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Number One with a Bullet
Suzuki swatted at Anthony's ass as the boy scrambled off the bed for his shorts. Rather than watch him dress, Suzuki laid his head back on the pillow and patted the sill beside him for his smokes. His lighter reflected the fancy hotel room in silver highlights which the naphtha flame blotted out for the few seconds it took to fill the room with the smell of singed wax and smoldering tobacco.

"Lemme have a smoke, 'Zuki." Anthony was a talented joyboy, but he hadn't yet figured out how to apply the skills useful in attracting a john to getting other things he wanted. Or maybe he had—maybe the little quaver in his voice was practiced, make him seem more his age. Suzuki gave it some lazy consideration, then flipped another cigarette out of the box and tossed it in a high arc. Anthony caught it, clutched it, thought hard about saving it to sell, then put it in his mouth and lit it with his own red plastic safety lighter. Suzuki squinted at the toy's little electric sparker, then laughed as Anthony leaned over and coughed out a lungful of smoke.

"Shit'll kill you," Suzuki warned with a quirk of his lips. "S'what makes 'em so good."

"Yeah," Anthony wheezed, taking a second, careful puff. "It's real good. Shroomy cigs, they taste like shit," he grinned. He waved his pack of 'menthol' cigarettes—shaped non-carcinogenic sticks of dried fungus laced with trace amounts of nicotine and incense, wrapped in paper. They melt into non-pollutants in water, and don't even produce any external smoke when burned.

"Get outta here," the Korean runner waved, laying back on the bed again. "I gotta get ready."

"Have a good show!" Anthony shut the door behind himself. A neon light blinked through the window; Suzuki glanced out and saw that he could stay at the New Zone coffin motel for only 10 nuyen.gif a night. He pondered that until he'd smoked his cigarette down to the filter, then stubbed it out and stuffed his skintight leathers into his overnight bag. No point showering until after he helped his crew set up, so he pulled on denims and a t-shirt before lacing his boots and heading down to the lobby.

The Westerling Hotel's automated system deducted 150 nuyen.gif from his credstick as he passed through the front doors, payment for the six hours he'd spent there.


Suzuki shifted his gaze away from Val so he'd have a few seconds to think. His eyes slid across the room until they caught on a woman halfway across it whose arms were both covered in loops of ritualistic scarification. She was sitting with her back to Timebomb's bulk, and looking back at Suzuki hard. Fucking thugs. He'd seen her before, somewhere. Couldn't quite place it. He stared at her for a few seconds as Biohazard's floor lights created patterns on her skin that intersected the scars to create weird afterimages.

"The Bomb's got people that don't like him," Val shrugged in her smoky voice. She hadn't turned to see what Suzuki was looking at. The pause in their conversation couldn't really be called a silence, given the fact that the two of them had to shout to be heard over the dance beat pounding from Biohazard's speakers.

"She's cute," Suzuki moued, seeing his own spiked hair as a negative space in the flashing lights reflected from the lenses of Val's wide sunglasses.

"What do you want?" Val held up her hands, palms toward the ceiling. "Fuckers start planting explosives under the stage, you don't fuck around. 'Bomb makes me some good money. Pays to reinvest." Suzuki leaned back to watch his tech crew packing up the equipment. There hadn't been time to do it after Suzuki's gig—getting Timebomb onto the stage had taken precedence, according to A'ja, the elf running the nightclub's shows.

"Wrap me up in densiplast / The metal flesh will always last," Suzuki quoted placidly, "Your circuitry is poison / your circuitry is death / your circuitry is yesterday's trash." Val looked over at him, then tipped her head back and laughed from deep in her belly. Suzuki picked his drink up with a finger and a thumb, shaking it absently while he waited for the guffaws shaking Val's slim shoulders to die down.

