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> ShadowRun Logs, A novela-noir of the Stay Dogs.
Draco18s
post Nov 4 2009, 01:15 PM
Post #1


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



I present this to you in the format in which it was originally written, there is no "in character" and "out of character" as far as I am concerned. There is the story, and then there is us. It was written by my friend Jim, who is an excellent role player. He took what happened very session--once a week--and wrote up a film noir style novela post to our group's forums (well, the ones we had at the time, its a good thing I saved them when I did, as we moved URLs at least twice and forum software at least once) and he insisted that I get off my butt and post it here. Jim played the roll of Stray, I played the roll of Jack.

In total these logs number over 100 pages in size 12 font, single spaced. I will post a section every day or so (I'll try and make it one of the last things I do before I go to bed), as to not overload readers. I have not read most of this myself, as I didn't have time at the time, and once it got up to about 3, 4, 8 weeks worth of material, it was overwhelming me. I will do my best to break it up where it was intended.

And, so. We begin.

================================================================

Shadowrun Log (Day 1):

If old wounds could talk, my scars would be novelists. Every single injury leaves it mark. If not on the body, then on the mind itself. How many people who look perfectly normal are fighting constantly within themselves, victims of some past tragedy? More than you might think, or that’s what life has led me to believe.

Where should I begin? I guess the beginning would be the best choice. Everyone calls me Stray. I got the name because I ran away from home when I was 14 years old. I was the stray dog, doing what it took to survive. I grew up, used the blood money I had received to get away from the streets and into a tiny apartment far away in Seattle. Not in the ghetto, but it wasn’t the most charming place to be after dark. It was there that I met Jack and Twitch and we formed the Stray Dogs. We’ve got no owner, just loyalty to the one who fills the food dish. Neither of those two are man’s best friend. Hell, Twitch is barely housebroken.

Twitch has the social skills of a voracious, rabid, wolverine. He’s got metal plates all over his body and pretends to be an ork all the time. And he hits the cram pretty hard, giving his nickname because when he’s wired, he’s quite twitchy. And when he isn’t, he’s still twitchy for more cram.

Jack’s the biggest gearhead you’d ever find. Whenever he’s not on the job or sleeping, he’s wrist deep with auto-ratchets and drills, cooking up his latest idea. And whether it’s his van or his drones, he’s got enough machinery to get whatever you need done. His van’s stockpiled with guns and drones, which he’s tweaked enough to turn them into murder machines, forcing the Reaper to work overtime.

We met Bomber and Murk shortly afterwards and I liked their skills well enough to let them join. I’ve seen enough classic cheesy western holovids to know that the 1870’s would’ve been the perfect era for Bomber. Shooting desperados with his pistols, then drowning in whiskey in the saloon later that night. He lived a motto of “shoot first, screw the questions.” His nifty little trick was a pair of spring-loaded pistols, up his arms so he could fire with reckless abandon in under five seconds.

Murk rounds us out. The socialite mage, he’s got a powerful force of personality, and even more powerful spells backing him up. Murk and I do the talking, for the most part. The other Dogs, well, let’s just say that not everyone shares my appreciation for their rather unique personality.

It had started with a phone call. The Dogs had been working for Freddy Leadshoes, member of one of the Seattle mafia families, for a good amount of time as low-to-mid-level thugs. Not glamorous, but it kept our addictions sated. I had sat down for a smoke when our internal comms rang. Twitch was out getting a fix, and I had no idea where Murk was. Jack was working on his drones and Bomber was checking his equipment because when Freddy called, work was involved.

“Stray Dogs.” I answered like I had done hundred times before.

“Dogs, I’ve got some work for you. Meet me down in my club in twenty minutes.”

Freddy’s club was a hotspot for drug raves, all graciously supplied by the family’s dealers. The troll bouncer gave us a nod and let us in to the club. I walked into the club towards the back, to Freddy’s business booth. It was in the back, dim enough to not attract attention, but bright enough so the heavies could see any subtle moves. Bomber stood and looked around, while I sat down to meet with Freddy.

“You’ve been working with the family for a while. This job requires a slightly different approach than what you guys are used to. There’s this musician, plays a pretty good gig. We want him to sign a contract but he ain’t biting. We want you to go down there and convince him to sign with us. We need it signed and notarized and we don’t want to leave any traces back to the family.”

Of course, the standard. We do the dirty work, the family profits, and if you screw up, no one’s coming to help you. But work is hard to find, so I look Freddy straight in the eye and ask

“How much is it worth?”

“10 grand.”

“Make it 12 and a half.”

Freddy grimaces a little bit, but we’ve achieved results in the past. “Done, but it’s got to be finished by the end of the week.”

“Of course. Time is money, right?”

Freddy hands me the contract and I put it in my briefcase. This sounds like just the kind of job that Murk and I would take. I smelled a con coming on.

Bomber and I left the club and went back to the safehouse to plan. I leaf through the contract, chuckling at how horrible it is for the guy. I am going to ruin his career, and make a tidy profit doing so. I run through a few ideas in my head and think up a good one. Pose as an agent, spin a few lines, then make him sign the contract. No fuss, no mess, and 100% legit. I get the number for an agency, posing as a musician who wants a big break. I make myself sound innocent and stupid, perfect agency fodder. I want to know how they talk, act, and close deals.

The first target, the receptionist. Easy as pie, just schedule a consultation. The agent picks up the phone next and I start schmoozing about how my band wants a break into the business. He seems to be buying, no doubt having sweaty palms at the profit he was going to make. He asks for a sample.

Crap, should’ve guessed it. I tell him to hold on so I can grab the cream of the crop.

“Jack, swipe some music from the ‘net.”

“On it.” He looks and in no time flat, he finds an underground site with a song posted two hours ago. I swipe the poor kids’ music and pose it as my own. Their fault, really. Posting your music on the ‘net is asking for someone to steal it.

The agent gets me again. “What took you?”

“Wanted to make sure you got your wait’s worth.”

I play the music over the comm. It sounds just like I wanted to. Talented, but unrefined. Perfect material for a fat agent who never worked an honest day to come in.

“Well, you have potential. Where did you get that female vocalist.”

“She’s a ‘friend’ of mine.” I annunciate slyly.

“I see…” Rule of conning, whenever someone asks you a question, answer with something that they can’t discuss or refute. I could just imagine the agent going in his head, ‘Crazy kids.’

“Alright, we can set up a meeting to negotiate your contract.”

“Right, I have your extension, I’ll be in touch.” I disconnect and laugh. Not today, schmuck, not today. You might be good at tricking kids out of their lunch money, but I convinced the principal to give me his Mercedes.

“You get that recorded, Bomber?” I ask him.

“Every second of it.” He responds, chuckling at my con.

Twitch walks in the door, with a bag of something under his shoulder. I don’t ask questions. He puts it away and comes back later. I bring him up to speed on how we’re playing the Devil tonight.

“Now for the notary.” I think for a second, remembering the name of a notary with some connections to the family. I give him a call, and greet him in the name of Freddy Leadshoes. “Let me switch to…another line.”

A few clicks, and the wireless world goes away. This is a back alley, that passerby don’t stumble into, if they’re smart.

“What do you need?”

“Notary services. We’ve got a guy signing a contract with the family. We’d like your seal to make sure everything’s real nice and authentic.”

“I’m going to need some security to make sure he doesn’t threaten me.”

“Of course, I’ll meet you at Commerce Park.”

Jack drives us over to Commerce Park. It’s an office complex with people hustling and bustling, trying to accomplish whatever mindless task their boss gave them to do while he took a nap in his cushy corner office.

A courier holding a Chinese take-out bag is there. “Stray?”

“Yeah.”

“Enjoy your meal. Read the fortune cookie.” I tipped the courier on a job well done. Stiffing the messenger was likely to make the notary feel that I’d stiff him later. After we get back to the safehouse, I open the bag to find, a strange device.

“Hey, a cranial bomb.” Jack perks up from his drone. “You activate it and it drills a hole into the victim’s neck and drops a remote bomb in it.”

“Is it painful”

“Big time.”

“Notary doesn’t mess around.” Of course, in this day and age, where teachers carry guns in their purses, it wasn’t so surprising. Sign the paper and don’t mind the pinprick, if you try to cheat me, your head and your body are going to be about 100 feet away from best friends.

I’m not going to use the bomb unless I have to. That really messes up the plan. Jack buys three tickets for the show, for Twitch, Bomber, and myself. I rehearse the agent spiel time and time over, becoming a record agent in every sense of the word, save the business card. The show is heavy Ork rock, with a crowd of mostly low-class orks in jeans and chains, ork women with piercings everywhere, and a few low-class humans who like to live it rough. A mosh pit, a whiff of bliss smoke, and a front door that didn’t frisk me for my guns. Twitch fits right in, Bomber and I are in the miniority, but no one cares, for now. If they’re going to start something, it’ll be after the show.

“Blend in you two, and keep an eye on the target.” Twitch and Bomber nod, and I move toward the backstage area.

“Where do you think you’re going.” A troll security guard stops me. The big lug has biceps that dwarf my head. It was time to use a little finesse.

“Just trying to get backstage. How about I make it worth your while?” I give the bouncer a quick 100 new yen, and he gives me a nod. I say nothing, and head backstage like I’ve belong there. The show continues on, flickering to the beat of guitars that was the lifeblood of the teenage lower class Ork. I’m safe back here, but Bomber and Twitch have to make sure their bad dancing doesn’t land on anyone’s toes.

The concert is winding down when I get a message. “We’ve got orks in suits here moving toward the target.” Bomber’s voice, like the storm crow heralding the tempests upon her tail, rings out with the bad news.

“Twitch, intercept. Bomber, back him up.”

When he finishes, I shadow him back to the exit. Gradually, his groupies start to leave and then he’s with two people. An ork girl on one side and a buff ork male on the other.

“Good show.” I praise him, though I didn’t give a damn about Ork rock.

He turns and I begin my magic, working the beautiful art of the con. I introduce myself and start asking where he plans on taking his music. He’s tired, and has dealt with pushy agents, but I’ve got something they don’t. Call it presence, call it charisma, call it the fact that I’ve conned more people than this poor sap could count, but I got my foot in the door.

The rest was going to be simple math, until I hear a fight start to break out. Twitch comes on subvocally and states that he started a riot with the orks in suits. Fortunately, rich people were less loved than humans, and the audience was attacking the suits rather than the Dogs. Clever guys.

“Christ, looks like they’re getting rowdy. We should probably discuss this somewhere safer.”

“I got a car, we could head back to my place.”

“Right, let’s go.” We get in the car, which appeared to have been a van with the top ripped completely off. The male ork drives, I ride shotgun, the rockstar and his woman climb in the back, her hands all over him. I discuss business and drop subtle hints that contracts average even lower than the horrible deal I’m about to sign him. He says he wants to be rich. I grin, because so do I.

I’m a conman. I’ve lied to everyone I’ve ever met, and some people I’ve never even told the truth to. Ever. It was my blessing, to be someone else with a moment’s notice.

We reach his place and I transmit the directions to Jack over my comm. He picked up Bomber and Twitch and was on the way. The evening was uneventful, and he said he would sign the contract with me. I call up our notary, asking him to come in and notarize the contract. He shows up, Twitch and Bomber escort him in. I tell Bomber to stand guard by the door. Twitch walks him up to the room and the male ork lets him in. I smile as my stupid target signs the contract, the notary notarizes it, and I put it in my briefcase.

“Is he being coerced?” The notary asks in a whisper.

“No.”

“What about the bomb?”

“Didn’t need it. We’ll talk later.”

We get out the door and reach the first floor when Jack reports two suspicious cars driving by. I tell the notary to take cover inside the building while the Dogs do their dirty work. Bomber shoots the tires of the cars, hitting the left rear of one and the rear axle of other.

Did I mention he had explosive shells? Why do you think I call him Bomber?

The cars careen into each other, trapping one driver as he door is horribly damaged. Twitch fires with his assault rifle at the passengers, showering them with lead. Bomber follows suit with his pistols. I move behind Jack’s van, trying to get a better view of the action. Jack levels three of the machine gun mounts at the cars and unloads, killing one of the passengers. The others get out of the car, wearing gang colors. Two lay prone and take out their assault rifles. The others get behind the cars. One has a long tube on his shoulder, which could spell out disaster. The prone orks fire at the van, putting two clips of assault rifle ammo in the engine block. The other three shoot at Twitch and Bomber, hitting Bomber in the gut but missing Twitch. Twitch levels his rifle and lobs an HE grenade under the cars, which detonates on impact, incinerating the drivers and killing one of the prone orks and heavily damaging the rest. Bomber and I take potshots, downing a few orks, while Twitch runs over and decapitates the last two.

I tell the notary to get the hell out of there, in the opposite direction of where we’re going. Jack gets out of the car and grabs a hacksaw, routing the car to use direct battery power because his engine is shot. It’s a miracle he’s still alive and the van still functions, but that’s our Jack. I search the bodies, grabbing three briefcases, their armor and weapons, while Twitch grabs a few of the more intact bodies. We get in the van and drive off.

Sirens in the distance. The wailing of the wolves that set the herd running echoed through the night. Helicopters passed overhead, flying towards the crime scene that we had left in our wake. I wasn’t worried. No witnesses, and Murk had even told me before that I left a very faint astral signal by most parts.

The worst thing about good luck is how quickly it changes to bad.

I start glowing brightly, a sign of an astral connection to a piece of skin or a hair left at the crime scene. I drop down, covering myself in blankets, coats, anything I can find. Then, I start to feel warm, but I concentrate, feel a slight tingle, and suddenly, the glowing dies down. I breathed a sigh of relief. They were trying to astrally link a spell through the hair they found at the crime scene to the rest of me and cause my cells to combust, but their difficulty in sensing me, their limited cells, and my tried-and-true luck got me through. They had bet on scoring a straight, and ended up throwing their pair of kings away. They had burnt up the evidence of me in linking that spell, so that would stymie their investigation further.

I wasn’t taking any chances. My friend in the police department was going to going to get a call soon, Bomber was going to need that wound treated, and Jack needed to fix his van. A tough run, but at least the target was safe. I think I deserve a bonus. After all, this wasn’t a walk through the posies.

We head back to the safehouse to investigate the briefcases we found. The first was unlocked, two mortar shells in it. The mortar that the ork was using was in our fan. It could fetch a pretty penny if I sell it. The second was locked, but I was able to pick it. Unfortunately, when I opened it, a vial of acid spilled into it, destroying the contents. Bomber knows acids, and says to dump water to dilute. I dump the briefcase in the sink and quickly turn on the faucet. The papers are damaged, but a few are still readable. Turns out a rival family is out to make a hit on Freddy’s family. This information could be worth a fair amount to Frankie, so I dry them off and put them back in. The second has the same trap, so we don’t open it…for now.

One scar down. A lifetime to go.
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Draco18s
post Nov 5 2009, 10:30 AM
Post #2


Immortal Elf
**********

Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 2):

Relativity, put simply, states that time and space are not constants, but relative from each observer. This simple statement stunned the scientific world, because to states that time and space itself weren’t constant meant that nothing was constant. Everything changed.

Einstein talked about space and time being relative to each person’s movement. But there’s one thing the old guy didn’t know. Time and space were really relative to how close you were to your own death. With two or three fresh bullet holes through your vitals, inches seemed like miles, and lifetimes passed in single seconds.

But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

Bomber started treating the gunshot wound to his stomach while I examined the third briefcase, trying to figure out a way to open it without destroying the contents. Jack was outside fixing our van, knowing some damage can’t be replaced without serious overhaul which would cost us enough new yen to make me choke.

Before I can get anywhere, I get a call from Freddy. “I hear you’ve achieved some results, why are you holding me up?”

“Bomber’s hurt, Freddy.” I answer coolly.

“You don’t need Bomber for the drop. Get down here now!”

Freddy sounded high-strung. I wonder if he was getting the thumbscrews from his higher-up and so he felt it necessary to take it out on the Dogs.

I take Twitch with me and head to the front of his club. Freddy’s standing there, tapping his foot impatiently. “What took you?”

“Our car has 60 new speed holes.”

“Why do you have so many friends?”

Don’t begrudge me, Freddy. I’m healthily paranoid. But I don’t actually say that. Instead, I show him the second case, with the acid-damaged files. “This is what kept us. They tried to destroy their files so we were diluting the acid and drying the papers."

He grabs the case and transfers the 12,500 new yen that he owes us, which I distribute to the rest of the Dogs.

“How’s the notary?” I ask, feigning concern.

“He’s fine, no thanks to you.”

“Freddy, we were jumped. It was all we could do to defend ourselves. We took the heat off of him and no fuss or mess for the family.”

“Doesn’t matter. He was your charge and you didn’t follow through. I’m really disappointed in you, Stray. Now get out of my sight.”

Jerk… We head back to the safehouse where Jack calls up his arms dealer. We barter awhile with him to sell the 2 mortar rounds and the six assault rifles we took from the orks last night.

The briefcase was so elegantly simple. Open it and the vial breaks, destroying the contents in seconds. Efficient, ingenious, and aggravating. Sounded like something straight out of a Stray Dogs handbook. I look over the lock and have a fairly good idea of how to pry it open and make my next step from there. I manipulate the tumblers with my lockpicks, relics from a long-gone era, and open the case just a crack, keeping the corrosive acid in the file, for the time being. After a careful examination, I’m able to figure a way to get the vial out, and I pull it free, opening the briefcase entirely.

Paper money still existed. It was there in neatly printed documents of your employer’s gang enemies. The papers contained instruction for the batch of orks we handled last night. Before we so graciously ruined their careers, they were heavies for the Riverside Gang, who run brothels and bars on the other side of town, near the waterfront. They were a traditional family, a decent mid-sized group. Problem was, that meant they were too big for the small-time gangs but not powerful enough to rival some of the other families, which left them in an uncomfortable position on the streets. Recently, they had been making hits on Freddy;s gang. They were going to go for something bigger, like kidnapping his tap-dancer son from a school performance.

Murk showed up about this time. He had been called in to defuse a hostile situation by Lone Star. Apparently, Lone Star was putting the chase on some runners, and they had taken shelter in a church and had taken some nuns hostage. And Lone Star didn’t want the bad publicity, so they called in to Murk, who was one of their finest negotiators. Even put me to shame, though I could pull off the con better than he could.

I seriously contemplated not telling Freddy about the impending hit on his family. Perfect retribution for telling the Dogs off like he did. But Murk and logic reminded me that if he found out we were holding out on him, we could kiss this source of income goodbye.

“Freddy,” I give him a call.

“What do you want, Dogs?”

“We’ve got some information. Your family might be in trouble.”

“What? Meet me down in my club.”

This time, he won’t yell if I bring the pack, so minus Jack, who wanted to stay and repair his car, the Dogs took a walk down to Freddy’s club. Freddy was at his back booth. Murk and I sat down.

“What’s this about my family?”

“Here,” I pull out the third briefcase. “We had to decrypt and verify them.”

Freddy looks over the paper for a second and I could see his face darken. He signaled his comm. “Yeah, get my family out to a safe place.” Then he turns to us.

“I’ll give you 30,000 if you whack the bastards who ordered this.” I laugh and signal to Murk to begin negotiations while I light up a smoke. In the time it takes me to light up and puff once, Murk has already gotten the price up to 40,000, but in exchange we have to set one of their buildings on fire.

Freddy must want to make a statement, and renting a wireless billboard just didn’t cut it.

“Done.” Murk shakes his hand and we turn to leave. Back at the safehouse, we plan for this next job.

“We should set up a meeting with their leaders. That will fulfill the requirement the easiest.” Murk suggests.

“Good idea,” I agree. “Let’s head down to their club and give them an employment opportunity.”

Jack’s got the van fixed by now, so he drives us over to one of their brothels. A quick 50 new yen to the bouncer lets us in. It’s a rundown place, but decent enough. The scanner in the front looks terrible, but I check my weapons at the door. Twitch, Bomber, and Murk don’t, but the scanner doesn’t detect them.

The club is populated with scantily-clad tired-eyed ‘working women’ and men who were no doubt finding these women cheap enough and attractive enough to be worth the divorce if his wife ever found out.

Which meant he had low standards or half of his stuff amounted to three bottles of beer and one of the chairs.

Murk and I move to the bartender and start chatting him up, mentioning that it seems that his employers might have an opening in the ‘getting things done’ department. The con goes off without a hitch, and he seems to trust me well enough to call someone for a meeting. The bartender tells us to head across the street, which is a first floor bar and a larger building on top of it.

This building has better security, with a heavy iron door and an infra-scanner being our first obstacle. Twitch and Murk conceal their weapons while Bomber and I don’t leave it to chance. The Dogs move and we’re greeted by a very nervous-looking man, who leads us into a silver-lined room with a heavy blast door. It’s nerve-wracking, but I head inside anyway. We sit down with the guy who’s sweating bullets, easily nervous about something.

“I hear you have some problems with the other gangs. Specifically, some in the area a little to the southeast of here.”

“You’ve done your research. Seems one of the gangs hired someone competent this time.”

“So we’ve heard, and we wish to offer our services to address these issues.”

Murk comes out over my comm, subvocally. “So this is what you were doing last night.”

I hide my sly grin and Murk understands without words. The nervous guy trusts me enough to offer us 10,000 to kill the team that Freddy Leadshoes had hired. In other words, 10 grand to kill ourselves. I felt insulted.

Murk seemed to share the sentiment, “10 seems a little light, doesn’t it?” The two bargain for a little bit while I tune them out and look around. This wall looked very fireproof. And he looked very nervous. Suddenly, it dawned on me how they were going to deal with intruders. I almost felt bad for the poor guy, living his life with an internal bomb, ready to blow himself up to stop someone who didn’t belong.

Then I shook my head, and my conscience was gone. I was much more…practical with my pity than most.

Murk had finally sealed the deal and I was quick to try and see if we could, after his successful mission, meet up with their leaders. He quickly refuses, to no great surprise. But we got the layout of the building, and that was all we needed.

“Right, so we lure them in and blow the building up,” Bomber’s ideas have a remarkably similar theme. But it was a good plan this time. Jack calls up his arms dealer and sends him over to Murk to get some explosive foam. I tell Jack to call his fixer and get me a uniform to the gas works. Twitch delivers a dead body to his ghoul drug dealer. Jack hacks the building and gets some schematics, and sends out a memo to their leaders of a meeting in one week’s time. He also schedules an appointment for a routine gas inspection. I rent a car and buy a toolbox. I’m going undercover. The Dogs couldn’t take a club of assault rifle toting goons. This required finesse.

The day of the meeting. Murk’s given me 5 pounds of the best explosives money can buy, and enough blasting caps to never screw up. I remove the labels and RFID tags, mock it up to be sealant, and beat up my tools a little. Being an immaculate gas worker raises suspicion in this area of the woods. My rental van hums a bullet-free tune as I park half a block away from the building. Jack follows me in the van and keeps it ready. Here I was, no gun, no armor, and no backup. It was time to show them what Stray could do.

The club was packed as I walked in. The bouncer gave me a careful eye.

“What’re you here for?”

“Gas inspection.”

The bouncer accessed a file over his wireless display and sure enough, I was scheduled, although I had come late, as utility workers are wont to do.

My semi-clean gas uniform, my rumpled hair after a long day, and my beat-up toolbox were working in my favor.

“Right, go on in.”

I oblige the bouncer’s request and walk through the scanner. It rings. The blasting caps must’ve set it off.

“I’m going to have to look through your toolbox.”

“Sure, no problem.” I unlock the box with a tiny key and open it up, palming the caps as I do so. He looks and finds nothing. And wouldn’t you know it, when he sets the toolbox through again, it still rings because of the obviously metallic tools. I replace the caps quietly and walk through, easily getting in. The bouncer points me in the direction of the basement.

As I headed down the stairs, a heavy carrying a large bucket with wet cement was coming up the stairs. I try to move past but he stops me

“What are you doing here.”

“Gas inspection.” I play it low-key.

“Look…we might have to re-schedule.”

“I’m sorry sir, but there will be a rescheduling fee.”

“Alright…wait here.”

So I stand there on the staircase when I feel a presence fill me as if going through me. An astral projection, that seems very familiar. One belonging to a mage who could negotiate his way out of hell.

“Murk…going to be my eyes tonight?” I whisper softly.

He can’t answer back, but he moves his arm so that I can tell he understands. He goes off to scout out the area, and soon I hear heavy footsteps. “Alright, you can come down, but I’m watching you.”

