TURN 10: The Road to Warsaw
Ti nervously scanned through radio stations as he attempted to find distracting music to drown out the memories of recent events. He thought about starting a conversation but was unsure as to what to say. 'Thank you for shooting at me and endangering my life' seemed a little crass, as did 'where's my money', but something needed to break the silence.
That and the constant grinding noise coming from the axle. The suspension had already been suffering under Victor's weight alone, and add to that the impressive masses of both Slave and Gisele it was a surprise the struts didn't explode violently.
He'd figured out that Supergirl was either heavily modified like himself if not a full cyber conversion. Her musculature moved weirdly, true, but it could have just been a bad enhancement job. He'd heard about people crazy enough to swap their bodies for something using motor oils and hydrolics instead of blood but he'd never met one. He was really hoping he never would... couldn't understand the level of dedication that would require such a sacrifice.
But what about R2-DCup? What was her story? Did she don the brushed chrome bodice for kicks or did someone do that to her? So far she hadn't shown a ton of initiative but Ti'd known a few workers where he'd come from with similar attitudes. That didn't mean she was a forced conversion with a slave routine running, but he had his suspicions.
Kitten with a Whip and Mighty Mouth seemed pretty normal, even if they did give him a headache... headache? What happened there? He didn't know and he didn't want to know but probably Big Stick had something to do with it.
"I don't suppose you guys have names?" He asked Gisele. "I'd hate to have to come up with silly psuedonyms for all of you."
"Diana." Was all Diana said. She began to flirt with Ti again, giving him winks, licking her lips in a very, very provacative way. She also did it with the other members of the group, if they looked her way.
She caught herself, looked embarassed, and turned away.
She cursed herself silently. She was losing control, and losing it quickly. Three options entered thoughts:
1) Fuck everyone, and get it over with.
2) Tell everyone what was going on, and see what they thought.
3) Disappear for two weeks, and find a whore house where she could work till this damned thing passed.
Part of her wanted option 1, although the majority of her ruled it out. Option two was a possible, but she wasn't in the mood at the moment. That left option three. At the moment, option three seemed the best bet. Although she wasn't keen on the just disappearing thing.
She let out a sigh, and looked away, trying extremely hard not to look at the other members of the group. Her body was starting to betray her, and damned if she was going to let it. At lest not yet, anyway.
Frederick wasn't sure how much he should tell the big man. But having already blown up at him, he decided to try and open up a little and smooth things over.
"I'm called DatenWulf, but you can call me Frederick if you like. I'm a Data Security Systems Specialist. Top freelancer in Germany.
"Diana is, well, Diana. I understand her street name is Huntress, but she doesn't seem to care for it.
"Gisele is a bodygaurd. My bodygaurd for this mission. She's cybernetically enhanced. Do me a favor, don't ask her about it.
"Ed is a mystery. The fight that killed our fixer, should have killed him also. I can't figure out how he healed himself so fast. I know a little about genetics, but I've never heard of enhancements that are conciously activated.
"Slave is a maintanence Slave unit. We don't know her real name yet. She's starting to adapt to a lack of instruction, and instruction from additional personnel. Soon she should be up to making decisions on her own. It is my firm belief that while some races are naturally superior, slavery degrades both slave and master.
"But I promised you an explanation of the fight. Let me see. Where should I begin..."
Frederick then went into a semi-detailed explination of everything that had happened since the original meeting. He was sure to leave out background information on the others. He was still researching that anyway, and it wouldn't do to let the others know he'd been checking up on them. He also made out that Chalk had only had him make a small withdraw. There was no reason to let on exactly how much he had on him. After all, only he and Gisele knew how large the amount was.
At the mention of his name, Ed turned a groggy head in his direction. A
slight nod said 'hi'.
Ed then went into a thoughtful look as Frederick goes over the detail of the
fight that killed Chalk. He was tossing over the idea of letting everyone
know more about himself.
Once there was a break in the conversation, Ed spoke up.
Ed's Background Story
"Geez, you're the one that did Mr. Nice?" Asked Ti. "That was some piece of work. I was in the Right Place at the Right Time and saw Gorilla walking through a bar once. That guy had a stare on him that would freeze vodka and I don't think half of it was attitude, you know? Bad man, in my book."
"Rumor had it one guy did the whole job, but no one believes it. Mr. Nice had too much protection around him unless you're the Original Something Wicked This Way Comes."
If it were true, and this really was the man who had put the high level operator through the wringer like that, maybe Ti really was getting into the big time. He hadn't been aware of all the ties and alliances, but he knew a few. He was pretty sure Mr. Nice was getting a few ins with the Michealovich family as well as their competition. Dealings like that made for some tricky stuff.
If these guys were dealers operating on that level, no wonder they could afford to throw so much money at Ti.
"So you guys need to bust into a space station, huh? Any ideas how you're going to do that? As far as I knew they still weren't selling shuttle tickets to the public [Or are they? GM?] and this crate might make a couple hundred feet with high explosives, but that's not orbit range, you know?
"And what do you expect out of me? I'm big, strong, good looking and pursuasive but I've ran into street toughs that could leave me bleeding in the gutter, you know? Not that great at hand to hand unless I'm swinging a lumberyard or someone holds the guy I'm breaking, and I usually hit the barn broadside on the second or third shot.
"So which are you buying today? What are you hiring me for? I could play tour guide if you want, or I could lean on a target and remove some cartilage if you think you need another forklift at the party. Big Maw here," He pats his shirt where the Jackhammer is concealed, "Is always ready, but that's not my specialty.
"Or, if you want, you could just pay me to sit around and be pretty." He told the group. "Intimidation factor, you know? Let people know that the T-Man here aint happy and they usually give you what you want. Advantage of being so ruggedly handsome, I guess."
"Oh, and as long as we're doing origin stories, here's a little background on me." He hooked a powerful thumb at Datenwolf. "I'm sure he can verify this if he wants.
"My grandfather was involved in the Mexican Mafia but I never had a chance to meet the man. My grandma ran off with my dad when things got ugly and came running home to Moscow. They lived the straight and arrow, but I took after the old man. When he kicked off some chummer of his dropped a load of cash on Grandma's doorstep. Said it was his life insurance or something and that he wanted it to go to family.
"Problem was, neither her or my dad wanted anything to do with it so they set me up a nice little college fund." He laughs a little at this. "Like that was gonna do me any good. Besides, I wanted to stay ont he streets. The coporate life just didn't appeal to me, you know? So I had a pal of mine drain the account and I used it to beef myself up, get some good implants and I started making a name for myself. About made it good, too,
when I lost Dante..."
At the mention of that, Ti fell into a brooding silence for a while.
Frederick listened to Ti's story. He was planning on checking him out anyway. Now he had something to check. "Victor, what's your last name?"
"Hernandez." The guy answered. He was used to having people check on his background and tried to tailor his rep towards future employment. Unless he wanted to get extremely personal, all Frederick should find is a small time criminal record and a clean street reputation. Plus that one warrant for failure to appear in court which Ti seems to have forgotten about.
Frederick snapped his fingers like he just remembered something. "That reminds me. Diana, I don't know your last name."
The van travelled finally back onto a main road headed for Warsaw and the crash that seemed to threaten them earlier faded in the distance as well as the minds of the team.
Sunlight glinted and sparkled off the surface of the road and other cars as they made their way along. This time, it didn't seem like they had anyone following them. In a few hours, they should be arriving in Warsaw and it would be mid to late afternoon.
Which reminded them, one by one, how long it had been since they had last eaten, so time was taken for a quick take-out lunch. Slave, of course, had special requirements. A couple small jars of baby food was procured from a convenience store and the group soon had everyone's bellies satisfied.
