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Some Bar, Some Where: Second Revision

Posted on Thu Jan 28th, 2021 @ 2:34am by Client The Narrator & Comm Tech Adrie Magana

Mission: Ring's Of Gold & Palladium
Location: The Tropics Lounge, Rhea Industrial Complex, Saturnian Confederacy
Timeline: 3 months after Eros, 1 Week Post Venus Fall.

The tables drink dispenser hummed happily to itself as it inflated two drinking bulbs. With a merry little ping it announced that the order, inputted through the laminated touch screen of the table, was completed. It also highlighted with little arrows all of the ancillary businesses that were part of the advertising co-op. It suggested that after a nice drink a nice meal would be welcome! Or maybe a 5% discount at Black Lilly, which showed in its various graphics that the wares on offer were in a variety of colours apart from black. White. Red. Brunette.

The bar was a bar in the way romance is a genre: it was dark, it was quiet, and it served as a bunker in which the exterior world could wail and do nothing of consequence. A fog tube hologram set up behind the bar ran a silent news feed from one of the Inner Planet affiliate stations, its containment tube cracked at the base so it emitted a steady stream of light reflecting fog. Riots on Pallas Refinery after one of the corporate lease holder's upped the water tax. Ceres Station's UN-appointed Governor hung from a gibbet made of bamboo chutes from the garden levels, Earther luxuries used by the new OPA leaders to kill off previous administration.

And Eros, or whatever Eros had been, was repeatedly slamming into the surface of Venus to a braying soundtrack of scientific pundits and religious fanatics. It was the end times for quantum physics and definite proof of a divine hand. Made for damn fine holographics.

But in the end, it was just the same shit, different channel.

The man across the table from her leaned forward, twisting the drink bulb off of the tables laminated surface, and took a long pull from it.

"I don't usually do work without references," the man said, his face a chiselled block of basalt from one of the quarry pits sunk into Rhea's surface. "You can't blame me for that. Deal with the wrong person, say the wrong things, and suddenly something as easy as making money just gets complicated."

He tapped his terminal, the little glass comm device blinking with fuzzy light.

"Your references, all forty thousand New Ceres Yen of them...well they check out quite nicely, as an introduction," the man called Axel put his bulb down and grinned at the woman across the ay from him. "Continued conversation though, now that's billable. The more details I get, the better the product you get. The inverse is true too, but it'll be cheaper. After all, customer's choice is king."

Adrie stared at the man with big, brown eyes that were either deciding which direction to run or which vital area to stab first. "I didn't come looking to chat," she said. "I... I just need to keep moving." It took great effort not to look over her shoulder as she'd been doing since she arrived. "All I want is another ID to last me until the next port and a quiet ride to get me there. What more do you need to arrange that?"

"I need to know what level you want in at? Making you a temp-worker visa with the attached I-dent file is easy enough, I make the run into the corporate data stacks for that sort of work easy enough. But that means you'll be locked out of most of the passenger and civilian levels, glorious though they may be," Axel gestured to the bar. With its tropical setting maintained by fuzzy wall displays with dead pixels gathering in the corners like dust, it was a power outage away from becoming another cargo container. "Not to mention that flags you with the Corporate Security, but if your only here for a day well then that's no problem. Vector Red's Indentured Reclamation Agents are the sort of people I pay hefty fee's to keep on their good side."

He took another sip from his bulb.

"But, like I said choice is king. You want extra I can do a long-range hack into the Titan data stacks, bury a new I-dent file right into the Huygens Dome records. Takes longer, time lag, line of sight with comm relays, have to set up the hack so it all falls into place without real time access. But with that we can grant you temporary citizenship within the Confederacy. Line of credit, good references, licence to travel within the Confederacy. Go visit the pleasure domes of Titan, see how the 0.1%'s live." Axel held up the bulb of liquid, a swirling brown and white mass that the menu had called a 'Latte'. "It's not like a Real Fake I-dent, but think of it as the budget alternative. Huygens Dome data sniffers will ferret it out in a week, maybe two, and then it'll burn. Along with anything connected to it. ConFed Navy won't get involved, but we have the usual local suspects: Pink Water, Star Helix, Ashwood Securities. And travel...that's extra. Lot extra."

Naturally, Adrie would prefer an entirely new identity, a permanent cover she could use to disappear into the crush of bodies and forget about the past few months... But if she did that, then she might end up having to burn her new identity before she had time to enjoy it.

"No, the budget package will work just fine," she said at length. "Cash for travel won't be a problem either."

Adrie did not want to admit to the utter lack of a plan. Getting this far had required a considerable amount of preparation and luck, but even so, the admission would put her at this man's mercy. Never again would she let herself be in the position of being in at any man's mercy.

"So..." She pushed her tongue against the inside of her cheek in a stressful tic. "Now that you can narrow my options for me, what do you got?"

Axel's face soured slightly as his big payday turned into what he imagined was the criminal version of pro bono work. But still, money was always money.

"Temporary work visa, padded resume` in the field of your choice, and a personnel file in the Rhea customs office showing you came in on the last bulk lifter," Axel said as he slowly turned the bulb over and over in his hands, making the fluid slosh about. "Of course all of the data is at the local level, anyone goes looking further than Rhea and they'll find out it's fake as hell. So getting noticed by the security folks, or Vector's indentured compliance goons is not a good idea unless you like working the steam pipes on one of the glaciers mines. All I need from you is a name, a field of study, and a preferred place of origin."

He stopped playing with the bulb.

"And a down payment. I get all of that, and 24 hours, and then you get your shiny plastic identity," he made a 'ta-da' motion with his hand. "A new temporary you, like magic."

With flick of her hand, Adrie sent 100,000 TerraFirmware scrip from her hand terminal to Axel's. "Done. Plus extra for you to find me transport and then forget this transaction ever happened." Names were another matter. Adrie had already burned through several combinations of friends and dead relatives. "Sophie Leclerc. Ceres Station. Any blue collar field that doesn't require a depth of technical specialization." Like she'd said, there was a strong possibility she would not get much shelf life out of her new I-Dent.

Axel's terminal illuminated with the transfer notification, and he smiled. TerraFirmware was one of the bigger fish in the pond called the Inner System, and their script translated nicely into all manner of currencies at a goodly exchange rate. Not exactly a fortune, but not exactly chump change either.

"Sophie Leclerc, beautiful name," Axel said with a grin, and got up from the table. "See you tomorrow, same time. And bring all your current I-Dent chits and bracelets with you. You walk in, they go in a biohazard bag for the burn chutes, and Sophie walks out. Until then."

Good enough for Adrie. She nodded her acknowledgement and understanding. "And a ride? I need to move on sooner rather than later."

"I'll put out the feelers, and bring you a few options along with the I-Dent," he tapped the brow of his stubble covered head and grinned. "Until tomorrow."


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