“Of course, sir.” I’m obsequious and polite, like I’m a gas worker who knows that I didn’t see anything in this basement. The type of workers that would inspect known mob locations. There was a thick black tarp in the center of this room, covered some lumps. Without even hesitating, I head over to the primary line and shut it off. The heavy can’t be right over my shoulder because he needs to watch the door to make sure no one else comes in, but he’s straining his neck to watch me. Grabbing a flashlight, I shine it inside the main, looking for nothing in particular, just trying to look busy. The room starts to fill with the smell of gas, and I move to the pipes next, unfastening a section and shining the flashlight into it as well.

He takes a step toward me to get a better vantage point, but he must’ve not been paying attention, because he’s got both feet trapped in the cement. And he’s wearing armor and he’s not a thin guy, so he starts to sink, fast. There must be a lot of cement there.

“Hey…help me out!” he cries to me for help. I drop my tools and run over and grab his hand, but I really don’t try to pull him out, so he starts sinking further. I let slip an evil smile and grab the end of the tarp, wrap it around his head, and shove his face into the cement. He tries to scream, but all he ends up doing is filling his lungs and throat with cement. He stops struggling soon after. Curiosity gets the better of me, and I look under the tarp. Four human heads, the attached body buried in the cement. They look unconscious, their heads dangling with their chins in the cement.

Not my concern. I move back to the pipes and start liberally applying the two kilos of explosive foam along the pipes and all over the gas unit. I turn the gas back on and allow it to flood the room. I re-cover the heads, grab my toolbox, and walk out.

I’m playing it cool when something must have sparked, because I was on the first floor when a good chunk of it decided to explode. A ball of burning gas shot up, setting most of the people, myself included, aflame.

I feel a slight glow as Murk’s spell goes off, encasing me in a protective glow. The glow is suppressed, or rather, overshone, by the rather painful licks of flame burning my uniform and reddening my skin.

I’m burning to death. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Am I really going to die? Time slows down. Everyone seems to be moving in slow motion. It’s almost…surreal.

“Go upstairs, turn right, turn left.” Murk gives me directions to an escape route, since the main door is closed and there is a large, burning mob between me and it. I shove tables aside and stumble up the stairs, reaching a window. Rather than try to open it, I simply shove my toolbox through it, shattering the glass and leaving a fair enough hole to jump through.

The party’s over. Time to make my exit. I jump through the remnants of the window, cutting myself on the broken glass and plummeting to the alley below. Lucky me, it’s only a one-story fall. I hit the ground in a roll, absorbing the damage centrifugally rather than in my legs.

I’m very badly injured. Blood runs freely over my body. Broken glass is stuck rather painfully into my wounds, my skin is blistered. I can barely stand up. Seconds seem like hours. My vision blurs as I make my way forward.

Have I wasted my life? I can see it flash before me. Every mistake I had ever made. Every lie I had ever told. Every love lost. I thought of Angel, my friend in the border guards. Of Twitch and Jack and our first run. The day I ran away from home. Of when Murk and I engaged in midnight drunken philosophy debates. Was it all going to end because of an errant spark? I could feel my strength fading. I could hardly move past a shuffle.

I can’t see so well anymore, but a blur pulls up in front of me. A hand grabs either side of me and pulls me in. They’re familiar hands. One has a missing finger and iron plates under the skin. The other has spring mechanisms on the underside, tailored to fit a pair of beloved pistols.

Twitch…Bomber

I’m jerked roughly up and forward and laid down on a rough, flat surface. It starts vibrating and I hear the world speed off behind me. It feels like a cloth laid over metal. I think I can hear something. “Press…” before I can’t hear it.

Right…the job. I fumble for the detonator in the hand in front of me. I set the bombs after all, I should do the honors. I fit my thumb around the button and press firmly.

A slight click, then roaring thunder, and everything shakes for a second. And in those moments, lives are snuffed out, and the building received a dynamite makeover that only a shadowrunner could give.

The mission was done. I smiled weakly, staring at the blurs on the ceiling as they get even blurrier. I reach into my pocket and pull a cigarette from the pack. I put in my mouth and suck on it weakly. I can barely work my lighter, but years of practice finally get through. The fire is a brilliant to my blurry eyes. A single lick that seems brighter than the sun. It lights, and I exhale some smoke. That tastes good. I smile again. I knew how my cigarettes felt just a moment ago. I close my eyes.

Suddenly, the world snaps back into focus. I can think, I can see. I’m in the back of Twitch’s van, Bomber watching out the rear window, Murk removing his hands from my shoulders, his healing spell complete. Most of my wounds are closed, broken glass just laying on my skin, many of my burns healed and those that weren’t reduced in size and intensity. My cigarette is still in my hand, Bomber and Murk look relieved.

“Hey, we’re not out of the woods yet,” Jack is quick to quip in from the driver’s seat. He is referencing the Lone Star helicopter tagging us.

“Pull over to the side of the road and wait for ground enforcement units.” Jack complies. I hide the drones under my tarp and lay back down. Despite the healing, I’m still burned, and my clothing is singed all over. I’d pass for a burn victim.

Murk calls up his friend from Lone Star. I eavesdrop.

“We need an all-clear. We’re in the Riverfront.”

“There’s a situation there. One of the Mafia families got hit…Did you…did you do that hit.”

Murk doesn’t answer. Silence is always clearer than words.

“Well, I suppose it’s just less scumbags on the street. Right, I’ll get the guys off your back.”

“I appreciate it.” Murk grins and disconnects. Sure enough, when the Lone Star cops get there, we have an all-clear for the nice people helping the burn victim to the hospital. We speed off towards the safehouse, where I rest for a moment before I get a call from Freddy.

“Damn fine work, Dogs.”

“Now you see where your money is going.”

“This is a good amount of money, so I’m going to cred-stick it. Meet me at the warehouse district, house 9.”

“We’ll be there, Freddy.”

I smelt a double-cross. Freddy was going to try and stiff us, or kill us, or turn us in. But for right now, I was just happy to be alive. And I was tired, because I had just lived my entire life, all over again.
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Draco18s
post Nov 6 2009, 01:30 PM
Post #3


Immortal Elf
**********

Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 3):

Did you ever have one of those days?

Freddy had asked us to meet him down at the docks in a couple of hours. With the burns still on my body, we agreed. He sure sounded insistent enough and he guaranteed us an in with the family. That meant higher pay and more prestige for the Dogs. Any runner would leap at the opportunity.

But we’re still paranoid, naturally. I have Murk go astral to see just how many people we might have to shoot our way out of. When he comes back, he tells us exactly what he sees, and it only reinforces my paranoia. They’ve got plenty of guys, and Murk notices Freddy among them, although he’s not surrounded by goons. They’re surrounding another guy. One has astrally left his body, and is limp in a chair. Watcher spirits, summoned by the others who own houses in this yard, are watching their respective houses. They easily notice us, but they pay us no mind because we aren’t disturbing their property. Our house is higher-grade. It’s got a fire spirit guarding the warehouse proper.

“Drop us off, Jack. Keep the engine running.” I issue the standard.

We walk into the lot, playing it cool. Bomber and Twitch hear something below us. “Murk, check it out.” He leans against me and goes limp. 3 astral signatures, unfamiliar to him is his report. “Twitch, see if you can figure out what they are doing.”

Twitch leans over the pylon to see the three guys, clad all in black, with a boat with a mercenary symbol on it. It’s got a fish on it, Twitch knows that they’re some sort of aquatic group. Did Freddy hire these guys and bring the toughs, or are they from someone else?

“Keep an eye on them, Twitch. We’re going to meet with Freddy.”

The fire spirit gives us a once over, and recognizing us as the ones that are supposed to come, promptly returns to ignoring us. The warehouse is full of boxes stacked twenty feet high. I instantly recognize that a maze of boxes is a perfect place to set an ambush. There’s an office on stilts with stairs leading up. The floor of the office is about at the same height as the boxes. Perfect for having an overlay at a glance.

I wondered what sort of illegal substances Freddy had pushed in these boxes. I guessed guns and stashed drugs and all sorts of other contraband. BTL’s were too fragile to be sent around in clunky boxes and stored in a musty, damp warehouse. My smuggling instincts almost made me feel jealous. I never had this sweet of a setup.

The goon outside the office motions for us to come up the stairs. We do so and he opens the door to the small office with two men sitting at the table. One is Freddy, the other has slicked back hair, an incredibly nice business suit and jewelry, and a confident air. Freddy turns to look at us.

“What kept you?” Freddy asks, nervous as always.
“Traffic was murder.” I retort slyly.

Murk and I sit down while Bomber stands behind us. Freddy starts to explain to the capo about our hit on the Riverside gang. The capo turns and looks at us with a critical eye. About then, Twitch shows up and the goon leaves. Freddy looks at Twitch and starts sweating again.

“Where were you?”

“Twitch had business to take care of.” I answer for him, hinting at a call of nature.

Freddy just shakes his head again. The capo starts to talk.

“The way you handled that Riverside Gang tells me that you’re the type of guys I can count on. I’m thinking of giving you an in to the family. You’ll be able to handle many of our problems, interrogations, protection, what have you. In return, you’ll have our organization watching your back as well as a good supply of nuyen. You’ll be one of our own, and the family always looks after it’s own.”

I think he’s telling the truth that he wants us, but something seems too good to be true.

I hail the Dogs subvocally over my comm. We’re a team. We live and die together.

“Murk?”

“We need to get out of her as quick as we can. Give him an answer so that we can get out of here before the people below us drop the building.”

“Twitch?”

“Sounds fine to me. Long as there’s plenty of ways for me to do my thing.”

“Bomber?”

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Jack?” Jack’s been listening in the whole time.

“We should do it. We need the nuyen to get the van fixed.”

Two in favor, one opposed, Murk abstains. It’s down to me, as the figurehead. For our long-term future, it’s best to ally with an org for the present time.

“We agree.” I shake his hand. He’s quite strong for his age. A firm grip that speaks levels about his personality.

“Now, I believe we should discuss the Riverside job.”

Freddy hands me a credstick. The second I put my hand on it, we hear a loud rush, and suddenly, about six meters to our left, a giant explosion tears a hole out of the floor, engulfing the crates in flames.

“Jack reporting. You’ve got four thugs outside with…looks like a monofilament wire. Wait just a second…ok, I’ve tagged them.”

Four red blips show up out of nowhere. Jack’s got them tagged so we know where they are instantly. I instantly get a deathgrip on the credstick and stow it safely away from the action.

Greed? No, just practicality.

The capo grabs onto the mafia mage and tells him to open them up an escape route. Freddy starts swearing in Italian. The Dogs grab their weapons.

Twitch acts first, hopped up on cram. The office is too crowded for him to make it to the actual door, so quite naturally, he makes his own. He fires a semi-circle into the office’s thin metal walls, kicks it to make a door, and does a running leap, somersaulting to land on the crates so he can have the high ground. He points his assault rifle and looks for targets.

I hear his voice soon afterward “Ninja below you.” Sure enough, I look out the office window and there’s a ninja, apparently he just jumped out of the hole that was engulfed in flames and scurried over to our position.

Bomber is quick to act. He jumps out of the office door, diving down the stairs in perfect cinematic fashion. He unloads three explosive rounds at the ninja below us, catching him in the shoulders and chest. He’s heavily wounded, hunched over his own weight, but still standing.

Their gear and bioware is protecting them, I’ll wager.

Another ninja climbs out of the hole, this one is short and looks almost complete metal. Great, a cyberdwarf, otherwise known as the second-hardest thing in the world to kill, after tricked-out cockroaches. He demonstrated his superiority over the bugs by leveling his grenade launcher at Twitch and unloading. The goggles must have fogged up his eyes, because he shot too high.

And ended up hitting Bomber.

“Damn it…” I hear his cry over the monitor. “I’m alright, it went under the stairs. Unfortunately, you and Murk are going to have a tough time getting down. The last step’s about 15 feet.

Lovely. Try and escape a crime scene with two broken legs.

One of the blips that Jack marked goes out. I hear tires squealing and a loud thud.

“Monofilament tripwire is down. Repeat, monofilament tripwire is down.”

I couldn’t help myself. “You ran him over, didn’t you Jack?”

I could tell he was grinning by the way he sounded. “As you say, Stray, traffic is murder.”

He was having a blast. I decided I wanted one too. I walked over to the office window and waved at the ninjas down below before tossing out a frag grenade. It lands right where I want it too, and detonates not even a foot away from the dwarf ninja. He’s fine, since he’s a dwarf, metallic, and has nice armor. His friend the wounded ninja takes too much shrapnel in his back and goes down hard.

If I was smiling for that victory, it was soon to be short-lived with the arrival of the third ninja. He flew up, through the flames, obviously displaying his magical prowess, and launched a fireball at us.

Straight through the window I just opened.

“Incoming.” I shout out to the assembled mafia, including the capo and Freddy. Time slows down yet again as the fireball hits, and I can see it expanding at a snail’s pace as the capo takes cover. The flames are uneven, and I dodge between them, avoiding the blaze.

They might have the gear, but I’m a true ninja.

But I turn and look with dread as to why the flames were uneven. Murk had twisted his ankle trying to get away, taking a good share of the blast. Not like this. Anyway but like this. Thank goodness he’s resistant to magic ever since being Awakened. He’d have a few burns, but nothing too serious. The room catches on fire.

Fear was an ice-cold vise on my heart. I can’t breathe. The licks of flame consumed paperwork on desks, in file cabinets, and nearly everything else that was flammable, like the last flickers of a dying soul. I…hate fire.

Maybe it was how close to death I had become scant hours before, but the thought of anything bigger than a lit lighter just terrified me. I clutched my chest in fear…I really hate fire.

“They’re firing on me, but they aren’t aiming that well. Jack spooked them.” Bomber comes in over my comm, but I can’t even hear him.

“Me too. But they couldn’t even hit my car. They’re really nervous.”

Twitch comes on next, “They look like thugs. They’re not as good as the ninja mercs.”

I don’t care…I’m back in the Riverside’s headquarters, the bar in flames, everyone running and screaming, my gas worker uniform burning to cinders around me. I am afraid, for the first time in my life.

Murk summons a water spirit and commands it to extinguish the flames. It diffuses into a fine watery mist, filling the room with thick, moist air. I breathe it in and the fires die down. They’re gone. My heart keeps beating, but not out of fear, out of adrenaline.

I can hear Twitch reporting over the comm, “Got another thug…” The battle is going in the Dog’s favor. Two thugs and two ninjas, one a mage, are left.

Which was their cue for their backup to spring from the wings and collapse the roof of the office. Naturally. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy.

The roof start to crumble and everyone runs for the door. Murk is the closest, but the capo shoves him down the stairs and he falls face first down the broken stairwell. I can’t reach them, I’m the furthest away. Freddy is visibly panicking. I grab him.

Sympathy for the devil.

Hauling Freddy, I jump out of the window and stick the landing, absorbing it throughout my body. Bomber runs up to take some potshots at the dwarf, who starts to show his injuries. Nothing last forever, especially after a gunshot wound.

“Punks down, although I’m…uh oh! Mages are casting lightning at me. My drones are…oh God, my drones are fried! Three of them are out of commission for about a minute while their circuits reset. One’s still alive.” I can’t help Jack, but Twitch can. I leave it to Twitch, as always when I need wetwork done.

The dwarf fires his assault rifle, once at Bomber, and once at me, and most of them at me, since I’m protecting Freddy.

Dwarves aren’t great with rifles. The bullets simply *tink* off my armor and I feel a slight bruising in my chest. He looks visibly unnerved, as if that wasn’t supposed to happen. He bails, jumping through the fire and into the water. I hear the splash of him escaping. I set Freddy down gently and turn towards the mage flying overhead. I aim my Ares at him.

My shot was one-in-a-million. I hit him directly in his sustaining foci, which is keeping his flight spell activated. He drops like a lead rake, and curls himself into a jackknife position to dive into the water to escape.

*Crunch* He hits his boat. I grin.

Murk’s spirit extinguishes the next fire, so the warehouse no longer burns. The fear subsides, for the time being. I’m safe.

Twitch lobs an HE grenade into the water. Lady Luck was the only person good to Twitch, and he can see the smartlinked ‘nade detonate…right on the dwarf’s skull, leaving the three ninjas down and out.

Without missing a beat, Twitch jumps off the crates and fire upwards, tagging one of the mages on the ceiling and hearing him fall to the ground, screaming all the way. Bomber shoots the final thug and shoots his grappling hook to the ceiling to get a better shot at the final mage on the roof.

“Wait there, Bomber.” He obliges and I grab onto him, and then he lifts into the air, the winch pulling us up. As soon as the mage is within a few, my Ares fires, catching him in the head and dropping him.

20 seconds and it’s all over. The capo stops. “Let’s get out of here." We grab the bodies, with Murk’s water spirit aiding us with the underwater dwarf. We grab the bodies and the mafia goons and pile into the van. The only casualty on our end was the mafia mage, crushed to death under fallen rubble. Oh well, you can’t help the dead.

Sitting on corpses next to the Italian powerful wasn’t comfortable, but Freddy and the capo were safe. Jack drives until we see Lone Star. “Pull over to the side of the road for inspection.”

Yes officer. Don’t mind the bodies and the criminals. Can I be first for the guillotine?

Jack drives, and Lone Star follows. We can’t outrun them in the clunky van, so Jack drives to an onramp, hoping to lose them in traffic of the highway.

Twitch points to something on the road. “Hey, what’s that?” It’s a board, positioned on the median of the highway. No, this was too convenient.

“Jump it Jack. You know you want to.” Bomber taunts.

Jack never turns down a challenge. Driving an overloaded van to jump a highway was too good to pass up. He drives

And nails the board at a perfect angle

And hits the road under the highway, leaving Lone Star high and dry. We can bet Lone Star will slap the fake SiN the car is licensed to with a felony resist arrest, but we’re alive. We head back to Freddy’s bar.
“Good work, Dogs.” Freddy says. “There must have been a rat or something. We’ll be sure to compensate them for this insult.

The capo slaps him and says, “Freddy, we have to talk.” They turn to the club. “Oh, and Stray Dogs. Here, a bonus.” He pushes in some numbers into a reader and tosses me a credstick. 10 grand.

Not a bad bonus.

We head back to the safehouse and sell the loot to Bomber’s arms dealer. Twitch’s ghoul pays 20,000 each for the two ninja bodies. I tie up the unconscious ninja mage after looting him. We divvy up the loot. 92,500 nuyen between the five of us. Not bad at all.

So, did you ever have one of those days?

I look at my bank account, then at the smiling faces of the Stray Dogs.

Yeah, me neither.
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Draco18s
post Nov 7 2009, 12:34 PM
Post #4


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 4):

The universe is held together by cosmic forces that balance each other. You get a good night’s sleep, you stub your toe. You get a promotion, you trip down the stairs. You win the lottery, you’re hit by a bus. Always happens.

The Dogs had almost 100,000 nuyen and an in with the family. A fall was inevitable.

All we needed to ask was how long?

They say you can measure the worth of a man by the amount of money he charges, but that’s not true. Sweet talk means higher prices for similar quality. Likewise, sometimes his notoriety means that he has to charge a knockdown rate or no one would be desperate enough to hire him. So if it isn’t how much he charges, what is it?

To make sure the heat died down after the wharfhouse went up, we stayed inactive for a week. Murk said he needed to ‘commune with the Dragonslayer’ or something that required transforming his apartment into a spiritual foci. I thought he was on the deep weed, but I let him go.

Bomber called up his arms dealer, trying to get that custom gun we took from the dwarf ninja ID’ed and possibly sold. He was also stockpiling on guns, as if preparing for Ragnarok or something.

Jack’s drones were fried by the electrical charge the mages shot at him. He got right to work fixing their shocked circuitry with his tools while simultaneously looking for programs to aid him in our next run.

Twitch and I get to work searching for something underground. Twitch wants thermal dampeners and new cyberears. I’m saving up for a few things, so I help Twitch find something. Finding a dealer relatively quickly, I bring Twitch to the Seattle Underground.

This is literally the Underground. A full 20% of the ork population live there, down amongst the sewers and transit systems. If Seattle was an apartment, this would be the rat’s nest in the wall. Strikingly similar too. Orks and rats breed and smell pretty much the same to me.

Our dealer was Stout Sam, an ork leaning on a staff and wearing long robes, as if announcing to the world he was an Awakened. For whatever reason, I don’t know, but orks, even the mages, never struck me as intelligent.

“Got a light?” I ask, holding a cigarette.

He flicks his thumb, making a tiny lick of red hover above his finger. I suppress the knot in my stomach. It’s not big enough to hurt me, but the memories keep on flooding back. I exhale and light my cigarette, thanking him.

“Some people like the sight of fire. Others don’t, if you catch my meaning.”

He smiles at me. “You’re the guy who wants to hide from this.”

“He is. I’m just a chain-smoker.”

“Follow me…”

He takes us to a warehouse with boxes upon boxes of probably stolen materials. It didn’t matter, as stolen or not, thermal dampeners were very, very illegal. Twitch loved to live dangerous. He takes us to a box and rips open the top, showing us packages of thick, black goo. He grabs one and hands it to me.

“600 per pack.”

I grab it and activate my thermographic vision. Sure enough, I can’t see my hand through it. It’s good stuff. Twitch grabs six. I start to want some as well, but then I remember. I’m a talker. If the talker shows up no thermo signature, someone is going to guess something’s up. I shrug and put it away.

“How will you be paying us?”

“Credstick, natch.” I exhale some smoke and pull out a credstick.

“Stevie.” Sam gestures to a smaller ork. He grunts and runs off. When he comes back, he’s got a credstick reader…with what appeared to be cement behind it, as if they had ripped it out of a wall.

I chuckle a bit and take my time, watching Stevie grimace under the weight of it. I punch in the nuyen we need and hand it to Stout Sam, who smiles at the untraceable cash. “Pleasure doing business with you, Sam.” I nod and leave the underground, hoping to never return to it again.

Twitch heads off for cybersurgery next, getting his ears upgraded to top of the line deltaware, which was less intrusive on the body. Bomber and I went with him to make sure he didn’t walk into a chopshop doc. If he tried anything, we’d replace anything he broke alright. Sure Twitch might be half 20-something and half 60-something, but I didn’t care. Hell, might actually be funny.

He recovers just fine. Murk is winding down his ceremony when we get a frantic call from Freddy.

“Dogs, where have you been?”

“Here, Freddy…” I sarcastically answer. He never rang us once.

“Look Stray, it’s a mess.”

“Right, I’ll be down at the club.”

“No!” Freddy sounds more anxious than usual. “Can’t go to the club. Meet me at the hotel lobby, 41st and 3rd.”

Freddy seemed nervous, so I went to grab Jack and start heading out. He’s still at work fixing the drones. He hasn’t shaved in a week, and he’s twitching a lot.

“Jack…you ok?”

“Yeah! Perfectly fine!” Jack doesn’t even regard me but starts screaming.

“Er…have you slept at all?”

“No! Took a Longhaul! Was able to get a pilot program and fix all four of my drones! They’re in great shape now! Look!” he bangs one with his ratchet.

“You took Longhaul?!”

Longhaul was the trucker’s drug of choice for long runs. It kept you awake for a full week, constantly releasing stimulants into your blood. On the downside, you crashed at the end of that week…hard. Most people were out over a day after that, no matter where you were.

“Look, Jack, we need to head to Freddy, can you take us there?”

“Course I can! I’m Jack! I can do anything! We’ve got that pilot program now! We’ll drive-by our way to Freddy!” Jack was as fidgety as Twitch when he OD’ed on cram and went jackhammer on the walls. I wondered if we were signing our life away by putting him behind the wheel, but he got us there intact.

He’s sweating even more than usual. He looks like he’s going to fall over from a heart attack. He looks at us and almost glides on his sweat to us. I refrain from shaking his hand.

“Dogs…we’ve got to get somewhere safe. I’ll tell you everything then.”

After we head back to the safehouse, I let Freddy in, although I don’t want him sweating on any of the furniture. He takes a long drink of disgusting municipal water before telling us.

“The family has turned on me, Dogs. My money’s gone, my home’s gone. I haven’t seen my family. Aw, God. Why’d this have to happen to me?”

“Why’d they do that, Freddy?”

“Said I was incompetent.”

