Thursday, December 6, 2018

Aftermath, Chapter Three: Cross dressing for the office

I'm not even supposed to be here today!
~ Dante, from the film "Clerks" by Kevin Smith

Penetrating physical, real world security can be an exercise in many disciplines.  Bypassing the electronic security supplementing the physical presence is best left to capable deckmeisters and their electronic wizardry.  Getting around physical assets (read that as living breathing guards) poses an entire set of challenges unique to each site.   Never assume that one site is like another as each metahuman security officer brings his or her own challenges.

Let's forget, for just a moment, that I was planning on returning to the scene of a crime.  You might think that having been on site for months at a time that I would be intimately acquainted with the security at my former workplace.  If you think that, don't become a shadowrunner.  Assumptions like that will get you killed.  I tasked Angel to start gathering information about the target, putting out feelers and farming electronic data as if I had never heard of the place.  Taking that level of precaution saved my life.


While I had been in hiding, the security team at the corp had been investigating the 'incident' that resulted in Samatha Goode's death.  The people looking into fire had taken a special interest in the fact that I had been the last to see Samantha alive.  According to Angel, they had been trying to contact me and had officially listed me as a suspect or "person of interest" in what they were calling a suspicious fire and death.  The fact that my own home had burned down the same day was sending up flags that something weird was going on and no one involved in the investigation was dumb enough to believe it was a coincidence. 

Angel had breached the company's network, installing some manner of permissions for herself that allowed her real time access to the investigation file, the user accounts for the people working on the investigation and communications concerning yours truly.  Things went from looking bad, to looking terrifyingly worse when Angel discovered communications between the corp forces, Lone Star, Knight Errant, the Seattle Metroplex Guard and the UCAS Federal Bureau of Investigations.  My old face, the tall idealized elf, had been distributed to every major law enforcement agency and security contractor in the Metroplex.  The Feds had then sent the image on to Interpol and the NAN law enforcement agencies listing me as a suspect in a homicide. They listed me as an elf magician, male, and as 'armed and dangerous'.

Of the information in the file Mr. Johnson had read to me when I was 'hired', there was no mention and no sign that it existed.

Fey was a top-notch warrior, cool under fire and had been delivering a briefing on communication protocols to the FNG's* when the fire alarm had finally sounded.  That she had worked with me had been enough to earn her a few interviews from corp-sec. Angel had pulled the audio-visual files as well as the transcripts.  I watched them, noting that Fey answered truthfully.  She didn't embellish, she didn't hesitate, she just told the truth as she knew it.  The questions that were asked of her avoided things like where we had been and what we were doing while out of the office on assignments and focused on my behavior 'at work'. 

When the investigators asked her about any associations outside of the office she had simply said, "Creep said something about him having a wife.  Other than that, only thing I know is the two of them had some kind of history."

Creep was still in the hospital, under sedation, and knew more about my past than was comfortable.  It was time to break my least favorite lunatic out of the nuthouse.


February 4th, 2061
0415 hours, Seattle Metroplex local time

When you're a wanted man it is a good idea to lay low.  I didn't have time for such niceties any longer.  So I paid a visit to Fey.

I flew to the address Angel provided under cover of invisibility.  Angel provided a bit of digital wizardy, and the back door to Fey's place swung open.

"Security system is spoofed.  Cameras and audio recordings are looping from the prior thirty minutes.  Make it quick." Angel's voice whispered in my ear.

I floated over the threshold and picked my way around haphazardly scattered furniture.  I found Fey laying on a narrow bed, a simsense player plugged into the datajack behind her ear.  I peeled the backing off the tranquilizer dermal patch and applied it to her forehead as gently as I could.  A moment later Fey's breathing slowed and she went limp. I opened my astral sight and watched her sleeping away with the simsense player feeding her dreams.

"She's out, switch the feed." I whispered.

The simsense player flashed a title change, then started up the new selection.  For the next twenty-four hours Fey would travel through time, having adventures with trusted companions while thwarting evil at every turn.  With any luck the simsense marathon would keep her busy even after the tranq patch wore off.

I let the invisibility spell unravel as I plucked a hair from Fey's head.  Her commlink was laying on a small table next to her bed.  I picked it up, then pressed her thumb to the screen to unlock it.  "Angel I have her comm."

"Copy that, I've taken control of her home host.  I'll have the commlink momentarily.  Go ahead and do your thing.  We'll reset the biometrics when you're ready."  Angel's voice was still softly muted in my ear.

