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Cal'pso checked her ammo one last time, the clip was loaded with caseless, porous, rubber bullets containing internal reservoirs of anaesthetic.  The gun itself was the most easily concealable model she could find, a sleek Spyglass design with a smooth one-piece barrel that had a recessed groove for sighting.  With a sigh, she set it into a shoulder holster on her left side, opposite her other three clips held between her bulletproof vest and jacket.  Weapon secured, she set the SmartGlass wall to “mirror" and examined herself.  Cal'pso looked like a fairly average Vector: canine, average height, lithe build, black fur except for a small white tip to her tail, no morphisms.  Though some Vectors seemed to mistake her for a wolf rather than a fox.  She'd dressed in dark but not inconspicuous colors, green pants, black shirt, blue coat.  If she just let her arms hang down the coat easily hid her sidearm, but if she lifted her left arm above her head the silhouette was easily visible.  Damn, if the IRPF caught her carrying it without a permit they'd confiscate it at best and she'd be without a weapon.  She needed something more concealable.

 

Hesitatingly, she opened a case concealed below her sock drawer to reveal the present her brother had given her when she went off to Progenitus' medical school, a pair of seemingly nondescript synth-leather gloves.  She considered them briefly, the added weight barely distinguishable from a normal pair of gloves, and thought about what they meant.  She was a doctor, an intern working off her educational debt to tell the truth, but here she was planning to break into a warehouse.  Her supervisor had pawned off an inventory report on her and she'd found a little discrepancy in the distribution of a certain pharmaceutical compound.  Cal'pso could have informed the police or upper management, but something made her suspicious, if someone was stealing from the corporation from within she could accidentally report it to one of the people participating in the theft.  No, this was the right thing to do.  That decision made, she slipped on the gloves and headed out the door.

 

---

 

Cal'pso slid up to the corner across from the warehouse, she thought it looked unguarded from here, but it was hard to make sure from this distance without revealing herself.  Wary of making sure she wasn't spotted, she decided to risk a small peek at it.  She brought a hand up to her temple and with a slight groan of pain popped her left eye out of its' socket.

 

The MarsCo Utilit-i had cost her three months savings, some of her co-workers thought it a ridiculous expense just for the ability to read text messages without looking down at her Toggle case.  But Cal'pso thought it worth the price for the wireless capability alone.  For a brief moment as she held it up to her face she saw two different views of herself at once, one with the flesh eye in her head staring at her cupped hand, the other using the electronic eye in her hand to stare at her face.  Carefully, she turned the UI away from her face and set her hand on the edge of the corner, the digital lens looking just beyond.

 

After a minute of waiting a tiger Vector in baggy, ordinary clothing passed by the warehouse, five minutes later he passed by again.   One guard?  She thought, on a circular path around the warehouse.  It would be a simple matter to run up to the door when he was on the other end of his route, but what about the door itself?  Would she be able to open the lock before he got back?  What if there was another guard on the other side?  There were so many ways it could go wrong.

 

A minute after the guard had passed by her again, Cal'pso dashed up to the door and prepared to attempt to pick the lock.  But much to her surprise, it opened without resistance.  The door simply slid open and she found herself facing a surprised weasel sitting by the door with a SmartGlass tablet.  Cal'pso started to reach for her gun, but then she noticed the weasel was pointing a finger at her face.  “Looking for a fix?"  He asked.

 

Cal'pso realized she was still holding her Utilit-i in her hand and she had just run up with her eye socket wide open and empty.  Thinking quickly she pocketed her eye and replied, “that depends on whether I can find one here."

 

The weasel grinned.  “Lady, if you have the credits, we have the goods."  He motioned for her to follow him inside.  She hesitated, this seemed too easy, could it be a trap?  She kept a hand on her pistol and the other hand on her eye as she walked down the hallway after him.

