Seeds of Corruption
New Chicago, Capital of Alpha Centauri IV
The atmosphere of a casino at night is stifling to those not used to it, even without the heavy smoking found there during the twentieth century. But James Dalton felt right at home here. He had made a small fortune playing poker in New Chicago, though his skill would quickly be matched back home on Mars. He always knew when his opponents were bluffing, he knew how to bluff believably, and how to make people think he was bluffing when he wasn't. He looked at his cards: a three and a six of spades. He then looked at the cards on the table: the four, five and seven of spades caught his eye; the ace of clubs and the two of hearts meant nothing to him. "All in." He said, pushing ahead all his chips. The other players each placed their bets, all seeing his. The other players showed their cards, a low hand, two pair, nothing special, then James set his cards on the table, making a straight flush. "And the winner is Mister James Dalton from Mars." Was announced on the speaker, and as James was wiring the winnings to his account, he was being watched on live camera by Henry Stark. "U-505, bring Mr. Dalton up here, will you?" He ordered his bodyguard.
The song "Goldeneye" by Tina Turner plays in the background
DANTOOINE THEATRE COMPANY
SEEDS OF CORRUPTIONstarring
"Right away, sir." The voice was crisp and female, yet oddly of significant age. U-505 disliked the crowds, the pervasive odor of liquor, and the cheap and petty atmosphere of most casinos, but she was here to do a job, and do her job she would. Dressed in a conservative navy evening suit with just a swirl of sequins here and there, U rose from her chair in the security room next to Stark's and ventured toward the glass elevators.
Descending made her feel a bit nervous, as if she were in a transparent bathysphere headed for the bottom of the ocean. Why was she really going down into this abyss? Henry Stark was a man of few words (at least to his employees), and he kept his motives secret from everyone, including U. However, the "tough old bird", as her boss affectionately called her, had a few hidden motives and secrets of her own. Mr. Dalton, she thought, you really don't know what you're in for, do you?
To the gambler himself, once she reached the casino floor, she said, "Impressive. I have rarely seen such skill at poker, and that's the honest truth. My boss is up in the security wing of the casino, and he wishes to see you." A small, wrinkled, almost tender smile. "Don't worry. I'm not accusing you of cheating, and neither is he. You may call me U, as in the letter, and I'm sure this won't take more than a minute." In a rather unusual gesture for an elderly lady, she offered her arm to the gentleman.
Meanwhile, a rather scantily-dressed Chancist, or "casino psychic" to the uninitiated, stopped giggling for a moment to herself. She had just completed another round of helping "poor saps" and "suckers" beat the odds, and here was a man at the poker table who would most likely never need her help. His skill was such, and Yery Golightly could tell, that such people as Chancists were almost irrelevant to him. Almost. Perhaps he doesn't need my assistance at the gambling tables, she supposed, yet when it comes to the loneliness men like him face outside the casino, I would be perfectly willing to help him--without a fee. Yery was a clairvoyant, not a call girl.
She watched the target of her deep-set eyes leave with an old woman. A shame. I was going to challenge you to a game of 'dvadtsat' odin'--'twenty-one'--before I head over to the slot machines and tell people how much to bet. Hopefully, the old bird won't keep you long, and then we can test each other. Will my skill or yours win?
"Alright, I doubt I really have a choice anyway." James replied, going with the old woman into the elevator. As he exited the elevator, he was led to Henry Stark's office. "Do you know why you're here Mr. Dalton?" Stark asked him. "Because your personal thug brought be up here?" James replied. "You're a funny man, Mr. Dalton. You're here because I'm impressed with your skill at the poker table." Stark told him. "I'm very observant, but you could probably find someone better on Mars. It's where I'm from." James remained modest, making sure to refrain from seeming arrogant in front of the most powerful man on the planet. "I have no intention of going to Mars just to find a poker player. I've got a job for someone as observant as you. You know I can pay you well" Stark said to him. "I don't care about money, I have plenty. I play poker for the thrill. No thanks." James responded, not trusting Stark. "Be careful, Mr. Dalton. I could have you sent unfrozen in a sleeper pod all the way to the mines of Mercury." Stark threatened him. "Think about how that would look. A man from Mars wins it big at one of your casinos, and then he disappears, never to be seen again. Not something you want on your company's reputation, is it?" James asked him. "I suppose not." Stark replied. "You may go." James then got back on the glass elevator. As he got down, he looked for the chancist he spotted looking at him before he had gone up to see Mr. Stark. "So, do you want something from me, or are you just interested in me because I won that poker game with a straight flush an hour ago?" James asked the woman when he found her.