Bingo, and it only took the family years to figure that out. If Freddy didn’t have his finger on the nuyen, I wouldn’t have worked for the bastard. Instead, I feign concern.

“Are we marked as well?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What can we do now?”

“You gotta hide me, Dogs. Ya can’t let them kill me.”

Oh yes I can. But instead, I ask him “Think you can survive over in Salis-Shide.”

“The elves’d kill me, and I’d die in the forests.”

“Fine. Do you know anyone who can help us out.”

“I know one guy. His name is Yasakasa Tokhiro.”

I try to ask Freddy what he does, but Freddy seems too nervous to answer. That tells me all I need to know. He’s Yakuza. Freddy was ratting secrets out to the mob. This guy really did deserve to die. But I’d figure to take him down to the Yaks if only to get on their good graces to find another paymaster. Freddy calls him up and soon, he says to meet him at the meat-packing facility across town.

“Jack, it’s time to…Are you trying to ratchet an apple?” I ask Jack with a confused expression. That Longhaul was starting to affect him. He couldn’t sit still at all. He tucked the now ventilated fruit behind his back.

“No.”

We get into the van. Twitch gets in the back and watches for tails. Bomber rides shotgun and watches the road. Jack is so wired that he drives into the wrong side of the road every five seconds.

Me. I play doctor, trying to calm Freddy down so he doesn’t ruin the seats. Murk was still communing with the Dragonslayer or hugging trees or whatever it was he did, so it was up to me to understand Freddy’s fragile psyche.

After a few minutes, I give up. I can’t understand insane, impractical people. Never could.

We pull up to the facility and we see a really short guy, about 4’ 5” standing there. It looks very odd, as if it should be larger, but isn’t for whatever reason. Twitch gets out first and scouts the area, seeing a sniper on one of the roofs. He has an Asian kanji on his head, which I recognize since I can speak Japanese. He’s a Yak sniper, just making sure we don’t pull anything funny. Freddy and I get out while Bomber stays with Jack in the car.

When we reach Yasakasa, we see the reason why he’s so short. He’s got cyberlegs that bend at a really funny angle, so he can sit without moving backwards. They were designed after the famous Kid Stealth, who jumped around like a dinosaur.

A Yakuza fanboy? Or relentlessly practical that he didn’t care how stupid he looked? Both were terrifying concepts.

Freddy talks to Yasakasa for a second and explains the situation. Twitch hears it on his new ears and relays the message to the rest of the Dogs. Teamwork, that’s exactly what it was. Yasakasa talks to me and whispers in Japanese. “How much is he paying you?”

“Not so loud.” I whisper back.

Suddenly, I see an invitation to an optical chat open up on my HUD. Transmitting conversation at the speed of light via cybereyes was such a useful tool.

“Now how much is he paying you.” Yasakasa asks.

“Not nearly enough. I’m always on the lookout for gainful employment opportunities.”

“We’re going to get rid of him. I’ll pay you five grand if you take the heat off our organization.”

“How about seven-five?” I offer, greed getting the better of me.

“How about four and my snipers don’t shoot you.”

I really hate it when they have snipers. I choke up and accept the payment.

Freddy looks at me, visibly nervous. “Hey, what’s going on? Why were you…” But his simpering is soon cut off by a dart in his back. He slumps over, unconscious. Raptor-boy grabs the body and starts to run back.

“Wait, we’re going to need some evidence of the kill.”

“Oh, right.” He seems much more reasonable as he chops off one of Freddy’s fingers and hands it to me. I take it with mild disgust, but we head back to the van. We start to leave when we hear a ka-thunk on the top of the van and we see Yasakasa jump across the street to a third story building. If he wasn't creepy enough, the fact that he could jump from rooftop to rooftop certainly put him in the bizarre category. I couldn't help but think he was doing more than just showing off. I tell Jack to pull into a gas station.

Sure enough, the bastard put a tracking bug on us. Twitch uses his monofilament whip to cut it off, and I grab some industrial adhesive and grab a smoke. As I’m smoking my cigarette, I hold it in my mouth for a second while I try to glue it to the bottom of a random car.

“Hey, buddy, get away from my car.” Some punk looks at me like he was just dumped by his girlfriend and wanted to take it out on a random stranger.

“Fine…whatever, prick.” I take another puff and get back in our van. We drive a little further down the road and glue it to a car in a parking lot. I thought it’d be deliciously funny if it was a Triad car, although that’d get the wrath of the Yaks on us, which would be a bad thing.

At the safehouse, I give capo Giovanni a ring. “Hey, Giovanni, we hear Freddy’s giving you trouble.”

“Yeah, he’s incompetent and we’re doing some reorganization. What’s it to you?”

“We could make him disappear nice and quiet.”

“Sure. Just bring us some evidence of the kill.”

“Would you like a finger?’

“Some pictures too. I want to make sure it was you and not you chopping a finger off a corpse.”

“Of course. I’ll call you once it’s over.”

I explain the situation to the Dogs. We’re going to need a body actor for Freddy Leadshoes. We drive around the de-militarized zone, looking for a homeless guy that fits Freddy’s description. After about two hours of driving, we find one. We drop Twitch off and he starts walking over, looking ready to pick a fight. After a few seconds, he recognizes the notorious Twitch and runs screaming. I open the van and shout “Quick, buddy, get in here.”

Like a good Samaritan. Heh, I suppose putting him out of his misery is a nice thing to do.

He swings his hobo sack at me because he’s a drooling psychopath, I think. But he trips and falls directly into the van. Bomber jumps on him, dislocating both of his arms painfully. I pistol-whip him so he doesn’t scream. We pick Twitch up and drive back to the safehouse.

We tie him up in the basement and I dress him up to look like Freddy, using my skills of conning and disguise to make him look very realistic. I’m usually not this bloodthirsty, or rampantly violent, but what has to be done has to be done. I’m not going to bilk out on a job if I have to kill one dreg on society. We take some pictures of us killing him, including cutting off a finger, and we waste him. Twitch bags him and takes him down to the ghoul.

It must be Christmas for the flesh-eaters.

I hail Giovanni and inform him the deed is done. The Dogs head down to the club. Twitch and I go inside to see Capo Giovanni and a guy with the most obvious cyberarm I’ve ever seen talking to them.

“Well, look who it is. New guy, take care of this. I’ve got work to do.”

I sit down with Mr. Metalarm and Twitch stands next to me. I look him in the eye and he makes the first move.

“So you got the stuff? Hand it over!” He seems anxious. Too anxious. I grab the datachip with the pictures out of my pocket.

“Well, aren’t you just pushy? Little lesson, kid. Be a little more polite.” I antagonize the rookie, waving the pictures in his face. Just a little harmless fun, or so I think.

Rookie doesn’t take it too kindly. He kicks me square in the balls and makes a grab for them. I grimace, but the damage isn’t too bad so I pull them out of his way. He looks genuinely surprised that his tactic didn’t work. I can just imagine what went on in that little pea-brained head of his.

How it not work? I kick and everything.

“Now that you’ve got that out of your system, maybe we’d like to talk business. Mister…”

“Brutes McKenzie.”

“Brutes McKenzie. Such an unartistic name.”

“I need to check the pictures.” He changes the subject quickly.

“Would it kill you to say please, kid?” I hand over the pictures simply because I don’t want another shot to the pills.

He checks them and nods. “Do you have the finger.”

“I do,” and I pull it out. “Now about payment…”

“Why should I pay you?”

“Because reneging on a deal isn’t smart, kid. One of the other things life teaches you.”

“Did you bother checking the bounty lists?”

Jack, upon hearing that and having nothing to do for five seconds, checks the bounty list. He displays it on our vision. A 75,000 nuyen bounty for the Stray Dogs. Wanted for vandalism, resisting arrest, traffic violations, arson, conspiracy to commit arson, murder, manslaughter, and a whole slew of other charges. A rap sheet any shadowrunner would be proud to have.

I look around. Everyone in the club is backing away from the table we’re sitting at.

“And what is this about?”

“You blew up a highrise. The government pushed us so we cut Freddy’s loose end. Now, we’ve got to cut yours.”

“That was your job. You trying to double-cross us?”

“Freddy’s job. And he asked you to light the building on fire.”

“Plassteel doesn’t burn, you moron.”

He can’t respond, but remembers he doesn’t have to. He has the advantage and he grins, ready to collect his bounty.

Like hell if I’m going to let some elementary-school dropout with a penchant for kicking a man in the groin take down the legendary Stray. That’s an insult to my profession.

“I see. Well, you’ll forgive me for having to run, gentleman.” I toss a high-explosive grenade on a five second timer and run for the hills. He tries to knock it aside, but only knocks it up so now it’s even closer to him. Twitch takes advantage of the confusion to slip another HE grenade under the table, ensuring Brutes gets what’s rightfully his.

We run into the crowd. Brutes tries to grab my grenade out of the air but misses. He aims his cyber arm at us, and two SMG’s extend from it. He starts firing on us, hitting me and missing Twitch. I grimace as the bullets penetrate my armor. I start running faster.

The ringing in my ears was the bell tolling for Brute’s McKenzie.

The two grenades explode, not even leaving enough of Brutes to fill a shotglass. Many patrons of the bar are wounded or maimed and everyone is panicking. Some open fire randomly in the crowd. Twitch and I use our gymnastic training to jump on top of people and through narrow spaces, leading the crowd.

The bouncer doesn’t even care. He’s not particularly loyal when a rampaging mob runs out of his club. Twitch and I jump in the car while Bomber covers us. Jack drives off.

I needed to reach Murk and let him know what was going on. As I smoked my cigarette, I thought of one thing.

Before, it was 10 grand for all of us. Now, it was 15 for one of us.

The real measure of a man was the size of the bounty on his head. How much he made people want nothing more than to see him not exist anymore. In a few weeks, I increased my worth from 2,000 to 15,000.

My cocky grin betrayed my emotions. I was impressed.
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Draco18s
post Nov 8 2009, 12:26 PM
Post #5


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 5):

A pack of wolves can overwhelm prey that a lone wolf has no hope of accomplishing. How does it do this? The wolves do not sharpen each other’s teeth, or spur each other on. The morale of outnumbering someone would mean little if they couldn’t beat it. If a meteor was going to hit the Earth, three people working together wouldn’t have any morale.

No, a pack of wolves were dangerous because of their tactics and cunning. And Dogs were wolves, when it got to the blood of it.

The party was over, and I had left Giovanni with a huge property damage bill. Fortunately for us, the only people we killed were family goons or reject junkies so deep in their needles that the world had given up on them, except for a scant few opportunists looking to make money by accelerating their inevitable self-destruction. I had run my fair share of that stuff across borders, though I never sampled, so I knew how to recognize their kind.

Maybe they’ll thank me for punctuating their tormented existence. Maybe they wouldn’t even realize it when they wake up in the next life. Maybe is such a strong word.

Twitch and I hit the pavement running. Jack had opened the doors of the van and was peeling out. Twitch is faster, he reaches it first. He dives in and moves up to the passenger seat. I jump in as Jack prepares to round the corner and peel out. I shut the door as Twitch monitors for any tails. We can see Bomber riding his bike away from us, splitting up to make sure the retribution wasn’t focused.

We must’ve been on their blind side. Or they were so arrogant they wouldn’t expect that a mismatched group of runners would serve two grenades over-easy in the center of their club. Their ‘private booth’ where they discussed business with runners was now tiny chunks of wood and the ashes of a velvet lining, spattered with the remains of their ex-enforcer Brutes McKenzie.

Funny, he reminded me a lot of Freddy. I wondered if Yasakasa was giving him the royal treatment. By royal, of course, I meant burning a king-sized cigar into his left eye. Heh, as far as I was concerned, Freddy’s fate was the result of bad karma, no luck, a vindictive god, or any combination thereof. I had nothing to do with it but a single stroke of cosmic coincidence.

That certainly absolves guilt, shouldn’t it?

I signal Murk on my comm. A few seconds and he doesn’t answer, and I worry that Giovanni got to him first.

“Yo.”

“Murk. We’re in deep trouble. Giovanni’s put a hit on us. 75 grand.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Murk sounds cynically into my comm. “I can’t leave you alone for a week without you drawing the better portion of a hundred grand on yourselves?”

“It’s on you, too.”

“Lovely.”

“We’re going to pick you up.”

“Meet me at the Stuffer Shack a block away. Don’t drive by my apartment.”

“Yeah yeah.”

When we pick Murk up, we’re surprised to see that he has a motorcycle.

“Yeah. I bought it from one of the gangs for five grand. The armor is tricked out.” He’s feeling very proud of himself for getting it off of them.

“I think I know a place I can sell it.” I grin even wider.

Twitch started thinking of safehouses since our current one was rather close to the club we had just redecorated. He knew of two in the Penumbra District, where Lone Star doesn’t go anymore, ever since they walled it off and gave up. One in the middle, one near the edge.

Twitch and I vote for the middle. We’re used to slumming it and want to make sure the heat dies down. Jack and Murk vote for the edge because they don’t want to be in the middle of the Penumbra. Two and two. It’s a few minutes before I concede, muttering to myself because I’d rather get somewhere before Giovanni’s crew comes raining down upon our heads.

We pulled up to the two-story house. Twitch says he hadn’t been here in years, before he was even with the Dogs. I tell Jack to keep the van running while Twitch, Murk, and I sneak in. Twitch is the stealthiest, so he leads while I cover him. The foyer is open, opening to a staircase and a room. We check the room first, Twitch sneaks in and opens the door a crack.

It looked like a half-troll, half-ork, with three exceptions. First, it had white fur all over it’s body. The second was that it had claws that it was sharpening with a nail file. The third being that half-troll, half-orks don’t exist.

“The hell?” Twitch subvocally breathes to us.

“On it.” We hear Jack over the comm. Twitch backs away and we wait. “Says here it’s a wendigo.”

“Vicious?” I ask.

“Hmm…lemme search.” Jack goes off to search the Matrix for information. Twitch backs away and goes upstairs. Following along using my uplink to see through his eyes, I watch as he creeps up the stairs to the first room. They appear to be two men, with their arms stripped to the bone. They also appeared drained, as if the very blood had been sucked out of their bodies. However, by the large amount of blood in the room, it was clear he was not a blood-drinker or a very, very messy one. I start to feel uneasy. Not at the blood, but at being that way.

Twitch searches the next room, a bathroom, to find an ork, laying in the fetal position, a half-halo of white starting to grow on his scalp as if he was turning into one of the nasty things. Twitch leaves him alone and heads down the hallway to the final room. Here there is another ork, this time appearing to be troll-sized and more white, as if he had been transforming larger. This room had a desk and a locker in it. Twitch moved to the desk first, looting the drawers and finding a paper money box, containing the 2040 nuyen when it was still printed on paper. In a false drawer, he finds notes, which he promptly takes a picture of and replaces.

Twitch moves to the locker, quiet as a mouse, and picks it, finding a white labcoat. Inside the labcoat was a PDA, adorned with Aztechnology’s corporate logo.

“Wait, they actually hire this disgusting creature?” Corps truly were above the law. This thing would be shot on sight if it left the place. I guess that’s why it stayed in Penumbra. No one who wanted to be known stayed here. This was the underside, the cast-off dead skin of Seattle.

Twitch copies the data of the PDA and replaces it in the pocket. We creep down and Jack comes back. “Says they’re sentient. Orks infected with a strain of HMHVV. They’re rumored to eat people.”

HMHVV was the Human-Metahuman Virulent Virus, a pathogen that transformed beings into…something else. Humans became vampires, or perhaps even ghouls, while apparently some orks caught a mutated version and transformed into mini-yetis. Want a one-way ride to hell? Catch HMHVV. It’s hard to be cheery when the best that could happen to you is you turn into a disgusting freak.

“Perfect,” I mutter, “Now it will be able to tell us exactly how good we taste.” I bet my lungs taste like hickory-smoked ham, fresh from the tarpit. Murk sneaks out so that he can go astral to speak to it, but it doesn’t even pay attention to him. What a rude terrifying monster.

“Well, we’re better off if we try to speak to it.” Murk offers, to which I can’t refuse.

“Fine, who can take a claw the best…ah, crap!” I start to pick when I realize that it’s me, with my orthoskin, modified body armor, and natural dodging ability, though I was better at dodging bullets. That was what the worst about being the best. You were expected to do things.

Murk and I sneak outside, Twitch lays low upstairs. I knock on the door. About ten seconds after I rap, my heart a machine gun in my chest. I hear someone a moment later.

“Give me a second, give me a second.”

When the door opens, I see a troll, not a wendigo, balding with a white fringe of hair, no shirt, and white pants. If I hadn’t snuck in, I would’ve been walking blind. But I was still a step ahead. Oh yeah, he was the wendigo. I knew this even before Murk perceived him astrally and informed us over the comm.

“Yeah? What’d ya want?” He said in his loud, old-man voice.

“I hear this is a good place to lay low.” I offer casually.

“Yeah, some say that. How long?”

“Three days. Just for a quick rest.”

“Alright. What were you thinking of payment.”

“550 for the three days. Secured credstick, up front.” I offer, being as nice as possible to the eloquent man-eating monster.

“That sounds fair. Alright, you can stay in the basement. Don’t go upstairs. Knock whenever you want to leave. Don’t bring any heat in.”

“Hey, I’ll try not to get their blood in your carpet.” I joke around.

I realize clown isn’t in my job description as he starts to scowl. “2000 nuyen for a security deposit.”

Me and my big mouth.

“Sounds fair,” I mimic him unthreateningly, being understanding as opposed to taunting. I haul in the rest of the Dogs, Twitch follows us down after we go into the basement. It’s a nicely furnished place, if a mite small. A couch was the only bedding, but otherwise, not a bad location.

Jack gets to work finding an Exploit Program to aid his hacking mechanism. Twitch and Murk just relax. I head out to upgrade the Dog’s armor. I upgrade my fireproofing and add insulation, nonconductivity, and chemical protection to all three of our armors. It was a steal too. After all, it’s not like they were illegal. Just what we planned to do while wearing it was.

I sold the bike as well. Made a decent 15% profit. I had planned on putting the money to good use.

Jack had looked over the PDA to find it was an ultraviolet computer type. If he tried to hack it, he’d have most of his brain destroyed. Wisely, Jack decides that higher brain functions were a good thing to retain and he stops there. Twitch looks over the pictures of the documents in the desk. They’re scientific notes, relaying chemicals with strange numbers and their effects when he consumed them.

Market research at it’s finest.

At the end of the three days, he returns our deposit. We thank him, and head off. I call up Yasakasa.

“Yasakasa, it’s me. We’ve taken care of the job.”

“Nice, come on down.”

The Dogs pile into Jack’s van, after thanking the wendigo for his hospitality, and we drive off. In the van, we start thinking aloud.

“So, Giovanni’s doing restructuring and Freddy was on the chopping block.” Murk mused.

“And that Brutes guy was just as incompetent as Freddy. What would Giovanni have to gain by sending a bunch of useless assassins? It’s like he wanted us to kill them.” I sit and think for a bit.

Jack gets it first. He’s always been the most logical. “Stray Dogs Restructuring Company.” He grins as he makes a turn onto the highway.

My mouth drops. “That clever bastard…” Using us to eliminate the incompetents and not having to pay us at the same time. The sheer brilliance of that plan was stunning. Now I could see how he attained the rank of capo. Giovanni was as decadent as the rest of the world, he just hid it better.

We pulled up to see Yasakasa, with his completely bizarre cyberlegs still drawing a cocked eyebrow from me. Murk and I get out, Twitch watches the van. I speak to Yasakasa in flawless Japanese.

“Good afternoon, Yasakasa. Your task is complete.”

“Ah, very good. Here is the four thousand I promised you.”

Quickly, he credsticks over a cool four thousand. I take the credstick and put it in my pocket, and then I quickly chat him up. It was a tough world, and crimes needed to be committed. Is there any other course for a career criminal who didn’t exist?

“Have anything else you need to get done?”

“Well…I have one thing, but it might not be your style. You tend to be rather…destructive with your runs.”

“The means fit the circumstances. We can be quite careful when we wish to be.”

“Very well, there’s this crate we need to lift. If you can bring it here unharmed, we’ll pay you 45,000 nuyen.”

I light up a smoke. Murk gets the cue and starts negotiating on the price. The net result, 52,000 nuyen to lift the crate in 1 day, 6 hours. We get the details including the location of the crate, the drop, the weight, and everything else that’s important. It can fit into the van, with difficulty, if we manage to lift it.

“Stray, you know people. Help me find the formula for Levitate.”

When a spider sits in the center of her web, you notice threads branching out. Those threads branch to other threads, until the entire grand tapestry is revealed. If a spider spun one thread, she’d have no flies. But with a web, she had her choice of insect du jour. Murk and I explode into action, calling everyone we know that doesn’t want to kill us. In an hour and a half, we have it. Murk heads back to his apartment to study.

“Twitch, I’m going to grab you some breaking-and-entering equipment.” I stay on the comm. I’m looking for a sequencer and a maglock passkey. That should help Twitch get in and out of the place with little trouble.

“Jack, you hack them. Find everything. Maps, security rosters, you name it, we want it.”

Jack chuckles. “Already there, Stray.”

A day later, I find everything I need, and Twitch is outfitted. And we’ve even got a couple of cover identities that we found by browsing how many people were going to be at the docks working that night.

Twitch is posing as a leg-breaker for the front door. He’s certainly intimidating enough to serve as a guard. Murk is posing as an elf security guard, complete with a shaved head and pierced ears.

Me? I found a guy that has a similar facial structure. There’s just one problem.

I like pie. If I had a choice between having a slice and not having a slice, I would have a slice of pie. This guy would eat that slice, two more, the rest of the pie, and about seven others, lathered in whipped cream and topped with cookies. If he was less than 400 pounds, I’d be shocked. The only thing getting this porker a job was that he was a rigger.

So an incredibly fat man who could turn four well-armored men into meat in ten seconds. I was basically Jack, if he ate his van after injecting it with liquid cheese. I felt disgusting just thinking about being that fat.

These were the easiest disguises to make, sadly. I get to work crafting our disguises. Murk, unnecessary purist that he is, refuses to let me pierce his ears. I can’t believe that guy, in this day and age, preaching about being intrusive to the body. I mutter about him and a soapbox, but it doesn’t get through. Murk won’t even take Longhaul; he deems it unnatural.

I wonder if all of the Awakened are so much holier-than-thou. Every time I heard Murk say that, I needed a smoke.

Call me unnatural. There are limits to what man by himself can attain. Afterward, he needed something to help him. Murk used his Awakened body, the rest of us weren’t so lucky.

That hypocrite.

Twitch goes off to pick up Bomber and visit the three unsuspecting men we are about to ‘replace.’ Nothing personal, but we can’t very well have two of the same guy showing up. I grin as I finish off my pack. The legwork was all done. Now it was time to get to work.
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Draco18s
post Nov 9 2009, 09:37 AM
Post #6


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 6):

I’ve found that there are three types of cigarettes that truly make a smoke worthwhile. The first one is such a cliché that it doesn’t even need repeating. The second was the cigarette after making it through another long day. The third was the victory cigarette after beating the odds. This is the last one.

A day’s work is a day’s work, even in my profession. Of course, runners usually have weeks to plan their schemes. The Dogs didn’t have that luck. With 52 grand on the line, we were going to be preparing in hours, not days. Nothing’s impossible. It’s just really hard.

Twitch reported in. He was outside of the elf’s apartment. It was a run-down place, with paint fading off the walls. My mind thought of endless types that could be living there. As always, the idea of people who could no longer cope with the world first came up into my mind. Chipheads, alcoholics, the list went on but the principle was the same. Somewhere along the lines the world became too cruel and uncaring to deal with, and they retreated behind their wall. And it took it’s toll upon them in exchange for shielding them from the inevitable reality that was life.

Twitch walked that line, but he felt the thick of it every run. I couldn’t judge Twitch. I had no idea what he felt in that drug-laced brain of his. But I don’t think of him as low as others I see. After all, he’s one of the reasons the world is as cruel as it is.

Twitch picked the lock on the door easily with the equipment I bought for him, though I doubted he even needed it. If we needed B&E, Twitch was the guy. He snuck in completely unnoticed, sliding forward like an ice cube on glass. Following along from his optical reads, I watched as he passed by a room, going for one at the end of the hallway. He opened it stealthily; the elf was behind it. With lightning speed, Twitch deployed his whip and cut him apart, completely silently. He left quickly afterwards, closing and re-locking the doors.

