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Chapter Three

Chapter Three of Downtown, Olympus Town has 3,543 words

A Question of Research


I had a contact in the AU tech arm, not high up, but he worked in the Datacentre at the heart of Minos. He'd managed to get into classified files for me before and there was a possibility that he'd be able to work the same magic again. Something told me that the full files were the key to this case.

I took the Crossrail to the Minos Cyclopean Gate and walked up to the impressive building. Minos had a lot o troubles with industrial sabotage during the War, because they produced, amongst other things, energy magazines for AU weaponry, and security was their foremost concern. The Gate was massive; it's topmost level dealt with all airborne traffic whilst the bottom level dealt with foot and ground traffic. The rest of the tall, white building was given over to housing the machinery that supported one corner of the energy field that protected Minos.

You need a pass to get into Minos – luckily I had a friend in the border Polis who would get me blank passes when I needed them for a reasonable price. I showed my pass to the guard and he checked it through with no fuss. Say one thing for Odyssa City – you can get just about anything you need for the right price.

I took a gravbus in to the centre, watching as the smoke stacks and giant factories flew by. The closer I got to the centre the cleaner things became, the grey steel of industry giving way to the ascetic white of science. Minos' best kept secret – that it's one of the main scientific centres of the Fields, wrapped up in industry as a camouflage.

I joined the handful of techs that were getting off at the centre and pulled my collar up against the chill breeze that always blows through Minos Central – there's enough coolant in this area to drown the whole of Odyssa if you fancied.

I made my way to the Datacentre and asked reception to call my contact, claiming that we had an appointment. The receptionist took in my coat and hat doubtfully but made the call and, a moment later, announced with no small amount of surprise that he would be right down. I winked at her and waited by the lifts.

“Spartan, you dog!” the voice came through the doors, booming and forceful, before its owner, “You don't have to come all the way over here just to keep e company, I've company enough as it is”

The big form of Kristos, our old squad tech, exited the lift with a suitable amount of pomp. He winked lecherously at the receptionist who rolled her eyes when he turned his back. Kristos' bulk was mostly muscle, despite his desk job, and provoked a lot of stares when he announced he was a tech. He had the swarthy skin that marked him as Messinian and matched it with brown hair and eyes. His parents had grown up farmers and wanted something better for their son – so the instant he showed an aptitude for tech they packed him off to Athens Central, Kristos was very proud of his parents and his heritage.

“I was in the area,” I shrugged, watching as Kristos signed for a visitor's pass.

“It is good to see you, old philo,” Kristos handed me the pass and then hugged me tight, “It has been far too long”

“It has, philo,” I smiled back at the big man.

I followed him into the lift and waited in silence as the machine made it's way upwards. The Girl From Impanema, or least a sanitised version of it, floated out of the speakers. I could tell Kristos was itching to ask what had brought me to him but he knew better than to ask before we got to his office.

“Sit, sit,” he said when we entered his office. He gestured towards chairs piled high with equipment and I smiled. Kristos' office has been the same every time I've been there – teetering piles of infodiscs and machinery and delicate scientific equipment covering every available surface. It's a wonder he has anywhere to sit at all.

“I'll stand,” I said, pushing the door shut behind us. The door sealed with a hiss and the room became silent but for the quiet whirring of Kristos' computer.

“I would like to think you are here for a social visit,” Kristos spoke with the accent that singled him out as Messinian as he settled into his expansive chair, “But I already know I would be long. You have that look on your face again”

“I have a look?” I asked mildly, withdrawing the sleeve of hard copy from my coat

“Yes, it is in your eyes, my old philo,” Kristos laughed, “It is a good look on you. Must bring women and men running, yes?”

I smiled humourlessly and handed him the hard copy. It's been a long time since anyone but White had 'run' at me and I'd be more than grateful if he stopped doing it too.

“This is what I need you to look at,” I said, handing him the hard copy. He took it from me, still smiling at his joke, and opened the sleeve. I'd taken the photo out so as to not completely give the case away. As soon as Kristos turned the first page he sat up in his chair and stopped smiling.