Yery smiled. "Both. I want to play a game of 'twenty-one' with you, also known as blackjack, to see whose skills are keener--yours at cards or mine at precognition. Around here, I'm known as Yery Golightly, and I'm a Chancist, the very best around these parts. I haven't heard of another of my colleagues with a higher accuracy rate: 80 percent. I tell gamblers how to beat the odds, and eight times out of ten, I'm right.
"So, what do you say?" Yery suavely gestured to the chair opposite her at the red-velvet-covered table. "I propose a friendly wager. If you win, you buy me a drink and maybe a bite of dessert. If you win--well, you get to pick the prize, even if it's only for me to leave you alone and stop stalking you with my eyes." Deep ones, they were.
Meanwhile, U-505 indignantly brushed off metaphorical specks from her evening suit. "Personal thug? I thought I had more class than that, Mr. Stark, and if you don't mind my saying so, threatening to send the gambler to hard labor on Mercury is not the way to catch his interest. If it were me at the helm of those security cameras--" and here she paused to look at the myriad of blue television screens for a moment--"I would focus on that woman he's talking to now. Perhaps he's looking for more than a sky-high stack of poker chips." U sat down again before the ever-vigilant terminals.
"My names Dalton, James Dalton, and you're on." James replied. The two of them sat down at a table, and were each dealt two cards. James looked at his cards: a six and an eight. "Hit me." He said to the dealer, who then handed him a five.
Yery watched Mr. Dalton from across the table, smiling at his deft hands and barely-noticeable grin. Subtlety seemed to be the name of his game, not intimidation or blatant bluffing like she'd seen with some other gamblers, even skilled professionals.
The dealer handed Yery two cards: a ten and a five. Fifteen--a rotten, useless hand in blackjack if there ever was one. "Hit me," said Yery, her voice a tad perturbed.
A two. Blast it! Stoite na semnadtsat'yu, Yery's intuition told her.
Stand on seventeen? she asked herself. Okay, if you say so, but it's a risk.
"I'll stand." James said, setting down his cards. He had a nineteen, she had a seventeen. But he wasn't going to just let her walk away. "I might have won, but why don't I buy you a drink anyway?" He asked her.
Waking up in a shuttle in flight was always disorienting. Falling asleep in a shuttle in flight and waking up after it landed was worse. But the worst of all was waking up in this predicament after being sprung from prison by the attractive computer hacker who now stood over you, glaring at you as though you had done something wrong just by existing.
"Don't you ever knock?" Jon Martin grumbled, rolling over. Maria Carter shook her head, though she knew the thief could not see her.
"No," she answered shortly. "Get up, Jon, we've landed."
"I can feel that," he said, his voice muffled in his pillow. "Where are we?"
"New Chicago, Alpha Centauri IV."
Jon sat up. "See, this is why I hate traveling with you. You don't let me fly and you take me to some of the worst places for my work. New Chicago police have a reputation for being hard nosed."
"I let you fly once," Maria reminded him. "You almost got us killed. And besides, NCPD can't touch you... you're GPF now..." She tossed him a card and his eyes widened.
"Jerry Taylor, Galactic Police Force?" he exclaimed. Maria nodded.
"Now get dressed, Major Taylor," she said, a twinge of a mocking tone in her voice. "We're going to a casino today."
"What time is it?" Jon grumbled, but Maria was already gone. With a weary sigh, Jon found himself again wondering exactly what Maria wanted with him. But it was a passing thought and he rose to enter the tiny restroom.
The mirror was not showing Jon a friendly face today. He hated having a beard and mustache; it was so uncomfortably itchy, but the last time he'd tried to shave he'd learned just how serious Maria Carter was about keeping him disguised. He rubbed the back of his head, remembering how impossibly flexible the woman was... to get her foot up to his head? Ouch... no matter, he thought. He still had to get ready...
Damn... Maria was already banging on the door... So damn impatient, that one, Jon thought to himself.
