I'm glad I walked today. The wind was amazing. It was cool enough I didn't overheat. I even got the joy of chasing after my hat.
It's a good thing he makes good BBQ.
It's January 17th. How did it get to be so late? Considering the last time I posted was in November, time does fly.
So New Year, new me? Not so much. I'm back to the gym and trying to eat less. It's worked in the past, so it stands to reason it should work now. Just gotta remember the whole, eat less part.
Christmas and New Years was good. I think on the whole, everyone got pretty much what they wanted. Not sure on what they needed, but wants was a thing.
I would say: I'll be better about posting, but that's a promise I can't quite bring myself to make. So, I'll be here, just not on a schedule.
Not sure what was going on, DB watched bad trideo until it was time to get ready for his dinner meet. The hotel and text was disturbing, but they could wait.
He arrived at Le Pier about 30 minutes early. Sometimes it was good to scope out the location beforehand. The bar was full of waiting people. DB didn’t even bother to try and look at the dining floor, instead he went to the bar. Lucky for him, someone walked away from the counter leaving him a space. Next to a pretty woman. This was his day.
He said down and ordered his vodka drink.
“Would you like to hear a story?” A familiar voice asked.
DB froze. Bunny. But how? She was dead and her spirit was haunting him. “Sure, let’s hear this story.”
“You sell the coin. And two weeks later, your world crashes down around you.” She took a sip of her drink.
The bartender brought his drink over and left.
DB took a large swallow. “How much?”
Bunny blinked and leaned into him. “An obscene amount.”
Usually he’d enjoy a beautiful woman hanging on him, but with her? They had too much bad history for any of that.
“That’s pretty cryptic. Care to share any details?” He asked.
"Care to tell me how I died?" She replied.
DB narrowed his eyes, thinking of the last time he saw her in person, then he shook his head.
“No. That would be giving you something for nothing.”
World crashing? It sounds like she was just trying to stir up trouble. “Yea, I’ll take my chances.”
She laughed. “You don’t believe me. Fine.” She shrugged. “Give me a number.”
She shook her head. “Too easy.”
“17” He swallowed half his drink.
“The man behind you will get a call and have to leave.” She pointed towards a table a couple meters away. “The woman in green will excuse herself and not come back. The man with the red tie will order a martini. A woman in a large fur coat will demand to be seated right away. The couple three tables over, will be engaged.” She leaned in and touched his arm. “He was going to wait until dessert, but he can’t wait to ask her. The bartender will ask if you want a refill.”
Things started happening like she said it would. He plucked the small bug she had planted on him from his sleeve and tucked it in her cleavage.
He let her drone on. There was merits to keeping the coin. Course, the same could be said for selling it. It was done and gone. The bartender brought him another drink.
- Gas is at $2.85 per gallon
- There was no one at the coffee shop, it wasn't open yet
- I need to rake the back yard. The leaves are piling up
- Dreamed about snow last night
- What do you mean, you're going to send me more?
- The clock on the wall is still an hour ahead. I keep looking at it and thinking, that much closer to going home. Not
- I've already done that, if you'd checked your email you'd know
- Dude, I don't know, I don't deal with that
- Have a good evening
DB woke about his normal time of 1000. Instead of heading out to the plaza to do some busking, he went to BC's place. There was more room for him to work there. He altered his features and drove over.
The workroom was large; he put the coin in the middle of the room. An hour and a half it took him part way to finishing his ward. He was careful to get the sigils just right. At some point, he realized Lilith – his mentor – was leaning against the wall watching him.
“What do you think of Bunny? Can I trust her?” BC asked.
“I wouldn’t.” She seemed bored.
“Do you think the coin and Bunny are evil?” He asked trying to get more insight.
“I don’t think they’re evil, just used for bad intentions.” She didn’t point out he was asking the wrong question. Lilith would leave him to figure that out on his own. Sometimes fate was a harsh teacher.
Once he finished the ward, she looked it over. “I’d add a time element.”
Lilith drew a sigil he’d never seen before. It hung in the air while he copied it.
“Should I just sell this coin?”
Lilith smiled, her delicate fangs showing. “Think of all the things you could do it with. Think of power. Think of the danger.” She never did give him a solid answer.
Another hour and he the wards were completed. The sigils glowed with magic. His magic.
“Are you sure you should be doing this?” Lilith asked. “It’s dangerous, messing with time.” She stopped.
“I need to know.” He said.
“How many times have you done this?”
