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BELT A Little Bird Told Me

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Antumbralite, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    AFTER THE EVENTS OF 'BLOWING OFF STEAM'

    Keith fired it up for the first time.

    The SolTech UP4 hummed to life, its display lighting up with what he could only assume was the glow of Heaven. It was a brand-new model and the pinnacle of personal console technology. And now, it was his.

    The money the crew of The Albatross had earned on what was once called the Phoebe job -- referred to now as the Eros Incident -- was substantial. It was enough for Keith to afford the computer, a decent supply of rations and Belter Brau, and his share of the pot for The Alby's upgrades. They were docked at Pallas Station on a self-proclaimed shore leave until the work was finished.

    The Eros Incident. Keith did not want to think about that waking nightmare. He wanted to think about his SolTech UP4 instead, which he just then decided to name Darla. The console ran its startup, and he waited impatiently.

    A few cryptic messages he received on his hand terminal hinted that the Belter black market network may have reestablished itself after its apparent eradication on Eros. As soon as Darla was ready to go, he would find out.

    The Albatross was quiet. Keith had almost gotten used to the commotion of the extra passengers they took on for the job, but it was nice to be able to stretch out again and have a modicum of privacy.

    The console chimed, ready to be used. Keith hurriedly went through the process of navigating layers upon layers of encryption until he saw a familiar, comforting sight:

    >Connection established.
    >Welcome, Antumbralite.

    @Chloe Emerson
     
    #1 Antumbralite, Jan 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  2. Chloe Emerson

    Chloe Emerson "Wren"

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    Days had passed since Chloe had heard from Sparrow, the operative that she had sent to Pallas Station on what should have been a run-of-the-mill supply drop. That was before the network had dropped. From what she had been able to piece together, things had gone wrong. Whether it was opportunistic pirates, a rogue faction of the OPA trying to infringe on her business, or a combination of the two, she didn't know yet. She suspected that it might have been the latter. The need for medical supplies was only going up, and if you held a good portion of the shipments under your control, like she did, it could be quite lucrative.

    Someone had gotten too big for their britches and made a terrible mistake -- they'd crossed her.

    A message went out over the network.

    >If anyone has eyes on Pallas station, I've a job for you. - Wren

    All she could do now was wait for a response.
     
  3. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    Keith had so much to catch up on. As expected, most of the recent bulletins were about Eros. Just seeing the name of the place on the display made his stomach lurch. He decided against prodding deeper into the news, and instead pulled up the user directory.

    >Search Gruffie
    >Searching...
    >User not found.


    Keith frowned. Gruffie was the last person he had spoken to on the network. They had arranged a supply drop for The Albatross, but given his best estimations, Gruffie was likely on Eros when misfortune had befallen it, to put it lightly. There was a good chance Gruffie was dead.

    >Search Sprite
    >Searching...
    >User not found.


    He let out a breath. Keith had not talked to Sprite since Ceres. Sprite was a mentor and a friend, despite the two never even knowing one another beyond their respective aliases. Even if Sprite or Gruffie had not survived, the network did, and Keith would carry on with it.

    Pulling up a new menu, Keith decided to filter through the network listings by a series of keywords. He set Pallas Station as one of them, and let the system run a search. Various results ran down his display, but one in particular stood out: a listing from Wren.

    He had never spoken to Wren personally, but they did have somewhat of a reputation, and they were needing someone on Pallas. Normally, it was wise not to share your whereabouts, even if you trusted who you were speaking with Sometimes, however, a proximity request such as this made that difficult to enforce.

    >Message Wren
    >Antumbralite: Verify


    A combination of words was listed beside their username: Frozen Rock Shout. The same words would show next to his on Wren's end. It was an authentication feature built into the network, and the words changed every minute. If the user were to respond with the wrong words, there was a good chance it was coming from an unauthorized connection.

    Keith leaned back in his seat, stretching. He wondered what the infamous Wren needed here.
     
  4. Chloe Emerson

    Chloe Emerson "Wren"

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    The console chirped softly.

