Read House of the Sun Online

Authors: Nigel Findley

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fantasy

House of the Sun

BOOK: House of the Sun
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

DIRK MONTGOMERY IS BACK

Dirk Montgomery, former Lone Star cop turned shadowrunner, knows the dark byways of Seattle and the Amerind city of Cheyenne.

He knows when to take chances and when to take cover. But when a megacorporate exec demands payment of an old debt, Dirk finds himself where the familiar rules don’t apply anymore.

The Kingdom of Hawai’i is a tropical playground.. .with a sinister underside. Dirk must navigate its treacherous paths as he tries to stay one step ahead of all the factions battling to control the islands: the megacorps, the government, the rebels, and the yakuza. Not to mention dragons, elves, new friends...and old enemies.

"TERMINATE YOUR INVOLVEMENT.
"

"Get out of it, Mr. Montgomery.
Right
out."

"I would if I had the opportunity," I told him honestly.

"Then
make
the opportunity."

"Who the frag are you anyway?"

"As I said, a friend," the man repeated softly.

"And you're telling me you know what's going down?" He nodded.

"Yeah, right," I snorted.
"Prove
it, if you want me to pay any attention to you." It was only after the words were out of my mouth that I remembered that last "proof' anyone had provided me. Out of reflex, I glanced at the bullet hole in the window.

By the time my eyes were back on the screen, the man's outlines were flowing, shifting—
morphing
. Any hotshot with a Cray-Amiga submicro could produce this, but deep down, I
knew
what I was watching wasn't any kind of special effect.

The man's skull expanded, elongated. Those icy eyes swelled, shifting apart, migrating toward the sides of the skull. His mouth opened, showing dagger teeth. Beyond the serried rows of teeth, something moved—a black tongue, forked like a snake's.

"Is this sufficient proof?" asked the dragon.

SHADOWRUN : 17

HOUSE OF THE SUN

 

Nigel D. Findley

In memory of Nigel Findley (July 22, 1959-February 19, 1995)

Nigel was in the final stages of proofing this novel when he passed away on February 19, 1995. This novel, like all the others he wrote, exhibits his incredible creative ability to take the unknown and transform it into something believable and enjoyable.
House
of
the
Sun
has special significance to the life of Nigel because Dirk Montgomery was his favorite character and Hawaii was his favorite place. To put Dirk in turmoil again was a challenge Nigel embraced with his usual flair, wild imagination and pursuit of excellence. As I know the pleasure he derived in writing this novel, I dedicate it to Nigel's incredible gift of writing, to his enthusiasm for living and to the wonderful man that he was.

—Holly Langland Friend and Partner

 

1

Her name—the one she gave me, at least—was Sharon Young. Not beautiful by any means, but attractive. A strong face, with a good, full mouth. Sharp eyes, the kind that don't miss much, a rather striking shade of green. Long, straight black hair. And, despite what looked to me like a deep-water tan, she was a shadowrunner.

She didn't tell me that, of course. It's hardly something you admit to someone, not unless you trust him with your life. But the good ones don't have to tell you—there's something about the way they move, the way they watch everything that's going on around them—and she was one of the good ones. She wore a loose-fitting jacket, possibly armored, that hung open, and I found myself playing the old game of "find the heat." I gave it up quickly, though: there were enough places under that jacket to stash anything from a hold-out to a chopped-down SMG. I watched her take a sip of the beer she'd just bought, saw the slight frown of distaste. That raised her one notch on the Montgomery Scale of Aesthetic Appreciation. The only thing that kept the draft at The Buffalo Jump from looking green was the unhealthy brew of preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors it contained.

She set the glass down. Time for biz, I thought. "Mr. Montgomery," she began.

"Derek," I corrected. "Or Dirk."

She inclined her head, flashed me a quick half smile. "Dirk." Then she paused again, apparently getting her thoughts in order, deciding just how much she needed to tell me, and how best to go about it.

I glanced away while she did so—a touch of courtesy that also gave me a moment to indulge my own paranoia. A quick look around the room reassured me that nobody in the bar was paying us any undue attention. It was about fifteen hundred hours—midafternoon, between the lunch crowd and the afterwork rush. When I'd arrived in Cheyenne a year ago, I'd been mildly surprised that the Sioux Nation worked on the same nine-to-seventeen schedule as Seattle. I don't know quite what I'd expected to be different ... but I
had
expected some differences. Now, though, I understood that cities were cities—
sararimen
were
sararimen,
whether they were Nihonese, UCASan, or Amerind.

The salad show was in full swing on the small stage, two pieces of blond jailbait, surgically modified to look like identical twins, contributing to the delinquency of a vegetable in an impressively desultory manner. Nobody seemed to care much, even the occupants of "gynecology row" down front. The soundtrack—second-tier glam rock, ten years out of date—could just as well have been white noise for all anyone seemed to care, the DAT recording so overused and abused that digital dropout made the songs virtually unrecognizable. I felt one of those momentary flashes of
deja
vu
. For an instant I wasn't in The Buffalo Jump, but an almost identical place a thousand klicks away—Superdad's, in the Redmond Barrens ...