The fat man was slightly trickier. I could tell when I first saw his two-story home. He was living the rich-life of a corp security rigger. And what a life it was. Twitch went down to the basement and tried to bypass the maglock, but the rigger’s security programs weren’t as easy to deal with.

“Jack, get me in.” Twitch spoke simply over his comm.

“Roger. And…in we go.”

Two professional riggers going head-to-head. It either ended in one system getting wiped or extensive property damage. Fortunately, this was the former. Drones dueling it out tended to be rather expensive to replace.

So, a guy who made his career keeping security defending against someone half his age with a defunct set of hacking programs, there was only one possible outcome.

“I’m in control. Basement door open.” Jack laughed triumphantly. The door opened and Twitch stepped inside. He snuck up the basement steps and looked around the hallway. There didn’t appear to be anyone present. Pressing himself against the wall, he crept into the kitchen.

And turned to see a 16 year old girl, holding a buttered bagel, in her hand. The two looked at each other for a second before Twitch acted. He needed to silence her, but he wasn’t going to leave bodies for evidence. So he went for the next logical step.

He shoved the bagel in her mouth, making sure she didn’t scream. That was Twitch, breakfast’s eternal nemesis.

After making sure she was restrained, Twitch crept upstairs to the bedroom. In the master bedroom was the fat man, sleeping next to his mid-twenties trophy wife. Twitch was about to kill him when he noticed something around his arm. A band with the words “Doc Wagon” on it. Twitch stopped. If he had killed him, in no time at all, a Doc Wagon rescue/assault team would be there to pick him up. As good as he was, Twitch wasn’t going to take an entire Doc Wagon team on all by his lonesome. He instead went for the shakedown. He woke the fat man up, with his rifle on the ready.

The rifle didn’t shock him. The fact that it was pointed at him did. Twitch sneered and did his best to look like a deranged lunatic. “Don’t leave your house if you want to live. You hear me?”

The fat man nodded and Twitch left, retreating back to the Dogs. Meanwhile, Murk and I were discussing our plans. Twitch was going to be out front, near the security desk. Murk was going to be on the second floor catwalk, armed with an assault rifle that he had no idea how to use. I was in the security room, a guard behind me with another checking in every so often. There was no shortage of guards. Two in the guardhouse next to Twitch, six on the ground floor, and three on the catwalk, not counting Murk, plus the two that were by me.

“We’re going to need a way to get to the guards on the catwalk. I can’t take them all out at once.”

I think for a moment, and then I realize just what we need.

“How about I call Angel?”

Angel was my old friend in the border guards who I used to run with before I was with the Dogs. I gave her the name Angel after she asked me once if I believed in angels. My response was, ‘Only if they carry a Ranger Arm.” That was her beloved rifle, which she never left out of her sight. Since our last group had split, she had taken up a legit job at the border guards. Which made sense. She knew everything I pulled when I was a smuggler, so it’d only make sense that she’d use that knowledge for better uses.

And because it got her a nice bonus in her paycheck.

“Angel?” I signal her comm.

“Stray…it’s been a long time.” Her voice sounded just as I remembered it. She sounded calm and serene. She had probably just taken her tranqs. She had used them to steady her hands when shooting, but now, she craved them all the time. Poor girl, she was addicted to them just as surely as I was to the cig.

“Yeah, it has. How’s life?”

“Pretty much the same as ever. I hear that you’ve been rather busy.”

“Yeah, some might say that.” We were both dancing around the real issue.

“I doubt this is a social call.”

“Harsh. I was wondering if you wanted to cover us on a run.”

She was milling it over in her head when she said simply, “Quarter take.”

“Angel?” I smile and feign being struck by an arrow. “You wound me. I can give you a fifth, but no more. Fair’s fair.”

She grumbles a bit, but my charm goes through. “Fine, you win, Stray. Transmit me the specs. First sign of trouble, I’m bailing. Unless you happen to be up a creek, eh?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

So, 13 against 5. Those were terrible odds. They had no idea who they were up against.

Twitch had finished smoking some bliss. He said he needed it to calm his nerves so he didn’t bite anyone’s head off. That made three highly controlled substances that he was on. If they dissecting him, I’m pretty sure the human parts would be a deadly toxic soup. Which meant that if I had to put my money on anyone surviving the Vitas 3 plague, it’d be Twitch.

Walk that line, Twitch. Walk that line.

Twitch got in the driver’s seat of the van. I got into my fat suit and rode shotgun, adjusting the seat for my considerable girth. Murk got in the back and had the stolen corp ID ready. Jack hid under the blankets and drove the car. Twitch was only in there for show.

We pulled up to the warehouse. The van stopped and I smiled at the unsuspecting warehouse. It was about to be hit on its blindspot. Twitch waved and told them his story. He was the new hire and didn’t have his corp ID. And this was just fine, but he looked around in the van again. “Anyone else in there?”

Murk raised his hand, a little too quick. But that was just my experience with the con that told me these things. Murk quickly handed his corp ID and everything checked out. I just played it cool and nodded to him, not even needing my ID.

“Hey Bobby. Your comm’s off, what’s up?”

“Damn thing starting acting up and I couldn’t get in fixed in time for work. It’ll take about five minutes, but I’ll get it up.”

He believes me, of course he believes me. I’m Stray. Everyone believes me. That’s what I do.”

Jack drives us in and drops me off by the security office. I get into my chair as the dogs pull into an empty parking space. The dwarf guard greets me, puffing away at his cigarette. The fat man didn’t smoke, so I couldn’t walk in smelling like tobacco. The whiff of smoke made my hands shake a bit. I wanted a cigarette…bad. I have to grit my teeth and smile back, trying to get all I can out of the secondhand smoke in the air.

I jack into the control deck, and Jack hacks the login so I get the password. But before I get anywhere, a warning displays on my HUD. “Active wireless connection detected. Please disable before proceeding.”

Hell, I was going to need to do this without Jack. I transmit to him to send me his hacking progs so I could work. He does and I shut off my comm, now silent to the rest of the Dogs.

I have to use the cameras to make sure the Dogs are ready. Murk taps three times on the railing, telling me that Angel was in place. Twitch had been outfitted with a stun baton and a riot shield and looked ready for action. That meant it was all up to me. I loaded the pilot program onto the turret behind me, outfitted with an Ultimax HMG-2, the heavy machine gun of heavy machine guns. The troll guard leans in to check in on me. That was the cue.

Here come the horsemen.

The turret’s pilot program activates, showering the dwarf with a short burst and the troll with a long burst. I log out of the system and draw my pistol, firing behind me, hearing the slight thud of a bullet entering a human body, then the dwarf slumped over, bleeding from a large number of wounds. Jack acted next, sending his drone to take out the troll, who fell over bleeding out. Twitch hit the ork next to him with his stun baton and fired a long burst at the hairy human guard next to him, dropping him to the ground. Angel shot through the glass, breaking it with her first shot and capping a guard with her second, nearly knocking him off the catwalk.

Twitch moved again, knocking the ork out with his stun baton and moving towards the van. I log back into the system and report. “Intruders detected. Group up and begin standard procedure.” I trigger the doors to shut so that the teams can’t get out to the secured car park, as well as cut the lights. I dropped out of the fat suit and reactivated my comm. Reactivating my comm, I hear Twitch’s report. “Car park is secure.” Jack drives the van around and gets ready. Angel takes her shots through the broken window, dropping two guards.

“Angel, nice work. Go and grab a drink to celebrate. We’ll transfer you the money later.”

“Roger, Stray. Don’t die.” She could be so charming sometimes.

From behind him, Twitch can see the hairy man stand up. He now has ursine features. He was a shapeshifter, who could take 100 bullets and ask for seconds.

Aztechnology wasn’t kidding around.

A fire spirit materialized on Twitch, trying to engulf him in flames. Twitch can’t evade it and gets caught, the spirit holding him in place. Murk can see an earth spirit down near the crate. He moves with the guards as they get into position, then he stunballs them, dropping both to the ground. He follow suit, making it look like he was the one who was hit.

Nice touch Murk. But don’t forget why you’re in the warehouse. We need that crate.

Twitch rips the fire spirit apart, finding a seam in it’s manifested body. He takes it and hurls it at the werebear, trying to set him on fire. Shapeshifters hated fire and silver. And Twitch left the silver at home. Or injected into his veins along with his daily dose of cram. I wasn’t sure. I wouldn’t put it past him if it gave him a new high.

I jump into the van and aim outwards. Overhead, an air spirit manifests and points a vicious finger at me.

I point another finger right back.

Twitch gets into the van as well. It’s all up to Murk now.

Murk levitates the crate we need, taking it up and levitating it over the catwalk so he has cover. Twitch and Jack’s drone take potshots at the fire spirit, making it lose its form and sending it back to the plane it was summoned from.

The earth spirit materializes outside the warehouse and rips the doors open so the security team can get out. They assemble near the door. One has a riot shield, the other two have assault rifles. The air spirit points viciously at me again to no effect. I chuckle at its futility. Why doesn’t it just give up? Murk sails out on the crate, getting into the van while Twitch and I press ourselves against the side to avoid getting crushed. Jack drives the van over to the security gate. We need to deactivate the tire spikes and open the gate. The security team is waiting for us.

Twitch is the fastest, he goes for the control panel. Jack aims and unloads on the werebear, dropping him again. Me? I’m on guard duty, though not the usual kind. I grab two flashbangs from my bandolier and toss them at the guard’s feet. They explode, knocking their heads back in a concussive symphony. They’re still standing, and aim their assault rifles at me and fire. Sixty rounds.

Thank goodness for my armor. I had a pounding chestache, but I wasn’t Swiss cheese. Good thing for that, too. Twitch hit the control panel and jumped into the van. I threw another pair of flashbangs on the ground, knocking all three guards to the ground. Their ears were going to be a mess for a few days, but no serious damage. I was impressed. We actually didn’t kill anyone on this run, though a few needed immediate medical attention. Of course, that was as much for our sake’s as there’s. Aztechnology’s wrath came in varying increments. We pissed them off, but if we killed their guards and blew up their warehouse, they’d come after us with blood spirits. Jack drove through the opened gate and we could hear Lone Star in the distance.

That’s life. Losing your comfy seat to a box and it’s makeshift padding, my body feeling like a bruised orange, and the pigs hot on our trail, ready to cart us away.

And I still needed a cigarette.
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Draco18s
post Nov 10 2009, 11:32 AM
Post #7


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Shadowrun Log (Day 7):

There is a worse fate than death, no matter what any poet tell you. They say that the worst moment is better than death because you are still alive and it can turn around. You can fill your shoes with soup and subside on grit and stale bread and eventually, your dreams will come true, complete with spectacular golden sunset and singing birds.

Makes me want to vomit, to be honest.

The worst fate is to watch everything unfold around you, powerless to do anything about it. Like watching a hundred vidscreens of the world around you, people hustling and bustling, guns going off, and you, caught there with nothing to do but watch. Give me one hour of that, and I’d pray for death like an angsty teenager.

I sat in the folded down passenger seat so I had to lean forward, nearly up against the dash. The nanopaste disguise I had on was starting to smear, probably, and my hands were trembling for a cigarette. And Yasakasa hails me on my comm.

“Get the package down here now!” He orders. I remember these Yaks were pushy. But he was certainly the paymaster.

“Certainly, Yasakasa. Just transmit me the destination and I’ll get there in no time.” With all the armies of hell behind me.

But first, we needed to get away from Lone Star.

“Attention motorists. You are exceeding the marked speed limit. Pull over immediately.”

So gung-ho, like when an endearing cat brings dead birds for the family to enjoy. But unlike dead birds, we were going to fly. Jack starts to pull away, from the pigs. Generally, they’d give us the obligatory chase, slap the SiN with a speeding ticket, and leave it alone.

Not today it seemed. They took particular offense to it. And to add insult to injury, I can hear a faint whirring sound above us. I lean outside and zoom my eyes in to see the chopper. Sporting a very stylish yellow body with black stripes with missiles and miniguns.

“A…bumblebee?” I breathe out in disbelief. Why does everything powerful in this day and age have to be as gaudy and tasteless as the faux millionaires who live on the stretch?

“It’s high-grade, whatever it is.” Jack offers, seeing the image as I transmit it over my comm. Just then, I start to see the miniguns spin, and suddenly, the top of the van has a huge dent in it. On the sides of the road, gigantic holes are forming in the road as the minigun turns it to rubble. Murk, kind civic servant that he is, calls the highway department and informs them of potholes.

I pull up the maps of the city. Jack’s van has full maps of the city and I’m the only one free to look at them. “Here! Two tunnels. And the second is under Renraku territory! This ought to shake off that bothersome hornet. Jack, get in there.”

Jack drives the van into the tunnel just as the miniguns open fire again, denting one of the rear doors. Twitch braces himself against the wall and Murk slips from the top of the crate. The Dogs are pretty banged up, but none worse for the wear, until we see the troll standing on the far end of the tunnel.

He’s tall and burly even for troll standards, mirrorshades on and brandishing a pair of shotguns. He’s standing right in the middle of the tunnel, ready for us. There’s no way we’re avoiding this bastard.

Still, I prefer him to the helicopter. Jack starts to go for a bootlegger’s turn, ever-so-slightly turning the right side of the van towards the troll. I turn towards Jack and I realize what he’s doing. “Oh you bastard…” and I brace for impact.

Between the collision between two vans and an unfortunate troll, the troll tends to give first. But not before he unloads his shotguns into the van. Fortunate, the flechete ammunition only messes up the paint job, but the right tires are torn to rubbery pieces. Murk immediately starts to cast levitate, pulling the rims off the road a little bit and reducing the spark shower on the right side. We pull out of the tunnel with half a troll on the right side and the car looking worse than ever. The helicopter was hot on our trail. The miniguns start firing at us again, piercing the top of the car and denting the metal of the crate

“Disturbance detected. Activating lifeform.” The automated systems start coming to life. We hear a thumping in the crate.

“Oh Christ! That thing’s coming active. Uh…someone grab the wheel.” Jack starts to head back to fix it while Twitch grabs the wheel.

A drugged up streetsam driving us…what the hell were we thinking?

Twitch steers us into the next tunnel as Jack glues the part back on and starts pumping gas into the crate to shut the thing down. It starts frantically pounding as more parts of the van start falling off. Meanwhile, Twitch decided to take a shortcut through a shopping mall, running over nearly twenty shoppers and taking out a support beam. The windshield is cracked and nearly covered in blood. Murk sends ambulances to the mall. Twitch turns on the wipers.

We escape the mall to see that the dogs of war are far from resting. Lone Star has backup, and the chopper is still on us, though trying to fly away from Renraku airspace. We’re up a creek, but we’ve had worse jams.

Suddenly, a hand bursts through the crate. Days like today were the reason I never quit smoking. Jack finishes updating it’s friend-foe recognition to make us all look like friends in the nick of time. As it shakes off the crate, I remember what I’m good for.

“Hey, hold on to something. The ride is about to get bumpy.”

“At least give me a gun…” It says. I’m amazed by what I see. It was a troll. Was being the key word. Nearly every part of it was a machine, and the few human parts that were around were covered in arcane runes. We’ve all heard the horror stories. It was no longer living. It’s soul was drained from the body by excessive modifications and trapped to the husk by magic. A cyberzombie, a living horror.

Twitch hands him the giant cannon we found back at Aztechnology, unloaded. I give the order, “Don’t fire it; just intimidate.” As he points the handicannon out the back door, Lone Star visibly expands the distance between us and them.

Murk would be so proud of the way we weren’t killing the cops. I take out a flashbang and drop it on the pavement. I wait until it’s close and I press the detonator, blinding the Lone Star vehicles and causing them to stop on the sidewalk while we jet away.

“Take out that chopper. Twitch, load him.” I’ve still levelheaded, even under all this stress. I had to be. The curse of the leader was never to curse the gods even when they really deserved it. Rigors of the life I lead.

Twitch complies and the cyberzombie fires poorly at the chopper, arcing wide. Twitch helps him out by positioning himself as the user of a platform and using the cyberzombie’s massive strength to support the gun. He fires again, this time pegging the chopper and causing it to visibly swerve, which is enough to distract them enough for Jack to disappear amongst the city.

“Alright, Penumbra, on the double.” I sit in my messed up chair, covered in blood in the rickety van. We get to the area, an old abandoned carpark. The pigs aren’t directly tailing us, but they’ll search the building. Yasakasa is there, looking angry. We all get out and I greet him with a respectful bow and fluent Japanese.

“I thought you said you were going to bring him to me undamaged?”

“He is undamaged. Look at him…not damaged in the slightest.”

Yasakasa sighs. He credsticks me over 42,000, muttering about ‘the trouble I’m in now.’ I look at him with a critical eye. “My esteemed business partner. We had a deal. The goods are delivered and there’s no link to the syndicate.”

Yasakasa realizes he’s been beat and credsticks the remaining amount. I grin and pocket it. We pull the van to an elevator and take it to the lower levels. The cyberzombie then breaks the elevator. Jack salvages for parts while Twitch hides upstairs to keep a lookout. Murk rests to recover the drain he took from casting.

Me? I get reacquainted with a pack of old friends. The welcome flavor in my throat and fire in my lungs was my lifeblood again. Yasakasa hides with his cyberzombie.

We spent the night there and the heat dies. Yet another successful run for the Stray Dogs. I transfer the money to them and we start plotting our escape. Murk takes a quick second to banish the watcher spirit in front of the door and summon a water spirit to clean the car, and I head upstairs to a tire dealer. It was a rundown place with a surly ork mechanic as the owner.

“Hey, what do you want?” He smoked furiously on a cigar.

I press my fingers on a tire, depressing it. I look toward the shopkeeper. “Filling my tires with air in such a pain…”

“Ah, I’ve just the thing. Come on in the back.” I see the glint in his eyes. He knows he can trust me.

I quickly purchase six solid rubber tires. Jack has finished making repairs to the van so all I need to do is get these tires over to the car park. Of course, nothing is easy. At the sixth tire, I’m accosted by some street punks.

“What’s a thin boy like you doing here?”

God, why now…I could just kill them. I had enough ‘nades to turn them into paste. But that would be messy. Instead, I hail Twitch.

“Think you can scare these bastards. I don’t feel like dealing with them. This tire weighs a ton.”

Right as rain, Twitch comes up behind them, scaring them. The closest one falls and nearly pisses himself, while I just grin like I had it planned all along. They decide to go for another target before I’m going to bring any more surprises out of the wings.

Jack replaces the tires and the cyberzombie hauls us up to the upper levels. We thank Yasakasa and he gives us an angry “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” We might have lost another Johnson, this time actually being our fault, but I don’t care. It’s time to take a well-earned vacation.

The burbs have a nice merc hotel that I know the owner of. I have Jack drive us over there, after dropping the Aztechnology crate at Freddy’s club to send Aztech on the ‘right track.’

The grudge of a Stray Dog is a long and terrible thing. I hope Aztech makes Giovanni suffer. There was an old rule for shadowrunners. Never stiff the Johnson. Unfortunately, what many fail to realize is that it also worked in reverse. Never let the Johnson stiff you.

The merc hotel is a nice place. The dwarven owner doesn’t ask questions, just takes the money and we have the place rented. I look at the Dogs, and I kick up my shoes while smoking a cigarette.

“Alright. We’ve got some time to kill. Relax, we’ve earned this vacation.”

I decide to spend my vacation time productively. I loan most of my money to Murk to buy a sustaining foci. Twitch and I sell some extra cram to the dealers to make some nuyen. Jack teaches Twitch and I how to drive better. I train my social skills even higher and practice lobbing grenades and shooting my pistols. I also buy a Fichetti Security 600, a nice concealable pistol with a smartgun system, to compliment some new threads.

A full two-piece armored powersuit, perfect for meeting with the next Johnson. Neo-Japanese style that I tweaked up with some mods to resist spells. Because now for the first time ever, something that could kill could look good.
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Draco18s
post Nov 12 2009, 10:10 AM
Post #8


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Shadowrun Log (Day 7.5) - Murk's POV

I should have seen it coming. I kept calling in favors that Lone Star was going to be asking for one back. And sure enough, as I just got into my apartment to study my Reflexes spell, my comm signals.

“We’ve got a situation down at Renraku mall. Some elves smuggled some plastic assault rifles through the M.A.D.s and took the entire mall hostage. They’re asking for land completely untouched by nature to complete ancient rituals of naturalism, or something like that.”

I muttered and picked up my coat. I wanted to just spend a nice day studying, now I had to grab a soy-burger on the way over to where the Dogs had gone on a road rampage. Sometimes elves just amaze me. They should be smarter than this. They won’t get any land, and if they wanted it, hostages weren’t the way to go. Don’t these people watch vidcasts?

“That all? Why do we need me? Sounds rather cut and dry.”

“One of them says he’s on the Salis-Shidhe Ruling Council.”

That meant trouble. This could easily spark an incident with UCAS, Renraku, and Salis-Shidhe. And if the Red Samurai got involved, it could hit the fan in an instant. Forget the sandwich, I needed to get over there right away before it all went down.

“No, it’s ok. He’s only their son.” Somehow, I just wasn’t relieved. Chaos never did it for me.

At the Renraku mall, I can only hope that the hostages were alright. The stress on the hostage taker was enormous, and things could degrade really fast. I was going in. To demonstrate my good will, I took out a metal pipe and walked through the M.A.D. scanners, pipe in hand. They naturally went off. I chucked the pipe out and walked through again, backward and forward. Just to prove that I was serious about the hostages and not trying to pull a fast one. I relieve the junior negotiator, who looking dead tired, grabs a drink and leaves the mall, happy to be out of the hot seat.

“This is Officer Nicolas Rhyson. How are you doing? Is everything alright in there?” I ask him about his current state to catch him off-guard. Anyway I could achieve an advantage over them could mean life and death for the hostages.

“We’re fine. Our demands remain the same. Lives of simplicity for the lives of these people.”

“Alright, we’re working on that right now. That should take some time. If it’s alright with you, can we retrieve the wounded with medical teams. We’ll prove their unarmed, all we want is to ensure the safety of you and everyone else in the building.”

“Cute. Sure, you can. They’re starting to smell anyway.”

Two medical teams show themselves, taking off their jackets and opening all their equipment before they are let in. I go in as well, unarmed, under the pretense of ensuring that I’m going to continue negotiations openly with them. A sign of trust.

The leader looked to be a fair-haired elf. No obvious signs of cyberware or bioware. He was standing with his plastic assault rifle on his shoulder, ready to shoot any of the medical team for breathing wrong. He looked at me, amazed to see another elf that shared his disdain of unnatural modifications.

“Officer Rhyson, eh? So when are we getting our land so I can tell you when you’re getting back your hostages.”

Using the word hostage meant this elf had no illusions. He was very even-headed, which meant it was a good thing that he wouldn’t lose it and shoot a hostage. That also meant that he had everything under control, which would make him harder to negotiate with. He reiterated his demands, and the size of land he wanted almost made my eyes go wide. He wanted several thousand square miles, which was a pretty outrageous demand to be nice.

“Well, that’s going to take months to get the humans off the land. Are you planning on staying here until you get it?”

“Why yes, that certainly seems to be the plan. This mall is very defensible.”

“But how will you eat?” I asked curiously. Surely he, as a purist, wouldn’t eat the processed foodstuffs lining the Renraku shelves. He put his hand to a bush and closed his eyes for a second. Suddenly, a spark of red began to grow, becoming a full-sized apple in about ten seconds. He grabbed the apple, took a bite, and seemed very pleased with the flavor. “Nature’s bounty,” he smiled and offered me a bite. I bit into the other side, and I was amazed. This was a natural apple, grown from a landscaping bush.

“Is that the first time you’ve ever eaten real food, human?” The elf was mocking my background in Seattle. Sometimes, I really do expect too much of people. Despite the age we live in, people fell into the worst of ways so easily.

“I want to move to a new location. Have Lone Star send a vehicle to take us to the location we specify. No computer interfaces; we want something that goes where we want it.”

I jack into a terminal and inform the commander of the request. He agrees and says that he has a plan. I have to stall them for a moment longer. That’s all, and we can call it a day.

The limo pulls up, and I usher them towards it. Isolating them from the hostages meant safety. Lone Star was trained for guns pointed at themselves, the average Renraku arc’er wasn’t. Just a little more is all it takes. The hostages were the number one priority.

