by Marc Seebass

Nightingale walked into a small brownstone in Neo York. She was wearing tight leather pants, moccasin-style shoes, a white blouse and a buckskin jacket. The combination of modern and ancient styles seemed to compliment her appearence, rather than clash. She tapped in an combination code at the door keypad and a computer voice answered "Welcome Midori Stewart. Guest Level access Granted."

The door opened as she slid inside. "Hey Babs, what's new?"

A minute later, a woman of medium build and height, with shoulder-length curly auburn hair, emerged from a stair leading from the basement. At first she seemed to be wearing a pair of coke-bottle glasses, but on closer examination it could be better described as a pair of giant monocles due to the nose bridge and the lack of ear supports. The effect was a little eerie, but Nightingale knew they were actually heads-up display lenses that was linked to internal cyberware via small ports over each eye. The idea for the monocles had come from a medical tech in Vegas, who used an external display to give nearly the same affect as cyber eyes.

"Look, I know people called me that at school, but I never really liked it. I go by Barbara, my middle name of Samantha, or even the street name "Brain Storm," but not Babs or Sam. Got it?"

Nightingale just smiled and nodded. Barbara was a techie, and old friend who owed her a favor or two. "This place looks expensive, you seem to be doing well for yourself."

"Well I don't need to scrounge for jobs anymore, if that's what you mean. I got a few patents in, and a the royalties are kicking in. I do quite a bit of consulting, so basically I can set my own pace." Barbara continued, "So how about you, little miss spotlight? Which devil did you make a deal with to survive?"

"You mean the explosion. No deals, Mr... James paid for the hospital bills and all - no strings."

Barbara slowly walked around Nightingale staring intently. Nightingale was used to fans undressing her with their eyes, and it didn't bother her much, regardless of the onlookers gender, but this was different. Barbara was examining her like a specimen about to be dissected. Needless to say, she was a tad unnerved.

"Barbara!" she finally exclaimed.

"Huh, oh sorry. Just checking out the new paint job. Looks like Mr. James' docs did a really bang up job. You have no scars, computer says your skin tone is just a shade lighter and your body temp is up by a degree. Say, has your appetite increased lately?"

"Well I have been eating a bit more..." Nightingale responded.

"Well girlfriend," Barbara said patting her on the back "You are the proud recipient of an experimental genetic upgrade. Probably saved your life. Anyway, what brings you to my humble abode?"

"Actually I was hoping you could help me get tickets to the Tech Expo coming up this week."

Barbara thought for a second "I'm going to be there, but it's my biz. Now that you have money, it shouldn't be a problem. Give me a few hours and I'll track down the numbers you need to get yourself one of the special passes."

"Thanks Bab-Barbara, I appreciate it."

"No problem, just do me one favor..."

"Which is,"

"Can you tell me what combination of Japanese, Cherokee, and Scottish turns out violet eyes."

Nightingale smiled. "You know, most people think I wear contacts. I guess it would have to be the Scottish."

"Geddoutahere, I got work to do" Barbara retorted in mock irritation "I'll call you."

"Sayanora Ms. O'Connell."

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