Am I Late?


It's the middle of October? How did it get to be so late? What have I been up to? Playing computer games. Knitting with friends. Working on a story. Sums up my life in three simple sentences.

Here is a cowl I've made for the Eldest. It's angora and wool. Only took a couple of days to make. It's unblocked here.

Here it is blocked. To me, it looks the same.

I don't know how he does it, but he puts holes in his socks. Couldn't tell you how long ago it happened.

Found this pair today. Good thing the pair of socks I have on the needles is his.

Research

DB opened the car door for Miz Johnson. She got in and pulled out her haul, three cred sticks and the coin.

DB took the cred sticks and thumbed them. 20K on the sticks, he slotted 10K for himself and gave the rest to Miz Johnson. Pulling out a driving glove DB took the coin from her.

“What happened?” Miz Johnson asked.

“We kicked ass. It went pretty smooth.”

She turned towards him. “Dude, you're bleeding. I don't think that was smooth.”

DB smiled. “Magic has it's cost and no one died. I consider that smooth. Before you go, when did I contact you?”

Miz Johnson pulled up her texts on her commlink. “Looks like three hours ago.”

DB nodded. “Great. I’ll contact you if I have any more work.”

She got out of the car and walked away. DB barely noticed as he grabbed BC’s commlink. It was almost an exact match of the one he was wearing, but slightly more banged up. He checked the time. Three hours ago, BC texted her asking for a meet. Frag! What was going on?

DB punched in the address to his other place. The coin was warm even through the leather.

His commlink buzzed. Incoming call from Mrs. Latham.

“Hello Beautiful.”

She was not looking at him, but something off screen. "DB, darling, I'm sorry for the short notice. But the..." as she looks at you she stops. "You look horrible. Are you alright?"

"Magic ritual went bad, it looks worse than it actually is. A few hours of sleep and I'll perfectly fine.” DB said smoothly.

“Good.” She nodded. “Anyway, I have a black tie gala tomorrow night at the museum. Care to escort me?”

"It would be my pleasure, what time and where should we meet". DB asked.

"I'll have the car pick you up at 7."

"I will be well rested and ready." DB replied. "Hope you have a lovely day." He reached up and turned off his commlink.

He pulled an RFID blocking bag out of the glove compartment and shoved the coin and glove into it. He punched go and closed his eyes for the trip.

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.

How it Went Down

Bunny is pointing at the wall, it's in here.

DB is opening the safe. (lock picking three successes)

Bunny looks beyond DB and hisses, "Stay out of this bitch."

DB opens the safe, when a female voice behind him says, "I wouldn't do that if I was you. I don't know what it promised you, but I can tell you how it will end. With a bullet to your head."

DB paused for a breath, and then grabs the coin. Bunny explodes. (Resist 12 Stun magic and willpower (takes 5 stun)) Where there was, Bunny was a copy of you.

"You shouldn't have done that."

DB turns invisible and runs from the house. Makes it back to the car.

DB woke up in the car before going into the store. Last thing he remember was a warrior woman dressed in blue and red, saying it was too early for him to be awake. She then motioned and he was here.

He goes astral again, and goes back to the house. He could tell what house he needed to go to before he got close. A bright ruddy red light glowed brightly. Next to the red is just as bright, is a blue/white woman. DB paused on the stairs, about half way up. He listened.

“You’re not going to get away this time.” DB recognized the voice from a podcast he had listened to a couple of days ago. Who was it? Gwen Anderson. A self-reported Gatekeeper.

Staying low, DB crept up closer. Gwen was standing in the doorway, pacing towards the middle of the room. “According to you, I can’t stop it. Wanna tell me what you’re planning on doing?”

Bunny just glared at Gwen.

Gwen turned and looked back to the doorway. “He might surprise you.”

Below, DB heard the front door open. “Frag!” He hugged the stairs. Seconds ticked by and nothing happened.

Backing down slowly, DB looked around the living room. A teenage girl stood at the open door. She looks around the room. She seemed to be moving slowly. Or maybe he was moving faster.

DB watched as she closed the door. A purple dragonfly, buzzed close to him, then went back to her and perched on her shoulder.