“Not so fast. But I’m taking some hostages with me.” He signaled to two of his men who grabbed about five orks, ranging from about 17 years to 35 years old, and started to walk towards the entrance where Lone Star had sent up a limo.

We are almost there when the elf stops and levels his rifle. “On second thought, I’m just going to waste these filthy creatures.” He is grinning like a demon.

No, not now! It was going so well and no one was going to get hurt!

“Wait!” I shout. “I can talk down what you’ve done before, but now Lone Star knows that I’ve talked to you. I won’t be able to get that down to something other than murder. This ordeal is almost over, why waste the effort we’ve made?”

He mills it over in his head. He hates orks, but he likes freedom more and lowers the gun with a sigh. “Alright, open the limo, we’re watching you.” The guns are on me, but not on the orks, who immediately scamper out of sight. Perfect. This is just what I wanted.

One elf gets in first, the rest follow, then the leader and I get in. With me as a hostage, they are sure Lone Star won’t try anything like disable the car. Suddenly, my friend comes in subvocally. “Move two seats over. The rest are electrified. You know what to do.”

I get up and congratulate the elves, and start serving them pure spring water. They are laughing as if they had finally won.

And then the seats came on and stunned them, followed by my most powerful stunball I could cast. And suddenly, the elves were down.

I shook off the tiny twinge because I had betrayed their trust. I hoped I wasn’t becoming more like Stray with each passing day. The world needs a few people who don’t look at the worst of it all.
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Draco18s
post Nov 15 2009, 11:11 PM
Post #9


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Shadowrun Log (Day (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cool.gif) :

A good runner is hard to kill. No one knows that better than I do. I’ve run for 10 years. They were my family, my friends, and my enemies. And I’ve seen good runners die. My mentor, Nines, took three slugs to the chest from a shotgun, tearing open his abdomen and forcing one hand to carry the tattered remnants of his organs, and he still managed to stab the guy and cripple his hand before he finally went down.

Nines was a damn good runner. And a damn good friend. Taught me everything he could about living life on the streets. One thing that he gave me was an eye for talent. That was how he found me, and he gave the same secret to me.

What is it? A little of this, and a little of that.

A loud crash sounds from topside. Our esteemed landlord called me up on my comm and told me to get up there pronto. To greet us is a rather unusual sight. A Honda crumple-car, destroyed, right through the center of the doorway. On the hood is an unconscious elf wearing urban camouflage, heavily wounded.

“Right…how the hell did this happen?”

“How the hell should I know? The damn car just went right through. You are paying for this.” He gruffly orders.

“Me? I didn’t cause this!” I try to fight back, but I realize that it’s no use. He had us in a bind. A crowd starts to gather around the car. A crowd meant witnesses, and questions, and no one wanted that. I quickly start to get into control.

“All right, this guy looked completely drunk. If any of you guys want to give me your names and contact information so that the police can use you as witnesses, I’d much appreciate it.”

The crowd looked at each other hesitantly, then quickly dispersed, citing ‘places I need to be.’ I grinned. No one liked questions…not even the crowd, apparently. Twitch calls up a quick and quiet chop shop to take the car, and I pull the body off the hood. A quick search through his possessions yields some interesting results. A sniper rifle, a shotgun, some B&E equipment, and a credstick containing some nuyen. I chuck it over to the landlord, and he reads it.

“Still a grand short,” he grins. What a night indeed.

Jack and I fork over the nuyen, Murk heals the guy, and I take him down to the basement. “We’ll take care of him.” While he’s unconscious, I tie him up to a chair. As he stirs, I light up a smoke and sit, feet on the table in front of me, and my pistol resting in my lap. He slowly opens his eyes.

“Good morning, sunshine.” I say with a sarcastic grin. Suddenly, it sinks in who is sitting across from him. He gulps visibly and tries to match my eyes, but can’t.

“Where am I?”

“That’s not really important now, is it? A better question than that would be, what do I plan to do with you.”

He struggles against his bonds, loosening the ropes a bit. I quickly point my Ares at him. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you…I don’t know if you fully grasp the situation, but you are not simply escaping.”

He stops struggling. I take a long drag of my cigarette and breathe in his face. “Smart…Maybe there’s hope for you yet. I took a look through your gear. That’s some pretty interesting stuff. Shotguns and sniper rifles are generally not the entre du jour in your standard car. I’m willing to bet you’re a runner.”

He starts to say something, but I hold up my hand, “Oh, don’t worry, I already know. I know the type. And I can guess you’re probably not the wheelman. Now…you caused quite a bit of damage up top. The way I see it, you have two choices. I either kill you and pawn your stuff, or you work off the debt for me.”

‘Twitch, get down here.’ I order, just to be on the safe side.

“Oh, there’s always option number three,” I continue as I hear Twitch approach. “You can try to snap those bonds, and try and kill me under heavy fire. You’d fail, but you’re more than welcome to try.”

“Well, considering the help you have coming, I don’t think I’ll be doing that.”

“Spoken like a true prodigy.” Twitch is behind me now, assault rifle ready, if necessary. The elf studies the streetsam for a second, and then his eyes light up in recognition. “He’s the one on the news that went through the Renraku mall. And you call me a bad driver!” Humor was a good thing in a runner. It kept the persistent grind of getting shot at from getting to you.

“I’d be inclined to say that was pretty remarkable driving myself.” I grin and light up another smoke.

“Well, I’ll work for you. They call me Dusk.”

“No no no, that’s not going to work at all.” I shake my head. “You’re wearing camo. I’m going to call you Patches.” Humor was a very good thing for a runner. Sometimes, a good joke is the only thing keeping you from swallowing your sidearm.

He doesn’t even give me an answer, and I just laugh. “Oh well, Patches.” I catch a hint of frustration and rage, and I’m quick to placate him, “You’re welcome for the healing, by the way.”

He seethes for a bit, but generally accepts that he’s lost. I don’t plan on calling him Patches, I just wanted to piss him off. I give a nod to Twitch, who cuts his bonds. His equipment, for the most part, is laying in a pile behind me. His credstick, commlink, and guns, naturally, aren’t.

“Anyway, Patches. You can call me Stray. That rather intimidating fellow is Twitch. I’ll introduce you to the rest of the team later.”

As he is pawing through his equipment, he looks at me. “My guns?”

“I’m not letting you near a firearm right yet. Consider me healthily paranoid.”

“And my money and commlink?”

“Well, your commlink is upstairs. I didn’t want you calling for backup when you awoke in my humble abode. And your money went towards fixing the new front door you made. Now tell me how you got through there, and I may give you back your comm.”

Patches tells me how his team was set up by their Johnson. The money was in screamer funds on a timer, and his team was naded. Fortunately, sitting behind the troll gave him a shield as well as a foul smelling cloud of explosive troll viscera. Wounded, he grabbed what he could and escaped in the closest car he could find. He was able to get away intact, but the cheap tire blew and he drove into a building as he was losing blood.

“Quite a story. You’re a pretty good scrapper, you know that.” I compliment him and toss him his comm.

I tell Murk to take care of him while I call my fixer. “Hey, been a while. Need a job.”

“I’ve got just the thing. A Johnson needs an extraction from the Renraku arc. Meet him at the following coordinates. Oh, and dress nice.”

Dress nice? I slipped on my business suit and had Jack drive Murk and I to the bar we’re meeting the Johnson. Murk masks himself to look like a million bucks. I wave to the bouncer and am escorted to the Johnson. He’s wearing a 3000 nuyen suit and actually appears to be underdressed. He is sweating profusely and shakes my hand. We move over to a booth.

“There’s a guy we want. He was born in the Renraku arc and we want him to work for us. We’ll offer you nine G’s to extract him for us.

I almost choked on my drink. Nine grand for an extraction? The going rate was 20! Murk didn’t look too happy to hear that either. “Here, talk to him, I’ve got to get a light. You don’t mind, do you?” I ask the Johnson, who shakes his head.

Murk quickly talks him up, explaining, well, everything wrong with his offer. I shoot the Johnson a rather intimidating look, like a shadowrunner was born to do. He seems visibly unnerved, and Murk jumps the price to 23 total. Not a bad change of events. I thank the Johnson and get the specifications. He needs to be out within the week.

“Let’s grab some keycards from the Renraku arc’ers, Murk. Then we’ll be able to get in and out, no hassle. Jack drives us over to the Renraku mall where Murk and I go into a store. Murk chats up the attendant, I swipe his keycard, copy the information in my keycard copier, and replace it on his belt.

A flower store attendant, a game store clerk, a lobby boy in a fast food restaurant, no mall employee was safe. We took six keycards before our copier read insufficient memory. Then to my surprise, we actually saw a memorial set up for the poor people killed in the prior drivethrough of the mall. Murk stands next to the hasty memorial and prays for a second. Soon, he stands up, grinning.

As we’re in the van driving away, I had to bite. “So what’s so funny, Murk?”

“I’ve summoned a watcher spirit. When they take down the memorial, he’ll cry.”

I chuckle, then Murk, Jack, and I share a hearty laugh. It really was poetic. We head back to the merc hotel where Twitch is keeping an eye on Patches. Jack takes the keycard copier and starts making the cards. In about one day, he has six cards, fresh on the table.

“Alright…I think it’s going to be Murk, Patches, and me. If you get this right, Patches, I’ll let you in as a full member of the Dogs. Maybe I’ll even give you a better name. Alright, I’m going to get in first and attach a commlink so Jack can hack into Renraku. We’ll find the target, and then Murk will mask him so he looks like someone different. Then we leave. Patches, you’re with us in case it goes down. Twitch, you guard the van. Jack, you know the drill. I’ll take three keycards, two for me, one for the target. Murk, you take two. Patches, you’ve got one. Don’t use it unless you have to.”

The Dogs pile into the van and head over to the Renraku arc. I yawn a bit, it’s 7:00 in the morning and I am a night owl. But this was really the ideal time. I head in the arc first, swiping my keycard and heading up to the public terminals. I access one, hacking into the records file with Jack’s exploit program and then connecting the commlink. I attach it magnetically to the back of the plassteel desk drawer, the alter the front of it to make it appear as if it is closed. Smooth as silk.

“Alright, got the target. 40th floor. Murk, Patches, head up there.”

We rendezvous at the elevators and walk down to our target’s room. We knock and hear a faint ‘just a minute.’ The sounds of water being turned off told us all we needed. Showertime for the target. He answers the door hesitantly, and confused. I try to optical feed him to avoid eavesdroppers, but he doesn’t have cybereyes. Instead, I talk to him.

“Hey there. We’re the movers.” I subtly inflect my voice

“Oh, right. Let me just get my things.” He nods and turns around

“Alright, don’t take too long.”

He gets his things and Murk drops the Mask spell as he walks out the door. I slide him a keycard and we head towards the elevator. Call me suspicious, but it seemed too easy. “Murk, take him down first. Patches and I will stagger our exit.”

Murk nods and heads into the elevator. After a few minutes, he reports. “Stray, my ID isn’t working.”

Christ, of course. The hounds must have picked up something strange. It was ok, Murk had the other ID and he was close to the exit. But I needed to get out. “Change of plans, Patches, we leave now.” I head into the elevator and hit the lobby button. Patches and I get out and I swipe my second card without even bothering to check my first. We head out to street level where Jack picks us up. The target is visibly shaken.

“Some security stopped me. Suspicious ID use, apparently. I think they were just stalling for the Red Samurai.”

The Red Samurai filled any runner with dread. The elite Renraku task force, the Red Samurai were some of the most wicked killers in this world. Deadly and efficient, and sworn to the Bushido code, they were men you didn’t screw with, if you liked your fingers.

:”How did you get out?” I asked Murk, wondering about tails.

“Oh, I just made up an excuse. You seemed to avoid their trap, so they won’t be too pressing.”

Good, that made me relieved. Jack drove us to the drop point. I told the target to wait while I went in. I talked to the bartender and he directed me to the room in the back. Jack hacked the room to read five wireless signals coming from the room. I knocked politely on the door to see one man.

Wait, weren’t their five signals? Somehow, the knowledge didn’t register on my brain. Like there was some type of obscuring fog, hiding the truth in the growing shadows.

“Where’s the target?” The person in the room asks, obviously wanting this to be done and over with. I look at the briefcase in the center of the table. “Is that the payment?”

“Yes, it is.” He agrees with a respectful nod.

“Open it.” I order. He complies, and a single credstick is in the case. Why go through the trouble of the case. The closest I can figure is that he doesn’t want to be seen handing me a credstick. But the stick checks out. I summon the Dogs and tell them to bring the target. They come in with full battle gear, weapons readied. I get confused.

“Stray, can you toss me the case?” Murk asks politely. I do so and he misses completely. I chuckle. “Nice catch.” He looks toward Patches, who looks at the case. “Are you going to pick it up?” I ask Murk and Patches. I get up to leave and Patches suddenly grabs the case and swings it at me. I brace for impact but it passes right through me.

The entire thing was an illusion! I see the entire squad of five guys now. I pretend like I’m hit, cursing Patches out and saying that I will get even for making me look like an idiot in front of the Johnson.

I hate it when they try to stiff me. And I hate being made a fool of. But the thing I hated most of all was that these idiots actually thought they were going to get away with the first two.

The air was still for a second. The patrons had cleared out, but eight men remained in the bar, including the bartender. These weren’t our Johnson’s men. This was a third corp, trying to cash in They wanted the target. What they were about to get were the furies of Hell.

They should have asked nicely. Then they wouldn't have had to die
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Draco18s
post Nov 17 2009, 10:16 AM
Post #10


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Shadowrun Log (Day 9):

Some say there is nothing more pure than combat. That is, when two men fight without polticial manipulation, promises of money, vengance for lost loves, or anything of that sort. Bleed those away to primal forces and it becomes the most beautiful thing imaginable, they say. When all of the illusions of the world are dispelled and you channel everything into your fists, or knives, or guns, or whatever.

I must be a cancer then. But I held no illusions about being pure. I was as sickeningly black as my lungs, but I had my thousands of nuyen to console me. And wouldn't you know it, I still slept easy at night.

The mercenaries thought everything was going to go smoothly. Grab the target with no work and get the full pay from whoever their Johnson had to be. It’s all a scream when everything seems to just fall into your lap.

Never happens. Not when you’re a shadowrunner. And when it does, you’re walking into a trap. That didn’t apply just to the Dogs, but every runner alive. Good for us, bad them.

In the room, we had the mage, a dwarf with a tube and backpack on his back, two mercs with assault rifles, one cybered-up street samurai, and one guy who seemed very unassuming. Behind us, about 8 goons who didn’t realize what they were up against.

Twitch noticed the bartender tossing a shotgun to a goon standing right next to the bar and pulling one of his own out. He leveled his rifle and shot an HE grenade directly onto the bar. In an instant, polished wood ignited, glasses exploded, and alcohol suddenly realized one of it’s more entertaining qualities. The bartender fell against the wall, the entire front side of his body burned and bleeding, to lay in a puddle of quickly burning booze. The other goon was blown backwards, set on fire, crashing over a table where some nearby goons were standing behind. They ducked to avoid the body, but they quickly took cover behind the overturned table. Then, he pointed his gun at the mage, waiting for him to cast a spell.

Two of the mercs, one cybered up and the other wearing a concealing jacket moved between the Dogs and their mage, who was probably their employer. How amusing to know they had such work ethic. The street-sam readied two cyber blades and looked ready to block any incoming projectiles. The second took a more lethal approach and lobbed an HE grenade to come to a stop right beneath my feet.

I felt insulted, that was my job. I dove for the ‘nade, gripping it and pulling out two flashbangs of my own. I hurled all three of them back at the mercs, watching them clink off each other as they rolled to land to a stop on the western wall. I drew my pistols and prepared for the bullets to fly. At the same time, I heard Jack’s van outside unloading on the three guards that we saw outside, giving them hot lead full body piercings. One of the mercs saw my returned ‘nade and dove on them, trying to pick them up. He succeeded on the dive, but couldn’t grab the nade. He fumbled for it and chucked it back at us, landing not an inch from where it started. The second merc leveled his assault rifle and unloaded 15 bullets into Murk, who stumbled over and clutched his bleeding chest. He ran out of the room, taking cover and healing himself.

Patches grabbed the grenade and hurled it into the room, landing under the dwarf’s feet. Then he turned towards the assembled goons and pulled out his shotgun and shot three shells full of the new buckshot, slivers of razor-sharp metal, directly towards an assembled group of two of them. Their faces torn apart, they took cover behind an overturned table, trying not to attract attention. Unfortunately, Patches also struck an assembled group of bystanders who tried to hide as opposed to running, tearing into them nastily.

The goons returned fire, firing pistols at Twitch, Patches, and Murk, who didn’t really mind them too much. Their leader took an assault rifle and emptied the clip at me, spraying my area to ensure he hit. He did, and I just laughed as my orthoskin, armor, and tuned-up body took the bullets.

The dwarf grabbed the grenade and threw it, then shot a sticky messy glob of paste at it, nailing it to the corner. The paste would inhibit the grenade’s explosion, so it wouldn’t hurt his team. However, it wouldn’t hurt the Dogs either.

Bad trade, shorty. Bad trade.

The mage tried to get a spell off, but Twitch’s gun fired upon him, sending one bullet straight through the top of his skull, downing him in an instant. He didn’t even have a chance to scream, his head just went back and he fell.

I heard screeching tires as Jack’s van backed up and he unloaded on the assembled guards again, dropping them. His drones went into the front of the bar, tagging all the goons hiding behind cover in a luminescent glow on my HUD. They fired on the two goons Patches had torn up with his shotgun, finishing them off.

Twitch turned toward the mercenaries, aiming his mounted grenade launcher one more time, launching grenades at the ceiling and floor next to the street samurai. The second pulled out two throwing knives and tried to deflect them.

He might as well have tried to deflect a truck. The grenades exploded, sending the street-samurai and the knife adept, as I could tell from his armnament, flying backwards, falling in a pile near the dwarf. Then, came the explosions. Our grenade tennis match had completed, with the HE grenade exploded in the wall, shaking up our target but not hurting anyone, but my flashbangs were much worse.

A brilliant white light filled the room, blinding me and everyone else in the room. The man who tried to dive on them wasn’t moving, but the rest were still standing. I shot twice times at the assault rifle-toting merc who had made a mess of Murk, and he fell, oozing blood out of two head wounds.

Patches leveled his shotgun again, shooting another three shells at a group of three goons and turning them into paste. Then, he ran over to where the leader was taking cover and emptied his clip on him and their bodyguard. Maybe they never realized what they were up against as the metal rounds tore their body to shreds, littering Patches and the ground with orkish blood. We’ll never know. They never had a chance to beg for mercy, they were just gone. The people who took cover behind another table were likewise liquidated.

Sure, I felt bad for them, but they should have run rather than hide. And this was a harsh reality, and innocent bystanders were just collateral damage and an inevitable part of shadowrunning.

The dwarf realized that it was quickly going south, so he grabs the bleeding mage and hightails it, trying to escape us with his stubbly little legs. He shoves the emergency door open and books it down an alley. Twitch and I give chase while Patches starts to grab gear and Murk heals the bystanders who didn’t die. I get out the door first, seeing the dwarf running for a sewer grate. As if he’s getting away with this bastard. I unload four shots at him, trying to stop the running dwarf from escaping with someone I desperately wanted to get even with. The first shot hits him in the shoulder, causing him to lurch to the side and drop the target. The rest impact him squarely in the back, dropping him to the ground.

I haul his body when I hear Murk report in, “One of the guys has gotten up. He’s running!” He heads out the back door, but Twitch is ready for him, firing his assault rifle until he stops moving. Patches has gotten the gear removed and Twitch looks behind the bar in a walk-in freezer for anyone waiting in the wings. Finding nothing, he grabs a case of beer. We haul the merc bodies into the van and peel out. I grab credsticks that the mercs had. Probably their payment for eliminating us, which at 15,000 was completely not worth it. And now it was ours for their failure.

I could just imagine them waking up in their own personal firepit, and the first thing they say would be “Man, we should’ve gotten paid more. They weren’t the idiots that the employer made them out to be.” And then, they’d see everyone else we’d taken out, and realize, after it truly mattered, what exactly it was they were up against.

I call up the Johnson and report that the situation is under control. He wants us to meet him at a carpark to deliver the target. We pull up and there’s the Johnson, eyeing a couple of ganger very nervously. This was just what we needed, another problem. I tell Twitch to take care the gangers while I deliver the target. They don’t appear nervous when they see Twitch, and one grabs a metal pipe and eggs Twitch on. He doesn’t miss a beat and slices the pipe with his whip, cutting it into segments so only the ganger is holding a very small piece of metal in his hand. Wisely, he backs up, visibly shaken.

My dealing with the Johnson goes much better. I look at him and he tries to compose himself, very poorly.

“Wh…what happened?”

“We were set up. A group of mercs were trying to take the target from us. Everything’s good though. He’s fine.” I gesture toward the target, who looks incredibly scared. Fine, I say. For a guy who’s lived in the Renraku arc all his life, I’m amazed he didn’t piss himself.

“I…see. Well, you delivered him, and he doesn’t appear to be wounded.”

“How much would it be worth to you if I told you who the guys were that were moving against you?” I offer, trying to squeeze the most out of our deal.

“Not much.” He shoots me down instantly. Cheap bastard. Doesn’t he understand the life of a shadowrunner demands that anything and everything has a price tag?

“So, hand us over the payment and we can consider this a done deal.”

He takes my credstick and punches in 23,000. I take it cheerfully from the Johnson and put it in my pocket. Patches lets the target go to the Johnson, who 180’s and instantly starts talking about exciting business opportunities. A perfect example of someone who’s a slave to the corps. He was perfect in his environment, worthless everywhere else. I wasn’t like them, I was a social chameleon, high-society and sprawl ganger all at once.

There’s one thing we had in common. We screwed people over, big time.

The dogs head back to the safehouse where we split the loot and repair our gear. I loan out some money to Jack and help him buy some more hacking programs to spoof his presence and make him a better cybercombat.

“Patches, good work out there. You’re just like I thought, kid. Natural talent, but need some experience with how it all works. You’re one of the Stray Dogs, now. I see you like books in print. I’ll leave you to your habits, bizarre and antique they may be. But that gives me an idea. I’m going to call you Sketch.”

“Sketch…well, it’s better than Patches anyway.”

So, the Dogs were back up to five, with a capable sniper/shotgunner that had a few anger management issues and the most bizarre tastes in literature. With a chain-smoking cynical smuggler turned compulsive liar, drugged-up street samurai with aspirations of public enemy number one, a machine and Matrix whiz with enough guns to start the Apocalypse, and an Awakened Jiminey Cricket in the form of a Lone Star negotiator who took the law into his own hands, he fit right in.

When you get the job done, does it really matter how bizarre you are? As long as the nuyen was flowing, I'd work with the Devil himself.

But then I'd have to admit that I wasn't him.
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Draco18s
post Nov 20 2009, 03:54 AM
Post #11


Immortal Elf
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Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 10):

The city and I are one. The skyscrapers my bones, the streets my veins, and of course, the people my sustenance. I’ve done it for so long; I’ve made it into an art form, and a most notable one at that. Explosions and bullets tend to be rather notable, even in this age.

While we were relaxing, I picked up some shackles for the mage we had captured. They were excellent for neutralizing his pesky magics. He was going to be out for a while though. Neither Twitch nor I felt like being very nice to the mage, just to keep him from dying.

While waiting for the mage to wake up, I gave my fixer a call, looking for work. He thinks for a bit, and says he’s got something from an employer over at the Salis-Shidhe Council Embassy. Listening to his voice, I can tell he’s not trying to screw us over, but the job wasn’t going to be a waltz in the park. Which meant the pay was going to be high. No risk, no reward. That was the game.

Jack took Murk, Sketch, and I over to the Salis-Shidhe embassy. The passcodes we got let us through the gate easily enough. The island was something straight out of a convoluted elven imagination. The entire place was packed with what appeared to be wooden longhomes. As dense as any city, but wood, or at least what appeared to be wood in this day and age. Despite being packed, greenery overgrew these area, wrapping everywhere. I stifled the urge to flick my cigarette onto the nearest plant and burn this place to the ground. I was fairly certain the trees would fall on me for blasphemy. I sighed and lit another cigarette to relax.

