arcology loomed ever larger before him. The megastructure towered above its neighboring buildings, blocking most of the sunset's red tones. Already lights were sparkling on the east face. Low down on the north face, the glare and blare of the club quarter was awakening. Less than a year ago, the arcology had been his home a151and his prison.

He turned right on Fourth. He was less than two blocks from Club Penumbra, but the walk seemed lengthy. The first time Sally had taken him here, he had almost run away when he had realized how near to the arcology the club was. It had only been a month after the firefight on Pad 23, that regrettable battle which Renraku security forces believed that he started. He hadn't really been there, but a deception on the part of Lofwyr's agent had made it appear that he had led the attacking raiders. Sam had been afraid of 'Raku retaliation. The thought of walking exposed anywhere near the megastructure had frightened him. But he had learned that he was just a face in the crowd; no more remarkable than anyone else to the guards on the west face of the arcology.

He still wasn't completely sure the corporation had decided that revenge was uneconomical. He had to force himself to keep pace with the pedestrian traffic around him. He didn't want to attract attention. As a member of the crowd, he could pass, but if he gave the guards cause to single him out, who knew what might result?

He reached the alley that led to the club. He was surprised but pleased to see that one of the three bikes parked against the wall was Dodger's Rapier. Penumbra was no place for animals, so he looked around for Inu to tell him to wait. The dog was scampering across Yesler Way, off to find his own entertainment. He'd be back eventually, as always. Sam had met Inu on the streets and had no worries that the dog would be all right.

Though twilight was still gathering among the rainladen clouds outside, night had already fallen in Club Penumbra. The gloom was deeper than usual, since the wall-sized tridscreen was dark. Sam picked his way through the entryway mostly by following the sound of Big Tom, the Club's resident sound engineer and backup musician, practicing his drumbeats. As Sam cleared the arch and entered the main floor, Big Tom deflated his throat pouch and hooted the dual tone he used for greetings. Sam did his best to return the sasquatch's sound. Big Tom grinned his lopsided grin which only showed the fangs on the left side of his face. Sam was never sure if the furry metahuman was smiling with pleasure or amusement at Sam's attempts to greet him in kind.

Big Tom took up his practice again as Sam crossed the floor. His was the only music in the place, but it was a weeknight and still early. The Penumbra wouldn't start rocking for another couple of hours. There were a few patrons scattered about at the freestanding tables and in the alcoves along the back wall. That was fine. There were enough people to keep things friendly but not enough to crowd sensitive discussions. The club's regulars minded their own biz.

Jim at the bar inclined his head, and Sam altered his path in the direction indicated. The sole occupied booth in that corner had a black booted foot thrust from its recesses. The stud pattern on the footwear's straps and the faint gleam of a white shag of hair advertised Dodger's presence.

Sam kicked the sole of the boot, saying, 'Hoi,

Dodger. You're early. Are you feeling all right?'

'In truth I was. Until you wounded me with your remark, Sir Twist.' Dodger cocked his head to look up at Sam, causing sparkles of light to flash from the three jacks on his depilated left temple. To anyone who didn't know the elf, the computer interface ports would seem incongruous next to his pointed ears, but Sam knew they were as integral to who Dodger was as his slim elven bones.

'You'll heal. Get anything on Mr. Johnson? Like maybe why things got screwed up last night?'

'Some data has fallen into my hands but, as to yesterday's difficulties, I can do no more than speculate.'

'Well if you've got any data, you're ahead of me.'

Sam slid onto the bench next to Dodger. The elf pushed a minicomp across, allowing Sam to scroll through while he gave a summation.

'As you can see, Mr. Johnson is Andrew Glover of ATT. For someone with his background and standing in the corporation, this shadow work is a bit out of line. The bodyguard is Harry Burke, pro muscle from the European circuit. Very expensive.'