Jennifer Cleo stepped out of the small spaceport just on the outskirts of New Chicago, she was here because she heard that a large bounty had arrived here a few weeks ago. Jennifer always went where the money was and at this point in time New Chicago was that place. This trip had cost her most of her working capital for the job as she decided to get here using the more ‘discreet’ transports. The last thing she wanted was for her target and any other bounties to know that she had arrived here, after all she was known in certain circles as the girl who could get things done.
I was time to get to work, no point in leaving it until tomorrow, but first she needed amore accurate location for the bounty she seeks. There were several different places she could go to get information on any bounty, a place where seedy people tended to congregate Bars, Cantinas and casinos. Her decision of where to start was made when she looked over at a large billboard advertising large Casino.
286 walked through the streets of New Chicago, 'feeling' a hint of displeasure course through his circuits as he observed his surroundings. Between smoke, trash, and large crowds, it was a hellhole in terms of aggressive hunting and tracking. He also just did not 'like' this place. Already his sensors had noted five pickpockets, two thugs, and one stalker. The stalker had been taken care of though when 286 had cracked it's neck, but that was another story.
Finally reaching his location, a major casino, 286 was able to enter without any problem for the most part. He did have to relinquish his weapons, but that wasn't a problem. He was also receiving some looks from some of the people in there, but you couldn't look like a heavily armored human without attracting any attention. 286 needed information, and all other rumors he had heard said this place had the best. So he headed over to the bar, trying not to attract too much attention.
Yery Golightly smiled. "Very well. I was actually hoping you'd say that, Mr. Dalton--James." A slight blush came to her pale ivory cheeks. "I'll have a Zolotiy Atlas," she told the bartender, meaning 'golden satin', a flavorful vintage of sparkling white wine. After the winner of the blackjack game paid for her drink, they sat down together.
"So, what got you into professional gambling? I daresay you're very good. As for me, it seemed natural to become a Chancist when I was so good at predicting ordinary daily events, and even rather unusual ones like the race riots here on Terra last month. I tried to tell the law here in New Chicago to get ready, and my friends and neighbors that we all live in one solar system and should strive to work together, but nobody listened, and after that Martian was beaten by police, all heck broke loose."
Yery sighed. A Terran herself, she was still not the prejudiced sort. "Heard about it?"
After renting a small apartment room at a hotel nearby the Casino Jennifer decided that going into a place like that so heavily armed would not be wise. Although her greatest weapon was her skill and strength, she had others and being an attractive woman one of them was her sexuality. She was not above using it to get to her mark, anything to get the job done she would tell herself.
It wasn’t hard to make herself attractive but for a place like this Casino she would probably require more elegances. She chose a long red low-cut dress that had a slit running up the side of her long right leg and held up by a strap thatwent around the back of her neck. She knew how easily things could go wrong and always took a little extra insurance by having a small pistol hidden on a thigh holster under the dress. Finishing the outfit with a Petite chain necklace, a bracelet and a ring she was ready to begin her investigation for her bounty.
"Cody, you sure this is the place?" Came a young femenine voice from behind the tall black coated man. To him it was like nails on a chalkboard to hear the voice ask him the question, but to most it would have been a very appealing voice, which is what set the man apart from most, his strange personality and behavior.
He glanced over his shoulder, his eyes could be seen from behind his sunglasses, from the angle he was at. His eyes were an eerie orangish color, and they glinted with displeasure at the assumed female speaker.
"I'm absolutely certain," he responded, the displeasure coming out in his smooth voice.
"Hmph, don't get all testy," the voice responded, the speaker stepping up next to the tall man, it was, however, not someone anyone would have expected, for it was a gynoid, a well figured gynoid. To the man's right stood a tall humanoid alien in a raddy polyester trenchcoat carrying a box.
"I suggest we go inside before we miss our client," the alien urged, the voice not coming from a mouth, nor the throut, but from the mind, the alien's species being able to communicate through two means, telepathy for private speach with organics, and a kind of mental pulse-wave form of speach for talking openly to organics, and to allow inorganics to hear what they say.
"Yeah," Cody said, his eyes returning to the doors infront of them. They entered the building, before them was a room of people playing cards, on slot machines, and doing other gambling activities.