“Once.” He paused. “I think. I don’t know I’ve been getting some strange things.”
Lilith shook her head, but said nothing.
He stepped over the chalked sigils, careful not to disturb them. His world changed.
He was at the party meeting the Countess again. Time was flowing slowly. He felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice whispering in his ear. “She’s judging you. She doesn’t think much of you. You barely have a high school education. I can make you amazing negotiator. All you have to do is grab the coin.”
BC’s hand started sliding towards the coin, but he didn’t touch it. Shaking his head, he stepped out scuffing the ward.
“How long was I gone?” BC asked.
Lilith shrugged. “Not long at all, less than a minute.”
“How can I thank you for the help?” BC said with a sly smile.
She reached out and ran her hand over his chest. “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
An hour later, BC broke the ward down completely. He altered his features, and left to go back to DB’s house. Sometimes it was a pain in the ass to maintain two houses. However, the benefits made it worth it.
DB checked the time. He had about five hours before his dinner. Checking his email, he found an attachment from BC. A floor plan for a hotel. Odd, he didn’t remember sending it.
Two hours later, he got a text from Miz Johnson. “I’ve got the hotel security. I’m ready when you are.”
What was going on?
DB took a long hot shower. He shaved and pulled out one of his black silk suit. He spent the rest of his afternoon watching bad trideo.
At 18:55, the limo showed up. The driver, James, got out and opened the door for him. As usual, Mrs. Latham was not there. He rode in silence to her house.
“Darling, you look amazing.” He said kissing her cheek.
“Thank you.” She smiled.
They made small talk on the drive to the Seattle Art Museum. Tonight’s opening show was on ancient Rome. DB smiled. More information for him.
Columns and vines decorated the room. The wait staff was dressed in togas, carrying trays of champagne and finger foods. Crowds of rich people looking at the display before the public even got the chance.
People came and went, chatting with Mrs. Latham about business. DB kept half an ear on the conversation, while letting his mind wander. She excused herself and left him alone.
“Quite the display, isn’t it?” A man in his mid-thirties approached DB.
DB looked around the room. “Yes. Nice to meet you. Dirk Benedict.” He held out his hand, while quickly doing a social media check on the man before him.
“Anthony Keddis.” He shook DB’s hand. “Call me, we should do lunch sometime soon.”
DB smiled. Information started filling his commlink. Anthony Keddis, president of Widgets Inc. More information about Keddis’ company filled his feed. Married. Two kids. Boring wage slave. He nodded. “I’ll do that.” Keddis sent him a digital card and left before Mrs. Latham came back.
Together they walked the display, coins, jewelry, textiles, and scrolls. One of the scrolls caught DB’s attention. Janus.
DB stared at the scroll, wishing desperately he could read it. The HUD said the scroll talked about the day of the life of an acolyte. How long he stood at the scroll, he couldn’t say.
“It’s not the one you want.” A woman’s voice cut into his thoughts.
DB stiffened, it was her the woman from the house. He turned and smiled.
“And where would be the one I wanted?” He asked. Quickly he did a social media check on her.
“Safely tucked away.” She answered.
Information started pouring in. Lara Croft. Aid De Camp to Countess Isabel Santora. “Maybe I can find it.”
“Maybe I should kill you and take the coin from you cold dead body, but the Countess doesn’t like that idea.” She replied.
DB swallowed. “I don’t like that idea either; maybe I should be talking to your boss.”
Lara pursed her lips and nodded. “Come with me.”
She put her arm through his and led him to another room. She spoke in rapid Italian to an older woman. She released his arm and stepped back.
“Hello. I am Countess Isabel Santora.” She looked him up and down. “You’re the one that has been vexing Lara. Keep up the good work.” She took his arm and strolled up the aisle. “We should do dinner. Tomorrow night?”
They continued up the aisle for several more meters. Lara joined them. Her smile was brittle. “Dinner at Le Pier at 2000.” She sent DB a reminder. “Anything else?”
The Countess shook her head. “Thank you.” She smiled broadly at DB. “Until tomorrow.” She then took her leave.
DB went in search of a drink. The line at the open bar was a bit long. DB found himself next to Joel Winestead. Joel obviously had a few too many drinks. It took a few seconds, but DB recognized him. Misti Davenhert’s consort.
“Quite the night isn’t it?” DB said.
Joel nodded. “I’ll be glad when it’s over, so I can take this monkey suit off.”
“How is Misti doing?” DB changing the subject.
