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Book sighs. Snake's hissing can be heard in the shadows of his mind, somewhere just outside of his peripheral vision. More secrets to uncover.
Book watches as Bolo walks through the door. After she asks the question, he smiles, stifling the desire to laugh at the question. "But of course." He pauses considering the naivety of the moment. "Is there anything we should know?"
Bolo smiles a truly feminine smile. "My client has needs that are a bit unusual given his current position. I can help him meet those needs. I get some cash and he gets what he needs. Everyone wins. Just melt into the background and life is good."


A short time later a black towncar pulls past the shop and a rather plain woman gets out. She comes inside and finds Bolo before speaking. She whispers in Bolo's ear, "H .... cu .... or .... ards?"
Tank slips back and lets his consciousness melt into the matrix. He watches the town car approach using the cruiser's sensors, then jumps into the doberman when the woman enters the shop.

Book sits behind the counter, not quite sure what to make of Bolo's reply. He sits, amusing himself with one of Bolo's books to pass the time. When the woman whispers, he keeps his senses attuned to the surroundings while listening.

Both maintain their professional composure in the situation, assuming that at anytime the whole situation could devolve into a chaos of shit and bullets.
Bolo nods and the woman relaxes. She wanders over in a very business-like fashion. "I'll assume that you are well versed in security and discretion. Bolo seems to know here people fairly well. Stay on your toes and I'll keep things moving. He'll be done in about two hours."

She no sooner finishes her statement than a man walks in. He is dressed in a business suit but his walk has an extra swagger that indicates he isn't normally in this garb.

He is soon followed by a bevy of people who better fit Bolo's image than his own. Each files into the private meeting room behind a curtain Bolo has pulled into place.
As the woman speaks, Book silently listens, half focused on her and half on the surroundings. If Tank has taught me anything, it is 'Be aware of your surroundings'

Tank records the various persons entering the shop. Book always asks for video. God only knows what he does with that video collection.

Book shifts his gaze to the astral as the various people file in. He knows without looking that there will be awakened among them, but they are expecting it and he has to play his role.
As he surveys the astral Book is able to see that with the exception of the "secretary" and the guy in the suit all the guests have some degree of Talent.

Once the rest of the file guests file into the area, Bolo steps out with a smile on her face and locks the door after hanging up a "Closed" sign. She gives Book a quick thumbs up and adds, "I'd invite you in but you are security for the day." She smiles and heads back into the room.


System pipes up. Uhh, guys. You aren't going to believe this. I traced the thugs out to get Bolo back to a sergeant working for the Star. What do you make of that?
Book nods to Bolo, then momentarily focuses his attention on System's news. A little smile crosses his face as he finally sees an out on this job. His smile goes away as his paranoia kicks back in.

<<@Tank [Book] Keep an eye out on the area. This meet is heavy in magic, so any assault will probably be heavy on the physical side.>>

<<@System [Book] What is the relationship between this sergeant and the leader of the task force that took down the officers?>>
<<@Book [System] Far as I can tell, they're in the same unit. Is that relevant somehow? If so, I'm missing it.>>

As Tank scans back and forth among video feeds, he notices an elf slinking along the street sticking to shadows and holding up a paper now and then in a vain attempt to blend in.
Tank marks the elf in AR.

<<@System [Tank] Can you eaves drop on this guy? Is he a cop or someone who needs to disappear?>>

<<@System [Book] Same unit huh? I find it hard to believe that they didn't know about each other's interactions then. Either the one who led the raid was trying to get back at his teammate or trying to indirectly oppose his corrupt teammate. So I guess the question is: Is the officer who led the raid corrupt?>>

<<@Team [System] OK, Tank, I'll see if I can get a fix on his comm and will keep you posted. Book, I'll look into it.>>


Tank notices the elf making motions with his hands like old flat-vid directors framing a scene.

<<@Tank [System] The elf is snapping pictures with some new matrix program and it looks like he has a press pass, PI license and might be paparazzi. Any of our guests celebrities?>>
Book relays the news to Bolo.
<<@Bolo [Book] Seems your guests have attracted a fan club. There is a reporting skulking around outside. I assume they would like to slip out a little more anonymously?>>

<<@Team [Book] For now, we assume the credentials are legit. Any weapons on him?>>

Tank zooms in on the elf, looking for concealed weapons, then returns to a perimeter search using his plethora of video sources.

Bolo doesn't answer immediately.

