Puddles and Whiskers, WDB The Present

Welcome to my continuing series and evolution on writing. Puddles and Whiskers began as a rough draft, which was turned into a draft, then I continued their story with more rough drafts. Now, I resume the editing process. WDB stands for Wash and Dry Brush, two phases in painting where details are added, mistakes are corrected, expansions are made, all to set up the end run the “final” edit. I also uses WDBs to ensure the story flows and if necessary make course corrections. Enjoy watching the evolution of Puddles and Whiskers.

For comparison, see here.

The Present…

BONG!

At the sound of a well-loved and used frying pan bouncing off a skull, everyone in the ramshackle room stopped fighting, for a brief second. Pouncing back from her fallen foe, golden furred Puddles tufted ears flat against her skull, tail stiff, and teeth bared brandished her frying pan above her head, drawing her Maxwell Arms Manstopper pistol from a shoulder holster at the same time and shooting a charging black and red clad mook.

“Give up will ya!” Puddles shouted at the room full of mooks.

Spotted gray and white furred Whiskers knee-slid underneath the sloppy punch of a mook, gutting the mook with his katana. Popping up from the slide, Whiskers flicked his katana clean of blood, and sought another challenger. Whiskers did not have to wait long; knocking smaller mooks aside with swings of a large pipe, a towering over-muscled mook lumbered straight towards Whiskers. Adjusting his grip to a low-position, Whiskers waited for the moment to strike the perfect blow.

BLAM!

BLAM! BLAM!

Three large bloody holes appeared on the over-muscled mook’s chest. For a brief second, the mook looked surprised before falling over. Curved knives drawn, three more mooks lept over his body to take his place.

“You’re welcome!” Puddles shouted at Whiskers.

Whiskers quickly shot Puddles an irritated glare before returning his attention to the mooks. The perfect moment gone, Whiskers charged the mooks. Sidestepping to the right at the last second, Whiskers swung his katana upwards, a blue holo-etching the length of the blade flared casting a blue light trail upwards, gutting the mook on the right as they passed each other. A half step forward, a downward stroke, followed by a quick slice to the right and the other two mooks fell clutching their wounds as the blue trail faded.

Silence

…other than their labored breathing, the room was silent. Puddles strolled over trash and dead mooks to Whiskers. Wiping his blade clean on a dead mook, Whiskers faced Puddles, his short pointed ears back while his tail slashed thru the air giving extra body English to his irritation with his longtime partner.

Pointing at the over-muscled mook’s body, “What was that about?”

Puddles shrugged. Her spotted tail waving lazily in an S-pattern that Whisker’s knew so well; her “Oops, did I do that,” when she knew what she had done shrug.

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun,” Puddles said over her shoulder, holstering her pistol while stepping over dead mooks on her way to the doorway, tail swishing away as if she did not have a care in the world.

Tail lashing, Whiskers stood for a moment, gripping his katana tightly holo-etching flaring bright, before sheathing in one smooth motion. He gave the over-muscled mook one last look before following Puddles out of the room into a refuse and graffiti covered hallway. The hallway floor cocked downward, ceiling tiles hung ready to fall at any moment. Halfway down the hallway, alarms began to sound and the few working hallway lights went from white to emergency red.

Ears upright, alert, Puddles looked at the ceiling, “Seems like an odd security system for a gang.”

“Took them long enough,” Whiskers mused.

“I thought we made more than enough noise,” Puddles replied.

“We?”

“Yes you,” Puddles made her infamous “Who me” gesture; ears forward, eyes wide, and arms held out.

“If you weren’t such a push over we wouldn’t be here,” Puddles said while peeking around a corner.

Menagerie, On Automatic

Previously.

Watching her ship break slowly break apart, the brief flare of fire and electricity, the smaller pieces flaking off and floating away, before the larger pieces cracked and finally snapped separating from the remains was frustratingly beautiful. As she drifted farther away, beauty became simply frustrating.

An hour earlier, another day on patrol over Ison VII. Her job, ensure traffic flowed smoothly, any distress calls were answered quickly, and keep an eye out for raiders. Not that traffic did not flow smoothly due to the automatic navigation controls. Not that anyone ever found themselves in distress on the way in or out of Ison VII. Not that raiders had attacked in over three years. Nothing ever happened and Amiri was fine with that.

