Hi! I’ve been pondering posting some of my ANR Writing on here; hemmed. Hawed. Then decided just to do it. I’d love to share this with Dan Clark–just a quick 1000 word thank you for the game we play (though I can’t find his e-mail anywhere )
Anyway. Here’s my version of the False Lead story. I wanted to tell it from the perspective of not using any (or minimal) cyber-punk terms. Some cards just scream for a story. I think the False Lead Alt Art absolutely does.
The 7th Live
“We have to go. Now.” Tenma folded his arms across his chest. He knew that they knew he was here. He knew that they knew she was here. His brain was calculating traffic. The main arteries into town were going to be clogged. Too slow. The surface streets would be just as bad. Going up was out of the question–not with the hopper impounded.
“Not without my cats. I don’t go if they don’t go.”
Tenma scanned the apartment. One, two, three, four five…his sedan was going to smell just as bad as her apartment. A god damn cat car.
His jewel beeped. There was no time.
“Great! Now this one is Persephone–she’s really particular about how people hold her. And that one there is Hermes. And, oh, look at Helena over there! Let me get their travel cases.”
Tenma put his hands on his head. Maybe getting caught wasn’t such a bad idea.
He held his finger on the jewel’s node. “We’re on the move.” He did more calculating while waiting in the hallway. Thinking about the local causeways, time of day, where the benz was parked. “We can be there in about thirty minutes.”
“Our intel says they know where you are. They’ll be there soon.”
“I figured. We’ll go as fast as we can. She’s not exactly an efficient Oracle.”
The door swung inward and Maggie teetered, trying to balance four hard plastic cases. The top one bobbled and slipped forward. Tenma lunged and saved the carton of kittens.
“Oh thank you, young man. Heavens me.” She was breathing hard. “Would you mind carrying them? I’m already short of breath.”
He stacked the cats. They headed toward the lift in a wake of mewling and dander. Tenma’s eyes began to itch.
Four cartons containing six cats rested snugly in the back. Maggie swiveled into the passenger seat, still short of breath. She smiled a yellow-toothed grin at her feline friends.
“Okay, my children. We’re going with this handsome fella for just a little while. We won’t be gone for too…”
She trailed off. Tenma darted a glance at her, blinking a few times to try to stop the itching.
“Oh no,” Maggie said. “I have to go back up.”
“We’re not going back up.”
“I’m missing Odin. There should be seven cats. Look. There’s only six here.”
Tenma counted. Indeed there were six. Which, with some swift mathematical theory, rounded up to seven.
“Ma’am. We’re in danger. There are people. With guns. Who want to take you get into their car. And then go to a room and look at your head. Mostly by opening it up with sharp tools. We cannot get Odin.”
Now it was her turn to fold her arms across her chest. “I want Odin.”
Tenma stared at her–through red eyes and over a nose that was struggling to find oxygen.
“I WANT MY ODIN!” A chorus of mewling echoed the Oracle’s sentiment.
Tenma’s jaw clenched. He put out his hand.
“I will go back up and get your cat.”
She dropped the apartment key into his hand.
“Thank you, my dear. Such a sweet boy.”
“Why are you still there?”
“Because this lady is crazy and my sedan is full of cats. And I can’t see very well right now and I never even KNEW I had allergies before five minutes ago.” Tenma sprinted up the stairs; it was faster then taking the lift. Four more flights to go; lungs burning.
The jewel shimmered. “There’s two cars about to enter the complex. Wait. Oh damn. There’s also a drone.”
Tenma sprinted down the hallway. He wished he could breathe a bit easier.
Keys put into the lock, door handle turned, bursting into the apartment.
“Alright, Odin. Where are you, you mangy flea filled rat-breathed monster?”
Odin did not respond.
Oh for a mask. Cloth, gas, or otherwise. Maggie’s apartment smelled, well, it smelled just like Maggie and seven cats. Just like how my car is going to smell. Minus one cat, of course.
He looked behind the couch. He dropped onto his belly and scanned under a shredded faux leather ottoman. His hand landed in something wet and slightly lumpy. The bile in his stomach churned.
Keep looking. Keep looking for this stupid cat.
“Here kitty kitty. HERE KITTY KITTY.”
Then. A purr. Tenma shot to his knees, scanned the room. There. In the kitchenette. On top of the counter. A yellow tabby scratching his back on a coffee pot.
Odin! Tenma stumbled over the ottoman and bumped his knee on the couch.
The cat licked his paw and then rubbed his head. As if preparing for departure.
“Tenma,” his jewel lit up again.
“We’ll be out of here in five.”
“You need to get out of there.”
That’s when Tenma heard the whirring of a high pitched motor. He looked over at the front door, still wide open. There was dust cascading through the sunbeams, being pushed gently by the breeze generated by small spinning blades.
A small camera floated idly in the air. Sensors calibrating it, making slight autonomous readjustment to the body of the drone. The red light above the lens glowed. Recording. Watching.
Odin purred again and then jumped off the counter.
Seconds were too long.
Sounds from the hallway, men talking quickly, loudly. Another voice was louder:
“He was going back up to get my cat. I told him I wouldn’t leave without my cat. I have to have ALL my cats.”
A quick movement. A coffee pot flung with incredible accuracy. A spinning drone finding it’s center of gravity. Another quick movement. Itchy eyes be damned. A faux-leather cat clawed ottoman smashing down and shattering the camera.
Sounds of men in suits sprinting. The sound of radios squawking.
The sound of footsteps running the other way.
Tenma stepped onto a bus. The breaks puffed and released, a small lurch and it was on its way. His sedan was going to be impounded. Most likely detonated. He had the controller back at his flat that would handle the car, assuming they didn’t find a way to disengage the wiring.
Perhaps the cats would be removed by then.
Inside his ear, “The oracle was compromised. That had to be it. All of this happened too fast.”
Tenma stroked the tabby cradled in his arms.
But maybe, if he was lucky, they would all still be in there.