Victor has a tech question. can he get the info and get out before all hell breaks loose yet again?
I roll outta the wrecked bed, an' take a moment to finish wakin' up. Lookin' around, all the light's comin' from candles, which weren't there when we came in here. Ok, someone's been movin' around while I was sleepin'. I look over to Stacie, an' she don't look too bad off, though there are a few spots where it looks like she lost a battle with a hedge trimmer. I've been snuggled next to a corpse, an' by her heat, she's been dead for over three hours. Wonder what she finally died of? Other than just me, that is. I'm a mess again, but someone's swung a whole panel o' the wall away revealin' a bathroom. Is that really an alabaster tub? It's big enough fer even me, an' someone's poured a hot tap fer it. The heat's comin' off it in waves. A quick scrub, an' I find the clothes someone also left on the counter. Curiouser.
All dressed, I go back an' look fer the dice I'm boind an' determined to hang on to. I find it, twisted up in the remains o' the clothes i went to bed in, with the damn chain broken. So I stuff it in a pocket, an' head outta the room, darin' anyone to come an' stop me. Just my luck, there's no one in the halls, an' I wander fer a good hour before I find a door that leads to some sort o' garage. Stacie has, or really had, a nice colleciton o' cars, an' i don't think she'll be missin; one. Even though it's a bit of a squeeze to fit in, I've always wanted one o' these Diablo things. Droppin' the seat all the way back gives me enough room to move, an' I hit the ignition. Oh yeah, I can get used to this. All the dials an' gauges an' doo-dads light up, an; I'm feelin' like the king. Or at least a really well off prince.
I hit the lights, an' the button on the little box clipped to the vosir, figgerin' it's the garage door opener. The door swings open, an' I get to spend the next ten minutes gettin' used to this clutch without throwin' myself through the window. Finally i get the hang of it, an' out I go, through one long tunnel. No wonder there weren't any windows. The flamin' house is underground! i get through, an' brek out into some backroad, the moon smilin' in all her maniace an' lunatics. The stress I didn't even know i was feelin' vanishes, an' I know it's about four in the morn. I've lost just about two full days in this little side trip, an' I'm not plannin' on losin' any more. I've been shot at, blinded, deafened, thrown through a window, knocked out, fed and entertained. Definately a busy last three days. Ouch. Three days, that's not a lot o' time really.
Ok, I need a plan. Not havin' a plan is what got me into this, an' as fun as the last seven or so hours have been, it's really sucked to be me. So let's start with what i got, an' leave it at that. There's a wad o' cash in the glove box, so money's not important. I'm drivin' a stolen car, but that's nothin' new. I've got that dice with the chip. Now that's somethin' I can work with. i get to the main highway, and take my new ride west. I've got a long drive, but I know someone who owes me a favor, who could tell me what this chip could do. I think. Memory is such a tricky thing. Rollin' down the windows an' crakin' the stereo up, off I go, headin' to Detroit. Gawd, I hate Detriot.
I won't bore ya with all the details o' the road trip. The radio did mention the shoot up at the dance club, but wrote it off as gang related. The two dead kids at my New York crash spot did get a bit more attention, but not enough to worry. They think it's some wild animal. I'm hopin; my enemies are real dumb, an' don't put the two together. After all, how much stuff goes on in the city in one night? The death trip I take to the road, an' i leave a nice collection o' corpses at houses I crash at during the day. Most people have computer this day an' age. so's gettin' in tough with the chump that's gonna tell me what this chip does is simple, though I end up havin' to chew off two claws to handle the keyboard. But they grow real fast, so I'm not losin' anythin'. What about passwords an' such on their computers? Well, most fools have 'em taped right to their damn monitor, so they don't lose them. So much fer security.
I hit the city at nightfall as planned, an' get myself into the underground. Yeah, I don't really look like some computer hacker, but I do look dangerous, an' most o' these damn punks in here can barely pick up their lap tops, let along get a good swing on me. It's one o' them places, with wires an' cords all over the floor, an' the only light comes from about fifty screen on, flashin' graphic and code on the walls. There's not a lot o' smoke in here, but the stench o' coffee an' cheap Chinese carry-out is enough to piss me off. Don't people realize how bad they smell most o' the time? Don't I find the greatest places to meet people.
One o' the punks runs around the corner, bouncin' off o' me, an' looks up through greasy glasses. "Oh! I've been looking all over for you!" Meet Splice, one o' the only computer geeks that don't turn my stomach too bad. Looks like he's off his meds again, all wire an' jitter. I don't bother helpin' him to his feet, he just scurries indre a table or two to his set-up. It takes me a bit longer to get there, windin' through the rat's nest o' junk everywhere, an' he's already clickin' awat at the keys by the time I catch up. "I got everything set up for you boss, really! Totally digital, completely untracable, everything your heart could desire in the latest in computer hardware and software!"