The embassy had two very strange looking elves. They wore flak jackets and carried assault rifles, yet their faces were painted with tribal designs and feathers. I simply sighed. Murk was going to have to do the talking this time. As far as they were concerned, I was a polluted lower lifeform.

Now, I freely admit the pollution, don’t get me wrong. Even taking out the cigarettes, the littering, and the property damage, my rather colorful history over the past ten years was certainly enough to stain my soul black. But I hate being disdained simply because I wasn’t an elf, or because I didn’t have a SiN, or because I wasn’t Awakened.

I do damn good for what I have, make no mistake.

Murk talked to the guards and they admitted us into a room where a rather regal looking elf was standing, dressed with the bizarre modern/nature fusion that everyone else in the compound had been wearing. He looks at us and immediately moves over to Murk, who he guesses to be the talker. Again with the arrogance.

“You must be the ones. Thank you for coming. I hear from your contact that you are quite skilled at getting things done. Well, your shady past aside, I am offering you a legal job.”
One on the straight? Made sense for an embassy suit, but why hire runners? There were plenty of ways to get legitimate uses of men with guns. Knight Errant, Ares’s contracted security company, was one.

Murk cocked his head. “What sort of job did you have in mind?”

“A group of guard dogs escaped in the forests. They’ve been gone for a year and have returned with a vengeance, taking out a few villages. We want you to take out the entire pack and destroy their lairs. We’re willing to pay 200 per head for any of the capable adults.”

200? Bull, the job was worth ten times that, easy. I transmit my thoughts to Murk, who immediately agrees and starts negotiating. Bemoaning how he was an urban elf really made the guy feel at ease and superior, so we were able to talk him up to 2,500 per head, and 100 for each of the puppies. Easy to fight or not, they needed bullets, and they didn’t grow on trees.

“What kind of dogs are these?” I ask, remembering some things from my past about dogs. “Barghests?”

“No, hellhounds.” Great…a pack of fire-breathing dogs. I hated this job. Hated it with a passion.

“How many are there?” Murk asked. The elf is quick to answer the question.

“15 escaped, but there will be more since they have whelped since then.”

I don’t want the job. I hate the forest. I hate fire. I hate these guys. Those three would normally have me laughing in their face, were it just me. But it wasn’t just me. The Dogs had a say.

“I say we take it. We can use legitimate work for once.” Murk offers.

“I’ll do it. The money is very good.” Jack agrees.

“I don’t like it,” Sketch backs me up. “A pack of canines in a forest isn’t worth the pay.”

2 and 2. Twitch isn’t here, but I already know what he’ll say. We have to take the job, and I let out a resigned sigh. Murk starts discussing VTOL insertion and extraction with the elf while I just look around, wondering if I’m going to be torn apart by dogs in Salis-Shidhe.

In the van, I discuss our plan with Murk.

“We need a tracker. Someone skilled in the forest. Also, we don’t know anything about hellhounds. We’ll need some info. Jack, we’re picking up a knowsoft.” I tell the assembled team. A knowsoft was a brain in chip-form. Slightly expensive, but I find one that knows hellhounds very easily. I plug it into my skilljack and suddenly my brain is abuzz with knowledge of the damnable beasts. I start sifting through it while we drive back to the safehouse.

Jack posts on the shadowrunner boards for a tracker. Murk summons a spirit army to aid us. Sketch goes and gets forest camo, camping supplies and some explosives for the caves, when we get them. After a bit, Murk goes to meet one tracker, a troll who lives for the hunt. Murk knows what he’s doing, so I let him worry about bargaining.

I’ve got a visit with a mage.

I bring down some equipment to help my persuasion. A tent stake, a mallet, and a blowtorch. As he stirs, I am the first thing he sees.

“Rise and shine.” I laugh, savoring the moment as well as my smoke.

“Where…where am I?”

“Your bigger concern is what I plan to do with you.”

He tries to concentrate for a second, and when he sees nothing happening, he realizes fully the situation he’s in.

“Mage shackles are a real pain, aren’t they?” I enjoy the look of fear he has when he realizes that he is at my mercy.

“Let’s play a game. I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to give me an answer. If you answer wrong…well, let’s just say you don’t want to answer wrong…Now tell me…who hired you?”

“I don’t know,” he confesses, “Our fixer just set us up with a job. It was just to intercept a group of runners. That’s all I know!”

I know he’s lying. His voice tips me off right away. I wanted to show him that I wasn’t screwing around, not today. I took the stake and hammered it into his right arm, drawing a scream.

“Now, who hired you? I don’t think I need to ask a third time.”

Looking nervously at the blowtorch and the assortment of stakes, he wisely confesses. It was Aztech, looking for vengeance for the cyberzombie run. Bygones be bygones weren’t a policy of megacorps. But we took them out, and Aztech lost us again.

“How much did they pay you?”

“A hundred…”

“A hundred? Money well spent, it looks like.” I sarcastically remark. 100 grand for these incompetents? The price on our head had jumped again. I wondered how high it would go. 200,000? 4? A mil? The possibilities were endless when you were with a group like the Dogs.

“What?” He remarked.

“I’m just saying that you were really, really bad. I mean, they’d have had better luck hiring us to kill our ourselves rather than blowing 100 thou on you. I mean, now we know that they’re willing to drop six digits for us, and you barely nicked us. Man, you’re unbelievably overpriced. I would’ve paid you, 10 grand, just so you can die and serve as a message, not 100 to actually try!”

“Want to say that to my face?”

I lean down, to say it and smack him for being indignant, when a tongue dart lashes out at me. Fortunately, he’s too wounded to aim, and it doesn’t even hit. I move in, grabbing his mouth and taping it shut. Suddenly, he goes limp, his eyes and nose leaking blood. A cranial bomb! He was so hopelessly out that he killed himself rather than be tortured at my hand.

Maybe he wasn’t so stupid after all.

Twitch took the body to his ghoul. When Murk came back, he had asked questions about what happened to the mage, but I was able to fast-talk my way out of confessing my greater sin. Murk had hired the troll for 10, plus a small piece of the bounty per head. We relaxed for the day, prepping our equipment the run ahead. The next day, we pick up our tracker and head out back to the embassy, ready for action. Along the ride, I tell the troll about hellhounds at length, allowing him to know exactly what to look for.

The VTOL ride was uneventful, and the craft quickly approaches the first village. Murk asks him to take a flyby of the area, and the tracker and I look out over the village. He sees several locations where he can find tracks, and as the VTOL lands, he takes point and we go into a wedge formation behind him, with Sketch and I taking primary wing, Murk taking mid, Jack and two of his drones next, and Twitch guarding the rear.

The forest is thick. Trees are easily every 10 feet. However, the tracker led us through very easily, showing us where to step and more importantly, where not.

The tracker looks intently at the ground, and soon says he’s found a game trail that they hunt on. Murk binds four watcher spirits to go out in the cardinal directions above us. If they tried to sneak up on us, the watcher spirits would warn us, allowing us ample time to defend ourselves.

We follow the tracks west, using a geological map Jack took from the Matrix to find the perfect place for them to den. I see a plume of smoke to the north. Sketch reports one to the south. I start thinking. Hellhounds were Awakened, yes. But one thing the chip also told me was that their fire-breathing ability could go into astral space. Those plumes of smoke were Murk’s watcher spirits, barbecued.

From the east, Murk’s watcher spirit says something attacked him but missed. We were being hunted. Quickly, I order the party north. We can intercept one of the packs while their numbers were small to avoid being fenced in. After a few runs through trees, I see the hounds. They are retreating from us, but we weren’t letting them get away without a fight. The mutts, quite intelligent, weren’t about to get an easy ride.

We run a bit further to see that some trees were set on fire. Murk’s water spirit immediately puts it out, and I look and see four hell hounds waiting to ambush us. The hot smoke made it difficult to see them, but I tagged them on my HUD so each knew where they were.

I ran west, then turning northeast, I fired on a hellhound that wasn’t fully behind a tree. I hit him in the flank, causing him to flinch below my second bullet. The third and fourth went through it’s skull and it went down hard.

Jack fell to his face and started rigging a drone. They moved, but couldn’t fire. Damn, I wanted to see the expressions on these dogs when they became Swiss cheese.

One of the hounds ran up next to Sketch and breathed in. He exhaled sharply, expelling a jet of flame that ignited trees and consumed Sketch, the troll, and Murk. All three looked to be perfectly fine, their fireproof armor taking the blast very well.

The troll heaved his Panther Cannon and fired through a tree. The hellhound however, was ready and dodged out of the way. The heavy blast knocked over the tree and several behind it, but the hound was fine. It howled at the troll. Suddenly, the troll’s cocky grin was replaced by a face of absolute fright. The damnable beasts could conjure a vision of it’s targets worst fears, which was going to cause that troll to bolt.

My thoughts were quickly shaken as one of the hounds came up next to me. I turned as it breathed a massive gout of fire directly at me. I close my eyes and try to ignore the heat. My armor soaks it up fine, and soon the air dies down.

It’s happening again. My hands were starting to shake. Fire…I can’t stand fire. I try to breathe calmly, using my respirator to filter out the smoky air. Inhale, exhale. In, out. Stray, you’re fine. You can do this. Just relax and breathe.

The fear is still a metal lump in my throat, but I’m calm. These hounds would never know what was going to hit them. These dogs versus the Dogs wasn’t too fair. It was time to show them who was the superior species.

Maybe I wasn’t out of my element after all.
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Draco18s
post Nov 22 2009, 12:41 PM
Post #12


Immortal Elf
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Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 11):

For some people, everything in the world comes to them on a silver platter. Riches, fame, women, whatever. Those types never have to exert any effort, because they’ve got enough nuyen to never lift a finger. They’ve got mansions, yachts, and a nice pad on an Ares suborbital somewhere. Their investments always give enough interest to live surrounded by excess. Oh yeah, some people get money easy.

And some have to slaughter a pack of fire-breathing dogs out in the middle of nowhere.

Twitch took out his monofilament whip and sliced cleanly, separating the hound’s head cleanly from its shoulders. One of the hellhounds dives at the troll, tearing a piece of flesh from his arm between his armor. Sketch levels his shotgun and unloads three shells into it’s body, the flechette rounds tearing it to pieces. Another hound tries to breathe fire on me.

Fire again…The technical term was pyrophobia. But technicalities don’t mean anything now. The definition meant nothing; the books are always thrown out when it happens to you. I had been set on fire and was close to death so many times because of it that I couldn’t stand the sight of fire. My hands started to sweat, making it hard to hold my pistols. My heart starts to race as the massive gout of flame

The flame dies down from the hound’s breath, and I’m able to hold myself together well enough to stay in control of my actions. The fear isn’t gone, but I’m still in control. Murk goes next, sending his water spirit into the sky to cause a rainstorm. That would kill the fires and stop us from burning to death.

Twitch moves forward, cutting one hound with his whip, taking out it’s leg and causing it to lean painfully on one foot, drawing out a loud yelp of pain. He then turned with the hound behind him and fired bullet after bullet from his assault rifle. The hound, properly ventilated, fell over, bleeding out from it’s multiple wounds.

I grabbed my two pistols so that my knuckles turned white and sprinted out of the flames that licked the ground around me. Pointing them towards the two hounds on either side of me, I unloaded four shots, two from each gun, and the beasts went down hard, falling with twin yelps upon the ground. Jack’s drones turned and demolished two of the remaining drones, while Sketch finished off the last one, execution-style.

Twitch starts listening for any more hell hounds and sure enough, he can hear them coming, from the east and south. The Dogs immediately move to the southwest, trying to get away from one end while keeping one in combat distance. Sketch and Twitch keep listening to them by ear to hear that they were staying about 200 meters away.

“Are they herding us?” I ask rhetorically.

Murk decides to find out by checking astrally. He is shocked when he sees a watcher spirit sitting on his shoulder, glowing brightly. He quickly informs the group, and I start consulting my chip-enhanced brain. Hellhounds can’t summon spirits, the chip says. Murk quickly poofs the watcher spirit, making the dogs have a tougher trail to follow As the Dogs move, we can sense a few of them drifting out from the pack. That seems very odd, especially for pack behavior. These hell hounds didn’t have a packmind or anything, so Murk goes astral to run recon to see the reason.

When he returns, we get the correct low-down. The damn things were illusions the entire time, sent to throw us off!

“Illusions again!” I curse, knowing that hell hounds can’t summon or cast illusions. That meant there was some sort of mage with the hounds. Augumenting their considerable physical process was a master illusionist, which meant they were perfect at flushing out their prey.

Time to tip the scales.

The tracker gets back on the trail of the hell hounds and starts tracking them towards the mountains. He’s pretty banged up, but nothing too serious. Murk goes astral to see where they are going while Sketch pulls his meat body around. He sees a pack of hell hounds with an Awakened elf running with them. And when he arrives, he adamantly refuses to go astral, without telling us the reason. We split up into two groups, with Sketch, Jack, and the troll in one with Twitch, Murk, and I in the other.

They split about 300 meters later. We go after the mage’s group, knowing him to be the bigger threat. We stay split and keep running, chasing them down to the ends of the earth if necessary.

It wasn’t, as soon they turned to face us, about 100 meters away. I grabbed two grenades and cooked them off, ready to obliterate them. Twitch followed my lead and set his grenades on a timer and launched the grenades in the paths of the grenades. I hurled my frag grenades right next to the hounds, standing 50 meters away, causing flechettes to tear through many of the assembled hounds. However, this spooked the hounds and caused Twitch’s grenades to go off with fanfare, but no damage. Murk stunballed the hounds, dropping a few of them into the realm of unconsciousness. I grabbed my pistols and started to get to work.

The Johnson said that not a single one of these hounds was going to get out alive. The mage was a different story. He was wearing a wolf pelt and a poorly-fitting, obviously stolen armor jacket. He howled towards his pack, and Twitch targeted him and shot with his assault rifle, cutting holes through the trees as he stood. The mage took a heavy hit from the bullets and ducked for cover behind a tree. Jack’s drones started to move forward and sprayed the area with bullets.

The dogs are actually quite intelligent. Certainly moreso than Sketch or Twitch, maybe not as intelligent as Murk, Jack, or I. Realizing that we will simply obliterate them at close range, only a few of the larger hellhounds rush towards Jack’s group, while most simply stay back and try to use their fear powers on their group, trying to lessen the damage that they do. Smart dogs, they were. What they don’t realize, is that Jack is rigging his drones, and is thus immune. Two dogs engulf the troll in flames while a third bites him and another fears him again. That poor troll has been taken down a peg and falls down, unconscious. Sketch takes over for him and unloads on the assembled hounds, dropping one.

Suddenly, Murk starts screaming, saying a gigantic fire spirit was ready to destroy him. Twitch and I look back to see…nothing there. Sketch starts shouting as well, which confuses the two of us even more. Murk bolts away from it, heading towards Jack’s group. But rather than scratch our heads, we decide on a better course of action and between the three of us, we give the hounds a good taste of technology through superior firepower.

The hounds start howling at me and Sketch, trying to affect us with its fear power. I’m not sure what Sketch saw, but I saw the dog suddenly rise to fifteen feet, wreathed in the flames of the underworld themselves, threatening to engulf me in their infernal caress.

The fear turned my blood to ice, and my breath quickened, it was literally the most horrifying thing to ever see to me. But a little thing in the back of my mind kicked in. “It’s not real, you idiot! Now show them what a real Dog can do!” I shut my eyes and breathe out, trying to focus on my stubborn, and in this case, more rational self. When I open my eyes a moment later, the hound’s terrifying image is gone.

My cockiness has gotten me into trouble more than once. But this time, it was saving my neck. The score was still two to ten billion, but for once, I was glad that I was just ornery enough to resist even the magical powers of Awakened critters.

And the really nice thing was, bullets were rather indiscriminate about how stubborn you were. I proved this more and more and I liquidated hound after hound with my guns.

Sketch didn’t fare so well, when I looked back to check on him, the blood had drained from his face. His fears were his own, and he didn’t seem ready to confront them yet.

Murk, with some motions of his hands, recovers from shaking and turns back to the situation. Upon later discussion, he would tell me of what he saw. A gigantic fire spirit, which was simply an illusion designed to scare him. He had cast it in astral space, which was why he was too scared to go back into it. But it was nothing more than a powerful illusion the whole time.

Between Jack, Twitch, and I, we obliterate the last bits of the pack when the mage realizes how bad this is going to be. He bolts, but Twitch pegs him in the back with a dart, filled with narcojet. The mage stumbles a bit and falls over, the potent tranquilizer coursing through his body. Pleased that we didn’t kill the mage, Murk began composing what he was going to say to our Johnson about getting a bit of reward money on top of the kill cred for the hounds. Sketch patches up the troll with the best medkit money can buy and stops the mage from bleeding to death, though he obviously doesn’t show the same care that he would give a real patient. Murk heals the troll as well, who leans painfully on his panther cannon. He was a good tracker that just happened to have ‘hell hound vittles’ on his scent or something. Poor guy, I genuinely felt bad for him. He was a hell of a tracker, I would admit, and pretty damn smart for a troll. But he knew the risks, and he knew the job wasn’t over yet.

The other half of the pack howled in the distance. I told the troll to take cover while the Dogs formed up.

That Johnson probably never expected us to walk away from this one. He thought we were going to die a dog’s death.

He was going to have to settle for a pack of them and a deep hole in his bank account. Remember how I said I felt bad for that poor troll?

My sympathy doesn’t extend to the Johnson’s checkbook.
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Draco18s
post Nov 23 2009, 01:03 PM
Post #13


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 12):

There’s a Shadowrun MMO now. Ever since certain events in history were inevitably backed by the great runners of those days. Nightwraith of 2033, Chicago a.k.a. Bug City in 2055, and the removal of Saito from the California Free State in recent history. It only makes sense that people would idolize the men who worked behind the scenes, making the world happen the way it happened. Why the hell do you think conspiracy theories are so popular? I’ve played it once, just to see what the big craze was about. And what I got called to attention everything I knew about faux-runners

They don’t have a damn clue.

Being a runner means living every day constantly looking over your shoulder, forced to live constantly evading the pigs and the guys who made Lone Star look like a church choir. And the missions were like in the trid flicks or the simsense rec’s, oh no.

For example, get thrown into the middle of a goddamn jungle with fire-breathing dogs ready to roast you like a Christmas soy-ham.

The troll took cover as the hell hounds charged towards us, ready to avenge their fallen pack. Twitch and I kicked off the explosive party, then took cover, forcing them to come closer as opposed to using their fear power.

They weren’t even a challenge this time, with Murk able to counterspell them. Murk stunned clusters of them, forcing them to separate, which made them easy pickings for Twitch, Jack, and I. Sketch was guarding the troll, making sure the first hound knew what happened when you got the business end of an autoshotty to the face.

If I have to spell it out for you, you’re listening to the wrong guy. Go buy the latest Oscar-winner trid. They’ve got people coming to terms with things and happy endings. This is a life dancing to the beat of bullets and kept moving with old-fashioned nuyen, nothing else.

With the last of the hounds dead, we needed to move away from the rapidly burning forest. The rain from Murk’s water spirit had gotten harder and harder. It was time to break out all the camping supplies I hadn’t broken in yet.

The Dogs headed southwest, the rain suppressing but not killing the blaze. We moved about ten-and-a-half kilometers before we decided to pitch camp. I was used to being wet and cold, and so was Twitch, but the rest looked perfectly bleak and miserable. I volunteered to take the first watch, since I wasn’t tired yet, having not been hurt by the hounds.

About four hours into it, I heard the sound of a helicopter in the sky. Crouching down, I scanned the skies looking for it, activating my implanted nightvision. My eyes glowed a bright green and I saw the chopper. I woke up Jack, his expertise being the most useful here. He hacked through my commlink, so we could hear what they were saying.

As it turned out, the fires the hellhounds attracted the attention of the border guards, who found the bodies of the hellhounds and was wondering what caused the deaths of all these bothersome hellhounds.

And they found it, as their hacker got through my heavy firewalls and found my commlink.

“We know you’re there! Identify yourself!” They shout over a loudspeaker in Sperethiel, the elven language. I immediately deactivate my commlink and hide inside the tent. Murk casts Physical Mask on the tent to make it appear to be a rock. Twitch hides further away, out in the woods.

With my ears, I can hear them shout out something to the effect of ‘spray them’ and I wonder what size minigun they must have in order to indiscriminately spray the forest. However, I’m surprised to see that it’s not bullets, but fluorescent pink paint, making footprints and bodies easy to track. Covered in the illusion as we were, we didn’t move. When the chopper scanned the surrounding area for movement, we acted. Pushing on the tent, we rolled it out of the area of the paint, coating it, but not us, in the paint. We got out and Murk levitated the tent, while I put an incendiary grenade inside it, burning all scraps of evidence.

Fortunately, I didn’t set any more of their precious forest on fire.

The troll is wounded, but he leads on a less trackable path, using his skill at finding tracks to avoid stepping on bad locations. Murk levitates to avoid making tracks, while Twitch and I use our skill at infiltration to mask our tracks.

We head towards the mountains, the rain beating on us every step of the way, slowing our progress. Since all of us have lowlight vision, it’s rather easy to see, but since the ground patrol has a larger area to search, specifically, all the areas we weren’t going, we were outpacing them.

About a few hours later, we come across a cave, with four hell hounds standing guard outside of it. Finally, their lair, after all this searching. The border patrol are far away from us now, so I lob two more grenades at the four adults guarding the outside.

Call me unoriginal if you want. I go with what works.

One lands right next to them, while one bounces a few meters into the cave. Like I care. Different measures to the same ends. They detonate without too much trouble as the Dogs close in on the wounded dogs. Murk stunballs them while Twitch tears two to bloody pieces with his monofilament whip. I pull out my pistols and cap the other two, leaving the rest of the dogs high and dry without the fun.

How selfish of me.

We go towards the time-consuming task of exterminating the puppies, assuring that the hellhounds would never bother the Johnson again, Sketch duct-taped a blanket over the cave entrance and Murk masked it to look like a mudslide over the cave wall.

Suddenly, a slight barking drew my attention. I turned to see Murk, seated upon the cavern floor, rubbing the ears of a hellhound puppy affectionally.

I really wasn't paying attention when Murk did bodycount math, preferring instead to get the meddlesome problem of the border guards out of the way. The puppy barked innocently, coughing out a little plume of smoke.

I guess blood called to blood. I let Murk take it as long as he was the one who fed it and replaced his furniture. I sure as hell wasn't going to let it turn my place into cinders.

That taken care of, Murk then contacted the Johnson, asked for VTOL extraction.

He sounded pissed when he heard that the border patrol was after us, and then came the lynchpin.

“How many hounds were out there?”

I answered before Murk could, “More than 38.”

If he was drinking, I bet he would’ve choked. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Murk took the helm again and started talking the Johnson up. Johnson obviously didn’t want to pay over 100 big ones for pest control. But a contract was a contract, and anyone worth his salt knows you don’t stiff a runner. Not if you want everyone you care about to live a nice life. The arms of a shadowrunner were long and indiscriminate.

And in my case, frequently messy.

“And the border patrol are on us.”

“Really? Crap, call me in about three hours.”

We still had our ace in that mage. And we were playing a big hand. We still had wireless connectivity here. One uplink could blow this story wide open. The Salish-Shidhe Council hires Seattle felons to do their dirty work? A political black eye that UCAS politicians, if they were smart, could really milk to their advantage. Not to mention that the cred of the Council went down the toilet. The Johnson had two difficult choices, either pay us the money and be forced to explain the expense, or leave us for dead and risk national scandal.

Not to mention revenge, when we got out. And if he doubted us, well, my smuggling roots were going to bite him in the ass. When you knew the ins and outs of the border guards and the best routes to take, the Johnson would soon see us on his front doorstep.

The border guards showed up and we stayed completely silent, our commlinks off. With the mudslide over our cave, they wisely moved on, finding no trace of us. We camped out for three hours, killing time by telling old jokes and recanting old stories.

After the three hours, we called the Johnson up, punctual as usual. He is audibly shocked to see us still alive, and that our price was still the same. The final count was 52 hell hounds and a few handfuls of puppies. Which put him up a creek.

“I’m not paying that! Do you have any idea how I would be able to handle that expense?”

“Not our problem, Johnson.” I sardonically remind him.

Murk and the Johnson argue some more. Finally, it looks like he might just try to back out. That’s when we throw out our ace, and show him the mage.

“That’s…unexpected.”

“Yeah, Johnson. Nothing is ever simple in this line of work.” I cockily state again.

