It was the night of the 18th of December, cold and the city was suffering from intermittent sleet. Charlie did not agree with the weather or rather the weather did not agree with him. Charlie new the weather was part of the deal as Seattle was the place to break into ‘running…but he certainly would rather be in a warmer locale. Infinity was not too far from The Alabaster Maiden. It’s across the street from Elliot Park and sits right in the heart of downtown Seattle Center, at least I’ll be close to the park for a nice stroll in the warm summer air glaring at the falling sleet.
Charlie, one of the new team’s muscle, was dressed for the occasion -Infinity is Infinity after all. His face was always covered any time he entered the city, as his paranoia forces him to take extreme precautions when others would not be so inclined. Charlie arrived in the area on foot and as he neared the Seattle Center, he slowed down to remove his black velvet face mask and straighten out his trendy clothing.
Club Infinity is of the bright new stars of Seattle nightlife. The club features state-of-the-art holographic and sonic projection systems which are known for its spectacular light shows, images, and music. The club’s design is meant to enhance its appeal, with plenty of gentle curves, and cunning use of dark glass and mirrors to give it’s patrons the feel of near-infinite space, even with the biggest crowds. Charlie can hear the bustle of nightlife and the booming bass of Infinity as he nears to within a hundred feet. The chaos of foot traffic, the voices of hundreds of club goers, the movement of vehicular traffic, and the revving of modified engines the many various vehicles waiting on Infinity’s valet services, all add to a palpable electric feeing of human interaction. Charlie met up with the others, Hot Fat -the other muscle guy, Shorty, the mysterious gnome who provides arcane fire support and lastly but not least, Frost, the guy who specializes in transportation issues. The team had a new guy, well sort of, the had acquired the services of ‘Nine’, a hacker, and they new of him as he was the entity that helped provide matrix security for the Alabaster Maiden. ‘Entity’ as a word was best used to describe Nine as he has never been met in the meat -physically met. It was rumored amongst the Alabaster Maiden’s staff that Nine was some messed up dude stuck in some hospital bed somewhere or that he was one of those guys who sucked so bad dealing with reality that he preferred to always be in the matrix. But the team recently accepted him and he was present via an authorized link up to Hot Fat’s PAN, from whence Nine was able to see through the image link and speak via the team’s commlinks routed through Hot Fat.
They all give each other a short greeting.
“We ready?, asks Frost
Everybody nods in agreement as they enter the line of patrons waiting to be checked by security.
Charlie knew the routine, he stepped through the scanner the walked three steps and turning sideways, opens his coat. The troll manning the MAD scanner, quickly grinned and then shook his head. Charlie was waved through, then Hot Fat and and so on.
The pulsating music reverberated deep inside the bodies of the team, so much so that they could feel it in their bones. The team found themselves awash within hundreds of lost souls milling about, dancing, drinking and cavorting. Some looking to be found and quite a few seeking to get lost. The lost souls, or rather the patrons, were lost within the music, lost within the fog of real alcohol or some digital and/or chemical mind bender. Charlie noted the wage slaves trapped within the reality of their existence and wanting to escape through drugs and sex or just by being able to dance off their corporate angst. The team took it all in. Here and there a goddess walked amongst the revelers. The crowd would open up to let them pass in a hazy form of reverence. The team, not there to party found that the press of the crowd was disturbing and the strobe lights a bit dazzling. This was the night of their first actual job, if not including the thing they pulled off for the Sagittarius Dwarf. Charlie looked to his right and noted at a distance of several meters stood a chiseled Athenian god, dressed in expensive club chic. He had an entourage, which took no notice of the team. Yet the, chiseled god managed, in an instant to look up and sneer at Charlie, as saying, ‘I own this place’.
Charlie met his stare, returning the threat and then the crowd of patrons washed over the team as if it were a large wave. The god and his minions are gone replaced by a blur of pretty people who meant nothing, nothing at all. The music spiked within Charlie’s consciousness and he realized that they were here, here in this place not to worship at the alter of psychic escape, but for a job, they have things to do and nuyen to earn. The luster of Infinity became dull as Charlie began to wonder if this ‘paycheck’ will be his last.
As they swam through the crowd, Charlie yells to the rest of the team that they needed to subscribe to the club’s site. He then reiterates that via subvocals on his commlink to everybody. Frost was hesitant and decided to put his PAN on ‘hidden’ mode. He would rely on the team to guide him where the meet was to take place. The team then subscribed their PAN’s to the club’s network, and things got even more chaotic; Dozens of messages and signs flashed across their AR vision, everything from mundane AROs, such directions to the restrooms and a list of the bar specials, to private messages from clubbers who wanted to get to know them better. They adjust their commlink’s settings to filter out unwanted information. Charlie’s glad that the team can use their links to communicate, since he’s sure they aren’t going to hear anything audibly over the music. Charlie and the team then moved to find the bartender who could facilitate their meeting with the ‘Johnson’. As they moved Charlie continually scanned the setting being far more concerned with several members of a gang situated in the corner than with any supposed voluptuous elf behind the bar. Frost spots the elf bartender your fixer mentioned as she’s the only woman back there, and Charlie is forced to concede that she is a beauty.
