Stormy Waters: Al & Alyce Side Thread

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« Reply #450 on: <08-02-16/2011:47> »
“Fuckin’ A that’s not Al Guthrie?”

A tall, rangy man in brown trousers, blue shirt, and tie borrowed from the front desk towered above the table. Al had met Mitch Fields in India a few years back. Something to do with imports. They had crossed paths a couple of times since. Al nodded with a grin and the man sat down. 

“Moving up in the world. Job?”

“No baby, Al ain’t workin’. On vacation.”

“Well, glad for it, since I heard you were on a different sort of rest break for the last year or so.”

Al raised his glass in a toast. “To whatever sumbitch took over the gummint this year, and the magnanimity he done shown to us the most vile o’ sinners.”

Gaptooth brought Mitch a beer, and he drank it in one long, deep pull. “Listen, Al, great seeing you, but I can’t stay. Hitting the trail tonight.”

“Do tell, amigo.”

“Sweet gig, Al, but it’s deep in the bush. Huge payoff, though. Too bad you’re doing so well here - we could use a guy like you.”

“Who couldn’t?” Al asked without a hint of irony. “What’s up?”

“Birds, my friend.” He nodded his head to the giant parrot on the other side of the lounge. “You know what a bird like that sells for? More than the bounty on the big predatory paras, and they’re not even dangerous. Only trick is finding them.”

Al’s interest was piqued. “An’ you got a line on a twenty?”

“Solid, Al. But its a hard hike. If it wasn’t, it’d be cleaned out by now. We’re going to chopper in to save time, but we still put it at three days in, one or two to grab the birds, then three back out.” He must have seen something in Al’s face. “Too bad you’re on vacation, you know?”

“Well, ya say you’ll be back in a week? Hell, I might have that long anyway. But I’d have ta be back in a week. Meetin’ someone.”

“Like I said, we figure eight days. If everything goes off smoothly.”

“Right, kemo sabe, ‘bout a week. I'll got get my shit.”

Mercy Merchant

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« Reply #451 on: <08-15-16/0041:26> »
Alyce sits in the bar of the poshest hotel in Phnom Penh and wonders what went wrong.  She had arrived in the city and gone to the hotel, almost giddy with anticipation.  The doctor at the hospital had reached her to let her know that Al had come out of his coma and checked himself out.  A quick check of the registries of the hotels was all it took to tell her where he had gone to.  After disembarking from the aircraft, she had taken a taxi to the hotel and asked about the penthouse suite.  To her surprise she found that it was available and that Mister Al Guthrie had checked out two days earlier, leaving no forwarding address.  Stunned, Alyce had insisted on checking the suite, just in case Al was playing a joke of some kind on her.  He was not there and none of his things were, either.  Now she is sitting in the bar, completely at a loss for perhaps the second time in her long life.

A gap-toothed girl comes up to her to take her drink order and with the seemingly unerring ability of good waiters and waitresses everywhere, seems to notice that Alyce is a bit out of sorts.  The bar is slow at this time of day and the girls slides onto a chair across from a startled Alyce when she brings the drink.  "Am on break.  Why pretty girl seem sad?  Why sit alone?  Many men would want to eat with, maybe dance, maybe take to bed?"

Alyce gives the girl a thoughtful glance then says, "I do not feel too pretty right now.  I do not feel too much of anything right now.  Say, you would not happen to remember if a man was in here over the past few days, would you?"  She describes Al for the girl, who thinks for a bit.

"Are you jealous wife or girlfriend?"

Alyce laughs and shakes her head.  "Girlfriend, yes, or at least I think I am.  Jealous, no.  He can sleep with anyone he wants to.  So you have seen him?"

"Yes.  Man like that was here, but leave here maybe two days ago.  But not with woman.  He leave with man.  Man come in bar and go talk, call out name Al Guthrie, like know him.  They talk, they drink, then they leave together.  Not know name of other man but not regular here.  Only come once, maybe twice before.  Was I any help?"