It was early evening when the outlying districts of Warsaw finally came into view. The questions that now faced the team was where to find a decent bed, or drink, or supper, or perhaps how in the world will two people, whom you barely know and some of you have never even met, find you in such a vast place. Compared to the stress of the last couple days, it almost seemed like a vacation.
Exhausted from his own late night flight from Moscow, Ti was fast asleep before the complaining truck rolled into the city. Used to his roll as a heavy, he awoke from his drooling slumber and stepped from the vehicle first to draw initial fire. Stretching the kinks from his back by arching his arms up and over his head he eyed the parking lot for trouble. When none showed he moved forward into the store and made quick use of the station's facilities, dutifully washing his hands afterwards.
He then grabbed a six pack and a few bags of garbage food while the too soft burritos steamed in microwave ovens. Not sure as yet if he were operating on an expense account, he paid for his own food and pretended to ignore the cashier's glances at his chiseled arms as he did so. He did give her a wink and one final flex as he gathered his goods and walked back to the truck.
The burritos were gone before he reached the door and he offered to take over the driving chore as long trips always bored him to death. A t least driving gave him a chance to interact with other people on the road even if it did usually end up in dangerous games of same-lane chicken. He'd heard the words 'road rage' somewhere before but couldn't exactly remember what they meant.
As far as the two finding them? He didn't worry about that in the least. They either found the group or not and it wasn't his worry as long as he was paid.
Frederick hadn't said much else during the trip, but listened calmly to the other and as questions as they came to his curious mind. He would answer question asked of him, but for the most part felt that the others would understand most of what he had to say anyway. Sometimes it's rough being the only citizen in the group. At least he assumed that none of the others were citizens.
While Ti was selecting his junk food, Frederick asked someone to fill the truck with fuel and went inside to pay. Since he wasn't about to east Junk food, Frederick was in line ahead of the large Heavy. When the clerk gave him the total, T-man saw him pull a money clip stuffed with bills out of his front pocket. There must have been a good 20 or 30 bills in it. The well dressed Hacker thumbed through it and pulled one off.
"Smallest I have is a hundred. Can you make change? I'll need a receipt too."
After getting his change, the Hacker returned to the truck and asked the others if they wanted to find a decent restaurant.
"That sounds good." Diana said. She also went into the store, looking for something to help her take her mind off her 'female' problem. Or at least, something to help delay the inevitable. Right now she was in no mood to deal with what her body is starting to demand. That will come soon enough.
Luckily for her, convenience stores have lots of distractions. Unfortunately, they were also have a sale on condoms, and apparently they just received their shipment of nudey rags. That just wasn't going to do.
As she walked around Diana suddenly felt the place closing in. Over there was a number of day-old polish sausages warming on the revolving grill. At the checkout counter there was a bouquet of Dum-Dums. Behind her lurked Slo-Pokes and suckers. Against the wall was a poster offering free Lube-Jobs when you brought your car in to have a tune-up.
Oh, this was bad. Very bad.
Just before the party leaves, Diana "remembered" something she nearly "forgot." She went back into the store and bought nearly every condom they had. She had the clerk triple bag the purchase, and then she returned to the van.
Seeing Diana still in some distress, Ti offered her one of his microwaved burritos. If that brown, greasy mass shoved under her nose didn't kill her 'appetite' then she was worse off than he'd thought.
Diana smiled flirtatiously. "Thanks anyway, but food isn't what I want right now," she whispered into is ear, then ran her tongue into and out of it quickly. She slowly traced her hand over her crotch.
She took a very, very seductive bite out of the offering, making sure Ti saw her run her tongue over it in a flirtatious manner.
Ti stuck his tounge out slightly making the universal 'bleh' sign as she walked away from him. Anyone who'd do that to a microwave burrito was really, really sick...
Limping slightly now, Ti walked back to the truck.
When the resteraunt was mentioned he considered the food he'd just bought, the two nuclear torpedos and the bags of fried, salty starch. Doing a quick calorie calculation and checking the protein content in the nutritional information he decided a real meal could do him some good as well. After all, having not eaten a full meal for about a day and a half this was just an appetizer for the big carbo machine.
At the mention of a restraunt, Diana seems to regain some self control. She was losing it faster then she had anticipated. She had figured she had 24 to maybe 48 hours before her body took over, but at this rate, she would lose in less then 12.
Cracking the top off of one bottle of beer he informed the group of a Tex/Mex place he knew where the Chili Verde was hot enough to melt teflon.
Finally, early in the evening, the team rolled into Warsaw. Thanks to wireless communications available within the city limits, Frederick was able to book reservations at a highly rated German based hotel chain called the "Hotel Überhaupt Mehr" as well as order limousine service.
It almost seemed like Frederick had an itinerary for the evening.
Frederick directed Ti to the museum where the limo was to be met. "Once we have the limo, we need to stop at a cafe for a short meeting, then on to the hotel for a good night's rest."
He then glanced at Diana. "Well, rest for most of us."
"Hey, it's not my damned fault. It's a damned DNA thing," she said, casting a wicked glance his way. "Look, here's the deal. Three times a year, for two weeks, I get horny as a lioness in heat. That means, my body needs sex. Personally, I could do without it, and not sweat it, unforutnately, this is one of those things that can't be deleted from the DNA. Believe me, it's been tried. Usually, for two weeks during this time, I make some extra cash, working in a whore house. Kills two birds with one stone. I make some cash, and the need is taken care of." She said.
There, it was out in the open. Her "secret" was laid bare. She hated every second of having to tell it, but now it was done. "And yes, that does mean I can do all day and all night, and barely get tired. I've done it 35 times a day, and barely broken out in a sweat.
Sometimes the stamina of a cat, is more of a pain in the ass then it's worth." She added.
Ti then choked on his beer and spewed it all over the windshield.
Slave tracked spew with radar, noted vector/chaos ratio.
Frederick's eye's bugged out at Diana's comment. He quickly regained his composure and decided to keep his mouth shut.
Ed, upon hearing this, squirmed almost uncontrolably in his seat. He immediately found something interesting on the window near by. The heat radiating off of his body was noticable by anyone within arms reach of him.
Ti, embarrassed at his lack of composure tries to avoid the other traffic while trying to find both a place to set his beer and something to wipe the windshield off with.
Ti tried his best to not keep staring at Diana in the rear view mirror but wasn't able to wholly succeed. Traffic or no traffic, the news she'd just dropped was more attention getting than red lights and right of way. More than one horn could be heard as he plowed his distracted way thorugh Warsaw. Another beer helped matters but still couldn't keep him from glancing back constantly.
Half of his mind was racing with the possibilities she held. It was rare that women as hot as her were also as insanely decadent as she was about to become. He knew a lot of clubs in town that would worship her as a goddess. He wasn't exactly a stranger to the wild life himself but there's no doubt she could rule the night. He'd known legitimate cults that had started for less.
Cursing rudely as he barely avoided a motorized scooter that had pulled in front of him unseen, he returned his eyes to the road... for a little while at least.
The route he took to the museum was not direct and he did his best to watch for tails, but with his attention directed elsewhere as it were there could have been a panzer tank behind them and he'd never have noticed. eventually, though, he found his destination and parked the car a block or two from the main building. Once more the shocks sighed as the three heavyweights extricated themselves and the vehicle seemed to almost slump in relief to have so much metal off of its suspension. Fred, Ed and Diana had less of an effect when they stepped onto the street.
Ti acted casual as he abandoned the vehicle, leaving the keys in the ignition. He could always steal another one later on if it came to that, and maybe this time something with a heavy duty suspension. Like a construction rig.
Museums were not home territory to him by a long shot so it was difficult to act like he belonged here but he did his best. Leading the way to the main entrance he watched for the limo.
