Pahedi awoke at sunrise like usual and crawled out of bed. “Glorious ones, why does morning have to be so early…” he jokes to himself as he pulls his ritual robe from under his cot and slides it on. Pulling the curtain open to let the sunlight in, he steps into his lodge and pours an offering of water while uttering praises to the Names of Netjer. As he finished he whispered a minor prayer, “Glorious ones, Protect us from evil and guide us to it’s source. Grant us the wisdom and strength to do what is required of us to bring light into the shadow.” His link began to vibrate on the bed before he could finish. “Drek…”
He slid the AR glasses on and answered the call. A dark and blurry image refined until the Matrix image of Kitty MacAvoy was recognizable, but only barely. “Morning Pahedi, I didn’t wake you did I?” “I’m always ready for your call madam.” He replied. “How may I be of service today?” “Well lucky for you I don’t need anything. However, your monthly payment is coming up and frankly, I don’t want to ruin our developing relationship over such a thing so I’ve sold your debt and you’ll be reporting to the Triad from now on. Also, I have a feeling we should be keeping an eye on them and with you being welcome in their territory, it’ll be a bit easier. Sending you the contact details now.” Great. Pahedi thought to himself, Kitty’s planning on hitting the triad and wants to eliminate me at the same time… probably.. The years he spent at Lone Star and the experiences that taught him so much about the underworld pulled at him.. Watch Yourself. A snippet of text flashed into an AR note; ‘Maya, 5920RR9090. 23rd and Wentworth’
“I trust you’ll be as reliable with them as you’ve been with me, right? Don’t frag with these people, they won’t hesitate to demonstrate why you should pay them on time.” Kitty asks. “Of course, I wouldn’t dream of offending our friends.” Kitty nodded in approval, “Well as long as you pay them on time, I’m sure you’ll like her.” she disconnected the line after that. Pahedi threw his link on his bed. “FUCK!” he shouted. Taking a breath, he slid into his Berwick suit and greatcoat and nodded towards his altar, “See you later.” He smiled.
At least the drive here was uneventful. Pahedi parked his car a few blocks away and updated his link, enabling the alarm system. He approached the unassuming classical chinese art gallery, a little surprised that that’s where Maya was operating out of. He stepped up to the door and removed his glasses allowing the security system to scan his face. “I believe I have an appointment.” he said to whomever was listening. A loud snap and buzz indicated the maglock had released and Pahedi pushed the door open. Inside a young chinese man in a fine suit and sunglasses held out his hand stopping on the inside. In heavily accented english he asked, “Weapons please”. Pahedi pulled out his Browning and handed it to him. The guard stepped aside and allowed him to pass through a metal gate which had closed off the interior of the gallery. Pahedi followed the gallery signs leading to the upstairs tea house, admiring the ancient pieces of human expression scattered about in someone’s idea of conceptual flow.
Upstairs the decor changed severely from the bone white walls and full-spectrum lights of the gallery to planks of rich cherry wood and warm candles. Each table was separated by thin cherry boards topped with ornate carvings. Pahedi turned to the hostess, “Maya.” She handed him a drink menu and sat him at a table near the kitchen. Within a few minutes she returned with a slender, older woman who sat at Pahedi’s table. “I recommend the Da Hong Pao tea, the flavors are quite exquisite. Pahedi nodded towards the hostess. “So then, you are Pahediemiti. Maria has told me a lot about you. An elf who’s ignored his heritage and embraced one so foreign to your people. That says a lot about your character. It makes me wonder if I can really trust someone who so casually discards his people’s traditions.”
Pahedi stopped the rage rushing to the surface with a quick visualization of the Glorious Ones. “I followed tradition like most of my kin until my gods came to me. When the pantheon of ancient powerful gods tell you your path lies somewhere else, you listen. When they tell you that you are a member of their family and give you a name which literally translates to their pride in you, you listen. So far, they haven’t led me down any terrible roads, and if you’re worried about me betraying you because I’m influenced by the voices of Gods, betrayal is one of the quickest ways to fall from their grace. I have a debt. I don’t care whose it is, until it has evaporated I am honor bound to it.” Pahedi opens his coat and pulls a credstick from his pocket. “Here. This months interest plus a bit more.” he says as he slides it across the table to her.A young waiter arrived at the table and placed cups in front of Maya and Pahedi then laid the kettle in the middle, covering the hot handle with white silk cloth. Maya pours Pahedi’s drink first, then her own. “Please, try some.” she says as she gently blows the steam from the top of her ceramic cup. Pahedi repeats the motion until his lips no longer tremble from the heat and takes a heavy sip, in a moment the heavy wood and floral notes flooded his senses. “That is fantastic. Thank you for the experience.” he says to her. “If there’s anything I can do to work this debt off a bit faster, please let me know.”