“Boss?” she said softly. “Why am I here? This is crazy.”

The dog who had been asleep on the couch starts barking his head off at the girl. She holds up her hands and grabs the dog. He growls and she shoves him into the closet.

“Well that isn’t nice.” DB said. Pain flared through his right hand as he remembered. Her name was Miz Johnson. He was supposed to be meeting her in three hours.

Her head snapped up at the sound of his voice. “Okay, this isn’t freaky at all.” She glanced at the wall and swore. The alarm was counting down.

She pulled out a box and held it next to the alarm. He could see white sparks jumping from the box to the alarm. A couple of moments later, the alarm shut itself off.

Miz Johnson looked around the room again. Still not seeing him.

“Nice toy, now what are you doing here?” DB asked while manifesting at the base of the stairs.

“Oh God.” Miz Johnson took a step back and bumped into the wall. “Yo…” She cleared her throat and tried again. “You told me to be here at 13:13 and not to be late.”

“I told you to be here?” DB questioned.

“Yea, pretty sure it was you.” She kept looking to her left. She opened a window and scroll appeared. Calligraphy writing said to be at 18228 Oak Drive. Pay 10,000 Nuyen. “Look, I don’t mean to pry, but I’m not sure what you want me to do.”

"Intriguing, I don't remember having sent that. Funny thing is that I'm not even supposed to be meeting you for another 3 hours. And you’re supposed to be proposing a job for me." DB sized her up. She was young, and appeared to be frightened out of her wits. However, she stayed. "Can you open a safe?”

“A safe? Depends on the model.”

DB sighed. “Follow me; let’s see if this meets your skill set.” He started up the stairs.

A bright light flowed down the stairs and washed out DB. A loud buzzing started burning his ears. Each step he took felt like pins were being driven into his skin. Looking over his shoulder, DB called back. “This can be interesting.”

Miz Johnson nodded her head, but followed him.

DB approached the doorway. The purple dragonfly is buzzing in his face. Waving hand up, he pushed the dragonfly away. It came back and tried to buzz his face again.

Frustrated, DB turned to Miz Johnson. “What is your buddy trying to tell me?”

Miz Johnson seemed to be dazed. “It doesn’t like it here. There is magic here, old magic.” He could see why he picked her. One foot in the future, one in the past.

“Behind that painting is a safe. I want you to open it.” DB ordered.

Miz Johnson nodded, and she entered the room. DB watched. When Miz Johnson stepped into the room. Gwen stopped talking. Bunny screamed, either in frustration or pain, DB wasn’t sure. She went to the wall, opened the hinged painting and stood at the safe. She held up the black box to the safe and a second later, the door popped open about two centimeters.

Miz Johnson starts turning, her dragonfly is buzzing at her.

DB casts a spell at Gwen, causing her to lose concentration. Sweat popped up on Gwen’s brow. Her posture went from rigid to relaxed. Gwen groans and the spear falls to the ground.

“"Hey, Miz J, we kinda need to get going. Gwen here is gonna be seriously pissed. And strangely really satisfied." DB yelled.

Miz Johnson, looked at Gwen, and then turned back to the safe. She grabbed everything she could. She starts to back out the room, down the stairs, and out the door.

DB stayed behind to keep an eye on Gwen. Bunny was still screaming the shrill high-pitched sound. When he heard the door, DB popped down to the front yard. Miz Johnson was running to a bike parked on the street. He appeared before her and told her to meet him at the Stuffer Shack.

Gwen comes pounding out of the house. She jumped the fence and reaches out to grab Miz Johnson.

DB appears before Gwen and says, “You must have really liked that. Do you want more?”

Gwen glares at him. She takes a deep breath to clear her head. She silently watched Miz Johnson pull away. “It’s not what you think it is.”

“Then perhaps we should meet somewhere and talk about this like rational adults.” DB offered.

“I don’t think there will be any reasoning with you after this point.” Gwen touched a control on arm, and the suit she wearing changed to a jogging outfit and she took off down street going the other direction.