He goes to stand up, an' I put him back in the chair. He's one o' them hyper kids, never could sit still, but I don't care to watch him wear a path in the carpet pacin' right now. "Fine, good, whatever. tell me what this is, an' what it does." I fish the dice outta my pocket, an' hand it over. He shakes all over like I'm giving him candy or somethin', an' then does that deep thinkin' thing fer a moment.
"It's a plastic dice, for a keychain." Ok, I'm not gonna throttle him an' bury him under his computer. Not like anyone in here would notice, as long as I don't hit the power cord. But that won't answer my questions, an' I'm gettin' really tired o' not gettin' answers lately. So i just smack him on the back o' the head, an' wait fer his brains to settle down again.
"I coulda figgered that one out. I'm talkin' about the chip inside the damn thing." That dim lightbulb look finally hits him, an' he opens the thing up. Smart kid, he don't ask about the stains on it. He grabs some tweezers, an' starts to ooh an' ahh, talkin' about compression an' bites o' some sort an' gigs versus megs, but it's all over my head. Compression to me is about car engines, an' who would want to bite a microchip? I'm a real good door-kicker type, but I never took classes on computers other than how to turn them on an' get what I wanted from them. There, you happy? Somethin' I'm not the best at. Yet.
"Oh, this is wonderful!" Splice is all droolin' over this chip like it's some Mona Lisa or such, an' plugs it into a circuit board an' starts runnin' a program that I have no idea about. Then all this junk pops up on his screen, an' he just about lays an egg right there. "Amazing! The size of this program is out there, let alone they pur a program on a chip. It's like a whole computer, harddrive and memory with programs, in one." Ok, I'm takin' that to mean that this thing is important to someone out there. "Where did you find this?"
I'm not gonna answer that. Splice may be one of those annoyin' computer geeks i can't stand, but he does good work and knows when to keep his mouth shut. It's hard for me to find someone this naive that'll work fer me, let alone do the job right. In this business, too much information is a bad thing, an' ignorance is bliss. Too bad I ain't ignorant any more. "Not important. What's it supposed to do?" It's a wonderful chunk of electronica, but that don't tell me shit.
"Oh... ok, simply put, this little baby picks up just about everything that travels through local modems, then sorts it for future reference. It's like a very powerful recorder, picking up all the stuff people do online, like credit card purchase and addresses." All in one wire-tap. That makes sense, but why did the frail have it, an' why give it to me? Yeah, she was kinda under duress when she handed it over, but it's not like I twisted her arm or anythin'. I'm not a number cruncher, an' she must've known that. But now it's in my hands, an' I'll find a good use fer it.
"Good enough. Now forget I was here, an' we'll all be happier fer it." I swipe the chip from him, puttin' it back in the dice, fer lack o' anywhere else to put it. It's been fine there so far, who not a bit longer? He kinda bobs in place, about the closest he gets to a nod, an' fades into his games. i glance around, but these geeks are so far gone that i think that the only reason they'd notice a tactical nuke was if it tripped the fuse box.
I'm halfway back to my car, before it hits me. This thing's gotta be one of a kind, an' she sure didn't act like it was her to begin with. This belongs to someone, an' if it can do half the things Splice says it can, that someone's gonna want it back, a hell of a lot sooner than right now. Real smart Victor. Just send up a few fireworks while yer at it fer good measure. There's gotta be a trace on this toy, an' I just had one o' the most connected systems in this state do a sweep. I pick up speed to the car, just knowin' that it's all about to hit the fan.
Too late. I round the corner, an' can already smell them. I know that scent, since it damn blinded me last time I caught it. Not the same guys, but they all buy their armor at the same department store. It's the dumb goons, an' there's a lot o' them. I pick up the speed, hopin' they don't have a heat track on me, an' dodge down one o' the gratuitous alleys in this neighborhood, fadin' into the shadow. Me, runnin' from a fight? Hell no. I just like to choose the place o' my throw downs, an' I want them to come to me. It makes it more fun, them thinkin' I'm just gonna keep runnin. Makes them sloppy in method, before I make them just sloppy.
They don't let me down, an' the first three come barreling through, all piss an' fire. It actually takes them a moment to realize that I've stopped running, but it ain't enough to help the poor sap trailin' a step behind. His neck breaks in my hand way too easy, an' he's stopped before the message hits his brain that the game is over fer him. The other two whirl around, all gun oil an' kevlar, an' manage to shoot their fellow dead goon a couple o' times before wingin' me. I'm hopin' this lasts, I need the release. Using the busted fool as a battering ram, I smash the two into the wall o' the alley, knockin' the breath outta them an' slowin' them down. One has the sense to just drop, but the other is all hell bent on makin' me pay fer the dead goon in my hands. I can see that being a problem if we met all social like, but this ain't a house call.
