Personal log of Kowalski, Roger
A masked courier was meeting us. Burned the RFID chips in our clothes with a device, that I identified as an illegal Tag Eraser, possession is a federal crime, took the chip with the recording and handed over an other. Then went off on his bike. He didn’t talk at all. “What was that for?”, Babsie asked. “He killed all chips we had on us. RFID, that’s the small chips in every clothes, shoes and everything which are used to track them in the retailing process. And you can use them to identify people and track them in the matrix.” “And that’s harmless?” “Harmless enough, but it’s deadly illegal.” “Illegal as gun possession?” “No. Illegal as possession of a military grade hardware, say a machine gun or assault rifle with grenade launcher.” “Ah. Arbitrary. Law is just a joke.” “Babsie, we are going underground. We are going into the shadows.” “You mean like in the flicks, Sukie Redflower and that?” “Babsie, this is no flick. It’s deadly serious. We fuck this up, we go swimming for the rest of our lives. Try not to sound so excited, will you?”
It was the middle of the night and we were ordered to drive to north Snohomish. We took the public transport system and payed the bus fare with the new checkstick we gotten from the courier. It was a truck-stop on the nine where we found us between tired truckers, fatty beans and bacon breakfasts and a country music playing music box at four o’clock in the morning, waiting. Like we were told to do by the instruction.
The people were mostly humans, with a few orcs between them. Mostly bad shaved and most likely put on long haul, which would keep you awake for four days without sleep, but which leaves black shadows under your eyes after the second day you are turned on. The old lady with the mono cybereye was bringing us a strong kaf and truckers breakfast. Some of the folks were watching us, part curious, part bored, part maybe hostile. We had been ordered to sit in the back corner of the bar, because, like they put it, “her kind will not be allowed to sit with the humans.” At least the orcs were sitting with us but it was peaceful and nobody was looking for trouble of any kind. At four o’clock in the morning there is nobody looking for a fight.
It was already ten minutes behind schedule, when two ganger were entering the bar. They were orcs, they had tribal tattoos on their faces and were wearing some patches I didn’t recognize. Babsie whispered: “That’s a gang Blood… I know what’s their name, I had one of them as a client once. Blood Mountain Boys. I recognize their colors. Not their turf here.”
They were looking around for a moment, then were walking up to the table next to us. They were subtle like a jackhammer in a porcelain manufacture. “You go outside. Black van on the left. Get inside. Wait.” The orc with golden tusks was trying to keep his voice low, but on the other hand nobody around seems to care too much about the tourists with his pretty companion, that were buggered by some orc gangers. Everybody was just looking away.
We paid and did what was told. They joined us a breakfast later, while we were waiting in the van, of which the slide-door had been left open for us. So that we would not be hanging around too obviously on the parking lot. In the middle of the night, during the heavy pouring rain.
But we were wet to the bones anyway. The two orcs joined us and simply started to drive off. No ‘hello’, no names, nothing. So we kept the silence too.
The windows in the back of the van were painted black, so the only thing we were able to spot was the street in front of us, badly lit by the spotlights and washed away to some expressionistic painting by the heavy rain. I could only guess where we were driving to.
We were turning right, and left some times, until the road went very bad and we bumped around on our seats. Finally we stopped and some concrete tank barriers were blocking the road. “Just wait here”, was the first word we heard in over halve an hour. The two got out and carried the barriers to the side of the road. Nice trick, I thought, because those barriers seemed to be replaced by something else. Nobody would be able to lift a tank barrier. After we were through they sat the barriers in their places and it was going on for a few minutes, until one of them got out and opened a sort of hidden gate in a fence. Then we were through. I guessed, we just had passed the NAN border to Seattle.
The two gangers were talking to each other. But the hammering of the rain and the noise of driving over the bad road made it impossible to understand anything. But I thought I heard that they said, that the patrol drones were useless scrap in a weather like this. But I could only guess.
“Get out here. We were told to leave you here.” One of the orcs finally had turned around. The one with the golden tusks. The other, smaller one with that Mohawk had that scar over his chin that was looking like a scar of a knife-fight. “The cardboard-box behind that other one in black is yours. Take it. Leave.”
In the moment we had left the van, they took off, without a ‘good-bye’ or anything. We hurried to get under the bus-stop shelter. “What’s the instruction tell?”, Babsie asked. I checked my commlink. “We are collected at six in the morning. And we are supposed to change.” “Change?” “Check the box.” We found two armor jackets, cargo pants and two trekking rucksacks all in some kind of outdoor bush camouflage. A pair of new boots for each of us. Babsie had checked the stuff cursory. “Survival packs and camping stuff”, she said, “each one of us has a piece of tarp, rope, sleeping bag. What does that mean?” “Guess Tyrell is going to hide us somewhere in the wilderness.” “Okay. I’m wet to the bones. I switch into the new stuff, don’t know what you do.”
It felt better. It was a good jacket with insulation and protection against rain, then we sat on the seat in that bus stop shelter and waited. “We have new names”, I said. “What names?” “Let me check. You are ‘Terry Lane’, I am ‘Dirk Gently’.” “Okay”, she said, “Terry.” She had rolled up her sleeves a bit because her jacket and pants were a bit too large. “We have to wait for an other hour.” She was falling asleep shortly after that as if she had been switched off. I sat there and thought about what just had happened.