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> Life of an Experiment, or a fiction based off of my game
post Aug 15 2005, 01:18 PM
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Moving Target

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This fiction comes straight from my mind, with characters pulled from the gaming group I GM. This happens in 2070, after System Failure. Please give me an honest try, even though I'm not that great of a story teller. :|

It had been a long, depressing day. Her coat was shot clean through with bullets of all calibers, and her skirt had lost all reinforcement it could muster. The barrel on her Alpha had all but warped from the heat and tension of countless rounds. Rounds which still smoked in the quickly cooling corpses of a former team she knew.

Pulling off her coat and armored clothes, she let them fall where they may and headed for the shower. After a quick shot of cold water, she leaned back against the wet walls and sunk down, letting the soothing warmth splash over her, washing the blood away once more.

The apartment was empty now. Quiet. Alone. A place that had always had some activity…now drowned with silence. A silence she had to come and accept again.

With a soft ring, her watch jingled on the stool outside of the shower. She sighed, knowing who it was. A press of the button and she stood back up. “Yes,” she said, her hand over her forehead, “This is Akim…I mean…this is Bridget.”

“Hey, Bridge!” The smug looking elf smiled too wide for the tiny wrist phone to fully capture. “How’d the meet go? Everyone get out ok?”

She moved behind the screen again and picked up a bottle of shampoo. “No, Lemmy. They’re not ok.”

“Good to hear it!” He clapped his hands, rubbing them together. “Good to hear. It’s been a while. Didn’t know if you still had it in ya.”

She stared straight, a look of anguish and fear on her face. Memories flooded back into her mind. She held a hand out to steady herself as the assault passed. “Uhh…yeah. Yeah, Lemmy. If you say so.” She stood back up and turned to the window in the shower, staring out at the Seattle skyline. “It’s…hard to forget something you were made to do…”

* * *

"Get her out of here!" Another blast rocked the already crumbling floor. Conduit and cement slammed down, over and over again. The once silent mall quickly turned to rumble. A few pieces of deris smashed a once famous clothing line.

"We can't! The way's blocked again." Another frightful blast, and the floor caved all the way, taking the screaming monolith with it. It slid down, conduit thrashing wildly at something, anything. Calling for it's guards that no longer existed. It screamed once more and lost all footing.

Timed stopped...hung there as friends and loved ones hung for dear life, watching the smoking remains of a once powerful controller fall to it's final demise. It was...peaceful. Quiet. But not alone.

She wished for this. Something to end the pain she had. Her life was a shadow. It's what she was made to do. Living a false life, having false friends...even a false love. But it didn't matter now. Her friends were real now. Now and forever.

Time started again and with a final shake, she saw Gabe plunge into darkness, not to be seen again. He held on some more...to the last person she thought she would. The fox looked down at her, giving her a soft smile. Not like the sly, devious one she was so used to. It was gentle, for once. Gentle and peaceful.

"You may go, now. It's finally over." She smiled back and nodded...then let go...

* * *

Jerking awake, she felt around her naked body. The water still beat against her as the whole bathroom was misted over. Wiping her eyes, she turned to the clock and read the time to herself. "7:00 am? Huh..." She stood back up and stretched out. "That's funny. That was the first really good sleep I've ever had."

Looking out once more at the ruins that used to be the great Archology, she saw the sun peaking up just over the buildings. A rare sight in Seattle indeed. "Mmm...forget the past. I can't worry about it anymore. I've got a new, bright life ahead of me."
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post Aug 15 2005, 02:00 PM
Post #2

Moving Target

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<<Wireless System Online>>

<<Login Check - - - Verified>>

With the weird system anomalies that had cropped up from the new programming, Gabe had been having a tough time logging onto the new Shadowlands. It had been a while, if you could call five years a while. But with all this new tech, he had finally cracked it.

<<Daemon Warning!>>

Users of the Shadowlands, Seattle Base, are warned against tampering with Daemon protocol and system presets. Any attempt to rewrite code will result in massive repercussions. You have been warned.

<<Daemon Warning!>>

His brain had been without the sweet feeling of diving into the data streams for so long. He felt like a new man as the ASIST switched to the hot setting and he was washed over with packets of wonderful, glorious data.

His icon emerged from the depths of his deck and solidified on the massive grid. It moved itself a little, readjusting to the newer, faster server that he now ran on. It hurt a little, but the feeling of being in code once more let him shrug that mild lag pain away. It was time to catch up and to relax once more.

Floating through the familiar space, he caught glimpses of the things he remembered. The archives, the chat rooms, the news boards…and the scrolls. Stopping for a second, he looked over at them, carefully inspecting. There it was…as if it had been waiting for him for so long.

August 23rd, 2065

She died so you could keep running. Thank her some time, chummer.

His mind fell silent for some time before the beat of music pulled him away. He perked his head up and scanned the area. A cyber club…one of his old favorites. Putting the scroll back down, he lifted up and out, heading for the club he’d almost forgotten about.

The Lost Packet was still as lively as ever, the beat of the music a welcome reminder of why he kept himself plugged into the stream. Wading his way through the other icons, he sat down at his old booth. Feeling the seat and table, he sighed and thanked whatever god would listen that nothing had changed.

