Spacer Outlaws in the Ashes 120
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    My phone rang.
    "Good morning," Scott greeted me.
    I winced at that relentlessly cheerful tone. "Morning. I was about to call you, what's up?"
    "Somebody broke into a pharmaceutical warehouse and stole enough chemicals to make about three hundred doses of synthetic Javelin last night."
    I set the phone down and held out my mug toward Dawn. "More coffee?" I requested. "Thank you." I picked the phone back up. "Are you guys at the office, or... not?"
    "Oh. I had a thought, would you ask Albert if he can dig up any photos of the staff at SysGen?"
    "How come?"
    "I might recognize one." It had occurred to me late the previous night that if I could put a name to that single face in my memory it might give us another good avenue to investigate.
    "You might, but it seems she was approached by someone outside the facility. She says she has a photo of him but I assume it's either on her computer or in her house someplace.
    She being the late doctor, I conjectured. "Shit. The police probably have it."
    "Ask Scott whether or not she has a developing lab in her house," Lucky suggested.
    I really hate it when she does that. Listening to both sides of a phone conversation that way may be handy for her, but it makes me uncomfortable. I asked Scott her question, and he said there had been no sign of a lab in the small house.
    "If she took it to a place that sends them out, sometimes they have doubles of the negatives. Find out where the nearest developing places are," Lucky continued, plucking the phone from my hand. "Why don't you have Albert go, he can talk anyone into giving him anything." He must have agreed. "I'm going to go," she went on, "maybe with Needle or Phoenix, maybe by myself, we haven't talked about it, but I'm going to go get followed. Find out if I can see who they're working for. Want to talk to Needle?" She passed the phone back.
    "Anything else?" Scott inquired.
    Despite the coffee, it was still too early for me to be thinking much. "I was going to ask you to go out to the island and pick up that stuff."
    "What stuff?"
    "The rented gear." We were in enough trouble without endangering our contacts as well—especially Maggie, who had been least in touch with any of us.
    "Oh, that stuff. No problem, I'll take care of that this morning."
    "Aside from that... where's the warehouse he broke into?" He gave me the address. "This was last night?"
    "Hm. Oh, shit," I realized aloud. "Lucky doesn't have his scent."
    "Whose?" she asked.
    "Javelin." There went that brilliant idea. "If I think of anything else I'll call. You talk to Winters?"
    "Not yet, I was going to talk to her about the Javelin thing."
    "Let me know what she says."

[Perspective switch: The Cave]

    "So, does anybody have any ideas on whether it would be best for me to go by myself, or do we all want to create a disturbance?" Lucky asked. She sounded awful. Must be the hangover.
    "Ixnay on the isturbanceday," I replied firmly.
    "Could you speak English, please?" She threw me a puzzled look. I can't believe the woman has never learned pig Latin. Phoenix Talon tried to explain it to her; Dawn shushed him gently.
    "No public disturbances," I translated.
    "All right, I'll make it private."
    "You weren't watching the news, were you? They're going to lynch us if they see us, and then we'll have to hurt them and that would just be bad."
    "They'll have to catch me first."
    "Right. The goal is to keep this from getting any worse."
    "I understand that, but I can't exactly be followed without being seen, now can I," she pointed out.
    "We'll just have to make sure you're seen by the people who are looking for you."
    "Does anyone want to come with me?" she repeated her initial question.
    "Damn straight!" Phoenix slapped the table.
    "Phoenix, if you come with me you have to promise not to intervene unless it looks like things... aren't being handled by me," she said carefully. "We need to have a deal."
    "Um... I'll stay," he decided, apparently not trusting his own self-control.
    "Then I guess I'm going," I resigned myself.
    "Can we have the same deal?"
    "Yes," I told her steadily. Worried just the same, but not nearly as much as I would have been, say, three weeks before. It would be better to go at night for a number of reasons, she decided, so we settled down to while away the rest of the day.

[Perspective switch: A Mystery]

    "Yeah, Winters here, what's up?" she answered.
    "Just checking in," I told her.
    "Hi, where are you?"
    "Not there." Scott's theory about the bugged phone was fresh in my mind. "Safe."
    "Good. I got a brief lowdown from Scott last night on the fact that you don't know what happened, I don't suppose Hans has turned up anywhere?"
    "If he had, you would know." I'll have a hard time not strangling him personally if he does.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson