Havana, with the guards, and the Neon Pagoda in your rear-view mirror, you finally have some time to breathe. Glitch stops you as you turn into an alleyway several blocks from the Pagoda, and puts a hand on your shoulder. He's out of breath. "Wait... I just need a second... Where are you taking me?"
"I haven't quite noodled that out yet," I answer truthfully, "did you notice someone was tailing us? You, I think. You've been tagged as a threat.... by someone. You're not safe Glitch."
I lay it on him. He hasn't done anything but intentions have made him a target. This is beyond me... beyond my pay grade. I'm going to need help.
"If you trust me," I then glance at him, "I'll see if we can't keep you dark until we sort this..." I keep walking, "If you want to go your own way, it's your skin."
"Look, I'll go wherever you want. I told my sis I'd take care of this... I can't face her until I make that right — and since it looks like you've got a penchant for saving my ass..." He trails off, shrugging suggestively.
I lead Glitch off the mains, take to the narrow, damp little alleys between and behind and below. The veil is everywhere, but there's gaps and our presence should be that much harder to trace.
I lead him to one of the seedy little public plug-bars... where you can juice your sleeve and swim into the veil on borrowed signal without a physical care. We can plug in a public port here and I can send a call for help to Nem... she's helped me in the past when I needed to get lost.
I pause, though... is this guy worth what it's going to take? This is a big favor to pull for ... basically a stranger. But I feel for the guy... I feel him.
"Whatever happens, you don't owe me shit... I'm on the books for tonight, don't even ask me who. It doesn't matter... I'm just glad I didn't see you get wiped."
I'll send a message to Nem once we get situated. Access here is cheap, if not reliable. And yeah, I've been in places like this before if not this particular dive.
You tell him he doesn't owe you anything, but you know it doesn't work that way... Not with him, or anyone else for that matter. He shakes his head, "that ain't right. You should own my ass right now... I owe you my life."
Take 1-Giri over Glitch for saving his life.
Mnemosyne, You're in the middle of a dive when you receive a ping from Havana. Do you invite her to a private room of yours? Or do you meet her out in the public space of the veil?
"Yeah?" I answer him, "make sure you don't waste it, right?"
I try to settle my mind and wait to hear from Nem. It shouldn't take long at the speed of thought through the Veil. But I know I'm probably the last person she expected to hear from. It's been a long time.
Havana calls, and while I feel a pulse of anxiety, considering what they've seen of my weaker moments, I rapidly develop a construct for us to meet inside.
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 2. Total: 6)
Rolling to help: +2Peaceful (Feeling Trusting of Nem)
(Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 6, 2. Total: 10)
The veil flows thickly here, for whatever reason. There are times when making a construct is more of an art than a science. Havana's connection, their fluidity, gives me an unexpected element and I'm able to weave it into the fabric of the construct.
While it is small and I have to actively maintain it, it is a very secure connection.
"Hello, Havana-san. This is an unexpected honor after so long, but not an unwelcome one."
The veil feels not quite as home as not, but I can operate in either place.
Mnemosyne is beautiful and confident here, and through her concentration I feel trust and strength. Like I'm welcomed into her realm.
"Mnemosyne, so good to sense you again," I use her full name, saying it is like singing and I like how it feels, "wouldn't you know, I've got myself a little problem and I feel you may have my answers..."
I feel Glitch waiting nearby. He doesn't know how lucky he's been today.
"Someone's with me here... someone in need of shelter from eyes and minds."
Interesing. Havana's seeming ease in the construct. They're someone who has the potential to truly inhabit the veil. It's not as common as you might think.
"I see... Tell me what you have in mind, and the circumstances. How long and how extensively is said shelter required?"
I do have some idea.
"The situation is serious," I explain without too much detail, "someone may be tracing us... and it feels bigger than I know. He needs to disappear until things settle... I'm sorry I don't know how long that is. I just hope I've come out clean."
I realize I may be tagged, but... I'm hard to pin down unless you know me. And I was on the payroll so I shouldn't be too suspect.