 

Eventually, he brought her to the warehouse's main storeroom, and there, amongst the crates and containers, she saw what she had been looking for.  A massive bubbling vat of purple gel, big enough to fit a full-grown average Vector, possibly even a taur, more Vitae than she had realized was stolen.

 

She was just about to ask her guide if that was all real Vitae or if it was diluted when an angry voice called out “Tom!" and a furious cougar walked out from behind a stack of metal crates.  “What have I told you about bringing random junkies in?"

 

Cal'pso froze, she recognized the irate speaker, it was her supervisor, Dr. U'sisous.  She shrank into her coat, hoping he wouldn't notice her, but it was too late.  As “Tom" tried to explain himself, his boss glanced her way and started to say, “Wait, is that you? Cal'…"

 

Unable to think of anything else she could do to stop him, Cal'pso lunged forward, throwing her arms around U'sisous and locking her long muzzle around the cougar's in an awkward approximation of a kiss.  As she reached around his back she spread apart the middle and ring fingers of the left hand, triggering a short blade to extend from her glove and jab into his spleen.  She couldn't tell if his shocked expression was more from the inappropriate workplace relations, or the blade's hemolytic poison chewing up his blood cells.  He shuddered, gasping desperately, trying to push her away.  Only when she had judged the poison to have reached his heart did Cal'pso let U'sisous crumple limply to the floor.  And once his body was no longer obstructing her view, she was able to see the monster.

 

The Vitae Demon was so mutilated that she couldn't tell what species it had been, the only hint the clumps of tan fur still clinging to its tattered flesh.  One leg ended in a crude, jointed prosthesis, another appeared to have the end of a jackhammer attached to the stump.  The right arm had half a dozen blades bolted directly into the flesh while the left carried multiple bags of the life-preserving fluid that allowed such a monstrosity to maintain its crude mockery of life.

 

The horror looked down at the fallen doctor with two camera lenses and its one remaining organic eye.  “What?"  It asked in its wet gurgles of a voice, “is wrong with him?"

 

Cal'pso shuddered, the Vitae Demon was unsettling enough as an example of amateur self-surgery without the reminder of the intelligence its mortified frame still possessed.  “His heart's a bit weak," she lied quickly.  “A little, over-excited from meeting me here, you understand.  He should be fine in a few minutes."

 

The weasel next to her started to laugh, “maybe he wouldn't have so many heart problems if he sampled some of his own product once in awhile.  What do you say he give him a little soak?"  He stepped up and grabbed U'sisous's arm.

 

The Demon wrenched him up by his other arm with enough force to crack the limp limb.  “He deserves more than that, I think.  Thinks he's better than us for remaining whole now does he?"  The monster turned around to drag the carcass over towards the Vitae tank.

 

Cal'pso's mind raced, would the Vitae be enough to reanimate the corrupt doctor?  His brain would surely be starved of oxygen by now but the miracle fluid might still be able to restore it.  The hemolytic wouldn't have harmed the nervous system directly, there was too much of a chance that he'd remember being stabbed in the back, or at least that he'd recognize her and wonder what she was doing in his hideout.  Realizing what she needed to do, she carefully re-inserted her Utilit-i, she'd want depth perception for this next move.

 

With a single swift motion, she drew her gun, shot one rubber bullet into the base of Tom the weasel's neck, and emptied the rest of the clip into the Vitae Demon.  Tom stumbled, dropped the dead doctor, and fell onto the jagged chunks of metal embedded in the Demon's back.  The creature acted like it didn't notice the rubber bullets, and only paused when the weasel impaled himself.  It turned, trying to scrape the dying mustelid off its spike, and Cal'pso took that opportunity to turn and run.

 

Doubling back around a stack of crates, the vixen reassessed her situation.  She'd unloaded one clip of less-lethal ammo into the monster and it hadn't even noticed, she still had one more clip of LL, along with one of hollowpoints and the third was armor-piercing.  The LL had demonstrated its' uselessness already, it wasn't wearing armor so AP wouldn't help much, hollowpoints might tear out some of its flesh but would it be enough?  She made a note to spring for explosive rounds the next time she ran into Vitae addicts.  There was still her right glove, but it only had a couple charges in it and she suspected that thing had more Vitae than blood at this point.

