In which Olivia goes to ground

If I’ve got nothing to offer to Victor, then why did Eyes send me there? Olivia closed her eyes as she walked beside Shen, the deluge of rain pouring from the edges of his large black umbrella. She must know I can’t beat him in a fight. And I have nothing of value to offer, nothing tantamount to Balrus’ life, and she doesn’t seem the type to do something like that in return for a bit of coding. Unless-

Olivia stopped dead on the pavement, and Shen looked at her curiously.

Dante’s favour. She wants me to drag him into this too.

“Come on, Olivia, let’s head back to base,” Shen’s voice was brusque as it cut through her thoughts. “My feet are soaking,” he added.
“Yeah,” said Olivia. “Mine too.” She shook her head. “But I need to see Dante before I go home.”
“Dante? Why?” asked Shen.
“I need to ask him something.” Olivia narrowed her eyes. I need to absolve him of his debt before Eyes forces me to use it against him. I know I shouldn’t go into a deal in bad faith, but that seems like exactly what Eyes has done. “Don’t ask what.”
Shen frowned. “Okay,” he said. “But I’m not leaving you out in the streets with no protection, particularly with all the thinbloods about.”
“Call some of my guys, then,” said Olivia. “Not the kinfolk, mine.”
Shen held the umbrella over her as she climbed into her car and shut the door behind her. He probably thinks I’m being irrational again, thought Olivia, with a pang of regret. But I can’t tell him what I’m planning. He can’t lie for shit.

Shen waited for the ghouls to arrive and then left in his own car, looking a little frustrated. Olivia tried Dante’s number twice; once from a payphone and once from one of her own mobiles. Both times the number rang out, unanswered.

And then, a text.

Can’t talk right now. In a meeting.

Later, then. Olivia sighed. She didn’t dare return to Goodwin in case Ann decided to strongarm her immediately into a meeting with Eyes. The two ghouls that Shen had sent to join her looked at each other warily as she ordered them into radio silence, and then to drive to the docks.

The rain was still torrential as they parked up, but the intensity of the storm had lessened a little. There were a number of warehouses she had bought in the prelude to the raid on the KT distribution center, and some of them she had converted into safehouses. Not particularly safe, persay, but safe enough to go to ground for a night, if no-one knew where you were. Olivia punched the sixteen-digit code into the keypad on the side-door as one of her ghouls held an umbrella over her and the three of them slipped inside.

One of her guards went to switch on the lights, but Olivia gestured no, her eyes taking a moment to adjust to the gloom of the emergency exit lighting. The place had been a clubhouse for the ghouls, before the building of Goodwin tower, and aspects of this remained; several armchairs stacked against the wall, a bar stocked with quarter-full bottles of colourful liquor, the spaces where a plasma-screen television and a pool table had been. Taking this in, and noting the dusty, undisturbed state, Olivia led her guards down to the basement level. There were workbenches there, various pieces of decommissioned machinery covered in pallet wrap, and perhaps more importantly, a door with a decent lock.

Olivia shut the door behind them, and climbed down the metal stairs. She found a square of the concrete floor that was unoccupied, and sat there. Rainwater dripped from her clothes and hair, darkening the floor around her, and she found that she was shaking.

She felt the music through the floor before she heard it, a thick, massive sound, the bass reverberating as Victor’s storm cleared, the higher frequency guitar distortion less apparent through her ass, but no less audible. It was loud, and it was coming from extremely nearby.

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