In the morning, Dr Jeep (Or Nicky as he was known to Seedling and Twenty-Two, or Yuri as he was known to Mellie) was feeling the hangover from the drinks and especially from the cheap street drugs he had bought. He thought back to the night before as he took some completely ineffectual painkillers in the bathroom and washed his face.
Bolstered by the success of their two missions, he thought if any time was time to celebrate – this was it. He had stopped off on the way back to pick up take out food, and then on impulse, picked up some mild party-drugs from the dealer he had met near the apartment. He remembered how incredible Mellie looked – she had dressed up for his home-coming. As she got herself ready for their dinner, he cracked the ampules of day-glo orange liquid and had liberally spread it over the fusion-asian dinner.
The rest of the night was a euphoric blur of food, images from old movies and Mellie – her smiling and laughing in an uncharacteristic manner. He woke up still dressed laying across the couch. He was alone. Searching the house, he found Mellie back in her room. She was still dressed and sprawled out across her bed in an uncharacteristically haphazard fashion – as if she had just fallen there and fallen asleep. She seemed paler than normal – but Mellie was generally quite pale.
He came close to check her – she was breathing. It wasn’t sleeping, but that very deep breathing – when she was decked in.. or when she was in that resonance place that she’d go to. He searched around the apartment for his AR glasses and slipped them on – expecting to find a note from her, or to find copies of her working on various projects. She was gone. No messages were left, and even the seemingly ever-present sprites that would follow wherever she went were gone.
Taking off the glasses he felt a gnawing doubt picking at him. No message, no.. anything. To anyone else – they may have just assumed it was typical Mellie. Yuri knew better. He finally decided on leaving a message in the local network for Mellie. I’m going to work on the car for abit. I’ll be back later
At the yard, Yuri was mildly annoyed that Seedling was shunning him. At the best of times she was a chatterbox, so her distraction with focusing on the poofy elf and her run suited him fine. It gave him time to focus on his thoughts and focus on the car. The deep racing green candy-coat paint job had dried, and as he removed some of the protective tape around the trip, the car practically glowed.
He glanced across the room, seeing the very empty spot where the huge Pterodactyl had been. It had managed to get out of the garage and had left in the night. After what had happened, and what the reaction whenever Mellie woke up, he wasn’t surprised that Viper had left. His sense of regret and shame at what he had done was growing. An aching his body identified as hunger finally brought him back from working on the car, and he decided to take it out – to bring home an apology dinner and make things up with Mellie.
Walking out of the garage, he noticed that Seedling was already gone – probably off to do her meet with the elf. He shrugged. Returning to bring the Maserati to life, he drove the flashy car out of the junkyard, heading to a Thai place to pick up some take-home. The entire time he was searching for what to say to her. When she had been upset before – she had said something or lashed out – like the time with the taser. This was something else. He didn’t quite know how to take it – he just knew that he had to fix it.
Climbing up the steps, he entered the entry-code and entered their small flat. All the lights were off and instantly Yuri felt a pit in the bottom of his stomach. The place felt.. empty. Cold. Alone.
He dropped the bag off at the table, walking through the rooms. Mellie had gathered up a good deal of her stuff and taken it with her. There were a couple things left behind.. but that’s all it felt like. Left behind. She had even collected most of the medkits… leaving several of the injections of pain-killers. A clear message.. pointing right at his drug problem.
They had never talked about it – but it was clear that she had been fully aware. He had one last chance.
Picking out his commlink, he thumbed the quick-dial for Mellie. No matter where she was – she was always there to take a call. Heck as part of her ability to split herself – even if she was busy she would be online to take his call. It didn’t even go to an automated avatar to take a message. It just disconnected.
Yuri let his arm drop. He tossed the commlink on the table. And then thinking about it.. there was so much incriminating evidence on it. He reached to first delete the memory, and then reaching in, he took out the iso-optical memory chip and crushed it. That would at least keep LA and Seedling and Vertigo and anyone else of his prior associations safe if someone got this.
Leaving the phone on the table beside the bags of Thai food, he turned and walked out the door. His pockets still had the two certified cred-sticks from those last two minor runs. It was enough to get out of town.