So what does he do? Standard move, pull a gun an' start shootin'. Well, he's already got the gun in hand, so he just shoots,. an' i get to pay a bit fer gettin' a touch cocky. He knocks a few holes into me, an' I return the favor by tearin' a chunk outta his face. He falls to his knees, gibberin' an' moanin', no longer able to blink. A definate variation on the got yer nose. But while I'm takin' down these three, the rest o' the party shows up. Now, it gets kinda confusin' right about now, with all the shit that just hit the fan set on high. A couple have knives, there's a martial artist type knockin' my head in, an' a whole army o' guns goin' off, fillin' the night with the racket an' burnt powder scent. I hold my own, but they've got numbers on me, an' I can't keep my footing in the trash that's gettin' sprayed all over the place. Armor gets cracked, flesh gets removed, an' basically all hell breaks loose fer about six minutes. I'm havin' a blast, 'till one thing goes slightly wrong.
One o' them picks up a simple trash can lid, an' gongs me with it. I'm shakin' the jnoise outta my head, when one hell of a big fool comes outta the wood work, an' runs his long knife into me, practically pinnin' me to the wall. Tryin' to describe that piercin' sensation tht comes from cold steel goin' through a lung that's not supposed to have holes in it is hard, an' all I can manage to do to let these guys know I'm hurtin' it ro howl through a mouth suddenyl filled with my own blood, not a taste I enjoy. I slump an' go still, doing my best impression of a mounted insect under glass. The firefight finally slows down, as the realization that I'm not fightin' antmore sinks into them.
"Is he dead?" I hear someone whisper. I'm fightin the urge to cough, since that won't help the perforated ling. Sopmewhere along the fight, I caught a good one across the nose, an' I can't smell a damn thing. From the sounds of it though, there's only four or so o' them left, includin' the moron that mounted me to the wall. "I think he's dead." Brilliant deduction, Sherlock. It's right up there with this is gonna hurt an' it's good fer ya. "Ohmigod, we killed Sabretooth." Just keep on believin' that, fanboy, an' I'm just gonna hang here an' heal fer a moment.
I hear footsteps run off, I guess to go get their boss an' celebrate their victory over the dead Tooth Monger they pinned to the wall. It gets quiet in the alley, the only sound reachin' my ears is the drip o' blood onto the concrete, some o' which is mine. Oh yeah, I'm feelin' kinda low right about now. Then I hear somethin' else. Someone breathin' real soft like, like they don't want to wake me from the dead. I'm hopin' it's the goon that stapled me, cause I'm not dead just yet, an' he owes me one. He steps close, close enough that I can pick up his heartbeat. My nose has just about recovered from it's unfortunate impact on someone's face, so I catch a whiff o' sweat an' leather/ He's close enough that I can feel his breath, an' figger out that he has a thing fer grape bubblegum. He grabs my jaw, an' lifts up my face to get a good look at me. He just stuck his hand into the tiger's mouth.
Faster than this guy's ever seen, I twist my head an' latch onto his hand, crunchin' bones under the pressure. He's got a reason to holler now, an' he uses it. I first drag my claws across his face, catchin' fer a moment in an eye socket, then I just haul off an' punch him. He falls heavy, leavin' a finger or two still in my mouth. Oh yeah, finger food, better than chicken nuggets. Down the hatch they go, an' I pull myself off the wall, grinnin' through the gore on my face at his expression. Guess he's never seen a man return from the dead. All he sees is me leavin' the pigsticker in the bricks, as I get off the wall the hard way, tearin' myself up a bit more, but it sure looks impressive. He's got one eye left, an' I intend to use it in good drama. Really slow like, I rest my hand over his chest, a little off to the side.
"I owe ya one, bub." He sees it comin', an' it's enough to make me a happy camper. I reach in, shatterin' bones an' tearin' through muscle, an' grab ahold o' his lung in the mess in there. "See ya later, if yer lucky." Squeeze, an' all the blood in his body starts pourin' outta every which way, as i let him know just how bad his trick with the blade hurt. Maybe in his next life, he'll be nicer, an' leave me the hell alone. I waste the few breaths this fool has, to watch, then I head fer the rest o' the alley, stumblin' all over the place. I'll recover, I always do, but htis little dance had laid one serious hurtin' on me. I ain't hurt this bad sine my last go-around with the runt, an' that's been a few months or so. I need somewhere to hole up, now. Right now.
Beggars can't be chooser, so I go fer the first thing I find. I jimmy the lock on a door, an' down into some basement i go, the darkness swallowin' me whole. There's rats an' trash an' it smells like someone died down here, but there's no sign o' recent habitation. Pullin' the door shut, I basically fall down a flight o' stairs, to land in some really nasty slime at the bottom. I'm crawlin' more on instinct than anythin' else, an' get to a wall to prop up against before my lungs an' chest start to complain too much. Give me a few hour, an' I'll be as good as new, though i still don't really know how it works. Go figger. Sinister never let me in on what he found, an' I was smart enough not to ask. So I slide off into the silence, tryin' not to think about that damn cinnamon an' smoke.