Everyday, wedge herself into the cockpit built for a bov, not a rhino, push a key for the same old patrol route she was always assigned and sit back for her shift. Boring. Boring was predictable. If the cockpit had room for anything other than her she would have brought something to occupy herself. She knew most of her fellow pilots took hobbies on patrol with them. Just thinking of WhiteTip reading her books on her back in her spacious cockpit made Amiri jealous.

Reaching into a cargo pocket she pulled out her latest attempt to counter the long boredom, a portable hologame console. Gingerly setting the unit on the top of the dash, Amiri gently pushed the power button with a large toe. Immediately the cockpit lit up as the company logo accompanied by the three note jingle filled the cabin. Amiri smiled as the console successfully connected with the datastream her home screen appearing in front of her.

Amiri laughed when her favorite game character, a little monkey appeared on the tip of her horn. She pulled the menu of games down and spent a few minutes deciding which to play. Off to her right, a large pachyderm tender floated by on automatic navigation; she paid the tender no mind, the automatic routes ensured near misses, but no collisions. Inspired by the “near miss,” Amiri touched the icon for her favorite platform game, Simon Simian.

Totally engaged, Amiri guided Simon the Simian with some success through various levels for the forty-five minutes. Nothing broke her concentration, not the blinking commlight. Not the insistent tone of an urgent call. Not the more insistent tone of non-standard traffic.

The bright flower of an explosion outside her window, caught her attention a second after Simon disappeared without warning when her console lost connection.

“What the hell,” Amiri shouted.

A knife edged ship flew through the explosion, blasters firing, impacts seconds later. Her patrol ship shook and rattled. Warning lights flashed. Her beloved console crashed to the floor. Confused and panicked comms from all over the system filled her cockpit along with the warning tones and emergency tones.

Stabbing manual, Amiri engaged the engines in time to accidentally maneuver out of another attack pass by the knife edged ship, unfortunately not fast or well enough to avoid the follow-up attack. Her ship, automatically ejected the cockpit lifepod, shooting her away from the impending destruction and combat.

On automatic, the cockpit lifepod rolled over obscuring her view of the remains of her ship and accelerated for Ison VII below.

 

Puddle and Whiskers, Dinner For Five

Previously.

Dinner For Five

“Nothing better than a bowl of noodles after a job,” Puddles said while running her tongue over her teeth.

“Eth, John join us,” Chuck greeted the new arrivals.

Smoothing his memware suit Eth strutted across NiHo’s to their table. John took off his wrap around smart glasses, put them into an interior pocket of his black jacket, and scanned the restaurant as he stalked towards the table. Eth sat down and immediately pulled the menu up. John sat down with a thud and a sigh.

“What’s wrong with him?” Puddles asked Eth.

“Long night,” John replied with a grunt.

“Him, he was hoping to take Red Twist down tonight,” Eth replied at the same time.

Facing the table, John pulled up the menu and placed his order before slumping back in his chair. Whiskers leaned with both elbows on the table, intent on the tablet in front of him. Eth flipped through a few holo-screens before settling on dinner.

“What’s so interesting?” John asked pointing at the tablet.

“Tracking information,” Whiskers replied without looking up.

“I wanted to ask how you fooled their signal tracker,” Eth said.

Chuck set his drink down, leaning towards Eth, “That was easy.”

“Easy?”

“Yes, easy. I told them what they wanted to hear.”

“And what was that,” John interjected, picking up his drink.

“I told them that each chip was collecting data, part of collecting data is sending out bits of data,” Chuck explained with a smile, “thus when they used their signal tracker it told them what they expected that some signal was broadcasting.”

Smiling with understanding, Eth slammed his drink down. A serv-O droid rushed over to refill his drink and top off the rest. John’s brow furrowed, he steepled his fingers in front of his mouth.

“You hope Red Twist believes that,” he said flat toned, “because if he doesn’t he will find you three.”

Whiskers looked up from the tablet, “That is assuming you do not fulfill your contract and arrest him,” Whiskers held up his right paw stalling John’s retort, “Of course if you cannot before the follow up meeting we can coordinate together to arrest him then.”

“I’ll get the job done,” John replied testitly.

“Okay Eth, we took care of our part, now you do yours,” Puddles shot at Eth.

John shot Eth a glare. Eth held up his hands in mock protest.

“Two gangers is all we need and the sooner the better,” Puddles pushed on.

“I’ll find you two,” Eth answered. “Won’t be hard at all.”

Whiskers pushed the tablet over to John who picked up the tablet studying the information intensely. Two serv-O droids rolled out to the table and served hot bowls of noodles.

“This is accurate?” John asked pointing at the tablet.