He watched and listened to the music play on from his seat, icons dancing and even making fools of themselves on the floor. He remembered, back in his day, when he was one of those fools. He remembered when he was just like them; newbie deckers with a chip on their shoulders and having something to prove. Five years of sitting quiet, keeping yourself alive, didn’t afford him that type of idealistic thinking anymore.

“To run in the shadows…” The icon sat down at the booth, staring at Gabe. “A nuyen for your thoughts, chummer? You seemed…more immersed then most.

Gabe sighed and leaned back, giving the face a look. It was definitely someone he knew…but in legend only. “No…well, not really, Fox. More like…remembering. Remembering how all of this feels. It’s been a while…”

“Five years, chummer.” He held out a hand. “How’s it been?”

Gabe shook the hand and nodded. “Rough…tight…and slightly on the unclean side. That’s what happens when you have to make the Barrens your temporary home.” He sighed and leaned back again. “But it’s frag’n great to be back. Place hasn’t changed much.”

Fox laughed and lifted his drink. “Sure hasn’t, chummer. You know…” He leaned forward with a smile. “Word was that you’re the reason we’re all here still.” Gabe waved his hand and shook his head. “Naw. It’s the truth. You’re almost a hero here.”

“By association only, I’m sure. Look, I didn’t do much…not anymore then Akimbo…” He fell silent and lowered his head.

“Sorry…didn’t mean to bring that up. Yeah. She was one of the great ones.” He lifted his glass up. “To one of the best the Shadows has ever seen…” Gabe nodded and raised his hand to it, joining in.
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post Aug 15 2005, 02:23 PM
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Gusts of gas and fumes erupted from the massive twin smoke stacks, billowing up and covering the morning sky from the view of the workers below. As it settled, Jason covered his eyes to look back up at the sun. It pierced through even the smoke-covered factory, a testament to nature and how it would never give up the fight.

His arm dropped and he felt the gun tucked safely beneath his jacket. It was a welcome feeling after having surveyed the entire compound unarmed. Magic was one thing, but a gun never let you down, and sure as drek didn’t knock you out as well.

A quick jog through the main courtyard and he was stopped. “Halt and identify yourself!” Two guards in towers above, placed behind the cement wall, leveled guns down on Jason. He reached behind himself and pulled his credstick out.

“It’s me! Jason! Would you not point those things at me!” The guards were unchanging as they followed him. Putting the stick into the reader, he verified his identitiy. The guards nodded then and one smiled.

“Hey, Jason…come on. It’s protocol. You know that.” Jason just waved his hand as the large doors rolled open in front of him, leading into the factory compound. “Never can tell without you mojo workers here.”

Jason slotted his stick again and the doors closed. The guard came down the steps as the outside light was cut off again. Jason’s eyes adjusted and he moved to the stairs. “What? What happened to Dawn-of-Night?”

The guard shook his head. “Got raided last night. He was the only one to go down.” He pointed to his helmeted head. “One shot, right through the head…didn’t even have time to duck. They must have been waiting for him…the drek-faced…” He growled and tightened his grip on the rifle he held.

Jason hung his head, but was smiling on the inside. It had worked…everything’s going according to plan. He held his hands up and shook his head. “Well, I guess today was lucky, then. Reach in and verify my new weapon, please.”

The guard cocked his head, but did as instructed and reached into the jacket. He pulled out the Predetor and blinked. “Someone got themselves some protection finally?” He checked the number, Jason’s credstick, even the holster. “Thought you weren’t the gun type.”

“Normally I’m not.” He said, putting his hands back down. “But the wife finally got mad enough at me that I had to requisition one.” The guard shook his head and gave a little snort. “Hey now…none of that. It’s not my fault she’s a frag’n trog about me and my work.”

“Eh, don’t worry,” said the sec guard, walking Jason to his post. “I know just how it is. My girlfriend get’s sick of my music, the television I watch. Frag, she doesn’t usually let me have a beer. Says it’s bad for me. Says it’ll kill me one day.”

Jason laughed and followed the guard. “Yeah…” Too bad for you…liver poisoning isn’t your biggest concern anymore…
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post Aug 16 2005, 12:07 PM
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"And what do we have for our favorite contestant today, Mike?!" The dull flicker of the trid outlined Bridget's prone form. She lazily threw the remote to the table.

"Well, Janet...our lucky contestant has won...the super grand prize!" Some overweight woman squealed and jumped up and down as bells sounded and lights flashed wildly. "That's right, folk! She's won the all new, right off the line, Ford Jupiter!"

The crowd in the background flew off the handle, screaming and dancing in their seats as the middle-aged woman continued to squeal, looking like she was having a heart attack. The announcer continued to list off the features of the car. And Bridget...just stared blankly at the screen.

"This is...stupid." She reached for the control again. There as a click. Her eyes shot open. Another click. Muscles tensed. She slowly reached under her couch. Fumbling for the grip of her Ares assault pistol, she continued to listen.

Nothing but the annoying sound of cheering and screaming. Nothing again. She drew the pistol up to her body, holding it tight. She flicked the safety off and swung herself off the couch, quickly turning and aiming at....