“This is AUA,” he said, his voice serious, “Where did you get this”

“From the mysterious woman that gave me the case,” I said, shrugging. He gave me the 'you get yourself in bad situations' look that he'd given me so many times before and leafed through the pages.

“I thought it looked like Medtech,” I said, leaning against one of the tables with the least amount of hyesse on it, “I can't make head or tails of most of it”

“Mmm,” Kristos hummed under his breath and shook his head, “No, it is not Medtech, the language is all wrong. This has Gentech all over it, right down to the coding”

“Gentech? I thought they didn't exist,” I said, less surprised than I should have been. Kristos snorted.

“You have known me long enough to know there is no such thing as 'doesn't exist',” he said, leaning forward and setting the sleeve on his desk, “There is only plausible deniability”

“Well, it is the AU after all,” I said, “I shouldn't expect any less”

“Gentech is serious business, Spartan,” Kristos said, worry lining his face, “Are you sure you can handle what comes your way because of it?”

“You've known me long enough to know I don't quit easily, Kristos,” I said, sliding a hand into my inside pocket, “What can you do?”

“I assume you want to know what they have blacked out?” Kristos asked and I nodded, he blew out a long breath, “It will not be easy. Gentech is tight – security stronger than anything I have seen, and I have seen a lot”

I withdrew my hand and splayed my fingers so that the five blank passes I had fanned out, like a card shark laying out aces.

“It means that much to you?” he asked, eyes lighting on the passes, I nodded, “Then I will do all I can”

“This has to be more off records than it ever has been before,” I said and he tutted, giving me a look much akin to a teacher expressing disdain at the student that asks a stupid question, “Sorry. No electronic transfers”

“I know – I'll use one of the diak' that scurry about like rats,” Kristos nodded emphatically.

“Thank you,” I said, dropping the passes on the table, “Be careful”

“I always am,” he said, smiling.

Kristos supported the squad whenever we were on the ground. He'd keep orbit in the nigh invincible ReCon ships, kitted out with some of the most backwards tech the AU had available. If you ever wondered what a real hero of the War looked like – it's Kristos. The whole squad would've been lost without him – and he still blames himself for each of us that did fall. You won't find a better man this side of Sparta.

I left the Datacentre with the promise that I'd come back for a proper visit sometime in the near future. Kristos kept in touch with a lot of people from the War – a sort of human network connecting a lot of vets. No-one came out of the War well but some came out worse than others. Kristos took it upon himself to make sure everyone had a friend if they had nothing else.

I made my way back through the Gate as the sun began to set. It outlined the buildings of Odyssa in red and gold and made my city look like Apollo's citadel. Romantic, I know, but sometimes Odyssa isn't just a town full of whores and killers. I didn't feel like heading back to 300 yet.

Occasionally, when I have the nomis, I like to eat out. And if you want to eat out in Odyssa you might as well make the effort and hit Polos Tower. The Polos Tower is the highest point on the south east Pel'nesse, reaching high above the surrounding buildings. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Attica and imagine you can see the sun reflected off the pristine white city. It's something of a joke to Odyssa – we're all meant to aspire to living in Athens, but the closest any of us will ever get is seeing it from the top of the Polos Tower.

The restaurant serves decent food at decent prices because, despite it's location (or perhaps because of it), not that many people visit it. I like it though – because there's hardly anyone there it's always peaceful, making a difference to the cluttered city below, and I like looking out over the Pel'nesse; it gives e a sense of perspective.

The sunset from Polos was more extraordinary than it had seemed from the ground, silhouetting the whole city in black and gold as it stretched away into the distance. It flared momentarily off the silver and steel buildings of Krete and bounced off the Minan energy field, suspending the tower in an ocean of colour. It had been too long since I ate in the Polos Tower.

I ate as I watched the progress of the sun through tinted windows pondered what the hell the AUA had to do with a little lost girl.

The Allied Union Agency had propped up one side of the War's secretive activities, the other side was supported by the FCS, Federal Confederacy Service. Every reg in the Militia hated having to deal with them, damn spooks caused nothing but chaos wherever they went. The War came to a truce and people figured the agencies would have nothing to do any more. I know. But we were just glad it was over, more than anything.