"Yeah, okay," the fixer chuckled, poking a finger behind her shades to rub away tears. "his music is horseshit. But these people," she continued, waving her hand to indicate the club at large, "they don't know art, but they know what they like. Y'know? I lose money when I put you up there, but I do it because you do good work for me. Timebomb, I put up there because these idiots love him. I can make a record deal off him. I can make a fuck. Ton. Of. Cash off of Timebomb. Okay? Find me some, some fibercore aficionados," she laughs, "and I will set you up. As it stands, ten years from now, one of these kids in fifty will fucking love you—the real music nuts, the ones who appreciate talent as opposed to liking what everybody else likes because everybody else likes it. You will be looked on as one of the great maestros of fibercore, a guy who defined an entire genre of music. Until then, babe," Val shrugs, "you are pearls before swine."

"Hey," a new voice cut in. Suzuki looked up to see A'ja grinning at him and Val. Val smiled back stiffly; Biohazard was A'ja's turf. The two fixers had managed to keep any catfights they'd had during the course of getting the show set up hidden behind the scenes, but they'd probably never be friends. Territorial disputes do that. Suzuki's eyes strayed over towards Timebomb again. "Really good show, Suzuki," A'ja said as she turned to grab a vacant chair.

"Thanks," Suzuki nodded, then brightened. "Oh! A'ja, I was thinking about a little celebration tonight. Could you find me something in a thirteen or fourteen? I like my boys blonde." Val froze with her glass halfway to her lips. A'ja paused, then let go of the chair without moving it. Holographic insets on the sequins covering her low-cut dress made hard, icy sparkles as the floor lights shifted through the blue spectrum.

"Really good show," A'ja repeated flatly, then sidestepped past Suzuki into the crowd. Suzuki set his glass back down with a careless shrug.

"What..." Val set her drink down, then picked it up and swallowed half of it as Suzuki watched with interest.

"I've never seen you at a loss for words." Val looked back at him blankly for almost a minute. He looked at Timebomb's hired thug. The scars were sort of pretty, the way the thug herself was sort of pretty despite the way she'd packed her body with engineered muscle. Black snakes, tattooed all down her left arm, wriggled in constant motion as she poked angrily at the 5mm-thick sheet of clear plastic she was holding—a pocsec "padd" model that'd been popular three years ago; the display was polarized so that only the holder could see it, and the sheet itself could be crumpled up and stuffed into a pocket without harm. Any style she possessed was pure accident, form created by function. The scarified woman liked hurting people, and liked little else. Suzuki frowned with distaste and washed his thoughts away with a swallow of his own drink—the drink A'ja had brought him.

"I really shouldn't give you this," Val finally sighed. "But I let my usual guy go out on other business because I didn't think you'd be such a shit." Suzuki regarded her wordlessly. "Rush job, tonight. B and E. You're replacing some guy named Cho, who got himself killed on unrelated business. Seven grand. And after that shit," the fixer spat, pointing a finger in the direction A'ja had vanished, "don't you fucking dare get in my face about who you're working with."

Suzuki said, "Sure."


"Naw, it's cool," Timebomb rumbled. The shotgun held in the crook of the troll's chrome-touched left arm was a Chinese knockoff of a SPAS-25, customized with inlaid silver dragons on every available surface. They matched the black dragons that had been painted on both of the troll's cyberarms. Suzuki glared at the window two stories above the huddled team; that would be safer than glaring at Timebomb. Because the team was crouched at the base of the ferrobrick wall, the window was foreshortened into a fat black line; the light fixture above it was dark, burned out a few minutes ago when the team's offsite decker, a kid named GG, hacked the building's electrical system and fed it too much power. The system hadn't yet noticed the burnt-out bulb, also thanks to GG's careful overwatch. "If we gotta go in loud, let's just go in loud. I'll knock open the front doors, draw some fire, you guys take 'em out. They gotta have a term at the front desk, we just hook the doohickey up to that an' we're golden. GG can hack that shit."

"Hell yeah I can!" GG crowed over the team's headset.

"In and out," Timebomb nodded.

