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"True Colors" - Part Two

8 November 2042
Bay City, California Free State
20:46:12

Twenty minutes later we were at Val's loft apartment and seated next to her workstation. She sat in her highback leather swivel chair in front of her monitors facing us. Kid Tachyon looked out at us from a video feed on the right-side monitor, a half-grin on his short-cropped bearded face.

"You said you had something on Hiller and her friends," I said.

Kid gave us a wide grin. "We both do," he said, half- cackling. "And you are gonna love this.'

"We know who they're working for," said Val.

"Reliance, right?" I said.

"Partially right," said Val. "We know the guy pulling the strings." She tapped a command on her keyboard and an image popped up on her center monitor. A broad-faced man with close-cropped platinum blonde hair and empty blue eyes stared unsmiling at us. He was dressed in a dark blue pinstriped suit.

"Who's Mr. Scowly?" said Mouse.

"Warren Douglas," said Val. "VP Customer Relations for Omni Industries. Global holding corp. Omni owns Reliance."

"So that's our guy," I said.

Val held up a finger. "Watch this."

She tapped out another command.

Another image of Douglas appeared on the center monitor, three-quarter pose, still unsmiling, this time dressed in a charcoal gray suit.

"Douglas again," I said.

Val gestured at the new image. "Meet Stephen Bishop, COO of Reliance Security."

I sat upright in my chair.

"Holy shit," said Mouse.

"What the hell?" I said.

"Exactly what Kid and I thought," said Val. "And then we kept digging."

Both images of Douglas/Bishop appeared side-by-side on the center monitor. "Turns out Douglas and Bishop are the exact same person. All biomet data is identical."

"How the hell do you pull that off?" said Mouse.

"Easy for them," said Val. "Douglas stays in New York. Bishop stays in Virginia. Their paths never cross, they don't move in the same circles."

"Backgrounds for both go all the way back to birth," said Kid. "Which means deep pockets behind them. Way deeper than what Omni would have."

"So what's the connection?" I said "How do Hiller and company fit in there?"

"My digging," said Kid, "shows Omni is a legit front for the White Brotherhood."

Mouse and I exchanged looks.

A sour feeling bubbled up in the middle of my gut.

"Douglas has been with Omni since April of '39," Kid went on. "Turns out Bishop's been with Reliance since April of '39. In fact, they have the exact same date of hire. Which means Reliance has White Brotherhood ties. Now in early October of '38, a biomod clinic in upstate New York took in a patient for reconstructive surgery. A day after the patient is discharged, the clinic gets firebombed. All staff killed. Tracking the money leads back to Omni via hidden account."

"Lemme guess,' I said. "Patient was Douglas/Bishop with a new face."

"Right," said Val.

"So what was the old face?" said Mouse.

Val tapped out a command.

The images of Douglas and Bishop vanished and were replaced by another face.

A face that sent a block of ice coursing down my spine.

I involuntarily sucked in a hissing breath and bolted to my feet, kicking my chair back.

Val jumped.

Mouse was on her feet next to me.

"Fuck," I said.

"Kat?" said Mouse.

Val fixed me with narrowed eyes. "You know him."

I nodded. "William Sikes," I said.

"Oh shit," said Mouse. "That's Sikes?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Who is he?" said Val.

"Bad news," said Kid. "Least that's what I've heard."

"Sikes is a trafficker," I said. "White Brotherhood's man on the West Coast. I had an incident with him back before I started running with Murphy. He tried to...recruit me. I said no. He insisted. I stuck a steak knife in his hand. Pinned it to the table."

"Nice," said Mouse, a feral grin on her face.

"He didn't like that," I said. "Had his goons punish me. Or try to. Two of them. One went down with a busted kneecap and broken windpipe. The other lost an eye. A third snuck up, clocked me with a pistol butt and was about to put two in my brainpan when Murphy stepped in and talked him out of it."

"Serious?" said Mouse.

I nodded and grinned. "Conversation was short, point blank, and .45-caliber."

"When was that?" said Val.

Another sucked in breath. "Late '38," I said.

"Okay," said Kid, "so about three months back Eddie and I did some digging on an outfit calling themselves Alliance Entertainment. Eddie said he was helping you two with something going on at BCU. Missing students."

Mouse backhanded me across the shoulder. "Sonofabitch," she said. "The White Brotherhood campus thing."

Memory struck.

And the sour sensation spread from my gut to the middle of my chest.

Shit.

Mouse and I exchanged looks.

"You think..." Mouse began and I suddenly saw where she was going.

"And you are absolutely right," said Val and tapped her center monitor. "Sent to Sikes at the end of August."

I looked.

An email.

It read: "Clean up Bay City. Remove Kat and Mouse, any means necessary."

Fuck. A. Duck.


NEXT TIME: "Manhunt"


"True Colors"
Part 1

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