For a nice change, the Seattle sky was sunny and warm…if you could get past the layer of smog that obscured the blue skies above. As a result, the air quality in the city was abysmal and the humidity clung to everyone like a wet cloth.
Glasgow, known as Genise O’Hannah here, was busy putting away the laundered bedsheets that, despite being run through the drier, still felt damp from the air. The dehumidifiers and air purifiers were running full blast and still struggling to combat the summer air.
As she was putting the last batch of sheets away, there was a soft knocking at the door. “Hey, Genise… when you’re done, could you lend a hand in the kitchen? They’re preparing for the dinner rush and I’ve got my hands full with the oxygen cells at the moment.”
“Yeah of course! I’ll be right down.” Putting away the last of the laundry, Glasgow walked through the hostel. Not nearly as busy as it used to be in the early 60’s, the hostel still saw a lot of foot traffic. Since the ACHE was set up, most of the homeless were sealed away, but many squatters and poor families came through the evening mess. On days like today many elderly and sick came to use the oxygen booths to combat the poor air quality.
Walking through the cafeteria, Glasgow can’t help but roll her eyes at the people who dotted the cafeteria, using their commlinks from the cooled interior of the building in hopes of getting some free food.
“Genise! Could you help me out and get the batch of ‘Mr. Mexicasa’ from the freezer and starting it to thaw? Taco Tuesdays are one of our busiest nights…”
“Marci! What are you doing with your other pair of arms that you can’t handle this yourself?” Glasgow said with heavy sarcasm, teasing her loyal friend and doing as asked as well as a few other odds and ends she knows are next on the list.
“Har de har har…” Marci says in a complete deadpan, not looking up from her current task of preparing and seasoning rice. The brick of Mexican spiced soy is unappetizing in its frozen form, but Glasgow helps turn the brick of pseudo beef into something more appetizing. Once the food is ready, she starts to prep the cafeteria for the flow of foot traffic.
As the hungry masses start filtering in, one of the first people in the door is the fresh face of Zeyda, who makes eye contact from across the room, nods a hello and holds up a tall cup of black coffee with her name on it.
Letting out a string of profanities under her breath, but probably not quiet enough for Marci to miss, Glasgow gives Zeyda one of her unmistakable looks of “What the fuck are you doing here right now?!” Once she finishes her prep, and not a nano second sooner, she makes her way to the back of cafe to sit with her old “friend”. Marci spares Glasgow a sidelong glance with a quizzical look as she headed over to her fixer.
“Is this the real thing?” she asked, gesturing to the coffee cup.
Zeyda hands her the strong black beverage. “Of course it is… I wouldn’t show up here without it.”
“I caught word that Tyrell Thompson is in town, giving a guest lecture at U Dub. He’s one of the foremost experts on the Veil. I figured if someone might know how to get into the Tir, he would. Researched it for years. I figure you could swipe a copy of his research… open a few doors…”
“Uh huh…” Glasgow takes a sip of her gift. Wincing at the lack of temperature she waves a hand over the cup, her fingertips glowing ever so slightly and steam rose from the cup. She took another sip and sighed with satisfaction. “How much is this going to cost me, Z?”
“Cost? When I show up on your other life’s doorstep, I wouldn’t dare assign a dollar value to the information. I am hoping you might help me out with something while you’re at U Dub, though…”
“There it is! But that’s the currency I’d rather deal in,” Glasgow said with a chuckle. “What’s this you need help with? And please tell me you have a solid team for me! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I just can’t train anymore of your newbies while I’m working my personal interests. They slow me down and I can’t risk another fuck up.”
Raising his hands defensively, Zeyda smiles. “No newbies. I can get you whatever you’d like. What kind of support are you thinking of?”
“What I require is a physical specimen from the botany lab. Rumor has it that they have a living specimen of a divining lotus at the university on display. I’d really like to get my hands on it.”
“If that’s all, a competent decker would be nice, and an extra meat bod to go in with me in case shit hits the fan. But we know that never happens right?” Glasgow ended with a wink.
“Yes, our profession is totally devoid of curveballs…” Zeyda says, theatrically rolling his eyes. “I’ll get you a couple of competent bodies to help. Anything else you need?”
“It’s in town, so really I just need the details. What’s the time line? I have to cover my ass here.”
“Professor Thompson is in town for a week.”
“Then I have a couple days for the decker to do his job, and a couple days to spare,” Glasgow mused aloud. “Set me up a meeting with my team right away.”
“Will do. They’ll be in touch tonight. Need anything more from me?”
“I got your number if I think of anything.”
“Perfect. Enjoy the coffee. Sorry to intrude on your reality… but I hope it pans out for you.”
