Of all the places in D'ver City to acquire information, Parker's Place was usually the first stop. A large, almost suburban home near the waterfront, it attracts more oddities than any of the local bars. From its inception, the immediate neighbours quickly fled, only to be replaced by some hardcore regulars, each of whom networked with Parker's ideals to create a block wide party meca. Its only rival for entertainment these days were the Palace and the Mountain. Deluxe liked to called the crimson world home.
"MY ASSASSINS HAVE ARRIVED!!!!" yelled Parker across the densely populated, completely scarlet living room. Her voice was barely audible over the pulsing beats of the wall-size speakers. "Over here! A seat. A seat on my couch."
Deluxe arced her head back and howled aggressively to the partygoers. She knew most of the patrons by name, and they hugged and kissed her as she entered the cherry room. Gyrating her way through the frantic crowd, she led the others towards Parker's usual location. Blink and Scarecrow made room on the candyapple couches.
"Hey Parker," began Onyx with a firm hug, "do you have a place where Trace can rest? Preferably near a washroom."
"Yeah, sure, no problem." She thought for a second. "Um, take her out to Jester's. Use the basement room. She'll be okay there for a while. I'll send Curve with some meds. I know they won't do much considering, but it'll give her some extra time."
"Thanks," smiled Onyx, and began helping Tracer out of the room.
"Should I stop the party?" considered Parker to the others.
"No no, fuck no," eased Deluxe, "it's cool. We just need info, and we'll get that regardless. Hey hey, what're you whack fucks up to?" she teased to Scarecrow and Blink.
"Here ta get down as always, but when we heard about Trace, I don't know, we got all concerned."
"Thanks Blink," said Symm.
Her cheeks blushed rose. "Is there anything I can get for you?" gazing romantically at Symm's enticing lips. "A drink, a sandwich, a..."
"We're fine sister," interrupted Deluxe, unimpressed with the eight year old operative. Blink had liked Symm since her immersion into D'ver City at age one and was the reason she began running reconnaissance three year later. She still had a long way to go though.
"Actually Blink," began Parker, "would you be a darling and fetch Curve for me? I'll need him to cook something up for Trace."
"Sure, of course," she replied courteously, hesitant on taking her eyes off Symm. "Are you sure there's nothing I can get you Symm?"
"No thanks, I'm okay," he said with an unknowing smile.
Blink sighed lovingly and quickly ran up the strawberry carpeted stairs after the chef.
"We know about the speeder," Scarecrow blurted over the music, not wasting any of the crew's time. He was another agent for the Guild, dealing mostly in retrieval operations. "Whisper came in earlier and told us everything."
"What'd she say?" probed Deluxe, shifting for comfort on the patented candyapple couch. It was sweeter than the one in the restaurant.
"Creep and Leviathan made a mess outside of some bar. Behemoth somehow hacked Tracer's speeder and rode off on it. Onyx went smokeshow on the remaining two. Everyone else, including Whisper, had ignition shock. Behemoth was last seen riding towards the Mountain."
"Yeah? The fucken Mountain?"
"That's what Whisper tells me. She thinks the goth psychedelics are in on this too. The ones from the Badlands, not the outercity ones."
"They say some g-p's have been talking payback for the Freeze."
"Yeah, but they talk that kinda shit all the time."
"Are there any g-p's here now?" interrupted Symm.
Parker closed her ruby eyes and relaxed. Being 'confined' to the house from a physical illness, she curiously developed the exceptional ability to track the identity and location of anyone in her home, a skill who's uses had come in handy many a time with troublesome guests and well.... just plain olí spying on couples. She found a small group engaged in the Play outside. "There's a few outside, in the Play."
"But why the fuck would goth-psychedelics pick NOW?" asked Deluxe.
"My guess is the Hacker's gone," continued Scarecrow.
"No, he's back," interjected a tall prostitute as he suddenly sidled beside Symm. "He's been back for a week now."
Anyone and everyone was allowed inside Parker's, Badlanders included. To see a whore from the Hive trolling around was nothing unusual. Parker's place housed a lot of junkies. Under the circumstances however, his presence was somewhat unnerving.
"So you've seen him?" asked Parker trying to keep things calm.
"No but the Hive says he's back so he's back. They say he has new programs too."
The crew said nothing. Even Parker was silent. The Hacker was usually very reserved in his meddlings with the city, but on occasion had been know to attack power structures. It was only a matter of time before he grew strong enough to battle the tribes themselves. And almost nothing was known about him except he sided with some goth-psychedelics.
Deluxe scanned the surroundings. The thief could have been there as they spoke, dancing to the feverish tunes, watching them all through raspberry strobes. But they had to keep searching, and the Hacker seemed the next best bet. Tracer wasn't capable for a meeting, and probably couldn't handle the i.d.i.c. anyway. Onyx would have to take her to the Park for a recharge while Symm and herself checked the Alley.