<<@Team [System] Not that I can tell from the 'trix-side.>>

Tank doesn't see anything on the elf. He looks relaxed like he has done this before. Over his shoulder, Tank notices another woman, ork this time, who is armed. She has a more traditional camera and is shooting some pics of the shop.
Tank AR tags the ork woman as well.
<<@Team [Tank] Looks like its party time.>>

Book pulls up the video of the reporters from a few days ago to see if either of these two match up.
<<@Team [Book] Perhaps my paranoia is just asking up, but reporters seem to really like this neighborhood.>>
Neither of the two that have been tagged appear in the footage from the other day. However the third reporter on the scene - a human male - was here the other day and he is coming in with a full camera crew.
Tank highlights the video feed in AR.
<<@Team [Tank] Something is going down.>>

Book stays calm, but proceeds to the door of the office and gently knocks. Time to at least determine the visibility level...
After a few moments a harried looking Bolo comes to the door in a state of semi-dress. "What's wrong?" she hisses through clenched teeth.

At the same time, Tank notes another group with cameras.

<<@Team [System] Hey! I recognize that guy. He's from one of the scandal scream sheets.>>
<<@Team [Book] Something is about to go down and we are in the wrong place. Perhaps we should evac the doberman.>>

Book ignores the attitude and opens an AR window to Bolo of the outside video feed.
"You seem to have a pest control problem. Something is about to happen. Is there any reason your guests should not be here when it does?"

Tank grumbles to himself about having even gotten tangled up with this woman and her problems. And now my dobie is tangled up in her mess. Tank starts a scan of the rear of the shop. Getting a line on the exits, windows as well as doors, looking for people and surveillance.

<<@System [Tank] Time to think about our exit strategy.>>
One look at the video feeds nearly sends her into a panic. "He can't be here. At least not on camera. What do I do? What do we do?"

Another van comes careening around the corner with an obvious matrix set up bristling from the roof.
Book nods. "I can get him out the back unseen, assuming we go now and he has nothing that will inhibit my magic."

In the meantime, Tank moves the cruiser around the corner, near the alley's exit.
Bolo bites her lip in concentration. "I can't interrupt the ritual right this second. Maybe five more minutes. Can you stall them for that long?"

The woman - security - from earlier pokes her head out. "What's going on?" She pales for a split second, "The press?!?"

When Bolo nods, she glances at Book with a hard but pleading look in her eyes. "I'll make it worth your while to get rid of them - quietly."
"Five minutes..?" Book asks, disbelieving that she was actually asking the question.

As the woman looks out and asks the questions, Book winces. He listens to her spiel. "Worth my while?" He rubs his chin. "There are no guarantees with this if he stays, but we can try a few things."

He then looks over his shoulder, masking the doberman in invisibility; A single drop on sweat rolls down his brow, betraying the effort. Then turns back to the
<<@Tank [Book] Recover your drone. Let me know when its complete.>>

As Book opens the back door, Tank pilots the doberman into, then down the alley and quickly into the cruiser. Once inside the drone is safely within, Book drops the spell.
<<@Team [Book] Ok. Looks like we might get paid today after all. We just gotta 'get rid of the press'; We gotta work fast.>>
The rapidly arriving van puts a pit in his stomach.
<<@Team [Book] Three ways to get rid of them: (1) Make a wet mess. (2) Give them something else to report or (3) Simply give them nothing. In a few minutes I will have more details.>>

Book looks up to the woman. "Just so we work the angles properly, why are the press here? Who is the primary and why do they care he's here?"
"The true identity of my employer is none of your business. He was wearing the expensive suit. The press would like to capture trideo, video, even still photos of him here in an effort to discredit him and possible disgrace him based on his position in society."

She seems genuinely annoyed by the questions.

"I don't have time to discuss this in committee. If you are in, please help; otherwise, get out of my way so I can step on your rep while I do my job."
Book replies a little flip, "Your dime. Just let me know when you're ready."

He turns away from the woman, allowing her to retreat to the room. Johnsons really piss me off some- all the time.

<<@Team [Book] Ok. Looks like we just sit and wait. Keep an angle of exit and the primary plan will be the alley. Designate an alternate.>>


Tank stays reclined and relaxed. It's days like this I really wish I had a fleet of fly-spies.
He moves his sole Fly-Spy around in order to check for roof access from the shop.
<<@System [Tank] Can you start a sweep to check for fly-spies penetrating our perimeter?>>
She re-emerges a shot time later with her charge in tow. "Your Excellency, we have to go. Please follow the man there, indicating Book, as you would me. I'll set up a distraction."

The man comes over to Book and will a hint of an accent, he asks, What should I do?


Tank's little drone notes the media lining up in what looks like the preparations for a pincer maneuver outside the shop. So far, no one has moved on the alley exit.

