I gathered the Brannigan’s contact info, and initial deposit, and shooed them out of my office. I threw on my authentic black World War II Navy flight jacket. Authentic in this case means I received it during World War II (time travel…don’t ask). I jumped on my Ducati Diavel Dark and raced off to the bank to hold the wolves at bay.
I know. I have a crappy office, so how could I afford a near $20,000 dollar Ducati? If you’re thinking that I would be so petty as to use a blood-oath favor to acquire a mere motorcycle, no matter how nice…well, you’d be right. This bad girl is choice. Even without counting how a machinist friend of mine souped her up.
I adore my friend. Most of my work I self-generate, which leaves me with a network of acquaintances who are willing to do me favors without the oath. Sandy, my agent, for instance. I only have one person I consider a real friend though. And it was to her that I was on my way.
I pulled up in front of her gated driveway and buzzed the guardhouse.
Yeah, she’s that kind of rich.
A thick slab of muscle named George came out to verify I was who I said I was. We exchanged pleasantries, and I learned his son Nick was starting at linebacker for Sacred Heart Griffin. Sports never held much interest for me, but i made the obligatory noises of congratulation. I think George tells me these things because he likes watching me squirm in discomfort at banal conversation.
I used to be so much better at it than I am now.
George took mercy on me and sent me on my way up the mile drive to a very stately manor house. I bypassed the front door and went straight to the “garage”. In this case, “garage” means two-story building that serves as a combination showroom, workshop, nerd-cave and living space for one Julie R. Pierce, aka Stargazer.
I let myself in and the latest pop dance hit assaulted my ears from upstairs. She is such a sucker for the latest bubblegum pop.
I creeped up the stairs and burst through the door, chugging my arms like a train wheels on a track. “And we ride the train, ride the train, ride the train.”
She whirled around at my entrance, but only to raise an eyebrow. The corner of her mouth twitched. I kicked it up a notch. My arms came back and my crotch came forward. “Hip thrust, hip thrust , hip thrust.”
She finally chuckled and clicked off the music. “You are sooo white that it’s actually painful to watch.”
I couldn’t let that outrage go unanswered. “This coming from a Power Rangers Galactic Whatsis wannabe?”
“At least they were multicultural.”
I shook my head. “You poor deluded child. They were different races, sure. But in what universe did any of them show different cultural values?”
“I believe that was Power Rangers ‘Kiss my Grits’.”
We shared a laugh and a hug. Julie is a few years younger than me at 19, but far smarter than me. We met in San Francisco during a thing that is still classified (hint: it rhymes with waliens) when she was a tender 15 and new to the scene. And as you can probably guess, the suit she created had a distinct Power Ranger-y feel. Now it’s more Adam Strange-y, except blue and silver with a mirrored faceplate. Oh, and the fin on the helmet goes the other way.
It looks a bit silly, but she souped up my Ducati and gave it the ability to fly, so I keep my mouth shut. She knows better than to ask my opinion.
We broke the hug, with a great deal of reluctance on my part. “I was hoping you’d be here and not off in space on some grand adventure.”
She smiled at me, and my heart fluttered. “You’re in luck. I’m here for a couple of days to get Celia upgraded then I’m off for a couple of months to Ceti V.” Celia is her android companion/bodyguard that she built to help protect her during the early days when she couldn’t fight for schnicket. Continual upgrades and a nuero-net processor that allows her to learn keeps Celia viable in the ever-changing world of super-technology.
Unfortunately for me, that also meant she wouldn’t be here to help in my search. Her actual mission on Ceti V is also classified (another hint: see previous hint). She must have seen me deflate because her brown eyes softened and she caressed my face. “Sorry to bail on you.”
I forced myself to cheer up and stop being so selfish. She was doing important work that could potentially save the world. “It really isn’t a problem. I was just really hoping you might partner up with me on this case,” I said. “But I will miss you.”
She grinned and lightly slapped my chest. “Well, I’m not gone yet. Let’s have dinner, and after I have some gadgets that might be useful to you.”
I love this woman.
Now I’m going to have to keep my mouth shut about my blog so she doesn’t read this.
Until next time,