A Phone With No Ringtone

Posted on Sat Apr 15th, 2023 @ 4:43pm by Regular Haren Moira & Team Leader Arani Ravenlocke
Edited on on Mon Aug 7th, 2023 @ 4:44am

Mission: Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
Location: Arani's Office

An advertisement. Simple, and surprisingly effective. It certainly caught someone's eye. She glanced over the advertisement again. An investigation team? Hmmm, sounded intriguing. The rabbitess had an amused smile on her features as she did a quick background check. Hmmm, no outstandings, no fixers looking to score a bounty, seemingly this one was one of those rare moments where it was actually legit. Or at least, as legitimate as this society actually allowed you to be. Even the half-elf that posted the blip was legit. Either that, or she paid an awful lot for a life. A life well lived, from the surface glance.

"I think I'll give this one a shot." she said to herself. It was time to reach out and touch someone. Eyes dazzling as she started her trade.

Meanwhile, in an office of a certain half-elf investigator, a phone buzzed with the notion of a new text message. "Your advertisement for an investigation firm has my attention. I'd like to discuss the particulars. Meet and greet, Joe's Diner. Two hours. If you accept, reply to this message with your date of birth. Year only. Consider this your captcha."

Arani grumbled, she'd barely had enough to buy this place and get it cleared out - work would need to pay for the rest of her plans for converting the former repair shop into something useable. But it had a little bit to work with for now, and that would have to suffice.

She returned to her desk and opened one of the drawers. It had some writing supplies but also two pistols - a well cared for 9mm semi auto that had been popular when she got into "the game" but long since overshadowed by newer types. And a well worn snub nosed magnum revolver that she didn't touch. The latter reminding her why she was here.

Her phone, which had been working through various pop hits of the 80s on its music player, chirped for a message. She picked up the phone and looked at the message. Oddly specific but if they knew this information, they'd done their homework.

"1965" was the reply she sent back before pulling the semi-auto pistol out of the drawer and tucked it into the holster at the small of her back under her jacket. She then searched the location for the diner. With that, she closed up the shop, got into her dark grey compact sedan, and headed for the diner.

The diner was local, ish. A nice dive. The kind that didn't ask questions and didn't remember faces when the authorities asked. A nice place to visit, just don't order anything other than the coffee.

Waiting for the half-elf at a booth was an expensive looking rabbitess, an oddity this far downtown. Usually her kind stayed in the well to do upper districts, where the rich folk could afford curve with a bit of fur on them. The gleam in her eye told another story, a story of work done after the fact. Stories had been told of folks selling their soul for power, but those with credit didn't sell their soul but instead sold their flesh. That shine to the eye told the entire story.

With a nod she motioned to the other side of the booth. "I'm glad you came, let's talk business." she offered. A cup of coffee was already in front of the rabbitess, her tone devoid of any accent, but from her features and form she was a long, long, long way from home. "I'm Kaguya." a name that anyone with a finger on the pulse would know. A hacker. And a damn good one at that. Depending on who you asked, word said she either went rogue, went dead, or was actually six people working together to throw off the trail. Turns out they might all be wrong.

"Arani." She said, settling in to the booth. She also betrayed no accent, the product of work and practice to not give away her French upbringing.

"Now that is a bold claim. You're well researched but that claim...that's another level. Either you're willing to make that claim and back it up, you're name dropping to test me or you're hoping I don't check you and end up hiring a copycat." Arani said, leaning forward for a moment before leaning back.

"Japanese corporate security tends to hire internally, so to speak. They also go pretty heavy on the cybernetics, leading the way in that field. And from what I hear, competition is downright lethal in their ranks. They also have a similar reaction to corporate betrayal - turn on the employee but never the employer." Arani arched an eyebrow, "Which begs the question of if we're going to be expecting a cleanup crew or not?"

"You're right, on all counts save one: No cleanup crews are expected. Like Icarus, I fell. Unlike him, I survived. Ousted from paradise." the rabbitess across the way waved her hand to dispel the smoke of further clarification. "I burned some, someone burned me. I had the sense to recognize the writing on the wall and leave before *I* became the writing on the wall. No, no one is coming to finish the job, since Death before Dishonor implies that one is worse than the other."

She paused to take a sip of her coffee. Wretched stuff, but it was pure ambrosia compared to their version of tea. "As for your skepticism, test me." a bold claim, essentially putting the full weight of calling the bluff into Arani's court. "Check up on an ex, perhaps? Check an investment of a rival?" she suggested.

"Well, I can do without the excitement a cleanup crew can bring. But a test? Okay. How about access into the PD's database? I wouldn't mind knowing some of the n'er do'ells in this town - helps to know who we could be potentially upsetting." Arani offered with a half grin.

The rabbitess gave a nod, and silently went to work. Her eyes, already a dazzling blue, seemed to illuminate a bit more beyond the color and hue. Flecks of dazzling scintillated across her irises as she just sat there for a moment. "Alright, GCPD firewall. Accessing the standard files." she announced, more for Arani's reference than her own requirement. Sipping her coffee, she continued, a deep breath as she furthered her work. "Isolating the mainframe, tracing to I/O node, slicing the ice." she offered, and then finally she gave a nod. "And, I'm in. Let's see... that, that, that aaaaaaaaaand that. Earmarked and copying." she offered, "A copy of the last ten casefiles, local, are mine. You get one." the rabbitess offered, and gave a nod. Then Arani's phone rang to indicate an incoming text message. Attached is a collection of files and photos.

"If you like what you see, you hire me, and you get the rest." business bun was business at this point. The digital infiltration took about, maybe fifteen minutes. From start to delivery.

Arani looked it over and nodded, tucking her phone away and pulling out an old steel cigarette case, but then stopped herself and put it away, an annoyed sigh realizing that smoking wasn't acceptable here.

"Okay. I'm putting together a team. Grace Point has too many problems, so we're not contributing to that. We'll take work as it comes, equal split of pay across the team plus whatever gear we liberate. You can walk away at any time but anyone who leaves a knife in our backs catches a bullet if they come back." Arani leaned forward, "I'm not big on forgiveness for betrayal. Call it a character flaw."

"In my own words, I've been a mercenary my entire adult life. Did a tour with the Foreign Legion to get the basics, then I went out on my own. Name a battlefield from the late 80s onward, odds are good I was there. Unlike some of the types you may think of when that word comes to mind, I honor my agreements and I don't tolerate collateral damage." Arani explained, "So that probably then explains why I was the last thing some very bad people and things never saw - because I was behind the scope of a high powered rifle."

"Got a little magic training but not much. I'm also trying to improve my people skills - spent a bit too long as a lone wolf or in small teams I never saw again." She shrugged, "But that's me in a nutshell. And the job is to hopefully do some good for the people here."

The rabbitess listened to the details as they were explained. "You won't have to worry about me using my talents to make openings for any upward mobility here."

She paused, "Not looking to see how much further I can fall. Also your company is too small. Though, as a bonus, I'll keep an ear out for anyone gunning for your chair."

"Any magic training you have trumps mine. Lost that with the wetware. Cold iron wires and gallium shock assemblies cut me off from what my people had. Though, I traded one magic for another, you could say." A pause, "My name is Moira. This is my 'I'm interested in the job' face." she reached across the table to offer a hand. Even her hand showed subtle signs of how much of her had been replaced to get ahead. Thin filagree along the fingers and palm, and the hint of an access port on her inner wrist.

"Pay and plunder work for me. Next question is, do I work for you?"

Arani chuckled and shook the offered hand, "I'd say you're hired then. I learned long ago that when people fall, you either catch them at the threshold or they fall so far to be beyond reach."