The wait for the limo was brief and the six team members piled in as the sunglasses-wearing driver held the door for them.
The driver was a slender and tall woman, by the shape of of her under the standard suit. It was difficult to tell whether she was attractive or not given her dress, but she was certainly dark-haired and had a bit of a shadow on her upper lip. It was too difficult to tell what kind of shape she was in because of the straight, concealing lines of the suit.
Not being hired as a bodyguard... and so far as he could tell not really being hired for anything at all yet, Ti doesn't bother to check the inside of the limo before the others pile in. He assumed that as professionals and more experienced than himself, they knew what they were doing.
He did, though, decline the driver's offer of the door politley.
"S'okay, chummer." He said to him/her amiably. "Boss says for me to ride up front." That wasn't true, but he knew chauffeurs and other hired hands generally responded better to breaches in protocol when they thought it was the 'money' doing the talking.
The driver shrugged non-committally in a "suit-yourself" kind of way. She didn't seem to really care where he sat, so long as it didn't interfere with her driving.
Without waiting for a response he circled the large car and went to the front passenger door, handling any objections as they came and /pursuading/ the driver that this was an acceptable course of action. Once in place (assuming the driver did not have any strong objections to him riding up front), Ti was fascinated by all of the little buttons and started playing with them until he found the intercom and keyed it. He'd prefer to listen to whatever his new employers had to say, but if the talk became to tricky he'd cut the com leaving himself and the driver in the dark for a time.
Besides, he wanted some time away from that alley cat (how accurate he now saw the words to be), to cool off.
"Been a while since I hit Warsaw." He chatted amiably with the driver, letting his Muscovy accent run thick and heavy. "The Drover club still operating? Still on top, right, or did Der Sturzhelm finally push it out?"
The driver glanced at him for a moment before returning her attention to the road. "I wouldn't know sir. I prefer to spend my time off at the library. I can punch up the address and take you there, if you like." The intercom was still on so the people in the back seat would be able to hear the driver.
'Yeah, right.' Thought Ti silently. 'Limo drivers and cabbies know cities better than anyone else. If she were a real driver she'd have made hundreds of stops at every night club in town.'
Flawed or not, Ti's logic stood in his mind and he made simple conversation while waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"How long have you lived in Warsaw?" He asked.
"About six months," replied the chauffeur. "Originally, I come from Vienna." That at least explained her accented, yet good German. "But unemployment is high there since the opening of the resorts in Norway. I came to Warsaw originally just to try something different but hadn't had much luck here, either until I found this job."
She seemed content enough to answer questions without offering any questions herself. She might still be new at this, but she at least knew enough not to ask too much about her client's business.
"Uh-huh." Responded Ti. 'Just what I'd EXPECT you to say.' Was his thought, though.
Really, he couldn't understand why people kept acting like he was slow. He certainly had this so-called-professional espionage expert on the ropes.
Vienna, though. Damn, he didn't know much about how things were there to pose more questions about her background and was forced to stick with local issues.
"Hey, were you are duty the night Stone Tablet rolled through? What do you think really started the riots?"
Somewhere in the dusty regions of Ti's mind, an indistinct chess piece moved across a checker board. A very indistinct, fuzzy chess piece that looked like a knight but moved like a rook.
"The usual, I suppose. Disgruntled Poles and Estonian immigrants. Tell the truth, I don't give a rat's carcass why or when they riot, just so long as they stay out of my and my clients' way." The driver still hadn't shown much emotion.
Frederick gave Ti a scolding look, then spoke to the Driver. "Cafe Beau. When we're done there it'll be back to the hotel."
Once everyone was in the limo and the privacy shield was in place, he explained a little.
"I received an e-mail from my contact with Addy and Nadya. They're going to meet us at Cafe Beau."
"There's other business I need to attend to while in town, but I want to get some food and get you guy's safely into the hotel."
"Th-th-th-thanks. D-d-d-do you n-n-n-need any h-h-h-help?" Ed asked the youngest member.
Diana took one of the muscle relaxants that she had baught. She needed something to help her relax, and get her mind off her rebelling body. She had found that they worked in the past. Although, not for long.
She wanted a clear head for what was coming. She had a feeling that things were going to go bad again, and needed a clear head, not a body that demaned sex, sex, sex, and still more sex.
She felt the two pills begin to work. Her muscles began to relax a bit. Her head seemed to "clear" a bit, and sex wasnt' any longer the predomanant thought. Still, she knew, it soon would be. She figured she had 12 hours at most before her "cycle" hit full speed ahead. She just hoped like hell that it didn't hit at a bad time.
'Oh, she was good. VERY Good.' Ti was thoroughly enjoying the game of cat and mouse. "How much did they say it would cost to replace the statue outside of the
This should get her... there was NO statue outside of the Stenmauch center. 'King me...' Thought Ti as his chess blob encountered his opponent's first rank.
"The what?" she asked distractedly as she waited for an opening to make a left-hand turn. Cafe Beau's sign was just visible two blocks up and after executing the turn the party was soon slowing to a stop outside the cafe. Leaving the car running and double-parked, the driver hurried around to the passenger side rear door to let her clients out on the side closest to the Cafe. She dutifully held the door for them as they stepped out and touched her cap as the last member exited.
'Clever girl...' Ti loved the way she was constantly skirting around the issues. Never giving enough information to confirm or deny her background. Truly a master converstaionalist.
He was going to draw her further into the topic of the statue, figuring to have found her weak spot, when the limo pulled to a stop. With a knowing grin, Ti stepped out of the passenger side and walked around the vehicle.
"I'll park the limo and wait to hear from you sir," she told Frederick. "I'll be standing next to the news vendors." She pointed out the newspaper machines standing on the edge of the sidewalk directly in front of Cafe Beau.
"Uh-huh." Ti winked at her. "Right here... sure you wouldn't prefer to come in? We were having such a nice conversation." He thought, 'She played things cool, all right. Right up to the end.'
The driver seemed to be slowly warming to Ti's apparently friendly conversation, and what she mistook for desperately trying to be friendly to her.
"Well, that's uh... irregular." She blinked at him. He was certainly not conforming to the usual client-driver rules. Perhaps he was kidding with her. "We aren't supposed to get involved with our clients business, sir, but I appreciate the invitation."
Frederick saw that Ti was giving his brain a much needed workout and decided that was more important than having him in the meeting.
"Ti, why don't you stay out here and watch for trouble, Let us know if you see anything suspicious, like a black BMW. You might want to keep Slave here also,"
He then led the others inside. He needed Diana along because she knew what Addy and Nadya looked like. Gisele would be needed because she's his body gaurd. And it would be good to have Ed along as an extra set of eyes.
Apparently she was glacier ice, though, or maybe she was just checking the group out beforehand and her partner was inside prepared to meet the group. Still, it could be that as soon as they were inside she'd turn around, give the all clear into her radio and join them. Maybe, maybe not... Ti was getting confused as the twists and turns started getting over his head.
"Well, I'm sure that <ahem> in this instance they'd overlook the normal procedure, don't you?" That must be it. She was only the scout this time and would position herself to watch the door while the group had its meeting. If anything funny happened then she could give them advance warning or provide a first line of defense. Yes, it was a joy to watch professionals in action. Hopefully someday Ti himself would be that clever.
The small cafe was brightly lit and reasonably busy with people moving between the coffee counter and various tables. There were even a couple couches variously available or in use by some clientele.
It was at a table that Diana spied the dark-haired woman she had encountered before. It seemed ages ago, in spite of being just yesterday that Chalk, Slave and she were facing down Addy and Nadya in the street.