    >Connecting pending...
    >Authenticating user...
    >Connected User: Antumbralite


    Chloe's brow rose slightly. That was a name that she hadn't seen come across her screen in some time. Truthfully, she thought whoever it was had been killed or compromised. While she had never worked directly with them, the name was still one that she easily recognized.

    She sank down into the chair that was positioned in front of the terminal.

    >Wren: Good to see a name I recognize.
     
  5. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    Keith raised his eyebrows. He had not thought many recognized him outside of those he dealt with on a regular basis. Not that it mattered much, but it was a good feeling to have some familiarity after the jarring changes with the network as of late.

    >Antumbralite: Likewise, beltalowda. What do you need on Pallas?
     
  6. Chloe Emerson

    Chloe Emerson "Wren"

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    >I was expecting a package delivery, but it looks like it's been lost in transit. I need someone to track it down for me.

    She responded. It took her three times to type out the message until she was satisfied with the contents to hit send.
     
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  7. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    A lost package.

    Keith wondered if it was a literal lost package, or a missing persons case. The network often used the term interchangeably, and he understood if Wren did not want to elaborate further. Part of why he was good at his job was his knack for finding out about such things.

    >Antumbralite: Understood. Dimensions of the package? Height and weight. Sender? Inner or Belter? Destination? Last known location. Commodity? Identifying features.

    Keith knew sometimes it could be rough to relay the information discreetly, but Wren had a reputation for being clever. He did not doubt they would supply him with the information he needed. It would give him something to do while The Albatross was docked, and it would assist a prolific member of the OPA. The true OPA.
     
  8. Chloe Emerson

    Chloe Emerson "Wren"

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    She considered the response carefully.

    >Shipping says that the box is 5x8 in. 5'8" tall and weighs about 6 kilos. Stood to reason that a 0 was implied, 60 kilos. It's a gift for my niece on Io, her birthday is on the 21st. Belter female, 21. It's a special made hand terminal, so handle with care. The box should have a purple ribbon on it. My information says that it arrived on Pallas Station three days ago, but it hasn't left the station yet? If you find it, please return it as quickly as possible. I'll make it worth your while.

    She had to leave the last part vague, hoping Antumbralite would be able to figure it out on their own.


     
  9. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    Keith drummed his fingers on the surface of his desk with one hand, while the other rubbed his chin. He thought Wren was talking about an actual package at first, until he saw the emphasis on the niece. This likely was a missing persons case, and there were several numbers and the color purple that held significance.

    "Five by eight dimensions. Five feet, eight inches? Six kilos doesn't sound right, though... maybe sixty?" Keith muttered to himself. "Birthday on the twenty-first... that tells me nothing, unless... apartment twenty-one? Room twenty-one? Twenty-one years old?" He began to hum as he scrutinized the rest of Wren's message. "Special made, so something out of the ordinary, and purple... clothes? Hair? Eyes? Three days missing on the station. Okay, okay."

    Keith had enough information to get a start. He sat up and responded to Wren.

    >Antumbralite: Acknowledged. I will get started.
     
  10. Sparrow

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    [​IMG]
    Silence.

    It was everything that the young Belter knew. Normally, she could feel the thrum of the station beneath her feet, the vibrations of the various systems that kept everyone alive. This far down, however, those reassuring sensations were much more difficult to detect. Gravity was weak this close to the heart of the spin.

    What she wasn't used to, was sheer and utter darkness. The thick bag over her head made it impossible for her to see anything. Every so often, she would catch a glimmer of light through the fabric only for it quickly vanish. It was suffocating. She could feel the weight of earmuffs over her head, squashing uncomfortably against her ears. They were intended to muffle sound, protect a workers hearing. The men who had her were putting them to use in an effort to deprive her of her sense of hearing. They needn't have bothered.

    Her hands were bound behind her back, making it impossible for her to communicate, even if she had wanted to. Not that they would have even been able to understand her. She wanted to scream, but the cloth gag wrapped around her mouth would have muffled the sound anyways. The lack of sensory input was beginning to take a toll. Which had to have been intentional. Why else would they have left her tied up in what she could only assume was a shipping crate, judging by the dimensions, with a canvas bag over her head, and the pointless ear muffs?

