Bootstrapped (2050)

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« on: <09-20-12/1143:53> »
October 11, 2052
5:37 PM

The noodle house smelled better than it looked. Its chipped walls and dangling wallpaper surrounded a tight space of bolted down furniture and mostly checkered floors. Still, it was clean and the food real which was more than enough for Revo. He stepped in from the light acid rain and took care to remove his hood and rebreather without getting a drop on himself.

He flashed a smile at the proprietress, who harrumphed when she recognized him, and unlimbered the chem-sealed case on his back.

It was warm. The soups' steam and the press of people, mostly orks, heated the place up even though mother nature made it plain that she wanted a grim, rainy autumn day. He hung his armoured coat on a rack, with the protective gear alongside, assured that any thieves would at least think twice before stealing from him.

His Ares Predator II hung openly on his hip. Everyone here wore Revo noted as he scanned the early evening crowd for a face. His light skin and blue eyes set him apart immediately from the crowd, but he was a familiar sight and something of a legend--in the Barrens.Only the Barrens was changing, in this little corner hope carved itself out a noodle house.

Another smile found its way to his face with just a few steps in. Laughter was bouncing off the walls from families sitting huddled around an older relative, ricocheting right into him. He nodded to a few as he made his way past, requiring more dancing than walking to get to the other end of the room. Some of the waitresses bumped into him accidentally along the way, a coy smile or a pout on their lips. The proprietress clucked at each bump, shaking her head at no one in particular. His chemsealed case never came close to getting dinged.

His friend Byter watched him as he meandered towards the ork's table though the decker never looked up from his meal, his third judging by the stack of dishes to the left.  Byter's thick sunglasses were familiar to Revo. A shiny, chrome-and-white deck sat upright beside the ork on its own seat, close as a lover. Revo only spotted one remote camera on the way in.

Getting better at hiding the stuff, good, he approved mentally as he took his seat.

"Hoi, Byter," he began as the ork raised his left hand to welcome him.

"Uy, Revo, pare! Salamat for the food, man," the decker spouted as he chewed and slurped from a bowl. He gave him a thumbs-up and a smile, holding it long enough for the proprietress to walk over and slam a bowl down in front of Revo and walk away. Gently, the decker unplugged several cords plugged at his temple and behind his ears, and got ready to eat for real.

"Thanks, Mami Baby!" Revo shouted at her retreating back, with an earnestness that turned a few heads and did nothing to melt the armour of ice she wore against him. The place took its name from the food; a filipino dish called mami made with as much natural ingredients as one could find in the Barrens. Which was a surprisingly large amount for the resourceful. With typical filipino humour, the place had been called 'Baby's Mami' and the mother of seven became 'Mami Baby'. She was fifteen.

"No problem, pare." Revo said as he dug into his bowl. After his first few spoonfuls, the decker began waving his hand in front of Revo's eyes.

The ork guffawed. "No poison today man. Maybe next time..." They chuckled and got back to the business of eating.

A small plate of lumpia arrived, and the two stabbed into the rolls before the waitress could set it down. Both smiled at the clash of scavenged stainless steel forks, ignoring just what the fried roll used as 'meat'. Revo ate this well maybe twice a month, and he was willing to let biz wait.

Finally, with their bowls drained, the two laid back on their chairs and drank their soybeers. Satisfying warmth spread across Revo's body, almost enough to make him forget his worries for a while. A storm of little feet battered through the ceiling as dozens of children ran downstairs to their waiting families and their still-warm meals. Months back, Revo and Byter had been part of a run against Cross Applied Technologies. It was a smooth extraction, and their way in and out was by posing as staff for the extractee's kid's school: the little brat was the deal-breaker for the extractee, so they spent weeks working as custodians. The school, deep in corp-town out west, wanted to attract a better class of student and wanted the impression it was rich enough to hire actual people as janitorial staff.

It also meant that their current electronic tools needed to be upgrade. Coincidentally, a small school had sprung up in the second floor of the noodle house thanks to his and Byter's donations: an assortment of fairly new vid screens and two kiddiedecks running tutorsofts on year-old optichips.

Thanks to the decker, they even had very limited Matrix access whenever the neighbourhood had power, which was never a regular thing. So when the power was on, it was school time.

Some of the kids ran into the waiting arms of young waitresses and busboys; their parents working for their food and an education for their kids. The older parents grew their own food, like so many families had to, and traded what they could spare for one of their children to have an education: the eldest would go, then  teach their younger siblings at home.

Just last month, Revo scored big and bought all the kids, not just the ones in class, writing pads and a new batch of tutorsofts.The kids still gripped the pads tightly to their chests even as they sat and ate, grinning and overflowing with what they'd learned today. The school had grown from a dozen to nearly fifty since his last donation, which included a certified credstick with several thousand nuyen. A pair of bedraggled teachers limped down the stairs after the kids, sitting on the bar with their waiting bowls of soup. They waved at Revo and Byter and began grading homework as they ate.

The durable pads ran on solar power and were made by the good people at MCT. Somehow, that pissed off Mami Baby and she'd grown distant from him since. Revo glanced at the young ork lady, stirring another pot and looking and smiling everywhere but their general direction.

