"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Walk beside me that we may be as one."
Koyotie stared at her phone, almost as if she was trying to wish it away. But she needed to make this call, she needed to make some progress in her mission to take down Blackheart, or she might as well call Harshad and tell him she was leaving for somewhere safer—say Bagdad or Mogadishu. She sighed. Life was a lot easier fighting Yaks in Vancouver.
Picking up the phone and flipping it open, she cycled through a list of names and then pressed the dial button.
"Technicality? Koyotie. We need to talk."
The voice on the other end of the phone sounded tired, even grumpy. "Yes? What do you want?" Heather stood just outside the bathroom, her hair slicked to her scalp and neck from the interrupted shower, a towel held around her slender form. Most would call her scrawny, but perhaps 'sleek' would be a better description.
"If you're looking to make an appointment to punch me, my calendar's full." The joke was weak, but it's all she could think of.
"Funny. Real funny" Koyotie wondered if she'd made the wrong decision making this call. "Look, there's some things we need to get straight, things I'd rather not discuss over the phone. Third Rail?"
"Sounds good. Meet you there."
The phone hung up and Heather Takahashi sighed. What was it this time? More suspicion, more violence? It was worth a try to go see what the Canadian woman wanted.
In minutes, the armored heroine/vigilante was on her way towards the bar.
As usual, Technicality took no time adjusting to the dim light as she entered the Third Rail. She did, however, take a moment to adjust to the difference in atmosphere... there were fewer patrons than usual—far fewer—but they seemed to be taking up the slack for those missing in alcohol and angst.
Bogatyr, or rather, Nikolai Grushin, was speaking with Erica Chase—the fallout from today's SLANT cover story had put them both under a lot of scrutiny, but it wasn't likely they were down here just to lay low. Roughneck sat with another ICoMP 'cape' Technicality hardly knew—they called her Expatriate. It looked like they were arguing quietly... about what, she had no idea. Heather dismissed them as a couple of light-weights.
Towards the back, she spotted Doc Quantum sitting with Flashburn, which struck her as... rather strange. He was on the phone with someone, and whoever it was, both he and Flashburn looked rather nervous about the whole thing. Technicality wondered what was going on there....
Koyotie was in a back corner of the bar, away from Jack, Jade, and just about everyone. Under her helmet, Technicality's eyebrow arched as she noticed the bottle of Moosehead and accompanying glass. Which was rather odd, she couldn't recall Koyotie ever drinking anything stronger than tea before.
"Have a seat," Koyotie waved with a gloved hand.
The armored vigilante slid into her seat casually without any words of greeting—just a nod, a slow inclination of the helmet.
"So... before we begin, I need to ask you... who else knows?"
"I have no idea," was the response, modulated words through the speaker of the helmet, although the tone was slightly testy. "I did try and speak to you alone and in confidence, if you'll recall."
“Look, Doc Quantum,” Koyotie jerked her thumb over to where he sat, “gave me this whole speech while I was laid up, wondering why I was here. I asked him then who else knew, and he told me it was just him. Then you walk up and starting asking me about bringing in the RCMP. That is why I decked him... or tried to.” She paused and looked over to Technicality's armored visor, “And I smacked Blitzkrieg one because he’s an idiot who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. I have a name, and it’s not ‘dog-lady’.”
She took a drink from her glass. “So, my guess is that you found my emergency ID when you took me to the safehouse after the fight with Mayhem Incorporated, right?”
A long moment passed. One of the advantages of a full-visored helmet is that no one could see your face. Only Heaven knew what kind of expression Heather wore beneath it.
"Think about it for a minute, Koyotie. You know someone who's a hacker that routinely penetrates the secure databases of at least two different nations."
The helmet shook side to side slowly. "I'd have bet that you and Jacket would have figured out by now that there's very little I can't discover once it's online."
There was a pause. "For that matter, Doc Quantum is one of the smartest people on the planet." Grudgingly. "He's probably even better at data-mining than I am."
“Interesting. My data isn’t supposed to be on-line.” She held up hand to forestall any comment. “At least, on any systems linked to the net.” Koyotie sighed, this was going nowhere and wasn’t why she’d called anyway. “Alright, I’ll get to the point. They,” she motioned to Expatriate, “don’t know I’m here and I’d like to keep it that way. As you can probably guess, I just violated security protocols by saying as such, but considering what you and Quantum know, it's a moot point, eh? `sides, my only other option would be to kill you." She flashed a grin and took another drink. "But they way I figure it, working with you is a lot easier than against you. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that.”
The featureless helmet nodded. "Glad to hear it."
“And speaking of enemies, I need to know something—how far are you planning on working with Takeshi?”
"Honestly, I'm not sure. Somehow I keep getting the impression he's not going to last long. I mean, he's just a guy with guns, and we're going up against the likes of the Unnatural Disasters. Even money says he won't survive the upcoming battle."
"If he does though—I just don't know. He's expressed discontent with his own bosses."
"Hmm..." Koyotie's brow furrowed. "I look at the Yak as just one level under the Syndicate. They just have fewer post-humans on the payroll. And his discontent might be that he feels he can do a better job than they can." She glanced over at Flashburn. "I tell you what, you don't try force us to be nice to each other, and I'll ignore him until this op is over, okay? 'cause I'm not sure I'm going to survive the upcoming battle, either. See, my mission isn't about the Disasters. It's about taking Blackheart down. Permanently."
There was a snort from the armored vigilante. One of the downsides of helmets, though—you can't really get a good snort out of them.
"Not like bedding down with the enemy has ever stopped us before." Technicality muttered, nodding her helmet towards Quantum and Flashburn as an object example.
"Yeah, well, as I said, often the enemy of your enemy makes a good friend." Koyotie gave another quick grin as she finished off her glass of Moosehead. "Especially if you can get them to take the heat."
"Nevertheless. You've got your work cut out for you trying to take down Blackheart. He's on my 'impossible to kill' column.
Putting her glass down, Koyotie nodded. "No kidding, but my handler's serious. Blackheart's got them scared. But how do you kill someone who can look like anyone and can teleport anywhere?"
"Again, the answer is: I don't know. I always figured that once everyone else in the Syndicate had been dealt with, I'd just have to cope with the fact that he'd still be there."
There was a pause. "Why don't you ask Quantum? As I mentioned before, he's flippin' brilliant these days. If anyone knows how, it'll likely be him."
Koyotie's eyes narrowed. "He looks busy. But he is talking to Blackheart's biggest fan. What do you think? Call them over?"
"Sure." The answer was given after a brief pause. "It'll be the inaugural meeting of the Blackheart fan club."
Giving Technicality one last glance, Koyotie stood and waved over at Doc Quantum and Flashburn. “Eh! Come over here, sit down, have a drink.”
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