"I hate casinos," Cody muttered to himself, his companions didn't respond. 'Hope there aren't any bounty hunters or mercenaries around, don't need a conflict when trying to meet a client,' Cody thought to himself.
"Sir, we're going to have to search you for weapons and other illegal paraphernalia," a man at the entrance said.
"Err," Cody responded with a grunt of displeasure at the annoying hassle that was preventing them from delivering their package. He lifted his arms to be patted down, they removed his weapons, and then moved on to the alien. They patted him down and then eyeing the box one asked, "what's in the box, sir?"
Cody spoke up, "nothing, just some...stuff."
The man didn't buy it, but before he could take it from Cody's companion the man halted, his eyes glazng over, he then looked up his senses coming back to him.
"Stuff you say, well, can't argue with that. These two are clear," the man said to Cody, and then to the other men who were checking the trio over.
Cody gave the alien a sidelong glance, 'Good work Murphy.' He thought to the alien, who only responded with a nod.
"Okay....Miss...yeah, it's your turn," the man said to the gynoid.
"Nuh uh! You so much as touch me and I'll break your arm," she responded folding her arms across her chest.
"Uh...ma'am, please, we're only going to..." the man was cut short by the obstonate gynoid. "I don't wan't any of you kinky freaks searching under my plating," she said, her attitude hotty and arrogant.
"Jesse! Just give up anything your hiding and let's go!" Cody demanded.
"Rrrr, just don't want them looking at my parts, who knows what they're into," she responded with a growl.
"I don't think they get their kicks from humanoid inorganics, now hurry up!" Cody said in annoyance.
"Fine, fine, don't get bent," she said, backing down, she opened up some panels on her body taking everything she had inside of her out and handing the items to the man, who stood with a shocked and peculiar look on his face as the arguement subsided and the three walked into the casino.
They approached the bar and sat down, none of them ordering any drinks, they just sat talking quietly amongst themselves.
"Okay, so what do we do now?" Jesse asked.
"We wait, the only thing the client said was to wait here, and that we'd know 'em when we see 'em," Cody responded.
"Keep your eyes open for anyone suspicious," came Murphy's voice, the pulse-wave he sent out only strong enough for his two companions to hear.
"You mean besides everyone in here?" Jesse said in retort.
"He means be careful, seedy places like this often attract hunters, if you know what I mean," Cody told her in a conspiratorial whisper. Jesse nodded, speaking in the same tone back to them, "and what if we're spotted, or worse, someone attemtps to collect?"
"They took away what was considered our weapons, but they can't take away what's natural," Murphy said, giving them a wise insight.
The trio grew quiet and inconspicuously sat there, waiting for their client to show.
"Yeah, and I probably upset more than most people here in New Chicago, being from Mars myself." James replied. "Bring me a Vesper." He then said to the bartender. "Rrrr, just don't want them looking at my parts, who knows what they're into," He overheard from the entrance. "Those Gynoids are starting to seem a bit too human, don't you think?" He joking asked Yery.
After standing at the bar for a few moments, all sensors on active scans, 286 saw his clients enter the casino. After going through the inspection with little difficulty, with the exception of the loud gynoid, they proceeded to sit at the bar about 5 seats from him. Using his electro-imagining, he noted that his order was in the box and in perfect shape. Feeling a sense of satisfaction course over his circuits, he walked over to his clients.
Stopping next to the apparent leader of the group, 286 asked him "Are you ready to make the transaction?"
"No, no!" Maria scolded, shaking a finger reproachfully. Jon groaned.
"What is it now?" he grumbled.
"Your hair," Maria offered, not so helpfully.
"Yes?" Jon prompted. "Care to elaborate?"
"It's a mess!" Maria protested as if Jon should have known from the start.
"Doesn't the Organization teach you people skills?" Jon muttered. Maria's eyes flashed with curiosity.
"Organization?" she echoed.
"Don't play dumb with me," Jon hissed. "I'm a helluva lot smarter than I look. You've got Organization written all over you... top-notch hackers like you all work for them. No, don't interrupt me, because it's time for me to give you some advice. Now, I don't much care for the Organization, but I can understand why a guy like me would be valuable to the Organization, information dealers that they are."
"Go on," Maria prompted.