He shrugged at his decker friend, who shook his head with a smile. "One day, pare, she'll warm up again. Best be soon, I want you two getting along." Byter added seriously and loud enough to carry. Byter himself was a kid of sixteen, more than full-grown by ork standards and had scrounged and saved enough to do well for himself, especially since their recent payout.

That last run was why Revo was here. It had gone to drek for him soon after he got paid. No one wanted to talk to him, and he didn't know why. He was down to calling in markers that he'd saved for rainy days. Like today, mused Revo as he swallowed the last of his soybeer. Byter owed him nuyen and at least a few pints of blood. The decker waited patiently.

"Pare," buddy, "I need a favour."


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« Reply #1 on: <09-20-12/1910:15> »
Looks Good Ethan, looking forward to the next part.  ;D
Perception molds reality
Change perception and reality will follow


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« Reply #2 on: <09-21-12/1638:10> »
Thanks, Black!


October 13, 2052
2:37 PM

The telecom rang two days later, seemingly surprised that it itself was still functional. The first few notes sounded uncertain but like a half-forgotten favourite song it flowed as the notes became familiar again. It rang three more times before the message system kicked in. The decade-old unit beeped triumphantly every ten seconds afterwards.

Revo sat on his futon, the only bed that he could afford to keep in his tiny box of an apartment, and smiled a little bit more at each beep. He stood and rolled the futon, tucking it under some macroplast furniture, softened by some cushions, which were the only concessions he made to softening the spartan room. There was a bathroom with its own shower, a mini-kitchen large enough for a small fridge, a broken soyprocessor, and a sink that sometimes had water, and this central room. His landlord called it a "Bachelor's Suite" and found it odd that he wasn't rooming with someone else to share the space. No windows, two stark lights, and recycled flooring. It was a luxury for SINless like him.

The proud beeping ended moments later as Revo flicked on the playback. A text message flickered on the screen: Tonight 7PM. Bring case. A message saying that the sender's LTG number was available for a 1 nuyen fee flashed in the background, but Revo didn't bother. He'd been waiting two days for that call and knew who made it.

6:55 PM

The skyline glittered proudly with the pointed tower shining the brightest in the middle of skyrakers. Another too bright night of glamour for the people downtown. Revo snorted then stepped into honest darkness. The bar used was a car repair shop once; its heavy pneumatics that once raised family cars at the start of the century now raised mostly stable stages. The dance floor was permanently up, its edges and stairs lit up by neon, while on three sides were smaller stages for performers.

It already had a dozen people in various stages of sobriety. A young elf girl was descending on one of the stages to scattered applause and whistling. She wore pieces of several exposed chipboards with wires attached to a sleek looking 'deck on her back. Her every step was in balance, not with a ballerina's grace but a machine's precision. She glanced at Revo, her wholly blue eyes whirring almost audibly as she sized him up in a tick: knee-long dark brown leather jacket, dark jeans, solid boots, a white v-neck, and a toothy grin. She dismissed him just as easily as she wound towards a booth nestled in the corner.

Setting his case by the bar, Revo ordered a glass of ice water and waited. He tipped the bartender in Cross scrip, enough to cover the cost of a real alcoholic drink, and got a bowl of soypretzels to go with his very real water. He stood up when his ringwatch read 6:59 and walked towards the shadowed booth. The elf girl stormed past him, her blue eyes almost glowing like lasers in hate. He shrugged back and took the spot opposite the dwarf he came to see.

Grover could have passed for a short human if it weren't for the cords of muscle that hid behind layers of fat. He took up almost half of the booth. 'Dwarf' was definitely a misnomer. Revo didn't smile, it just pissed Grover off and he couldn't afford to anger the bar owner and part-time fixer tonight.

"Auditions," the dwarf wheezed in explanation. "Run needs a charmer," Grover said, "and you, apparently, qualify."

Revo nodded gravely and waited for more. In moments the dwarf's brow furrowed and he jerked his head at the stage; the cluster of datajacks at his left temple glistened as it caught the odd light. It looked like a large spider's head was embedded on the side of his face with all its eyes plucked out.

With case in hand Revo stepped on the lowered stage. It rose, stuttering a few times, then finally squealed to the proper height.

Under a spotlight, instrument in hand, Revo began to play and sing. The mutterings stopped, the drinking slowed, and the bar was filled with music. He played three songs, all his, and it was over quickly. Solid applause drowned the protestations of the abused stage mechanisms, and he could see modicums of respect in the crowd's eyes. Revo strutted to Grover's booth, daring a small smile.

Grover waited till he sat down and nodded. "Alright," he whispered, "come back tomorrow."

Revo stood and smiled with his back towards the overly-rotund dwarf. That's the nicest thing he's said to me Revo thought as he walked out of the bar.

He stepped out into the cool early evening air, dry for the first time this week, and breathed in--though not too deeply. The smile vanished as he heard the familiar click of a pistol leveled at his head.


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« Reply #3 on: <05-24-15/1806:03> »
Hope there's more where that came from! :)