"Loud? The window?" Deadhammer shook his head. "I can magic that. No noise whatsoever. We just stick to the plan. Such as it is. Even if there's a terminal in the lobby—"

"There is, I can see it on the sec cams, but it's not on my system map, so—"

"—it might just be offline. It might not be hooked up to the research host."

"...Yeah," GG agreed begrudgingly.

"You can silence the window? Sweet," Timebomb nodded. "Let's just go—"

"No," Suzuki hissed, "we are not going over the god damned plan again. Go." Race looked at him, unreadable behind the stylized goggle rig covering her eyes. The loops of scar tissue etched into her arms glimmered in the omnipresent glow of Seattle's nightlife, unstoppable even at four in the morning.

"I'm scared, Race," Timebomb whispered. "Please don't leave me alone with these mean ol' shadowrunners for ten entire seconds." Race cocked her head to regard Timebomb with the same lack of expression she'd given Suzuki, then stood and ran lightly up the wall. Five meters up, she kicked off the wall at a shallow angle, covering the last four meters of vertical distance to the light fixture above the window. Her hands—one bare, one gloved in fake leather and metal striking surfaces that covered all the way up to her right bicep—clapped around the fixture's pole. It gave a creak, but the adept walked herself hand under hand until she was close enough to the base that leverage didn't threaten to rip the entire thing out of the wall. Deadhammer gave her an exaggerated thumbs-up, and she swung herself back, then forward to smash her boots through the window. It shattered noiselessly, as promised. At the end of her swing, Race let go, arcing gracefully through the broken window. A moment later, the window frame swung open, and a length of black rope uncoiled its way to the ground.

"Going up!" Deadhammer flexed his hands around the line, then started scrambling up it. Despite his clumsiness with the task, his movements were as silent as the window had been.

"We should jam sometime," Timebomb whispered.


"You fuckin' rock, man. Heard you when you opened for me tonight. We should jam sometime."

"Unbelievable," Suzuki murmured as Deadhammer clambered through the open window. Resisting a strong urge to empty his pistols into the troll's face, Suzuki skimmed up the rope and pulled himself over the sill. The window opens into a small office; Race and Deadhammer were holding the end of the rope.

"Hold the line behind me," Deadhammer said. "This boy's gonna be noisy." The elf stepped forward and leaned partly out the window to get a fix on Timebomb, while Suzuki gripped the rope with Race holding it just behind him. Deadhammer nodded to himself, stepped back, and grabbed the rope with his eyes closed. The line tensed, then tried to leap forward; Suzuki gasped and tightened his grip, digging his heels into the thick carpet. Race growled as Deadhammer planted his feet against the wall and stood on it sideways, holding himself up with his arms and using the leverage to keep the rope from slipping away. His black ponytail hung down long enough to brush the carpet, spilling around the katana strapped to his back. After almost a minute, Timebomb's chromed fingers slammed silently on the sill, and the Amerind troll heaved himself into the room to come up on his feet. Suzuki stumbled back, gasping, then aimed himself at the couch and collapsed; Deadhammer just lay on the floor where he'd landed once Timebomb's bulk no longer held the rope taught. Race was sucking in deep, even breaths as she recoiled the line around her arm. Beads of sweat stood out on her forehead just below her short, wild, backswept hair.

"We'll scout." It was the first words Suzuki had heard Race speak. Her voice was sullen and threatening—a thug like her had no use for any other expression. Timebomb tried to speak, realized Deadhammer's spell still wrapped him in silence, and settled for nodding. Deadhammer lifted an arm, then let it flop back down; Suzuki did the same, then rolled over onto his side. Race cracked open the door, peeked out, peeked again in the other direction, and slipped out into the hallway. Timebomb followed in uncanny silence, faux SPAS laid against his shoulder the way smaller beings might carry a pistol. His horns, great spiraling ram-like protrusions, had been pierced through the keratin in several places with hoops that matched the metallic platinum of his chomage.