Fey's closet opened, revealing an ordered array of work and dress attire mixed in with street wear and a selection of footwear that had to represent a dysfunctional compulsion.  I had often teased Aria about how vast her "shoe collection" was.  Seeing Fey's hoard I promised myself that I would never give my wife a hard time about it again.

"She's a shoe girl.  Huh, didn't see that coming." Angel whispered.  "Are you sure this is going to work?"

"Yeah." I whispered back. "Well, I'm pretty sure.  About ninety percent or so."

I reached in and grabbed a suit I had seen Fey wear in the office.

"No. Not that one." Angel said.


"Not that one.  That's not something you wear after you've been grilled all week by law enforcement, and it will mean makeup work.  Pick something more office casual."  Her voice was insistent in my ear.

Three rejections later I had a black business suit and a pair of thin, flat shoes.  "Please tell me this one is okay." I said.

"Yeah, you're good." Angel replied. "Now what?"

"Now I need a shower."  I carried the outfit into Fey's bathroom, stripped out of my clothes and stuffed them into my rucksack.  I took Fey's hair and carefully recited my incantation.  I grew five centimeters, my hair and eyes changed color.  I experienced a profound sense of discomfort as my hips shifted and my body transformed from my own natural state to that of a healthy and athletic woman.  I looked in the mirror and saw a very nude Fey staring back at me.  "That's really awkward."

"Take a pic so I can run a comparison." Angel prodded.

"One tic." I held the spell, feeding it just a bit of mana as I tied the spell into a self-sustaining loop.  My body felt strange and I had a lot to do.  "Need that shower first."  The shower activated on command and I stepped into the warm jets.  I used Fey's soaps, shampoo and conditioner then stepped out, toweled off, and dressed in her business suit.

{I swear this wasn't meant to be creepy.  Using the same soaps was to help fool biometric chem-sniffers.  I didn't want to raise any flags about my scent not matching Fey. ~ T}

{I think this may have been the first time I saw you pretending to be a woman. ~ Angel}

Angel checked the selfie I sent her against the image of Fey sleeping away her simsense adventures.  "That's damn scary.  You're a ninety-nine percent match."

"Is that good enough?" I asked.

"Definitely good enough to get you into just about anything she would have access to."  she replied.

"Alright then.  Keep an eye on her and send up an alarm if she wakes up too soon."  I dumped the towels into the automat washer and heard it kick on.  "I'm leaving now."  The back door swung shut behind me as I stepped into Fey's tiny backyard.  The invisibility spell woven around and hiding me from mortal eyes and cameras alike, I flew off to meet Angel.

I got a surprise when I landed.

"We've got a problem." Angel exclaimed as I walked into the safehouse.  "FBI is watching Fey's place.  You're going to have to leave from there if its going to be believable."

"Drek." I swore. "Did they pick up our comms?"

"Doesn't look like it, as I'm not arrested and sitting in interrogation." she replied. "But they'll know something is up if she suddenly shows up at work and they didn't see her leave. They don't have any listening devices or cameras in her doss, yet."

"What about the corp?" I asked.

"Corp-sec ran an enhanced surveillance request on her.  I intercepted it and sent a notice back down the chain from their legal department advising them not to do so until authorization came down from their office.  It will be a few days before they follow up if they stick to their own operational guidelines."  Angel shook her head.  "Local law enforcement doesn't seem to have the same level of interest in her.  Not sure yet what angle they are pursuing, but they've made inquiries as to when they can interview Creep at the hospital. Could be any day that they show up with a warrant and snatch him up."

"First things first then." I turned and dumped my clothes out of my rucksack. "I'll head back to Fey's, let me in and I'll walk right out.  Help me change out the biometric data on her commlink to match my new look and then I'll fly back."

Thirty minutes later I walked out of Fey's little house. Her car service had sent me a notice on her commlink that her commuter vehicle had arrived.  A tall human man with pale anglo features, blonde hair and tired blue eyes was standing in the driveway.  He was wearing a conservatively cut suit in flat black, a cheap tie and well worn shoes.

"Allison Morgana O'Faery, I'm special agent Anthony Johnson, Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Can I have a word?"  The fed smiled at me and I felt a knot form in my stomach.


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Coming soon in 2019:
Dystopian Fantasy Adventure Quest "D'Faq?!?" (TM)
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Aftermath is being released in chapters as it is a longer story.  Stick with us as Tommy tries to sort out the drek he's caused and bring a bit of 'normalcy' to his life and the lives of his loved ones.

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