Part XII

OK, fair warning on this one... there is a couple of disturbing parts below. Let's rate this MA-15.

There was something about this "doctor" that didn't set well with her. Tammy figured it was the third eye.

It had taken hours to track down and setup a place for a meeting. In that time she hadn't slept well. After the first nightmare she hadn't wanted to sleep for a while, preferring the caffeine induced state of hyper-awareness to the possibility of reliving an eternal downing in blood.

The bellhop had arrived on queue with clothes, providing her a convenient diversion.

The clothing had been suitable in style and function, though were a bit cliché-ish. The boots were a heavier black leather with a reinforced plastic layer in the soul and laced up to a flare at the knee. Walking about the bedroom, she figured that running wouldn't be out of the question, but the less she did the better. The long black gloves were of a lighter leather with weighted patches in the palm and reinforcing in the knuckles. She made a fist a few times after putting them on to help mold the hard plastic located along the forearm. The thinness let her feel stuff, but the extra weight would be useful should she have to hit someone, a prospect that seemed more likely every day. After massaging the glove a bit the plastic became unnoticeable. The low-cut scoop back black lycra body suit was a hair undersized, but fit well; its back support panels adjusted well to her. She wasn't too fond of the frontal lift built into it, but wasn't dissatisfied with the results either. She discarded the red skirt as too flashy, though she knew the color was sending shivers down her spine. Instead she picked out a heavier brown skirt and a fleece-lined suede bomber jacket, both of which felt like they had a kevlar inner lining. With the extra bulk of the jacket she discovered that the shoulder holster stayed well out of sight and afforded her some extra maneuvering room.

She packed the remaining clothing -- blue jeans, sneakers, midriff T-shirts, a navy-blue skirt, an ivory blouse that gave the impression of showing too much underneath, a rather elegant little red dress that she had to try on, and a very oversized flannel shirt -- into a soft-sided suitcase along with toiletries the bellhop added in. She'd have to iron things, but the bag was ready to leave with her. She practiced grabbing the straps and slinging it over her shoulder until she felt comfortable with the motion.

"Come-on!" Painter knocked at the door, "Time to get a move on." He was halfway to the front door by the time she had finished opening the bedroom door. He checked out the hallway then turned about while saying, "The others are waiting down... stairs..."

He stood there for a long moment before Tammy batted her eyes a bit and game him a jester's grin, "Well, we better not keep them waiting."

Painter was a little distracted on the drive there. He growled when Tammy offered to drive for him.

They went through a maze of alleys while Painter and Whitehot each probed the area. Back in a blast-blackened corner a stone stairwell descended into the subfloors of a building marked condemned, though she thought she saw the gleam of polished metal through spray-can rust with a pair of borrowed binoculars. Tiny was waiting for her to get out with a hunched over stance that reminded her of an umbrella. He managed to maintain the "hunchbacked look" all the way to the stairwell, blocking out all light from above as they descended three floors of stairs.

The stairwell had a chemical-carbon smell reminiscent of mothballs and sucking on an exhaust pipe. She took a rather ornate handkerchief from a pocket to cover her nose, but had little success against the onslaught. Strings of fraying Christmas lights had been recently strung along the passage which colored their way amidst the sooty residue kicked up from Tiny's scraping against the walls. The passage dead-ended at a door the residue had been knocked off of to reveal a wavy blue and purple rippled design in the metal. Painter felt it a moment then blew on his fingers as if to cool them before carefully knocking on the door. The left side of the door shifted, puffing a little residue from the crack. "Who's there!" It was a distinct voice in the touch of sanity in it.

"Eddie! It's Painter. Open 'er up, man."

A strand of optical fiber came snaking about the corner. "Who else that with you?"

"Tiny and Whiteblack --"


"-- and the package." Frowning, Tam kidney punched Painter from behind. There was some satisfaction as Painter leaded forward and inhaled sharply.

"Just you'z?"

"What, you don't trust me?"

"Being cautious today."

"It's just us, Eddie."

The door closed a bit before there was a grating noise and a solid thud. The door swung open and someone she assumed to be Eddie pulled them inside, almost closing the door on Tiny. A quick flick of a lever and there was more grating before a reverbing thud sounded through the walls. Eddie turned one of three eyes on each of her protectors. "Someone want to tell me what's going on?"

"Looked like incendiaries."

"DREK! of course that's incendiaries!" he made a sweeping motion towards the door. There was a bit of the blue discoloration on this side as well. "Wanna explain why three goons in pajamas decided to pay me a little wake-up call an hour after I'm done arranging with you?"

Tiny raised an eyebrow. "Yak?"

"Yak?" she whispered to Whitehot.

He leaned over and talked loud enough for the others to catch the gist of the conversation. "Yakuza. Japanese mafia. Tend to avoid them when we can. Harold doesn't like them. Too many bingo chips."

Eddie hadn't stopped for the sidebar. "Not Yak. Yak don't hit you without cause, an' I havn' given them any. These were wired and moved like them, but were way too vocal. Not very good either." His third eye was set on his forehead and rolled about to inspect her. It was obviously mechanical with it's chromed iris and glowing red pupil. She wasn't sure if that was normal or just to indicate he was pissed.

Painter pondered to himself, "Why would a bunch of asians be interested in Eddie..."

Eddie rolled his middle eye back to Painter. "Not asian. Here, take a look." Eddie moved over to a curtain, grabbing a red lab coat on the way. With a singular motion of long practice, he donned the coat and pulled the curtain back. Behind Tiny she could see an asian face in wide-eyed contortions of pain. Tiny let out a low whistle and rolled his head back as she sidestepped to avoid him...

The man on the table had been split from midsection to below the navel, exposing the guts of the man. That is, of course, if the man's guts had not been hauled outside his belly and meticulously pinned to a bleached-white board beneath him with surgical needles. Something in the twitching screamed to her that what was left was obviously still alive.

Eddie pinched a chunk of liver. The remains made to scream, but couldn't seem to manage the effort. "Check this out. The goon ate a lot of grains -- wheat based by the look of it. Check out the lungs; he breathed some nasty air, probably with a filter if he could help it. Face has some marks of cosmetic surgery and the skin tone has been induced, you can see the marks here and here where it was done. With air and food like that, he's probably from Mexico City. Most likely born there, native for a generations back."


"Yea, what of it?"

The three looked at each other then at Eddie. "We'z got a lead en somez da viz'ted uz. Dez paid by e company en Mezico."

She looked over at Whitehot. "Deadman?" He nodded.

Whitehot pointedly tapped his deck. "Harold thinks we outa check out out other visitors."

"What you brought me into?"

Painter shrugged over at her. "That's what we were hoping you could tell us."

"Looking for anything in particular?"

"Few odd things going on with her. She's picking up encrypted low-band radio like speech. Tiny loaded her weapon with gel, but it entered and burst like APDS when she used it. She's had a pretty bizarre nightmare. We figure a pretty thorough check-over -- cyberware scan and all. We really don't want any more surprises."

Eddie nodded at Painter while keeping that third eye on her.

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