101 Identity Change

    Darsi opened the backdoor and motioned him inside, then she walked around the vehicle to the driver's side and entered the other backdoor.  She sat quietly while sliding off her second pack and taking out a small touchscreen.  She punched a few buttons and the car's windows darkened. "Home please."

    Nick watched as the headlights came on and the car pulled out of the lot. He could feel the girl's eyes watching him.

    "You are very disciplined Nix, not a single peep.  That was a very dangerous moment back there."

    "Call me Nick, I'm not a Fire Mage at the moment.  Where are we?"

    "Upstate New York. My family has a cabin nearby that I can use overnight, we dare not stay any longer than that."

    Nick nodded in agreement.  The feeling was familiar. He was on the run again.  "What's the plan after that?"

    Darsi watched him in silence for a long moment before answering.  "In two weeks I will be going into Deep-Stay in a small facility north of the border. There is a spot for you if you are interested."

    Nick considered her words carefully.  She was an unknown but it was still a good move to lay low.  "What if it's discovered that I've escaped?"

    "Then you are on your own."

    He didn't hold it against her, she had done more than enough.  "And the next two weeks?"

    "You can't follow me where I'm going." She handed him a wrist hud and waited until he put it on.  "This gives you access to some money, enough to last a few weeks.  If they aren't looking for you in the next few days I'll send you information on where to go."

    Over the next hour the landscape continued to change, the tree grew denser once again until finally, the car pulled into a long dirt driveway.  "Cozy." Nick smiled at the rustic-looking cabin with a wrap-around porch, it reminded him of one his family used to rent in Maine.

    "Come on in."  Darsi left the car and led the way into the cabin.  She pointed to the fireplace.  "Know how to start a fire?"

    Nick kept a straight face.  "Yep."

    "Back in a bit.  Take a shower if you like. There should be some men's clothes in the back bedroom."  Darsi left through the front door, the sound of the car starting told Nick he was alone.

    The hot water felt good, he carefully washed his feet and cleaned himself thoroughly.  Wrapped in a towel he used his hand to wipe the steam off the small mirror.  It had only been a few months, but the person looking back at him seemed foreign.  The orange jumpsuit he had been wearing was crumpled up in a pile.  There was no way he was putting that on again.

    In the bedroom, he found everything he needed, socks, boxers, pants, and a casual shirt.  After dressing he walked back into the living room and added more wood to the fire, along with the orange jumpsuit.  There were a pair of workboots next to the front door, so he slipped those on before taking a seat next to the fire.  Nix watched the jumpsuit burn while he keyed the wristband and opened up a hud.

    ****Virtual Network News*****

    A pretty Asian woman with short black hair was reporting. "A tragic accident tonight at the Gladis Stasis Facility in Upstate New York caused the death of at least a dozen Virtual gamers.  Not all of the names have been released, Gladis is making every effort to recover the bodies of these victims, but some of them are dozens of stories underground.  We take you to Vic Hjari for an up to date report.  Vic?"

    A slim blonde man with perfect hair stared at the camera. "No report yet as to the cause of these events, but the latest report says that 14 people have died in this accident.  Three of those are workers from Gladis Corp.  Rescue workers are only able to reach the first dozen lower levels, the danger of collapse is hampering any attempt at proceeding passed the 25th level.  Gladis Corp has scheduled a news conference for noon tomorrow.  Until then. all we can do is watch and pray that more survivors are found."

    Nick drifted off to sleep, the morning light coupled with the sound of a car door closing was enough to wake him.

    Darsi walked in the front door a moment later, her hair was damp so Nick assumed she had spent the night elsewhere.  She handed him a paper bag. "Some things you might need.  Hair dye and blue colored contacts. Picked you up a breakfast burrito also."

    Nix reached in the bag.  "I'm going blonde?"

    Darsi nodded.  "You stick out too much.  Now you are Henry Jones from Vermont."  She handed him an ID that had his blonde-haired blued eyed picture already on it.

    "Good work." Nick held up the ID.  "How good is it?"

    Darsi raised an eyebrow at him.  "You mean how good are my people?"

    Nick nodded.  "No offense."

    She shrugged.  "None taken. Your DNA  and fingerprints on record have already been changed to someone who doesn't exist.  If you were to be arrested now, your DNA would identify you as Henry Jones, a 25-year old male from Vermont with a degree in Environmental Science."

    "So fast?"

    "I had him prep a dozen different ones.  The real challenge was changing your DNA in the World Data Base."

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    Nick unwrapped the burrito while she spoke.  "Seems like I owe you."

    Darsi nodded, "don't forget me when you are back in Glory.  I want my shop back and that first aide token."

    "Of course."  He smiled and looked at the time.  "Gladis is having a news conference at noon."

    "Yep... Expect news that going to overshadow everything else.  The death of the Infamous Arsonist Nicholas Phire."  Darsi watched him, throughout the evening, he had remained calm and composed.

    "I'll leave after I dye my hair." Nick was already planning his next two weeks.  With a bit of luck, he'd be plugged back into Colonial soon.

    "I'll be leaving too, the less we know about each others plans the better."  Darsi placed a hand on his arm, "if everything works out, I'll contact you in two weeks."

    Two hours later, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Henry Jones hugged the pretty brunette for a long time before letting her go.  He grinned when she pecked him on the cheek.  "You look nice as a brunette."

    Darsi tilted her head to one side while she stared at him.  "I can't say the same, Henry... I prefer the way you looked before."

    She dropped him off in Oswego, New York and without waving drove away.

    Henry paid for a train ticket and boarded the 01100 train to New York City.  The train was nearly empty, so he took a seat next to a window near the front.  A screen at the front of the train-car was already tuned into the Gladis Conference, even though it hadn't started yet.

    The familiar anchors from the night before had come back on the air.  "Good Afternoon everyone, this is Cora Chang with special correspondent Vic Hjari.  There are rumors of something big, but the voices from Gladis Corp have remained silent.  What can we expect Vic?"

    "The details are still sketchy, Cora.  What we do know is that the cause of the accident has been determined and a full list of all the victims will be released."
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