Happy Birthday, you're dead

(or a funny thing happened to Geoff on his way to a surprise birthday party.)

Part 13.


1330 - Lookout point - Wilson Travel Offices.

Rico watched the doors to Wilson travel from the garage's rooftop. Things had been quiet so far, but with everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, he knew better than to let himself relax.

His heart started pounding as a pickup whipped around the corner and screached to a halt in front of Wilson Travel. He watched as the men in back picked up what looked like a body bag and tossed it to the side walk in front of the main doors.

As the truck started to pull away, he aimed and shot a tracking device onto its rear bumper.

"Did you get it?" he heard Boomer call over the comm-link.

"Tagged," Rico confirmed. "What's in the bag?"

"We've got a remote going out now," Boomer confirmed. "Anything else happening?"

"They're gone and heading north," Rico confirmed. Streets are empty otherwise."

"Good, let me know if anything changes." Boomer answered

Rico watched as the remote exited the building. He tapped his receiver so that he could see the images transmitted by the remote with one eye as he watched the area.

The remote wobbled as it positioned itself next to the bag then began unzipping the bag. Rico gasped as he recognized the contents.

"Aw fa...." he gasped as he heard Boomer start cursing over the line. "Rabbit!"

"Kenny, on-line," he heard Boomer order as he took control of the situation. "Rico, get me a full trace on those ...."

Rico turned down the com-link as Boomer began a stream of explicatives.

"Rabbit..." he stated again in disbelief.

"Easy Rico," Boomer urged as he regained control of his emotions. "We'll get them, just keep tracking them."

Rico nodded and went back to tracking the truck's progress, trusting Boomer to deal with the remote and Rabbit.

Boomer concentrated on as the remote as it finished its check. He had to make sure there were no other nasty surprises. When the remote signalled the all clear, Kenny burst through the doors and began checking on Rabbit.

1305 Wilson Travel

Kenny watched anxiously as the remote scanned the bag and its contents. "Boomer, I'm going to need a hot-link," he called worriedly.

"You got it, prepped and ready on your call," Boomer stated. "Just let me know when."

Kenny could hear the stress in his brother's voice as they waited. 'Come one Rabbit...' he thought as Boomer finished his scan using the drone.

Kenny was on the move as soon as the register light went green. As he knelt by his brother he allowed himself a slight sigh of relief. "He's breathing," he announced over the comm-link. "Boomer, link me!"

He held his breath as the t-pack unit came online and they were transported to the waiting treatment room.

Jenny arrived a minute after him and helped him get Rabbit to a table. Even as he started to assess the damage, Jenny was cutting away what remained of his pants leg.

"What have you got?" he asked as he began palpitating his brother's skull.

"Gunshot wound," she stated tersely. "Thigh, entry from behind. Cauterized..."

"Add a concussion, probable skull fracture," Kenny stated. "I want a full work up and the operating room prepped."

"OR 7 is cleared," she stated. "I'll get him to you as soon as the scan finished."

"Check everything," Kenny warned. "I don't want a repeat on what happened with Geoff."

Jenny nodded as Kenny headed for the door. "I'll be ready for him in 5," he told her.

"He'll be there."

1350 Duck's room

Bear walked into Duck's room, heavily laden with her gear. "Babe, we got problems," he stated as he dropped her gear on the bed next to hers.

"Gina told me they found Rabbit," Duck countered. "Do we have a status on the others?"

"None," Bear stated. "I got back as soon as I heard."

"Did they tag the van?" Duck asked urgently.

"Rico got it," Bear told her. "He's got a drone in the air trailing it, but they haven't stopped anywhere."

"Help me get my gear together and find out what time they dropped him off."

"Tell me what you want," Bear stated as he started laying out her gear.

I'll need the combat unit, configured for full ops, no testing on this run," Duck countered. "Give me the right glove and connect the screen and recorder. If anything goes wrong, I want whoever takes over to know exactly what I've seen."


"Look these guys are playing for keeps, but we've only seen physical, no tech, no magic, nothing else, now either they're really good or they don't have all their bases covered. I'm hoping the latter but in case of the former, we've got to be prepared."

Bear nodded. This was business now. He wasn't talking to his friend, he was talking to The Duck, Combat Rigger and Decker and they were on the clock.

"Keep tabs on what you see," she stated. "Anything that will help, you contact the others, I'll take it from there."

"Got it," Bear confirmed as he helped Duck on with the glove. "Luck."

"Clip me and chip me," she answered, then pressed her right thumb against the side of her index finger as he gave her a pat after verifying her connections..

Images swum around her as Duck activated her deck. She allowed herself a slight smile as she acclimated herself to the Matrix. >

As the simulated reality settled in she began a check on the systems around her. She would start with the cameras in front of Wilson travel. These Boomer had kept open so that Duck could begin her search. Once she accessed the security system she logged into the recorder and requeued the tape to the minutes before Rabbit had been dumped off in front of the offices. As the truck approached, Duck rewound the tape until the truck was just at the edge of the camera's field of vision.

Checking her systems she checked the security system for the parking garage. And so it went for 45 minutes. At one point she lost them, but by spreading out her search, she picked them back up when the had passed several Credit Transfer systems.

She continued until she finally found the tape from the Parking Garage for the Gryphex Corp. Duck allowed herself a slight smile as she got the closeup pictures of the perps as they loaded the body bag into the back. >

"Gottem!" she stated as she broke the connection.

"Where?" Bear demanded.


"Geoff, Boomer, Rico, we've got a fix on where they loaded Rabbit," He stated into the intercomm.

"You found them astrally?" Geoff asked.

"Uhm," Bear answered. "Actually not me."

"Sorry Geoff, it was me," Duck answered "I need to get into the building's security, but I should have some information for you in about half an hour."