“Pretty good, she has a meeting with NeoNet tomorrow.” Joel hiccupped.
DB smiled. “Hope things go good.” He filed that piece of information. He ordered a Vodka drink for himself and a slow Gin for Mrs. Latham.
He found her chatting with other board members. They stopped once he showed up, which was somewhat annoying, but understandable.
The end of the evening found them both in the limo. DB ran his hand over her knee, pushing a bit of magic into the caress. He was very pleased when she shuddered. They made out like teenagers until her house.
James opened the door, and offered his hand to Mrs. Latham. She got out of the car, but her hand out to stop him from getting out. “James will take you home. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Confused DB stayed in the car.
He went back to bed and slept until 1000. He showered and got ready to go spend the morning busking in the plaza. At 1230, he headed up to the coffee shop. Again, Miz Johnson was waiting for him. She was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt with NeoNet embroidered on it. She handed him a shirt just like hers. BC changed his shirt in the middle of the shop. She also handed him a commlink.
He thumbed the ID. It came up as Roger Kennedy. A picture of his alter ego linked. The PAN was linked to hers, listing her as Pamela Martin.
“Now we wait for the trigger to happen.” She told him.
He nodded. Waiting was the longest part.
20 minutes later, she looked at him. “The drives was blown. We’re on.”
Together they went to his car. She punched in a downtown address not far from where they were into the navigation unit.
They leave the car carrying tool kits. They head up to the sixth floor. Glass doors with Fast Date on them.
As they enter, the receptionist looks at them. She looks slightly nervous. “Hi, can I help you?”
“Hardware support, we’re here to replace the faulty drive.”
She looks relived. “Good, one minute while I call Paul.”
A couple of minutes later a smartly dressed man comes out. “Glad you’re here. It just suddenly stopped working.” He directed them to a palm reader. All the while keeping up a conversation.
Pamela palmed in, then turned and winked at him. BC stepped up and palmed in. Paul led them down the hall to another door. This time only he palmed in.
They stepped into a cold room, with bright overhead lights. The room was huge. It must have taken up half the floor. He led them to a rack towards the middle of the room. “Here it is.”
Pamela starts working on the server, while Paul hovered. BC herded him back from her. He started asking questions. “I need more information on the event that caused this.” Paul looked at him. “Can you let me know if there was any data spikes or abnormal activity?”
Paul’s eyes went distant. “There was a spike in activity, but it was within normal parameters. Do you think that was the cause?”
“Anything is possible, it could have been hackers.” He replied.
“Roger, I misplaced my 12 pin connector. Do you have one?” Miz Johnson asked.
He made a show of looking in his kit. “No, but I think have one in the car.” He turned to Paul. “Can you escort me back out so I can grab it?”
Paul looked between the two of them. He seemed to be debating something in his head.
“Relax Paul, I understand you are here for security. I don't want you to get into any trouble for letting me run around on my own. Quick trip to the door and then we'll be right back". DB said soothingly. "I know you don't want to have people running around the premises on their own."
Paul looked at him and nodded. “It will be only a few minutes right?”
BC smiled reassuringly. “Quick as a bunny.”
They left the room. Once BC was out of the offices, by the elevator, he turned himself invisible and watched the room. Paul stood by the receptionist desk, chatting with her. After several minutes, he started getting agitated. He started towards the server room.
BC knew he waited long enough. He dropped the spell and came running up to the door. He hoped he gave Miz Johnson enough time. Yanking the door open. “I got it.”
“Great, let’s get back.”
“I need a drink first.” BC said still stalling.
Paul sighed but said nothing while waiting. BC made a show of drinking two glasses of water, and then he nodded.
The trip back was slightly faster.
BC’s small talk kept Paul busy while the replacement of the hard drive went on.
“We’re at the longest part, transfer of data.” Miz Johnson announced.
After what seemed to be forever, Miz Johnson said they was up and running. Paul looked distant again and then smiled.
BC turned to Paul. “I need your thumb print on this form showing you witnessed custody of the hard drive for the forensic report.”
Paul gave it willing. “Do you know how long it will take?”
BC looked at Miz Johnson. She shrugged and said “About 48 hours for a complete turnaround.”
Paul started herding them out while complaining about how his night was ruined.
BC drove them back to the coffee shop. Miz Johnson gave him a certified cred stick. BC gave back the commlink and they parted company.
BC stepped out the car. He pulled the bag with him and stumbled into the house. A thumbprint later, and he was falling into bed.