Frost moves up to where the elven bartender was working and in a few moments they have the passcode and the directions to one of the private meeting rooms of which, Infinity is famous for, or rather, according to Lone Star, infamous for. The team adjusts their perception of where they are in reference to the AR map feeding into their image links in their cybereyes or to their glasses, as in the case of Shorty. Hot Fat, with Nine along for the ride virtually speaking, led the way, following the green ARO’s, within their AR visualizations, directing the team to follow them all to the back room where the finely dressed troll Mr. Johnson awaited.
The room the team enters, after using the appropriate authorization code, is obviously a conference room, with an oval table made of genuine wood and several chairs. Mr. Johnson was waiting for them, sipping a drink and tapping something into his commlink. Charlie immediately notices a mushroom shaped white-noise generator located prominently in the middle of the table.
The team is curiously greeted by a troll of medium height, no longer young but not quite middle-aged. He appears handsome in a rugged sort of way, and wore a purple and chartreuse suit in the latest style which somehow managed to stay on the tasteful side.
“Welcome,” he says, smiling.
“Please sit down. I’m Mr. Johnson, and I trust that Noggin sent you. Can I get you anything”?
Hot Fat orders a beer.
“Who speaks for your team”?, Mr. Johnson asks.
“I do”, Charlie quickly said.
“Shall we get down to business, then?
The team nods in agreement.
Mr Johnson begins.
“Someone has stolen an object from the people I represent. We would like to get it back quickly, as we have reason to believe that this person is trying to sell it. What you’re looking for is some music-related data that’s important to my employer’s business. I don’t know who stole it—my employer’s home was broken into a couple of days ago, and the disk was taken along with some other items in which we have no particular interest. Your best bet is probably to keep your ears open to whatever channels you think might be appropriate—if the thief is going to sell it, word will have to get out that it’s available. The object storing the data is an old-style optical disk. We want both disk and data returned, in the eventuality that the one no longer resides on the other. In case it’s not clear, my employers don’t want the disk’s data getting into the hands of anyone but themselves, so if the data gets out, we expect you to track down and eliminate any copies”.
Charlie wasn’t focused on what in detail Mr. Johnson was saying as he was more concerned with getting double-crossed and was covertly looking for the ambush. He was aware they were talking something about a disc, and music. Charlie was paying attention, however, when Nine did indicate over Hot Fat’s commlink that the Johnson’s a heavyweight in the music industry. But Charlie was sure the story can’t be the real deal, it never was, according to the trids.
Mr. Johnson continued.
“Once you’ve located it, the second part of the job is to track down the person who’s offering it for sale—probably not the same person who’s offering the information, since the thief will probably be working through intermediaries—and get the disk back. You can do this in whatever way you see fit: if you can get it back by making an offer for it, my employers can cover the arrangement and take care of getting my money back later. If you’d prefer something a little more larcenous, that’s fine too. Just do it as quickly as possible and make sure the disk is not harmed.”
Mr. Johnson paused and then said, “I’m authorized to offer your team ¥10,000 for the job, half up front and half upon the return of the disk to me. Do we have a deal?”
Charlie caught the tone of the ending conversation and started paying attention.
He thought that if anyone else wanted to step up and take the reins they were more than welcome. Shorty at this point was sustaining a spell that made Charlie much more glamorous than he really was in real life. Charlie was beginning to feel that he had a golden opportunity. Charlie began to affect a charismatic air. The rest of the team immediately knew that Charlie was up to something, however, Mr. Johnson did not. Charlie entered into negotiations with an effective flair that by the end of the next few minutes the deal had risen to ¥13,000 in total with ¥5,000 up front.
“That sounds like a fair and equitable offer, we therefore, certainly accept,” concluded Charlie.
The meeting concluded and the team was again out in the general area of Infinity, where the music was booming and the crowd ebbing and flowing in an inebriated and drug fueled dance.
Until, that is Frost got a message on his PAN from some Eastern European types. Frost then got stopped those who sent him the message. Charlie noted they were hassling him and went into action. There were shots fired, the fire alarm went off, panicked patrons started heading out the back emergency exits while security was attempting to move forward. Charlie ran north and the headed west back to Puget Sound. He knew the team would talk later. He put his mask back on and kept running.
An hour later, part of Infinity was on fire and the Seattle Center in chaos. Lone Star was on the scene but the team had escaped in different directions. Each member seeing to his own safety with the intent on rallying later on the next day. Individually, each member also attempted to initiate leg work as they tried to find out about the disk and the Johnson who is paying for its return.
Frost made it to his bike and rode east looking to access Highway 90 on his way home. He then changed the mode of his PAN so that it was not ‘hidden’ and allowed Nine to virtually hitch a ride.