"You got a record out?" Deadhammer asked, sitting up. Suzuki glanced over at him. "Heard you at Penumbra a few weeks back, didn't see any chips for sale." The elf wiped his brow, looked at his hand, and wiped it on the carpet before shrugging out of his leather duster to cool off a bit. The duster hung off his back, trapped there by the katana's sheath.

"I haven't had any burned," Suzuki shrugged, pulling himself up to rest with his elbows on his knees. "I've got a demo download at MusicMatrix. Five tracks, no charge."

"I got that," GG's voice piped up over the team's channel. "That really what running is like, in the meat? All the, like, enemies and stuff?"

"Sometimes," Deadhammer answered darkly. "Sometimes it's exactly like that."

"I just play it the way I see it." Suzuki shrugged. "Other people see it differently."

"Timebomb makes it sound kinda fun."

"For Timebomb," Suzuki said, holding himself very still, "it probably is." He ran a hand through his spiky hair.

"He's got a pretty good rep," GG said. "Never had a run go wrong." Suzuki thought about telling them exactly why that was, then decided it wouldn't be worth the effort.

"You guys hang out? You and Timebomb?" The elven mage stood and unsheathed his katana to check the blade. He had time to inspect it and re-sheath it before Suzuki replied.

"No. Not really." Suzuki stood. Talking about it would just make tonight harder. "Let's just get this over with." Deadhammer pulled his longcoat back on, adjusted the hang of his sword, and nodded.

"Found it," Race grumbled in Suzuki's earpiece. "Maglock."

"No physical latch?" the Korean asked lightly.

"Bite me," GG spat back. "Wasn't in the blueprints. Go left, third door." Suzuki sauntered down a hallway decorated in Early Corporate Boring with Deadhammer creeping along behind him, one hand on the grip of his katana. The third door opened onto a small cafeteria. Suzuki glanced left to see Timebomb pressed against the wall, shotgun at the ready; Race appeared to his right as the door swung further open. She hadn't displayed a weapon that Suzuki had seen; probably one of those my body is a lethal weapon types.

"Can't find the reader," Timebomb shrugged, pointing at the meter-wide vent near the ceiling across the room.

"I can't reach that. Timebomb, carry the drink machine over there for me to stand on. Lock that door," Suzuki instructed cooly.

"Got it," Timebomb grinned, as if someone present would be impressed by his muskles. He at least remembered to unplug the power cable from the back of the machine before he wrapped his arms around its base and lifted it. The ceiling was designed for norms—far too low for Timebomb to walk upright with the base of the machine held at his waste. Instead, the troll duckwalked with the drink machine held only a few centimeters off the ground. His first few steps thudded on the tile before Deadhammer blinked and raised his silence spell again. Suzuki rolled his eyes and turned away to find Race glaring at him from the door.

"Got it," the troll repeated between panting breaths. Suzuki spun slowly on his heel until he was facing the vent again.

"Wayell," Suzuki drawled in an exaggerated CASsie accent, "ain't you just handy!" Timebomb blinked, then decided it was a compliment and grinned. Suzuki hopped up on top of the drink machine and stood on his tiptoes to peer into the vent for a moment. The vent itself was ringed with small depressions bottomed by pinholes. On the right wall, within easy reach between the slats of the vent covering, was attached a small black box with a slit running from top to bottom. A stubby antenna poked up from the box's far side, on which 'Global National' was printed in tiny script. "Ohhh-kay. It's a cardreader with a cellphone."

"Ah... what's it need a cellphone for?" Deadhammer asked.

"Probably to call Lone Star, or more likely a private security contractor, when someone uses the cardreader."

"You can just disable the phone, right?" Timebomb asks. "Gotta be a way to turn it off. Maintenance's gotta get in there."

"Nope!" Suzuki hopped down. "Maintenance probably sets it off every time they access the vent. You see, there's also a grid of infrared lasers just inside the vent that will, I imagine, set off the alarm as soon as anything big enough to register gets inside the vent. They just call another number to let the security contractor know it's just maintenance. They probably have passphrases that change daily, secret handshakes, maybe a decoder ring..."

