"Adam, I've been monitoring comm activity around Hengsha. Belltower's looking for you, hard," Pritchard called him, having seen the VTOL signal start heading back from Hengsha.
"I know. They ambushed us, Freya. Forced us to make an emergency landing. Malik barely got away in time!"
"Geez, Adam…But they're supposed to be…" To think she once recommended they hire Belltower instead of Jensen...
"The good guys?" Jensen asked sarcastically.
Sighing, Pritchard answered, "Just give them a wide berth, Jensen. If they recognize you, they'll shoot. By the way, have you heard anything about the chip recall?"
"Been a bit busy, Freya," said Jensen, exiting the elevator and entering the alley way into lower Hensha proper. Right as he took a few steps out, another surge hit him and he knelt to the ground, pain shooting through his limbs and scrambling his display. Several people around him were picking themselves up as well and one person had even fallen off a rooftop. Jensen cringed and tested his limbs as his optics flashed back online.
"Ugh, that's what I'm talking about," she started, sounding like she'd experienced the surge as well. "The WHO is advising all augmented patients to check in with LIMB. Apparently that glitch we keep experiencing is related to a faulty neuro chip. So far I still can't determine what that would be, though. I've been messing around with the one we pulled off that Purity perp and I haven't identified anything wrong with the programming or hardware yet," she explained.
"So are you heading to a clinic?" he asked, right as he happened to pass the local LIMB clinic. There was a line of augmented people stretching out the door and down the block, apparently in line for the upgrade.
"No, I'm running a few more tests, first. I'll let you know if I do, but for now…"
She watched his location arrow on her screen as he went through several different locations in lower Hengsha. Belltower chatter seemed oblivious to his location, though they were certainly keeping an eye out for him. As his signal approached Sevchenko's, she tapped into his video feed. Jensen was approaching a group of hooded men with garish gold limb augments characteristic of the Harvester group in Hengsha. They were a group that would kidnap unsuspecting tourists with fancy augmentations and hack them up for resale on the black market. The flashing blue light stopped and the men parted, revealing the source of the GPL signal. Instead of Dr. Sevchenko, Jensen was approaching a heavily augmented, middle-aged Chinese man with a prominent port wine stain across his face and chest.
"That's far enough, gwai lo," warned the man, his voice carrying a thick Chinese accent.
After he spoke the Harvesters turned around and drew their weapons. The closest one was aiming his revolver straight at Jensen's head. Pritchard was immediately regretting her decision to tap into the feed. She'd almost forgotten how anxious it made her. Without flinching, Jensen gently nudged the revolver aside and stepped forward as the other Harvesters begrudgingly stepped out of his way.
"Tong," Jensen stated simply. Adam knows this man?
"You disappoint me, Jensen. I thought we were friends. Then…my hacker goes missing, half my men end up dead, and you don't even have the manners to knock when you enter a room. A lot of Belltower heavies looking for you. Any reason I don't just turn you over?"
"Yeah. Vasili Sevchenko."
"Never touched the stuff," said Tong, apparently thinking it was some illegal drug or good.
"You're wearing his arm. GPL device inside it led me straight to you."
Pritchard gasped – she hadn't even noticed that the left arm they had been soldering to Tong's frame belonged to Sevchenko. Now that she saw it, she felt sick to her stomach, but couldn't look away.
"Scavenged tech…gets you every time," Tong said bitterly. He then shouted something in Chinese which Pritchard took to mean "Everyone else get out of this office." Tong then continued again in English, "Sorry to say the man I got this from wasn't in position to complain. Belltower gave us his corpse a few weeks ago."
"Belltower? Not Tai Yong?" asked Jensen, confused.
"Tai Yong's not the one grabbing people off my streets, then giving me choice augs so I close my eyes."
"Sevchenko had four other scientists with him."
"I'm not wearing any of them, so maybe they still alive. And maybe I help you out with this, since a problem for Belltower keeps them out of my business. I got a pretty good idea where Belltower's been dragging people. Belltower keeps two ships in port. They think nobody notices, but I keep an eye. Every couple days, one of them loads up in the middle of the night and sails out," Tong explained.
"A wise man doesn't ask. I just know the Hei Zhen Zhu pulls out tonight. And where she make port, I bet you find your scientists," Tong went on.
"That's a whole lot of maybe, Tong," Jensen said, unimpressed.
"True, but you been lucky more times than I can count."
"Belltower runs tight security. How do you expect me to get on their ship?"
"One of my boys will leave a 'package' inside a locker for you. In an equipment shed. You find it, we talk, and I tell you what to do next."
"I'll be waiting with bated breath, I'm sure."
As Jensen headed out the back alley towards the shipping docks, Pritchard commed in.
"Adam, I don't know about this," she started.
"Listening in are we, Freya?" he asked. It might have bothered him in the past, but now he kind of liked knowing she was there.
"Just when I thought we might have found Sevchenko. Who was that?"
"That was Tong, the leader of the local gang of Triads. He was holding onto van Bruggen before I got him out," Jensen explained.
"Boy, I do not envy your line of work…and I thought my tech support customers were bad," she commented, scouting ahead of him in the shipyard to see what kind of situation he would be dealing with.
"You're in luck, Adam, the building doesn't look too heavily occupied – that shouldn't be too hard to infiltrate, but there are quite a few cams, bots and patrols among the cargo containers. Keep a good 360 degree scan going at all times."
"This isn't my first rodeo, Freya. Why don't you tune out for a bit. I'll radio when I've gotten onto the Hei Zhen Zhu." Jensen knew she was just trying to be helpful, but he could only imagine how difficult it must be to watch him.
Reluctantly, she turned the video feed off and watched his GPL move in a circuitous pattern around the docks to the shed Tong must have told him about. After a brief pause, his signal moved into the building and stopped in the upper right corner office. Suddenly she got an alert that his vital signs had taken a huge hit and his signal appeared to drop about twenty feet. Several of the power grid nodes in the building turned off in a pattern originating from the room Jensen had just exited, and nearly all the patrol signals were closing in on his location.
"Adam? Are you okay?" she commed him, watching his signal moving erratically toward one of the crates on the deck.
"Yeah… just a close call. Tong's distraction had a shorter fuse than he let on. Plan is to stow away in one of the stasis pods until they get unloaded at their destination, wherever that is. I'll be going off the grid for a while. Not sure how long."
"Do you have even the faintest idea where you're heading? It'll help me pick you back up when you're online again."
"Hell if I know, Freya. Hell if I know. Jensen out."