DB followed Miz Johnson to the Stuffer Shack. He went back to his body. He sat up and groaned. His body hurt. Blood oozed from his nose. He was cleaning himself up when Miz Johnson knocked on his passenger window. Each blow was a spike to his head.

“That was pretty wiz.” She said while pulling out three cred sticks and your coin.

The buzzing grew louder while she held the coin out to him.

Heist

"Bunny, will you be able to travel with me and not be seen?" DB asked. “Will you be able to find the coin right away?”

Bunny nodded. She pointed to the left. “The coin is that way.”

DB sighed. “I mean, once in the house, will you be able to find it?”

She nodded again.

“Okay, let’s go.” DB walked out of the apartment, without looking to see if she followed.

The parking garage was mostly empty at this time of day. One of the benefits of working odd hours. DB punched in the address to Stuffer Shack about two blocks away his target into the navigation unit. He started the car, and then turned on the autopilot. Thanks to the GRID system, he was there 45 minutes later.

On the drive over, DB thought about what he’d look like at once he got to Renton. Taller, slightly pudgy, and graying temples. His face became slightly rounded and his eyes went from blue to brown.

Satisfied with his new look, DB put the car into manual drive and drove by his target. A long narrow house, the same as the others on the sides. A couple walked by, holding hands. Two houses down a woman was mowing her lawn using a push mower, instead of a drone. He drove over to the Stuffer Shack.

DB parked at the far end of lot. Closing his eyes, the worldview changed as he went astral. The people in the lot was a riot of colors with some dead spots.

DB ignored everyone and went back to the target house. He walked through the door with no problem. Inside was an empty house, complete with a dog sleeping on the couch. Very boring wageslave. Upstairs DB found Bunny in the office.

She pointed at the wall, “It’s in there.”

Wall safe. He could deal with that. A second later, DB was back at his body. Opening the door to the car, he went into the Stuffer Shack. Luckily, they had a small selection of doggy treats. Grabbing one at random, he went to the check out.

The cashier was a young woman with neon purple hair and a nose ring. She eyed the Doggy Snaps and smiled at him. “My dogs love those. What type of dog do you have?” she asked while reading the RFID tag.

“It’s a hellhound puppy named Delara.” DB used a certified cred stick to pay the four nuyen.

The clerk looked at him strangely, but wished him a good day as he left.

DB walked the two blocks to the gray house. He waved at the woman still mowing her lawn. He walked up to the door and pulled out his maglock passkey. It slid effortlessly through the lock. A small chirp and the light went green. DB opened the door and a small barking dog greeted him.


Datafile

Two hours to kill. DB checked his messages. Miz Johnson. He hit play.

"Hoi, this is Miz Johnson. John told me to call you about some work. Give me a call back."

DB smiled. A paying gig is what he needed. He hit call back to start the process.

Miz Johnson answered after the second ring. They set up a meet for 1600 at a coffee shop that was local to both of them.

Four hours until the meet.

More research on the Janus Coin. Lots of pictures of two headed coins. He found a group on Magicnet, who called themselves the Gatekeepers. They claimed there was a magic coin out there that helped the holder remember things from the past and gave glimpses into the future. DB looked at Bunny thoughtfully.

An hour into his search, the comm unit dinged. Cypher sent a datafile on Kelan Rogers. DB started studying. 32 years old. Divorced. Lives in a house in Renton. Project manager for a construction company. Makes 48,000 Nuyen per year. Two speeding tickets. Totally boring. Chances are Bunny's stuff was at the house in Renton. A satellite view of the location showed a minor street with row houses. Maybe there was a roommate. He'd have to chance it.

Now What?

“I’m sure there are more than one morgue in Inglewood. Care to tell me more?” DB asked.

Bunny shook her head. “I don’t know more. It was on me when I died.”

Calling up another window and searched for morgues. Why he was doing this was beyond him. Two hits came up. Grayson's and Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary. He checked their websites. Both conservative and used words like “time of sorrow” and “bereaved”. He would have to call them. Before he did that, he ordered a home delivery of a bottle of Tequila. The good stuff.

