Seattle by night

A bad night at the fair
Carnival crews gone wrong

Mea Culpa

How to begin, well lets start with how it all got going. It was the morning, and I say that loosely after a night of drinking and partying in my shitty little apartment. “Brutus” had moved in from the streets and I was glad to have the big bastard living with me. No one would be breaking in anymore and carrying up the groceries would be a breeze. But I digress. I was well and truly hung over when the phone rang at the crack of 2 p.m. Mr. McMallister wanted to meet me at Jib Jib’s Bar and Grill.

So that made me think, I had better dress better than going slumming. I took a quick shower and got dressed before deciding to wake up Brutus. He can put down some drinks. That troll is a party beast. So I gently snuck into his room and whispered “steak for breakfast” in his ear. That was all it took. He was up and ready in moments. He did ask if he had to wear pants. Well we were going out in public, so yeah pants were not optional, they are pretty much mandatory. Since I knew were this was going, I called Lance. He was still hammered from the night before and was demanding to be called “alligator”.

We met up for dinner at Priggy’s and I about shit when I saw the prices. Who the hell can afford this. Well the look in Brutu’s face said it would not be us. I told the waitress ..err.. hostess up front that a dapper older gentleman who preferred to be alligator would be joining us. I did a quick look around the place, I was feeling a bit paranoid. All was clear and I sat down to what was certainly hurt our “Fixer’s” pocket book. I merely ordered a small appetizer (heh, after a heavy night of drinking that was enough) and had a few drinks. Brutus hammered it down.

We made small talk and waited for Lance to show. He did not disappoint and we started negotiation with what and where we were going to be employed. It started with a simple little “find the missing kid” how hard could that be? We were talking through the negotiations and then Mr. McMallister was called away. In hindsight I was sure this was no coincidence. But that was when I made my first mistake of the evening. As soon as McMallister walked away, his phone gave us a nasty surprise. Some weird little girl showed up and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. 5,000 nuyen each to do what sounded like a job for the sierra club.

So all we had to do was sneak into a carnival and release some “harmless” para animals. How hard could that be? So I jumped at it. I think my team agreed since I did not hear any arguments. Of course with a mouth full of steak there was not much that Brutus could say. The image passed away and forwarded us each 500 nuyen as an operating expense. I should have known right then that we were out of our league. But hey, hell with it, you only live once right? Well Mr. McMallister came back and grabbed his phone, he was in a hurry but we were still eating (by “we” I meant Brutus.) so he left telling us he would cover 100 nuyen, Brutus negotiated it up to 500. Seeing as a hungry troll should not be argued with he conceded and headed out the door. I had another drink and sat back thinking of the possibilities.

It all evens out

My first instinct was to call Marcus. I knew he was busy, still some soreness over us walking away from that crazy contract with a cult of wackos. Well what he did not know would not hurt us, but man we needed some firepower. I called Bishop. I owed the man a lot anyhow. He agreed to meet me and we talked it over. I think he was skeptical about me running the show, and since I had not told Marcus what I was doing, that skepticism only grew. Well I was able to convince him it was an easy in and out thing. Damn I was wrong, but we will get to that.

So we decided to go enjoy ourselves at the carnival, not like we couldn’t use some fun, especially when someone else is paying for it. So we got changed into “street clothes” and piled into the jeep. I convinced Brutus that there would be good food and good beer. Hell I was convinced myself. Driving out to the barrens showed us this place was like a little island of fun surrounded by an urban hell. I parked the jeep and we walked in, I made sure to have some flies around with me. What did we do, well first of all, sadly we had to leave Bishop behind. He had to find a high spot in a surrounding building to keep an eye on us. I will certainly owe him a drink for this. I went and did what anyone would do. I got my face painted, ate far too much junk food. I sure hope the public bathrooms are not too disgusting here.

This place is kind of fun, we almost forgot we were on a job. Brutus and I wandered off to see what we could find, while Lance hacked into their security system, easy as could be. The guards were a bunch of rent-a-doofus and security seemed lax. Another of my mistakes on the night, but I would pay for that later. Brutus and I went into a tent to see what the commotion was while leaving Lance to do his “thing”. I do not like getting in the way, but sometime that fossil needs some guidance. Well we walked into the tent and that got my blood boiling. These sick bastards were fighting dogs. I mean really? what a bunch of bullshit. I nudged Brutus and he noticed the two assholes running the show. Well I let my mouth get the better of me.

The head of the dog fighting pit was a dwarf who looked to swoll for his own good, but his partner was a dreadlocked elf. These two fruitloops really had me fired up when they did not stop the fight and let one dog suffer and die. When the dwarf put out an open challenge, I could not help myself. I walked right up and challenged him and his fruity little friend to a “friendly” scrum, him and his partner against me and mine. The look on his face when he saw Brutus was priceless but he agreed and we put up 500 nuyen each, making the pot a sweet 1k. The fight was short and sharp. I admit I got my ass kicked. That fruity looking rasta elf beat me like a drum. Before I realized what was happening he had hit me so hard in the gut I almost barfed. Fortunately for me the shot across my face knocked me unconscious before I could vomit.

The unfair fair

I woke up to Brutus gently (meaning roughly shaking me) waking me up with a somewhat disapproving stare. We (I mean he) won the fight handily and we were now quite a bit of nuyen richer. But he was angry that I put myself in that situation. I tried to make it up to him with some beer and deep fried goodness. Well we found out Lance was having a hell of a time. We still had found no sign of the animals and now Lance was busy getting nit-picked at by some weird creatures under the big top. Well to me that stinks of magic. I should have called it right there and walked away. I blame the pounding headache and the results of my dome being bounced to my decision to try to get one of these little nasties.