"Not all information is digital," Jon said. "Reality contains a helluva lot of analog... and written information. Organization can't fully function without some of it. So they assigned you to get me off Mercury and dictate my jobs... and give me a healthy payout for whatever I gather."
"If it were so, would you expect me to acknowledge it?" Maria inquired.
"You already have," Jon answered. "Body language an' all. So let me tell you something, little Miss Hacker. Going into a casino, there's gonna be a lot of people who'll see right through you. You'd best stay here. Give me the details on what you want. Don't worry, I'll be back."
"I'm not worried about that, Jon," Maria sighed. "I'm just worried you might slip up in your cover."
"Face facts, little missie," Jon replied teasingly. "You've nearly blown my cover on several occasions. I've had a good career of disguises and alternative names and identities before you had me sent off to Mercury..."
"I..." Maria stammered. Jon grinned.
"Thought I'd never know, eh?" he said. "Trust me, no hard feelings. You got me out too, anyhow. When I come back from this, I'm gonna teach you some of the basics in hiding behind an alternate identity. It'll help you in the long run... okay?"
"Sure..." Maria mumbled, thoroughly outmaneuvered. With a grin and a wave, Jon ran his hands through his hair, straightening it ever so slightly and left the shuttle. GPF Major Jerry Taylor had some important business in a casino...
"Are you ready to make the transaction?" Came a strange voice from behind Cody, he clenched his fist as he looked over his shoulder at what appeared to be a heavily armored man.
"Hm? Yeah, sure," Cody remarked a little skeptically, unclenching his fist.
'Pretty sure this is the guy,' Cody thought to himself, taking it upon himself to act at ease with the odd man behind him. He turned around in his seat so he was facing the armored figure.
"Ready when you are...if you have the payment, that is?" Cody questioned, raising an eyebrow at the 'man'.
Yery snorted, a wry half-grin on her face. "I know what you mean, being a gynoid. You grew up on Mars, eh? What was that like? You don't look at all like one of the 'little green men' my distant ancestors used to read about in what were called 'science-fiction novels' back then. Right now, science is fact, not fiction."
Yery glanced around the bar, and a faint tingle of uneasiness prickled in her spine.
The man turned towards him and raised an eyebrow, asking "Ready when you are...if you have the payment, that is?"
286 turned his 'wrist' upwards and tapped a panel on it, which slid away for a moment to reveal passel of chips. He picked out one of the chips, the panel sliding back over, and he handed it to the man.
"20000 Terran Units, as stated before." 286 replied.
"Probably not that different from growing up on Terra." James replied. "Then again, Mars is completely different from that time, and not particularly different from the Terra of that time. How was it growing up on Terra, the original human homeworld?"
Cody's eyes widened, his eyebrows raising high up on his forehead.
"That's definately payment," Cody responded in his state of mixed emotions.
Cody snapped out of it looking over at Murphy, the alien getting up and handing the box to the man, he took the chip, hiding it in an unknown place on his body. Murphy sat down one seat over from where he had been sitting, allowing the armored man to take his seat next to Cody.
"Sit, I'd like to talk," Cody said, a pleasant tone in his voice.
He whispered to the man, knowing with the type of gear he was wearing he'd be able to hear his tiny whisper. "Besides, you just standin' there's attracting a lot of eyes, and the walls have ears, if you catch my drift, friend," he stated.
Cody turned around in his seat, facing back towards the bar.
Sitting down, 286 understood what the man meant. He had already noted the presence of dozens of cameras through just visual observation, and dozens of other listening devices through his other visions. He took a moment to look over the group before asking "Do you have discussable names and topics? This unit goes by the designation of 286."
"Terra is--Terra," said Yery rather evasively, and then she laughed. "What else can I say? We humans are still the same greedy, ambitious, self-serving folk we always were. Of course, maybe I'm not giving the race of the former Earth enough credit. There were always plenty of kind people around for me, and I for them. I grew up here in New Chicago, and my parents always wanted me to be something important. Something meaningful, like a doctor or a scientist. I had no aptitude for that.
"What I did have an aptitude for was seeing the future--not necessarily predicting it to the precise second, but sensing patterns, trends, and moments of danger. Speaking of which, I believe this bar is getting a little too crowded, although what's our rush?" She bit her lower lip, not knowing what she felt exactly afraid of.
