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Miraculously, nobody had done anything to the car by the time we arrived back at where we'd left it, although a couple of toughs were eyeing it warily from across the street.

"Looks like Ringo did his job," Winterhawk said, unlocking the door. He'd been pretty grim on the walk back, but now that the spell drain had worn off, he was almost back to himself again. He waved his hand in an intricate pattern, and the little form shimmered and winked out.


He nodded, getting in and motioning for me to do the same. "Watcher. I give them all names. That one happened to be Ringo."

"Whatever," I said. Mages were weird, and that was that. "So, are you up to visiting the Hurricane?"

He shrugged. "Better get on with it. I think time may be of the essence."

"Good. We're in agreement." We'd stopped at a public dataterminal on the way back to the car (after having to go through five of them before finally finding one that was operational in the back of a bar) and discovered that the Hurricane Club was located on 85th Street, about a mile from where we'd left the car.

We drove the distance to the Hurricane in silence. The neighborhood on 85th wasn't any better than the one on 86th, but at least we knew where we were going so we could park closer. Fortunately, there weren't many cars around. I wasn't sure whether that was because most people from this area didn't drive, or because it wasn't safe to park. Either way, we were stuck.

A few minutes later, we stood in front of the Hurricane Club. The place was every bit as seedy as its name suggested. From the outside, the neon sign was missing the first "R" and the "N" from the bar's name; the faux-wood exterior was peeling and covered over with graffiti. Even the formerly-jaunty-looking piece of driftwood that hung over the door was carefully lettered with the word "REAPERS" in spray-paint. There were no windows, and the distorted sound of some kind of music filtered out through the not-quite-closed swinging door. "After you, old boy," Winterhawk said gallantly, gesturing toward the door.

I shrugged and pushed through the door and into the bar, 'Hawk close behind me.

The music was not much less distorted from the inside; the speakers looked like they were twenty years old at least, and sounded worse. Since the place was sparsely populated at the moment, we were treated to a good look at the bar's interior. Not surprisingly, it was decorated in tacky nautical motif: cargo nets, glass float balls, and fake shellfish hung from the walls, the chairs looked like they were carved from barrels, and faded prints of ships and marine life hung crookedly on the paneled walls. The only thing that didn't go with the theme was the sawdust on the floor, and the occasional picture of a scantily-clad lady sprinkled in with the boats and fish. "No wonder Jack likes this place," Winterhawk muttered. "I think my sense of taste just took a holiday."

The bar's patrons, currently three orks at one table, a pair of humans at another, and a mixed human-ork couple at one of the booths, looked up at us suspiciously, then returned to their business. The only other obvious occupant was a squat dwarf who stood behind the massive bar nonchalantly polishing a glass with a grimy rag. The dwarf wore an eyepatch over one eye.

I figured the direct approach would probably work best. After all, bartenders usually didn't have anything to hide, and most of them could be bribed with the proper inducement. I walked up to the bar. "Two beers," I said, taking a seat on one of the cracked barstools.

The bartender nodded and headed off to draw the beers. Winterhawk gave me a dirty look that clearly said, I am not going to drink anything from this place. I shrugged and grinned.

The dwarf returned and placed two glasses of beer in front of us. "That'll be five nuyen," he said in a gravelly voice that perfectly matched his appearance. I nodded, placing a twenty-nuyen note down on the bar along with Tommy's picture. "We're looking for this guy," I said casually. "He's a friend of ours. You seen him?"

The money disappeared. I think bartenders learn the skill of palming money soon after they learn how to pour a beer and how to look busy polishing the same glass all day. "Tommy? Yeah, I know him. He comes in here sometimes." He looked up suspiciously. "He in trouble? You cops?"

I shook my head. "No, we're not cops, and he isn't in trouble with us. We're just tryin' to find him so we can keep him out of trouble. You know? Cap'n Jack sent us over here."

The bartender snorted. "That old chiphead? Surprised he came out of his pirate fantasy long enough to think straight enough to tell you anything. I ain't seen Tommy in a couple o' days, though. Not since the fight."

"We heard about this fight," Winterhawk said. "Can you tell us a bit more about it?"

The bartender looked strangely at 'Hawk; guess he wasn't used to hearing cultured British accents in this dive. He shrugged. "Had a big brouhaha in here a couple of days ago. Tommy was in with Jack, like usual. They come in two or three times a week, when they get enough yen to buy something. Tommy's had some more money lately. Don't know where he's gettin' it, though."

"So what happened?" I prompted. I took an experimental sip of the beer. It wasn't any worse than the stuff I was used to drinking, so I took a longer swallow. I noticed with amusement that 'Hawk hadn't touched his.

The bartender grinned. "Jack snuck out almost when things got started. He talks a good fight, but he's really a coward when it comes to stuff like that. Tommy didn't see him go. He was tryin' to get out the door 'bout ten minutes later when somebody clocked him over the head good with a chair. He was still up, but barely. I saw him stagger out, holdin' his head, but I don't know what happened to him after that. Hope he got some help—he was bleedin' pretty bad when he left. He was pretty drunk, too."

Both Winterhawk and I were silent for a few seconds, digesting this information. Finally, 'Hawk spoke up. "Do you have any idea where one might go around here to get an injury like that taken care of? Is there a local shaman who does healing, or anything like that?"

Again, the dwarf laughed. "Shaman? Where'd you come from, chummer? Hell, they don't hang around here. Even if they did, they'd cost too much. Naw, we got some free clinics that people go to when they get too sick or hurt to just sleep it off. They ain't great, but they're cheap."

"Would Tommy know about these clinics?" 'Hawk asked.

"Sure," the bartender said, switching to a new glass. "Everybody 'round here knows 'bout 'em. Even the gangs leave 'em alone, 'cuz that's where they get patched up."

"Where's the closest one?" I asked, putting ten more nuyen down on the bar. It probably wasn't necessary, but I figured it might be a good idea to stay on this dwarf's good side. Never knew when we might need some more info, and this guy seemed to have his finger on the right pulse.

The dwarf considered as the money again disappeared. "Let's see..." he said into the air. "That'd be the 85th Street Free Clinic, about eight or nine blocks down. That'd be the closest, yeah. If Tommy was lookin' to get fixed up, that'd be where he'd go."

Winterhawk stood up, still not having touched his beer. "Thank you, my friend. You may have just done our man Tommy a service."

I nodded and stood as well. "Yeah, thanks. We'll check it out." I motioned to 'Hawk, and both of us turned toward the door.

"Just remember," the dwarf called after us, "If Tommy's in trouble, I didn't tell ya nothin'."

We both chose not to answer.

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