May 14, 2028
The West Wall
"The West Wall" was the smallest inn in the city. Maybe the most crowded, as well. I didn't know the true meaning of claustrophobia until I went into that place. Most of the inhabitants of the place were coming off work, their government-issued jumpsuits still on. Red for Food Management, blue for Defense and Security, black for the Officers. Our street clothes stuck out in the crowd.
Xavier was exactly how he described himself—red jumpsuit, shaved head, sitting in the southwest corner of the inn. He had saved me and JD a seat.
"Gentlemen," he greeted. Nothing strange about him—he didn't seem like he came from noble dissent, but he definitely didn't seem like someone who could point them in the right direction. We were swatting at flies with this guy.
"So, what can you tell us," I said, trying to speed up this process. That inn made me nervous—too many eyes were on us.
"What do you have for me?"
JD grew uneasy when he spoke.
I laid all the money we had on the table. Xavier didn't seem displeased, but they knew he wasn't about to give them Artisan's location when he next spoke.
"My business is information, as you know. Contrary to what you might believe, I don't just pull these answers out of some all-seeing program I have in my basement. Sure, hacking into the system gets the job done occasionally, like with the locaton of your friend…but I need one more thing from you. Tell me what is going on here. Why do you need to know this guy's location?"
"Why the hell do you need to know that?" JD almost yelled. He looked around in security. Then it occurred to him. "What, you need answers for your 'database?'"
Xavier gave us an awkward smile. "You could say that. I'm not saying that I am going to give out your business the moment you leave, but if I don't know what the hell is going on in this city, then I'm out of a job." JD was ready to walk out.
"We're leaving Isole," I whispered to him. JD turned and almost punched me. "That's all you need to know." I gave my friend a look saying, "We're leaving in a matter of days. We'll be gone by the time anyone finds us."
Xavier slid him the note card with Artisan's location.