Maya looked at him closely and took another sip of her tea. “Actually, I do have something in mind. Pahedi, I like to know who I’m working with. Maria is … new to me and I’m not sure I trust her.” “You shouldn’t.” Pahedi tells her. “I’m pretty sure she’s trying to set both of us up.” Maya nods, “I’ve been thinking this as well. That’s why you’re going to get me some more information on her. Her medical records. Pull this off and I’ll clear a thousand from your debt.” “Maya, no disrespect intended, but that is not an easy request.” Pahedi’s memories of blood mages and vampires force a shudder from him. “And incredibly dangerous.” he finished. Pahedi took another sip of his tea. “Than I’ll clear two thousand.” Pahedi held his cup for a moment thinking, then nodded. “Good. Time is short and I would like these records as soon as they can be produced.” Maya poured herself another cup from the still steaming kettle. Pahedi finished his cup and placed it on the saucer it was delivered on upside down. “Thank you for the tea, it was quite wonderful.” Standing from the table, he gave Maya a slight bow and returned to the front door to collect his weapon.
Back at the firehouse, Pahedi pulled out his link and started going over his notes for the last few months. Maria was rescued from a bunraku parlor which the gang razed. The family doc at MacAvoy’s said she had been programmed by drugs and post-hypnotic suggestion by Dr. Kim whom we turned over to MacAvoy. No chipping or anything like that. DREK! Kitty is in control of Dr. Kim’s imprisonment.. He must be free and back at work. Maybe I could find him if I allowed myself to be captured. Hm we just rescued a truckload of people.. Have they been programmed? Pahedi ran to his americar and spun his tires as he accelerated out of the parking lot as fast as the car would go. En route, he hit the auto-pilot and called Desi. The sounds of music came over the connection. “Hey Pahedi, what’s up.” In the background, Janet called out to Desi, “Cereal or eggs love?”. “Make it quick chummer.” she turned away from the link and yelled back, “Eggs? Who got eggs? They’re from the store right? Not something someone just found on the street?”
“Hey Desi, a couple questions and a request. I need to know more about where the prisoners were heading, the doc that worked on Kitty and in a few hours I’m going to need you to slice into a target for me. I can’t point out that target yet, but when I gain some level of access to it, I’ll give you a call. Also, I got the eggs. They are real. Leave me some. If you dig behind the beer and Palmer’s jars of … stuff… you’ll find some ‘bacon’ again… Leave Me Some.” “Sure thing Piety, just a sec.” In a moment a flood of data files jumped into Pahedi’s vision. “Thanks Desi.” “No prob, bob. Hey Janet. Pahedi says we can have the eggs and bacon.” she says as the signal cuts.
The autopilot pulled to the side of the street in front of the warehouse where the rescued prisoners are temporarily being housed and fed. Pahedi took a look at the files. The family were taking the prisoners, to Boston to a halfway point owned by the Red Dragon triad. Dr. Kim, was released by Kitty, presumably to tail his activities, and based off some recent purchases against his account, it seems he’s traveled to Boston. Hm, so these people may not have been programmed yet. Still, it’s important to know._Their aura’s seemed normal, but the method of programming may hide it from assensing. Pahedi stepped out of his car and headed inside. Livingstone was busy preparing meals for everyone so Pahedi started talking to the prisoners on his own. He moved through the crowd, pressing for details on family and friends, education, how they were captured. Everyone’s identity appeared to be intact. Dr Kim has moved his operation to New England. Kitty is probably working for him now. Fragging hell. Did she offload my debt to keep me away from her and away from being able to help her?
Happy that the prisoners didn’t seem affected by whatever was happening to people, Pahedi returned to the firehouse to continue planning. The smells of delicious cut through the chemical and ionization smells that came from Palmer’s ‘office’. Pahedi went into his room and shut the door, he needed privacy. Taking a deep breath, he intoned the names of the guardians of the ways. Turning towards the west, he chanted out,
“All hail the glorious ones, the names of Netjer, the forces of nature and the elements of life. I beseech you, Lord of West, Opener of The Way, Lord of the Mountain, Yinipu-WepWaWet, grace me with your presence.” The statue of Anubis on Pahedi’s alter flexed it’s arms and placed its staff on the ground. He stepped off his pedestal and entered the summoning circle with Pahedi who knelt before him. “Hail child of mine, traveler of ways, light in shadow, shadow in light. I am here.” “I need to know something my lord, I am on a quest and am hunting for information. Will I find that information in Boston?” Anubis climbed onto Pahedi’s knee and pulled himself up so he could look him in the face. His mouth motionless as words as clear as glass cut into his mind. “In Boston, you will find the information you are really seeking. But my child, the information you are looking for now can be found in Chicago. I believe you already know who.” The image of the MacAvoy family doctor flashed into his vision. “ James Roberts… He seemed pretty innocuous before, a bit of a drug addict but not someone Jules MacAvoy wouldn’t trust.” Anubis shook his head, “The faces humans wear hardly reflects their hearts.” Images of masquerade ball masks flashed into Pahedi’s vision.