    Everything ached. She wasn't sure how long she had been cramped up in the small container, but the muscles in her legs were screaming. Her shoulders burned from having been pulled back for so long and she couldn't even feel her hands anymore. She lashed out with a powerful kick at the side of her tiny cell. It was a futile effort, she already knew that, but it at least let her stretch her muscles.

    Cigarette smoke. Someone was nearby.

    The container she was in rattled and lurched to the left, sending her tumbling over onto her side with a pained grunt. Another shudder, accompanied by a considerable impact beneath her. They must have loaded the crate onto a trolley of some sort.

    They were moving her again. She could tell that much by the momentum and the telltale scraping rattle of the wheels against the metal floor.

    But where were they taking her now?
     
  11. Diarmuid O'Sullivan

    Diarmuid O'Sullivan UN Renegade

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    Pain had been a constant for the last few days. Diarmuid winced as he got out of the bunk, his leg still stiff. The pain was a little duller today but it didn’t stop him gulping down another couple of pills.


    The leg dressing was still holding together. He gave it an experimental sniff, no smell of rot or putrefaction, he’d just have to trust it. It looked like he’d be able to keep the leg. At least the fever dreams were stopping. The first days had been the worst.


    He’d couldn’t remember how exactly he’d gotten away. It was supposed to be a simple pickup job, nothing fancy, nothing complicated. It had gone from grand to shit in the space of thirty seconds. He’d been quicker on the draw and blown away the first one to go for a weapon. Six of them. Three he could have handled. Four if he was lucky and had the drop on them.


    The shotgun blast had winged him when he’d been going for cover. He’d gotten away, shock and adrenaline powering him through. The pellets had made a mess of his thigh but missed his artery. He’d gone on autopilot after that.


    Shelter, safety, Pallas station was big enough for a fugitive to hide but he’d been as covert as possible. Terrans stood out here, much more than they would on Ceres or Ganymede. The place he was crashing was an utter rathole but the proprietor took credits and asked no questions.


    Cleaning the wound had been agony. He washed it out with an antiseptic solution and taken enough painkillers to dope an ox. They’d stopped him from blacking out when he’d had to go digging in his leg for the pellets.


    He’d passed the convalescence time with his own sleuthing. He still remembered a few tricks of the trade and he did what he could to find something, anything on Sparrow’s whereabouts. He was no decker or shadowrunner, he was bound to leave a trail for anyone more skilled.


    He knew one thing, not finding Sparrow would mean signing his own death warrant.
     
  12. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    Keith discovered The Albatross was empty. He was going to let his crew mates know that he would be snooping around Pallas, looking for Wren's person of interest, but it seemed that they had already beat him off the ship. Enjoying their shore leave, no doubt.

    He set up a recorded message and fired it off to Alanna, Dieter, and Violet. "Oye, kopengs. I have something of a job that I'm going to look into while I have the time. If anyone is bored, you're welcome to join me. I'll only hog the majority of the payment." Sliding his hand terminal into his pocket, he checked to make sure his pistol was ready to go. Missing people often meant trouble.

    When Keith was out the airlock, he armed The Albatross' security system. He looked forward to the upgrade she would be getting, along with all the work going into their beloved ship that had broke their collective bank. She was long past due, to put it mildly.

    Taking large strides down the dock's corridor, Keith headed for the habitation ring. He wondered where to start. This kind of work was not his specialty, but he was willing to try.
     
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  13. Dieter Kohler

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    They all looked the fucking same to Dieter. Not just the shops - this was, what, the eighth they’d been to today? He didn’t understand why you needed eight shops on the same spin station that sold the same junk. The owners looked alike too - that wasn’t him being racist, they really did: old, ex-rock hopper assholes, with sagging tattooed skin. He wasn’t entirely convinced that they weren’t just circling the station, and walking straight back into the same one over and over. But it was the parts that was completely incomprehensible to him. He was supposed to be looking for a model-appropriate ‘hydraulic control circuit.’ It had been described to them in detail by the refit tech, after he’d apologized that they simply didn’t have one compatible with the Albatross’s systems. Presumably, Violet knew at least approximately what she was looking for - because everything he picked up got an immediate ‘no’ from the other Earther.