I shook off the memories, forcing them back into the black mire of my subconscious where they belonged. I wasn't ready to think about Seattle, not yet. With an effort, I refocused my attention on Sharon Young.

By now the attractive shadowrunner had figured out how she was going to make her pitch. With elaborate slowness—obviously to ease the suspicions of a twitchy contact—she reached into a pocket and drew out two small objects, which she placed on the table before me. One was an optical memory chip in a protective casing, the other a silver certified credstick. Again she paused, as if waiting for me to make a move for the chip and certstick—a test to see if I'd breach street etiquette. I kept my hands stationary on the scarred tabletop and waited.

She smiled then, a momentary thing like the single flash of a strobe. I knew it was a test, she knew I knew, I knew she knew I knew, and all that. "I need a background check," she said quietly. "A
confidential
background check."

"An employment issue?"

"If you like."

"Then I assume current information is of most interest."

Again that flash of a smile, accompanied by a millimetric nod.

We understood each other. She wanted a line on someone—present whereabouts, current activities, all that kind of drek. And she didn't want the subject to know I was doing any digging. A standard trace contract, the kind of low-risk, low-exposure backdoor stuff I'd been taking since I drifted into Cheyenne.

"You have a name, I presume."

Her green eyes were unreadable. "Then you'll take the contract?"

Another test—she was being careful. "Contingent on reasonable disclosure," I shot back.

"You'll have minimum exposure," she said calmly. "The subject's out of the country at the moment."

I raised an eyebrow at that. If she knew the subject wasn't in Cheyenne, what kind of paydata was she looking for? I tried to cover my surprise by running my forefinger lightly around the rim of my beer glass.

My
left
forefinger. It was a concentration exercise. I was gratified to see there was no tremble, no instability in the finger. Maybe the glitches in my cyberarm were really behind me.

"It really is a background check," she continued after a few seconds. "Any buzz you can get on current activities will be valuable, don't get me wrong—motivation, connections, exposure . . . But I'm really looking for deep background—the whys and the hows, how he got to where he is."

Okay, that made more sense. She knew the subject was out of the country, but she wanted me to learn what he was doing, and presumably what led up to the trip. I nodded. "You're the principal?" I asked, a little test of my own.

She just flashed me another grin—passed with flying colors. "The subject is Jonathan Bridge," she told me at last. "Ork. Sioux citizen. Born and raised in Cheyenne."

"Personal background?"

She tapped the datachip with a fingernail. "Standard rates," she said, with a glance at the certstick. "Half on acceptance, balance on delivery. Deadline ninety-six hours, ten percent on twenty-four, twenty on twelve." That meant a ten percent bonus for each full day by which I beat the deadline, and a twenty percent penalty for each twelve hours I was late. "Standard expenses."

"Extraordinary disbursements?"

"We'll talk."

I nodded. As she'd said, the conditions were standard. I'd done enough of this kind of work in Cheyenne to know the going rates. Just one more thing ... "Any direct exposure, and I bail," I said flatly.

Her turn to nod. "I understand," she replied ... and I couldn't shake the feeling that she really did. How much did she know about me, beyond the "brag-sheet" I'd circulated through the shadow networks?

"Contact information's on the chip," she said, rising smoothly to her feet.

I stood too—didn't offer my hand, just as she didn't offer hers. "I'll be in touch."

"I know you will," she said quietly. She turned and was gone. I waited for her to leave the bar before scooping up the chip and the certstick—etiquette, again and always. I sat once more, turning my gaze on the pseudo-twins, while using my peripheral vision to look for any response to her departure. Nothing, no "trailer" making his or her way to the exit—not that I'd expected anything. Pro is pro, and you get a sense for it ... if you want to stay in this biz, you do, at least.

2

I parked my Americar beside the Dumpster in an alley just off Randall Avenue, swiped my keycard through the maglock on the back door, and climbed the narrow staircase to the second floor. I approached the door to number 5 and looked for the telltales I'd put in place when I'd left. All were where they were supposed to be. Again I waved my keycard, then thumbed the secondary maglock I'd installed the day after I'd moved in
(right
thumb, of course). The circuitry hummed for an instant as it decided whether I was me. Then the bolt snapped back and the door swung open.

As soon as the door was shut behind me, I peeled off my duster and tossed it toward the nearest chair. Midsummer in Cheyenne is hotter than hell (but it's a
dry
heat, yeah right)—much too hot to warrant anything more than shirtsleeves, let alone an armored coat. But I'd rather be slick with sweat than drenched with blood; call it a character flaw. Since I'd left Seattle, I'd made it a point—bordering on an obsession—never to leave my doss without at least some armor between me and any high-velocity ordnance that might be directed my way.

I crossed to my "office"—a small desk wedged into one corner of the tiny, two-room apartment—and slumped down in a swivel chair that was probably older than I was. I flipped my telecom out of standby mode, and waited while the drek-kicked flatpanel got the idea.

BOOK: House of the Sun
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Dark Company by Natale Ghent
Auggie & Me by R J Palacio
Sight of Proteus by Charles Sheffield
Rest in Peach by Furlong, Susan
Eternal by C. C. Hunter
Provoked by Joanna Chambers