His alarm went off an hour later. The short nap reduced the pounding in his head from a roar to a dull thud. BC opened the bag and looked at the coin. He itched to grab it, but the memory of its force kept him from doing it. Instead, he closed the bag and put in a safe location, under his mattress.
A quick shower later, he headed out to the coffee shop. Pulling into the parking lot, he spotted Miz Johnson’s motorbike. She was early, but then so was he. BC ordered his typical and went to her table.
“Miz Johnson?” He asked making it sound like he didn’t know who she was.
She looked up at him. “BC?”
He nodded. “Nice to meet you. What can I do for you?”
She smiled. “I’m looking for someone to be charming. Are you charming?”
“I’m as charming as can be darlin’.” He drawled. Then it hit him. She was a spitting image of Misti Davenhert. Frag, his might complicate things with Ms. Latham.
She nodded. “The pay is 5K. Still interested?”
BC thought about it for a nano-second and then nodded. “Work is work.”
“Good.” She took a sip of her cup. “The target is a company called Fast Date. I need you to provide a distraction.”
“Sounds easy enough. Anything else?”
“We’re going in as a repair team, so know your stuff.”
BC frowned and shook his head. “I don’t know drek about computers.” Sure he used one every day, but knowledge? That was for the techs, not him.
She sighed. “You’ll need to know a couple of basic lines. Things like ‘we’ll know more once we get it back to the labs’, and ‘hackers’, and ‘anything is possible with technology’.” She took another sip. “I’ll also need picture of you.”
BC smiled. His features changed to dark hair, silverish eyes, and more tanned skin. “I’ll use this face.”
Miz Johnson looked surprised. “That’s pretty wiz!” She looked at him for a second, and then said she was done.
BC’s features when back to his normal ones. “Anything else?”
“Figure we’ll meet up here again at 1300, until the actual run time.”
“It’s a date.” He laughed.
He went back to his place and pulled up some data on Fast Date. It seems it was the premier dating site of Seattle’s elite. Five thousand a month for dues. He logged into dark net to see what the decker community had to say about Fast Date. Rumor has it there is a lot more data traffic for a "dating site” and they have about half a floor of servers. BC shrugged anything more than one was a lot for him. More reading showed there was debate as to who really owned the data. Some say it is Mituhoma, while others think it a data store for NeoNet. Great, upset the yaks or Villiers. Maybe he should have asked for more nuyen.
Just for kicks, he tried to pull up any data on Miz Johnson. Ten minutes later, he found quite a bit of information. Her real name was Hailey Davenhert. She graduated high school at 11, and went to University of Seattle, graduating at 15. Rumor has it the triple AAA corps all want her, but she seems to be content living at home with her mother. She seems really, really good with computers. Mutters of her being a techomancer have been bandied about, but nothing has been proven. He checked dark net and found a couple of posts to the anti-GOD boards. He wasn’t sure what or who GOD was, so he searched on it, and found it was the Grid Overwatch Division. He could live with that. A little anarchy was good.
He checked his chronometer. 1930. Even with the pounding headache, he changed into his party clothes and headed out the club.
He crawled into bed about 0230. Sleep came right away. Dreams came and faded away, except for one. He was at a party. Only this one was different, the clothes were old. Toga party type of old. The room was large and made of stone. Light was from oil lamps and doors? Not something, he could see. He found himself walking down a stone corridor. He ran his hands along the rough stone. Something was calling him. He could feel it in his chest. After walking what seemed to be forever, he came into a bedroom.
An old woman lay propped up on the bed. Old was an understatement. Her wrinkles had wrinkles. “I knew someone would come.”
“What can I do for you?” BC asked.
“Water.” Her voice was a whisper.
BC found a basin with a stone cup. He poured her a glass.
She spilled more than she drank, and handed him the cup back. “Are you here to take it?”
“Do you want me to take it?” He countered. “I’m not a thief here to take things that aren’t mine.”
“Have you done the rites?”
“I apologize but I haven't been taught the proper rites, perhaps you can teach me.”
She gestured towards the side of the room. Suddenly a table appeared in a pool of light. DC moved to the table and started studying the scroll. The lines of text. A test of Might – prove yourself worthy in battle. A test of Wits – prove your skill. Purification Rite – you must bath in the ‘blood of the lion’. Three tests.
He woke with an overwhelming urge to pee. Grabbing his commlink he did a voice memo with as many details as he could remember.