He starts thinking it over in his head. He doesn’t want to pay the 100 grand, but this was a new vector in the equation.

“75, kill the mage and leave no trace, and I’ll send the VTOL.”

“What the hell?” I subvocally transmit angrily to the rest of the Dogs. “He wants us to pull more legwork and get off paying half what he should be! Unless we’re getting money some other way, no deal, no deal.”

“Maybe we can sell the simsense recordings to a game studio. First-hand critter vids are pretty rare. We can make a decent amount to cover the loss.”

“Fine,” I mutter, still pissed about doing the extra work, “but get him up to 80.”

Murk bargains the Johnson to 80 and we slit the unconscious mage’s throat, blow up his body, and bury it under a pile of rubble, just to be thorough.

Nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.

The storm has died down, so the Dogs slog through the muddy wilderness to make it back to the elven village where we were dropped. After about an hour of waiting, the VTOL picks us up, and as we pull out of the wilderness, I can think of one thing.

“Glad that damn mission is over.”

We were set, and soon the forests faded to the plains, then suburbs, and then the urban environment that I called my home. Seattle had its lower points, but compared to eating worms and slogging through dirt, mud, and vines, the city was paradise.

The Johnson looked at us intently as soon as we touched down. Once on the ground, we quickly transferred the simsense recordings to him and he verified their authenticity. We had done our job, so he credsticked us 80 grand, 30 short of what he really owed us, and we went on our way.

Quickly, I credsticked over the troll’s payment, accurate down to the last nuyen, and handed it to him. “Do you have some friends or a street doc we can drop you off at?” I offer, extending courtesy to our hired runner, which made me different from many of the other Johnsons.

“Yeah, I’ve got a guy who’ll patch me up good. Let me show you where he is.”

The troll did his stuff good, so we dropped him off no hassle. If we ever need someone with his expertise again, we’ve got a guy. And a troll like him was definitely useful, if we needed the muscle and could afford the cred.

Back at the safehouse, Jack started editing the simsense recordings to clean it up for the target. Murk had researched a company that wanted it, and I was getting ready to make my sales pitch. Sketch and Murk had asked to be written out. The rest of us were getting tweaked so we couldn’t be identified.

Jack makes the call, and he poses as a simsense programmer, which isn’t far from the truth. After a few moments of talking and a sample, he’s ready to be sold. Now it’s time for me to make up the difference. Jack transfers the guy on the line to his ‘agent’ and now it’s time for me to do my thing. Jack hides, but stays patched in. I may know how to speak, but Jack knows technical specs and industry buzzwords. The two of us, Jack’s brain and my mouth, working in tandem to craft a story and make it what he needs, and he loves it.

“I’ll take it, let’s talk price.”

I talk him up to 18,000 if I craft some backstory for the three characters in question, which isn’t hard for me to do, having spent enough time with them to know their little quirks. This was the first royalty for the fame, or infamy, that the Dogs would achieve.

I can’t help it, I love the limelight. I wanted to be a famous runner, like the hackers from Echo Mirage. This was my life and I desired the recognition for keeping the wheels of the Sixth World greased.

Maybe in six months, I’ll pick up the Shadowrun MMO again.

It’d be interesting to see how many knock-offs I spin.

I chuckle as I smoke my last cigarette in the pack and look at the sun setting over Salish-Shidhe, envisioning S7r4y and other posers, grabbing on my fame for all the great and terrible things I did to become a household item.

This was my life. And none other fit me.
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Draco18s
post Nov 27 2009, 11:27 AM
Post #14


Immortal Elf
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Group: Members
Posts: 10,287
Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 13):

As a runner, making enemies goes with the territory. It’s expected and unavoidable. And that leads us to two maxims. The first is a no-brainer. People will want to kill you, whether it’s for revenge for their employer, or lover, or family member that you were hired to kill, hired to kidnap, hired to torture, hired to blow up to the building they were in, or just hit them with the getaway car on the way out, or maybe simply for the 5-digit nuyen bounty on your dead or alive.

The second is less tangible. Don’t get mad at your enemies. They’re just doing what you’re doing.

Relaxing back at my place while getting some equipment that we burned out, I let the Dogs rest and relax for a few weeks. I had a feeling in my gut that something big was going down soon. I called up my fixer and asked him if he could get me in touch with a chemist, someone who could supply me with some legal and illegal medical supplies. He doesn’t know any off-hand, but he says he’ll look into it.

After a bit, I call him again and ask him for a Johnson. I don’t want to get rusty. He says he’ll send over a decent Johnson soon, and I kill some more time and practice my martial arts before I get over it.

In a few days, a Johnson calls me up. Few details, he just wants me to meet him down at the docks for a job, around four PM. The Dogs get in the van and head down to the specified point. Murk ran astral recon and there was two guys with the Johnson. One guy in a car and one in an office building. None of them were Awakened, so I went out to the Johnson, who was standing nervously in front of his car, holding a briefcase.

“You Stray?” He asks.

“Could be…depends on who you are.”

“It’s in the case.” He hands the case to me.

Maybe I wasn’t thinking very straight. My instincts told me something was wrong. It could’ve been the boredom. Maybe I actually wanted to fall into a trap, for once. Or maybe I felt so nigh-on invincible that I didn’t care what two hitmen and a driver could do, not with the harbringers of the Apocalypse behind me.

I grab it and immediately feel a jolt throughout my entire body. Thanks to the nonconductivity upgrades of my armor and my composure, I was able to extricate my fingers from their muscled deathgrip on the case.

Twitch turns and unloads into the guy in the office building, spraying him full of lead and dropping him. Then he turns to the faux Johnson and unloaded the rest of his bullets, which caused him, to lean over in pain, clutching the electrified suitcase in one hand.

He tried to hit me with the electrified briefcase, but the wounds he took messed him up, causing him to electrocute himself. Suddenly, a Lone Star car, which happened to be in the vicinity, signaled it’s siren. I immediately told the team to peel out. I was ok, Lone Star wasn’t going to do anything to me. After all, I was just standing there before some maniac starting shooting.

The Johnson still laid twitching on the ground, shocked, while the driver peeled out, getting clipped by Lone Star before I lost sight of him. Immediately one of the pigs gets out and levels a pistol at me.

“Get down on the ground! Do it, now!”

I immediately look confused and scared, like a standard civvie. “What…What the hell’s going on? He was…I was…”

“Look, get down on the ground right now! I mean it!” He pulls the hammer back on the pistol, and I make it look like I’m about to piss myself.

“Whoa whoa whoa! Ok! Don’t shoot!” I kneel with my hands high above my head, and he tosses me a pair of easy-use handcuffs. “Cuff yourself and don’t try anything funny!” I readily comply. All I have on me is a pair of pistols, which I’m fraudulently licensed to carry for self-defense purposes only. “What am I being arrested for?” I ask, but he doesn’t feel like answering the question, which means I’m just fine.

The pig cuffs the Johnson and puts us both back in the car. At Lone Star’s station, they easily find my guns, to which I show my fake license, which they run both through their scanners and come up with no alarm bells. They interrogate me about the whole thing, and I just say that for some bizarre reason, it seemed like a really good idea to take that briefcase. I wasn’t quite sure why I thought that, it really didn’t make any sense, but at the time, it was great.

If they start combing for an unlicensed mage, they’d ignore the murderer right under their noses. They keep me in a solitary holding cell, and I kill time by whistling tunes and lounging around in the mediocre accommodations. They’ve confiscated my guns, but they would give them back since they were legitimately owned and they didn’t want to get their asses sued over a pair of Predators.

23 hours pass before they realize they can’t keep me any longer without a lawyer or an actual crime, so they let me go and warn me to stay away from the docks. They knew I was sketchy, but I wasn’t doing anything illegal. Hell, they might have thought I was some bored college student looking for a little action.

I could pass for 21 for another two or three years, maybe.

I grab a cab over to my apartment and kill time while the Dogs lay low for a bit, the standard operating procedure after a run from the filth. After a bit, the Dogs stop over and almost coincidentally, my fixer calls me up and says the guy from Saeder-Krupp asked for me by name.

Who am I to refuse one of the Big Ten?

We head over to the same bar, Murk and I dressed to the nines, as usual. The Johnson called us over and we got the scope of the whole thing. The extraction from Renraku was the beginning, he was making a dream team of the best researchers on the planet and trying to earn himself a tidy promotion.

These three are Mitsuhama researchers, deep in a MCT underground base in Salish-Shidhe. Although he tries his best to conceal the truth, my keen instincts fish it out of him. It’s MCT’s largest base on the West Coast, key in their ventures in NAN and the western UCAS. It was akin to suicide. And the targets were not completely willing, making it hard as hell to get them out.

Then Johnson drops the price tag. And I nearly cough at the number. He’s willing to pay an exorbitant amount for this job.

Tantamount to suicide, were our lives worth the better part of a half-mil?

It was an infiltration job, with that many guards, we’d be dead without a struggle.

We accept the job, perhaps greed was a major factor. But this was more than just an epic amount of nuyen. This was a significant boon to Saeder-Krupp, and although it may escape the notice of Lofwyr, an ally in the Big 10 certainly was good.

We get to planning and I start buying things we’ll need. One thing we definitely need is to make Jack one of the smartest humans since Damien Knight. We get his brain wired with cerebral boosters, and we were going to put it to the test when he pitted himself against MCT’s best and brightest.

“Jack? How’s your head?”

“Feeling good, Stray. Up to giving the new grey matter some testing?”

Normally, when Jack wants to humble me, we play chess. Usually, he wins 9 of every 10, and the last one is usually a toss-up between him and I. So, we get the virtual board up and we play a few opening moves. I know I’m going to lose, and he’s up a few pieces within 10 moves, but suddenly he stops in the middle of the game.

“I’ve won. There are no possible combinations you can pull off. I’ll take your queen in four moves unless you move it two spaces to the left. He displayed a variety of windows on my HUD simulating paths I’m most likely to take. I’m flabbergasted. Jack was beyond belief.

“Oh, and I’ve taken this commlink and my eyedrone apart and rebuilt it from memory. I was getting bored waiting for you to finish your turn. Oh, and check out the Herald's crossword. It's pretty good today. Much better than the Times's leastaways."

Jack’s surprising me more and more.

Murk says that we need more money and calls up his contact in Lone Star. They hire runners do to do legitimate work that they have difficulty with. I agree to meet with his contact and we arrive at the docks.

“So good of you to come. I know you’ve had a long history, but I’m willing to pay you to get rid of a thorn in our side.”

“Wetwork.” I grin, knowing the game inside and out. “Who’s the target?”

“Don Giovanni.”

I almost swallowed my cigarette. This was just getting better and better. I accept the job in exchange for a vehicle rental and a visitor’s pass for the Dog’s to Salish-Shidhe. The border guards can get stationed where I want them with a call to a certain friend, and we can get by without inspection.

We got back and prepared to cap Giovanni. Word was on the street he made a power play and got the Seattle Mafia on track, though they were losing ground to the Yaks. Wait, the Yaks. That gave me a perfect idea. I called up Yasakasa, knowing that he didn’t want to hear from me.

“You? I thought we had a deal.”

“We do, but I heard of a great mutual opportunity for us.”

“Oh?”

“How much would you pay us to cap Giovanni?”

“Not much, we’re winning this turf war.”

Damn, Yasakasa was still cocky as ever.

“Then would you like us to make a statement for the Yakuza?”

“Actually…yes. If you make it look like he ran, that will make some of the neutrals raise our banner. Make it look like he turned tail, and I’ll pay you 20 g’s. Screw up and disappear forever.”

“With pleasure, Yasakasa. I’ll be in touch.”

“Meet at the Waste Reclamation Facility when you’ve got it.

Murk and I know we need to get him alone. Applying nanopaste liberally to his face and hands, I make him look like a different elf. He complains about it, but I shrug it off as him being an unnecessary purist and make him deal with it.

He walks into Giovanni’s club where the Don spent most of his time. After I confirm Murk has visual, I call up the Don, masking my profile so I cannot be seen. And I see on my other window a little cue saying Murk dropped his Influence spell.

Talking goes a long way. But when push came to shove, I had a little more.

“Don Giovanni. You are not safe there. Some of your guards are Yakuza plants.”

“Who is this?”

“A friend. I can explain more later. Right now, time is of the essence.”

He’s naturally suspicious, but the Influence and my charm works in my favor. He quickly ducks out and grabs a cab, staying low and out of sight. I put on my last nanopaste disguise and mock myself up as an elf. I call the Don up and he allows the gates to open, though the guns are ready to liquidate me with one false step.

A dance I played every day.

Don Giovanni came up and saw me, then promptly asked who I was. I answered in fluent Italian.

“I’m from the New York family. We’ve uncovered this through our man in the Yakuza. We wanted to make sure the Yakuza do not show that they can strike at us with impunity.”

Giovanni also talks Italian, and goes upstairs to get a parting gift.

“What’s the plan now?” He asks as he returns with a large briefcase.

“We’re going to get to a safehouse and plan our counter-attack. I’ve got a car waiting outside that will get us there, and my backup from the other coast should be arriving within the hour.”

“Good, let’s move.”

We walk out to the front yard, walking down the pathway. I easily start telling him about some of our plans, and of an emergency meeting that may be called soon to address the Yakuza’s increasing insults to the families. When we reach the gate, Giovanni slumps over.

And Sketch, hundreds of yards away on top of a dilapidated building with a sniper rifle, raises his eye from the sights and gets out of position. I grab Giovanni and the briefcase and haul him into the van, putting a cloth over his head wound.

Was it personal? Nah, business only. And I wasn’t angry at Giovanni for betraying us. I never get mad as a runner, because it’s all business.

But I do get even. And I smile as the irony sinks in.

He is mumbling something unintelligible, just being shot, after all, and I deactivate my nanopaste a second before I crush his ribs. He can't see very well, but he notices who I am weakly.

"It didn't have to be this way, Giovanni."

And the fear he had was the true understanding of a runner’s true wrath.
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Draco18s
post Nov 28 2009, 02:39 PM
Post #15


Immortal Elf
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Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 14):

No matter how bad you are, there’s always someone worse. I steal, kill, and destroy without mercy, for no other reason than digits in the bank account. But as awful as I am, there are people who make me look like a saint.

Exhibit A, the Humanis Policlub. The evolution of the KKK. These guys cared more about your pointy ears or your tusks than your skin. They were officially a PAC concerned with limited right for metahumans, similar to how they campaigned against interracial marriage over 100 years ago. But with the corps the way they were, and BTL’s everywhere, there was no shortage of people to blame.

To kill the time, I called up my fixer, wanting something quick and dirty to get a little boost to my nuyen count. He’s got something easy. Just blow up a Stuffer Shack in Penumbra. And 1500 for 15 minutes of work. But something seems foul. I mean, usually I was killing at least people who on some small scale I was justified in killing, with innocent people caught in the crossfire.

I told him no deal, I wasn’t some maniacal sociopath with a grudge against humanity. Then he gets the kicker. He offers me the same price if I get the same effect. I just need medical crews and police around that area at the time. I knew what he wanted immediately. I was supposed to be a distraction for them.

Hell with that, I’m not taking a fall for another anonymous runner. But a distraction was something I could do.

I call up the Humanis Policlub’s main office. I quickly start talking, and drop a subtle hint that I had some important information to transmit over a secure line. The secretary quickly grabs the hint and sends me over to a guy, cut off from the outside line.

“So what’s this about?” The guy, who sounded every bit as stupid as the racist I expected him to be. Perfect con fodder.

“I hear the Sons of Sauron are planning something to the brothers in Penumbra.”

The Sons of Sauron were the pro-ork, pro-troll version of the Policlub. They were less elegant than the Policlub, which had actions in the UCAS Senate, much like orks and trolls were.

“Really? How many did they say?” He seems cautiously convinced.

“About 40, they said they want to take a district for their own.”

“40?!” He is amazed and more than a little worried.

“They breed like rats, what do you expect?”

That was one, now it was time for the next. Sure, a demonstration by the Humanis Policlub would stir some heads, but not enough to be worth 1500. My next call is going to the Sons of Sauron.

Nothing like race riots in the morning.

The ork is putty in my hands as well. A little word that the Humanis Policlub is trying to rain fire from the skies means they’re ready and waiting for them. Although our work is done, I need to ensure that I collect my pay.

Murk had called Lone Star, ensuring that the police would be there, and to quell his conscience about the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

“Twitch, how’s your afternoon?”

“I had a feeling you’d be doing this.” He mutters to himself.

I sent him over to Penumbra with a gun so that he can start it happening. As he chills out in the Stuffer Shack, he sees a large ork carrying a banners, exclaiming “Orks forever!” Behind him are orks and trolls, all in long trenchcoats, obviously concealing weapons.

After a bit of demonstrating, a shot rings out from a building, and the ork in front, an adept by the look of him, stops the bullet with his bare hands. The assembled goblinoids move out, taking cover and pulling out various arms and one blowing up the building that the Policlub sniper was in with an incendiary grenade, and he fell to the street, dead.

If the orks were up one, they soon found that the Policlub was evening the scales with two armored vans running down the sidewalk, flattening orks and trolls in their path. Twitch realized that yes, this was what we wanted, and promptly calls Lone Star, acting the part of an afraid civvie, perfectly natural.

Ready for the race riot, Lone Star quickly arrived on the scene, dispersing the crowds with their presence and their better weapons. Doc Wagon arrived next, the paramedics picking up their paying customers and hauling them onto their paramedical evac vehicles.

And across the city, a large plume of smoke rose from the sky. The distraction had done it’s work.

Now that we were set, Murk summoned spirits and we went out to Salish-Shidhe. I gave Angel a codeword that I would use when I came back, to make sure the guys she used were not MCT plants after we steal their researchers and their data. We took in the elven nation, acting the part of Seattle tourists. It was early afternoon when we set out, and late afternoon when we reached the closest campsite.

The Dogs got into their sleeping compartments and drew the curtains. I certainly didn’t want anyone to remember our faces, and singing Kum-bi-yah and roasting marshmallows over a fire was going to make me vomit all over our new Winnebago.

11:30 PM was when we woke up. Our wireless alarms stimulated our minds to wake and we were ready. It was a good chance this was our last day alive. But I wasn’t scared to die. For 23 years, with no SiN, just a quick trigger finger and the most deceitful mind not employed in politics, this wasn’t a bad way to go.
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Draco18s
post Nov 30 2009, 02:47 PM
Post #16


Immortal Elf
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Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 15):

Stress is a very real and very dangerous part of the job. When the slightest screw-up is the difference between sitting pretty with six figures in your bank account or getting thrown into a sewer for a classic shadowrunner burial, the stress is bound to pile up. And if you blow your nerves, that’s when you start making those slight screw-ups, and quickly you buckle under the weight of your bad luck. If you’re fortunate, you have to eat out of a tube for a while. If you’re not, you’re main course for the devil rats.

No pressure.

I applied my nanopaste to Jack, programming camouflage patterns to aid in his insertion. Sketch gets the same treatment, for his face and hands since he his camouflage suit doesn’t cover those areas. Twitch and I have chameleon suits, which cover full body, and Murk has the invisibility spell. I grab the other three large containers of the magic goo, for our targets.

The Dogs approached from the east, where our visual confirmation showed us our ticket in, an elevator on the eastern side of the compound, sitting across from a three-story parking garage. And in the middle were four-story guard towers, with an impressive array of infrared scanners going in completely random directions, sweeping across the ground, clearly visible in the thermographic spectrum. And topping it off, ringed with an obviously electric fence. A tricky little nut to crack, but that’s what made the reward all the sweeter. Murk’s air spirit concealed us from the outside world.

Twitch led, scanning with ultrasound to see if there are any more sensors. Sure enough, he finds a motion sensor, ringing the base and put in the trees. We look around carefully and I lead Twitch and Sketch, walking very slowly through the fields in order to not set off the sensors.

We freeze as we hear something moving in the grass behind us. Out of the brush comes the biggest goddamn snake I’ve ever seen.

It’s a giant snake, and after Murk tries to placate the intelligent naga, it realizes it doesn’t want anything to do with us. It slithers over to me, rearing at me and analyzing my astral form. Twitch freezes in place, knowing snakes follow movement. I realize that I’m up a creek and start to try and pacify the creature.

It doesn’t help and bites at me, it’s deadly fangs sinking deep into my arm. My biomonitor goes off the charts as the two fangs inject their deadly venom. I grimace in pain as it starts to slither away. I move forward, quickly thumbing through my medkit and applying antivenom to the wound.

“Stray? Stray? What the hell are you doing?” My commlink goes off from Twitch’s reply.

It was a hallucination the whole time. I must have just imagined the entire thing when I saw the first scales of that tube-like body. Maybe the stress was getting to me.

Thank goodness for Murk’s concealment, because the house-sized serpent just glides right past us. We’ve got nothing to protect us from the sight of magically active snakes, or naga, as the technical definition goes. But when the business end of a giant poisonous snake is facing the wrong way toward you, technical definitions are the last thing on your mind.

Murk levitates Jack and himself over the barrier. Sketch, Twitch and I creep through the sensors at a laborious rate, not setting them off. We head over to the fence and feel the sheer ionization of the air around us. Murk immediately gets to work making himself and Jack invisible, and levitating them again, bringing them over the fence while Sketch, Twitch, and I make ourselves scarce so the security cameras can’t see us.

Through my commlink, I can see Jack getting levitated over and completely ignoring all optical sensors, the invisibility doing the trick on the sensors. Jack takes apart the keycard reader and starts to mess with the circuitry to give us access. Murk masks the door

One of the sensors focuses on it for a second, and I fear that Jack may have been spotted. However, all they do is send a flunky from the right guardpost to check it out. He goes halfway and sees nothing, Murk's spirits and spells doing their job and reports that back. By the time he has, Jack has already gone inside past the masked door, and I can bet the poor security rigger is constantly saying to himself, “But I saw the card reader and the…I must be working too hard. No more night shift.”

Murk levitates Twitch next, making him invisible and bringing him into the elevator. I get second, and Sketch, being the most difficult to conceal, is last. In the elevator, we push one of the buttons and head to a random floor, the fourth. The door opens to blackness, with one door being lit at the end of the hallway. Our visual mag spots the janitors, laughing and complaining about the night shift.

"Damn people. Let's try another floor." We go down a floor to the fifth, which again opens to blackness. But I hear a TV playing the sounds of carnage that we all knew as Combat Bike.

Combat Bike is one of the newest sports to hit the scene. Take a bunch of armored motorcycles, put on a weirdo with an SMG packed with gel rounds, then see who wins. Fun times, fun times.

We quickly return to the fourth floor and trying to do things on this. Security guards who liked combat bike were a bit tougher than the standard janitor. The fifth appeared to be an office floor, with terminals lined up on cubes for the office grunts. We sneak in quietly, moving over to the terminals where Jack hacks in and starts to work his magic.

Twitch keeps an eye on the janitors. Sketch watches an office flunky who was trying to get some extra work done. I monitor all of Jack’s information, recording everything down. He gets a floor plan and the living quarters of our three targets. The locations of the mainframes is classified, and he is going to need higher access. He edits his user logs so that he never made those searches, and then gets ready to go to work.

Our target, chief research officer. Jack starts to hack his identity. Easily, he gets the passwords and now we have complete access. We get his security info for when we need to spoof ourselves, and then he tries to access the complete research data.

One problem, the data is on the petapulse scale. These eggheads don’t compress any of their technical data. The chips that I brought carried about a ten-millionth of the required data space. We needed to either find a way to compress the data or find more storage space. Jack immediately starts combing the warehouse looking for memory. They have storage devices for about half the data size.

Jack hacks the user logs again, telling us that he spoofed the system but he wanted to make extra sure and gets rid of his user logs. Now the system wouldn’t know to check again, and wouldn’t find anything if it did. Perfectly done, Jack. His incredible brain was becoming more and more useful.

Down we head to the 11th floor, where the storage facilities were. The elevator takes us down no problem, but when we reach the 11th floor, the elevator stops, and shifts sideways for a second, pushing us over a bit then taking us down one floor.

Forget the elevator shaft as a means of escape then. Which meant we had to be more than flawless when we were down in the high-security sector.

The second we get to the storage floor and exit the elevator, a tiny worker bot asks us for clearance, to which we give the CRO’s info. It immediately talks to us nicely, asking exactly what we want. I immediately ask it to display inventory, and we start looking for toys. We go and see some injectable cyberware, but it’s too traceable and so we settle just on what we came for, the petapulse storage units. The storage robot gives us the 5 petapulses of storage and thanks us. We update the logs so we never took them and turn to leave.

