Fybertech: The De Novo Project, Part 5|
Saturday, January 28th, 2006
"I don't like it at all." Jenny said coldly, looking at the wound in Boris' arm. She prudishly finished removing the makeshift bandage job that the two dirty men sitting in her apartment right now had managed to apply back at the lab, holding it by her fingertips and offering a sound of disapproval before dropping it into the wastebasket.
"If it's any consolation," Fyber began, smiling sheepishly, in an attempt to better her mood, "I've been feeling better, thanks to you."
She threw him a glance under her brow as she cleaned the wound on Boris' arm. "It's no consolation." she said, rather forthright.
Boris almost let a laugh slip from under his breath, which she responded to by nonchalantly pouring a bit too much alcohol across the gash. The liquid fire against his damaged flesh turned his laugh into a hiss.
"So which one of you is going to tell me what happened?" she prodded, giving them both a demanding stare.
Boris and Fyber threw a look at one another, as if trying to read the other's mind about how to respond. Boris knew her better, and was probably a better candidate to tell her any of the fantastic story they had undergone. Fyber, however, was the one who appeared to be primarily involved, so it seemed more up to him to actually decide whether to say anything about it at all.
Jenny noticed their delayed response, and broke their feeble attempt at telepathy with an abrupt "AHEM", letting them know she was still waiting.
"Well.." Fyber started, his face twisting a bit as he thought quickly of the best thing to say to her. Boris watched with a bit of anticipation, as she continued prodding his arm to clean it thoroughly, provoking an array of menacing expressions from his own face. "You see.. Boris and I were working on my, er, shelter, and he was helping me cut some metal, and I dropped it. The edge was still rather sharp, and it cut him open before I even realized what I had done."
Fyber finished his explanation, which seemed perfectly believable enough to him, and smiled politely. Jenny stopped what she was doing and simply stared at him for a moment. And he quickly realized he had made a mistake, for she somewhat angrily got back to her feet and stalked out of the room. Probably to get some large heavy object to hit them both with, they imagined.
"So, somehow you changed the laws of physics, and dropped this piece of metal horizontally instead of vertically across his arm." she began, speaking loudly as she rattled around in one of the other rooms. "And miraculously, he didn't get a single splinter or filing from this freshly cut piece of metal in the wound." she continued, briskly walking back into the room, with what seemed to be some more medical supplies in her hands. This was somewhat of a relief, since it really wouldn't have surprised either of them if she had in fact carried out some heavy object at that point. "And then you come to my place, instead of taking him to the hospital, where he would have gotten much better treatment, since he probably needs stitches, which I can't do here."
Fyber twisted his face into the most honest expression he could muster, and said, simply, "Pretty much." Another mistake, Fyber quickly realized.
She frowned. "I've been studying medicine for over four years now, and have even had a chance to observe a real emergency room, but I'm smart enough to know a bullet wound when I see one. Even from watching TV!"
She stared at them both as their faces cringed from hearing such blatant truth. She shook her head and sighed, ripping open a package of gauze rather ferociously, enough so to cause them both to jump slightly in their seats. Without saying anything else, she carefully bandaged and taped his wound, pressing onto it firmly with the flat of her hand, which got another hissing groan out of Boris. She then stood upright, started to say something, but scooped up the empty wrappers and walked out of the room in a silent huff, her shoulder-length auburn hair bouncing along behind her with each stride.
"I don't think she believed you." said Boris quietly, a faint grin sweeping at the corner of his lips. Fyber too grinned meekly and sighed, resting his face in his hands. They sat there in silence.
"We can't do this by ourselves." said Fyber, finally, his voice muffled through his dirty hands before sitting upright again. Boris nodded reluctantly, and another silent pause came over the room for a moment.
"I guess one of us should say.. something.. to her, at least, before we go.", said Boris, and swayed his head in the direction Jenny had retreated to.
They both exchanged glances of the possible death sentence, until Boris eventually volunteered himself, figuring he had the best chance since he had known her for a few years now. He pulled himself out of his chair warily and exited the room.
Fyber sat there in the quiet apartment, letting his eyes roam around freely now that he was alone. It wasn't until then that he noticed the feminine touch it had, reminding him of the handwriting on the note she had left at the lab, which was a quality some might have found hard to believe from her very demanding personality. The curtains were flowery and bright, with a very light lilac color lining the walls, and a flowery border to match. A wooden curio cabinet sat in the corner, proudly displaying fancy dishes of some kind. Probably expensive ones, Fyber figured. The artificial mantle was covered in photos of Jenny and what Fyber guessed was her family, where she seemed to be smiling happily in all of them, which was an expression he had yet to see her wear. The air smelled nice as well, either of perfume or an air freshener hidden out of sight. Though oddly, he finally realized, was that there was no television or stereo of any kind in this room. In fact, there wasn't any sort of technology in here at all, unless you counted the lamps.
