No small revision here, three sections combined into one long scene. Toss in some additions, edits, and revisions and you have a complete (r) scene that answers some lingering reader questions (yes, I get them) and continues setting up the larger tale. Enjoy. 🙂
On the Drive…
Letting the car drive, Puddles watched the city change from dark and dreary to bright and hopeful. Settling into her seat, Puddles enjoyed the view. Eastern Stroud quickly became the rear view as the lights and glitter of Central Stroud came into view. Puddles pulled up the map on the car’s windshield heads-up-display, as their car merged in with the flying lane. A bright blue line showed their destination roughly ten-minutes away.
“Is that new?” Puddles asked, pointing to a tall tower wrapped in moving holo of vines shooting up to the top and sprouting vivid multicolor flowers before repeating in the distance.
Looking up from his datapad, Whiskers replied with a non-committal grunt.
Central Stroud, tall buildings reaching past the clouds and lit up at all heights. Even now, at night, Central Stroud appeared cast in multi-colored day light from all of the lights, signs, and advertisements. Signs and moving holos bigger than the building their office was located in advertised the latest brands of fad foods, beverages, mechanical augmentation, and more. Puddles could not help but stare at the hundred foot tall moving holo-advertisement of a human female showing off the latest in clothing across the tops of three buildings; dancing and twirling clothing morphed from one design to another seemlessly. As they passed the sign, her eyes bigger than the car illuminated the interior enough the auto-shade feature of the windows activated.
Approaching Titan Industries central offices, a monolithic white and blue square building with barely any exterior features other than the corporations iconic giant blue with white border T on each face of the building, the car dipped entering lower flight lanes. At this hour, little traffic flew around Titan Industries.
“Titan control,” a flight controller said, “to approaching vehicle.”
Looking up from his data-pad, Whiskers said, “You should answer them.”
“Titan control, we are here to see Doctor Dan,” Puddles said.
“Do you have an appointment?”
Grabbing the tip of her nostril, Puddles shook her head, “No. This is an emergency meeting.”
Puddles looked at Whiskers who shrugged.
“We do not have a Doctor Dan in the building at this time.”
“Shit. Wait…what was his name?” Puddles irritatedly said.
“I do not know. Remember you left his name on the desk,” Whiskers sarcastically replied.
Shooting Whiskers an exasperated expression, Puddles gestured towards the approaching building. Whiskers waved her expression and gesture off.
“Titan control, our mistake. We are here to see Doctor Marlowe. He should be expecting us, PW Investigations.”
“Coordinates to the 33rd floor landing pad have been sent to your vehicle. Do not alter flight path.”
Looking at Puddles, Whiskers held up his data-pad, “Research,” and smiled.
Puddles let the auto-drive guide the car to the landing pad. Taking a slow turn around the building, the only activity drones and security teams. Nearing the landing pad, Whiskers set down his data-pad to admire the clean state of the landing pad, nothing out of order, although he guessed things would be different during peak hours. Right now, they were the only vehicle on approach. He could see security guards waiting next to the only door. As their car landed, the two security guards dressed in blue and white Titan modular body armor with sidearms visible stopped talking to each other.
“Follow us,” said the guard on the right as they approached the door.
Puddles counted ten pieces of bland corporate art, six white hallways, one express elevator ride down two floors, and not a single word out of either guard before they stopped outside a secure door. A thick windowless door silently slid out of the way.
“Doctor Marlowe is inside,” one of the guards said.
One guard stood near the door, the other escorted Puddles and Whiskers into a white room with several tables covered in equipment and interface stations. Puddles turned to Whiskers and gave him her “looks familiar look.” Whiskers returned the expression.
“I don’t see anyone,” Puddles announced.
“Behind the glass,” a guard replied pointing to the large window at the rear of the room.
Approaching the glass, they saw another room packed with equipment and tables, nobody inside. Whiskers turned to ask the guards when a holo of an elderly human male in an oversized blue and white hazmat suit appeared on behind the glass.
“Good evening,” the holo addressed them.
“What is this!” Puddles ears back, fur raised, shouted while gesturing towards the holo.
“I think you mean who is this,” Whiskers responded while squinting at the man’s face. “Remarkable quality holo,” Whiskers mumbled.