"Duck, you are in no condition..." Geoff objected.

"Neither are you Ten," she interupted. "We do what we have to."

"Duck, you can't put yourself at risk like this," Geoff stated. "This is our battle."

"Geoff, even if I didn't owe these people for the what they did to me, or what they did to you, there's the matter of Tracker. Forgetting that and what they did to Rabbit, and forgetting that its Davy and Joey in there... I'd still want in."

"Rico can handle it," Geoff assured her.

"Not alone, No offence Rico," Duck stated. "You ever hack a building? Full security, total control?"

"Nope," Rico answered evenly as he listened to the conversation.

"Not only have I done it," Duck commented. "I've done that particular building, management's a client of Tracker's and mine."

Geoff shook his head. "Duck, you can barely move your left hand, and..." he stopped, not wanting to remind her that she couldn't see."

"Geoff, the damage is retinal, the nerve is fine. Once I'm in, what I see isn't through my eyes. I won't be blind in the matrix. Believe me, I've worked under worse circumstances in worse shape."

Geoff looked at her through the comm-screen and finally nodded. He'd seen the set in her jaw. There was no arguing with her.

"Rico, get familiar with Tracker's Deck," Duck added.

"Why Tracker's" Geoff asked.

"Because his is already set to network with mine. It means I can get codes, for several of the functions and feed them to Rico , that will free me up to handle some of the more complex systems. That is if you're cool on it Rico," she added.

"Long as you're the one to explain to Tracker why I was on his Deck."

"You got it."

Gina shook her head for a minute then sighed. "Look, if you're going to insist on this instanity, and I know you are, let me get you all in the same room so I don't kill myself running between you."

"Sorry Gina, I'm not trying to make things difficult," Duck stated.

"Right," Gina answered dryly. "No, I think you all stayed up late last night thinking how can we complicate Gina's life. Don't worry, just give me five minutes to prep the room,"

"That'll give me the time needed to setup your system," Rico concurred.

"Five minutes then," Duck agreed.

It took them four. Gina took a minute to verify that everybody was hooked in and could see what was happening. Duck was sitting up in one bed, Geoff in another. Rico had seated himself in one of the chairs and was starting to go over Tracker's deck.

"Your screen's been patched into the main system," Rico told Duck. We've got monitors over by Geoff and in the control room.

Duck nodded. "I want about a half an hour to look around," Duck stated. "I'll leave the display up so you can see what's going on. I'm hoping to let them know help's on the way. While I'm scouting, I figure you can get a team into position."

Rico nodded, then asked "how do you plan on letting Davy know?"

"Motion detectors," Duck answered with a smile.

Rico looked at her and shook his head. "I don't get it."

"Annoying little flashing lights. Always on, even when the security systems shut down."

"But what if there aren't any where they are, or they deactivate them."

"Leave the worrying to me," Duck urged. "We've pinpointed their location, now its going to be up to you and me to get the information. I'm going to do a preliminary run on the outside and try to get a fix on them. Then we split up the duties."

"So you're running before the run," Rico stated with an approving nod.

"Just a quick scouting run," Duck confirmed. "find out which system's we're going to need."

"Luck," Rico stated.

With that, Duck initiated a satellite link-up and began a series of connections that finally connected her to the building's security system.

"Who's on the rescue team?" Bear asked as Duck began her run on Gryphex.

"Tommy and Wayne." Geoff answered, "I'd like you there too."

Bear nodded. "I'll go suit up."

Geoff said a soft prayer as his friend left the room to join the others.

Gryphex Security run

Duck began with a cursory check of the building's systems. Then she slipped through several systems on her list of 'safe nodes' Once she was sure her connection could not be traced back to her present location, she dialed up the building's security system, and 'logged' in.

She began a floor by floor search. It took her 10 minutes to find them, and another 5 to identify and mark the traps in the area. She spent another 5 identifying the systems they would need to take over. When she was satisfied she had the information she needed, Duck followed the security system into the room itself. She tried to shut the image out of her mind, but she knew she had to look, had to get the layout of the room.

She fired the light on the motion detector, hoping to get Davy's attention, but he was lost in his own pain.

As she continued her survey, she heard Joey scream. Duck's blood boiled as she saw the man move away from him and move towards Davy.

"Leave him alone," she heard Joey groan as the man shoved a stick into Davy's side. There was no mistaking the reaction, electro-shock. Duck flashed the light again as Davy looked up at his tormentor.

When she was sure he'd seen the light she tried to flash him a message. "Come on Davy," she thought to herself. "you were a comm officer..." She repeated the four letter message, praying he'd understand. "Se-se."

"Shi... shi..." he groaned.

Duck nodded. "Good man Davy... just hold on," she urged. Through the light she sent one word. "Soon." It was all she dared say.

Davy focused his eyes on the man in front of him. "What did you do to Derrick?"

The man rewarded him with another jab from the prod. "I'm asking the questions," he stated as Davy tried to fight his way through the pain.

"What was it you had the Doc do to him?" Davy demanded between breaths. "What did you give him?"

"You just don't learn do you?" the man demanded as he pulled Davy's head back. "I ask the questions!" he repeated slowly, hitting Davy with the stick as he said each word.

"Davy," Joey all but screamed as the man continued to beat him with the prod. Then the man looked back at Joey and smiled.

"Do you have anything to say little man?" he asked as he thrust the prod into Davy and held it there.

Duck could hear Joey's breath as he forced himself to say nothing.

"That's better," the man stated as he turned back towards Davy. "Now," he stated slowly. "Where is your brother?"

"Go to hell," Davy growled, then screamed as the man hit him again.

"You are going to pay," Duck swore. "You will pay for all of this."

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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