...Nothing. Nothing again. "So, Mrs. Carsgrove...you like your new car?" The woman squealed again and nodded her head. "Well...do I have a deal for you. You can keep the car...drive it out right now...or-" Feet shuffled quickly down the hallway outside. Bridget turned to her doorway and listened.

The footsteps were farther and farther away now, running down the stairs. She moved quietly toward the door, both hands on her pistol, watching the door carefully. "-You can trade in your car...for a chance at both the car...and a trip to Germany!" Again, the woman jumped up and down. She looked like she was turning into a large jumping pig.

With a hand on the door, Bridget swallowed to clear her mind, then looked down, pointing the gun at what would soon be the open door. Then she stopped. Clicking. A different type of clicking. Her eyes went wide as she looked down to the door.

"Bridget..." She turned to the TV, heart pounding. "...for both the car and the trip...what is...an AI?" She bolted from the door, heading straight for the window of her 15 story apartment.

"Well...it's a-" Downtown stood still for a moment as the explosion tore a chuck out of a building. Fire erupted from the windows and sent glass and stone debris down on the sidewalk. People screamed and took cover, covering their heads as flaming chunks fell ontop of them.

From another building over, Bridget hung on and watches her apartment building crumble to the ground. She sighed and climbed up to a window, shaking her head at the lose of innocent life. Someone wanted her dead enough to involve innocent people. It was happening all over again.
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post Aug 16 2005, 01:17 PM
Post #5

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"Sector Two clear...over."
"Sector Five clear."
"Sector Six...uhmm...just a sec...nhhg...clear."
"Sector One clear...over."

Jason grumbled as he heard all the calls come in. It was boring work. The site didn't have enough funds to get a rigger, so they took turns being over-watch. And for the company mage to be assigned to over-watch when his place was clearly in the astral...

"Units 5 and 6? What's your status?" There was no answer. "Units 5 and 6, come in." Again, nothing. Something wasn't good about this. "This is over-watch. Everyone go to silent alert. I'm going astral." The other units all confirmed and went silent. Jason let his head fall forward, closing his eyes.

Opening them again, he saw his slumped body sitting there. And then he saw the two blazing-hot auras coming into the compound. "Damn it...this isn't supposed to happen." He flew down and saw the two beings. They both had dark patches around their body, evident of essence loss due to cyberware.

"Fraggers...this isn't the time, damn it." He flew back up and re-entered his body, taking note of the intruders. His body shoke and his head snapped back up. "Ahhh..." He cleared his mind and flipped on the ercrypting code on the comm master unit.

"Unit's 1 and 3...there are two cybered intruders, possibly wired. Choke them off at entrance 3. Unit 2, get into ambush position behind unit 1. Give them spot light and sniper cover." He looked at his computer map and typed out where they should go, letting it pop up in thier HUDs. "Unit 4 and 7, start actively sweeping the outside. Maintain radio silence until broken by me." Each light came on, signalling that everyone was paying attention.

Jason again slumpped down in his seat and his astral form rose again. First, check on the falled units. Then go back and help out the other units. He traveled out and down to the last known positions of 5 and 6...and both were cold and empty. He growled to himself

Turning his attention to the ambush, he saw the intruders make their way through the door. One ran back in while the other ran for cover, being hit by a few bullets. "Trying to run away? I don't think so." He flew infront of the first intruder and summoned his hearth spirit.

The spirit manifested next to him, waiting for it's command. "Stop this one from leaving. Preferably alive, but use deadly force if he's dangerous." The spirit nodded, his wispy brown hair covering one eye. He dropped out materialized behind the intruder, persueing him.
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post Aug 16 2005, 04:27 PM
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Reading good so far...
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post Aug 16 2005, 09:50 PM
Post #7

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Yup, I like it too. Just hope you haven't bitten off too many storylines to tie them together. - Lot of different people there.
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post Aug 17 2005, 01:32 PM
Post #8

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The thing about it is, no matter how long I played this particular story, only two people ever stayed for the whole game. A gun bunny and a decker. The reason I'm having three people like this is, yes, they will meet each other. Don't worry. I have everything planned. ^.^ I just want people to get to know my characters before anything actually happens. Now then...on to the next installments!

<<<Target server verified>>>
<<<Initializing Beta String>>>

> Good. Now search for the files, Phole.

<<<Searching, oh glorious one.>>>

[And I told the little skag that if he wanted the chip...all he had ta do was pry it from my corpse. So he runs off to get his 'gang'.]

[Yeah? And then what?]

[Hah! I'm still waiting around! Been two weeks!]

[Drek, man...hope you didn't piss off anyone important. Hey Gabe. Gabe!]

[...Hmm? Oh, sorry.]

[What are you slot'n, chummer? You've been sitting dead for a while.]

[Maybe he got board of your story, Kaplin.]

<<<Master! Wonderful news! The information is here!>>>

> Alright, Phole. Download and be quiet about it. No alarms, or I'll have your kernel.

<<<Master, please! Pity this creation of yours. I will do my best! I promise!>>>

> Fine...execute transfer Delta to Sub-1. Alert at every interval.

<<<Thank you, master...downloading using Sub Delta program.>>>

[Sorry, chummers. Been a little weak since I got back in the shadows. Heh...still getting used to doing everything wireless.]

[Man, I love this! I can move around, keep myself hidden. I don't have boundries anymore!]

