Highball sat in the corner, nursing his beer and watching the pub crowd. The place was pretty quiet, not surprising for a Sunday night. Should be OK for a meeting. The scanners were picking up only a couple of active cameras in the back, the ork behind the bar probably only turned on the cameras in this room when she closed up shop. Smart.
The Aussie took another swig. This place was more his style. Quiet, regular people. Here to visit, or eat, or just get quietly drunk. Not like those corporate cookie-cutter holes the strike team drank at.
Fraggin’ bigots. Only let me in because I was with the Japs. Sarge probably would have just as soon left me behind.
Well, that was all behind him now. He didn’t have to deal with that shit anymore. After Marko got killed during the break-in back in June, he’d read the writing on the wall. They were looking for a scapegoat to blame the whole fiasco on, and who was going to take the fall? That’s right, the white guy. Well, he didn’t wait around to be stepped on again.
And as far as he could tell, he’d gotten away free and clear. A few forged requisitions, a fake set of orders, a bogus transfer, and phony incident report and voila… Independent operator. They’d never even come looking for the chopper or the drones because they’d been “destroyed”, on paper.
Of course, that meant no regular paycheck, and a bloke had to eat. And pay for fuel. And booze.
That’s why you’re having this meeting, chummer. Got to cover the bills, and Kyle said she was willing to pay.
The door opened, and a Japanese woman stepped through, looking as out-of-place as a troll at a Humanis convention.
Great. A Jap, a woman, a noob. God really does hate me.
At least she’s hot…
Highball nodded as she looked him over, and she strode directly over to the table. He could see the gleam of chrome under the armored jacket as she sank into the chair across from him.
“Highball?”, she said without preamble. He could tell she wasn’t pleased having to deal with a “gaijin”.
He nodded. “Ms. Johnson, I presume?”
The woman shook her head, “My name is Ri…” She stopped and seemed to reconsider. “No, call me ‘Mibōjin’. More fitting.”
Highball raised his eyebrows. “Widow? Interesting choice”, he thought. Out loud he asked, “So you’re looking for some help?”
The young woman nodded. “I’m going to need a transportation specialist, and I heard you’ve recently become available.”
He steepled his fingers and leaned across the table. “My ‘availability’ depends on the job, the pay, and the team.”
She leaned forward as well, the intensity of her eyes making the rigger uncomfortable. “The team is still coming together, and if you’re interested, I’d welcome suggestions for other assets. The pay for will be dependent on timing and difficulty, but I can guarantee at least 20K. The job is simple wetwork.”
Highball stood to leave, the refusal forming on his lips when she interrupted. “I’ll handle the actual eliminations. In fact, it’s a condition of the job that I be the one to do it. All I need from the team is to help me find them, and watch my back while I deal with them.”
He stared down at the woman, considering the offer. Twenty thousand nuyen was a good chunk of cred, especially as a minimum. He wasn’t up for assassination, but this sounded more like a vendetta. “There is no profit in revenge, Mibōjin”, he said.
Her eyes widened in surprise at the statement, but then hardened and narrowed. “Some things are more important than profit”, she answered.
Highball stared at her for almost a minute, weighing the options. Her hard look softened and became almost pleading as the silence stretched on. He swore he almost saw tears of relief when he sat back down.
The woman smiled, an expression too feral to be attractive. “When we have a roster, I want to run a few operations to bring us together as team before we go after my targets. I’ll call you with a meeting time. Let me know if you have any recommendations.”
Highball nodded and Mibōjin rose, leaving as directly as she had come in.
She’s not behind this. Training runs are too professional for her level of experience. I wonder who’s really backing this?
The bar owner brought over his meal, rattling it down on the table. He looked up from the sloppy mess and asked her, “What the hell is this crap?”
Mac looked down and shrugged. “It’s called Pooteen. Enjoy.”