“Of course, he's a pretty hard person to forget.” His “shadow” as his nickname had been, was another private investigator, of sorts. He had the kind of skills you normally didn't see in most people, such as knowing how to pick locks, move very quietly and how to scale walls and bypass security systems with relative ease. He also had contacts everywhere, even in Government Inc. Chances were he was ex-DHS or something similar, though if you were really that “ex”, chances were you wouldn't be walking around or breathing. He wasn't exactly the sort of individual who you wouldn't turn your back on either.
“Yeah, I know of him” I replied. “Why, what has happened?”
“Well, its a rather long story. I heard from someone who worked at one of the labs in the city about a new drug that is being worked on. I'd come across its name before, in another of my cases, so I sent my Shadow to go find out what was going on. It made sense, what with his contacts. But a week or so later, I got this sent to me” he finished as he grabbed a slightly tattered sheet of paper which was folded inside his jacket pocket.
I looked at the picture in front of me, showing a grainy image of the Shadow coming out of a laboratory, with the date and time stamped in the corner. It was 10 days ago. “So you think he's sold out or turned and gone into the business for himself then?”
“Basically. He's had plenty of time to come forth with whatever he has, even if its nothing, and still hasn't. I tried to get a trace on who sent that, but unsurprisingly I was denied access to the post system. Someone there will know where its from, it got tagged so they have the reference number. I included that with the rest of the information.” With that he took a large envelope out of a pocket and handed it over. “Thats everything I have. Do you want the job or not?”
Well, it certainly had my interest, but there was one more criteria to fulfill. “How much can I expect to be paid?”
“Standard rates. I also know for a fact that the Shadow doesn't trust the banks and keeps his money as cash. I'm sure that extra incentive has its value to you.”
“Deal” I replied.
My first thoughts were to try and bribe, cajole or otherwise threaten some workers at the Post Office to find out who sent the picture. It would be nice to know who the unknown ally was and if they knew anything else. But it wasn't simply a matter of walking in and saying it was sent to the wrong address, could I have the return address please? They'd take it from me and process it, sending it back through the use of the reference number. That had been a nice little addition on the latest round of anti-terrorist legislation. Failing that, there were a few favours I could still call in. It'd probably be wise to do that, quite soon.
My first port of call had been my flat, where I picked up a few items and made a couple of calls. I didn't want to go to the Post Office until tomorrow, when I would be assured of large crowds. If someone from Government Inc and its various research labs had sent that picture, there would be questions asked and a crowd would make escape easier. I grabbed the old style Beretta pistol I kept in my safe and a couple of clips. I had meant to get one of the new neuro-disruptors, but the cost of those things was abominable. Plus they were apparently illegal or something, which probably explained the price. Nah, it would have to bit good old fashioned bits of fast moving metal, if diplomacy or cash failed. And since it was night time now, that possibility existed.
I made my way into the heartland of the City, the awful inner city that acted like a vortex for all the detritus of the surrounding area. Beggars and prostitutes mixed freely with thugs and drug runners here, the entrance to the slums of the City. Shacks were stacked precariously on top of each other, looking like they could crash down at any moment, taking large areas around with them. It was one giant festering rat hole, more tunnels than walkways which people traveled along in search of the next dollar, sexual conquest or high. In the small rooms the hastily constructed buildings here held, the widest ranges of narcotics, sex and valuable goods were sold. This chaotic nature was of course reflected in the Psychotecture, bringing it to a nightmarish fruition. I had found my destination. Walking to the nearest bar, I opened the door, hesitated for a moment, then dove into the darkness.