The athletic-looking woman was leaning forward in her chair, resting her elbows on the edge of the small table as she poured over some magazine she had laid in front of her. Light glinted off the dark rose sunglasses she had pushed to the top of her head to get them out of the way for reading. They served a useful purpose in keeping her long hair from dropping in front of her eyes. She was dressed in a strapless green leather top and black miniskirt, but a heavy looking longcoat hung on the back of her chair. Her dress might be considered a bit on the skimpy side, but then it was a glorious and especially warm day in May.
Diana got a stirring as she looked at the young woman. However, she was able to push that idea out of her head as soon as it appeard.
Momentarily, she touched her left ear and then looked up at Diana as Diana approached with her friends. She neatly folded her magazine back together and stood up, straightening her miniskirt as she did so. Extending a hand toward the foursome, she said, "Hello. I'm glad you could make it. Please pull up a chair."
There were plenty of extra chairs about.
"I trust you had a nice drive from Berlin?" Adelaide tried on a polite smile.
Frederick tried to play it all business.
"No, we didn't. DeBeers is not a very nice person when you have something he thinks is his. Speaking of which, I'm told you have something of mine."
"Oh, yeah, it was a ball of fun." diana says, her sarcasm hanging in the air. "Remind me to send your regards to Colonel DeBeers the next time I see him, or one of his retrieval teams." she said.
Slave and Ti stood on the sidewalk watching people go back and forth, and some in and out of the busy little cafe. The driver dropped a couple coins into a newspaper vendor and pulled out something called the Vienna Watcher. Clearing her throat, she began to read.
"We have?" Addy paused, one hand touching her left ear again. "Oh. I see."
Adelaide sat down again calmly. "Please. Have a seat."
"That would be Nadya's little find. She'll bring it by shortly. Would you care for some coffee? The Bavarian mix here is very good." She waved and caught the attention of a server, who came to the table. After taking whatever orders the team wanted, he hurried away."
"Sure, that sounds good." Diana said, taking a seat.
Adelaide continued, "I'm sorry to hear your trip was uncomfortable. Nadya has just informed me you did meet trouble. I'm sorry about that, although I haven't heard of this De Beers fellow you speak of. But we get ahead of ourselves."
"Hope you don't. He's a nasty son of a bitch, trust me." Diana said.
"My name is Adelaide. You must be Datenwulf? And I believe I heard Chalk name you as Diana yesterday? But I don't believe I know you two," she indicated Ed and Gisele.
"M-m-m-my n-n-n-name is Edddd." Ed stammered out forcibly. He blushed as he took a seat. His eyes made contact with the new woman and broke off in a second.
Gisele had been in a bad mood for a while, but not a trace of it showed on her face. She'd remained silent throughout most of the ride into Warsaw, ocassionaly shooting glances at Ti. The looks were tinged with roughly equal parts of resentment, envy, and anger. But like a calm professional, she didn't show it. At least, that's what she hoped.
Gisele glanced about the room casually, but it was more than that. She was scouting for anything out of the ordinary or suspicious. Frederick has assured her that this was on the level, but she still felt ill at ease.
She sat down gently with the others, and nodded at introductions.
"Gisele," she introduced herself simply, perhaps a little curtly. It was just another factor adding to the persona she was giving off. Folded arms, arched shoulders, unblinking eyes. Quiet strength and aggressiveness, but with a gentle smirk. Almost disarming, but not quite.
Ti was surprised that this woman would be reading the paper when she needed to be keeping a lookout for trouble, but he realized that cyberware could compensate for many things, including a closed eye. He naturally assumed that she had everything under control, but he still maintained a vigil, himself.
"How long have you been in the business?" He asked. "I know that you're new to this area, but have you worked for long?"
The driver raised an eyebrow as she looked up from her paper. She distractedly replied to Ti's queries.
"Well, as you know I've only been working in Warsaw for six months, but I had been doing okay the past few years in Vienna. Then tourist season took a hit with the big competition out of Norway and I realized that I could barely make ends meet anymore. So I moved on to hopefully more fertile territory, you know?"
She sounded like a pickpocket now. Ti had assumed she was a heavier mover than that, but obviously she must have advanced in the biz some. After all, he started out as a common thug... a legbreaker, and now look at him
"Yeah, Norway can surprise you. They don't have a reputation for being so cut throat, but when it comes to business you'd better watch your back, you know?"
He paused for reply as he fished a battered cigarette from his pocket and lit it.
She watched him light up for a moment. There was a look of longing there, but she didn't ask and her gaze fell back to her paper. She stared at it for a few moments and then looked back at Ti as he decided to continue.
Amazingly enough, Ti noticed her distress and offered her a smoke and light.
"Thanks, but as much as I'd really like a smoke right now, it's against company policy to smoke on the job. The smell might irritate clients."
"Policy, schmolicy." Quipped Ti. "WE'RE the clients, and I don't think it'll be a problem for either of us." He looked to the ever silent Slave. "At least she's not going to be saying anything to anyone."
"I've been trying to get in for a while. Was just about there, too, in the big time. Unfortunately, you know how fast things can happen... one wrong turn and there goes your career. All you can do is move on and hope your rep doesn't follow you."
"Well it's not as hard as you think. You have to get a license, of course, before anyone will hire you. The trick is to read the books backwards, answers first. Then when they test you, those answers will be right there in your head waiting for the questions.
License? Thought Ti. Must have been something in his rusty German translation. She couldn't have been talking about a gun license, right? Maybe it was just her way of saying 'beoming a made man', or getting in good with a big family. Making your bones, and all that. Surely that was it.
"Been working on that. Probably would have gotten it in Moscow, too, if we hadn't hit that warehouse. More and more it was the biggest mistake of my life."
"Like you said, though, can't give up. I figure no one's going to hire me up north after that, so I'm off to greener pastures myself."
"I know it's rough failing the first time. Shoot, I had to try three times before I got it right," she continued. "But don't give up. Don't back down, either. Just keep working at it. You don't want people to think you're a quitter, right?"
"Oh, yeah. They like persistance, don't they? They like you to be tough, solid. Don't worry, I got that covered. My name's Ti, by the way."
He nodded at her name. He thought that they were meeting an Addy or Nadya or something... maybe those were street names. Could be she was just being careful.
"And sometimes it only takes a small break to get back in the game. Like these guys." He hooked a thumb into the cafe. "Don't know what all they expect from me, but so far all I've done is drive them part way from some farm down south to here. After this? Who knows where we'll go."
As Ti finished his monologue, Kass furrowed her normally smooth brow and blinked at him with grey eyes. "Tough? Solid? Game? Look, I don't know exactly where you're coming from here. I thought you were talking about the kind of job I have. I'm a limousine driver. That's what I do. I don't have to be tough or solid, I just need to get people where they want to go and don't ask questions why."
Geez, what an odd fellow, Kass thought to herself. What on earth was he talking about? Was this his way of trying to hit on her? Oh boy, that would be all she needed. Fraternizing with the clients. Her boss has been known to fire people for less. Still, she hadn't had a date since coming to Warsaw. 'No, let's be honest,' she thought to herself. 'I haven't had a date in a year and this big lug is the first person I've actually had a conversation with in months.' She mentally sighed. 'Oh well, he'll probably drop me like yesterday's donut once he figures out I'm not whatever he thought I was.'
The cigarette dangled from Ti's mouth loosely as he absorbed the information.
"Seriously?" He turned to look inside the cafe where the group was meeting with Kass's 'partner'. "Then you're not... I mean... I thought you were our contact!"
"Geez!" Ti smacked himself in the forehead with one work hardened palm. "Victor... Victor... Victor..." He chanted.
