hope you’ll forgive me if I must insist upon ensuring the safety of the Rossum contingent should the balloon go up first and foremost; we at Rossum will do as we can to ensure any others as can be are covered, of course, but we will have some of our own VIPs attending the event.” The Emir makes a gesture of washing hands, “A man cannot serve two masters equally, Mr. Able. I understand this.”
Pitbull takes a final puff on the Sobranie before he stubs it in the ashtray. “And as far as weapons go, am I permitted to carry a rifle, your Eminence?” Pitbull says, with a tone that implies he has probably never even used the word “eminence” a day in his life. Desmond laughs again and pokes Pitbull in the meat of his arm. “Don’t be dense, son.” Pitbull nods, not quite keeping the disappointment out of his face. “Anything concealable is fine. You’ll wear the non-lethal vortex pistols we provide openly, if anything. Above all, however, I’d ask you all to remember that my Emir wishes this event to go off smoothly, at least to the perceptions of his guests – and that he has confidence you would not fail to disappoint him except by losing your lives in the attempt not to do so.”
“Excuse me, Your Eminence, but wouldn’t we be more effective if we didn’t carry your standard gear openly?” Pacoy asks. Mac bobs his head up and down. “Man’s got a point. If we’re the only ones strapped with roscoes, anything fun that goes down won’t involve us.” Pitbull turns to Pacoy. “But the sight of fire power might make them think twice. Bigger stick as they say, ya know?” General Able holds his hand up slightly. “I believe the Emir is giving us a job to do without telling us exactly how to do it. The man knows we aren’t buggering fools and is a decent enough leader to avoid micromanagement. He provides the tools, we provide the ways and means.”
The Emir holds up a hand to stall Desmond speaking and inclines his head in agreement with Able/the General.. “That would be acceptable. I have confidence in you and your methods, my friends.”
“One more thing,” says Desmond, “we’ll be making a suite on the fortieth floor available for your use, for any down time you may have. It’s a two bedroom suite and both couches convert to beds too. Room service is on the house but please, no intoxicants and no gambling for the duration.”
Mac smiles. “Ways and means… sounds good to my ears.” Pacoy frowns slightly at the thought of 3 days here, totally comped, but no liquor or gambling… “Like frickin’ monks at Mardi Gras…” he mutters to himself.
Candy turns to the Emir, “Sir, would it be possible for me to bring a man from in-house, someone to assist Pacoy with bot surveillance. That way they can take shifts, his hours will come out of my cut.”
Desmond shuts of the holo and stands. “Gentlemen, if you please. Some of our guests are already arriving and I’d like to get you in place as soon as possible.” He hands you each a keycard. “These are keys to your suite. I’d like you all in place and ready for duty by 10pm tonight, no later.” The Emir nods at Candyman, signaling agreement, then stands and makes his way over to where Jacob The Juice has been quietly working on a data pad and begins a quiet but intense conversation with him.
Feeling an air of finality regarding Desmond’s behavior, Mac pockets the keycard and stands, shifting his hat effortlessly from his knee to his head, allowing the Black Sobranie to fall into his hand. Pitbull nods to the Emir then to Desmond. “Thank you for the coffee and smoke, your Eminence. They were delicious. You will see us up here no later than 10.” Able stands and nods. The General continues to look down at his clothes with a frown. He mutters under his breath, just loud enough to hear. “I need to make a few alterations to this outfit.”
Desmond becomes brisk, clapping his huge hands together with a slap of meat and metal. “OK, let’s get this thing moving. The Emir has another appointment shortly.” Pacoy nods to his new employers and follows Mac, doing a quick run down of what bots would be best to bring along to assist the ones he’s already ‘gifted’ to the Emir, and how best to coordinate them. Candy follows after, calling Hugh and motioning Pacoy to join in the conversation. Pitbull comms to Candy, as they walk out of the Emir’s penthouse suite. “Mind if I have a look at your armory, or at least find some serious fire power? I don’t like being in security without a good piece or two on hand, y’know?” Candy wraps up his conversation with Hugh and switches channels to Pit, “Certainly, I want us all as well equipped as we can be for this mission. The Emir is a good source of jobs and a powerful ally, no expense is to be spared in his safety.”
As Mac approaches the door, he pauses briefly to check the battery level of his camera, returning it to his bag when finished as he stands with Pacoy, waiting for the remainder of the group. “Been a while since I’ve had a decent surveillance gig.”
The team ushered out of the Emir’s penthouse back into the access hallway by the elevators, and given back all their toys, the EM inhibitors removed. Their earlier escort is waiting for them and hands each a plastic badge with imbedded circuitry. “Here’s your IDs and welcome to the clubhouse, guys. I’m Tomas, and I’m almost as lost here as you are – I’m usually security at the dangerous Seasons but I got pulled in for this gig. I’ll meet you all later and I’ll have the Hotel head of security and head croupier with me, so don’t be late, ok?” He grins and opens the E elevator for them.
The General gives the escort a nod, while wondering in the back of his mind whether the man even noticed that one man walked in while another walked out.
Pacoy smiles as he shakes Tomas’s hand “Don’t worry, I’m no stranger here, just usually on the other side of the looking glass..”
Mac overhears, “You’ve been here before Pacoy? Know where some of the action is? That kind of knowledge’ll be useful on this kind of stakeout.” Pacoy waits until the group is all together before conferring with them “So, the business with the elevator – they wanted to see if I recognized a local hustler, and if I could spot her technique. Obviously part of the look-out for sabotage from the brotherhood.” Mac asks, “And could you? Was she trying to turn this place into a clip joint?”
Able settles into the elevator near the back as he double-checks his pistol and PDW before putting them back in their places. As he settles in to wait for the ride, his face begins to shift, taking on Able’s original visage once again – but the eyes have changed to a radical green-and-yellow, and his mouth has quirked into a grin that you just haven’t seen before. The face looking out at you may be Able, but the mind behind it… that’s a different thing altogether.
Candy gives Able a hard look, before simply saying in a cold tone, “Cute”.
Pitbull wordlessly strides into the elevator, silently wondering if Candy has something with some man-stopping power, like a KK Aries, an Urban Fox, or even a MAUL Pacifier.
The elevator closes on the team as they head to prepare themselves for what promises to be an intense but lucrative three days. They have less than 11 hours to make themselves ready and know that the only sleep they might get is if they disappoint the Emir – and that’s the kind of sleep that you don’t wake up from.
TO BE CONTINUED.