Written in 365 Parts: 54: The New Lane

Drick blinked to make sure that the world stayed in focus. The drink was good, sharp and strong but not likely to take away your eyesight which was always a bonus. Drick flicked a signal to the bartender to refill the glasses and turned to the Rep. “Hi.”

“Drick.” A curt response but the tone was neutral.

“Okay, how much is this going to cost me?”

“Aw, Drick we can’t talk a little, you could at least comment on my looks or has it been so long that you have forgotten me?”

Drick took a moment to study the Rep in more detail. The face wasn’t immediately familiar so there were obviously cosmetic changes. There was a slight oddness about the proportions of the lower jaw in regards to the curve of the bone as it went behind the ears so there had been facial reconfiguration. Drick took a moment to look at finer details. Nice full lips with a tad too much super glo lip enhancer, an ever so slight longer lip on the left with a fuller bottom lip to the right giving a sweet pout; aquiline nose with a severe curve inwards near the brow, so it had been remodelled from a much broader feature; slim, silver, eyebrows shaped into an arch with a teardrop effect near the end, they would likely be new as most tankies didn’t have facial hair, it was an optional extra for almost all organics; rich grey-blue eyes, those were enriched but the colour might be original;  very thick eyelashes that sparked in rainbow colours, clearly fibre enhanced implants. Then a realisation, the shape of the jaw, a broader nose, the grey eyes and the slight upwards curved smile to the left cheek giving that longer smile to the left side of the lips.

“Lassiter. Is that you?” Drick smiled and looked Lassiter up and down giving an appreciate nod, “You decided to fully shift into a single gender?”

The Rep smile broadened into a full grin letting Drick see that the jawline was only gently reshaped and the teeth merely capped and polished. Though Lassiter had clearly had the teeth regrown they hadn’t changed the shape or look, but they had always had a great smile. “Well done, I am told that the parents who commissioned me wouldn’t know me these days, so you are very perceptive, as always.”

“The last time I heard about you Lassiter you were running knock off stim shipments past tax laws and moral decency codes to the mining folks in the belt. What changed for you to go semi-legit with the Union?”

“Long story, Drick. Short version is that I got enough of a payoff from a lucrative deal that almost went sour. The money and the bad taste made me realise I needed a change of scene. I always preferred hanging out in a female form so I decided to enhance for a look I would feel comfortable with for a while. Maybe I will stay this way, it suits me and I feel happy. It took some time in shaping and recovery so I used all the lying around growing and shifting to take some courses, managed to enhance my natural talent for sniffing out whether any deal was worth the risk for actual assessment of risk. Engineer’s Union helped me foot some of the cost of a slightly better apartment and clothing in exchange for a ten year contract and a promise to consider a further ten on completion.” Lassiter smiled and knocked back the second drink, “these days I go by the name Lane. I felt like I needed a clean break in both looks and nicks. I see you still look roughly the same. A few more lines and not of laughter and one or two slight restructures, I guess they were not intentional?”

“Someone sure intended most of them,” Drick laughed, “well, Lane, I guess you’re here to assess costs and risks. What does that say for me? Do I need to get out a loan or should I start running?”

“Always straight to business, Drick. I would feel upset that we were not catching up on old times, but I was in those old times and they are best left buried. We have some issues with the fact that a firefight happened in this area. We have more issues that is was you. Things don’t happen by chance around you Drick, you’re too clever for that. So it was intentional, yes?”

“More like a calculated guess. I was hoping that the fact the security detail who were doing a level best to wipe me knew that they were in trouble fighting in the tunnels. I hoped that being out of their district would stop them from being total idiots. I misjudged. I really didn’t expect them to open fire in a populated area like the market, in a tunnel it had a higher risk, not in an open habit zone.”

Lane notched up one of the immaculately manicured eyebrows and allowed a small ripple of colour to run across the eyelashes. “Wow, you misjudged? You must be getting old Drick.”

“It happens to us all.”

“It does, but you age well. It must be a fifteen stretch since I last saw you and you have barely changed, aside from the fading scars, and harder assed attitude than I recall.”

“We were on the same side back then. You didn’t work for the Union and I wasn’t facing a fine from the same people. I was soft on you.”

“True. Though I doubt you’ve been soft at any point in your life. But even back then, I knew people who said they knew you forty or fifty Terran years earlier and you hadn’t really aged.”

“I have an extended lifespan, it isn’t a secret.”

“How old are you Drick?”

“Depends how you count, depends what you count in, and it really depends if I care to tell you. Mostly I don’t care to think about it. Too old to be this dumb today and too young to stop pushing back.”

“There’s that attitude again.”

“I have had a long day.”

“Want to talk about it?”

Drick stared at Lassiter, now Lane, and sucked at the side of a cheek for a long few moments. It had been a while since Drick had sat and ‘chewed’ anything approaching ‘the fat’ with anyone. For the past couple of years Drick had kept theworkload steady but mostly uninteresting. The people changed but the system and the bullshit that went with it never seemed to and Drick had let a fugue come over themselves. It was showing. “It wasn’t the first error of the day coming through this cavern. My timing was good but not perfect, I should have been much closer to the exit when they got the drop on me, In fact I should have been through it before they had a chance to fire. Hell, I even had the drop taken on me by a punk with a hidden bio-enhancement. I even knew there was something amiss but I went and stuck my face into it at speed and with little care. Truth be told I have been off my game for some time, it’s been a few long seasons since I took any work that had an active element that put me on an edge. Maybe it has unbalanced my senses. I just lost some of the taste for it.”

Lane ordered two cold ales with spirit chasers from the serving mechanoid and threw a credit token on the bar, “I’ll get the next round,” she said and smiled. “Why have you been out of the game?”

“As I said, same crap, different faces. I got tired of taking the short end of every stick and breaking rules, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Been some time since I immersed myself in any case that wasn’t an easy insurance investigation. Small rewards but it is constant pay and easy to manage.”

“So why did you take this case that you are on? I assume you are on a case and not just trolling corporate security companies for kicks? Because if that is the case then my bosses will be even more annoyed at you than they already are.”

“I’m on a case. It is messed up, involved and seems to be getting darker and twistier with each turn. I don’t even know how far it goes, someone high up in a large corporation in the very least. Maybe a mix of megacorp and government. Whomever is involved they are starting to pull weight and take a lot of risks to shut it down quick.”

“Why did you take it? How did you take it, surely this wasn’t dumb luck?”

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