[You still need to be within reach of an access point, Kaplin. Stop thinking you're invincible. I've seen what you really look like.]

[Slot off! I'm feeling the buzz of the wireless Network, and you're not gonna put a damper on that.]

<<<25% complete>>>

[Say guys...can I ask you a question? Confidential, of course.]

[Business or pleasure, Gabe?]

[Business, Fox.]
>*User 142588-GE*<
>*Credit: 607500*<

[Really, now? Alright. I'll slot it.]
>*Accepting Transfer*<
[What's on your mind, Gabe?]

[Remember Akimbo?]

[Not many people can forget a city-wide savior. Yeah, I remember.]

[I didn't get all the info from her I wanted. There were still a few things I...wanted to ask her. But I couldn't. Not then. I was too much of a newb. So...when I came back from the dead, so to speak, I wanted to find out more about her. But...I couldn't. Every door was closed. And every time I asked around...people started to take vacations to the Caribeen.]

>*Transfer...142588-GE ---> 529017-RF*<
>*Amount: 300*<
[You want to know what she was...right?]

[Yeah. I guess. I mean...I know I was always around her because someone wanted me to be. But what I didn't get was...why. Even when we found out that she was our only hope...]

<<<50% complete>>>

[...I want to know what's still in my head. I was told it was the key to the Archology. But...I never jacked in! I want to know what she is...what I am.]

>*Idle: 20*<
>*Idle: 50*<



>*Transfers terminated*<
[South-end docks, Downtown. tomarrow. 8:00 p.m.]

>*Idle: 20*<

[Thanks, fox...]

<<<75% complete>>>

>*Renraku Fox has left the channel*<
>*Kaplin Commander has left the channel*<

<<<Master! I have the information! Please...accept it from your meager slave.>>>

> Thanks, Phole. Close and jack-out.

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post Aug 17 2005, 02:19 PM
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#Alpha-Hound 1. K-Nines check in!#
#This is Greyhound. I'm at the back. No troubles so far.#
#Wolf is packed and ready to light some sinners up!#
#Fox here...#
#...And? Fox...FOX!#
#Fox, is there something wrong?#
#Commander...sorry. It's just that...#
#When you work undercover for two months, it's hard to kill your former pals. I know, little pup. But they've been spreading too much toxins and they must be stopped now. They signed up for the job. They know what their employeers do, and they know the risks.#
#Alright. Everyone else?#
#Huskie overhead. I'm not seeing anything on radar. Silent running is still 100%#
#Jackle here. The night's just perfect and I can pick off anyone that moves.#

Jason gripped his pistol tighter, feeling the gel handle conform and tighten to his hand. With a flick, he took off the safety, his shades informing him that his gun was now hot. The familiar crosshairs formed and followed the point of his gun.

#With any luck, they'll let us come in. Remember...we're law enforcement. I don't care how the normal Star takes care of things. The K-Nine unit is efficent, clean, and within the boundries of the law. Now...start infiltration.#

The back door slid open and Greyhound's shadow slipped in, undetected by the numerous cameras set up around the factory. A few minutes passed in total silence. Jason, if he wasn't human right now, would be curled up and fur on end. Tension was one thing he didn't do all that well.

#Greyhound? What is it? Report.#
#How many guards were their supposed to be, Fox?#
#Only seven.#
#...five....six...frag. I'm reading seven...all DOA.#
#What? Wolf, get in there and confirm.#
#I'm o-kshsshskhskkssshshhhhhh.......#
#Wolf? Wolf! Jackle, report!#
#Sir! I see four or five of them...all walking out of the front.#
#Huskie, report!#
#Confirmed, Alpha. Four toxic's coming out. Fox!#
#Yeah...I know!#

Jason backed behind a large crate as the four shamans walked out, the earth benieth their feet drying and cracking. A trail of ooze followed one, the greenish liquid making a hissing noise as it fell.

Against one, he might have a chance. But there were four of them, obviously powerful. He was seriously outnumbered. He flicked his gun back and holstered it, taking his time to be quiet and hidden.

The four shamans stopped in the middle, their hands raised to the sky. For a moment, if sounded like they were chanting. It grew louder, and he could tell it was coming from the factory.

#I'm reading a massive build-up of...something. It's coming from inside the factory.#
#Fox...what's going on?#
#It's a ritual, sir. A...drek! We have to clear out! Now!#

With a quick spell, Jason sped up, his reflexes hightened. He ran for the exit just as he heard the large bolt of lightning strike down, enveloping the whole factory. It slammed into the ground, mere meteres away from him. Shifting, he bounded away, leaving his clothes to be devoured in the expanding lightning column.

It took in the whole compound, lighting up the night sky like a call from the gods. It pulsed once, then stopped. It hung there for a few moments, dazing the three canine officers. And with a large flash of light, it was gone. The compound...disitigrated. And the fox...on his side...whimpering in pain.
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post Aug 17 2005, 03:54 PM
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The Hang-up is always filled with the heavy smoke of cigeretts and wiff of cheap booze. It hung like the morning fog always present in the early hours of the Barrens. One of the only 'safe' havens within the Barrens, the Hang-up stays open for those people that just can't drown enough of their sorrows during the evening.

