Countdown to Zero: Nine – Fade in a Day

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Nine – Fade in a Day She called the police from a public phone several blocks away, disguising her voice and just saying she heard gunshots coming from the Cat Club. When the 911 operator asked for more information, she simply hung up. They would show up or they wouldn’t; either way, it was probably done. She took Shan back to her place, even though it was unlikely the Triad had any interest in cleaning up Fixer’s fuck ups – it just seemed safer, and besides, Shan really didn’t want to go back to his place at the moment. Z realized how truly misanthropic she had become when she realized that it felt weird and wrong to have someone else in her place, even if it was Shan. At least Satan seemed to...

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Countdown to Zero: Eight – Goodbye Sober Day

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Eight – Goodbye Sober Day The good thing about knowing a bouncer wasn’t just that he knew other bouncers, it was that he also knew a lot of bartenders. In spite of the shifts in society, and the shift in the job, people still talked a lot to bartenders, especially the ones who worked until last call. They were like priests, only there was less chance that they would molest you, especially if you were underage. Shan knew this bartender named Malik who worked a real dive called Charlie’s, the type of place where the scum of the earth circled the drain before being actually flushed away. As a result, he was connected to most of the questionable activities in the city, and knew the perfect guy for them:...

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Countdown to Zero: Seven – Digging the Grave

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Seven – Digging the Grave “Why are we all gonna die?” Z asked wearily, hoping he’d finally say something of value.He scoffed, or possibly choked. Seriously, having all that blood run down your throat wasn’t pleasant. “You know why. We were supposed to get the stuff to ‘em by midnight. Maybe the boss can put ‘em off for a while, but nobody fucks with those guys and lives to tell about it.” Now that she knew he was just a junkie lackey, it was easy to interpret his vague language: “the stuff” was drugs, and the “boss” was a dealer, although obviously not a dealer powerful enough to be on his own. The “guys” had to be suppliers, or just bigger dealers that the “boss” wanted to...

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Countdown to Zero: Six – Breaking the Broken

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Six – Breaking the BrokenSometimes playing dumb was the smartest thing you could do. Z dug out her old apartment keys – she’d never gotten rid of the damn things, mainly because she thought they might be useful in keying someone’s car or breaking off in a lock. Now they had another, more active purpose. “Shit!” She exclaimed, then lobbed them over the side of the railing. They hit the courtyard below with a metallic jingle, and she raced down the stairs, cursing quietly under her breath. By the time she hit the ground level, the beaten man looked at her suspiciously, hand hovering near his coat pocket. “Dude, seen my keys?” She asked. He stared through her, as if not comprehending what she...

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Countdown to Zero: Five – Manifest Destiny

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Five – Manifest Density By the time they returned to Shan’s place, the cops had already cleared off, although Gilbert’s apartment was sealed off with police tape. Z stopped by the mailboxes on the inner side of the apartment building to see if she could get a full name, and it paid off: Bennett Gilbert. Now she had two names to run. Once inside his cramped but oddly neat (for a bachelor) place, he said, “So, can I offer you a drink? I have … uh, shit, I don’t know what I have. Lemme check.” “Am I right to guess you want me to stick around?” She sat on the arm of his couch, and looked up at the off white ceiling. Was Gilbert directly overhead? If there was someone in the apartment, she could...

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Countdown to Zero: Four – Territorial Pissings

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Four – Territorial Pissings When they came in, they interrupted a conversation Shan was having with a lean Asian cop, Major’s partner. “ … so small, whenever he went out on the ice, me or LeClare went with him,” Shan was saying. “We were the enforcers.” He looked up, and when he saw it was her, he smiled, “Z! I was wondering where you were.” “Late case,” she said, a vague explanation he knew he’d be content with. The room was small and claustrophobic, nearly filled up by the presence of a cheap metal desk and matching file cabinet, not to mention the two chairs crammed in, and the ill advised fake rubber plant sitting in the far corner. Because Shan and the cop were sitting in the only...

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Countdown to Zero: Three – Enter, Chased By A Bear

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Three – Enter, Chased By A Bear Z hated corporate espionage cases. She especially hated ones where she had to pretend to be a temp. Pretending to be a janitor was much more preferable, as no one in an office ever gave them a second glance. Office peons felt superior to the clean up crew, just like the CEO felt superior to all his workers. It was a nice little tree of ever grown contempt, from the janitors on the bottom to the corporate board at the very top, and everybody hated those above and below them in equal measure. At least it was the class system in action. The client assumed she’d go in as a temp, but she went ahead and pulled out the right colored jumpsuit and pretended to be on the janitorial...

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Countdown to Zero: Two – Optimistic

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed Two – Optimistic It was a weird looking bomb. Wasn’t it supposed to have some kind of explosive on it? Well, maybe it did; maybe those canisters were full of plastique or something. Maybe it wasn’t even a real bomb, just something that kind of looked like one. He dialed 911, glad that Canada had that too, and turned on the taps full blast, putting the plug in the sink. What the hell was he doing? Sometimes his mind was even a mystery to him. Even if he picked this guy up and managed not to accidentally kill him while doing so, they wouldn’t get far in the time they had left. And what about the other people in the apartment building? Not to mention all his stuff was downstairs, and he didn’t want to...

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Countdown to Zero: One – Bring on the Flying Monkeys

TROUBLESHOOTER: Countdown to Zero by Andrea Speed One – Bring on the Flying Monkeys He should have known something was wrong the instant he realized his neighbor was blasting Elton John. No one blasted Elton John. Maybe in the ‘70’s, but not nowadays. It was like blasting elevator music, or the “soft rock” they played in the dentist’s office – not only was it not done, it was just fundamentally wrong. Still, Shan basically ignored it as he let himself in his apartment and threw his gear on the couch. He flipped on the light and kicked the door shut as he took his small bag of groceries into his “kitchenette”, which actually seemed to share an awful lot of space with his living room. Not that it mattered; the place was small –...

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