With the 7th installment to The Nothing’s Child we now begin the third section of the story. Where will the Bleuthor Encryption lead our hero?
If you are new to how the links work, each section shows all the links for the specific section. Otherwise there is a link for the start of each section. It is easy to catch up to where we are now.
The Nothing’s Child
Life is a Dumpster Dive
Breaking and Entering
Behind the Bookcase
Interrogation with no Egg to Stand On
She woke early the next morning, crying for pain killers. The setting for her arm held through the night but it would need something better to heal correctly. No way that would happen here.
Michelle had a decent emergency kit. Thing held a splint that was better than the jerry-rigged one I made the night before. It also had some pain killers. Nothing serious but they would do for now.
Trace, the name she gave us, was part of Drake’s team. They made it through. The job went exactly as planned. They were out of the building with the package in hand before I tripped the alarms.
“Drake split us up,” Siera said. “Me and Kim Su took off to China town.” Michelle brought us cold broth, breakfast of champions. “Drake took the package by himself. Said he would get in touch with us after he received word from the buyer.”
“What happened to the others?”
“Cutter and Volt like to hit a few bars after a run, blow off some steam.” She looked between the both of us, her eyes steady while her hands shook. “Typical run up to this point. But this is where it all went weird. Kim Su, I watched as they gunned her down.”
“You saw who did it? How did you get away?”
“Corporate thugs. Dynacorp flak jackets and badges. I bolted. What else could I do?”
“How did you end up here?”
“Corporate dogs hunted me through the night. Lost them at one point. Pure luck that I found this place. I haven’t heard from any of the others.”
The cold snap hit me as the world faded into the Net. This was meant to be a quick trip. I needed to check out my message stash and get in contact with a couple sources. Answers still weren’t coming to explain the run.
Greybunny35 left earlier to do the same. We scheduled a meet up back at the warehouse in the late afternoon. Five hours felt like an age when we were still fighting to keep ourselves hidden. But this was one way we could get our answers in a timely manner.
I put Greybunny out of my mind. No time for distractions right now, this run was an in and out. In the past places existed for people to interact, gathering places to send group messages and such. They still existed in this Net, but of course, differently. People set up their own virtual homes. The concept grew out of gaming though it grew larger than that in functionality.
When I say home, I mean exactly what it sounds like. Virtual space lends well to creativity. When you have the right skills you can create a place for your messages and such to go. It is a bit more than just a web page. Think along the lines of the building from the botched run. But bigger. That site was part of a larger city within the Net. Just as my home is part of a larger world.
Most of the time when I jack in, my virtual home is where I start at. You know what I mean, “home screen.” Ok, so that was lame, sue me. I don’t have a huge house. Just enough to have a mail drop and message board. Keep everything encrypted, you have to.
Without the encryption, some schlub like me is going to come by and see what’s going on at your place. If you’re lucky the worst we will do is send out spam. But I digress…
I pop inside my place. I haven’t been offline that long but damn, mail littered the floor. Took an effort of will to keep from slipping on it all. I flicked up an app, virtual assistant. This one was an oldie but a goodie. A bot popped in and went to work sorting through the mail, prearranged parameters. What would have taken me 2 hours, the bot had finished in 30 seconds. Everything arranged and easy to sort through.
Quite a few spam messages, nothing ever changes. I ran across a message from Drake, bastard made it. Odd thing though, it wasn’t encoded. Never trust an unsecured letter in this business. So many possibilities for something to go wrong.
I opened it anyway. Bleuthor, that’s it, just the one word. I don’t even know what the hell it means. Cryptic sure, and doesn’t help in figuring anything else out either. I checked my message board and found nothing of value.
After sending a note to my datapad about Bleuthor I exited. No sense hanging around.
“I have no idea what it means,” Siera said. “Drake kept quite a bit to himself.”
It had to mean something. I don’t know about you but to me it sounded like a code word. Maybe a passcode to something. “Nothing comes to mind at all? This wasn’t your first job with him was it?”
“No, but Kim worked with him the longest. If anyone would have known it would have been her.”
These are my choices, an invalid or a dead girl? I’ll take the dead girl for 500 Alex. I pulled out my datapad and sifted through information I had on the jobs I’ve done for Drake in the past. Nothing jumped out at me. Michelle was out still. I hoped her info would help with another puzzle piece.
“What bars do Cutter and Volt go to?” I asked.
“The Rat’s Nest,” she said. “Drake hasn’t paid us for the job yet. I think they get credit there.”
“I’ll be back.” Not my best idea for the day but my best lead so far. It was still early to go to a place like the Rat’s Nest but I had some time to kill. I loaded the gun and filled a couple speed loaders for just in case.
Places like the Rat’s Nest fit the names they were given. This wasn’t the kind of place where you could expect a club discount or tea service. They served beer, if you were lucky it wasn’t watered down.
It surprised me to find that the place was a little more posh than expected. They actually had food too, if you could call it that. Scraps of something were deep fried beyond recognition. I opted out of the experience.
The bartender knew the names when I asked, said they usually came in around 11. Still some time to kill, I found a booth and nursed a beer.
Someone put some money in the jukebox. Rock music from the 90s kicked on. Strange to hear but fit the ambience of the place. A blonde in leather slipped into my booth.
“I’m not looking for a good time.” I said.
“Neither am I,” she said. “Sal mentioned you were looking for me.”
With her hair down, her face had changed. Amazing what that can do for a person. “Cutter?”
“Ya,” she said. “Who are you and what do you want?”
“What do you know about the run you were on the other night?”
“I wasn’t on a run.”
Maybe I needed to rephrase. “Kim Su is dead.”
“That’s not my problem. I take care of me, that’s all I need to worry about.”
“You have nothing for me then?”
She stood up. “Listen, I don’t know nuttin about what you’re talking about. You can go to hell.”
Corporate cops walked in the front door, full riot gear including shotguns. “Get down. They’re looking for you.”
“Bull shit,” she said. One of the guards pointed at our direction. “Maybe you’re right.”
“We need to get out of here.”
“There is a tunnel in the back,” she said. “It will take us under the street.”
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