A conversation over noodles…
NiHo’s Noodle Shacks, everywhere and easy to find, due to the bright, clashing, and gaudy neon decorations. The car’s auto-shade windows activated as Puddles, Whiskers, and Chuck pulled into the parking lot, neon bright enough that parking lot lights were unnecessary. Whiskers shook his head at the display. Before they exited their car a welcome holo, a non-specific female wearing a neon green and yellow kimono with company logo on the shoulders, gestured towards each of them and the front door welcoming them. Reaching the front door, a holo-menu with the day’s specials appeared over the top half of the door.
“Giant bowl of drunken ham noodles on special today,” Puddles read aloud.
“I know what I’m having,” Chuck said tail swishing happily.
Whiskers stepped through the door where the neon assault continued. Each round table edged with a different color neon, a neon-holo of a chubby faced non-descript yet vaguely asian looking human smiling with a bowl of steaming noodles under his chin on the table top, and four different colored neon-edged chairs waged a war to be seen. Looking across the crowded restaurant, he saw Eth at a table near the back.
“Eth is already here,” Whiskers said to Puddles and Chuck.
“Let’s eat,” Chuck said walking between Whiskers and Puddles while rubbing his belly.
Eth looked up from the holo-menu, nodding a greeting to each of them, his baldhead and lineage spots cast in the green glow from the table neon. As soon as each of them sat down a holo-menu popped in front of them with the day’s specials highlighted in neon red. Seconds later, a holo-waiter materialized next to the table, a male version of the door greeter.
“Please input your orders,” the waiter announced.
“What are you having Eth?” Chuck asked while claw inputting his order of drunken ham noodles.
“Hot and spicy bowl,” Eth responded.
“Double bowl of soba.”
“Seafood special,” Puddles said.
“Seafood special?” Chuck asked wrinkling his nose.
“What?” Puddles challenged.
“Nothing.” Chuck mumbled.
“Thank you for your orders,” the holo-waiter said before dematerializing.
During the few moments of silence, Puddles opened her chopsticks, Whiskers used the paper wrapper of his chopsticks to make a holder for his chopsticks, and Chuck fumbled unsuccessfully to separate his chopsticks, while Eth furiously worked on his phone. Setting his phone down, Eth looked at Puddles and Whiskers, “You wanted to see me?”
“I thought cymeans were heavy on etiquette,” Puddles said with a smile.
“Not this cymean,” Eth retorted, while gesturing towards his phone “I have business.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I haven’t told him a thing,” Chuck offered.
Whiskers pulled his tablet out of a side pocket and slid the tablet to Eth, “Take a look at the vid and then we will give you the details.”
While Eth watched the vid, Whiskers arranged meetings with the SCPD and two clients. Puddles and Chuck engaged in a brief fencing match with their chopsticks.
“Looks like a clean room,” Eth said, “Is this in Tumbledown?”
“Yeah,” Puddles mumbled setting her chopsticks down.
Eth set the tablet in the center of the table, “These piles of whatever indicate a flash job. Drug gangs have everything sensitive wired to incinerate evidence.”
“Tables or overhead system does the work, I don’t have the specifics, but hot enough to melt plastic and turn drugs into ash. You really found this in Tumbledown?”
“After a lengthy search and fight through the Black Myst gang,” Whiskers stated.
“I haven’t heard of them,” Eth interjected, “No surprise there, Tumbledown has more gangs than I have lukei on my back.”
“Would a corporation have a reason to put a clean room in Tumbledown?” Chuck asked.
“I’ve heard corporations using gangs as test beds for experimental augmentations and drugs. So it’s possible,” Eth answered.
A human waitress wearing a neon-colored kimono and carrying a tray with three bowls of noodles approached the table. Silently, she set bowls in front of Chuck, Puddles, and Whiskers before walking away. A holo-notice appeared in front of Eth, informing him of a slight delay.
Scowling at the notice, “Why me.”
“Wonder what happened,” Chuck said dipping his chopsticks into his bowl.
“Is that kind of information something you can get?” Puddles asked.
“I’ll see if anyone knows which corps are working in Tumbledown,” Eth responded irritatedly. “Who hired you to go into Tumbledown?”
Whiskers slurped a chopstick full of noodles while shrugging. Across the table, Eth looked annoyed, “Where is my bowl? Don’t they know who I am?”
“What my partner means, is we were hired by a Doctor Marlowe, but not the real Doctor Marlowe. The fax Doctor Marlowe, wanted us to locate his daughters. The real Doctor Marlowe has no daughters.”
“Two Doctor Marlowes?”
Shaking her head, “We didn’t pull his data before looking into the case.”
“No particular reason. We made a mistake,” Whiskers replied. Another slurp. Another shrug.
“You have pulled his data since then?” Eth asked.
“I did,” Chuck said.
“I will keep an ear open for information on a second Doctor Marlowe,” Eth said looking around for his food.
“Much appreciated,” Puddles said.
“I know a lot of people, but I don’t know everyone,” Eth responded. “You need corporate contacts.”
“You have corporate contacts,” Whiskers responded around another slurp of noodles.
“I thought you knew everyone?”
Setting a bowl of noodles in front of Eth the waitress wearing a clashing neon colored kimono announced, “Hot and spicy bowl.”
“About time,” he said. Picking up a chopstick full of noodles, returning his attention to Puddles and Whiskers, “I do,” emphasizing do, “know a lot of people. The person you two are interested in are beyond me. I will see what I can find, will that work?”