From somewhere deep within the big man came a rumbling chuckle which grew into a solid, relieved laughter. In time it became an expression of true and contagious hilarity that released all of the built up tension of the last couple of days. Eyes streaming and knees going weak, the T-Man rolled in honest lucridity that could do nothing but break the sudden tension and draw those around him into a equally uncontrolled cackle.
"I'm sorry..." He said once the tears started to fade. "I think my brain leaked out of my ears sometime this morning." Which set him off once again.
Kass didn't see quite what was so funny. She shook her head, not wanting to know who this 'contact' of theirs was. It was beginning to sound like some kind of crime world thing and the less she knew about that, the better. Still, a thin-lipped smile dragged at the corners of her mouth as she watched the big man laugh.
"Well, maybe I will bum that smoke if you'll let me." The rail-thin woman folded the newpaper in half again and stuck it under one arm.
Ti happily offered her a smoke and lit it with one hand still shaking with mirth.
Not knowing what to say after that, he simply let his instincts guide him and do what came naturally.
"Hey, you want to get a drink later on? I don't know how long we'll be in town but we have reservations over at Überhaupt Mehr. I'm sure they have a nice restaurant."
Kass took a deep drag on the cigarette and looked steadily back at Ti as she let out the smoke. "Sure, why not? My shift is up at 8 pm. Is 9 okay?" She seemed to take the offer of a date as matter-of-factly as she had anything today. Yet inwardly, she was both nervous and elated that she wouldn't be spending yet another night alone at the library.
"Sure, that'd be fine." He told her. "Meet me in the bar and we'll grab a bite to eat."
Ti took another pull on his cigarrette as he relied on minor subjects to fill in the remaining time.
Adelaide answered Diana's reference to De Beers. "I'll take your word for it. Frankly, I'm hoping I don't see any SS for a while. At least, not SS that's after me especially." Diana was able to sense that Adelaide noticed the way Diana had looked at her for just a moment when Diana first came in. However, Adelaide didn't appear to be put off by it as often happened with many women.
Ed had struggled getting his name out around his stammering. Adelaide appeared sympathetic, but also curious. "Hello, Ed. Hey, relax. No one's going to bite you here." She smiled at him and gave him a secret wink hoping it would relax the fellow.
Frederick raised an eyebrow and made a comment. "Diana might. Given half a chance."
This close to her, the four team members were made aware of just how amazingly attractive this young lady was. She was likely the single most beautiful woman Ed had ever laid his young eyes on. Adelaide could quite probably rival the renowned beauty of Der Fuhrer, herself.
However, in spite of Addy's attempt to put Ed at ease, this very attraction worked to his disadvantage, agitating him all the more. When he looked away, pulse pounding and nerves firing, he still couldn't shake the image of her from his mind. It was almost all he could do to sit in that chair and keep from panicking and foolishly running out of the cafe.
Ed's mouth opened and closed a few times as he made several slight attempts to leave. His hands would be placed on the table and pressure would be applied as if to stand, but his body would not move. It was almost inhuman the way Ed would look around the group, the Cafe, then back to Adelaide. He hung to every word she said. Anything that was said by the other group members Ed heard, but would register later.
Adelaide dragged her eyes from the handsome Ed Kellinger in time to politely acknowledge Gisele's introduction. She was still wearing the smile she gave Ed as she nodded at Gisele's curt self-introduction.
From her perspective, it was perhaps a little easier to see what it was that Adelaide was fiddling with at her ear from time to time. Her eyes performed the zoom flawlessly until it seemed she was practically looking into Addy's ear. There it was easy for Gisele to see that Adelaide had a miniature earphone-mic. It was small enough that the casual observer wouldn't notice it. The curious thing was that for something that small to have any decent range at all, it would require a power source that, miniaturized like this would be either very expensive, very short-lived, or both.
"Now then, I understand you can fill in some of the gaps Chalk left behind."
"Yes. First off, you should understand that you were all working, indirectly, for the SS. That's probably changed now, of course. But it IS who Chalk was working for. He'd been working for the SS for a long time on a special project.
"Anyway, that's where his funding came from and that's who sent you after the terrorists. After all, who else would care that a bunch of bleeding hearts 'rescued' some third-rate cyborg slave? You don't have to take my word for it, though." Adelaide reach over the back of her chair and pulled her purse on to the table. From this, she pulled out a folded up set of papers. They were obviously pulled from a file or a printer somewhere, but it looked at least superficially official. They held the stylized swastica and watching eagles that the SS had adopted in recent years.
"This is what my contact found in the SS database on Chalk. It's not complete, but it tells enough. It seems he wasn't your average secret agent, either. This guy was some kind of cleaner. The SS would send him in to trouble spots, something they refer to as an A.I. presence. Since Chalk wasn't a hacker, I'm thinking A.I. does NOT stand for artificial intelligence in this case.
"These records also never indicate Chalk had ever worked other than alone and where ever he went there was a decent bodycount left behind. At first, I was certain that Chalk would use you and then kill you once the mission was over. Later, I wasn't so certain what he would do because it seemed like the SS was severing contact with him. In fact, they put Nadya and me on the case.
"Which brings me to why we left the SS. You don't need to understand exactly why, but just know that for people like Nadya and I, doing what we did was especially risky -- and especially tricky to pull off an escape. That's why Nadya isn't here right now. She's keeping an eye on things for us."
Addy paused as the server brought coffees and teas for everyone and left again.
"Anyway, we met this hacker, Asagiri via email on the Net. I don't know how he got in or how he found us, but he was able to leak some SS information about this mission. I believe he hoped that we couldn't be as bad as our owners. He gauged the risk and took it.
"TriTech was doing extensive research in new weapons for the Reich a while back until they pulled out of Muscovy. Apparently, they found something they felt was too valuable to just hand over to a single country. Something so valuable, the Germany itself would hesitate before taking open military action to seize it, lest someone else figure out what they had -- and triggered WWIII.
"Fearful of infiltration and theft of the technology before they could capitalize on it, TriTech moved all research off planet to a secret facility. There they've been perfecting the techniques. "
Addy swallowed and took a sip of coffee.
Leaning forward, as if afraid to say it too loud, Adelaide whispered, "TriTech has found a way to brain tape known, powerful psychics to an implant. In this case, it is recording of the psychic's subconcious as he performs various psychic tasks. Supposedly, they can then take this implant and put it in any average person -- creating a psychic out of anyone! When the implant is triggered, it forces the recorded psychic's pattern over the mind of the new host in order to get a desired effect.
"The government or corporation that can acquire this technology will then be capable of producing an army of controlled psychic soldiers. These guys could potentially stop bullets, toss tanks, kill with a look. This technology is the equivalent of the atomic bomb all over again. If Germany gets a corner on this market, I promise you Der Fuhrer will make her move for total global domination -- and kill billions in the process. Asagiri foresees a psychic war shortly followed by a nuclear holocaust. Only those nations with psychic soldiers will have some chance of saving a portion of their population.
Ed's face went wide and white. This was almost exactly how he was created. His body was geneticly created, not altered. He wondered if his 'birth' was the predicessor of this. If so, he had to do something. He had some problems that was hard to deal with. He could only imagine what two personalities would do in the same brain. He remembered watching one of his 'brothers' melt into a puddle when he lost control of his abilities.
"And you know Der Fuhrer will already have that portion picked out.
"That's why we can't allow this technology to exist. We can't let ANY government or corporation use it. Asagiri says the world isn't ready yet. We need time to learn to deal with these powers, else the first target we'll find is to use it on each other.
"That's why Nadya and I left. And that's why we want to help."
In an almost zombie like trance Ed said "We have to stop this." Again no stutter, stammer, or other impediament.
As she finished telling her tail and let it sink in a little, Addy sat back and did a little thinking of her own.