"We... shit. So we can't get into the vent?" Deadhammer frowned. The security guarding the research core's only door had been pretty heavy, according their intel.

"What?" Suzuki stops and looks at Deadhammer. "Of course we can! You see, I am a motherfucking genius. Race, sweetie, lemme borrow that padd of yours."

"Why?" Race growled.

"Because it was originally packaged with a Fuchi Carib Telecommunications cellular phone," the Korean explained patiently. "Fuchi Carib was picked up by Global National, which has made no major changes in the firmware they package into their cellphones, except to turn off—but not remove—the bits that allowed all Fuchi Carib telephones to communicate with each other on a point-to-point IR private network." Race hesitantly pulled out the crumpled padd and smoothed it before handing it over. "It's even possible," Suzuki continued, "to turn on the IR networking capabilities of another Fuchi Carib phone by sending a coded sequence that includes the other phone's serial number. I don't know what that is," he shrugged, pulling himself on top of the drink machine again, "but I'm willing to bet GG can find out and generate the code from there."

"...Oh. Yeah, no prob," GG replied after a second. "Got it, right here in the security files. No other parameters?"


"Lemme dial into the padd... okay..." Everyone in the room except for Suzuki went silent and tense, but it was only six or seven seconds before GG reported, "A'ight, got it. I can send and receive to the maglock phone."

"Excellent. There should be a remote function—"

"Found it! Okay, I can... badass, this phone routes the alarm sent by the lasers. I can't mess with the maglock, though. But I can disable the phone's outgoing calls."

"That will be fine," Suzuki replied with a tight grin. "Done? Good. My turn." From the small knapsack he wore, he extracted a microdriver, Phillips-head, and reached gingerly into the vent with it in his hand. The vent was incredibly warm, 36 or 37 degrees at least—as should be expected; it was the only heat outflow for a small room containing a very powerful computer. According to the schematics, the research core had seven air conditioning units in constant operation and three more in reserve.

Suzuki closed his eyes and worked by touch. In seconds, he'd gotten the casing off of the maglock and could view its innards directly. Lesser specialists than himself might, at this point, attach a sequencer to the unit and use it to crack the maglock's key. Suzuki touched his insulated screwdriver to the maglock's main power lead and felt a slight buzz; the charge was powerful enough to bull its way through the insulation and ground through his body and the drink machine with just enough power to prickle his skin. Yanking a length of extra wiring free with his other hand, he touched it to the first of the six reader leads' reset buttons and held it. The lock had six separate readers, each of which read for a different sequence, similar to the tumblers of a mechanical lock. With the reset button held, the reader cycled through all possible inputs in a few seconds. When it hit the right one, Suzuki could feel it—a wavering in the power spiking through the fingers connected to the power lead. He let it pulse three times before letting go—and the pulse remained. First tumbler down. Working quickly, the Korean repeated his unorthodox procedure with the other five tumblers, feeling for variations in voltage too minute for a normal human to register. A sequencer would have gotten the job done thirty seconds faster, but Suzuki didn't need a sequencer. The vent cover popped open with a quiet hiss, and Suzuki stepped back and turned to find everyone watching him.

"Easy-peasy," he grinned in a sing-song voice.

"You're a freak, 'Zuki," GG snorted. The camera in the far corner tracked him as he performed a neat curtsey on top of the drink machine. Everyone froze at the sound of muted pops coming from outside the building.

"Shootin'," Timebomb frowned.

"Big gang," GG reported. "Chinese, I think. Lots of guns, they're going in through the front." Suzuki was silent.

"Let's do this and get the hell out," Deadhammer suggested.