There was, however, a newspaper laying on the dark red mahogany table in front of him, which sat low in the center of all the furniture. Fyber leaned across to pick it up, noticing it was folded to the classifieds section. Circled in red ink was an ad for glass miniatures, which Fyber had noticed she already had a small collection of, resting in a small decorative cabinet hanging on the wall behind him. But it was then that his glance caught a different ad, just as he had started to lay the paper back down.
"People problems? Try a private investigator. No case too small. Vito can help or your money back." it said briefly, followed by a phone number. They needed help, after all, so somebody that actually knew what they were doing might be just the ticket. Fyber pulled a notepad from his shirt pocket, something he decided to start carrying now after recent events, and scribbled down the number, just barely getting the pad back in his pocket and the paper carefully positioned back on the table as Boris and Jenny walked back into the room. She still appeared a bit grumpy, but apparently Boris had apologized for their trouble and bettered her mood.
"We'll get our of your hair now." Fyber offered, standing. She didn't try to object, not that either of them expected her to, but that was fine by Fyber, as his mind was now back on more serious matters, which he tried to relay to Boris with a particular glance. They both moved towards the door and thanked Jenny once again for her trouble, who almost seemed confused at their sudden urge to leave, but merely said "Don't worry about it.", in an almost friendly tone, before locking the door behind them as they left.
- - -
Back at the bullet-riddled car, which they had covered in mud to hide the suspicious holes, and removed the glass from the front and right side windows with some small hope nobody would notice, Fyber had discussed the idea of hiring a P.I. with Boris, who to Fyber's surprise, seemed more than willing to pay to get someone else involved. Or someone else to shoot at, that is, as Boris had so elegantly put it. They wasted no time and called the number for this detective 'Vito' from the newspaper, and setup an appointment to discuss the situation.
The man on the phone told them to meet him at a place called Moondance, which turned out to be a bar of sorts in the downtown area. The bartender, a bald older man with thick a brown beard, wearing a bright green vest and long white sleeves underneath, eyed them scrupulously as they came through the door, wiping a glass clean with a white cloth in the most stereotypical manner Fyber and Boris had possibly ever seen. They tossed around glances, seeing a mixture of folks that ranged from fairly decent to fairly dirty, the latter of which they probably didn't want to throw any more glances towards without expecting trouble. A thin film of cigarette smoke hung in the air as they approached the bar, which Fyber nonchalantly attempted to lean against, then stood up again, realizing he probably looked like some kind of idiot. Boris must have realized it too, based on the restrained snicker Fyber heard behind him.
"We're looking for a guy named Vito." Fyber said finally to the bartender. The man turned to eye them again, still meticulously wiping the same glass. "Yeah? So am I, he aint paid his tab." he retorted. Fyber passed a look to Boris, both of them thinking maybe this was a waste of time, until the bartender bellowed with laughter, almost over top all of the conversation taking place around them. "I'm just joshin' with you fellows. Name's Morris." he said, snapping his head up slightly in greeting. The two of them sighed a bit with relief and grinned. "Jeff, and this is-", "Boris", they said in return. Despite Jeff being Fyber's real name, it sounded strange to Boris everytime he heard it, having called him by the alias Fyber for so long.
The bartender nodded. "Nice to meet'cha." he greeted. "If you're lookin' for that Vito character, he's sittin' over there." Morris actually stopped wiping the glass in his clutches long enough to point across the room to one of the booths, where sat a single individual in a long gray trenchcoat, white dressy shirt with a maroon tie laid over top, wearing a distinctive gray fedora with a black grosgrain band around it, very much looking like a detective if either of them were to ever assume what one looked like. They both turned and thanked Morris, but before they could walk away, he reached across the bar to tap Fyber on the shoulder. "Oh, and uh.. remind him to pay his tab, if ya don't mind." he said, a bit more serious that time and with a wink, then nodded to them both and stepped away, back to wiping his glass.
The two made their way past the array of less-than-reputable looking individuals seated all around until they approached the booth, and slid inside without saying anything. The man raised a hand, using a single finger to push up the brim of his hat, revealing his shadowed eyes. "You called me?" he asked, chewing on a toothpick. "That's us." Fyber responded, intentionally being as abrupt as the man across from him had been. "We have some.. people problems." Boris added. "People do that." replied Vito, taking the toothpick from his mouth before leaning back some in his seat. "Tell me about'em."
