The Blare of an alarm clock jarred scott awake. He slowly looked at the time, he was going to be late. Programming Ethics, wasn’t exactly his favorite subject, but he had to at least seem like he was taking school as anything but a joke. He skulked into the classroom and was greeted by the momentary pause of the professor along with the gaze of the students, starved for anything to liven up the dry monotone lecture. He rummaged his bag for his data pad and pulled up a random page to at least look like he was doing something. Thankfully, his teacher was enough of a bleeding heart about other peoples “right to privacy, even in this age of information”, that he never checked on the student’s programs. He spent his time surfing the matrix for any interesting buzz. It seems that lately the topic of choice has been Chicago and talk of reclaiming it. “I really don’t know why anyone would be interested in the scorched earth that was old Chicago, but then again I still don’t understand why people do most things.” After a few hours of drek, he was finally free from his scholastic prison. He made his way home for an hour or two, then it was off to the pub to see what was “on tap” for today.
As he walked into the “Old Shillelagh” he was greeted by the usual sights, sounds and smells. The rustic decor along with the “tacked on” vid screens made for an odd merging of old and new. The smell of the alcohol and fried food was present but not overpowering and the B list local band assaulted his ears with their “unique” version of a popular rock classic. The bar had a few patrons scattered about, some at tables ordering food or settling in at the bar for their dive into a long line of strong drinks. Scott sat next to RedCap, a partner from his last run. After exchanging some nearly awkward small talk, RedCap reached for his commlink. After a moment, he turned to Scott and asked “Know anything about a Dr. Henry Schumacher?” Scott peered deep into his glasses, a quick search turned up a wiki entry, he forwarded what he turned up to RedCap all in a matter of seconds. After a moment RedCap smirked and asked “Want a job? It’ll pay ya 3,000.” Scott just smiled and said, “Well, I’ve got nothing better to do.”
The dreams last night were somewhere in the middle; enough to sleep through but too intense to shake. Something about my own blood bubbling out of a stomach wound and up through my fingers that I personally find disconcerting. Suppose I’m strange in that way. Of course none of it was quite mine – it’ll be a bad day if it ever is – but it was mine enough, and the screams were high and panicked.
The rest of the morning could’ve gone by the same description – no calls or visitors, but the soycaf was hot and the shower was, too. Sometimes that’s all a man needs, but not usually. Today it took my dog-eared copy of a Dylan Thomas collection, which immediately backfired when I came upon the half-remembered A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London. Light-hearted fare, that, and probably a bit too close for comfort.
So I went downstairs.
After a bit – God bless the land without clocks – the decker kid from the impound lot job walked in. Colour me embarrassed but I’d forgotten his handle as he walked over. I closed my eyes and saw the confirmation message from the run, plucked it from the air like a floating leaf on the breeze.
Link nodded at my greeting. We exchanged half-heard commentary on the value of Sticky Footprints as they bounced through their set, and I was vaguely offended on behalf of Vince and the boys until I remembered young Link probably hadn’t grown up around much good music. He was highborn to be sure, and while I’m the last person allowed to call it a day on that alone, it bore further attention.
As soon as we found a booth my comm chimed in with the dick job on this Schumaker bloke. What with him sitting right there, and my natural delegation skills, I enlisted Link’s help and put him on retainer.
Should be milk money, but I put in a call to Zephyr just in case.
Awakened at 7 AM sharp by an internal alarm, Jack sat up on his cheap cot, which creaked loudly under his cybernetically enhanced bulk. It was still dark, but his optical systems let him see perfectly; quite a mixed blessing, since it let him dwell on the tight, shabby confines of his Highland Park apartment. Grimacing, he decided to distract himself by dropping to the floor and beginning his morning exercise routine: chop shops could give you enhanced muscles but it was up to you to maintain them. A shower and some nutrisoy later, Jack felt good enough to head out. He reminded himself for the millionth time to buy an armored vest as he dressed. Back in Los Angeles, he got to choose to put himself in danger, so the old chameleon suit was enough. Here in Detroit, not so much. He shook his head, trying to not think too much about the life he left behind. Best to try and keep busy. He examined his gear, taking his trusty Ares Predator in a shoulder holster, and his Streetline Special and combat knife in concealed ankle sheathes. He looked over the rest, though there wasn’t much point. It was still in good condition, and hadn’t seen any use since the impound job he’d done a month ago. Still, it gave his peace of mind to make sure everything was in working order, and it gave him something to do. Going over the latest reports on his commlink as he worked, nothing much of interest seemed to be happening in Detroit proper, though there were reports of the reclamation happening in Chicago. He had given the area a wide berth when passing by it on his cross-country exodus, but if things went sour here, it might be a good place for a man of his skills to find work. As a last resort, he thought, not cherishing the thought of running afoul of any bugs. Finishing checking his gear, he stowed it and hid it as best he could, then left, securing the frankly ridiculous amount of locks on his door as he went.
Driving through the city, he hit up a few haunts looking for work. He tried to work as far away from where he lived as possible; even though it didn’t provide much security in today’s wireless world as it could, it was an old habit of his to try and distance his work life and home life as much as he could. Not that there was much of a work life currently. Finding zero leads, Jack decided to grab some lunch. Splurging for some natural food, he grabbed an extra sandwich and decided to drop in on Boris. Guy never did make enough time for himself to eat.
He dropped it just in the nick of time; Boris had finished with a patient and had just finished scrubbing down when Jack walked into his office, tossing the extra sandwich on his desk. “Boris. How’s business?”
“Ah, Ac—wait, it’s Zephyr now, isn’t it?” Boris grinned, picking up the sandwich and unwrapping it as he nodded his thanks. “Business is good, at least where money’s concerned. More trauma cases than cybernetics appointments these days, though. Hard to plan your day around those.”
Jack nodded. “Must be hard on the family.”
Boris shrugged, and took another bite. “They get by. If you care about them, they know it, even if you’re not always around, you know?”
“Heh.” Jack sipped his drink, knowing Boris was probably speaking more for his benefit than anything else. “I know it. Those limbs we got you working out alright?”
“Splendidly. Couldn’t ask for a better supply.” Boris shifted in his seat. “Speaking of which, how’s business on your end? Still running with those two… what was it, Dee and Redcap?”
“Link.” Jack corrected. “We check in from time to time, but things are tough. Ares runs a pretty tight ship.”
“Right, right. Strange thing about running, isn’t it. You go and trust someone with your life, but you can’t even trust them with your name.”
“It’s a strange world, alright.”
Jack and Boris talked for a few more minutes before the “good doctor” was paged. They shook hands, and Jack was on his way.
It was just after dinner time, and Jack was deciding whether to call it for the night when his commlink pinged. A call from Redcap. Maybe it was going to be a good day after all.