Days passed and lead after lead came up empty. Whisper's contacts within the Triads had never heard of a slave running operation out of the city, though all of them were quick to point them to the Black Chrysanthemums. While they didn't have a foothold in Seattle, their organlegging practices were well known within the city.
Red had been scouring the Matrix for any leads, but had yet to find anything concrete. He was now resorting to being fed by IV while delving into the grid and searching at all hours.
Dakota had secured a transport helicopter from a contact of hers, though she did urge her teammates that it was in her best interests that the helicopter is returned in one piece. With statements like that, Burn knew better than ask questions as to its owners.
The charges for taking down the ship were ready to go and had been for a day or so. With no leads thus far, Burn decided to take care of some personal business that he had been putting off.
The Swenson Adult Care Facility was nestled into the heart of Seattle, hiding amongst an ever-increasing skyline. The small, two-story building took care of orks and trolls who were unable to care for themselves. Burn had donated some of his money to the continued operation of the complex, but its age was still apparent. The size and strength of its residents certainly posed a problem to all but the most durable structures.
Burn milled around inside the tired yellow hallways as he waited for his chance to enter deeper into the building. Beyond the doors he could hear the bellowing of an elderly troll man, as he resisted the staff's attempt to give him his medication. Furniture flew as the old man resisted, flailing his arms in all directions. Burn had met the man before…his memory lasted only a few minutes and then you were a new person, even if you had been sitting beside him the whole time.
It took four orderlies to take the man down and tranquilize him. Burn shook his head. It would be terrible to live in permanent confusion like that. It was one of those thoughts that made him glad his life expectancy as a runner was so low. He would likely never reach old age.
Burn turned and saw Dakota walking up beside him. She was about to speak again when Burn grabbed her by the front of her shirt, spun her around and pinned her to the wall with an angry snarl on his face.
"Start talkin', boy, before I turn you into a resident," Dakota said with venom dripping from her voice.
"What the hell are you doing here? I turned off my commlink. How did you find me?" Burn asked in a harsh whisper.
"Red kept an eye on ya remotely. When your commlink went offline, he tapped into some local cameras to make sure someone didn't whack ya. We're snooping into someone's livelihood here and someone might take offense."
Burn relaxed slightly, knowing his team had his back, but the timing was inconvenient. "You shouldn't be here. This is my personal biz. If you could just wait outsi-"
Burn's grip on Dakota went slack and he closed his eyes in defeat. Burn slowly turned to face the source of the voice. He smiled lightly and said, "Hey Corey. How've ya been?"
"I'm good. I'm getting better at that game you brought me. Can you have a game with me?" Corey had never learned how to properly enunciate around his pronounced lower jaw and his words were muddled, but Burn got the gist.
"Maybe another time, champ. I'm actually working today, but since I hadn't seen you in a while, I thought I'd stop by to visit. Maybe we can have a long visit another day, OK?"
Corey seemed disappointed but nodded. "Who's that?" he asked, pointing at Dakota.
Burn glanced back at Dakota. "She's a friend and coworker of mine."
"What's her name?"
"I'm Yuna," she said, offering a handshake. Corey all but folded in on himself and hid behind the orderly that was with him, playing shy in the presence of a new face.
"Is she your girlfriend?" Corey asked in a sing-song voice and a bashful grin.
"What? No no… nothing like that," Burn stammered. Dakota laughed at him, though she blushed herself at the implication.
"Corey, how about you go get the game set up and I'll meet you there in a little bit…" the orderly asked.
"Kay. Bye Derek," Corey said, offering Dakota a timid little wave before disappearing into the common area.
"How's he been, Ben?" Burn asked the orderly.
"He's making progress. His academic aptitude is still behind, but it is getting better. Motor control is perfect. Emotionally, he's still like a child though. I'm not sure that will ever change."
"I appreciate all the time you spend with him, Ben. I wish I could do it, but…"
"I know. Everyone has to make a living. You're better than most, Derek. Most drop off their loved ones here and never return. They just make the payments. You actually care for him."
"He's my brother. He's all I've got," Burn said, looking out into the common area. Corey happily went about setting up a kid's game on a nearby table and was dutifully trying to recruit more players. "How've the outbursts been?"
"He doesn't have them as much, but he still gets night terrors sometimes and he has to be restrained. Once he wakes up and calms down, he's back to his usual happy self."
Burn nodded. "Anything he needs?"
"He's practically memorized the last series of books you brought him and he plays that trideo game all the time. Some new books and activities would be great."
"All right, I'll bring something new next time. Sorry it was such a short visit."
"He's always happy to see you, even if only for a few minutes," Ben said. The orderly shook Burn's hand firmly. "See you soon, Derek."
Dakota waited until the two of them were alone in the hallway before speaking. "He's your brother?"
"Yeah. Our father beat him nearly to death when we were little. The doctors did what they could, but the mental damage was pretty bad. He's at about an eight year old level of intellect in an adult ork's body. The people here take good care of him, so I help take care of the facility."
Dakota slumped against the wall. "Now I understand. You didn't want me here so I wouldn't learn about Corey."
Burn nodded. "He's a piece of leverage against me. The fewer people who know about him, the better."
"Of course, the knowledge that you're not just a hardass that kills people might tarnish your rep too," Dakota joked.
"Yeah, I can't have people thinking I'm a softie…" Burn said, while rolling his eyes.
Dakota's commlink rang and she hit the connect button. "Hey Red, what's up?...Yeah, he's right here…OK…Great work. I'll let him know." Dakota disconnected and her face told him that she was back in business mode. "Red hit the jackpot. Found the boat on a remote Triad network the Chrysanthemums use."
"All right, let's get to the pier and blast it," Burn said quietly as he began moving toward the exit.
"No dice, I'm afraid," Dakota said. "According to Red's reconnaissance, they pushed out to sea last night. We're going to have to fly out there and board her at sea."
"Shit. Well, let's hustle. The longer we delay, the closer they get to delivering their payload."