Weekend silliness is over. On with the show!
A few hours later, Duncan Sterling returned to the apartment above his clinic. He had gone through his contacts and made some calls and, provided that Lewis Carson and his people had the funds that they claimed, he had managed to come up with a possible means of entry into the McKenzie Corporation offices that didn’t involve people getting filled with holes. At least, not immediately.
When the doctor entered the room, the scene before him was far different from the conflict he had left behind. Angel was sitting on the middle sofa and was tinkering and fiddling with her S-Box, concentrated to the point where she was oblivious to the room around her. Next to her was a relaxed-looking Shona, immersed in the music of her Wet-Wearman, the songs drifting through her mind. It was impossible to tell if her eyes were open behind her shades and she looked asleep. Her brother had laid himself out on the sofa to the right and there was no doubt that the Ronin was asleep. Connor had long ago learned that it was best to get whatever rest he could when he could as, in his line of work, he never knew when we would have to remain awake and alert for days on end. An occasional soft snore escaped his lips.
Jacob had returned from the bunk room after less than an hour, having found it impossible to get any sleep, and had produced a pack of cards that he had found. He, Lewis and Linford, who had returned unsuccessfully from his booze hunt, sat on the floor and played Poker. Elina sat alone on the other battered sofa and seemed lost in her own thoughts.
‘Well,’ said the doctor as he stood in the doorway. ‘Didn’t take you lot long to get comfy up here, eh?’
The group looked at him, Elina regarding him from beneath a thoughtful frown. Shona looked over the top of her shades and deactivated her Wet-Wareman as she gave Angel a nudge with her elbow. The pink-haired girl was startled by the break in her concentration but recovered quickly when she saw that Sterling had returned. Lewis and the others put down their cards and stood up as Connor awoke and sat up.
‘Right,’ continued Sterling as he closed the door and stepped in. ‘I think I may have a way to get you into the McKenzie building, but it all depends on how good your money is.’
Shona slid off the sofa she had been sitting on and stood up, reaching inside her pocket as she walked over to the doctor. As she approached, she could smell the pungent smell of whiskey fumes mixed with stale sweat coming from the dishevelled-looking man and she made a mental note to never come to his clinic, even if her life depended on it. She pulled out the cash-card that Lewis had given them in Hal’s and handed it over to Sterling.
‘I think that’ll be enough for you to get whatever you need for the job. Just don’t use all of it coz it’s our pay as well.’ She returned to her seat as the doctor checked the amount.
‘Aye,’ he said as he appraised the amount. ‘That’ll get what I need and have enough left to keep you happy.’
‘You have no idea what it takes to keep me happy,’ Shona muttered to herself as she gave Angel a sidelong glance. The Runner didn’t see the look and Sterling continued as if he hadn’t heard the remark.
‘Okay, so here’s what I’ve got for you. You heard of a company called Enviro-Systems?’
‘Yeah,’ replied Lewis. ‘They’re maintenance contractors. They do a lot of work for McKenzie Corporation.’
‘Exactly!’ confirmed Sterling with a grin. ‘Well, one of their employees is a regular customer of mine - I provide certain pharmaceutical services for him. Anyway, he’s sick of being stuck in what he sees as a dead-end job on this station and, for enough money to get a ride back home, which you have here,’ the doctor waved the cash-card Shona had handed over. ‘He’s agreed to get you a foot-in-the-door.’
‘How exactly?’ asked Connor without a trace of drowsiness in his voice.
‘Well,’ continued Sterling, feeling somewhat like he was conducting a class to a group of students. ‘It turns out that there’s a check-up scheduled for the McKenzie air-con system. My guy’s gonna set you all up with the weekly work pass to the place along with legitimate worksheets. He’ll get you uniforms and tools so you look the part. That’ll get you in the door without getting shot. What you do from there isn’t my problem. That do ye?’
Both Connor and his sister nodded in affirmation, genuinely impressed at the drunk’s resources.
‘Yeah,’ Lewis said. ‘That sounds good. Go and make you’re arrangements. How soon can your contact get us what we need?’