"Our perimeter"? Does he know that the closest I get to a military perimeter is Miracle Shooter™? Or maybe Seals: CAS?
<<@Tank [System] Uh, yeah. Looks like we've got at least three spies. You want me to drop 'em?>>

<<@System [Tank] Take 'em out.>>
<<@Book [Tank] Looks like the media is getting ready for a surge. Time for a retrograde motion.>>

Book smiles at the inquiry. "Just a moment." he say before focusing on the man. He weaves a simple spell, but nearly allows himself to be distracted by the virtual chatter. As the man fades from view Book then speaks again. "Please proceed out the back door, to the left, down and out the alley to the cruiser waiting there."

Book maintains his concentration on the new principal while looking across the room at the old principal. Clearing the scene is giving me a really bad feeling.

Once the man enters the cruiser and Tank has secured the door, Book casts invisibility on himself to follow suit. His lack of commitment shows in the poor effect of the spell and the beads of sweat only serve to reinforce that his concentration was far from focused.

Looking down to more translucent than transparent, At least Tank's not in here to start with the 'like an open book' jokes.

He casts again with no better results. This time he maintains lack luster spell and he reaches under the back of his cloths for the hood of his chameleon suit. Never can be too sure.

As he fades away, he pings Bolo.
<<@Bolo [Book] If you stay, I cannot protect you. Do you want to leave with us?>>
<<@Book [Bolo] My store: I'm supposed to be here. I'll stay. I might be able to stall them. Not to mention it could mean a decent payday ... which I could use right now.>>

The primary slips out the back per Book's instructions. His female lieutenant almost seems to morph into another form: she gives new meaning to quick-change artist. She seems to shrink into the form of an older woman with a limp as she heads out the door.

<<@Team [System] Damn! Got all but two of the fly-spies. One seems to be heading this way. I think that he may have figured out where my hack is coming from.>>

Before the primary can reach the cruiser, the flier gets into position above the vehicle so as to watch the alley.
Still maintaining his invisibility spell on the primary, Book nods to Bolo then turns his attention to the drone in Tank's AR feed. He closes his eyes and concentrates a moment, summoning a spirit of air. As it fades into astral space near him, Humble spirit of air, I beseech you clear away this little mechanical pest.

The spirit flies through the walls directly into the alley. Still in the astral, it moves to the drone's location and materializes as a cyclone around the unsuspecting mechanical annoyance. Book, meanwhile, takes a moment to gauge the success of the spirit via Tank's drone's feed before continuing.
The fly spy makes a valiant effort but the spirit is simply too much for it. Lamentably, this attracts the attention of one of the news crews in the area and a slim ork with a camera starts turning to film the little drone.

About that time the "package" gets to the vehicle, opens the door and enters.

The camera-man seems too intent on the drone to notice the door.
The primary safe in the cruiser, Book drops the invisibility on the Johnson and now envelopes himself in a spell of invisibility. His distraction and fatigue take a toll and the results are far from spectacular. His chameleon suit hood in place and activated as well, the scrutiny of the media has Book's paranoia quotient running high. He brings back the spirit, Return for another task my friend. Conceal me from prying eyes.

The spirit's mana surrounding him, Book proceeds into the alley. He approaches the vehicle waiting for the reporter's attention to turn back away before entering the car.
<<@Team [Book] Let's go. Tank - Watch for tails.>>

"Where to Mr Johnson?"
Doing his best to look non-pulsed the older gentleman says, "The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please." The please seems to cost him a bit.
Without being prompted, Tank responds, "On it." He immediately begin checking for tails and plots an indirect route to the church.

Once the car is in motion, Book releases the spell, but leaves the spirit in place.
<<@System [Book] Can you do some facial recognition magic and tell me who this guy is?>>
<<@Book [System] On it.>>

As Tank drives away from the media circus he gets a few annoyed looks from those whose shot he is blocking. The passenger looks away but doesn't bend down or otherwise try to get away from the line of sight.

<<@Book [System] That's odd. I can't get a positive ID on this guy. I have a few potentials between 78 and 85% probability but nothing solid. Do you want a list?>>
<<@System [Book] Yea. Give me the list.>>

Book then shifts his perceptions to the astral plane and scrutinizes the aura of their passenger.
Tank lets a small groan escape his lips. "We got another drone." The highlights the drone in the optics feed.

Book looks back towards the drone. He reaches his mind out to the air spirit nearby. Great spirit. Please do me to favor of smashing that little, mechanical abomination into the ground.