Alyce nods her head.  "Yes, you have been a great help.  Thank you very much.  Can you please bring me another of these and try to keep anyone from bothering me?  I need to think."

The waitress nods and rises from the table, returning in a bit with another drink for Alyce, who is already lost in the matrix.  Her body is sitting against the wall of a booth in the bar, but her mind is already soaring into the VR world.  She is looking for Al and the mysterious man.  She knows that Al is unlikely to be connected to the matrix, but looks anyway, just in case.  It does not take her long to realize that her initial assumption is correct and she gives up on that approach.  Scanning the databases of the rail, shipping, and airport traffic over the past few days yields a nugget for her to mine.  The name Al Guthrie shows up on the manifest of a helicopter heading into the jungle of the northwest.  The craft is a contract job and she has little trouble getting the name of the man who hired it.  Unfortunately, the ID does not match the description of the man Al was last seen with.  The secure records of the helicopter charter company are not as secure as they would hope and Alyce burns through the firewall in seconds, isolates the information she seeks and leaves.  She now has a destination and a name.  Mitch Fields is known to her, although not in a nice way.  He had been a guide for the opposition on a visit she had made to India some years back.  Her opinion was that he was pretty sketchy at best, and downright crooked at worst.

Alyce slides back into her body and sees another drink refill on the table in front of her.  She takes it and raises it in a toast to the gap-toothed waitress, who nods and smiles in return.  Alyce searches her memory and comes up with the name of the girl from the badge she is wearing on her uniform.  A quick visit to the personnel files of the hotel gives her the hiring record and personal history of the girl, who appears to be a hard working single mother of three who works the bars to make ends meet.  Alyce finishes the drink and walks over to the girl, who is busy wiping tables down.  She thanks the girl and slips her a credstick.  "Mae, please accept this for the service you have done for me tonight.  I appreciate hard work and want to help you.  Can you leave here right now, tonight?"

The girl looks a bit frightened.  "No.  I have family here.  Three children.  Mother.  I support them.  Why ask?"

"Because I like you.  Take this card and call the man whose name is on it.  He will talk to you and help you leave this place.  I am looking for someone who works as hard as you do and will pay everything to get you to London.  With your children and mother.  It is a gift that you need to decide on soon.  Talk to this man and come work for me.  You will not regret it.  Take this stick and use it to buy what you need.  Keep it even if you decide to not come.  I hope to see you in London soon.  Farewell, Mae.  I have a man to track down."

Alyce sends a message to her EVO contact, letting him know that she was sending more people to him and that she would be going back into the jungle.  A taxi delivers her to the airport address for the helicopter charter company, where she tries to arrange for an immediate departure to where they had dropped off Al and the other man.  Here she ran into a wall even her money and contacts could not help her  Storms in the area would prevent the departure for the site for two weeks.  Alyce stormed and threatened and pleaded, but to no avail.  The only bright spot in this time was hearing that Mae had decided to take her up on the offer and was on her way to London and a new life. 

The weather finally broke and Alyce was lifted out to the retrieval site, where Al would be waiting to be picked up.  No one was there but the small village near the landing strip.  Alyce learned from talking to the villagers that the men on the helicopter had gone into the jungle and never returned.  The supplies they had taken with them would have been consumed long ago.  Distraught, Alyce remained in the village for another two weeks before chartering a ride back to Phnom Penh.  She knows in her heart that Al is not dead, despite the evidence to the contrary.  Her heart would know.  On the flight back to London, Alyce looks out the window of the sub-orbital and wonders what happened.  Why had Al left her without saying anything?  No message left in the room, nothing.  The story would have ended there if she did not love Al so very much that being without him hurt more than she could have imagined.  The pain was greater because it appeared that he had left of his own will and had not come back.  Something had happened to him, for sure, and she would do everything she could to find out what.  She is already making lists of people that can help and uses the matrix to send out descriptions and offers of a reward for credible information concerning the location of one Alouicious Harlan Guthrie.

Alyce loves him and knows that she will never stop hoping that he turns up and wants to be with her again.
"Speech"  *Thought*  <Matrix>