Jimmy and I sat there talking for a while. We covered the job, the good points, the bad points and the things to do differently next time. We talked about the team- Pierre, Lanche, Ghost and T-Bear and how they would react to the different situations. We talked about our personal lives to an extent, Jimmy clearly had some issues about his past specifically one woman named June and I thought better than to press him on the matter. Patrons drifted in and out of Cal’s through the night but before we knew it 4am had crept up on us and I was getting damned tired. I headed to the john and popped a few cheap energy pills from the vending machine to keep me going.
When I got back, Jimmy was staring intently ahead at something. I followed his gaze but the dusty shelves behind the bar were not revealing any clues as to his fascination.
“Jim?” I asked
“Shh..” was his only response as he sent me a link to a matrix page that he was viewing in his contact lenses. It was a news site and it was showing footage of a street covered in blood. Four dead gangers lie sprawled amid the wreckage of their bikes and Knight Errant officers were picking over the corpses looking for clues. The reporter announced that they were the latest victims of an ongoing gang war in Columbia. The district we were in.
“Lanche?” I asked
“Pierre?” Jimmy replied. Before we could think further, the large projector screen behind us which was also showing the news (albeit from a rival channel to the one we were watching discreetly) started showing footage of a different incident which had occurred very recently during the night. The flaming wreckage of an exploded sports car lit up an alleyway where several bloodied corpses were scattered about in various stages of dismemberment. Either one of the crime scenes could have been the work of Lanche or indeed Pierre. The vid feed that I had watching Pierre showed no sign of movement from Célèste’s so maybe he wasn’t implicated in either of these events unless they had happened earlier. Lanche may have been responsible for both counts of bloodshed as he escaped the Doc Wagons but it was entirely possible that both events were simply co-incident with our night of frivolities and thus were unconnected.
Ghost seemed to think otherwise. He called shortly after to ask which incident was likely to be Lanche so he could head over and help him out. Jimmy and I decided that the exploded sports car could very well have been Mr. Hughes’ and so suggest that Ghost head there. Our suspicions were proved correct when Lanche sent me a message minutes later. He had re-entered the matrix zone and confirmed that he was on foot. I told him Ghost was en route to the scene but I thought he could use a bit more back up. I headed outside with Jimmy and hacked into Lanche’s van. The vehicle was huge- troll sized and then some! The electronics were laughably simple but the physical operation of the vehicle would be impossible for anyone less than 8 feet tall so I had to enter full VR to drive the machine.
The drive through Columbia took around 20 minutes. We arrived at the designated meet spot- just a quiet crossroads near an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of town. Lanche was sitting on a wall deep in concentration, clearly accessing one of his matrix programs. Ghost pulled up on his impressive sports bike not long after and we discussed the night’s events. Lanche had indeed blown up Hughes’ sports car along with multiple Doc Wagon staff but the gang shooting was not him. It seemed that we had escaped the debacle at the casino unscathed and now we had to concentrate on finishing the job with Dunning-Kruger. Our easiest target was Deaton, we didn’t want to go causing too much trouble with the heat from Hughes’ death still tickling our asses.
Lanche took us to one of his contacts, a blackmarket drugs dealer to collect some burned out BTL chips. The plan was for Ghost to sneak into Deaton’s apartment and leave them lying around before causing a disturbance and getting the police involved. The chips had to be good ones, class A shit or the media wouldn’t care. Lanche and Jimmy went inside. They weren’t in there long before Jimmy stormed back out with a pissed off look to his face. Clearly the meet had gone sour and he wasn’t too happy with the part he played in it. Jimmy sat in silence for a while, just sitting with his back to the cool glass of Lanche’s van window chain smoking and brooding to himself. Lanche himself emerged after about 10 minutes with a small bag of chips. He handed them to Ghost who sped off on his bike.
We followed Ghost’s route in Lanche’s van- my drones couldn’t really keep up with the bike but they monitored traffic and Knight Errant patrol cars to get us through town quickly as well as picking up a few dynamic shots of our vehicle on the move which I’m sure Mr. Johnson would appreciate. He always likes the wide shots the drones take as they circle over us, he says they’re good for ‘expositions’ although I prefer to leave that side of the editing process to lesser men. I’m on the ground where the action is.
The action caught up with us soon enough as a call came from Ghost asking us to help him apprehend some low-grade cleaners who were headed to Deaton’s apartment. I had hacked into the cleaner’s van before Ghost had finished speaking and forced it to pull over by overloading its’ GPS with false data. Ghost was true to his name. In and out in under a minute with the uniform he needed to gain entry to the building.
The rest of the night was Ghost’s show. I sent a drone to follow him as best I could but inside the apartment, there were few places to hide even small Flyspies. Before long an alarm was raised- gunshots heard on the 17th floor. As a parting gift, Ghost left the hob in Deaton’s apartment on. A nice touch, and it gave me a great parting shot of a gas explosion with Ghost walking away and definitely not looking at it.