The AUA still has its grubby hands in pies all over Elysion; everywhere from Athens Central right down to the Messinian plains. The fact that they were behind this girl worried me more than anything else – I'd had my fair share of chaos during the War, I wasn't looking for any more. Gentech was a ghost, a rumour, something to scare people with – no-one ever thought it was real, it broke about fifty of the Dean Conventions just by existing. People that knew about these sorts of things claimed that it was a revolutionary arm of the AUA that would change the course of the future. I knew little to nothing about it and I'd never really wanted to know anything about it. Hades, nobody even knew where they would hide a facility like that.

I was in trouble. I knew I was in trouble. But my heart was beating and my blood was up and Zeus be damned if I wasn't going to get to the bottom of this before it was through.


*****

When I got back to 300 there were two things waiting for me. One was a diak' delivered message from Kristos and the second, and what stopped me from reading the message straight away, was the person person sitting on my kitchen bench. She had short black hair and bright blue eyes and the casual expression of one who can think of ten different ways to kill you before you can think of one escape route. I started violently when I saw her from the corner of my eyes and stumbled over a chair. She laughed.

“Sweet Zeus, Nara,” I said, clutching my chest to stop my heart from bursting forth, “You scared the Hyesse out of me!”

“Not literally I hope, Spartan,” Nara said, her eyes sparkling in the half-light coming through the window.

“Can't you wait outside like normal people?” I asked, trying to calm my breathing.

“Where's the fun in that?” Nara asked, sliding off the bench and crossing the floor on silent feet to flick the lights on.

“No fun, maybe, but less likely to scare me into Hades,” I countered, slumping into a seat. Nara laughed again as she joined me at the table. Nara has a pleasant laugh, but it doesn't suit her cold eyes.

Nara Frost is a Professional, an agent that has gone rogue, and a good one at that. She's likeable and charming and cold hearted and too damn smart. Quite beautiful too. She was the perfect model of an AUA agent, born to the service, before going rogue and surprising everyone she knew.

I met her through a case some years ago when I uncovered some things that I really shouldn't have pertaining to Professional activities. She let me go in return for my silence and an occasional favour. Ever since we've run into each other often enough for me to call her a friend – though I'll be damned if I know how. She has a nasty habit of dropping in unannounced and near scaring the life out of me.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” I asked as my heartbeat finally returned to normal. Nara's expression became serious suddenly, all traces of mirth banished.

“Word is you're looking into the Vigilante,” she said, eyes boring into mine.

“Word travels fast,” I said, all those years and I still underestimate Kristos, “Word should keep his mouth shut”

“He was worried,” Nara said with a warning look, “You're lucky to have friends like him. He was right to be worried”

“I can handle it, I've handled worse,” I said, feeling the beginnings of anger stirring within me.

“I don't think you have,” Nara said, shaking her head, “Not if this is Gentech”

“What do you know about Gentech?” I asked quickly.

“Enough to know that if they have a hand in this Vigilante business then regs should have nothing to do with it,” Nara's eyes were hard and veiled, I couldn't see what was behind the words, but I felt the anger rushing up anyway.

There was silence as we glared at each other – I didn't want to admit that Nara was right, Nara knowing that she'd gone too far in making her point. She broke the stare by dropping her head an running a hand through her hair.

“Sorry, Spartan,” she said after a moment, “But it's the truth”

“I have no doubts,” I said, sighing, “But even if I wanted out I probably wouldn't be able to break the contract”

“Why?” Nara seemed genuinely interested so I slid the half empty case across the table to her. She flipped the lid up and let out a low whistle.

“Bloody hell, Spartan,” she said, picking the gun up and turning it in her hands, “How do you get yourself into these situations?”

“A weak spot for mysterious women with guns pointed at my back,” I shrugged.

“This is AUA Black Ops issue. Off the record and never even made. I can't believe they gave it to a civilian,” Nara sighted along the gun, narrowing her eyes as she focused.