"I realize I ask too much of you, but you're the best wizard I know."
I give them a slight bow. "I'm honored by the compliment, Havana-san. Are you claiming my giri to you then, or do you intend some other arrangement?"
"I am," I say with casual confidence, "protect him from harm, for the time being. And ensure that we can't be traced..." though a dark specter following us gives me pause... that was meat-space. Someone had eyes on us... I'll explain to Mnemosyne later.
“Very well, I can temporarily spoof his chip to a courier and mask his current signal as a maintenance subroutine and overwrite his local presence. The more thorough work will necessitate an in-person meeting and an entirely off-line construct. I can arrange the isolation but it will take some time.”
I open my hand, and offer her what looks like an exquisitely sculpted chocolate.
“Have him incorporate this code. It should give me what I need to access him and make the necessary changes. Convey that doing this constitutes an agreement for me to do whatever is necessary… and it’s not without risk.”
"When you have the space, we'll be there," I add, and obfuscate the code-bite on my person. I'll explain to Glitch once we're disconnected.
"Thank you, Mnemosyne," I consider for a moment, her feelings... she's hard to read in here. In the construct. "I look forward to seeing you again."
"And I, you, Havana-san. Good fortune."
Do I truly? It is something I question. Not for Havana herself but for my own feelings of vulnerability to her.
I bow once again and unspool the construct.
I take his hand, subtly, between us and open it. The digital chocolate flickers into being in my palm, the skin of my wrist and hand flicker with pinpricks of light, and I place it in his hand.
"Take this. Run the code and she'll help... it means you agree to do whatever's necessary and she's free to do whatever she needs to protect you. To protect both of us... if you don't want this. Walk out the door and good luck."
I nod, though, and on my face he can clearly see that if he's smart... he wants this.
He reaches out, and his hand hovers over the "chocolate". He sighs, pausing just a moment longer before he taps it, and his eyes roll back into his head...
Mnemosyne, roll Reconfigure, please.
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 4. Total: 10)
"Woah," he finally whispers, "that was fucked. What was that? Who's helping us?"
"Only the best wizard in town," I answer. It's hard, even though I had nothing at all to do with this, not to feel kind of awesome about it. Holding the knowledge close to my chest feels like I'm responsible for this.
"You probably shouldn't go home," I glance around the place to make sure nodobly's eyes-on us as we start to get up to leave, "let's lay low until we're called in. Wizard's going to want to meet you."
He nods in agreement, "my sister would likely look there first, anyway... Can... Can I stay with you?" There's a hint of something in his voice — something mixed in with the hope that he can repay you, somehow.
I glance at him, without the augmentation of the veil he's just... a normal looking guy. I wonder when he got those codes. Old tech... there's cleaner ways to shine. If you've got the creds.
I sigh, "it's probably not what you expect..." I shrug slightly, I don't invite people home often. It doesn't fit my image, and in my line of work I'm more often crashing at someone else's place when overnight's happen.
"Come on then," I heard that hope in his voice. And truth is the guy's not bad to look at, "let's get off the street."
I lead him home.
Some time passes. Nobody comes for you – or at least not yet. Glitch has been working frantically to find a place to stay other than your place, but hasn't been successful, as everyone he knows would be in his sister's circle. How has sharing your living space been?
He sees me tuned down... not completely, but I'm not all glam for the clubs, or even flashy for daily living. He met me at this elegant place where I was keeping it down low and I leave it like that. No, we don't sleep together.
I'm not surprised he's having trouble. He's wanted by the Daimyo, like as not, and even worse by that unknown stalker. I tell him just to wait until we've seen the wizard,
but maybe he doesn't want to owe me more, or he just wants to look sharp in front of me so he's trying to find his own safety. Good for him... but not likely.
If he's here long enough then I head out to "work" and leave him... I don't think he's going to rip me off. But he's got to avoid drawing attention. My living space is on the line, but so is his actual life. So... I think he'll be good.
He is a good looking guy, though... hope he likes take out.