"Hey...Bridge." Karl poked at the unconcious female. "Hey, come on. Wake up." She snorted a bit and her eyes fluttered, vision coming into a blur. "Come on, chummer...you can't be doing this to yourself."

"Leaf meee 'lone..." She waved a hand, spilling one of her half-emptied drinks onto the bar. The troll sighed and cleaned it up.

"You can drink all you want, but when you're out for more then an hour, I have'ta throw you out. It's policy."

"Don'tcha...getting all...POLICY...on meh..." She swung her head up, wavering back and forth. "Itcha soo YOU polishy..." Her hands flailed around as if she were holding the troll at gunpoint. "I...tcha..." And her head hit the bar again.

"Drek...why do I care about you, Akimbo?" The troll shook his head and hefted the female up. "Well...let's at least get you to a normal bed...and make sure you don't choke on your own tounge."

* * *

Light poured in from a crack in the hardened glass window. It struck just enough to get a reaction from the unconsious woman in red. Bridget blinked her eyes open, then sat up slowly. Her head swam a bit, the effects of a hang-over long since gone, thanks to her slightly peculiar heritage.

"Been a while...eh vixen?" She turned her head to the familiar voice, not wanting it to be. "You really should stop that. It's going to get you killed one of these days."

"Fox!" She got angry, then blushed as she patted herself down. She covered up more under the blanket and kicked a foot at the semi-real entity. "Get away! Go! Get!"

The fox spirit shook his head and moved closer. "Now now, my dear. Why so much hostility? It has been five years. Aren't you happy to see me?" He opened his arms and smiled.

"NO! I don't want you around!" She waved her arm wildly. "You screwed up the first half of my life...now stop trying to screw it up more."

He gasped and looked concerned and hurt. "You wound me, my little A-"

"I said get out of here!" She picked up a pillow and threw it at the spirit, watching it pass right through him. "I'm not that! I've never been that! You took my life away from me! My brother...Randy...everyone! Now go away!" She covered her head and fumed.

Fox's eyes narrowed. "You little brat." He growled and sat down. "You spoiled little brat. Do you think it's that easy? Do you?" She peaked out and blinked her eyes. "You don't get off that easy. This isn't some game. This is something we've been working on since the Awakening." He took the covers and pulled them back. "Now you look here, you whiny little girl. I'm sick and tired of pulling your ass out of every problem you get yourself into. You're more valuable to me alive, and that's why I haven't devoured you here and now!"

Bridget shook in fear, her body curled up against the head of the bed. Fox crawled over a bit and she tightened up. "You are going to open all the doors. You're the key to everything I've worked for. Everything we've worked for. The drake, the elf...me! We've put so much time and effort into your silly and pathetic shell..."

She started to cry, scared out of her mind as the ghost-like figure was mere inches away from her face. Snarling teeth glistened as he spoke. "...You stop screwing up your life. You stop hurting your body and your soul. Because it's not just yours. You're mine, you little lab rat. You've always been mine." He snapped at her, making her flinch and break out into loud sobs.

He stood back up and looked down. "Pathetic. Crystal was a much better subject. At least he listened to orders. Not like you. He fulfilled his programming." He brought back his hand as she looked up, then swiftly brought it across her face, slapping her hard. "You're a machine, damn it!! Work like you're supposed to!!"

* * *

"AAAHHHHH!!" She sat up quickly, cold sweat running down her body. Heart raced and her chest heaved up and down, fear still gripping her. She swallowed hard and scanned the room. No one was there. But she stayed alert for a few moments more.

The door opened and she jumped, defensive. Karl's head popped in. "You ok? You screamed and-"

"I'm...I'm fine." She sighed and let her body sag. "I...just a dream. A bad one."

The troll looked aruond the room, just to make sure. He then nodded. "Alright. It's getting to be morning. If you want, I think I can throw together something that looks like breakfast."

She smiled. "Alright. Thanks. I'll be down in a sec." Karl closed the door and went back down, leaving her to think. What was it? A dream? A vision? Well...what ever it was it...

She felt her cheek. It burned. It stung. Like someone...slapped her.
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post Aug 18 2005, 01:07 PM
Post #11

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The 23rd Star precinct. Home to an elite group of shaman's known as the K-Nine unit. A team of ten, their skills and abilities are perfect for covert operations, recon, and quick strike missions. In the four years since their creation, they have yet to lose a member of the unit.

Well...some things just can't last forever...

"I don't frag'n believe you!" The lobby seemed to shake as Captain Brians's chair flew across his office. People looked up, but knew this was normal and returned to work. Inside the office, Jason and David both sat there, quiet and sulking.

"Two...of our most experienced and trained units are blown away, my recon fox is put in the hospital, and all you can say is 'sorry'?!" He grabbed a paperweight and waved it around. "Do you think that's acceptable, sargent? Do you!? Because it's not!" The paperweight slams back on the table, making both the officers flinch.

Brians massaged his head and sat back down. "We have spent more then three million nuyen into your group this year, Hargrove. I've given you equipment, ritual sites, a meeting area all your own, and even that bleeding edge cyberware." He looked back up, eyes more tired now then angry. "How could four shamans beat you so easily."