She looked from one to the other of the four team members, her eyes finally coming to a rest on Ed. She couldn't help but wonder if such a decent looking and handsome guy was already involved with someone. Her gaze settled on his hands for a moment and she noticed there was no ring.
But the white knuckles and tips of the fingers betrayed that the man was definitely feeling some kind of pressure. She hoped it wasn't her. She had that effect on people sometimes, but not usually this bad. She guessed maybe he was simply nervous around infiltration experts (otherwise known as assassins). Once bitten, twice shy, maybe? Still, he was pretty easy on the eyes...
Frederick sat looking at Addy for a moment, as if contemplating his next chess move.
"Knight takes queen's pawn. That's what Asagiri said. Now I understand what he meant. I already suspected Chalk worked for the SS. But he no longer trusted them. That's why he had me nab his funding. But he was just a pawn anyway. "
"What's the Abwehr's connection to TriTech? Did they fund this opeation?"
Addy relieved Ed a little by turning her attention back to Datenwulf.
"That sounds like something Asagiri would say. He likes to be cryptic. As for the Abwehr? I don't think it's anything beyond the usual. The SS knows about this stuff, and even if the Abwehr doesn't know exactly what this is all about, they'll be wary of the SS getting some edge on them. The SS has been working a long time to prove to the Fuhrer that the Abwehr was not longer useful as an entity separate from the SS.
"I'd wager the Abwehr has their own plots to worry about. But they're apparently a little better at keeping secrets."
Having taken note of Ed's lack of a stutter, Datenwulf looked at him. Noticing the white knuckles and rembering Ed's initial reaction to Gisele, the hacker put two and two together.
"It's OK, Ed. She's not going to judge you harshly. Tell, me Ed, you think this project has any connection to the one that created you?"
Frederick was grasping at staws, but sometimes you had to, if you wanted the extra information to make the connections.
"I d-d-d-don't kn-n-n-now." Ed breathed in slowly. "B-b-b-but w-w-w-we n-n-n-n-need t-t-t-to find out. I, and m-m-m-my b-b-b-brothers, had a hard t-t-t-time ad-ad-ad-adjusting t-t-t-to 'Civilian' l-l-l-life. N-n-n-no t-t-t-telling w-w-w-what w-w-w-will happen t-t-t-to th-th-th-these once-a-p-p-p-persons."
Addy looked surprised and looked from Datenwulf to Ed and back again. "Ed, are you genetically enhanced? Does this have anything to do with a psychic soldier program?"
"I am n-n-n-not g-g-g-genetically enhanced. I ammmmm g-g-g-genetically cr-cr-cr-created. L-l-l-look." Ed slid a little closer to the stunningly attractive new woman. He raised his shirt and revealed a smoothe stomach. Litteraly smoothe. No naval at all.
"I was c-c-c-created b-b-b-by th-th-th-the g-g-g-governm-m-m-ment, b-b-b-but w-w-w-with th-th-th-the help of an external c-c-c-company, I w-w-w-was 'f-f-f-freed'."
Adelaide looked and at first didn't notice anything. Then she leaned closer and made as if to reach out, but then stopped herself. She had noticed the lack of a belly button.
"Are you saying you are a psychic?"
Ed nodded slightly. "A c-c-c-created one. I w-w-w-was n-n-n-not c-c-c-conceived like other h-h-h-humans."
Slave stood next to Ti. The borg did not blend, but if people stared, Slave didn't seem to notice. Again, she was seemingly inanimate as a stone. The unit scanned the crowds with passive radar, alert for an attack. Slave had no concept of normalcy, but nothing approached with undo speed, nothing that would trigger a fear/fight/flee response.
Slave did note one thing of minor interest.
"//Identified: subject: Nadya//"
"//Subject carrying object [query: paper bag: end query]//"
"//Subject has locked onto this unit: recognition 96.53%//"
Slave cocked her head at Nadya like a bird, curious...
Ti, concentrating on conversation with his date for the coming evening, didn't notice Slave's "staring" at Nadya. Unfortunately, neither did Kass.
Frederick's response was calm. "I wouldn't call him /enhanced/."
His failure to elaborate could not have gone unnoticed. "What's in the paper bag Nadya is carrying?"
Frederick received Slave's transmission from outside and responded. //Slave, continue observation of subject Nadya. Allegiance is uncertain, but subject is not neutral.// Frederick didn't use subvocals to transmit to Slave, such would possibly be noticed by Addy. Instead, he had generated the message from his skullcomp.
Nadya looked back at Slave for a moment longer and then proceeded in to the cafe.
Around the same time inside the cafe, Addy cocks her head and looks away for a moment. Then she asks, "Do you guys have a cyborg modified for work in a vacuum with you? Nadya says that if she's with you, it's really obvious out there. It could attract unwanted attention."
Nadya approached the table and nodded curtly at Diana, Frederick, Ed and Gisele. Her eye lingered for a moment on Diana, reflecting memory or interest. One could say they were very close yesterday. Hopefully this afternoon would prove less... energetic.
Diana returned her look. There certainly could be sparks between the two. She tried to occupy her mind with something else, anything else. She didn't need her body to "go active" just yet. That would happen soon enough.
However, her eyes wandered back to Nadya, during the conversation, and Diana couldn't help thinking about what might happen.
As she took a drink from her cup, she threw Nadya a flirtatious look, that lingered for several long seconds, before disappearing. She looked away for a long minute, concentrating on anything other then her.
Once she had "regained some control" she returned to the conversation that was going on.
The short-haired blonde hefted a paper sack and placed it on the table. "I believe this belonged to Chalk. You may vish to haf vhat it contains," she said cryptically, her Russian accent thick on her tongue.
Addy looked at Nadya as bewildered as the rest of the team.
"She hangs around us, but doesn't answer to us. She answered only to Chalk, but since he's gone, she pretty much does as she pleases. I'll ask her to wait in the limo."
Without moving, Frederick sent the request to the Cyborg. But since the limo was not parked nearby, Slave entered the bar and crossed to Frederick's side.
"Hey, where are you going?" Ti asked Slave in confusion. When the 'borg did not reply, he looked at Kass and then into the cafe where he saw the newcomer with the bag.
"Excuse me." He muttered back to Kass and then entered the resteraunt. Kass walked down the street after the limo.
"What's up?" He tossed to the group upon reaching their table.
Frederick tipped the bag slightly so he could see the contents.
There appeared to be something in there wrapped in white paper, like a meat locker would wrap fresh hamburger.
Frederick frowned at the contents.
Quietly regarding the entrance of Nadya, Frederick's bodyguard was in awe of the 'tale' Addy had just told them. Not only the scale of the information, but that Frederick had swallowed it so readily. It sounded plausible. Hell, if even sounded like something the SS would be doing. There were always conspiracy theories circulating about hidden test labs and classified documents, and while there may have been a shred of truth, these kinds of allegations were largely seen as daydreams for the paranoid.
Gisele had never been in trouble with the government before, or even the police for that matter. Her criminal record was pretty clean, so she had no inkling of what kind of people the SS really were. Just the fabulous stories told in movies.
And yet, here they were, obviously trying to get her and the others because of some secret project, threatened by exposure. It all just reeked of some spy movie. A cliched, bad spy movie.
She glanced silently at Ed during and after the discussion, noting his reaction to the story. He was going with it, too.. then just maybe. But what would that mean? What if it all were true?
Then Gisele was in way over her head. A poor little lost girl who a special skeleton would make her a bad motherfucker, who gets showed up by Ti, and on top of that, hunted by the a vengeful government division, the SS, the grand daddy of all bad motherfuckerdom.
If she could cry, she knew that later on that night she would have.