He opened yet another window and started a search on the Janus Coin. Only 3 million hits. Frag, he was going to spend hours on research. Janus turned out to be some Roman deity. Two faced and the keeper of gates. DB shook his head. It didn’t sound like something that would be worth the time Bunny was putting into this.

Bunny wandered around the apartment, picking up items and smiled at them. She’d put them back where they were found and move to the next one.

DB frowned. He shifted his view of the world. Bunny looked odd. Most people were a shifting conglomeration of colors or black dead spots if they had cyberwear. Bunny was a solid red color. Fine black cracks were everywhere on her. They ran into her clothes as if they were a part of her. He exhaled in a controlled breath. What the frag was she.

The commlink chimed signaling the package had been delivered. DB went to the door and picked up the box. He went back to the bar and opened it. He poured her a drink and went back to his research on the Janus Coin. There had to be more too it then what she was telling him.

“Bunny, why do you want this coin?” he asked. He watched her carefully. She didn’t seem to be upset or concerned by his question.

“Janus is considered the God of Gateways because he can see both the future and the past.” She seemed almost distracted.

He was going to ask her more, but one of his windows flashed at him. It was a chat from Grayson’s Morgue, asking if he need any help. DB put on his best I’m at my wits end charm.

“Yes, I’m looking to see if there have been any Jane Does brought in to your location.”

The autobot spun for a second and replied, “There are no Jane Does at this time.”

DB groaned and tried again. “Within the last seven days have you gotten any females delivered that looked like this?” He uploaded a picture of Bunny.

The icon spun for several more seconds then said, “Please hold.”

DB would have smiled, but it would spoil the effect he was going for. A smartly dressed man came on the line. “I understand you have a question about one of our clients.”

“You have her? Thank God.” DB looked relieved. “I’ve been looking for my cousin for a week.”

“No, I’m sorry, your cousin is no longer with us.”

“What? Where did she go?” DB asked, his voice rising.

The man looked concerned. “Sir, please she’s be picked up by family, two days ago.”

DB poured it on, “Family? Are you sure? Because we’ve been looking for her.”

“Yes,” he paused while accessing some data. “She was signed for by a Kelan Rogers.”

DB held back his excitement, still playing the part of a grieving family member. “Two days ago? Are you sure?”

“I assure you, our records are quite accurate.” He seemed worried that something might be wrong. “If I can assist you…” He trailed off.

“No, thank you. Kelan is quite a scatterbrain. I’ll try him now.” DB cut the connection before any more questions could be asked.

DB turned to Bunny and asked, “Do you know a Kelan Rogers?” while doing a search on the name.

Bunny seemed to be dazed, as she replied. “Yes, Bunny had a brother named Kelan. They weren’t very close.”

Three hits came up on the Kelan Rogers. A college student going to Seattle Central, a decker who worked odd jobs according to his web site, and a project manager for a construction company. Two chances of being wrong. “Bunny, I need more. Is your brother in college, a decker, or a corporate stooge?"

“I’m sure he’s proudly serving his corporate masters.” She seemed to be wilting before his eyes.

“Frag.” DB studied her. “Do you need to nap? You’re looking pretty…” He trailed off. In the past few hours she’s gone from robust to looking pale.

He looked at her astrally again. She was still red, but the fine black cracks where growing. She was struggling.

“I’m okay, but you’d better hurry.” She answered.

“Okay. I'm gonna need the name Kelan would recognize as yours. I'm assuming he didn't call you Bunny like those of us that knew you"

Bunny took a deep breath and exhales slowly. "You can tell him 'Bulrushes and Laurels' he'll know it's me then."

“I need as much info on Kelan as you can give me. If I'm going to get this coin back from him, I need to build up a dossier on him.”

She shook her head, “I don't know Kelan, I know Bunny...”

DB stood up quickly. The leather backed chair rocked. “I thought you were Bunny. If not who and what are you.”

“I thought you was smarter than that...” Bunny smiled sadly. “I was Bunny, but you killed her. Now I'm without a host.”

“And what was Bunny before you inhabited her?” DB demanded.

“A master of guns, she could shoot an apple off your head blindfolded.”

“Was the original host a willing vessel or you forcibly taking them over? How do I know you won't just use this coin to inhabit me?”