“My lord, Massachusetts.. has a history. How terrified should I be?” Anubis pulled Pahedi’s shirt so that his face was nose to nose with the small statue. With a look of sternness and a powerful voice.. “Very.” The essence of Anubis left the statue which simply fell from Pahedi’s knee and broke cleanly into many pieces on the ground. “No… fragging.. noo..” Tearfully, he collected the pieces and placed them onto his simple writing desk in the corner. I’ll fix you when I return. Pahedi slams his door as he leaves the firehouse again and returns to his car. He instructs the pilot in his car to drop him off a few blocks away from the good Dr. Robert’s place of operation. Pahedi drove around until he found one of the MacAvoy mooks mugging a hooker in a dark alley. Perfect. Moving between dumpsters he waited until he got close and plugged the bastard in the shoulder with his heavy pistol. “Go.” he yelled at the waif thin girl with an obvious stimulant addiction. She rifled through the goons pockets and ran off with whatever she found. Concentrating on the image in front of him, Pahedi focused his mind on a powerful spell he had recently learned from his conversations with Anubis and his form shifted and pulsed until he looked like the dead man in front of him, only very much alive. Concentrating, he produced a reasonable facsimile of the bullet wound on his double.
After taking the image, he stumbled out of the alley yelling. “Fragging whore, choke on it!” An orc Pahedi had seen working for the MacAvoys before ran up to him, “Frankie? What the frag man?” “I need a doctor..” It startled Pahedi how much his voice had changed due to the spell. The orc pulled him up on his shoulder and hauled him off to Dr Roberts, sharing jokes about other times they’ve been shot to comfort his friend.
The inside of the doctors office was sparse and dirty and littered with more guards than patients. A desk with an automated customer service droid took the basic info on the wound and after waiting over an hour, Pahedi was summoned to the surgery ward. “See you tomorrow Jim, get back out there, I’ll be alright.” The orc nodded and left the disguised Pahedi to his treatment. Pahedi walked through the unlocked doors and walked back to the only light in the room, a single light glowing intensely above a surgery table. “Hello Frankie, how’s it going?” the voice preceded the doctor as he stepped into the light, a slight grin on his drooping face. “Did you get a boo-boo?” he giggled. “Yea Doc, I’m getting pretty tired of Kitty sending us on these suicide runs. What do you think of what she’s doing?” The doctor closed his eyes and seemed to be sleeping, only to reveal he had actually been thinking about a response when he said “The war has been good for me, it remains to be seen whether it will be good for you or not. Kitt’s snatching up territory from McCaskill but Stephanopoulos and The Triad are also grabbing a chunk here and there. But hey, keep the bullets out of your head and you’ll be alright. Modern medicine … is… amazing.” Pahedi nodded in response. “Tell me Doc, has she always been so hungry for power? It’s like she’s changed recently or something.” “That’s the hard part I don’t know. She came to Chi town with a fake SIN. She supposedly had family but we can’t find any trace of them. We called the numbers she had for them and they are disconnected. It’s very odd. Her last address under her fake name was in New Jersey…can’t imagine why she left.”
Doctor Roberts says as he takes a closer look at the bullet hole on Pahedi’s shoulder. “Let’s get started eh?” He turns and heads to the sink and starts to wash his hands, surprising Pahedi that he remembered to do such a thing given the circumstances. Pahedi focused his mind on the spirit of the Nile, coursing from the otherlands into this world, driving the fates of man. He had bathed in the waters and focused the power into words. “Thank you doctor, now that you’ve finished the surgery, you should take a break. The waiting room is empty and you deserve it after a surgery that quick and clean.” The force of the river broke through the fragile resistance in his mind and he washed his hands again, confused as to the lack of any blood. “Now there, that’s better.” he giggles as he returns to Pahedi. “Do you want a lollipop?” Pahedi smiles, “Actually, yes that would be fantastic!” Doctor Roberts laughs loudly a wide grin on his face. “No-one ever says yes.” he reaches into his pocket and gives Pahedi a lollipop and some of the pills he’s been eating. “Don’t operate any heavy machinery.” he smiles.