Finally, with most of the storm past him, David spoke. "They were toxic, sir. And high potency, too. We didn't read them on the initial seep because they were masked by the chemicals already inside the factory." Brians looked down to the report on his desk. "And...I followed all procedures. Nothing should have went wrong. We did everything..."

"By the book. I know." He scanned the file again and sighed, his shoulders sagging. "But this is unacceptable. Fox, what happened? You had that placed reconned. There should have been no slip ups."

"Well...sir..." Jason said, his voice a bit shaky, "The...the only thing that concerned me was a run. A run that someone must have put against the factory. I don't know who it was. The two suspects were heavily augmented and carrying high grade equipment. At first, I thought they were shadowrunners. But...they were too well equip to be that."

"And did you inform the sargent about that?"

"He did, sir. When the bodies were tossed, we took a look at them, just to be sure. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Background noise was quiet and neither had markings or evidence of who hired them."

"Then...you're saying that this was a freak accident?" The two officers looked at each other, then nodded their heads. As much as the captain didn't want to accept that, he put the report down again. "Alright. There's nothing to show that this was planned by anyone we know. David, I want you to check out who these guys could have been. Toxic's work alone."

David stood at attention and nodded. "Right away, sir." He turned quickly and exited the office, closing the door behind him. Before Jason could leave, the captain raised his hand.

"I have something for you, agent." Fox looked up. "A mission. Something I want you to do alone." He pressed a button on his desk. The shutters to his windows all closed, metal sheets falling down and locking the room tight. "This is top secret, agent. Something that no one else is to know. Tell anyone, and I'll have you executed on the spot. Understand?"

Jason gulped, his hands clentching onto the bottom of his Star uniform. "Yes...sir. Captain. Yes, I understand."

"Whiz..." A small holosphere rose up and emitted light above the desk, showing a woman. "This woman must be reconned. And this is no ordinary recon." He typed something in, then the image changed to that of an elf. His black hair tied into a long tail down his back. "We have information that this man is seeking her. He's a suspect in a case we can not disclose."

The image faded and then reappeared to that of a dragon. "Suffice it to say, the person, or creature, involved is an important figure. The Star usually doesn't take single, private cases like this. But the woman, the elf, and this dragon all are important or are threats to the cities security."

Jason continued listening, his body ridged and at attention. "Your mission is to stay close to this woman, get to know her, and keep an eye out for this elf. If he should approach her at any time, you will take note of it. If he should try to harm her in any way, you will intervene and stop him.

"Above all, this woman is vital. You will not put her in danger, nor will you allow her to be put in danger. If I see her at the local chop-shop, rest assured that I'll be seeing you behind bars in the most maximum security prison I can find." Jason shivered at the threat. It's not like the captain was being different. Threats like this always came from the captain. This was just the first time Jason ever really found the threat carry much meaning.

The shutters came back up and the captain smiled. "Now then, I think you'll be taking that leave of absence now, Fox." Jason nodded and, without being relieved, turned and left, scared out of his mind.
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post Aug 18 2005, 02:16 PM
Post #12

Moving Target

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The thick fog that rolled in didn't do anything for vision. The habor usually was fogged over, esspecially at this time of night. But the rain didn't help any, either. Gabe cursed to the drops that his his windshield, still trying to figure out how fog and rain could conspire against him that night.

He pulled to the side of a warehouse, just as another bolt of lightning struck in the distance. Opening a small deck in the car, he started his connection sequence and started to look for a satellite link. As soon as it did, he heard the familiar chirp of his agent.

"Master! You're back! I have been waiting for you, patiently."

"Alright, Phole. I know." He pulled a cord from the deck and jacked himself in. A wave hit his mind, and he was pulled in as his ASIST turned hot.

<<<Master....the files have been decoded and are ready for your glorious eyes to look upon them.>>>

> Phole...how did you decode them so fast?

<<<I used the cross-reference I found some time ago on an Ares site.>>>

> My father...damn him...

<<<Your father, sir? What would he have anything to do with->>>

> Never mind, Phole. Can you show me the files?

<<<Certainly. Initializing read/write with Sub-1 memory.>>>
<<<Dumping un-needed>>>
<<<Parsing resources>>>
<<<Cleaning up clutter>>>
<<<File open. Please view when ready, Master.>>>

The file icon hung there in his own little space on the deck. It looked just like a box...a cardboard box. As he touched it, words popped out in small windows, like sheets of paper. Each one contained a separate report.

> This...wait a sec. This can't be right.

<<<Is something not to the liking of Master? Did I not perform as well as->>>

> Shut up, Phole! This is major! I...I can't even begin to...

>*Idle: 20*<
>*Idle: 50*<

<<<M...master? Are you ok?>>>

> Phole...contact Misty. Have her look over this. And let NO ONE else see this.


>*Frame Portal online*<

---This is Portal. To what destination shall I take you?---

> Enter code HZ-1, Alpha Alpha Gamma. Wait for my signal.

>*Portal status has changed to Stand-By*<


///This is Harrow, my liege. How may I serve you?\\\

> Harrow. I need you and Phole to jump and find your ways to Misty. Protect Phole and make sure she doesn't get jacked by another decker or agent. verify Misty with code Omega Alpha 5 5 6.