But there was no way out.
She didn't even pay attention to the paper-wrapped package. It was just another item adding unecessary complications to the problem, and it could wait. "What..." she started to say, but her voice gave out. She began again. "So what do we do now? What *can* we do?"
Addy looked up at Nadya who nodded in affirmation.
"Let's work together. Nadya and I can help, but this is too big for us to handle on our own. You were already put on the case, and it might just be a bit much for your team, too. I think we have a fighting chance if we work together."
Nadya put in her own thoughts. "I think that ve should relax tonight. Time to stretch. Tomorrow, and for long time after, ve vork hard. Very hard, da?"
Nadya looked curiously and with some interest at Diana. Pages of ideas flowed behind her sparkling blue eyes as she considered the situation. But that was for later. Right now, it was time for business.
"You fight well, Diana. But I can teach you things they dared not give you. I vill teach any who are capable to fight better. I'm am pilot, too. Certified, level three."
Adelaide chimed in as well, "And I'm an infiltration specialist. I can work with any of your infiltration people to broaden the team's capabilities. Also, if we should need to split up and attack a problem from two fronts, you'll be able to do that now without seriously undermining your team's overall capabilities. What do you say?"
"Okay, you talked me into it. I vote them in." diana said, never taking her eyes from Nadya for a second. In the back of her mind, though, she was thinking of other things, and the mischivious smile that played across her lips, for a few lingering seconds, only added to the sparks between them.
Frederick picked up the paper bag with the index and middle fingers of his right hand and handed it to Ti. It was a casual gesture as if there was nothing wrong with the package.
"Hang on to this, will you?"
He then turned back to Addy. "I don't trust you any more than I trusted Chalk. But I've had dealings with the SS before, and I trust them even less. We can work together, but we're not destroying the data until we can verify what it is. We grab it, take it to a safe place, & look it over. Only then should we decided what to do with it. Now then, back to the hotel. I have things I need to do."
Noticing the cyborg for the first time, Frederick smiles slightly. //I see you are learning to adapt to uncertain cercumstances. That is good. Come, let us go.//
Frederick moved to leave expecting the others to follow.
"What's this?" Ti asked, looking into the bag.
When Ti ignored Frederick's instructions and kept unwrapping, Frederick responded with anger.
"I said hold it! If you want to get paid, you don't unwrap that here! It is not yours, and will not be yours! If you don't want to hang on to it for me, just say so! But if you ever defy my instruction again, you will be fired!"
Fired? "Hey, genius, don't know if you noticed yet but you haven't actually paid me ANYTHING so far, so either hire me or carry your own damn lunch."
Ti then tossed the damp bag to the hacker.
Frederick decided that Ti was dangerous to be around. Here he was asked if he would hold onto a bag, then he insisted on unwrapping the contents. That showed that he had no regard for the people around him. It'd be better to give him some money now and send him packing than to keep him around. He'd have to talk to the others about this.
Ed did a double take. First towards the kid leaving, then towards the attractive woman called Addy. With a confused look on his face, he got up and went with Frederick, all the while looking at Addy.
"It appears you are all here," said Addy. "Then I'll assume we have a deal. And I think Nadya has a good suggestion. We're in for a tough mission, so why not take some time to relax tonight? If you like we could retire to whatever hotel you've picked out. Then maybe later we could hit a bar for R&R?"
The rest of the afternoon quickly passed into evening. Adelaide and Nadya traveled back with the team to the hotel and arranged to get another room for themselves.
There was definitely both electricity and tension in the air between many of the team members, both new and old. Most notably was Diana's discomfort, however. While it was barely under control before, it got that much more obvious now as Nadya was the first to begin to return the attentions. The limo soon came to feel far too small for the rest of them, and even the normally cool Adelaide started to seem a bit irritated by Nadya and Diana's flirtations. However, she kept quiet most of the way.
During the ride to the hotel, Ti just watched the antics of the group with amusement. He already had one date lined up for tonight and even if that fell through he could probably pick someone up at a club, or just come back and join whatever Diana had started. Looked like it was going to be a fun evening.
Seated next to her was Ed, still desperately seeking a way out and almost comically uncomfortably being this close. Still the only other option would be for Ed to sit opposite Addy and then he'd be forced to stare right at the raven-haired beauty. At least sitting next to her, he was able to avert his gaze without seeming rude.
Frederick and Gisele tried to ignore Nadya and Diana with varying degrees of success while observing Ed squirming in his skin. Yes, there appeared to be a number of tensions that needed to be worked out before the mission could proceed successfully.
Finally, the limo dropped everyone off at the hotel and people were able to retreat to their rooms to make ready for the evening. Nadya ran down to a street-corner store to pick up 'necessities' while her partner freshened up a bit. Everyone else also had an hour or two to pick up fresh clothes, shower, etc.
Ti skipped room service since he was going to be eating with Kass later on. He picked up some new clothes from the hotel service center... probably something loose fitting and cool. Also it should show off his arms and chest well, be fashionable and eye catching.
He spent some time showering and prepping himself before going down to the bar. He'll take his gun, of course, and the gloves. He won't worry about checking the revolver at the door unless they normally check for licences at the same time. He's used to things like that and knows that objecting is more trouble than it's worth.
Before leaving, though, he got the name of the club the group would be at so that he could find them later if Kass felt like dancing after dinner. He'll be waiting at the hotel bar for her, drinking a beer and relaxing when she shows up.
Dinner is still being served at 8pm in the hotel when the the group gathers.
Soon, however, everyone is ready to go out. Nadya suggests a club called 'The Nightingale'.
Frederick came out of his room wearing a designer Armorweave outfit in blacks and grey. This seemed to be a theme pattern for him. He still carried the backpack, but it's content had been rearanged so that it didn't look quite so full. His rose colored glasses didn't look like they offered much protection from the light, but he should need them at night anyway. The jacket seem to be a bit bulky for him, but he still looked comfortable
Ed showered as soon as he got to his room. A quick change of clothes and he was ready. Ed then took a few moments to contemplate what happened to him in the past few days. He has somehow managed to gain the ability to heal himself. This was strange. He could feel that his control and power were increasing. With this new knowledge wandering around in his head, he thought of what might have to happen. He would have to kill others that are like him. People that did not ask for what happened to him. Killing normaly did not bother him. It was killing those that had no idea why.
His last thoughts were of the two new women. One was constantly in his mind. This was not acceptable.
Ed finished his routine before the time to gather for dinner had arrived. Ed made sure his staff was secure in one of his cargo pocket as he went out the door for dinner.
Diana took a rather extra long shower. There were things on her mind, and then there were things on her mind.
She couldn't help think of how Nadya and her had been seriously flirting with each other. That thought drover her body to a point, that she had to "satisfy" it.
This she did a couple of times, adding some 20 minutes to her shower. When she was done she got dressed in one of her hottest dresses. She made sure she looked sexy for Nadya.
The woman was on her mind the whole time. In fact, Diana liked that idea. Not that Nadya could really satisfy her, but, she shtrugged, who knows. She figured she was "enhanced" through genetics, so maybe she could, as well. In any case, tonight was absolutely going to be very interesting.
When she was dressed, she went downstairs to the bar. As she entered it, she could feel the eyes of nearly every male in the place on her, and she liked it.
In fact, there seemed to be something of a strut to her walk. Like she was showing off, but not overtly. She saught out Nadya, and sat down beside her. "I got your note, and am absolutely looking forward to whatever you have planned." Diana whispered into her ear, followed by a very flirtatious smile.
Nadya smiled wickedly. "I think the Nightingale Club will be an interesting prelude for us," she whispered back.