“Thanks Doc, before you go, can I grab the records for the procedure for my personal physician. He’s going to want to know.” Doctor Roberts looked at him confused, “You want your records?” “Yes please.” Pahedi says smiling politely, the emotion transferring to the face he was wearing. “Alright.” The doctor says. He pulls out his datapad, takes a look at it, pulls it away from his face and back towards his face a couple times, then taps on a couple markers in a confused manner. “I’ve brought up the ROI form and the database, but I can’t seem to find a record of the procedure.” “Oh, let me take a look at it Doc, you’re tired. Maybe go take a seat. Hey can I use your phone to make a call? I’ll make it quick.” “Uhh, sure..” Doctor Roberts, suddenly a little sleepier than he was a few minutes ago, leaves the room for his office and finds a comfortable position to nap in.
Pahedi pulls out Desi’s number from his own link and reads it off to the connection app in Doctor Roberts link. “Hey beautiful, remember that whole request thing from earlier?” he says to her when she answers. “Yea, that wasn’t that long ago. What’s up? I got access to Doctor Robert’s medical database. I need Kitty and Maria’s medical records, not to mention whatever else you can pull from here. Use the request for information form he provided to gain access to those specific files we need.” “Will do Boss, she says in a friendly manner. Pahedi closes the communication app and waits. In a few moments the standby light flashes green three times, Desi’s signal that she finished. Pahedi checks the recent calls and sees that Desi deleted the call from the link’s history before she finished. He leaves the doctor’s link on the table and walks out of the facility and back to his car where he drops his mask and breathes a sigh of relief.
Pahedi returned to the firehouse without incident and sat down on the couch, putting some classical guitar onto the music player. He pulled out the archive of data Desi had sent him on the way. Before getting started, he placed a call to Maya. “Hello Madam, I hope the day finds you well. I’ve retrieved Maria’s records like you’ve asked, however they only cover her time here in Chicago, which leads me to believe that there are likely records from her original home that would be more specifically what you’re looking for. However, until I can acquire those records, I’ll send what I have collected.” Maya takes a brief look over the files and says to him, “Yes, I think this will work just fine actually. Consider your payment accepted.” Pahedi smiled, “My employer is most gracious.” They disconnected from the call and Pahedi slid on his AR glasses to see what he could learn from the data collected.
Opening his note-taking app and sliding a blank page to the side, he brought the archive into view over the table. He took a cigarette from his pocket and lit up. Pahedi liked to smoke while working a case, it helped him focus. A video file of Chu’s interrogation was at the start of the list. Doctor Roberts, who at times seemed ruthless, was pressing Chu for information on what he did to Maria. At one point, the doctor can be seen grabbing a pair of pliers and ripping a tooth from Chu’s face. An annotation pops up over the tooth Doctor Roberts holds in the light. Desi had left a marker here. Pahedi acknowledged the annotation and the video file faded out while a collection of documents piled in. A stream of notes on Maria’s treatment at the hands of Doctor Chu. The title of the collection of notes pulsed, highlighted by Desi with a comment to the side ‘Does this mean anything to you?’. Pahedi gasped at the title, making connections to old stories of terrible creatures. Fiction, or so many thought, but based on Pahedi’s conversations with Anubis and some very interesting conversations he’s had with other mages over the years… Something more now that Magic has returned. Old Things which should lie are no longer and as mana continues to grow stronger, there will be threats unlike any humanity has faced. “Sex at Dawn”. They are ready to breed. They are ready to wake if they haven’t already. The Black Lodge is involved in all of this, I am certain. We may not return from Boston, and if we do, we’ll likely be a gibbering mess. The sudden feeling of the warmth of sunlight spread along Pahedi’s back. I know you’ll be there with me. To the battle!
Pahedi opened the notes and read the files on the torture, drugging and possible psychological death of Mrs Maria MacAvoy. The notes contained only minor bits of data on Maria’s progress as they slowly warped her mind. Dr. Chu was particularly pleased at her progress. Many of the notes describe a desire to beat her into submission, but the way the notes are described it seems they didn’t go that far. The files were too numerous to go through, too vague to gain any more data out of and many of them were about other victims, so he backed out of the hidden archive. Desi noted that while James found the datachip in the tooth, no-one had been able to get past the security on the device, no-one but her of course, meaning he had never read it. James notes end with him diagnosing her with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Maria may still be in there, but Kitty will never leave.