Part I: At the Bar

Meanwhile, at the Third Rail, Cosmic Ray, Night Shift and Hardball discuss Ray's efforts to replace psi-clone with something more readily available.

"Uh, yeah, well. It's made from an MDMA base--not as effective, overall, but the side-effects are a lot more mellow. There's a reason they called this stuff 'ecstasy', after all."

"Ray, you've gotta be kidding me." Hardball lowered his shades slightly and gave the older man a very skeptical glance. "Like your brain hasn't taken enough damage already..."

"Hey, do I look like I'm freakin' out? I took the stuff an hour ago, did some scanning, and I'm still fine. No, really!"

"Wow. Got any left? I could use some of that." Night Shift had run out of psi-clone a week before.

"Yeah, but I think it still needs work. No side effects or bad trips, but it's still got problems, man." Cosmic Ray shook his head sadly.

Night Shift began to have second thoughts about buying designer drugs from this ancient burnout he hardly knew. "What kind of problems, exactly?"

"I tried doing a mind scan--there's people I need to find, you know, from before I went on vacation? Anyhow, about halfway between here and U. City, there's this big blank area, like half a kilometer across. It just doesn't show up at all! That's impossible, man... so I figure I did something wrong. Just gonna have to start over...."

Hardball had heard enough. "Real sorry to hear that, Ray. I sure hope you know what you're doing. Let me know if you need any more 'E'. I know some good suppliers." With that, he excused himself and quietly left the bar.

Just keep working on your psi-drugs, Ray. You'll still have a big blind spot out towards Forest Park--it's not your drugs doing that. And I just realized that's where she's hiding. It's the ultimate safe house--not even a mind scan could find someone there. But nobody can hide forever, and her problem isn't going away. Time to come out and play, Deena.

Part II: Loft above a Coffee House

Of course, they weren't happy to see Hardball, and they flatly denied having seen Deena there lately. Fraulein demanded to know if he was certain he wasn't followed. Rammstein threatened to rip his head off. Arabesque wanted to know why he thought Deena was here?

"First, because everyone has looked everywhere else, and found nothing. This is the only place left. And you're the only ones left who'd hide her. I seem to remember she helped you out a bit when you first came to town, and now you've returned the favor..."

Arabesque cut him off again, "I told you, she's not here!"

"And second, because I saw her downstairs just now, sipping cappuccino and reading the SLANT."

"Did not!"

Hardball took a breath and reminded himself Arabesque was still just a young girl, albeit a very dangerous one. "My dear, go downstairs and look over in the corner by the newsstand. The young lady with the short brown hair, dark glasses and black cap is Deena Teixeira. It's an excellent makeover, and I'm sure nobody else will recognize her."


"And I'm sure the fake ID you've no doubt made for her is absolutely flawless. She came to the right place. But now she has things to do other than hide. Please ask her to come up here so we can talk."

Arabesque cast an uncertain look at her companions. Fraulein spoke in slightly uncertain english, much improved since she arrived from Germany a year ago, "I'll bring her up."

Rammstein threw a disgusted glance in Hardball's direction. "Mister, you're just damn lucky the women are in charge here." The huge german still wanted an excuse to rip his head off.

Deena came upstairs, speaking quietly with Fraulein, and stopped across the room from Hardball. "Who sent you?"

"Nice trench-coat. You look like a secret agent. Nobody sent me--I figured you'd be here, hiding out, waiting until things blow over. It's getting worse, Deena, not better."

"I know! Vengeance Night is tomorrow and everyone's to busy to help me...."

"The U. City killer may be busy tomorrow night as well. It's turning into an institution, like April 20th did. Lots of people with scores to settle act out on V-nite. You should establish an alibi, get a lawyer, instead of just hiding out where nobody can vouch for you." Hardball glanced around the room. None of them could deny it. They could hide Deena, sure, but their protection came with a price--she could never tell anyone about them or their safehouse. As an alibi, they were useless.

Rammstein didn't like what Hardball was implying. "Okay, we'll go find the killer."

All three women turned to him in disbelief. "WHAT?!" Nobody at the Coffee House had done any actual crime-fighting in nearly a year--they had other priorities. Fraulein had become a nearly permanent shut-in. "You can't be serious."

Hardball had seen Rammstein in action before; had seen that look on his face. "He's serious. But there are only three of you left. You'll need some help. Count me in."

Deena looked very indignant as she stepped across the room directly into Hardball's face. "There's FOUR of us, pool-boy. I'm already in this up to my neck, remember? And speaking of 'help', I think I can get us some more. You're not the first person to tell me I need lawyer...."

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