'Hmm. Think our Mr. Johnson is moonlighting?' 'Possibly. He might have legitimate ATT business in Seattle, since he arrived direct from headquarters in London on his corporate passport. I'll need more time to check that out.' 'So he might be legit or he might not.' 'Time is data, and I had very little time.' Sam spotted something and froze the scroll. 'Saeder-Krupp,' he said softly. He shuddered, remembering his dealings with the dragon who owned that megacorporation. 'Interesting, is it not?'

'I'd hate to think that this has some connection to

Lofwyr. I've dealt with more than enough dragons.' Dodger nodded agreement. Sam returned to scrolling through the data that the elf had collected, but his mind wasn't really focused. The reflections on the screen seemed to echo the glints of a dragon's eye, and he kept drifting back to thoughts of Lofwyr. Sally had robbed the dragon of his prize, and Sam had no idea how Lofwyr had taken that. When Sam had tried to use the telecom numbers he had been given to contact the dragon or his agents, he had found them all disconnected. He had assumed that meant that the dragon was calling it quits, finding revenge as expensive a luxury as Renraku appeared to believe it was. Now there was this connection, tenuous but real. Was he already enmeshed in the coils of another of the dragon's plots? Had Lofwyr only been biding his time? Waiting for the opportunity to strike?

Sam felt an elbow in his ribs as Dodger said, ' 'Twould seem that everyone is running ahead of schedule tonight.'

Following Dodger's eye line, Sam saw Andrew

I Glover crossing the dance floor to the bar. The ATT an was of middling height, narrow-shouldered, and slim. His long, slightly horsey face was relaxed, suffused with the calm of a man assured of his proper place in the world. From his clothes, that place was a comfortable one. His shiny black shoes and grey gloves were spotless, showing no signs of wear. The rest was hidden under a long, caped coat of natural tweed. Despite its expensive material, it would be lined with ballistic cloth. The wealthy took as few chances as possible. Dark spots marred the perfect tones of the coat's shoulders. He slid a hand through his sandy hair, flicking away the water in a casual gesture. His walk was casual, too, as if he was striding through some ancestral manor.

Surveying the club with what appeared to be simple curiosity, Burke followed Glover in. The bodyguard moved with a predator's gait, smooth and calm but ready to explode into instant action. Penumbra's protection would not allow Sam to make a successful astral check, but you didn't need to be a magician to know that Burke had some kind of edge over ordinary people. Dodger had said the man's services were expensive. Since there was no reason to expect Dodger to have gotten bad information, Burke was likely very good at his job. That meant cyberware or magic; simple skills and knowledge weren't enough anymore.

The barkeep directed Glover to their booth. As soon as he saw that it was occupied, Glover put on his corporate smile. He removed his long coat and handed it to Burke who slung it over his arm. The guard seemed to find its weight far less than Glover had. Burke stayed back, letting his charge approach the booth alone.

Glover seated himself on the empty bench, but before he could speak, he was jostled by a new arrival.

Sam hadn't seen where Jason had been hiding. He hadn't even known Jason was in the club until he materialized at the edge of the booth. Maybe the kid had learned something from Ghost. In any case, there had been no time to warn Glover that he was about to have company.

Jason pushed his shoulder against Glover. The roughness of Jason's dermal armor implant snagged the corporate's silk jacket, tugging strands free. Jason placed an Ares predator on the table, the gun's huge barrel pointing in Glover's direction. Jason removed his hand from the butt and rested his palm on the table.

The ATT man reacted well. He expressed only surprise at the Indian's sudden appearance. A quirk at the corner of his mouth hinted at annoyance. Other than that, there was no sign that he was bothered by Jason's typically over-stated threat. Sam was impressed, and warned, by Glover's cool. Some corporates would have started yelling murder at such an unexpected appearance. Glover merely slid over to make room for the broad- shouldered Indian and brushed at the shoulder of his jacket. A negligent wiggling of his fingers sent silk fibers drifting to the table top.

Sam would have expected Burke to intercept Jason. Curious, he looked over and saw the bodyguard standing side-by-side with Fishface. It was unlikely that the professional guard had been intimidated by Fishface's ragged presence. Burke's failure to interfere was more likely directly related to Glover's lack of alarm. Glover cleared his

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