    The chirping of his terminal was as unexpected as it was welcome.

    "Oye, kopengs.”

    Dieter raised an eyebrow at the familiar face, then turned his terminal screen to ensure that Violet could see it as well. “Look. Princess misses us.”

    “I have something of a job that I'm going to look into while I have the time. If anyone is bored, you're welcome to join me. I'll only hog the majority of the payment."

    Well. That sounded perfectly simple, legitimate and non-threatening. But hey - anything sounded better than the designated task of the day.

    Hey. Look at that! I’m bored,” Dieter noted. “How about I go help Keith, and you find the hydro-thing?” That wasn’t going to fly, he knew already, so he stumbled into the next offer. “Or - we both go, squeeze Keith for bigger cuts, then have a fake-steak dinner while we pay somebody to find the part for us?”

    He gave her his best puppy-dog eyes. They weren't very good. He was too old and beat down to look like a puppy.

    @Violet
     
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  14. Violet

    Violet Mackenzie

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    Violet walked up beside Dieter, tossing a mangled piece of junk back onto the pile that she had been rummaging through. A good portion of the bins were filled with broken pieces of scrap that the shady Belters were trying to pass as 'parts'. They had been looking for a hydraulic control circuit for hours and, so far, had absolutely no luck. She was frustrated that such a simple task had turned into a day long chore.

    Her chin lightly came to rest against Dieter's shoulder as she watched the message play with a curious expression in her eyes. She ran a hand through her hair as she stepped back to look up at him as he turned to face her -- doing his best to make an offer that she would actually take him up on.

    With a raised brow, her hands came to rest on her hips and she clicked her tongue. "Fiiine. But only because y'offered a steak dinner. I'm nae sure we're even gonna find the part anyway... may need t'special order it at this rate." She sighed and halfheartedly flipped another twisted piece of metal.

    "I'm sure if you ask him nicely, he'll share."
    She smirked at him. "I'll give him a call and figure out where he wants t'meet up, aye?"

    She remarked, pulling her own hand terminal out from her pocket and quickly dialed up their Belter companion. "Hey Keith, we got your message. Where are y'at?"
     
  15. Antumbralite

    Antumbralite Keith Caileanach

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    Keith's hand terminal chirped from inside his pocket. There was a connection request from Violet, and her face appeared on his display once he accepted. "Hey Keith, we got your message. Where are y'at?"

    "Oye! I take it that means you want to tag along, ya? I am..." Keith had come to a stop to answer the call. He looked around at his surroundings, homing in on a small pachinko arcade. "...at the Pallas Palace," he answered with a chuckle. "That's pretty funny. Just for that, I'm going to try my luck at the jackpot while I wait for you to get here. Level four, yellow district." He ended the call.

    He shuffled inside the arcade, limping slightly. The wound he collected from Ceres had fully healed, but he still had not been walking quite right ever since. The damage may be permanent, but hardly debilitating. Keith dug in his pockets for a credit chit, dropping one into a vacant machine. Lights and sounds assaulted his senses, and he could not help but smile.

    Even still, the nagging from the task that awaited him did not subside. He was no hitting-the-streets detective, but he needed to work with his strengths. If Wren's missing package had a digital fingerprint, he could find it. Keith just needed an identity.
     
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  16. Alanna Marston

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    Something about good food was comforting. It had been almost two weeks since Alanna had eaten a non-dehydrated or non-canned meal, and even the cheapest food stalls at Pallas provided a welcome respite from those chemical-filled, artificial protein…things. Of course, she’d gone for burritos. They were filled with fake meat, but at least they were fresh, and they tasted delicious.