“Within a few feet,” Whiskers replied.

John sat back, eating and studying the tablet.

“When do you want the gangers?” Eth asked.

“A day or two,” Puddles replied.

Puddles and Whiskers, Goes Down

Previously.

Goes Down

Strolling back to the meeting, tail swishing, humming a tune, Puddles watched as a ganger sat in the chair, put his augmented arm onto a tabletop built into the armrest. Chuck, maintaining his role as technician, made a show of pulling out several tools to open the back of the ganger’s augment. Twist stood behind and to the right of the chair watching Chuck work. Doctor Mill stood off to the side near the edge of the lighting talking in rapid-fire whispers to Whiskers.

“This will take a few minutes,” Chuck said with authority to the ganger. “Open this port and connect this and…”

“How is the operation goin’?” Puddles asked as she slide next to Twist.

Twist glared at her for a moment, Puddles smiled back, “Your men are in good hands,” she said with a wink.

“Good hands,” Chuck repeated with a laugh, “that’s a good one.”

The gangers and Twist started laughing.

“Hold still for a second,” Chuck ordered the ganger as he pushed a few buttons after slotting the chip in place. “See, green lights, everything is a go. You should notice a difference in the next few hours.”

“Check him,” Twist ordered.

Another ganger pulled out a square object and waved the object over the other ganger’s augment. A series of bleeps and tones sounded before a light in the center turned green. The ganger held the screen to Twist, who nodded.

“What’s that?” Puddles asked pointing at the device.

“Nothing you need to be concerned with,” Twist replied with a growl, Puddles took a step back.

“Who’s next?” Chuck asked.

Twist pointed at a ganger who sat down in the chair. When Twist turned away, Puddles walked over to Whiskers and Doctor Mill still deep in conversation.

“I am not sure I understand,” Whiskers whispered at Doctor Mill.

Sweating with panic in his every move, “You don’t understand who they are. He will kill all of us if your chips don’t work!”

“Doctor, please calm down,” Whiskers replied putting a paw on Doctor Mill’s arm. “What exactly is the problem?”

“I owe a lot of isstas to…”

“Him,” Puddles interjected, “I would guess.”

Doctor Mill nearly collapsed, Whiskers’ held him up, “Is this why you have done so much replacement work for him?”

Doctor Mill shook his head.

Puddles leaned closed to his right ear, “Trust me Doc, this IS under control.”

He looked at her like she was crazy.

In Puddles ear John said, “Three clear signals. Get the fourth and we are good.”

Whiskers nodded to Puddles and walked over to Chuck. Twist sat in the chair with a heavy thud, watching every move Chuck made.

“Everything coming along?” Whiskers asked Chuck.

“Of course,” he replied, “and done.”

Twist stood up, waited for the green light, flexing his augment the entire time, “Feels good.”

“Then we have a deal?” Whiskers asked.

“Yes we do.”

“Four clear signals,” John said into Puddles ear.

Whiskers handed Twist a holo-card, “In three weeks, call this number for the follow up. If you do not call, the chips will cease functioning on their own.”

Twist growled, “You will hear from me.”

Puddles and Whiskers, The Deal

Previously.

The Deal

“Damnit Eth, do your share and help me get these two into the alley,” John snapped at Eth as he struggled with the ganger’s legs.

“I’m doing the best I can. I don’t want this suit ruined.”

“I’ll buy you a new one.”

“That would make four you owe me,” Eth testily replied, “I’ll go with working slower.”

“Fine, let’s get the second one before shit goes South inside.”

Inside…

Puddles cracked a smile listening to John and Eth bicker. Walking past Puddles, Chuck drug a wheeled tray next to the chair, placing his case on the tray he waited. Whiskers extended a paw to Red Twist in greeting.

“Are you are guinnea pig?” he said with a smile.

Doctor Mill let out a nervous laugh.

Twist grasped Whiskers paw with his red meme-tattooed augmented fist, the meme-tattoo flaring red before flames burst from the knuckles along the back of the fist, a gentle pressure before releasing.

“That is awesome!” Chuck shouted.

“That is a very nice augment,” Whiskers said.

“Custom made,” Twist growled, “I understand you have chips that may make our jobs easier.”

“I think we do,” Whiskers eagerly replied.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Puddles said, “is there a bathroom?”

A ganger with a silver augment pointed to the back of the warehouse, “Over there.”

Stepping between the gangers, Puddles made a mental note of their visible augments, and holstered guns, “I will be back in a second.”