“I don’t care about the quality. Where is…Doctor…Doctor…”
“Yeah, that guy.”
The holo of the man raised his hand, “I am Doctor Cadius Marlowe.”
Pivoting on her heels to face Whiskers and the remaining guard in the room, “That’s not Doctor Marlowe!”
“But I am Doctor Marlowe,” the holo pleaded.
“Excuse us a second, Doctor Marlowe,” Whiskers said to the holo while directing Puddles over to a corner of the room.
Ears less flat, fur still raised, and tail slashing through the air, Puddles allowed herself to be directed out of the way, “What?” she hissed.
“Let me handle this,” gesturing towards the holo of Doctor Marlowe who was turned away from them, “I might be able to get something of use out of him.”
“Fine,” Puddles fumed, “you go talk to Doctor Pixels. I’ll wait over here.”
Clearing his throat, Whiskers waited for the holo of Doctor Marlowe to turn around. A few seconds of waiting, Doctor Marlowe faced Whiskers his hands hidden behind a desk or table, Whiskers assumed.
“Sorry to bother you so late in the evening,” Whiskers began.
“No bother,” Doctor Marlowe interrupted obviously looking at something off holo, “Its only 8 am here.”
Whiskers masked his surprise as best he could, while making a “wait” gesture below the window to Puddles in the corner who looked ready to pounce on the holo. “I’m sorry, did you say 8 am?”
“That is correct.” Doctor Marlowe chuckled, “You thought I was there? No, I’m in [static] working.”
“Where are you working?” Whiskers asked.
“The security filter prevents some information from transmitting. Suffice to say, I am off site. Is there a reason why you wanted to see me?”
“Before I answer that, how long have you been off site?”
“Then you did not hire us to look into your missing daughters?” Whiskers asked, knowing the answer.
Shaking his head, “No I did not. I do not have any daughters. What is this about?”
“A man claiming to be you, hired our investigative firm to find his missing daughters. Following his information we tracked their location to Tumbledown,” Whiskers kept the details to himself.
“Oh…,” Doctor Marlowe hesitated, again obviously looking at something off-holo. “No, I did not hire you. I must get back to my work. I’m sorry I could not be of more help.”
Without warning the holo-disappeared.
“Um…,” Puddles said.
“Let us go,” Whiskers said with urgency heading for the door. “Please escort us back to our car,” Whiskers said to the guard.
Ten pieces of bland corporate art, six white hallways, one express elevator ride up two floors, and not a single word out of either guard before they stopped outside the door to the dock, Whiskers rushed past them towards their car, Puddles followed hissing, “What’s the hurry?”
Whiskers looked over his shoulder, “We…”
Grabbing Whiskers’ arm Puddles interrupted, “I know we got played and I don’t see why we have to leave in such a hurry.”
Shaking off Puddles paw Whisker said, “What if…”
“What if what?” Puddles interrupted a second time while following Whiskers across the dock, “I don’t think anyone at Titan cares about us, our investigation, or anything else we do.”
“Did you see Doctor Marlowe’s face when I mentioned the cleanroom?” Whiskers asked standing next to the passenger door.
“Behind all that plastic and via holo, I couldn’t tell if he was smiling, scowling, or passing gas and neither could you,” Puddles testily replied, ears flattening.
“Fine. Tell me this,” Whiskers began while opening the door, “why would anyone hire us to find people who do not exist?”
Slamming the car into drive, ears still flat, Puddles answered, “No clue, but someone did hire us to clean out that gang and room.”
Exiting Titan Industries Dock, their car merged with traffic heading into the city. Puddles set the car on autopilot and sat back, fuming. Whiskers watched traffic fly around them in silence, thinking. Watching traffic fly around their car, Whiskers sat silently. Ten minutes of fuming and thinking passed.
Puddles shattered the silence first, “We need to do something.”
“Find Doctor Dan and shake answers out of him!” Puddles said angrily, “That is my first inclination.”
“Mine as well. However, we do not have any real information on Doctor Dan. We need information.”
Minutes of silence passed as both of them thought.
“I’ll call Chuck,” Puddles said with a sarcastic tone and smirk.
“Chuck? Really?” Whiskers replied with a groan.