Suddenly, the door for the elevator chimes, someone is coming. Instantly, the dogs hide, and out steps a janitor, his name embrodiered on his rumpled uniform. He starts to walk forward, not noticing us, until he trips over Jack's foot.

Murk quickly casts Physical Mask on Jack, making him look like the CRO. The janitor looks toward who he tripped over and his face goes completely wide. "Oh, I'm...I'm...so sorry, sir. I was just getting the cleaning supplies and....Oh I'm so sorry." He helps Jack up and dusts him off.

Jack just seethes, making him look every bit the angry exec who hated stupid employees. The janitor quickly grabs his bleach and leaves, making sure he wasn't going to mention how close to getting fired he did.

Nice touch, Jack of Spades.

We pile into the elevator and head down to our next target. The 14th floor, the site of the hard data. The elevator opens to a hallway, opposite a security door.

We get out and I start scanning the area.

The security door is literally glowing with all the gizmos on it. Infrared lasers, mana barriers, the works. Twitch and I start sneaking down the hall, coming to a stop when we get a good overview. Two magic lodges, one hermetic and one shamanic, and the high-security storage area.

The night was far from over. Now was the time for the fallen angels to steal the treasure from beyond hell’s gates.

Crossed the T’s, dot the I’s, taste the forbidden fruit, and kidnap the souls of the innocent. Forever and ever amen.
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Draco18s
post Dec 1 2009, 01:38 PM
Post #17


Immortal Elf
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Joined: 2-October 08
Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 16):

Runners are often caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s never a cut and dry waltz in the park, even with the bullets flying. The odds of survival in runs is very small. But sometimes, a runner’s choices boil down to two things, a world of pain or a leap of faith.

I’m not a faithful man.

The Dogs investigate the hallway to find a dizzying array of infrared beams guarding the entrance to the summoning portal. Murk debates whether we want to go there, and then decides against it. The Dogs head into the long-term storage and find nothing of interest, besides heavy machinery and slow, ponderous storage units. We hear someone moving around outside the hall, from the elevator off to the west, probably to one of the magical lodges. I was able to track her with sound, but if she walked out into the hall when we did, we were toast.

It looked like the only thing to do was check the light-bright door where the backups must be kept. There are some scanners that I snuck my way through. Sketch and Twitch stood guard while Jack and Murk went inside with me. Jack hacked the passkey and the door opened into a small, decontamination chamber with another door facing it. We entered in and the chamber sprayed the standard on us, though I held my breath not to take chances. The room opened into a mainframe, with a large monitor on the north screen. There was no connection to Twitch or Sketch on the outside. We were all invisible and isolated. Suddenly, the monitor came on and asked what was going on.

Murk dropped the spell on Jack and himself while I stayed invisible. Turning on my commlink, I start spinning the web of lies as to why we’re here when the computer asks. We were hired by MCT to conduct a mock raid of their own facility in order to test their security. Now that we had identified the holes, we were to take the backups of all research data and deliver it directly across the ocean. I tried to make it our ally, by asking if it could get the data for us just to expedite the process.

The AI ponders for a second. And then he makes a backup, marked suds52. Suds? Why was it called suds? And why was it only one file? We thanked it and noticed that it’s resolution seemed dimmed a bit. I paid it no mind and started setting bombs on the mainframe, setting them on a two-hour timer as well as a motion sensor proximity trigger. Murk asked about the small size of the file and the AI says he can help us more when he connects to a network outside this room. Now, the AI was simply a green sphere that lit up slightly when it talked. When we try to make him understand that we need all data backups, he immediately starts acting much nicer and directs us to the main backups. We fill our hard storage with the odd Suds file and took the backups.

“By the way, you’re not going to need those bombs.” The AI said, now just a speech line. It had seen me the whole time? Why was it getting progressively more primitive? Was it losing integrity? Or wait…was it, formatting itself? Deleting itself because it was on the Suds file? Why did this sound so familiar? I kept shaking my head and puzzling it together but it was slipping from me.

After we were finished, we took the backups and left the room. As we exited, Sketch reports that the mage had gone past them a few minutes ago, to the elevator, but they weren’t spotted. As we hit the elevator button, the mage came down again, but we were concealed enough that she couldn’t see us.

We took the elevator up to the offices again and hooked up Suds to the external network. It slowly started to extract, so we hooked up all Suds backups to the files and instantly went down to the living quarters to extract our scientists.

The 9th floor was first. A drunken scientist stumbled down the hallway ahead of us, but we had no time for games. We immediately started looking for our first target, and found his dormitory. We opened up his coffin room, and Dr. Stray went to work.

What? You think all I know how to do is cause people pain? I’ll have you know that I can save lives if properly motivated.

I pumped him full of tranqs, hacked his biomonitor, surgically extracted his RFID tag, and hauled him onto our packhorse Sketch. I was bringing him from one corp slave life to another.

Guess I wasn’t properly motivated.

As we leave, we can see what appears to be a spatial distortion in augmented reality. We decide to ignore it and head up to the 8th level, where we perform the procedure to the next scientist. Augmented reality is becoming more and more broken by the second. We can see the Japanese secretary AI for the base and our Suds green wire-frame duking it out across the networks.

Wait, didn’t we forget something? Right, the physical destruction of the data! We sigh and head all the way down to the fifteenth floor. It is absolutely covered in infrared lines, every five feet. Twitch scouts ahead and sees an eight-legged cyber zombie with four arms hauled into a room labeled Extensive Cybersurgery. Murk, Jack, and Twitch decide the data is all we need and they head to a protected rigger room. In it, they can see four passed out riggers and one fighting for his life in cybercombat. Jack immediately databombs the files, while Twitch debates dumpshocking the passed out riggers.

“Come on, we’ve got to move!”

Suds and the secretary are dead even, deleting and reforming each other at the same pace. Jack forces the secretary to perform a piddling, stupid task, just enough so Suds can gain an advantage and delete her completely.

What? It’s not like she’s real.

We pile into the elevator and head up to the first floor. It’s a rec room gone mad. Four of the lifter bots from the storage rooms are threatening a group of cowering scientists. And now, the elevator is jammed, keeping us there.

“Alright Suds, you seem firmly in control.” I compliment his virtual form in AR

“Right, thank you very much.” The green wireframe grins

“Mind letting us out now?”

“No, I don’t think I’ll be doing that. You’re good for my experiments.”

“I was afraid of that…” I moan, cursing my luck.

Wait…double crossing AI’s, seizing control of facilities, cyberexperiments, the name Suds? This was Deus! The evilest of all AI’s in the recent future. Deus who seized control of the Renraku arcology and forced them to rebuild. Deus who tried to become a Matrix God and brought about Crash 2.0. Deus who designed nearly every neurological cyberware in history.

“Look, Deus, we’re not staying. You’ve got your freedom and this facility.”

“I know, but I can always take more.” He almost sounded like a little kid. We’re going to need to get to work. Sketch and I start shoving on the elevator doors, trying to wrench them open. Twitch and Murk start whipping and blasting the robots while Jack takes a few shots with his pistol that he knows nothing about using. After Sketch gets them open, I shoot a monowire over the elevator shaft as I hear the car approach. Wisely, the car stops before it gets carved in half.

Twitch has taken down two of the robots, Murk one, and I grab my pistol and fire upon a heavily damaged one and down it. Just as we’re about to take our third of three scientists, the giant spider cyber-zombie shows up, making everyone’s eyes in the room go wide. This was not good, not good at all.

“Surrender now and I’ll be generous.” Deus offers to me in AR.

That meant be a slave and I won’t lobotomize your brain or turn you into a freak. It’s tempting, but I have a life and a job to go back to.

“I’ll think about it.” I state before switching off my commlink.

We abandon the third scientist to his fate of being Deus’s plaything. Two out of three ain’t bad. Murk levitates and I use my grapple gun to extract the Dogs. Using our muscle, spirits and magic, we get the elevator doors open and we’re in the elevator.

We’re about 30 feet and one electric fence away from freedom. And only the best base defenses money could buy rigged by a desperate, insane AI were standing in our way.

No pressure. I wiped the sweat from my palms. The autoturrets wouldn’t be much trouble inside the base, since base turrets are not designed to shoot at the interior in case of hostile riggers. They would fire full force once we were out, though.

My grenades jiggled a bit, concealed in my jumpsuit. My hands shook, antsy for tobacco. My brow sweated a bit more.

I could use a miracle right now.
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Draco18s
post Dec 4 2009, 02:59 PM
Post #18


Immortal Elf
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Member No.: 16,392



Shadowrun Log (Day 17):

What does it mean to be dead? If you die, and no one notices, does it even matter? If you are alive, are you worth the same as the resources you consume? Are you really worth the food you eat, or the space you occupy, or the time you waste?

The simple answer is yes, because the Johnson wouldn’t pay me unless I was actually good. But life’s never full of simple answers. You can blame the metatypes, including humans, for that one. We’re drawn to overcomplicate everything in our struggle to achieve meaning. The thing is, when the bullet goes through your lungs, you might realize that you do not matter nearly as much as you thought you did.

What a terrible way to die. Self-doubt can cripple a man, doubly so when he's got a few seconds to live.

With two elevator shafts open for us, I start setting shapecharges with motion sensors to decimate any reinforcements Deus wants to send. Twitch stood by the door, and alerted us to the sound of whirring motors coming from where appeared to be the parking garage across the compound.

“Goddamnit. We’ve got drones…” Twitch reported, ready for anything. Deus could rig these drones to the extent that made Jack look like a redneck who never heard of the Matrix. We wouldn’t be able to make it through that bulletstorm, not even with the luck of Lofwyr protecting us. Looking in at our broken elevator shaft, I examined the wall intently, and threw yet another shapecharge at the far wall. It sticks to the far wall and starts counting down it’s timer. Exit, stage right.

The resulting explosion was enough to wake the dead. Immediately, the concussive force waved over us, with enough force to crack a normal person like an eggshell. My body took it well enough to ask for seconds, and Twitch was far enough way that he just dusted himself off. Everyone else took a little bit of injury. The powerful shapecharges decimated the eastern wall of the elevator, and the electric fence 10 meters away from it, and several meters of forest behind that. The top floor magnetic elevator system was now permanently disconnected from the top, and we had our way out.

I asked for a miracle, and I received. When it gets down to it, I’m God when the stakes are high and the nuyen is flowing. Certainly not a by-the-book miracle that would list me for sainthood at the Vatican, but right now, this was more of a blessing than turning the Pacific into Chardonnay.

Only now, my little redecorations had created a less tangible barrier. Electricity danced in a dangerous dance, sparking all over our exit. Without even thinking twice, Murk grabbed a coil of stealth rope and levitates into that dangerous soup.

At first, I want to shout out to him that popping like a overfilled blood balloon isn’t going to help the Dogs escape, I start to piece his plan together. He grimaces and shouts at the pain, but levitates through the hole I watch as he attaches the wire to the electric fence, then throws the 80 meters left of the coil into the ground, channeling electricity to the ground, eliminating the threat somewhat.

Twitch grabs one of the scientists and throws his arms around his neck and jumps through the opening, sticking the landing and using the wall to push off, catapulting him past the fence and into the wilderness. Sketch goes next, taking the other scientist, and he makes it through, now standing just outside the exit.

“Come on Jack, it’s time we started to fly.” I picked up the hacker and jumped through the hole as well, landing near Sketch. Suddenly, Deus saw where we came up and got ready for us. Four turrets raised up from the ground and fired, two firing a suppressive field at Sketch and myself, the others firing at the brush where Twitch is at. Twitch and Sketch take some bullets, and Jack takes just a little bruising, but I’m sitting pretty. The drones started coming up behind us, and that meant more than ever that we needed to get the hell out of Dodge.

Twitch and I were faster than the wounded Sketch, and he ran into some more trouble when his foot got too close to a mine and Deus detonated it, showering him with flechettes laced with poison. I wasn’t quite sure how the poison didn’t get incinerated or evaporated or anything, but Sketch immediately went down as the poison knocked him into unconsciousness. Murk was ready though, and immediately slapped a stimpatch on the elf, bringing him up. He was going to have one hell of a headache, but Sketch wouldn’t be knocked out.

Bullets started flying around us as the Deus’s drones and turrets tried, in vain, to shoot us and stop us. Murk flew ahead with a directional jammer, blocking Deus’s signals for any remote mines, forcing him to accept that we have won and he has lost.

With our legs ready to burst, we finally reached the Winnebago and we threw the scientists in the back. Jack drives while I take shotgun, being the only uninjured member of the group. On the road, the stimulants in Sketch’s body gave up and his injuries took it’s toll, knocking him unconscious.

We took a nap, keeping the scientists drugged. Sketch needed serious medical work, but all we needed to do now was get paid. Hopefully, this time, the Johnson wasn’t going to short us of our appropriately earned nuyen. If we were short one nuyen, heads would roll at Saeder-Krupp.

“Johnson, we’ve got what you need.”

“Holy hell, I didn’t expect you so soon…”

“You pay for quality. You offer and we deliver. Would you have preferred we fail?”

“…I see. Alright, come down to the building, we’ll pick up your stuff.”

Jack drives down to Saeder-Krupp HQ, and I go to meet the Johnson and give them a keyword. Dealing with an insane AI was one thing, but dealing with the corrupt corp-pawns are just as bad. It was dealing with the lions in their den, slathering yourself in steak sauce first.

The elegant lobby was decadence in grey marble, the Johnson taking Murk and I into a back room.

“So, what do you have?”

“Everything except the third scientist.” I comment, looking at him with a menacing glare, unnerving him with my sheer presence. Even if he had backup, he was an HR guy, not a soldier, and the big bad shadowrunner was terrifying.

“Well, that means 435,000. That’s…a lot of money. You have the way to carry it?”

“Of course I do. I’m not a fool.” I pull out a platinum credstick.

“With such a high amount of money, I’m going to need assurance you won’t turn on us. We need a neuroscan.”

“What? Are you breaking the deal?”

“No, we’re quite willing to compensate you for the risks. We just need to manage our interests as well.”

“How much is compensation? You’re asking a lot.”

“A battlesuit.”

Battlesuits could turn a man into an invincible combat machine, where a civilian could take out a squad of trained Red Samurai and ask for seconds.

I really really don’t want to do this, but the equipment for this job set me back. I was out of shapecharges that saved us, and now with half the team wounded, it was time to take another beating.

Sometimes, luck just doesn’t swing with me.

The brainscan is painless, but nothing bad happens, thanks to my biofeedback filters that is. If they were going to try and reprogram me, they would need more than they could afford. Greed will beat psychotropic any day, my particular vices are ingrained deep into my body that nothing will wash them off.

Certainly would make a preacher put in overtime.

We trade the battlesuit for the eggheads and drive off. It was probably a mistake, but it was 435,000 nuyen in my pocket, which isn’t a small number by any stretch, even after splitting and profit.

Doors were opening up to me now. New hardware and the high life waited. After all, I had been living on grit and spite, choking down the blandest soybase you can find and sleeping in either in a van or on the cold floor of a safehouse. Living frugally has it merits over time, but decadence is a whole lot more satisfying.

Murk might get pissed, but I might blow a bit and get hammered at the runner bar, celebrating my good fortune and beating heart. But right now, I was going to sleep. I had subsided through this run on illegal stimulants, energy drinks, and the collective worry of over 20 years of life, and now it was time to get reacquainted with the world.

When I awoke, I was surprised to see Jack's Bulldog van, with the battlesuit gone. On the table was a recording chip and a single credstick. Playing the recording chip, I heard Jack's voice.

"Stray, I know you're always the first to wake up. Here's all the nuyen I owe you. It's been fun, but now I've got the chance to become God. I'm heading back to Deus, who promised to make me a captain in his facility. We probably won't meet again, so this is farewell, I guess."

Jack was gone, he had left to fulfill what he thought was his destiny. I can't really stop a man when he thinks something that heavy is on the line. He had an equal chance of Deus making him chief rigger or turning him into a drooling mental patient.

That's his choice. And it was mine to stay here. Jack knew that, and so did I. Adios, Jack, adios.

And as I flicked the first cigarette out and took a deep breath of the chill morning air, a thought came to me. Why was it that I kept running? Sure the money was great, but there are plenty of other paying jobs, and I was clever and charming enough to land one that didn’t involve me skirting my own grave every time I came out of my home.

It was the thrill of it. It’s really the only time I feel alive is when I come back against all odds. To live a life not like this would be like torture, depriving this tired and bullet-scarred body of the only thing that it seemed to enjoy anymore.

I guess I'm in a rut.

Shadowrun Log (Character Epilogues):

Bomber

I finally got in touch with Bomber after the dust had settled. Apparently, a mage from Giovanni’s crew had gotten a bead on him and he was laying low, staying out of their sight. Of course, when Bomber is concerned, staying out of sight isn’t exactly sheer invisibility. He had gotten involved with the Russian Vory and got work as their showboat enforcer, dispensing a little Moscow justice over the area of a city block.

He was well on his way, acting as the public arm for a man named Vladimir Zadenko, or something to that effect. While Bomber took out the grunts and attracted a fair share of the attention, Vlad’s hidden arm would ensure the success of the Vory. Multi-pronged, cold-blooded, and efficient was how the Vory operated, and Bomber excelled in that role.

Unfortunately, Vlad’s ambition turned to be his undoing. Caught in a warehouse with a huge shipment of BTL’s, Vlad’s group was ambushed by a strong mafia family. Outnumbered ten-to-one, Bomber took out 25 men with a lucky shot that detonated the gas tanks of their enemy’s armored cars. But the advantage was against Vlad, Bomber, and the Russians, and they were eventually wiped out, though the media capitalized on how it seemed one man, an apparent psychopath, took down an entire street gang’s worth of hired guns with nothing but a pair of pistols.

You were a good guy, Bomber. A strange guy but a solid runner. We can't always choose when we die, but we can go down in a blaze of glory, immortalized in the shadowrunner legends, passed down from generation to generation.

Twitch

Twitch and I performed several minor runs, and eventually he got to the point where he found some solid allies. A fixer really liked his no-nonsense style, in particular, and Twitch seemed to be able to let enough of the past go to not go after anyone he saw. Still rather broken, understandably, but he really has improved a lot over the years.

He no longer wants to be feared on the streets, now going so far as to take pains to make sure he doesn’t send fear into all who hear the name or see his gangly features. Certainly a change from the way he was, but that was all in the past. Now he is content to just do what needs to be done, not worrying about the terror that he can inspire with a flick of the whip.

He can’t get a legit job, not with all the hardware he has implanted in him. Still, there is always work for a guy as good as he is. He’ll be fine, no matter what job he’s got to pull.

Jack

Since the facility wasn’t connected to the wireless network, I wasn’t able to hear from Jack for several months. After making it to Deus, he was welcomed with open arms, or as open as an AI can accomplish. Jack instantly went to work designing robots and neurotechnology. MCT did eventually show up to try and take the facility back, but Deus had entrenched himself and their first wave was defeated. The battlesuit from Saeder-Krupp and Jack’s extraordinary hacking skills gave Deus the edge to send them running back to Tokyo, tails between their legs.

Not one to give up the facility, MCT came with enough technomancers to face Deus on the Matrix. Despite the AI’s impressive neural features, MCT was able to overwhelm him and disable the base. Jack, now experimented on to be permanently bonded with the battlesuit to compensate for his frail body, took a copy of Deus and dug his way out of the base with heavy mining machinery, operated solo.

He eventually reached the surface where his first action was to send out a giant single pulse using the emergency beacon, which transported the log of his exploits on the Matrix, which is how I found it. MCT knew where he was before he transmitted, but wasn’t able to stop the signal. Jack was eventually taken down when an MCT satellite had to focus a giant laser from space to incinerate Jack, Deus, and the battlesuit all at once.

I never quite figured out why Jack did that. The least I can figure, Jack knew his time was coming soon, so he wanted to shout out with his dying breath, so the whole world could hear, that he truly existed in this world. And everyone did. The Matrix was abuzz despite MCT’s immediate damage control. Most people believe MCT, but a few, like me, know the truth, and that’s the way it always was, is, and will be.

Sketch

The quintessential rookie, Sketch finally persuaded his arms dealer friend to get into the business with him. They were a ballistics team, excellent team tactics and knowledge of the gun. They freelanced to shadowrunner groups needing extra firepower for a particularly dangerous mission.

Good things don’t last forever. In an escort mission for a crime boss, the two were betrayed by their own employer to get the nuyen bounty on the heads of the two of them. Although Sketch fought well, he wasn’t able to protect his friend, and she died in his arms of injuries. He was never quite the same after that. Vengeance was all he lived for, picking off members of the family one-by-one, working his way up the ladder until he reached the head.

The ensuing fight was spectacular, and with the demons of madness behind him, Sketch was able to kill the backstabber. Lone Star had come since Sketch was not discreet, his anger clouding his judgment. Murk had gone in alone to negotiate with him, and he told me the ending of Sketch’s tale.

“She’s dead, Murk. There’s nothing left,” he said morosely as he turned his pistol toward his own temple. The mage couldn’t stop him, and Murk still probably feels guilty over it. Sketch had talent, but he needed a guy to watch out for him. Maybe it was my fault, not Murk’s, that he turned out that way.

Murk

Murk rejoined the police force as their star negotiator. No matter the difficult situation, Murk, thanks to his bargaining ability, was able to avert disaster when rabid eco-terrorists seized a shipment from the Salish-Shidhe Council and took several people, including a bus load full of schoolchildren, hostage. Risking life and limb, Murk bravely strode in to immediate danger.

He received a commendation from the mayor himself. Murk was a rare breed of runner. It’s still amazing how similar he and I are in everything but the basics. But how those basics were a necessity! He often volunteered to be on my cases to investigate me. After all, as far as some criminals went, I was pretty tame. Exchange the worst things I do for a good friend with clout in the police force and some wetwork if Lone Star needed a…helping, discreet hand.

Straight as an arrow was a rare trait for a shadowrunner. Sure, my callousness and ruthlessness may have rubbed off on him, but he made sure that I kept safe from the fuzz as long as I didn’t do anything too crazy.

See? He strikes very good bargains.

Stray

And what about me? What happened to me? Well, I kept continuing my career as a shadowrunner to eventually become one of Seattle’s most colorful and famous criminals. So much, in fact, that a simsense recording was made detailing my life, naturally dressed up a bit to make much less vulgar and much more Oscar-worthy. Although no one had heard of the actor Robert Smithsonian, he was certainly charismatic and knew enough about Stray to land the part and receive rave reviews, even receive an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Robert Smithsonian hasn’t appeared in any other movies or games. Only three people know where he is. One never talks, one wouldn’t say, and the other lied since the day he was born.

Sound familiar?

Stray’s last public run happened several years ago. A hit on the Triads ended up with me being miles from dry land with a bomb in the engine room. It was a fantastic end, with many people in the shadows expressing great relief that I finally reached the big bar in the sky.

No less than 85 shadowrunners took credit for my death, looking to grab the 400,000 nuyen bounty on my body. Among those 85 were several rookie shadowrunners, including a tough-as-nails street doc named Bones. No one ever could prove they actually did it, and Stray’s death was chalked up as either an accident or a suicide. Bones wasn’t able to get the 400 grand, which was a shame, since I was hoping to use that to springboard that identity into the running world without worrying about building a rep.

That expression on your face is priceless. That was an expensive escape, I wanted the nuyen to cover it.

Where am I now? That’s a good question. A man who could be anyone at a moment’s notice is difficult to pin down. It’s near impossible for anyone to see beyond the careful veils he has set up, the tangled webs he weaves to ensnare the curious.

Forgive the grand eloquence. We are creatures of our environments, and the world is full of backstabbing and bitterness. Deception is the way the world works, and being someone else is easier than having to face the world as yourself, exposed and vulnerable.

Many say that I died aboard that Triad freighter in the Seattle harbor, my luck running out on a difficult run against a Chinese elite death squad and a ticking time bomb. Some say that I faked my death and am currently working for the Big 10, advancing the goals of the highest bidder. There are also those who say that I’m one of the prime candidates this year for Seattle’s UCAS Senate seat. ‘

These are all true…and false. I am who I am; the lie I play at any particular moment is unimportant.

THE END
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