Addy observed the exchange but couldn't hear what Diana and Nadya were saying. She could only assume it was trouble, so she hoped she could stay safely out of the way as long as possible.
Gisele showered, though in the strictest sense she didn't really need to as much as the others. She didn't sweat, so there was little body odor to wash off. Just the faint smells of dirt and gunpowder.
Exiting the hotel shower, she was startled by a figure in the fogged up mirror. She recoiled for a split second before realizing it was her own reflection. Her own face. Sort of. As remarkably adaptive as human beings are, they become accustomed to seeing a certain face in the mirror every time.
The face Gisele saw in the hazy bathroom mirror was a stranger. Yet she knew that she was looking at herself. It has been so long, several years at least, since she'd had her own face. A job perk, they'd said.. free makeovers. It had sounded clever like a joke at the time, or a very interesting prospect. Now she had to keep a photo on her bedside table as a reminder of what her face really looked like. Or did, at any rate. Gisele had always said she'd get her real face back when she retired. If only she could remember what it looked like..
As far as the bodyguard business went, it was invaluable. Even the cheapest skin doctor could make a face if he didn't have to work around bone, sinew, and tissue rejection. Just metal, wiring, and plastics underneath. In a matter of days, she could look like a completely different person. No swelling, no healing. No muss, no fuss. A living dress-up doll.
It all suddenly made her very angry. Balling a fist and gritting her ceramic teeth, Gisele almost hit the mirror for daring to reflect the truth. It would have been so satisfying... But then it all drained away. A simple shake of her head later, she was toweling herself dry and getting dressed for the evening.
Frederick did his best to get everyone together for supper. After ordering, and getting a bottle of wine, he started the discussion.
"Here what I have in mind for the funds. I have access to all the money originally budgeted for this operation. When the operation is done we can split whats left. We're talking close to 100,000 marks each. Depending on how much we spend in the mean time, and who qualifies for a share. Anyone not interested in the profit sharing concept can speak up now. That person will get a fixed 50,000, regardless of what's left. Anyone not interested in continuing the mission can take 25,000 now, and leave."
He sniffed at his wine and took small sips.
Ti's head spun when he heard the figures being tossed. The 20k he'd nearly lost his life over seemed paltry compared to the funds to be had. He wondered why Gisele had made such a big deal over it at the time.
The natural greed of a career criminal crept into his mind and he found himself loosing the thought he'd had about slipping away from the group in the middle of the night. Monsters or no monsters, he wanted that cash and equal pay for shared risk seemed fine to him.
Two warning lights lit, though.
"How much can we spend before we eat into that 100,000 mark?" He aksed. "How much did we start with and how careful do we need to be with the budget?"
"Also, who 'qualifies' for shares? I'd like to think that if I put my thick neck on the line I'll be treated fairly, with respect and get an equal share of the profit."
Frederick had to think carefully about how to answer Ti's questions. Looked like the walking pry-bar might be able to focus his thoughts after all.
"I think anyone but Slave would /qualify/ for a share. Though anyone getting thrown out of the group before completion of the mission would not qualify, and of course, anybody killed. And advance will be given to each person, you may use the advance any way you want. I recommend the advance be no more than 1,000 Marks. The rest of the money will be spent only on items needed for the mission."
"As for how much we can spend before eating into the 100,000, I'll just say a /minimal/ amount. We can't go overboard. When we get to the target zone, we may be able to find some income sources as secondary targets. There is also the possibility that Our information about what the target is in wrong. It may turn out to be something we can sell. That's why I wan't to get it out and examine it before deciding what to do with it."
Addy looked at Slave for a moment and then back at Frederick. "But why doesn't the cyborg qualify?"
Ti Hadn't thought about the comment regarding Slave, but now that it was brought up he felt Addy had a valid point.
"If she risks her life alongside us, shouldn't she get a share?"
It didn't really sound like he was terribly concerned with the fate of Slave, but he did think it was a consideration. "And the only thing I'd like to see changed," He said in his thick, Muscovite accent, "Is if I die, send my share to my mother, Da?"
Slave kept to Frederick's side throughout the evening thus far. Transmitting: "//Share:currency:irrelevant. Subject designate: Frederick: 'slavery
degrades both slave and master. Repair this unit.//"
Gisele spoke up, somewhat matter-of-factly.
"It's not a person. It's a thing. It was a dirty Jew, and now it's something better. Something useful. So we'll use it." The venom in her words was undeniable, almost tangible.
She then turned to Frederick, deftly switching gears without so much as a pause and said coolly, "You know I'm in."
As used to this attitude amongst the Germans as Ti was becoming, it still bothered him every time he'd encountered it. Discarding a person's entire worth simply because of their heritage was disgusting, in his opinion. The Mob was filled with such sentiments, though, so he learned to ignore for professional reasons.
Still, it did not put the little cyborg into a good light as far as he was concerned. After all, did she feel the same way about him simply because he was 1/4 Hispanic? Most like, and probably the rest of them did as well.
His gaze swept the group, looking for reactions, and most likely he didn't notice any objection to Gisele's statement so he didn't offer any of his own either. He did, however, give the brushed chrome woman a sympathetic look.
Adelaide looked disturbed at the comment but held her tongue for now. In fact, she didn't even know her own heritage. She had always assumed some kind of northern European, but what if that wasn't true? Would she be next on the receiving end of such remarks?
Not that it would be any different from the treatment she received at the hands of the Company surgeons and officers. However, she had hoped things would be different once she escaped.
Adelaide, too, looked to see if everyone felt the same way. And she made some judgements of her own...
"Gisele, whatever the cyborg is," Adelaide advised, "it would be wiser to show respect to someone you expect to be watching your back, lest you find her welding torch carving new designs into your hull in the middle of the next engagement, if you catch my drift." She gave a half-smile to lighten the well-meant criticism.
For her part, Nadya didn't give half a rat's ass who discriminated against who. After all, a simple genetic test would prove beyond doubt that she was the most racially pure of them all, putting everyone else certainly on a lower genetic rung. Not that she cared anyway. The whole thing was rather stupid in her view. She rolled her eyes at Gisele's comment.
Rather then commenting, Ti simply smiled at Addy's statement. No doubt the Slave unit's programming would make such things impossible but it was still a valid sentiment. He didn't think it was a very bright thing to say, though, and such discussions didn't make for good business any case.
Instead he simply rumbled off a very Russian saying in his native language regarding fools, politicians and idealists. He was, or so he considered himself, first and foremost a businessman who didn't let his opinions get in the way.
Things rarely worked out that way, but he still tried.
Right at 9pm and just in time to for her date with Ti, Kass showed up. She was dressed neatly in an innocent medium-length skirt and an off-white blouse with a cut bow. Quite a different from earlier today.
Ti could see that the suit she wore earlier didn't have much to hide in terms of breast size, which was as small as she was thin. Still, unless that was important to Ti, Kass managed to come across as reasonably well-suited and clothed for a typical date.
At times it got to the point where looks didn't even matter anymore. He doubted that no matter what she looked like outside of her uniform she'd even come close to matching the three women he was already hanging around with. Besides, it took all kinds to make up the world and he didn't always have to go for the huge rack. The waif look was still in as far as he was concerned, but it didn't really matter.
Ti offered her a pre-dinner drink and introduced her to the bartender whom he'd been talking with... apparently a distant cousin of Der Fuhrer if the man was to be believed.
He entertained her for a few minutes before heading for the reservation he'd made at the hotel resteraunt. Not being used to that fancy of a place he needed a little help with the menu but did his best to come off as cute rather than uncultured. The way he pronounced Brie made her giggle as did, no doubt, the expression on his face when he tasted the sharp, soft cheese.
"Breee!" He uttered, pursing his lips. "I can see how they came up with the name."