(@Tysyacha: New Chicago is not on Terra, it's on Alpha Centauri IV)
"I suppose there's not really any. They won't notice us." James replied. "About why I got into professional gambling. Poker's always been something I'm good at, and I figured if I can make good money doing something I enjoy, why not?"
"Do you have discussable names and topics? This unit goes by the designation of 286." The man in armor asked in a strange way.
"Uh, yeah, must be on duty or something?" Cody thought out loud. "Well I'm Cody Parsley, the tall quiet fellow next to you is dubbed Murphy. His names a lot longer, too annoying to try and say. And this metalic young lady is Jesse," Cody told the man.
"So, you have a name, besides that number?" Cody asked curiously.
"No, he doesn't," Jesse responded, taking her eyes off of 286 for the first time since he'd arrived, and looking over at Cody.
"What's that mean?" Cody asked curiously.
"Electro-Mag scans show circuits and wires, Under-Exo scans show gears and gismos," she told him.
"So, he's not human...okay," Cody said raising an eyebrow.
"Nope, just one hot bot," Jesse responded, Cody just rolled his eyes under his sunglasses. "So, 286, you're a robot? That's nice, I've nothing against that. So, you want a discussable topic? How about jobs, you got any?" Cody asked blatantly, the revelation of the man being a bot not hitting him very hard, Cody was used to the unexpected, plus, he was half-sane anyway, so unusual things just didn't phase him. He didn't have anything against nonhumans either, as could be told from the company he kept.
Jennifer walked into the casino appearing to be nothing more than another patron of gambling, she walked through the gracefully while she made note of the Security cameras and guards ware bouts. She moved with purpose looking to see who would be the most likely people to have the information she probably seeks.
The bar was full of various people from heavily armoured Soldiers to tuxedo wearing gamblers, neither of these were the kind that she would talk to. Right now the person in the know would the man behind the bar, they always had information for a price. Stepping up to the Bar she placed a few credit chips on the table totalling 50 Terrain Units.
“I’ll have a Europa Martini straight up .” She asked pushing the chips closer to the bar tender. “And anything you know about a man called Jon Martin.”
"Martin?" the bartender echoed. "Aw, I dunno. Some thief, went to prison somethin' like six years or so ago. Probably still there... hope he is... don't need no more o' his kind 'round. Odd rumors goin' though... say he's out and doing the good work of the government..." The man snorted. "Right..."
Back in the shuttle, Maria was absorbed in the world of computers. She had three on the shuttle and was looking into three different things at once. Then, a warning flashed up on one of the screens and her eyes gravitated to it. A bounty on Jon Martin. For just a moment, Maria's heart jumped into her throat. Then, she relaxed. The man lied and stole for a living... and disguises were apparently donned with ease. Still...
"Be careful, Jon," Maria whispered, though she knew he could not hear her.
Jon entered the casino, surreptitiously showing his GPF badge to security when they came to take his weapons. He was dressed like a wealthy businessman and his hair and beard were groomed to play the part. GPF liked to send their men in undercover from time to time, and Jon had a solid cover story, backed by exhaustive digital information provided by Maria.
Now it was just a matter of determining where to go.. he had a map of the floorplan of the casino memorized, but it would do no good to make straight for his target. So he made the bar his first priority.
"So, 286, you're a robot? That's nice, I've nothing against that. So, you want a discussable topic? How about jobs, you got any?"
"None at the moment, though it will not be difficult to locate one with the specifications this unit possess. It mainly does freelancing to maintain a mobile and profitable line of work." 286 replied and then turned his visor towards Jesse. He scans were a bit more thorough, and they revealed a very interesting factor: This gynoid had a humanity chip. It didn't really surprise him, as such a discovery wouldn't be held secret for long, but it must've been redesigned radically if it was implemented into a civilian gynoid. And, naturally, improved upon as well to make sure another 112 didn't happen.
286 turned his attention from Jesse and asked Cody "Where did you purchase the H-Chip for this gy-," He caught himself and changed to "-for Jesse?"
He had insulted people more than once by talking as though they weren't there, and that was a mistake 286 did not want to make here.
“Well if you hear anything.” Cleo said taking a sip of her drink.
“Yeah, Yeah… I’ll let you know.” The barman said as he walked off.