///Of course, my liege. It shall be done.\\\

> Unlock portal.
>*Portal status has changed to Active*<

> Portal...initialize code on both Agent Phole and Agent Harrow. Shut down and crash deck and signal when complete.

---Commands accepted---
---Portal opening---

With a soft yank, Gabe pulled the cord out and watched his deck flash for a moment, then go silent and shut down. Hopefully...that won't leave a trace for long. He looked out to the warehouse where he was supposed to meet Fox. Now that he had the information he did, he was ready to know that AI really were.
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post Aug 18 2005, 02:36 PM
Post #13

Moving Target

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"Sorry...didn't know your apartment building got 'redeveloped' into military zoning." Bridget scarfed down the eggs infront of her, thankful for something other than soy in the Barrens. "But it doesn't make sense. You're not Akimbo anymore. No one should know you're alive, 'cept for me and...well...no one."

She grabbed the glass of milk and drank it down. "Ahh....yes. I know. That's what's getting me upset. I took almost four years to hide and misdirect, there should be no reason people know who I am."

"Well...you're not back in the shadows, so..." She stopped eating at that and the troll looked down. He opened his eyes wide, then narrowed them. "You said you quit."

"Hey! The only things I was ever taught to do was be a secretary or shoot guns. The first didn't go well. Not my fault." She stared at him for some time before returning to her plate of eggs.

"How do you expect to hide from these guys if you keep dropping them frag'n hints?" She waved a hand and took another long drink of milk. "Frag, Bridget...I'm here to help. But I can't hold off an army of skags that wanna bust down my door for you. I can only do so much."

She sat back and patted her stomach, the plate empty and almost clean. "I know...I'll leave tomarrow. Hopefully my little shack in Redmond is still there."

"Oh, frag no! No no no." He shook his head and placed his thick hand on the table. "You're staying in Puyallup. I'll get you a place down in a shelter."

She glared at him and poked a thumb to her chest. "I need a home, not a 'home'. I can take care of myself, thank you."

"No, you got me wrong. I know a good place to just lay low for a while. It's an old bank vault. I've been keeping supplies and stuff in there, but it's got full ventalation, electricity, even plumbing."

Bridget cocked an eyebrow. "Plumbing? That's impossible. How the hell-"

The troll smiled and cut her off. "It's right over head one of the factories that still runs. Their power and utilites are linked up with the vaults. They don't care, as it's all downflow, so they leave the vault alone. Can't get into it anyway." He tapped the metal plate on one side of his head. "You kinda need a heavy encryption code and employee codes just to get in. Good thing I found all of them and reprogrammed it."

She laughed and leaned back in her seat. "Alright. Sure, Karl. I'll take the help. Just didn't know a troll in the Barrens like this would have so many hiding places and secrets."

"It's a lot different here in Puyallup then in Redmond. We think to survive down here."
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post Aug 19 2005, 02:24 PM
Post #14

Moving Target

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"So...you wanted to see me in person?"

"Of course. This can't be talked about over the net."

Gabe turned his head, the rain falling down and off of the strands of his hair in his face. The shadowed figured stayed where he was, leaned on the other end of the corner of the warehouse.

"I want to know what she is."

"I thought you already knew. She's pure code."

Gabe shook his head. "That's impossible. All that information programmed into a human brain?"

"Sure. Where do you think the term comes from in the first place?"


"Look, I can tell this isn't helping. How about you ask something else about her?"

"Ok. Who wanted her dead? Deus? That dragon?"

He shook his head. "Nothing as simple as that, chummer. The person...or persons, that wanted her dead come from a different...background, so to speak."

"But if she was the project...the thing they all wanted to have...why kill her? She was more valuable to them alive."

The figure laughed as the rain poured down harder. Gabe turned and wondered for a second.

"It's because she opened the box, Hunter."

"The box?"

The figure was quiet for a long time, then turned to Gabe, his eyes almost glowing benieth the hood. "Do you know who Fox is? Not me. I mean the real Fox."

"...I think I met him once...a long time ago."

"There's your packager. You wanna know who Akimbo is? You ask him." The figure pushed off with his back and headed off into the storm. "But be ready to die. These things you're facing now...they're not your normal threats of spirits. Messing with the affairs of free spirits can have dire consequences." With that, the figure vanished into the blackness of the stormy night.

"The box...she opened it? Wait...Drake!" Gabe turned and ran for his car. He didn't have much time anymore.
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post Aug 19 2005, 03:10 PM
Post #15

Moving Target

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His hands flew quickly from the tools on the tray to the body before him. He watches his hands carefully, then watched the monitor. It continued to blip at a regular rate, thankfully.

It had been rough going for a while. First, right after the first cut, he flat-lined. Had to resort to shocks and a dose of stim to keep him up. This one was fragile. and his wounds came very close to life threatening. But even after that, the heart rate had been erratic until he finally closed the valve.

With a clean stroke, he pulled out the last of the bio-wire and cut it. With one or two commands, the wire fused and closed the large cut in the man's side. With a sigh, he pulled his hands away and let them hang over the side.

"Alright. He's good now. Give him another shot in 30 minutes, then put him down in Safe Care 1." The nurse nodded her head and started to clean up as another nurse came to the doctor.

"Drake...that was a bit scary there."