"Race, go with him," Timebomb ordered. "Me an' DH will hold this room." Race shook her head, but stepped up the wall and into the vent behind Suzuki. The vent cover on the far end had a simple catch; Suzuki peered into the room, then opened the cover and climbed down. Race walked down the wall behind him. The room was small and dark, lit only by a millimeter-thick widescreen display on a conductor's stand in front of a floor-to-ceiling transparent tube about a meter in diameter. Centimeter-wide holes at the top and bottom of the tube sucked air into and out of the interior, exchanging air conditioned breeze for exhalations that stank of heated plastic. Inside the tube, softly beeping to itself, sat the target: a waist-high host cased in black densiplast. No brand labeled on it; the host had been custom-built from the ground up. Cables as thick as Suzuki's fingers ran into it from holes drilled into the floor.

"How do we—?" Race asked, motioning towards the tube. There must have been some apparatus in the ceiling that would raise it out of the way when the machine needed work, but the team's intel hadn't included any details on it. Rather than answering, Suzuki stepped forward and drew a wide circle on the tube's surface with a small applicator, leaving a thin trail of something with the color and consistency of honey. At the bottom of the ragged circle, he stuck a small wad of what looked like chewing gum.

"You should look away, dearie," Suzuki warned, doing so himself. The gum smoked, then flashed, igniting the honey with a CRACK! that shook the room. When he looked back, the circle of honey had been replace with a thin cut in the tube's armor-grade densiplast. The cut didn't' quite reach all the way through the material. Race was blinking at him, pupils tightly constricted.

"I warned you," he shrugged, then pointed at the circle. "Mind knocking that out of the way for me?" Race snarled at him, rubbed her eyes, then stepped forward and threw her entire body into a punch. The circle of densiplast whacked away from the blow and bonged against the host's case. Despite himself, Suzuki's eyebrows rose a few centimeters.

"Hurry up," the scarred adept muttered, moving out of the way. Suzuki knelt at the hole and reached inside to begin unscrewing the host's outer casing.

"Those Chinese guys are past the front desk. They're heading up the stairs now. I think they're coming to the research core." GG's voice was tight. "Or maybe they just want a snack from the cafeteria. Either way, hurry up."

"Roger," Suzuki replied sweetly, rolling his eyes. "Hurrying." Feeling his way around with his fingers, he managed to get the case unhitched and opened without too much trouble. The interior of the host was a maze of optical cables and processors. Suzuki plucked out a single chip and dropped it, replacing it with another that had the same interface but was attached to a wireless transmitter.

"They're at the door."

"Got it," Suzuki said calmly, jiggling the chip once to make sure of the fit.

"Look out! They've got a—" A jet of half-molten copper squirted through the door at supersonic speed, dragging spalled chunks of the door with it on its split-second journey into the far wall. The shockwave knocked Suzuki flat on his back, and he lost a few seconds. When he sat up, he realized he couldn't hear anything. The door had been knocked partially ajar, twenty centimeters of steel plate bent thirty degrees by the force of the explosion. The gap pounded a few centimeters wider ever few seconds; someone on the other side was trying to kick it open, but the door had deformed badly, digging into the floor. The barrel of a gun poked through the gap, and Suzuki snapped back into reality. He kicked himself onto his feet and drew his paired Colt 1911 model pistols. His left arm wasn't working at 100%; he glanced down long enough to make sure that the bloody injury wouldn't be fatal in the immediate future. One of the spallings had sliced through his shoulder, leaving a deep gash in the muscle. Survivable, if he survived the next few—

The gun poking through the gap fired wildly, and Suzuki ducked behind the armored tube protecting the research host. The bullets splashed and ricocheted around the room, but none reached Suzuki himself. Another shudder and the door sprang half a meter open, wide enough to permit a slim gunfighter to enter. Suzuki cursed, but didn't allow surprise to slow him. The Chinese shooter could see Suzuki behind the tube, but Suzuki flipped over the other man's point of aim as he popped out from behind cover, slamming two rounds from each pistol into the Chinese man while Suzuki himself was still upside-down in mid-air. Another Chinese ganger jumped over his falling comrade's body and shot Suzuki in the chest. Suzuki shot him in the face, then collapsed against the wall as two more gangers pushed their way into the room, eyes and guns on Suzuki as soon as they spotted him.