Jennifer looked around the room again at the other patrons, most were with someone else engaged in some kind of conversation. He saw a couple more enter but no one seemed to be the kind she was looking for, informants had a way about them she could spot from a mile off and none of these where the type.
Then something caught her glance a man had just stepped up to the bar, she only caught the side and back of his head but it was him. She was certain of it, what luck that the very person she came for would be in the first place she’d look. She finished her drink and put it back on the table.
Jennifer walked over to the man and tapped him on the shoulder. "I've been looking for you, Jon Martin..." The man turned around and although there was some resemblance he didn’t match any of the photographs she had seen of her bounty. “…I’m sorry I thought you were someone else.”
Though he'd been a little startled to hear his real name, Jon did not show it as he turned with a pleasant smile to face the woman who'd approached him. "Jon Martin, eh? Professional thief... helluva man to be mistaken for..." With a grin, he showed her a card. "Jerry Taylor, private executive at your service. Say, you need anything to drink? I'd be more than willing to oblige... perhaps to make up for whatever embarrassment this little situation might have caused."
“Sure.” Jennifer replied obviously a little embarrassed and glad she didn’t take her pistol out to aid in the capture. “I’ll have a Europa Martini Straight up.”
She looked the man up and down again, she could have sworn that it was John Martin but the ID looked as real enough so there was no point in doubting the man. “Thank You, I’m Jennifer Cleo by the way.” She rose her hand to shake it.
Yery agreed once more. "Touche. I must say I enjoy my job greatly, though the House, meaning the managers of the casino here, have threatened to send me off to hard labor on Mercury more than once because I won't help them. Hey--they've got the edge here, the advantage, the competitive upper hand. Why do they need me? They don't. It's the 'suckers' who need me, the average, everyday people who are trying to make a fortune while not spending one. Would you like to see me at work?"
"I already did," quipped James, and Yery flicked a teasingly dismissive wave at him.
"There's a 'widiot' over there," she mumbled, "a 'wealthy idiot'. My personal term. Some of these rich people simply don't know how to gamble. Just because you have millions, that won't prevent you from losing them if you don't know what you're doing. Watch."
She sidled over to a paunchy, white-haired man in a business suit. "Seventeen. Stand," she mumbled in his ear as he sat at the blackjack table. He whirled around.
"Chancists! Hmph. Go serve drinks at the bar, or else scrub the toilets if you want to make yourself useful. Or would that ruin your nails?" he snorted. "Hit me, dealer."
The dealer tossed him another card, and the businessman gagged on his whiskey. "A five? What kind of rigged game is this? I'm going to have you and this casino sued for deceptive practices!" When the dealer did not respond, showing only his 'poker face', the man in the blue flannel suit stood up, his face blustering red. "I'll show you! Do you know how many years in prison that would get you on Mercury? I demand a re-deal!"
"You lost fair and square, sir," replied the dealer in a dry tone, "and we deal severely with cheaters here. That's what puts this casino above the rest. If you don't like the way it's run, the way we do things, then I suggest you leave." He folded his arms.
The businessman shook his head in disgust and sauntered off, scowling darkly at Yery.
"See? What'd I tell you? A 'widiot', and he probably blew a hundred grand right there."
"A pleasure to meet you, Jennifer Cleo," 'Jerry' said pleasantly. He ordered the drink she'd requested and something for himself. Then, he turned to face her. "So what's a pretty girl like you looking for scum like Jon Martin for?" He held up a hand. "No, don't tell me. I'm pretty good at guessing things..."
He stared at her for a moment and grinned. "You an old girlfriend of his... no... he's too old and you don't look the type to date older men... Ah! I'm guessing you've heard all the rumors of his release from Mercury. Investigative journalist, looking to see if he's 'changed his ways' or if he's still the same pond scum he used to be. That's my bet."
He grinned, wondering how she'd respond. In reality, he knew very well there was a bounty on Jon Martin and the way this girl had addressed him initially suggested that she was a hunter. But he was smarter than that. He was curious though... he figured she wouldn't out and tell him if she was a bounty hunter, but if she did, he had a few questions lined up... simple curiosities that anyone would ask had they been confronted by a bounty hunter...
But Jon Martin didn't figure Jennifer Cleo for a fool and he was interested in knowing how well she lied about herself.