    Her hand terminal chimed an alert as she was unwrapping her second burrito: a vegetarian option crammed full of spiced beans and something fried. It was probably Violet asking about another part for the Albatross. Since they’d started the refit of their freighter, it had become apparent that many of its parts had been discontinued. That wasn’t a big problem in and of itself — Alanna was confident that they would find replacements soon enough — but antique supplies were more expensive, and the construction was already expensive. If she could cut down the cost by finding a part herself, she would readily do it.

    Surprisingly, though, the message was from Keith. "Oye, kopengs,” came the Belter man’s voice, made tinny by her terminal’s speakers. “I have something of a job that I'm going to look into while I have the time. If anyone is bored, you're welcome to join me. I'll only hog the majority of the payment."

    Interesting. Interesting enough to delay the purchase of another burrito.

    “Sure, I’m free,” she sent back in response. “Where should we meet? And should I bring anything?”
     
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  17. Sparrow

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    [​IMG]
    The lid was removed from her crate, but the only way she could tell that it had been pulled off was a burst of fresh air that washed over her. It was cooler here -- wherever here was. She caught the telltale whiff of failing air scrubbers; they must have been in an older part of the station that wasn't frequented often. The hood tied around her head still made it impossible for her to see anything. A trickle of sweat traveled down the side of her face. The air inside her hood was stale and humid from her breath; and the small crate she had been crammed inside had been starting to get overly warm from her body heat.

    Rough hands grabbed her by the shoulders and unceremoniously yanked her onto her feet. Agonizing muscle cramps stabbed through her legs and she yelped in pain, though she couldn't hear the sound. Her legs gave out from beneath her and she stumbled forward, whoever had hauled her out of the box not bothering to catch her. In an effort to avoid bashing her face open, Sparrow twisted sideways so that her shoulder impacted the floor first. She grunted in discomfort, but the low gravity meant that it wasn't too bad of a fall.

    She could feel the dull thud of engaged magboots impacting the floor as the captor moved towards her. Their gate seemed awkward and heavy. A terran, maybe? Her thoughts briefly turned to the earther companion that had come with her to Pallas, Diarmuid. Had he survived? What happened to him?

    A hand grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, pulling her up onto her feet again. Judging by the size of the hand, and how easily they lifted her, she figured that her captor was also a male. Not that it mattered much.

    This was the smoker that she had noticed earlier, though.

    A moment later, she was tossed into a metal chair. With the man no longer in contact with her, she couldn't tell where he was since the bag was still over her head. It was unnerving to know that she wasn't alone in the room, or wherever she was. She shivered.

    Smoker, as she decided to call him, grabbed her arms and pulled them over the back of the chair and handcuffed them to the middle rung behind her. When she tried to shy away from him, she realized that the chair must have been bolted to the floor because it didn't budge from the movement. So there was no need to bind her legs, as long as she didn't start kicking at them.

    The earmuffs were pulled off the top of her head, shortly followed by the hood. It was blindingly bright in the room and she squeezed her eyes shut, flinching away from Smoker as he leaned around her to pull the gag off her face. He smacked the side of her head. The strike wasn't hard enough to hurt, not exactly, but it was certainly an attempt to get her attention. Nervously, she opened her eyes to look up at him, but she had to squint.

    He was wearing a black mask that covered most of his face. The only way that she could tell he was speaking was by the subtle movements of the muscles in his neck. She stared at him, shaking her head. What else could she do? They had broken her hand terminal when they first rolled her up, and now her hands were tied behind her back. Another smack to the side of her head, a bit harder this time. She winced and tried to duck away from the man's hand. There were lots of angry gestures from the man, slow and deliberate as he pointed at her.

    There was no way for her to know what he was saying. Again, she shook her head, a bit more frantically this time. Which was the wrong response, apparently. A powerful blow struck the side of her face from behind her. Another person that she hadn't seen. This person was wearing a glove with armored knuckles , which split her bottom lip open. Smoker gently curled a finger beneath her chin, turning her head to look up at him as he squatted down in front of her. His other hand gestured to whoever it was that was behind her, the threat being clear even though she couldn't hear a word that he said. His palm lightly patted against her cheek as he continued to speak.

