Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We'll have to wait and see...

They met in a darkened alley two blocks from the station. Their long coats casting longer shadows.

“How did it go?" the shorter man asked.

“Good, it won’t hold up to any scrutiny, but it should give him time to get away and disappear.” The duster emphasised the larger man’s build. Both clung to the shadows threateningly.

“I wish he had let us do it our way,” whispered the first man, looking around for anyone who might have followed his counterpart.

“I made a good pitch. I just don’t think he’s inclined to owing us a favour. I even tried to sweeten your offer a bit.”

“Oh?” said the smaller man as they started moving through the dark streets. The two wraiths flattened against a wall at the sound of an approaching vehicle.

“I offered to broker an introduction to Targeter.” An armoured personnel carrier thundered by. PRDF and POC were still patrolling. Though the storm walls were open, curfew was still in effect. There was a long pause as neither of them moved though the coast was clear.

“I see. Can we use that to our advantage eventually?”

“I hope so, we’ll have to wait and see. How did it go on your end?” the bigger man said, changing the subject. He knew sooner or later he would have to tell his partner everything about Targeter. Sooner was best, but later than now. They started moving again.

“Mixed results.” He sensed something was amiss with his Southern friend, but stored it away for future reference. “I’ve got the decoy plans but Lenaris wants to know who we have. I stonewalled him but he doesn’t like that I’m withholding information. I told him it was the best way to flush out the SRID agents and cripple the Southern network in his backyard. I gave him Simba’s name and Kessler will back that up so he knows we have access to names and people in SRID’s network that we didn’t know about.”

They were just outside their objective now, there was a lot of activity but that wasn’t surprising. The tall soldier nodded sagely. “He doesn't know the level of their infiltration, he can’t know they’ve all been routed so he’s going to have to trust us.”

“Yes, I know we’re trying to scam him into owing us another favour but I still would have preferred more enthusiasm from the geezer.” They waited for the right moment to step out into the light between two sets of officers and proceeded to enter the precinct. They disappeared in plain sight just as easily as they had in the darkness. The trick was blending into your surroundings.

Kain Delacroix had been a sheriff so he knew how to make himself comfortable and look like he belonged. For reasons born largely from an overabundance of self assurance, Tom Chambers also went unchallenged in the Peace Officer precinct. Soon they were in the basement interrogation cells in front of Lt Fenton Escobar.

“Hello Captain, nice to see you again so soon,” Chambers offered.

“I beg you pardon Doctor?” Lieutenant Escobar said distractedly.

“Nice to see you, we’ll let ourselves out afterwards. Let me be the first to say good work over the last few days, you deserve that promotion,” Chambers continued, all smiles.

“Doctor I haven’t been..." Escobar started to protest but Chambers let himself and Delacroix into the holding cell and closed the door with a little wave.

“Miss Ormond, I trust you’ve been made as comfortable as possible,” Delacroix started as Chambers closed the door and joined them at the table.

“Mange de la merde, Delacroix,” spat Ormond.

“That was uncalled for,” Delacroix said flatly as Chambers shook his head disapprovingly. “Especially after all we've done for you.”

“When am I getting out of here?” she said threateningly.

Delacroix laced his fingers together. “When we are satisfied we understand each other. First, there were no dealings between the Norlights and the Free Emirates. You will deny any rumours that the SRID might hear; you have no proof and your life depends on your participation.”

“That was not the deal,” Ormond snapped, getting out of her chair. Her eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep, her hair still messy from the cooling tower and garbed in a prisoner jumpsuit. She had looked better.

Delacroix continued impassively. “I am altering the deal. Of course you can tell your superiors whatever you want, but you have no proof. There is only one shred of evidence, and we have it,” he paused a second to let her register that before continuing. “That’s right, we kept it, and you are the only person that knows that. So if anyone comes looking for it, it's because you talked, and if that happens, we’ll come looking for you.”

Ormond paced back and forth listening. When Delacroix was done she sat down again. “I need something to get me out of here. I want those Warrior IV plans you promised me.”

“Doctor?” Delacroix said politely, inviting his partner to address the lady’s demands.

“Let us be clear on this point Ormond: we don’t owe you a damned thing. We eradicated your network and we spared your life out of professional courtesy. You didn’t need to walk out of that hell-hole and you needn’t walk out of this cell.”

Doctor Chambers scanned her for a physiological responses, her shoulders hunched forward, her pupils dilated but there war no capillary reaction. She was stoic, showing little fear from the threat, but still subtle hints of submission.

“I let Hiro live, you let me go. That was the deal, Doctor,” Ormond tried to litigate, suppressing her resentment.

“I lied. Get over it. So we’re on the same page, we don’t owe you anything. But we aren’t unreasonable people.” Chambers continued in a far more conciliatory tone.

“I won’t be your pawn or a double-agent.” She hastened to say.

“No, I just want you to understand why you are getting this.” Chambers said, raising a data disk in his right hand. “There was no need to kill you, Yolanda, you gave us a choice. That shows promise; it means we can trust each other to act reasonably. We have a proposition and we hope you will accept it.”

“What...proposition?” She asked showing a mix of curiosity and apprehension.

Chambers paused, letting out his breath slowly. “We need a partner. We came across this information which we suspect is quite valuable but its heavily encrypted. You have the resources to do something about that, we have the resources to turn a profit on it. You keep the technical specs to fine-tune your Gears, but we are ideally situated to broker the sale of those specifications. We split the proceeds 60/40.”

Delacroix took over for the Doc. “We could take it to your superiors directly but the Doc thinks you are someone who we can deal with.”

“What makes you think that we will work with you? We could just keep the decrypted data for ourselves.” Ormond relaxed back into her chair.

“Professionalism,” Delacroix said. “We’re all reasonable people, surely after the last few weeks you can see some advantages to working with us rather than against. Consider that if you cross us, we might not be so inclined to show as much restraint with the next SRID agent we have in our hands.”

“You of all people can certainly see the virtue in that.” Chambers added smiling. He then proceeded to withdraw a bag from under his coat. From it he produced fresh undergarments, trousers a blouse and slippers, all in Ormond’s size.

“That’s it?” Ormond asked, genuinely surprised.

“You’re free to go,” Delacroix responded simply.

Ormond was trying to figure out if this was all an elaborate hoax, then she thought she could ponder that elsewhere. She pulled the clothes towards her and hesitated. She raised a delicately plucked eyebrow accusingly at the two gentlemen who sat coolly before her. When there was no reaction she sighed and exchanged indignation in favour of efficiency and quickly stripped and put on the fresh clothing. She ran her hands through her hair before walking around the table next to where Chambers sat with arms crossed. She put her hand out, his gaze moved slowly from her hand and her eyes. Annoyance gave way to resignation and finally, through a sarcastic smile she said: “Fine, 60/40.”

Smiling broadly he unfolded his arms and proffered the data disk. She pocketed the item and let herself out of the cell without a second’s hesitation.

The two men sat in silence a few moments.

“What do you think Doc?”

“I think it went well, I guess we wait and see.”

“Agreed, but can we do that elsewhere. I’m sick of Peace River.”

“Complain, complain, Prophet’s piss Kain, next time I’ll let you pick the vacation spot.”


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.