Fyber started explaining the situation, leaving out certain details, such as the lab, which he felt Vito didn't need to know just yet considering they just met him. Vito didn't say anything, he just nodded acknowledgingly, until Fyber said the name Arvis Risk. "He's a shady one, that Arvis." Vito interrupted, going back to chewing on the toothpick. "It's his fancy-panted goons that you don't want to find yourself alone with, though. Thugs in sheep's clothing." The two nodded, at which Fyber responded "Absolutely, we don't want to get involved with those guys." Vito started to nod approvingly, only for Boris to finish Fyber's thought. "We were kinda hoping you would instead." Vito froze for a second and looked at them, dropping the toothpick from his mouth onto the table from the callowness of their suggestion.
He composed himself subtly and tilted his head, lazily reaching up to remove his hat and laid it on the table beside him, revealing scruffy brown hair underneath. He turned his hand towards the two of them, pointing his finger. "So let me get this straight. You guys want me to poke around some heavy irons for you, so that you aren't the ones that get shot at?" The two of them scrumpled their faces and exchanged a glance. "We kinda already did." Boris revealed. Vito raised his brow. "Poke around, or get shot at?" he asked. Fyber grinned innocently. "Both."
They finished telling Vito the second half of the story, involving their harrowing escape from the black trucks, to which Vito could only put his face in his hands and sigh. They all sat there for a minute quietly, until Vito looked up at them, and laughed, to their surprise. "You guys are screwed." he said simply, then picked up his hat, and slid out of the booth. "I like living, and I don't see it happening very long if I hang around you two." And with that, he dropped his hat on his head and started to walk away, adjusting his tie. Disgruntled, Boris yelled over his shoulder, "No wonder you can't pay your tab.", which seemed to put a stammer in Vito's step, but he exited the bar, noticably blending with the crowd to avoid the bartender on his way out.
Boris and Fyber left as well, having gotten a friendly wave from Morris as they walked by, and just stood outside on the sidewalk. The cyan light from the neon "Moondance" logo above the doorway flickered down onto them, as their steamy breath faded into the chilly night air. Fyber slid his hands into his blue jean pockets and looked around. "Back to square one." They both slowly headed back for the car.
- - -
Vito sat swiveling back and forth in his chair, his hat resting on his chest. A single desk lamp lit the quaint little office, with just the faint hum of a computer running in the background to disturb the otherwise silent room. The speckled ceiling wasn't very interesting, but he stared at it anyway, since it wasn't like he had any cases to focus on instead. He hadn't had any in a few weeks now, as a matter of fact. All he could think about were those two idiots from the bar, who expected him to get involved with one of the biggest bunch of hired muscle in town. Could he do the job? Who knows. He had been in worse situations, he knew that much. Not that he intentionally flung himself into danger, because he did in fact prefer living, but doing so also requires money, something he could stand to make as of late, which the dark-haired fellow at the bar had rather bluntly reminded him of.
He sat there spinning in his office chair for the next hour, thinking. Eventually he put his hat over his eyes, and went to sleep.
- - -
Back at the lab, Fyber had properly connected the mended H.E.A.T. to the man-made indentation in the cave wall, which had previously been covered with a metal panel to keep out winter's chill. It didn't make much sense to have that panel there now, after all, because if the power cable running to the holo generator was going to lay in the way of door closing as it had initially, it'd let in even more cold air than the much smaller opening of the panel-covered crevice where the generator was to sit. The cord itself still wasn't properly run down the entrance corridor in its new configuration, and lay loosely along the edge of the floor, glowing its bright pulsating green all the way to the power core instead of being securely confined in conduit like the other cabling, but it was fine for now, connected firmly into the junction box next to the exit where all the other conduits lead, allowing the door to close once again.
They had both fallen asleep relatively quickly after the day's ordeal, doing so at the main circular table while attempting to find more information on Russel Davis themselves, since their so-called detective had turned them down. But so far they hadn't managed to find any current address for the old man, and decided that perhaps the detective angle still wasn't such a bad idea in that respect. Maybe they just wouldn't tell the next one the whole shebang, and focus more on the individual aspects. But there was time for that tomorrow, they thought.
It was late that night, at some hour with a three in it perhaps, which Boris had simply been too tired to comprehend, when his cell phone rang. Boris had just somewhat grunted a hello into the phone, barely managing to answer it at all in his stupor, but what he heard next was the equivalent of a downing a whole pot of coffee. "I'll take the case", said Vito on the other end.