“TJ, I could strangle you right now. What kind of eszett dermho spud move was that? If she didn’t need that bell so badly, we’d be meat parts for the dicers.” Blade glared at him. TJ stood up, then walked to his bedroom. “It didn’t, and she did need us, though I can’t figure why she chose us specifically. A kidnapping like this, a guy who’s a big public figure, and has a security team of at least four all the time, needs at least a six man team to do it right. She picked us two, nethead.”
Blade straightened as the implication of his words sank in. Two, not six, two. “Point”, she grudgingly admitted. “We’re committed because of you. So now we’re in the bear pit. Got any other brilliant revelations?” TJ smirked, and Blade started a slow burn. She could feel her frustration beginning to roll over to anger. “Easy, Blade. Stow the attitude.” He moved over to the doorway, and leaned on the door. “Think it through. They’d be expecting a full-on crew for a kidnapping. We can take advantage of how they think.” TJ started ticking off points, slapping his hand against his chest and extending a finger each time.
Slap! “One, we need floor plans of his next residence. Hotel, motel, tube, whatever. Every floor.” Slap! Two fingers extended. “Two, we need to know the background of the security. Are these guys former military, moonlighting cops, thugs, or homie boys from the ‘hood.” Slap! Three fingers. “Do they use local security systems, or do they have their own setup for the room / floor.” Slap! Four fingers. “Most important, who’s paid whom for the performance. Who do we have to kiss their ring, or bribe to get our shot without having an unhappy eszett godfather decide we embarrassed them somehow.”
His gaze locked on Blade’s scowl. “So, nethead, gonna get to work or go all clucker pouty?” Blade glared at TJ. “Are you gonna act all meth-head or are you gonna go do some setup?” she snarled back. She felt stung by the ‘clucker’ slang. Elves had clicks in their native tongue, and to human ears it vaguely resembled a chicken’s cluck. Her ears burned with shame and anger as she went back to her room to grab an old plug-in laptop and interface helmet. She moved back into the small central living room, then sat down on the floor next to the low coffee table.
The laptop was set on the table, the connecting cables and power supply laid out neatly next to the near-antique. She connected the power supply to the laptop and plugged it into the floor socket. She rose and moved to the small kitchen as the laptop powered up. TJ watched her go to the kitchen, then turned and departed the small apartment, slamming the door, in Blade’s mind, a little harder than necessary.
Blade savored the few minutes needed to brew and pour a cup of coffee, then returned and sat back down. TJ had his job to do, renting vehicles, making weapons and equipment purchases, studying the buildings in the area, visualizing approaches and exits, timing any security patrols, and monitoring radio traffic. She grabbed a cable, then shifted her shoulder for a direct brain-interface link. She settled the helmet in place. The small shoulder cable snaked into a side port, a second cable linking to the helmet. The connection flashed as the holographic view of the infoweb flipped open on the screen.
She thought about running, and the images flashed past her, creating a three-dimensional cityscape, using IP address locations as building addresses and type. Public buildings showed the names, with each floor being given the name of the business, or individual listed as a resident. A quick thought and most of the public information was suppressed, leaving her the locations she needed to visit. The first location was the public website for Cannibal Lighthouse.