    When he moved away from her, another strike landed on her jaw -- dazing her to the point where she saw stars.

    Very quickly, she realized that they didn't know she couldn't hear them and that she had no way to communicate with them. The danger she was in came crashing down around her and she tensed up with fear. Fist, the person behind her, grabbed the back of her neck and pushed her forward until her arms wrenched backwards at a steep enough angle that she cried out in pain.

    Tears stung her eyes and she whimpered wordlessly.

    It was like a nightmare. Only the pain was real.

    Very, very real.
     
  18. Dieter Kohler

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    Keith couldn't have chosen a more phonetically-challenging rally point for two visiting Inners to ask for directions to, but they still managed to find the establishment relatively quickly. When the neon sign confirmed Dieter's suspicions as to what type of business it was, his eyes seemed to light up, a new pep in his step as he practically hustled inside, only restrained by the vague recollection that Violet was somewhere behind him. Finding Keith's lanky frame perched in front a pachinko machine, he hurried over to occupy the next one over, already feeding the machine before he'd even hopped onto the stool. As he punched in his bet, he settled in contentedly, looking like a man lost in the desert who'd just been given a canteen of clean water.

    It wasn't until he'd confirmed that he lost his first round that he seemed to remember why they were there, looking over at Keith and grinning broadly as he dug for another chit in his jacket pocket. "Right. So. What's the gig?" His eyes narrowed a bit as they darted around the gaudy, crowded parlor, his voice lowering as he leaned in closer. "Is it a heist? Tell me it's a heist."

    His hand abruptly flailed behind him like some separate entity that he was entirely unaware of, automatically flagging down a passing server carrying a tray of bar drinks. Maybe the job wouldn't be all that interesting. Maybe he could just spend the afternoon here. Maybe the next one, too. God, he'd behaved himself for so long - though being incessantly shot and trapped on a ship might have helped. He deserved a little recreational relapse. For old time's sake.
     
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  19. Diarmuid O'Sullivan

    Diarmuid O'Sullivan UN Renegade

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    56
    Diarmuid was not tech expert. He knew enough tradecraft to cover up some of his tracks but nothing that would deter a professional (@Antumbralite ). Every little bit of activity left a trail on the network, even if it was only a faint one. He'd been scanning schematics of the station, shipping reports, cargo manifests, anything to connect the ambush at the docks with their contacts. Station news had declared it a gang dispute with two dead and more wounded. It gave Diarmuid some grim satisfaction to know they'd not come away unscathed though he still had a score to settle with them.

    If only he'd had something better on him than that flimsy pistol. It was only thanks to Sparrow that he'd received a weapon at all. Chloe had been reluctant to grant that much, Hawk even more so, quite a few of the Belters were just itching for him to step out of line so they could pounce, convinced he was a UN plant. It was meant to be a milk run. A trust exercise. And it'd turned into a disaster.

    He had the piece tucked into his waistband now. One more magazine after the one in it, then he'd be down to bare hands and harsh language. It was against his better judgement but he coded an anonymous message for @Chloe Emerson . She had to know something was up by now. It only had three words.

    >>>I'll find her
     
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  20. Chloe Emerson

    Chloe Emerson "Wren"

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    >>> I'll find her.

    Chloe stared at the message that had routed to her her terminal from an anonymous sender. There was a deep frown on her features. If the message had come from Antumbralite, he would have sent it over the network. This was someone else.

    There was only a handful of people that knew Chloe was even looking for anyone. Most of them were on this ship with her, a few back on Io, and a single Earther that had accompanied Sparrow to the station -- Diarmuid.

    Intriguing.

    Was the man alive? If so, what was his involvement? Did he have some hand in what happened on Pallas?

    She scowled and quickly sent off a short reply that would fully convey her thoughts on the matter.

    >>> You had better.

    Tonguing the inside of her cheek, she compiled the data burst she had received from the anonymous message and forwarded the information to @Antumbralite.

    >>> Attached is a file you may find of use.
     

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