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Zeo
One Black Day Two Days After Christmas
Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:19am
71.71.214.53

The party had started some time well before five on Christmas Eve and ended in the earliest hours of the day after Christmas. Mercenaries are by their nature a greedy lot and those of the Freelance Reploids reputed among the greediest. But Christmas was different. Christmas was magical. Christmas the whores of the Brothel offered lays for presents instead of credits.

There was much present giving. Followed by much drinking. Which led to more present giving as good cheer thinned the blood and slowed processing speeds to turgid shambles.

Cocker woke to a world of pain. A common enough starting point for the day. He slowly sat up, cracking his face free of a dry concrete made of spilled booze and vomit, to examine his surroundings with slitted eyes.

"My fucking head." He moaned. "Why the fuck is it so fucking loud?"

Eddie glanced at the reploid long enough to flip him the bird and exhale cigar smoke. "Shut up and get off my floor! Clean your mess while you're at it." He snarled before returning to face the irate mercenary across the counter. "All sales are final man. If I wanted returns I'd give receipts!"

Cocker carefully gained his feet and saw the long line of mercenaries stretching from the counter to out the door all holding various bits of bric-a-brac or cheap weaponry and wearing pissy expressions.

On his way out Cocker stumbled over a lump that on closer inspection looked awfully human in shape. Kneeling beside it he saw it was a female reploid. Her eyes were closed and she didn't seem to be breathing.

"Eddie who the hell is this?"

Eddie let out a blasphemous curse and shook his head. "How the hell should I know!? She could be dead for all I care!"

Dead. The word rattled around in Cocker's head going a few rounds with the thunder of his hangover before lodging one deep in the hangover's gut and achieving dominance in his thoughts.

A quick check revealed a lack of pulse or any other functions.

"Shit. She IS dead!"

Cocker got to his feet. "Who the fuck would kill someone on Christmas!?"

A few mercs shouted their willingness to do just that but Cocker ignored them.

He shook his head. Then he regretted it.

"I'll find who did this and they'll pay. Nobody deserves to die on Christmas."

***


After a shower and a heavy dose of pain killers and a judicious amount of hard liquor Cocker set out into the halls of the Stomping Grounds to search for clues.

He started in Wade's Bar and Brothel. It seemed like the right place to start. And if it wasn't he could still fortify himself with another drink before continuing the investigation.

While he sat at the long bar and drank Chico Slick sank onto the stool beside him.

"Oi. Puta. I heard chu been lookin' round for some kinda killer?"

Cocker nodded. Unwilling to speak just yet. Sometimes a man could learn more that way. Sometimes he just felt the hangover ravaging the edges of the cool established through booze and painkillers.

"Yeah. Chu know I'm missing a girl." Chico muttered. "Sandrah. Chu find her chu tell her she come see me. Okay puta?"

"Sure Chico." Poor bastard doesn't even know she's dead.

***


Having found nothing to go on at the bar Cocker headed back to Eddie's. Maybe there were some clues he'd overlooked on the dead girl's body. Something that said he could put the girl and the missing whore together as one whole entity.

The body was gone.

Cocker let out a long slow breath and stalked back into the halls of the Stomping Ground. The fresh intake of booze was making it a little hard to focus but he knew he had to.

Nobody deserved to die on Christmas.

He needed to clear his head.

The air outside was frightful. The kind of frightful that can give a fellow hypothermia if he isn't careful. All thanks to the freak storm that had formulated over the ruins of Ducandia and swept across the Free Zone dumping excessive amounts of snow in its wake like the slime trail of a slug.

The Freelancers had been snowed in starting sometime around the 25th. It was just now getting to the point where a reploid could open a door to the outside. So Cocker figured his killer was likely still there in the compound.

The cold didn't clear his head quite as well as he would have liked so after a half-hour Cocker headed back in. He stalked down the halls like a drunk spirit spying on the scenes of aftermath with a bleary eye.

Finally, after hours of wandering and finding nothing to draw him to the killer Cocker returned to Wade's.

A small fist thumped him in the center of his back just seconds after he sat down.

"Asshole! I can't believe you just left me lying there! I woke up to that skeezeball Eddie trying to ram a camera up my skirt!"

The voice was familiar in the vaguest way. Cocker turned and gaped. "Your alive!"

Sandrah blinked. "Uh... yeah. Why the fuck wouldn't I be?"

Cocker just stared.

After a few seconds Sandrah shook her head. "Look. Whatever. Forget about it. No big deal. Just don't expect any more freebies from this girl!"

Cocker watched her get swallowed up by the crowd in the bar then rubbed the heels of his hands against his eyes. "What a weird fucking day."

"You sound like a man in need of a drink." Cocker looked up at Wade and nodded.

"Something strong." He said. "And hot. It's kind of Christmas still y'know?"


NRP: Merry Not Christmas everybody!

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