With that, the spirit streaks off across the short distance in the astral towards the speak of gray. Towards the little flying insect. An insect devoid of life essence. Something outside of the nature order of things.
The spirit destroys the drone with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, that seems to have attracted the attention of people on the street. Some have started making windows with their hands - a sure sign of posting to social networking sites.
A the team drive off in the distance, putting even more space between themselves and the pieces of drone, Book smiles. Thank you spirit. You service to me is complete. Return home with my thanks.

He then checks the astral for other follower ons.

Tank grimaces.
<<@System [Tank] I think some modified DMV records are now a high priority. What are the chances of an updated license?>
<<@ Tank [System] One set of sunday-driving-church-lady records coming up.>>

Book can breathe a little easier as nothing seems to be following them from the astral.

<<@ Book [System] Here's your list.>>

  • Wilhelm von Herman - Industrial tycoon - 85% match
  • The Most Reverand Nathaniel M. Claus - Catholic Bishop - 82%
  • William K. Bradford - Member of the Board of Directors for the Sunlight Foundation - 78%
<<@System [Tank] Danka.>>
Ever paranoid, Tank starts back at square one in regards to his looking for tails. "Delivery will be delayed sir as I insure any possible tails have been lost."

<<@System [Book] Let me guess, Bishop Claus has some ties to The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? If not, the circumstantial value of the connection is pretty compelling. Let's deliver our Johnson collect our money, change vehicles and circle me back to Bolo. We've lost one good contact this week. I'd rather it not climb to two.>>
The gentleman in the back seat smiles and says, "Yes, that will be fine. My associate will meet us there to provide your payment. I do hope that you are not losing out on gainful employment for my behalf."
Tank nods. "Excellent. We're hoping the same."

<<@Bolo [Book] Need an LTG for our Mz.Johnson so that she can forward payment. Client is clear. We are en route now to the drop.>>

Once Tank is relatively comfortable that he has lost all tails, he delivers the Johnson to the desired location.
The imposing front of the church has not dimmed with age. A testament to the faith of those who still attend in this age of disillusionment.

<<@Book [Bolo] Got ya. I've got a drop box for ... um, payments. Here's the address. It's a media circus down here; hopefully, it is quieter on your end.>>

The passenger gets out and walks slowly to the front door of the church before entering. A short time later, a small digital ork in an 2020's vintage uniform for a now-defunct money courier appears in the Book's PAN.

<<You have received a payment in the amount of nuyen.gif 3,000.>>
Tank watches the Johnson walk to the church, noting the condition of the building. Guess there's nuyen flowing in some places..

Book distributes the payment evenly between the three team members.
<<@Bolo [Book] Got the payment. Thanks! Any sign of your loan sharks?>>

While he awaits Bolo's reply, he speaks to the team. "Ok Tank, get us back to Bolo's. I've still got her payment for the foci that needs to go to the loan sharks."

He looks over at System. "If nothing pans out back tracing, you may need to hack their coms and back trace on the fly. We gotta let these guys know that we know them and level the playing field. By the way, how secure is your doss?"

Tank pulls away, heading toward Bolo's shop. This time, he plans to park several blocks away to keep from attracting attention.
My place? Umm... Yeah we better not use it. I'm having a dispute with the landlord right now. I'll work on the back trace program and see if I can unstick myself from some of these dead ends. Although System answers the question, his voice indicates he's hedging a bit.

It is an uneventful drive for the first few blocks from the church. However, at a light Tank's vehicle is swarmed by media drones and floating cameras. Other than the media circus happening outside the windows, no one is being threatened.
Book laughs. "No bud, I've seen your idea of a doss. Not my dream of a place to hide out. On the contrary, if these sharks get wind of who we are, they may want to back trace us and mess with us on home turf. Just wanting to make sure that if things get messy for you that you are safe."

Now, having picked up a media circus, Tank elects a new route, not back towards Bolo's but rather towards less reputable parts of town. "Looks like we have new plans chummers. Also looks like my ride will new a new paint job and yet another new set of credentials."

Book groans at the swarm of drones, but sits back in his seat. "It appears our day just got more interesting." He turns to System, "Alternate wheels?"
I've got a few layers of security at my place ... as well as a bolt hole if I need it. As far as the other goes, I think I've got a spare ID I can get you. However, I'll need to get access to my place. We could always boost a cab if you like.

The media circus continues to follow the van.
Tank plots a route to get them onto a highway. Need some speed to loose this swarm of pests.

Book nods, "A cab. That will work."
"Here's the route." System overlays an AR map on the windshield for Tank.
Tank accelerates the cruiser with the intent of leaving the media drones behind.
The acceleration and little maneuvering seem to lose the drones - for a while.

<<@ Tank [System] Take the next left; I've got a cab for us. Is this thing set up for remote drive?>>

The cab's doors are standing open with the motor running.
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