 

There was a wet sucking sound from the direction she'd come from followed by the clanking of metal on concrete, it was finally coming after her.  She needed to distract it with a more tempting target before it ripped her to pieces, but what?  Her eyes caught a reddish shimmer on the ground, light passing through the Vitae tank.  The idea came to her in a flash and she slapped the clip of AP bullets into her gun as she ran off, away from the creature and towards the tank.  She reached the vat just as the Demon that depended on its contents rounded a corner and spotted her.  In the throes of adrenaline Cal'pso quickly fired off four steel-jacketed bullets into the tank.  The armor-piercing rounds punched a diamond-shaped pattern through the side of the cylinder, cut through the gel within, and came out the other side.  The cracks from each hole spread out and met with one another, allowing the patch of glass outlined by the holes to break free and the purple life-giving liquid to flood out.

 

The Demon, which had been raising its weapon arm in preparation for a charge, turned towards the damaged tank and shrieked.  As she had hoped it abandoned her and shots towards its life-source, trying desperately to plug the hole with its own body.  Having lost its attention, Cal'pso bolted for the door, holstering her gun before anyone outside spotted it.  

 

The tiger guard was right outside as she dashed past.  He yelled after her and began to draw something out of his pants leg.  Not even slowing down, Cal'pso flicked her right hand at him and a razor-sharp shard of metal coated in poison shot straight for his neck.  The tiger collapsed just as he finished drawing the slim shotgun he was packing and his assassin kept running for two more blocks.

 

When Cal'pso felt certain she was far enough away from the warehouse and its disabled sensor net, she slowed her pace and walked the rest of the way to her company apartment.  Her UI showed an alert that the IRPF was responding to the sound of gunfire in the vicinity, but no sign of her was indicated.

 

---

 

The next morning, Cal'pso was in a coffee shop reading the news.  The IRPF had reported the discovery of a black market Vitae supply and the takedown of a vicious Vitae Demon.  It had required the use of half a dozen Hotspot grenades to incapacitate the former Vector.  They had also discovered the remains of three other Vectors on the premises, presumed victims of the Demon.  One was identified as a Progenitus doctor, investigations as to his presence were still underway but speculation was that he'd refused to supply the Demon's organization with Vitae and been killed for it.  No mention was made of any illegal weaponry.

 

Cal'pso regretted that her Utilit-i had been in her pocket when she discovered U'sisous's complicity.  But it would be out of her hands soon, all she had to do was send her report through her Hotline unit to the paired unit in the cafe, who would pass it on to their holding company, which was a shell corporation within another subsidiary of her true employers in Spyglass.  All she had to do now was press the “send" icon, but then what would she do?  

 

Even if the authorities were covering up her former supervisor's criminal activities there was a chance that someone would connect her to him.  She could assume a new identity, fake her death to escape the contract, get a dye job, and live in a different city under a different name than the one she'd been using for the past decade.  And what then?  Serve coffee for the rest of her life?  She knew how to be a doctor, but not much else, and faking that particular certification would be beyond most ID dealers' capabilities.


No , she realized, there is one other thing I can do .  Cal'pso considered the glove she was still wearing after the previous night's adventures.  She had discovered and destroyed a criminal enterprise that could have torn this city apart, there was demand for people with that skillset, hidden, but it was there.  In Hotzones, in places that were a moment away from becoming Hotzones, in the lawless regions of Spyglass corptowns, even in the Shadow Wars the MegaCorps tried to hide from the public view.  She amended a little note to her report before sending it out.   I cannot stay at this position much longer, she typed, a reference for some freelance work would be much appreciated .  With that, Cal'pso sent the message, now she just needed to wait for the reply and her new life could begin.