“I get the impression that they want the girl back pretty badly,” I said, taking the gun away from her before she fell in love with it.

“Girl?” Nara raised an eyebrow.

I slid the photo across the table and Nara examined it, her eyes picking up nuances mine couldn't. Her eyes flicked to me momentarily before returning to the photo.

“There's something familiar about her,” she said, “But I can't place it. Something about the eyes”

“I had the same thought,” I confessed.

“This is the Vigilante?” she asked, I nodded, “She's young”

“Older than you were on your first mission,” I said and the corner of her mouth smiled for a second.

“So why are you looking into her background if your job is to find her?” Nara was probing and for a moment I considered playing economy with the truth.

“Two reasons,” I said, deciding that honesty was the best policy, “One: I'm pretty convinced she's hiding in Olympus Town. Two: it's just a hunch at the moment but something doesn't sit right. There's more to this than a runaway girl”

“Well,” Nara said, stretching in her seat, “You're in deep shit, if you don't mind me saying so. Luckily for you – you're only in it up to your balls at the moment. With my help – you might just survive”

Yes, Nara is cocky and over confident but she has a right to be. She's something of a legend in the underground and hardly a week goes by where the Hermes isn't praising Professional Frost for one thing or another. She's a pretty shining example of what happens when augmentation goes right and she's pulled me out of a few tight situations over the years. Her help, willingly offered, was not something to refuse.

“You're too kind,” I said, trying not to roll my eyes.

“I've gotten too used to your interfering nose being around, Spartan,” she said with a wink, “I'd hate to see an Odyssa City without 'Spartan Vest'”

Which reminded me of my promise to Charlie. Hades. When was I supposed to find time to get the sign fixed?

“Where are you?” Nara asked and it took me a moment to realise she was talking about the case. Conversations with Nara can make your head spin.

“Kristos is looking into the data, but you already know that,” I added the last darkly as she nodded, “I spoke to a young detective at the most recent crime scene – all he did was confirm that the girl is disappearing into Olympus Town”

“You can't go into Olympus Town,” Nara shook her head.

“No, really?” I said, heavy on sarcasm, “I was going to speak to Mika about sneaking over but-”

“But nothing, Spartan,” and Nara's tone brought my train of thought up short, “Olympus Town is boiling – the NewsNet reports are getting to them. They're worried that the Polis are going to force their way in – they've been waiting for their chance to get back at the augs since Thessaly; you know that as well as me”

The Thessaly Riots – just before Olympus Town shut against regs for good. Several thousand died because a hyesse-stirring low-end aug set the street on fire and told the residents it was the Polis. In custody he claimed he was doing it on behalf of the OT council. It was a bloody mess – I could see it from my offices.

“A reg even sets foot in there and...” Nara trailed off, knowing I could complete the sentence myself: boom. Like an energy burst in a cooling tower.

“Guess that's out of the question then,” I slumped back into my seat, casting my eyes at the ceiling.

“I'll do it. I'll see what I can fin out,” Nara said, her voice warming to the idea, “Some of the Pros are already looking into it – trying to put a stop to it before Olympus falls down around our ears”

That wasn't something I'd considered – that the Professionals would be looking into it as well. That would make it a race against time – the Pros had better resources than me and a lot less mercy. I realised I was tapping Kristos' message against the table.

“I might already have something,” I said, holding it up, “From Kristos”

I slit the envelope open and pulled the message out. I read it for times before it sank in, all two lines of it, and handed it to Nara. Nara read it and began laughing.

“Looks like it's your lucky day,” she said, smiling and dropping the note on the table.

I dropped my head into my hands and groaned.

'I don't think I can crack this but I'll keep trying.
You should see the Oracle to be on the safe side'


I hate Delphi and I hate the Oracle even more – but if Kristos couldn't crack the files, she was the only person who could.

“I can't face it tonight,” I said, “You up for a field trip tomorrow?”

“Oh, Spartan, I thought you'd never ask,” Nara said, still smiling.

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Downtown Olympus Town (A NaNoWriMo novel)
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JB Addley hopes that one day this novel will be published. For now self-publishing will suffice.

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