"Yes, I know." He pulled off the bloody gloved, letting them drop into the bucket below the surgery table. "These guys need to learn to come with medical records before I work on them."

"That's what happens when you're a street doc, doc." The elf chuckled and pulled out a pocket secretary. "You have an examination in 15 minutes, then a cardio read out of that sam that came in here."

Drake walked out of the surgery room and into the long hallway. "Didn't he already get it checked by Darwin?"

"No...Darwin asked that you take it. He's got a drek-load to do with the new nurses coming in, and since you won't teach them..."

Drake waved a hand and growled. He didn't like pulling the slack for other doctors, but it sure as drek beat teaching newbies the difference between hospital and street care. Taking on another load of nurses for the new doctor wasn't his idea of a good time.

Turning the corner and into an elevator, Drake hit the lowest button and the two were sent down. "Oh, and I just got a call from someone saying they're a friend."

"A friend?" Drake pulled off the breathing mask and hung it around his neck. "Which one? Good or bad?"

"Good, I believe. He said his name was Gabe Hunter, and he wanted to speak with you about...a box?" The doctor froze, his eyes wide. The elevator doors opened on the lowest floor and the nurse stepped out. Taking a few steps, he turned to see Drake frozen there. "Doctor? Doctor Drake?"

He snapped back, sweat beading on his forehead. "Yeah...him." He took a step off the elevator and let it close behind him. "Sure...when is he due here?"

"Any minute, sir. I told him you were booked, but-"

"Tell Parry to take my examination. And clear that sam. Just run his blood through the cycle and get the results, then show them to me." The elf looked stunned at this as Drake shifted, his natural form curling up and filling the 30 meter high room almost instantly.

*Well? Is there a problem?*

The elf shook his head. "No, sir. No. There isn't a problem."

*Then get going. And send that Gabe person down here immediately when he gets here...there is much I have to discuss...* And Drake layed his head down, waiting patiently.

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post Aug 23 2005, 12:45 PM
Post #16

Moving Target

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It was quiet. And boring. And Bridget hated quiet and boring. It made her feel like...being dead. With a meter thick vault door between her and the barrens, she wished someone would have the guts to bust open the door. That way, she could do something.

Karl was right. The place had everything inside, even a trid that got all of the better Seattle channels. She had been watching one a day for the last week, and it was getting a bit old.

The cyber terminal he had here gave Bridget the idea that Karl used this for more then relaxing or sleeping. And the amount of munitions in crates around the room made her relieved...and just a bit scared at the same time. She never knew the troll to be an arms dealer. Or maybe he was just really careful.

The vault door slowly hissed as the codes were inputted into it. Bridget yawned and grabbed her pistol. "Bought time someone got down here..." She pointed the gun forward and waited, half hanging off of the couch. With another hiss, the door creaked open away from her.

"Hey? Are...are you here?" She unlocked the safety. It wasn't Karl. "Bonnie? Are you here?" That voice...was familiar. She lowered the gun, her eyes wide open. "Bonnie? It's me..."

"Crys..." Her jaw dropped when she saw the soft blue tail flick back and forth. He was standing there, panting from something. He was dressed in combat gear far too heavy and large for a little fox shaman like him. "No...you can't be..."

He stepped forward, then gave a quiet squeek and fell forward onto the floor. "Crys!" She ran to him, skidding to a stop and kneeling down. "Crys...Crys....what happend to you?" She noticed a few bandages and bruises on his body.

"Would you like to know?" Another familiar voice...one she didn't like. Her head snapped around to meet a furred claw grasp her around her neck. Instinctively, she grabbed at the claw and tried to force it open, but it was much stronger then she was. It lifted her up.

"Now now...my small little spare unit. He's not dead. The core of my plans can't be harmed badly. I just made him run through the Barrens."

"Th...this p-p-place is...is dange-"

"Dangerous, I know. But my little core unit knows that." Fox knelt down, still holding Bridget in his unhuman grip. His other claw stroked the small fox boy's hair, brushing it out of his face. "He's so gentle...I would never put him in harms way."

"You...made him...your tool..." She brought a leg back and kicked off of the spirit. Fox let go and watched Bridget tumble into a crate full of ammunition. She coughed and rubbed her neck.

"You may not know it...but I've always favored my little core unit." The spirit cradled the unconcious shaman in his arms, lifting up. "He's more important than just some computer storage unit. He's special to me..."

Getting to her knees, Bridget held a hand to her neck and looked up. "He's not yours...you monster. He's...my brother..."

"Oh, I don't think so." The spirit let Crys hang in mid air as he came down. "Now...be a good little AI and give up the program." He started to walk forward. Bridget's eyes flashed open.

"Program? What are you talking about?"

"Deus...give him back to me. Give him now!" The spirits's claws extended and he lept for her, mere inches away from her heart...

* * *

...When she sat up, gasping for air. The lights in the small vault were dimmed down, like she had set them. Her blanket and clothes were wet with sweat. Breathing rapidly, she put a hand to her beating heart and looked over everything. Nothing moved and the vault door was securely in place.

She sighed and fell back down to the couch, the blanket falling on top of her. Another nightmare about that...insane fox. It was happening more frequently. And each time...she got close and closer to getting hurt or killed. And she feared, one of these times, it wouldn't be a dream.
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