"Cho say hi, bitch!" screamed the first one. The pistol in his hand seemed, from Suzuki's perspective, very large. Lighting cracked, and the gun clattered to the floor as the man holding it suddenly sprang way and slammed into the wall. Race landed lightly next to the other, knocking him off-balance with an elbow-knee-backfist combination that finished with a kick hard enough to crush the man's chest. Race spun and kicked again, shuddering the door closer to being shut by ten centimeters or so. Suzuki found himself being hauled into the air, then tossed in an arc that landed him in a heap inside the vent.

"Crawl, goddammit!" Race snarled behind him. Suzuki could hear other things, now, as well—mostly the sound of gunshots and screams. Opening his mouth so some of the blood in it could drain out, Suzuki reached forward with his right arm and pressed his palm against the surface of the vent, using friction to pull himself forward slowly. His legs kicked as he moved, giving him short bursts of motion. More than anything, the thought of how nice it would be to take a nap filled his mind.

"Nah gunna die inna fuggin' vend," he coughed thickly, desperate anger giving him enough strength to drag himself all the way to the other end, where he tumbled out onto the drink machine before spilling down painfully to the floor. He must have lost a few more seconds, because when he became aware of his surroundings again, the cafeteria door was open and Timebomb, kneeling next to him, was shooting at it. Deadhammer leapt out from his cover behind a table and made a precise slash before ducking back out of the way, and suddenly the Chinese gangers that had been crowding the door were all clear. Suzuki sat up as Race bounded into the room, and then a hand appeared at the cafeteria door, flinging something small, spherical, and explosive into the room. Suzuki's eyes tracked the grenade's spoon as it spun clear, and he considered the fact that at least he hadn't died in the vent.

Timebomb caught the grenade in his left hand, turned his head, and let it explode. It blew off his thumb, but apparently didn't do any other significant damage, because he stood up and shot the next ganger to come through the door in the face, roaring "What now, motherfucker!" With the still-smoking hand with which he'd damped the grenade, Timebomb reached down and hauled Suzuki up onto his shoulder.

"What the fuck now!" WHAM! "What now!" WHAM! Behind the shouting and shotgun blasts, Suzuki could hear Deadhammer shouting orders and spells as Race broke limbs and faces with her bare hands. But all of that was getting further and further away, and Suzuki's last thought for a long while was that he should have just shot Timebomb when he had the chance.


For a second, he thought he'd somehow gotten back into the research core, but the beeping was from some kind of medical machine next to his bed. Everything hurt, in a gauzy sort of way. He felt like he'd just run a marathon. Race was sitting next to his bed, watching him without expression.

"Did we get paid?" Suzuki asked softly.

"Yeah. GG got the data. Client's happy. Nobody knows what the fuck was up with the Chinese guys, just figured it was bad luck."

"Bad luck," Suzuki nodded. "Just bad luck."

"So, basically, I came here to kill you." Suzuki's eyes wandered back up to her face. She was not joking.

"Where do I know you from?" he asked. "Seen you b'fore, can't place. It."

"Detroit," Race replied in a low voice.

"Racine Escobedo. I 'member now. Thought you were just some thug. You're a runner now...?"

"I like hurting people," Race shrugged. "Mostly bad people. Distinction's kinda hard to make around here... but I manage." Her eyes smoldered in the dim light.

"How'd you find..." Suzuki found himself too tired to continue.

"Cho." Race shrugged again. "Guys get killed in this business all the time, I guess. Everybody's got enemies. But him getting shot up right after he got hired to run with Timebomb... it was, I dunno, it smelled. So I tracked down the guys that did him, an' they gave me your name. Oh, plus the guy you bought the explosives from. He told the Star they were stolen, but I didn't believe him, so I punched him until he told me the truth."

"Just... a thug..." Suzuki rasped with a painful laugh.

"The rest, though, that was pretty good. Gettin' hired in Cho's place, that was slick. But once I found out whose money killed Cho, it kinda fell into place. I'm not real good at this detective shit. You didn't cover yourself so well," she chided.

