Out of Toronto 4.0
Get a Job! Pt 1
I hadn’t heard from Meg since I escaped. I hadn’t left the little apartment I’d hacked my way into an open lease on in over a month. I hadn’t needed to have a meatspace conversation since I’d gotten off the train in this city. Viper had quit talking to me like he used to, he’d just been hiding in the resonance unless I called him, and I have to call him. I hadn’t seen any free sprites coming around in a couple weeks. And this was the third time that Ares has shown up in this neighborhood. I didn’t know for sure that they were looking for me, but it was far to close for comfort.
Some of the things I’d been reading from other escaped technomancers was that they have been doing jobs for runners. I thought, unfortunately, I would have to get out and do some of that, try to earn a little more money, I could just spoof it, but that took so long to get enough to get out of town, and I didn’t know if I’m doing it right to make it look legit. One woman on the boards said that her runner friends, are, well, her friends. They actually stopped a corp from snatching her. Of course if they had gotten her, I’d never have heard from her again.
There was a hospital nearby and across the street is a coffee shop that nurses went in a lot and apparently has a back room where runners meetup to discuss jobs. I ordered myself some hospital scrubs online and went in a couple times. Seemed like the runners mostly show up late at night so I’d been sort of hanging out when the second shift was ending at the hospital.
The first few times they had a jammer and it was impossible to learn anything of use, but I figured out how to focus and sort of hear past it. I wondered if they know how easy it is to overcome their hiding techniques. Most of the jobs the different groups had talked about weren’t been things I could think of a way to help with.
That night a huge ork covered with cyberware came in, I assumed he was early since he was alone for a long time. He paid to sit in the back and play games on his commlink for nearly an hour. I was able to get into his commlink which I hoped would be helpful if his group ever showed up. I’d seen him in here with a little scrawny creepy guy who I thought might be a mage, but I didn’t know who else was a part of their group. But I was just playing as the computer against the ork in the 4th game of the evening.
A beautiful woman who was dressed like she should be on a trivid show came in and swept directly into the back room. Everyone in the coffee shop stopped talking and stared as she came through. The ork in the back didn’t seem all that pleased to see her though. He wasn’t playing quite as fast as he had been, but was making stupid mistakes and grumbled a couple things while mashing his commlink. I thought he turned on some of his cyberware, but I didn’t want to let the game go right in the middle to check so I wasn’t sure.
The scrawny guy came in a few minutes later sneering at all the nurses in the place. I wondered if he was always like that. He just seemed, horrible. When he was in the back the ork put down his commlink, but left it on so it was pretty much like I was in the room. The scrawny guy was all gushy over the woman. I wondered if they already had a job or were waiting for someone.
The woman pulled out a commlink and put in a data chip which played a little recording. It seemed like an odd way to do business. But the recording was a very formal and sort of very old mechanical sounding computer voice. Not like the good ones today, but one that people who aren’t very good with tech prefer.
It seemed like the job was to find someone and bring them in. They talked a bit about how to find this person and I’d already started to do some data searching myself. It seemed like I’d heard everything they had about the job so I was hoping this was my in.
The woman gave a sort of odd wistful sigh, “I wish we hadn’t lost…”
The orc slammed his hand on the table so hard the walls in the cafe shook and everyone turned to look at the wall behind me. I shrunk a bit in my chair and tried to give the same confused look everyone else did before turning back to their drinks and end of day conversations. The back room had turned to silence and the orcs low voice was so resonant I could feel the vibrations. “You will not speak of her.”
My data search pulled up information very quickly and I stared at it for a moment before getting up and walking into the back room as if some dog brain had taken control of my body. “I can help.” They were after the Ares hit squad that was looking for me.
I had no clue what I was doing, clearly. The woman pulled two guns out and aimed them at me. The orc stood up throwing his chair to the ground and grabbed me by the throat, he was more than a foot taller than me and three times as wide. He picked me up and I dangled in his hand. The mage was stuffing a muffin into his face. Despite being strangled and having guns to my head a laugh slipped out at the stunned look on his face.
“Dammit Jer I thought you’d turned on the jammer and the white noise generator.” The woman had moved and was watching my hands which were clutching the ork’s hand around my neck, he’d loosened his grip so he wasn’t cutting off my air completely.
“I did.” He growled, the ork must be Jer.
“Go check out front to see if anyone else heard anything or if it is just this,” the woman wrinkled her nose at me but didn’t move her guns as the scrawny guy scrambled out of his chair spitting out half a muffin to go outside a check.
Jer kept hold of me while the woman cautiously checked all my pockets and such, all she found was my comm in my pocket. As Jer stared he seemed to stare through me rather than at me. A little bit of water had welled up in his eyes, but hadn’t fallen.
The scrawny guy came back in, “Apparently when Jer here flipped out everyone heard it. This is probably just a nurse who thought someone got hurt and could get a few hundred bonus nuyen.” I nodded my head but kept staring at Jer. He didn’t look that scary, not as bad as the white coats by far, he looked rather sad and hurt.
The woman tucked her guns away and turned a movie star smile on me. “Jer, put the nice nurse down. Ma’am I’m sorry my big clumsy friend here scared you.” He hadn’t, she had, but he hadn’t. I was not going to say that aloud. I glanced at her and felt transfixed. “Now you’re going to go home after a long shift and I’m sure that tomorrow you’ll remember how this was all a dream. A very strange one, but it was a long day today, wasn’t it?” I nodded dumbly, but in real space I was shaking all over I wasn’t sure what was happening but I didn’t like it. I split the data in two parts stashing them in my matrix spots and after a heartbeat I shoved the first half into a hidden file on Jer’s comm along with a back door to return.
Jer put me down and the woman came over and brushed my shirt sleeves and looked at my neck, I tensed hoping she wouldn’t notice the scars, most were hidden in my hair at the nape of my neck and she wasn’t really looking. “Oh dear. Yes, it was a very long night for you wasn’t it. Patients grabbing you and harassing you. You might even need a day or two off. You need that don’t you dear.” She took my arm and turned me around toward the door to leave. “Now you go home and rest. You’ll feel better in a couple days.” I let myself be pushed out the door and walked numbly to the exit and home. I curled up into the bed after setting my sensors and slept.