Glasgow holds Zeyda’s eyes for a little longer than the usual business relationship might, followed by a knowing nod of thanks for him thinking of her for the info, and the work. “The coffee you bring me is always worth your crashing my ‘real life’. Oh, just to clarify, you’re paying the extras right? I mean the bodies.”
“Yeah, they won’t know that this job is a personal favor. They know that there are two targets at the same location, but that’s all.”
“Ok cool. Shoot me a message when I can meet up with these professionals of yours.”
“Will do. You rest up as much as your charity work allows and they’ll be in touch tonight,” Zeyda threw her a wink and a salute before turning away and walking out the front door.
Glasgow walked through the kitchen sit out back to finish her coffee in relative peace. The usual homeless scavengers kept their distance as she savored her drink.
After a while, the door opened and Marci appeared in the doorway. “So… who was that…?”
“Who was who?” She did nothing to address the question, or move to engage in conversation.
“The cute guy who brought you that drink… does he have a brother?” she asked with a wink.
Glasgow smirked. “A brother huh? You want two of them? I’ll see if I can get you his comm number.”
“Hold up, you mean a guy who carries himself like that is single? What’s wrong with him, then?”
“I didn’t say he was single. I simply don’t want him, you can have him. And you can ask about his brother too, kinkster!”
“Sounds like there’s a story there…” Marci said, gleefully rubbing her hands together. She sat down beside Glasgow and reached into her pocket for a cigarette, but upon seeing Glasgow’s disapproving glance, she instead grabbed a NicoStim and took a dose of nicotine through the skin instead. “C’mon, spill… what’s the story? There’s gotta be something you can tell me…”
“Marci, remember that itsy bitsy Grey area of my life we don’t talk about?”
“Aw, come on, really? All right, fine. But if he has a brother, I have dibs, K?”
“All yours my dear… Hey! Speaking of that other life.. I’m going to be away for about a week give or take…”
“I always wonder what it is that you do… I won’t pry… and this is a volunteer position. I suspect your ‘real life’ is far more interesting than this one.” Marci said, as she stood up. “But dinner won’t make itself, so I guess I’d better get back at it.”
“I’ll be in in a sec. One sip of gold left in this cup and I’m all yours tonight, baby,” Glasgow said, throwing a mock flirtatious wink.
“It’ll be nice to have competent help for a change.” Marci said with a smirk before slipping back inside.
Draining her coffee, she re-entered the kitchen, “You’d better not be smack talking me! I’ve been home for weeks!”
Marci raised her hands defensively. “No attack meant. Most of the past few weeks, you’ve been put to work in other parts of the house and I’ve been saddled with Claire. I’m happy to have you.”
After a busy dinner rush, Glasgow flipped through the latest headlines regarding U-Dub, Tyrell Thompson and the Divining Lotus Zeyda was after. University of Washington is trying to up their magic game, hence the guest lecturer and the travelling parabotany exhibit. Thompson is an Azanian professor currently stationed in Edinburgh to further his research on the Veil. Officials in the Tir are pissed and working to block his research, which usually means that he’s on the right track.
The Divining Lotus is a very rare specimen. They are not allowed to be removed from India, as they are sacred, so the fact that one is part of a tour is drawing a lot of attention. It is guarded at all times, though visitors (for a fee) can interact with the flower. Rumour has it that the pink flower has one white and one black petal at 180 degrees from each other. When asked a yes-or-no question, the plant will turn on the water so that either the white (yes) or black (no) petals face the asker. It is also rumoured to be eerily accurate.
Rubbing her eyes after reading several thaumaturgical journals on Thompson’s work, Glasgow noticed that she had a message left by one of the runners hired by Zeyda. “Hoi Glasgow. The name’s Gladius. Zeyda has pulled a few people in to help with this U-Dub job. Call me back and we’ll set up a time and place to meet.”
Glasgow shook her head and muttered to her herself. “I’d like a sample of this ridiculously rare, super popular, under scrutiny flower from both public and secret agencies here and abroad. Oh and since this guy is there, you can have a chat with him. I sometimes wonder if Zeyda ever actually ran in the shadows…”
Glasgow called Gladius back. “Hey Gladius, it’s Glasgow. Sorry I missed your message, I was doing some preliminary research. Where would you like to meet?”
Gladius, appearing as a Roman Centurion via icon, shrugged. “I don’t have any particular spots I tend to favor. How’s the Penumbra? Crowds are smaller and they cater to runners pretty well.”
Glasgow nodded. “Sounds good. Just after they open the doors, so we don’t have as many drunks to worry about.”
“Agreed. I’ll let Carmichael know as well. We’ll meet you there.”