Sterling slipped the cash-card into a pocket. ‘Either later tonight or sometime tomorrow. You should all be ready to go by then.’
‘We will be,’ Elina said in a determined tone.
The reeking doctor gave a nod and turned and walked out of the room, leaving the group to plan what they were going to do once they were inside the McKenzie building. As everyone began to discuss the possibilities, Angel spoke up.
‘Um…’ she murmured tentatively. No one seemed to hear her so she slid forward to the edge of her seat and raised her voice slightly. ‘G-guys?’ Shona turned and looked at the girl next to her.
‘Y-yeah. Um… listen. There m-might be a p-problem.’ The Runner sounded worried about something. The rest of the group stopped their talking and all attention turned to her.
‘What kind of problem?’ asked Jacob.
‘Um… well…’ Angel was uncomfortable that everyone was staring at her, but knew she had to tell them what she had been thinking. She crossed her arms self-consciously as he continued. ‘E-even if we g-get in I d-don’t think I can h-hold back the int-ternal Sphere s-security and grab the d-data. Um… it’s a t-two Runner h-hack.’
‘What?’ Elina wasn’t pleased with this sudden revelation. ‘Why the hell didn’t you mention this before?’
Shona didn’t like the way the blonde was talking to Angel, but she agreed with her point. The young Runner shifted uneasily in her seat.
‘I d-didn’t th-think that…’ her voice trailed off as her eyes looked down to her pink Converse.
Shona continued for her. ‘You didn’t think that we’d actually wind up going through with this?’
Connor could see that matters were potentially about to get tense again as he saw anger flash across Elina’s face. He decided to try and diffuse the situation before it descended into another fight. He knew that, even if Shona actually agreed with the blonde woman, she’d leap to Angel’s defence if Elina started in on her. He wasn’t in the mood for another pointless brawl.
‘Look,’ he said as he got to his feet. ‘It’s no big deal. We’ll just get Sterling to arrange for another Runner to give us a hand.’
‘That’s not going to be so easy,’ said Lewis as he adjusted his glasses. Everyone’s attention turned to former McKenzie employee and Connor was happy that the possible “Elina Vs Shona Round 2” had been averted.
‘Pretty much after the first Runner I hired for this job got killed, word got around that the McKenzie Job was a “do not touch”,’ Lewis explained to the group.
‘Great,’ muttered Elina in disgust.
There was a moment of silence as everyone thought about this then Linford sat down on the couch next to Elina, resting on the edge of the seat. ‘What would this second Runner have to do?’ he asked Angel.
‘Um… j-just access the s-secure terminal while I k-keep internal systems occup-pied and g-grab the data,’ replied the Runner.
‘No battling Demons or anything like that?’
‘N-no. That’s m-my job.’
Linford shrugged. ‘Well then. I can do that.’
Angel frowned and there was a communal “Huh?” from the rest of the group.
‘Sure,’ Linford said confidently. ‘I was - AM a Sphere programmer, remember? I’ve got the interface and everything.’ The young man tapped his head with a finger. ‘Long as I don’t have to go toe-to-toe with shit that wants to rip my brain out, I can navigate a Sphere domain, no problem.’
‘I don’t know…’ Lewis sounded dubious.
‘I don’t see how we have a choice,’ countered Connor. ‘Angel says it’s a two person job. There’s your second person.’ He nodded at Linford.
‘Hey,’ said Linford, raising his hands slightly. ‘I can handle it.’
‘I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?’ Lewis wasn’t fully convinced that it was a viable option, but at the moment he didn’t see how there was any other alternative.
So the plans are set.
Maybe a bit contrived, but as I've said befor - it's an OLD story. Please forgive the cliches and just go with the flow :)
Thanks for reading and for any comments you leave.
Nov 5, 2012 6:29:54 pmby SidheRoseGraphics Homepage »
I don't think it sounds 'contrived' at all, Alex. Linford 'could' do all that...or should be able to, being the programmer he is. So, the 'whiskey Doc' came through for them :) Sounds like a plan! I'm with Rod, hope no one ends up with brain-fry here.