“All magic has a price. Do you fear being powerful? Do you want things just out of your grasp? I can make that happen for you.”

“Of course, I don't fear being powerful. I fear losing myself. Of Losing control.” DB answered. “Yes, you may be able to make that happen, but as you said, all magic has a price. I'm not sure I'm willing to pay your price. Right now, your fee is just the acquisition of the coin. But how much is the next payment?”
She leans in towards you, "I know what you are. Do you think they're going to let you be free? I can help you."

DB sighed. “This may take a bit. How much time do we have?”

“A day, maybe less. I should have come to you sooner, but I thought someone would find me.” Bunny said.

DB spun up his comm unit, and dialed Cypher. “Hey Cypher, I’ve got a rush job for you.”

Cypher’s icon looked him impassively. “Sure, I’ve got some time.”

DB sent him the little bit of data he gathered on Kelan. “I need a dossier on this man.”

Cypher looked thoughtful for a second. “3K and two hours.”

DB glanced at Bunny. "This better be worth the cost." Sent him the payment.


List Day

  • Gas is at $3.23 per gallon
  • There was one car at the coffee shop this morning
  • The smokey haze is pretty bad around here, the foot hills are obcurred
  • Okay, that explains why I'm having an issue in the evenings, they're not using those schedules
  • Wondering if I should go have my hair trimmed or just wait
  • Having fun writing blurbs for Grilltech, wonder if I'll get a story out of it
  • Wish lunch would hurry up and get here
  • Hope everyone has a good night, see you tomorrow

Now What?

He poured another, it may be too early to be drinking but in a situation like this perhaps it is best. “It was worth a shot, although it is outside my normal skillset.” Downing half the glass. He looked Bunny up and down, she still was supernova. He remembered the drinking when they first met. She was much better looking than Ms Latham. Too bad she was a thief like him.

“Seems that the last time you ‘helped’ me, a few items came up missing. Since I obviously don’t have the skills to make you leave, I can only assume you will be hanging around until you are satisfied. What are you offering as help, and more importantly, what is it going to cost me this time?” He asks and finishes his drink.

“It will only cost you time.” She held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. “A little.”

He stared at her. She’d drugged and robbed him, and now she’s saying it’s only going to cost a little time. The memory of him putting the bullet between her eyes tugged at him. He rubbed the bridge of his nose.

When he said nothing, Bunny went on. “You only need to find the Janus Coin. It’s been a week, and no one knows it’s missing yet. And since you were the last one to see me, I’m picking you.”

DB quickly opened a window on his comm unit. A quick search on the term Janus Coin showed an old Roman coin. A two headed man on the front and an old brick gate on the back. Another search showed one for sale. “Ebay has a Janus Coin for sale. Buy it now option.”

This time Bunny said nothing. He sighed. “Where was the last place you saw it?”

“Some morgue in Inglewood. It’s most likely moved by now.”

What do you do now?

Random Thought


Tsking, Bunny glided to the bar. “Banishment? You don’t even know what you’re up against, are you sure you want to piss me off?”

She sat on one of the bar stools. She looked hot, like the night they met. “I’d like a tequila please.”

DB frowned, “I don’t have tequila, but if you’re going to be a regular guest I can pick some up.”

“If you’re going to be that way, then I’ll just leave.” She gracefully stood up. “Are you sure? Because I can help you.”

(what do you do?)

Random Thoughts


The memory of Bunny laying there on the cream-colored carpet came to mind. The bite of the pistol grip digging into his hand. The rage that clouded his vision as he walked up to her and put a bullet between her eyes.

The scene faded, but the shaking rage he felt was still there. DB closed his eyes and take a couple of cleaning breathes to clear his mind. After 30 seconds, he opened his eyes and swore. “Frag!”

“Still here.” Bunny smiled. She ran her hand through her hair. “Well, in a sense.”

“No.” He said.

“Denial,” she sounded amused. “I like it.”

She stepped closer to DB. “Good luck with that.”

DB away and went to the bar. He poured himself a whiskey. She was dead, damn it. He had shot her himself.

(Make a banishing check)