by Brian Wawrow

Joe Vesuvius Togoloa woke as his ears popped as a result of the transport ship's rapid descent to the pad. He twisted his head to one side, then the other, making a small cracking noise. "It's been a long time since I was in Neo York." He fished the PassCard from his jacket pocket. "Tim Horton of Toronto, Biometrics Analyst," was the identity it claimed. Joe grabbed his carry-on and left the craft.

Riding in the taxi towards the Entertainment District, he puzzled over all the loose ends he had left in Toronto. First and foremost, there were the Jamaicans. The whole reason he had left Toronto is such a hurry was that he had run afoul of Choba Slick's Crank Posse. He had taken out the cyborg hit squad well enough but had left a trail a cop could have followed. He had hated to do it. Choba processed the best hydroponic in the GTA but business is business.

He was also concerned that Betty had received his message in time. He hoped she had sent his grandmother and his nieces off to California in time. He hoped she would meet in in Neo York. He hoped she wanted to.

Luckily, he knew some people in Neo York. Better still, none of them wanted to kill him.

Joe pressed the coms button on his armrest, "Driver, I'd like a jamming field please."

A voice answered him, "Hokay, jaymink feeld ees tweyntee-toh-feefty."

"That's fine," he replied. Joe opened his dataphone and signaled Seth Yashida, the Manhattan fixer. Instead of Seth's face, the video display offered only the logo of the Lucky Double Happiness night club. "Concierge," answered Yashida.

"Good evening, sir," said Joe with mock formality, "This is number three. I was hoping to do a little shopping tonight. Is that convenient for you?"

"Yes sir, I'm sure all your needs can be met. I assume your tastes are as refined as ever, number three?"

"Indeed they are," answered Joe, "I'll see you soon."

"Better call the agency," Joe thought to himself as he signaled The Weston Freelance Agency.

"Weston Agency," a pretty blue haired girl with kaliedoscope eyes answered, "Hi Max," she smiled, "We got confirmation on your last job. Your fee has been wired to the Caymen account. How's everything?"

"Salut Lucy, there's some fallout from the last job. I'm in Neo York and I'm available for local jobs."

"Oh no, Max," Lucy pouted with fairly convincing sympathy, "Keep your head down, I'll let you know if any work comes down the pipe, okay? B'bye!"

Joe fished another PassCard from his jacket. Maxim Bombardier of Gatineau, Republic of Quebec, Security Consultant.

Later in the evening, Joe opened the door to his motel room. A bellhop followed with a cart that carried his duffel bags, several shopping bags and two large cardboard boxes. He fumbled in his pocket for a tip. "Shouldn't have smoked that hydro after all those Manhattans..." he smiled to the impantient bellhop.

His shopping trip had been successful, despite the fact that he was piss drunk and fairly high. If he had accepted any less of Yashida's hospitality, he risked insult. After all, he had served with Yashida in Texas as well as missions in Khazikstan, Italy, Cuba, Mexico, Finland and Texas. But all that was ancient history. He had been honourably discharged and was now a freelancer.

He started to open his packages and count up his purchases. Two Siu Lung holdout guns, a Tien Ying Lung 44 and Joe's favourite, the Trillium Arms Leviathan. Miscelaneous items included a box of EMP grenades, night vision goggles, a bug jamming kit, electronics toolbox and portable computer. Seth tried to sell him a new armour jacket but his old blue synthleather bike jacket had never let him down, except that time in Cuba. Nevertheless, it was his lucky jacket and wouldn't be replaced by some flavour-of-the-day fashion armour.

Joe got undressed and sat down and began to do his yoga excercises. While balancing on one foot with this hands in prayer position on top of his head, he reached out with his mind and touched the Leviathan. He pulled the main component from the packing material and held it in the air in front of him, turning it as to see it from every angle. One by one, he pulled the other components from the packing material and fixed them to the weapon. He enjoyed the precision excercise of holding the heavy weapon steady while fitting the tiny screws into place. Finally, he allowed the gun to rest on it's tripod. After activating the bug jammer and balancing a bottle upside down on the doorknob, he went to sleep.

Later that morning, Joe awoke to the sound of a phone ringing somewhere off in the distance. Actually, it turned out to be right beside him, "Who's this?" he aswered into the receiver.

"It's Betty," she said over the sounds of the street, obviously out of breath, "I'm in Neo York and we've got trouble."

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