“As I was saying,” Whiskers resumed, “we at CAH have developed several chips for testing, which is ongoing. If you are willing my technician,” pointing towards Chuck who smiled and opened the case, “will install a beta chip of your choice provided you are willing to meet with again in a month so we can gather the data.”

While Whiskers spoke, the scowl on Twist’s face turned into something resembling interest and ending with suspicion at least that is what Chuck thought, gromathi faces are so hard to read.

“Install them into them first,” Twist growled, the meme-tattoo briefly flaring.

“Into them,” Whiskers stuttered looking to Chuck. “We came prepared to…”

“Them or no deal,” Twist growled with finality.

“Can’t you accommodate Twist and his men?” Doctor Mill practically whined, looking ready to bolt. “I told him you would be ready to sell.”

Chuck stepped around the table one paw on the case, “Sell? That is a bit more than we discussed Doctor. However, we can install chips in your men and you if you would like. Our accounting department might not be happy, but our tech team,” Chuck smiled big, “will be ecstatic at all of the information.”

Doctor Mill looked at Twist. Twist put his augmented hand to his chin, the mem-tattoo flames dancing as he thought. Snapping his fingers, the three gangers stepped forward.

“Them first, then me,” Twist growled, “If nothing goes wrong we can discuss another meeting.”

Whiskers stuck his paw out, “Deal.”

Stepping into the bathroom, Puddles keyed her comm, “Are you two done bickering?”

“I wasn’t…”

“John?” Puddles interrupted.

“Here. What is the situation?”

“I’m in the bathroom. Twist brought three more with him. Augmented hands and heavy pistols,” Puddles said quietly while flushing the toilet.

“You weren’t kidding about the toilet,” Eth said.

“I’m in position by their bikes,” John replied, “give the go phrase if I can take him down inside.”

“Will do.”

Puddles and Whiskers, Overwatch

Previously.

Overwatch

Ten-hours later…

“Is everyone ready?” Whiskers asked.

Puddles nodded, checking her pistol one last time. Chuck fiddled with the chip case and shook his head affirmative.

“We’re ready,” Eth said over comms.

Puddles smoothed her suit jacket out, “I hope this goes smoothly.”

“So do I,” Chuck replied.

“This does not look good,” Whiskers said pointing at a row of Red Hand bikes outside the address Doctor Mill sent them.

“Shit,” Puddles and Chuck said at the same time.

The car settled to the ground with a thump. Lower Stroud always dark, was darker here due to the number of burned out and broken lights. Parked outside of a warehouse six Red Hand bikes in a row and Doctor Mill’s luxury car. Puddles stepped out of the car scanning the darkness for trouble. Whiskers and Chuck exited the car and headed for the warehouse door. Two Red Hand gangers stepped out of the shadows blocking the door.

“You the techs the doc is expecting,” one of them mumbled.

“I certainly hope so,” Puddles replied with a smile.

“We need to search you before you can go in.”

“We have nothing to hide,” Whiskers replied.

With rough hands the two gangers quickly patted down each of them, “What’s this?” the ganger patting Puddles down said when he found her pistol.

“Personal protection is all,” she replied ignoring the looks from Whiskers and Chuck.

“You can get it when you leave.”

“I’ll take your word,” she replied with a smirk.

A ganger opened the warehouse door and stepped aside. Puddles lead the way into the warehouse looking for trouble.

“Looks like the doc set up shop here,” she said aloud. “There is enough equipment arranged around a chair for us to do our work. Doctor Mill looks scarred. Ah, I see four more Red Hands and lots of guns. That would explain the Doc.”

As soon as Chuck’s tail passed over the threshold, the door closed behind him, “Those are some nice augments each of them have.”

Doctor Mill shouted, “There you are. I was telling Twist about your chips. You did bring the chips?” he finished an octave or two higher.

“Yes Doctor Mill, we brought a small sample of chips,” Whiskers shouted back.

“Targets down,” Eth said over the comm-system.

“That is good news,” Whisker replied.

Outside…

As soon as the door closed, the gangers relaxed; one of them leaning against the wall, the other lighting up a stick. Leaning against the wall, he took a long drag on the stick, exhaling a moment later.

“How much longer?” He asked the other ganger.

A shrug was his response.

Another long drag, another exhale.

John dropped into the alley as soon as Puddles began talking to the gangers. He was in position to take both of the gangers out by the time the search was finished. Now he waited, listening to Puddles description inside the warehouse. Satisfied with what he heard, he edged to the corner and peeked. The smoking ganger blew out another cloud of smoke as John stepped around the corner and fired four times, the first two dropped the smoker, the third and fourth shots dropped the remaining ganger.