"Do you think the Hacker is really in on this?" asked Parker.
"To tell you the truth," began Scarecrow, "I can't think of anyone else who'd be able to hack a speeder's dna ignition codes. I say he's in on it in one form or another."
Deluxe watched as the prostitute shuffled closer to Symm, placing his hand on his inner thigh. He had taken a peculiar liking to her crewmember almost immediately. Symm needed a good lay, but now was not the time. It was amusing nonetheless to watch the sassy theatrics. She eyed his inexperienced crotch, but there were no telltale signs of arousal.
Getting the cold shoulder, Venus rose slyly. "I'll be in the Play if anyone needs my services." They nodded their heads good-bye and he disappeared into the bouncing crowd.
"I think I'm going to follow him," stated Symm flatly.
"Fuck yer kidding!" yelped Deluxe, not believing what she'd just heard.
"You said there's goth-psychedelics in the Play?"
"Yeah," replied Parker, "a few of them. Regulars. From the Badlands. They come for the Play all the time."
"See you in a bit," said Symm as he stood. "I'll see what I can find out in there."
"Good luck," blurted Scarecrow.
"You think he'll find anything in the Play?" asked Parker apprehensively.
"I doubt it. I just hope he doesn't get fucken stuck in there. I can't even remember the last time he's acted."
"Man is it ever a bummer about Trace. Fuck. At first I'm thinkin'.... she's gotta hang low for a while. Find out who did this. Not so bad. But then I realize... fuck... what happens if someone wants to start a war. Like now is the best time."
"Be cool Scarecrow, be cool. There's not gonna be any fucken war. Riots and fights sure, but we get that everyday anyway. This city is so screwed that no one'd know who or what to attack first. And the minute anyone made a move they'd get whacked by some other fucken opportunist."
"Sure Deluxe, but what if this is all planned out?" began Parker. "Think about it... if it's some goth-psychedelics, it's not like they just thought of it. It's been twenty-something years since Symm's dad incited the Freeze."
"Yeah well that's still questionable."
"Oh come on," countered Scarecrow accusingly. "Alchemy killed them and you know it. And now the whole Guild's blamed for it."
The threesome relaxed for the arriving duo. Blink's wardrobe switch was first to catch Deluxe's eye and it lured her thoughts from the dawning Alchemy argument. She couldn't help but notice the new outfit, tailored to emphasise her rare figure. Even Blink's hair was up, sporting a sensually, sophisticated look. Curvature, on the other hand, looked his usual culinary self, covered in fruit and vegetable staines . Deluxe stood to meet him with a sharp kiss.
"I'd hug ya 'luxe, but ya know."
"I know," she said with a sly smile.
"Where's everyone else?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah... where's Symm?" pouted Blink all mystified, her eyes darting into a sea of red.
"Curve... I need you to cook me up something," Parker said, coming to the point. "Tracer's sick. Speeder shock....don't ask. She's also going to need something to replace her adrenaline."
"You have anything like that?"
"You mean that'll boost her adrenaline?"
"Like a precursor?"
"No, no. Something to duplicate it."
Curvature sighed and racked his mind. "I've got steroids but now yer talking heavy stuff. She'll end up having to wean off it, and depending on how much she needs that could mean she'll be on the stuff for a while. What exactly is wrong with her?"
"We're trying to keep this quiet. Maybe it'd be best if you just went and talked to her.. or Onyx. They're downstairs at Jester's, in the spare room."
"Okay... is everything okay?" he genuinely felt concerned.
The group said nothing, just shook their heads unwillingly.
"I'll go with ya man," offered Scarecrow. "Maybe there's something I can do." But there wasn't and Deluxe knew it.
"Oh wait," she added. "One more thing, and I know none of you're gonna like it but ummm... Curve??? Can you like get me some i.d.i.c.?"
"Oh fuck Deluxe!" Scarecrow blasted. "What the hell for?"
"Oh yer kidding," Curve's head dropped.
"Two?" whimpered Blink nervously.
"Yeah Blink, me and Symm."
"Oh..... then can I go too? Maybe 'I' can help."
Deluxe hugged Blink affectionately. "Thanks kiddo but you know you can't. I know you wanna help us but you can't."
There was a long pause as everyone looked inward, trying to erase the gravity of their depressing position. They had all but forgotten the party behind them with its crimson lightshow and percussive chants. It was definitely a first for Deluxe.
"Is Symm with Tracer now?" presumed Blink.
"I'm afraid not dear," answered Parker. "He's in the Play, hoping to find some information."
"Oh," and she almost started crying.
"This is the shittiest time I've ever had here," Deluxe grieved softly to herself. "That speeder better turn up soon, cuz things will only get worse."