Really it was a bad call, we were not being paid for this, I should have walked away. Instead I thought, well lets see if we can handle this. I called Bishop to walk my mark and sent some spy-fly to find one of the little shits. Lance helped out by finding where one was creepin on the camera and we headed that way. These things were nasty little creatures. I wanted to see if we could “handle” them, so I called the shot. Bishop obliged and a quick report from a .50 from about half a mile away aced the little bastard. Unfortunately it dissipated and left no corpse for us to examine. The carnival was so loud no one heard the shot. That made me think if I could handle the little shits under the big top, I moved my Noizquitos under the bleachers and looked for the critters. Apparently the ringmaster was somewhat upset about what we did, and came out to check.

This was another point where I should have had my head examined and we should have left. Well no, we kept the ringmaster under surveillance and I went ahead and had the ’skeeters light it up under the bleachers. That told me two things. They did not like bright lights and hate loud noise. So does the rest of the crowd and the place went into bedlam. OK, I got the hint, we needed to beat feet outta here. We had found no evidence of para-animals being here let alone smuggled. We had made the place a bit hot. My guts were roiling and my head was pounding. This is a wash, and its my fault. I was so glad Marcus was not there, I could not handle his disapproving stare at the moment. I made the call to meet at the jeep and we were out of there.

Beer thirty or tequila time

We got back to my place, not feeling like winners. I was feeling the sugar and fried badness and made a bee-line to the bathroom. After that I went back out to see my dejected crew. This was my fault, I had to do something so I brought out my last bottle of good Aztlan tequila and decided we would drown our sorrows in a nice drinking contest. The first one down bought the next bottle. This had the double effect of making my aches and pains go away and buy me time to think of a new plan.

Old man Lance was first one down. HA! that will teach him. Of course Brutus finished off the bottle as Bishop and I got light headed. He carried poor Lance into the bathtub so he didn’t barf on our floor. I went outside to clear my head and think. Brutus had a cigar and walked around looking for more booze. Bishop came out to talk to me and I decided we would go back in the middle of the day. Bishop was certain that was a bad idea, but I was desperate at the time. I did not want to pass this payday without one more try. I went to bed with my mind all abuzz.

Final mistake, how we lost the payday

We woke up to a hellish hangover and I decided that burritos would be a good idea. Holy shit I have been batting 0 here of late, I should try out for the Houston Astros with this record. Well After some upset stomachs and troll gas, I managed to get everyone into the jeep. Bishop held up fine and I dropped him off in what would turn out to be a bad spot. Well I was going to have Brutus run interference so I could go in and check, no way that big galoot would be sneaky. So off I sent him and then did a nice low crawl into the carnival. Man there are times you wish someone would just say “what the hell are you thinking, dumbass” this was one of those times. I wandered about finding pretty much nothing but massive interference on my grid.

I had Lance try to shut the tower down, figured once that was out we would be good. I wandered into what made me break out in goose bumps. More finger waggly stuff. Warning signs in my head should have sounded, but they didn’t. Even with Lance getting in way over his head. I encouraged him to “bring the bastard down” well he got bricked and that should have been that. I found the wagons with the critters as I passed through that weird feeling. I would have asked Marcus about it but I think he would have ripped me a new ass over this. I was about to pat myself on the back for it, despite losing Lance’s deck when I heard a voice call me out from behind. Shit! I got caught.

I called for Brutus over the quiet net, I knew I was in trouble. I did not bring my gun (hell we are not gonna just start shooting people) and so I took a deep breath and turned around. Put on my best bimbo routine ( that was a fail) and tried to talk my way out of it. Well at best this guy thought me below average and I was not even remotely dressed to seduce, that and I was covered in dirt and shit from the grounds (was gonna need a shower after this one for sure) I tried to play for time. Brutus to the rescue. Even as my new “friend” was calling security on me, the big guy showed up.

This should have been where I called it a wash and walked away. Well I was not that smart and called for an audible. I told Brutus to go for the wagons ( I forgot to tell him about them so that was just stupid) and then I tried to punch the security head in his balls. That got me rewarded with a knee to the grill and made me see stars. Brutus let out a roar of rage and I turned on my ‘skeeters. That put most of the folks down and Brutus lit up the chief with a thunderous punch. That’s when it went to shit. The whole world stopped and some fruitcake in a harlequin suit showed up. We were well and truly screwed. So I made the call, we walked away.

Drinking away our shame.

So there I was sitting in my shitty little apartment with a team I had let down again. Waiting for the Fixer to call and give us an earful, well we were not in the mood. We came close, but we did not make it. So when the little cretin called up, I let her know those two painful words “we’re out” and let it stand. We needed to get drunk and forget the whole last two days, well you win some, you lose some. We will see what comes next.

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Master of ceremony smiles behind the mask.
Prologue

On the Tacoma air – so often laced with heavy metals, the acid tang of refineries, assembly lines and the vapors of the sluggish Puget Sound – another scent had overlain itself. Cotton candy, crepes, toffees, and popcorn perfume and mingle with the industrial air, making it sweet and cancerous all at once.

A wide lot, vacant yesterday and long ago bulldozed empty of anything but a ladened hunk of land brings back the memory of jobs, now gone to corporate greed. The lot now filled with tents, trucks and temptations for children and adults alike. The Carnival has come to Seattle, nestling itself in the city’s empty spaces as it had once settled itself in farmer’s fields from a time long forgotten in these parts. A few beefy trolls manhandled the polls of the last tent with ease and a dwarf with grease paint forcing a permanent smile on his face jammed fliers under the wipers of the cars crawling past in the slow rush hour traffic.

“Come to the Carnival,” the fliers said. “An experience you’ll never forget.”

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