ShadowRun Message Game (BDB)
for Noriko Ariushi aka “Zero”; cross-referenced New Orleans
Noriko “Zero” Ariushi glided down into the stool, taking the contoured,
magenta temperfoam with a neat slew. Gloved hands hung a hair-width from the
minute puddles on the bar, opaqued against the shifting hues inside The Metro.
He rode the foot rails, pivoting smartly, perfectly.
“Dirk. Sumasen,” he replied, an imperceptible nod shifting his square
frame ever so slightly. Cuplinks twinkled. “You are in time. As always.”
“Of course,” the elf replied. “As you are. I believe this is yours.”
The elf opened a pale, slender hand. A cylinder, the size of a cigarette, laid
on his cupped palm, its smooth, dull chrome finish was seamless, diffused
lightning from the strobe projection above skirting its translucent reflection
across its curved surface.
Zero smiled, the perfect white teeth a neat ivory cut that shot a chic
slash below the cold, pale-blue diamonds of his eurasian eyes. “Excellent. As
is yours.” He reached delicately into his buttoned jacket and withdrew a flat,
squarish softcase, the leatherette contours as sharp as the creases of his
Ginza suit. He handed it to the elf and took the cylinder, his casual
efficiency in time to the percussions running the Metro.
The elf opened the case on his lap. Flush in rigid, charcoal-gray foam
laid four parallel credit sticks. The elf eyed their flawless, black mirrored
surfaces, a slender finger brushing the gold trim that ran from top to bottom.
They were clean accounts, four keys to access four pigeonholes in a Swiss
account cluster somewhere, discretely maintained by the Lancaster Corporation
just outside of official networks for covert payrolls such as the elf’s. His
turn to smile. He snapped the case close abruptly. Regrouping composure.
“Everything is in order.”
“Of course,” the elf acknowledged matter-of-factly. “Saraya was an easy
one, I must admit. Ares is to be commended for their security precautions. But
really,” –the elf grinned– “to depend on these barbaric city samurai who
know nothing of honor. The success of the infiltration was but inevitable.”
“So.” Zero smiled thinly. “Taylor arrives in Seattle in five days.
Kazumi security will be another matter entirely.”
“To err?” The elf asked. He shook his head, grinning. “Unspeakable.”
“Make sure,” Zero replied curtly. “We do not speak of UCAS heimin now,
Tanto. Kazumi is kuge, their men trained in the ways of Ninja. You will not
find them so easily fooled. Indeed, they may fool you.”
“You do not trust me, Ariushi-san?” The elf asked sternly.
“I trust no one until the task is complete.”
“I have brought you the first key,” the elf replied angrily, his
malevolence lost in the Metro’s assault of lights and steady strings of long,
hard guitar licks. “One more, Noriko, and your ‘UCAS heimin’ corporation can
obtain the prototype cultures they seek for!”
“And that is the reason why trust is irrelevant, Tanto,” Zero replied
coldly. “Emotion seizes you at the most trivial of times. An invitation to
failure.” He pivoted slightly on his stool and faced the elf.
The elf stared at him, jaws clenching and unclenching. But Zero had the
angle now, years of training shifting his posture into an Octagonal Fighting
Stance that offered no offensive opportunity. The elf knew this, albeit no
consolation; at least one concealed weapon was already aimed at him. That he
knew as well. He turned away.
“Taylor in five days. Kazumi will get a good fight.”
“Of course.” Zero stood up, cuff-links hitting a pinch of cyan light,
his well-tailored frame a dark emptiness in the kaleidoscopic display of
pulsating light. The elf followed suit. Zero smiled sardonically. “A hard
bourbon will do you well. You look pale.”
The elf smiled emptily and bowed slightly. He said, “The key provides a
reference to a single identity. A Melissa Saraya.”
“That is all?”
“I will verify. In the meantime, where?”
“New Orleans, UCAS.”
Zero smiled. “We journey to opposite sides of the continent, then.” He
bowed smartly. “Arigato.”
“You are welcome.”
An hour at 40,000 feet on SST Lane 35 out of LAX. Noriko landed
twenty-seven past midnight, renting an Elite with his own credit. Being
official business, Lancaster had opened Level 2 credit lines for him out of a
local Wells Fargo branch that was only too happy to welcome the exhorbinant
business. But it would be much more dangerous that way, Noriko thought. Ares
would be feeling out the networks now, running through transaction records in
the hope of finding the telltale pattern of intensive corporate activity as
reflected in the heavy, conspicious flow of resources to and from the
suspected area. The key Dirk had “obtained” from Ares R&D personnel Bernadette
Saraya pointed to New Orleans. Ares Macrotechnology Incorporated will be
A second-floor room registered at the Hyatt Regency, and Noriko’s base
of operation was complete. He was starving, too, he thought, as he closed the
door behind him, keying the security pad for a 10-hour full-level lock. His
gloved index finger hung over the ENTER overlay for a second before he thumbed
for ABORT, grabbed his coat, and went out the door.
After hours in New Orleans, he thought as he started the Toyota. Let us
see what New Orleans has to offer for Zero.