The Maserati started with a roar, and the old nearly untraceable car took off down the street.
Aimless, Yuri tried to keep calm, but the emotions were boiling up inside of him. He slammed his hand down on the retro-styled steering wheel – the car was too low-tech to have rigger controls. He couldn’t just jack in and leave the shell of his body behind.
“This is all your fault, you Dolbo yeb!” he swerved to avoid a car waiting at a set of lights and tore through the intersection. Crossing cars detected his car and dutifully avoided the green car driving erratically – sending warning messages to the Grid-Link control centers.
Yuri accelerated and drove away, turning down back alleys behind some businesses to try to break the predicting logic and avoid any police.
“Ostyn’ Ostyn’… Get ahold of yourself..” he forced himself to breathe, but his mind was screaming at him.
He knew he was trying to cut down, but he knew one quick way to fix the overloading emotions.. one way to fix it before this state drove him to do something truly reckless. He redirected his car into the seedy part of town, heading into the places where his car stuck out like a sore thumb. Although this suited him well.. only the reckless.. or the truly dangerous.. would flaunt such affluence in such a neighborhood. Yuri was both.
Stopping by some bikers who were outside a burnt out business, he left the car running, getting out and walking up. The go-gangers looked over the man walking up towards them. One talked, “Hey Chummer. I think you took a wrong turn somewhere.. now it’s gonna cost you.”
Yuri furrowed his brow, “I don’t have time for your street-wise bullshit. I want to make a deal. You carrying?”
The assembled group chuckled, one commenting to another. “Oh man.. he’s a tweaker..” to which his buddy replied directly to Yuri.. “You jonesin’, boy?” the group chuckling as he reached into his pocket, pulling out a gun.
The leader raised a hand to indicate for his crew to settle down. He then regarded Yuri, “Maybe.. although we’ve still not covered your toll for driving such a fine car in our neighborhood..”
Yuri could feel his body starting to tense. Forcing his actions to remain slow and calm, he reached into his pocket, pulling out one of the credsticks. Thumbing the ‘total’ contact, it displayed a glowing blue 3,782 n¥. Predictably all their eyes were on the credstick, which he then dropped.
Not holding back his wired reflexes anymore, he lashed forward, grabbing at the pistol which the ganger had drawn while at the same time reaching for the long dreadlocks of the gang leader. He was able to wrestle the gun away from the surprised ganger, flicking off the safety as he brought it against the neck of the gang leader. The credstick hit the sidewalk.
The group stepped back and started to draw their guns, while the leader flailed his arms, and then quickly shook his head. It was obvious this tweaker had been augmented, and was easily twice as fast as the rest of the mundanes gangers. The leader tried to reach behind him, but then when the gun was pressed deeper against his neck he stopped struggling and talked instead, “Woah…woah..calm down chummer..listen..we’re just drekking with ya.. put your guys away..” the last statement at his crew who slowly lower their guns.
Yuri tried to keep his body from twitching..right now the wrong twitch and he would need to see if his machismo could follow through with taking on four armed gangers – even if they weren’t augmented. He spoke softly, “How about we try again.. are you holding?”
The leader reached into his pockets, pulling out a couple baggies which he dropped to the ground.. “That’s it chummer…”
Yuri jabbed the gun deeper..“And the guns..drop them.”
The gangers frowned..but at the nodding of their leader, several handguns joined the group on the ground.
“Now step back.” Yuri waited for the gangers to take several steps back before reaching to push the leader away, aiming the pistol at him as he lowered and first pocketed the stash, before collecting the pistols and tossing them in the front seat of the car. He left the credstick.. “There we go..see.. I knew you could be reasonable.”
A couple thousand for some drugs and several heavy pistols. He knew he could have just ripped them off – but he didn’t want to burn bridges. Backing away, he jumped into the car, pocketing the pistol in his inner coat pocket as he peeled away from the gangers.
There was one way to bury the deep feelings of regret and loss and shame. Peeling back the covering of the dermal patch, he slapped on one of the skin-patches of drugs he had stolen from the gangers, and as a euphoric calm descended over him, he gunned the engine to head the Maserati out of town.