Puddles and Whiskers, Dinner Conversations Redux (means new stuff)

My shoulder is feeling better, which allowed me to add some new material to the last Puddles and Whiskers post. If the shoulder continues to mend, in other words if I don’t do anything to screw it up, stories will resume on Monday.

Previously.

Dinner Conversations

Puddles watched Doctor Mill try to conceal his surprise at the sight of them; three cats in suits, tails waving lazily behind them.

“Not what you were expecting?” she asked as she sat down.

Sitting down Doctor Mill, “I..I was…”

“We get that all of the time,” Chuck said as he sat down, putting the case next to his chair.

“CAH takes an unconventional approach as you can see,” Whiskers gestured to the three of them. “You were probably expecting a team of cymean technicians.”

Taking a sip from his wine, “Yes. I mean, that is who always shows up at these meetings and…”

“They prattle on for hours about the technical specs,” Chuck interrupted.

“Exactly,” Doctor Mill enthusiastically agreed.

“We won’t bore you with details you can research yourself or better yet, read the brochure,” Whiskers said with a toothy smile.

Doctor Mill laughed, and then they all shared in that laugh.

“Shall we order dinner?” Puddles asked when the laughter died down.

While waiting for their orders, “How did you find me?” Doctor Mill asked.

Puddles looked at Whiskers, “That’s easy,” Chuck replied, “you are one of the top twenty Doctors in Stroud who order augment arms and hands.”

“That makes sense.”

Whiskers tail relaxed. Puddles breathed a quiet sigh of relief into her wine as she took a sip.

“So, what do you have to offer me? Other than a fine dinner,” Doctor Mill said with a laugh.

“That’s a good one Doctor,” Whiskers replied. “I think you will like our wares. Our chief technician will give you the details,” Whiskers finished gesturing to Chuck.

Setting the case on the table, Chuck opened the case towards Doctor Mill. Resting in custom padded compartments, three augmented hands, and a selection of chips. Lights in the case illuminated all of the hands causing the chrome to shine bright, casting little rainbows across the case and table. Doctor Mill leaned forward inspecting the hands.

“These don’t look that different. Nice chrome job, but standard augments,” Doctor Mill indicated with some disappointment.

“Oh crap,” Puddles muttered.

“Excellent eye Doctor. These are indeed standard augments, manufactured by other companies,” Chuck jumped in. “Before you say anything allow me to point out the chips.”

“Chips?”

“Yes, chips. CAH does sell augments, but what CAH specializes in is modifying chips.”

Doctor Mill’s face lite up. Chuck closed the case, returning the case next to his chair as several serv-O droids appeared with their food.

“I’ll explain after the meal,” Chuck said.

Sitting back from their dinner, serv-O droids clearing away plates and filling wine glasses, Doctor Mill resumed the conversation, “Can you tell me about the modifying chips?”

Setting his glass down Chuck smoothly replied, “Easy enough, as you are aware all augments come pre-programmed.”

Doctor Mill nodded.

“How many times have patients asked for modifications such as stronger, fine motor control, or something more exotic?”

“Always.”

“And the only option you have is to use a different augment, if there is one available.”

“And there aren’t that many options.”

“CAH has quietly been testing modifying chips, to allow doctors such as yourself to have more options to meet patient requests.”

“Really?”

Whiskers made a show of looking at his watch, “I’m sorry to interrupt Doctor. Unfortunately, we have other appointments this evening. We would love to show you how our chips work; do you have a patient who might be in the market for a chip of ours?”

Doctor Mill thought for a moment, “I do have a patient. Can I send you the details?”

“That would be great. Thank you for your time Doctor Mill we look forward to hearing from you and showing you the nearly limitless opportunities of our chips.”

Riding in their car back to their office.

“I can’t believe you,” Puddles said to Chuck.

“What?” Chuck said with mock surprise.

“All of that modifying chips stuff.”

“You can thank Whiskers for that.”

Both of them looked at Whiskers in the driver’s seat.

“I found an article while researching how best to approach the doctor,” Whiskers replied, “Chuck is the best at telling stories.”

“I tell good stories,” Puddles retorted with a smile.

“Good stories if they involve pummeling someone,” Chuck said with a laugh.

“What do we do now?” Puddles asked.

“We wait,” Whiskers. “Doctor Mill will send the details and then we act. Until then everyone should get some rest.”