"Guess not... Cho's gang... found me fast 'nuff to hit us during the run. Coulda put paid to fuggin' Timebomb 'f you hadn't been there. Guess I shoulda planned better."

"Guess so," Race agreed with a nod. "Hell, you even covered my tracks for me. Everybody'll think Cho's boys caught up with you." Suzuki contemplated this irony in silence. "Well. Time for me to head out." She stood up.

"Why... Timebomb... motherfugger so fake..." Angry tears wetted his eyes.

"He's an okay guy to work for. Doesn't try to talk to me. The whole bodyguard gig pays okay. I kinda like it," Race said thoughtfully. "Protecting, all that. Guess it's over with now, though. The Timebomb job, anyway."

"Whatever," Suzuki whispered, rolling his eyes.

"Yeah. See you 'round." Race slammed her fist into Suzuki's face. The pain was intense but brief; the electric shock from her glove blasted him into unconsciousness. His lungs sucked air in with a moan around his deformed cheek; the punch had powdered bone, leaving a fist-shaped dent in his head. Race punched him three more times, until his face splashed. Then she wiped the back of her hand off on the pillow and walked out of the room.
sonuva... misspelled 'exercise' in the subtitle.
Got sick of waiting, huh?
didn't seem like it was ever going to finish.
SL James
I so love cyberlimbs now.
John Campbell
Good stuff. You've got a couple of tense problems in the first paragraph of the second section, though.
yeah, they plague me. i post online in present tense, but past tense works better for writing like this. fixed, i think.

anybody care to take a stab at explaining what happened and why? some of my test audience got some of it, others didn't.
Now if you'd get to the part where you tell us(me) which game system was this for SR3 or SR4, maybe I'd not have such a headache. biggrin.gif

Anyway, good job.
SL James


*falls over laughing*

I was one of the test readers. I had to read it twice and get hints to figure it out completely (although most if it is pretty straightforward). It's a cool story, but very densely-packed.
I had to reread it after I found out who all the players were. Talking about explosives on stage and bombs making a ton of cash I thought the story started at the time of the run, bombing a band or something it took me a a bit to figure out Bomb was Timebomb, one of the runners, and the explosives under the stage was something unrelated. I also thought Timebomb's thug (Wich didn't make sense to me either untill I re-read knowing that Bomb was a runner) was Val, and didn't get it until the second read that Race was at the club.

I did like the ending however and didn't noticet any grammatical or spelling errors, I wasn't looking for any but nothing jumped out.. I also appreciate you writing and posting. Thanks.
John Campbell
It's not really expositionless. It's just that the exposition is almost all held until the end, so it throws the whole story into a new light once it's provided. It's definitely a twice-read... once to get the basic story, once to pick up all the puzzle pieces that you don't notice until after Race explains everything.

I think I put everything together right on the second read-through, though, except... is it relevant to anything that Race and Suzuki had met before?
I could easily be wrong, but I think that it and the decker's comments about his music implies that this isn't the first time Suzuki has tried to off other singers...
SL James

And no. Think about it this way. Both Suzuki and Timebomb sing about being shadowrunners.
oh. i should note that the Suzuki in the story has no relation to the official SR4 NPC of the same name. and to clarify: yes, this is set in 206x, not 2070.
Mmm, that was an amazing story. I didn't find it confusing at all. Or maybe I'm so lost I didn't even notice I'm lost. Naw, it's pretty easy to understand by the end. Anyway, I reeeeally liked it. Again, this is the kind of stuff that should be up on
SL James
Yeah, well.
Awesome job mfb, better read than aything on by far.

I do like Dog Days of Summer, but wasn't that written by a dumpshocker as well?
I got it (as another test reader), but it doesn't hurt that I know who Val, Race, and Deadhammer are (which sort of narrows things down a smidgen, cuts down on potential confusion, etc).
Wounded Ronin
"We are not going over the plan again"

Lol, that's showing experience of long nights at the gaming table.
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