Jennifer smiled as the man asked her the question about the reason for her being on this planet and looking for the Thief. “I’m just interested in his ware bouts.” Jennifer lied as she took a sip from her drink. “I work for the Terra inheritance office, a relative of his has died and he’s come into quite a bit of money.”
Jennifer’s lie was one that she had used before to flush out a mark, even people on the run come out of hiding if they think there’s some money init for them. Greed is the single constant that every sentient in the galaxy adheres too, and thieves like this Jon Martin were certainly no exception. All she had too do was spread the word of this ‘windfall’ he was in for to enough people before it stats to spread on it’s own and eventually Jon would here about and she was sure he would come to collect. Only she will be the one actually collecting on his head.
“And so you know looks can be deceiving.” Cleo flirted taking another sip of her drink. “Sometimes an older man can be the perfect match.” Then adding a playful wink.
Jon took the news without so much as a blink of the eye. This girl was good. Not only had she picked an occupation that made sense given how she'd addressed him, she'd picked one that would draw out an older thief looking to retire. He guessed that was how she thought of him... just another thief, greedy and looking for money with which to retire once money was no longer an issue.
At her playful comment concerning the possibility of having once dated Jon Martin, 'Jerry' laughed out loud. "Yes, I suppose one ought not to judge appearance too quickly." He took a sip of his own drink. "Too bad about his relative... hope it was old age that took him... or her?"
“She. It was his great grandfathers cousin.” Jennifer explained still holding her drink. “I can’t go into the details of her death but our Mr Martin is her closest living relative.”
Cleo realised that this man was being quite inquisitive, more so than most people would be considering the topic was a thief. “But she died a wealthy women, owned a few successful businesses.” Jennifer took another slow sip of her drink. “Well now you know what I do, Why don’t you return the favour.”
"None at the moment, though it will not be difficult to locate one with the specifications this unit possess. It mainly does freelancing to maintain a mobile and profitable line of work." 286 responded to the question.
"Hm, well, seeing as you just payed in full on the spot, I wouldn't think you'd need a job. Too bad, I was thinking of hiring you," Cody said, looking at the back of his hand for no particular reason.
"Where did you purchase the H-Chip for this gy-," the robot caught himself. "-for Jesse?"
Cody smiled as 286 mentioned the chip, "I...acquired it from some military correspondents of mine, along with a few corporate ones as well, for initial payment of course, couldn't afford it at the time, but I payed them back." He told the inquisative bot.
"Cody," came a pulse-wave message that the four could hear. "I think she's..." but the alien was cut off by Cody. "I see her, and I'm sure she's one...you don't seem sure Murphy, couldn't read her?" Cody asked quizically.
"It's a matter of whether I want to or not," the alien stated.
"Humph, well I guess I can't force you, but you can also sense emotions regardless, so I guess we'll go with it on this one. Be ready," Cody told his crewmembers.
Cody reaverted his attention to 286, "you don't happen to collect on bounties, or have one on your own head, do you?"
Jon grimaced ever so slightly. "Don't suppose I'd want to know cause of death anyway," he muttered. Then, he smiled in response to Jennifer's request for information on 'Jerry Taylor'.
"Many years back, I founded a tiny company nobody ever heard of," he said. "It grew into a slightly larger company that very few people have ever heard of. Now, I'm on the board of directors... among other things. Not here on business, though..." He chuckled. "New Chicago's a decent enough place to escape the daily grind of corporate management."
There were many holes in that identity, information-wise, but all of them would lead back to GPF Major Jerry Taylor.
"You don't happen to collect on bounties, or have one on your own head, do you?"
"This unit only collects bounties that it is contracted for. Those that it is not contracted for are left alone, although studied in case of future attempt at collection. The Terran Union might try to capture this unit at times, but the actual posting of a bounty would rise too much suspicion on what they were trying to hide." 286 replied, noting the weapon the weapon hidden in the nearby woman's dress with electro-mag vision. It, by his opinion, was pretty pathetic, although it didn't take even a bullet if she was an assassin.
Lower his voice volume, he said to Cody "This unit will assist you if necessary."
"Well, a fool and his money are soon parted." James commented. He listened in on the conversations going around the bar. "We should be careful, some of these people's occupations sound a bit less than legal. No doubt Stark has been watching them. Some of them have no doubt caught his eye."
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