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[00:05 January 1st, 2072]

New Year's Day, 2072. The Seattle skyline is ablaze with a rainbow of fireworks, and a brilliant white moon hangs in the night sky, surveying her domain with an eternal calm. The time is just past midnight, and the city is abuzz with excited activity. Tonight is cause for much celebration and drinking, though New Year's means different things to different people in the Emerald City sprawl. For the glitzy, glamorous, and super rich, it is yet another excuse to throw lavish parties and socialize with others belonging to the exclusive aristocratic elite, swapping juicy tidbits of gossip and talking money. For Joe Wage Slave, it's a few days off from work, a temporary reprieve from the megacorporate grind to spend some quality time at home with his family. For the downtrodden and poverty-stricken masses infesting the slums and ghettos like so many filthy rats, it is a milestone, one that marks another year they've successfully beaten the odds, clawing their way out from the jaws of urban decay to survive yet another year. And if that ain't worth celebrating, then what is, right omae?

Every cog has a place in the machine, and every individual is the protagonist in his own story. Somewhere in the Emerald City, in places where the shadows are long, there move a few individuals, each unique in their own way, selling their talents on the streets beneath the bright seachlight of the metroplex lawmen. Though not yet known to them, their stories are about to converge, joining together to follow a narrative that will lead into a future of their own making.

Somewhere, a dog barks into the night, and is shot in the head by a frustrated neighbor trying to get some sleep. Somewhere, a street gang is breaking into a jewelry store, unaware that the silent alarm has already been tripped and the police were on their way. Somewhere, a well-groomed troll is being beaten to death by a group of racist teenagers armed with baseball bats, and though there are witnesses on the street, no one is making a move to help him. Somewhere, in this city where anything can happen, something is happening.

Where are you?
Suicidal Street Sam
New Year's Eve. Dahlia, the pretty Egyptian human who works at the same hospital as Seti, has “invited” Seti over for a dinner of Mahshi and Ruz Meaammar. It was actually quite good. Asim, her little brother, has been allowed to stay up until midnight, and Seti has been teaching him the ropes of Tabletop wargaming. As he explains the ins and outs of army building and character maximization, Asim looks on unenthusiastically.

Seti is still feeling a bit queasy after having let Dahlia produce a meal which he then ate. The woman had a penchant for viruses and toxins and all manner of things that could kill Seti without him ever knowing. What was in that food? How long before I expire from some exotic bug, or bizarre toxin I've never heard of?

Dahlia seems to ignore them until the clock strikes midnight. Fireworks shoot into the air, exultant cries shoot into the air, local go-gangers shoot into the air. The three stand on the balcony, watching the colorful noise on the darkened horizon, until the formal festivities put on by the city of Seattle draw to a close, and all that can be heard are the drunken whoopings of people far away.

Dahlia appears ready to retreat into her private labspace, before remembering that Seti is still there. She turns around, and says “Alright, Seti, I appreciate you spending some time with my brother. Now go home.”

Asim rolls his eyes, and Seti opens up the fridge and digs through the bee venom to find a bottle of beer. He pulls it out, and by the time he has turned around, Dahlia is already in her lab. “Goodnight, Asim,” he says, shrugging on his leather jacket. “Don't stay up too late, and knock on your sister's door when you go to bed so she keeps track of the time, okay?”

As he walks the block from her apartment to his, Seti once again reflects on this terrifying woman he has accidentally let into his life. He pushes in the key to his apartment, and so lost is he in paranoid delusions of Spanish Flu and HMHVV, mixing in with thoughts of the form-fitting armor Dahlia wore on their last run, that he trips over his ottoman, spilling his beer. Yep. Another beautiful beginning to another beautiful year. He pulls out some old rags and sops it up, throwing them into the sink when he's done. He logs onto his OKCupid account, responds to the single message—<sounds great, I'd love to meet up. When and where?>—and turns in for the night.
Somewhere in the city...

The pixie screamed in agony as the vibroblade came down like a hacksaw, tearing the flesh off his back. His wings dropped to the ground, severed from his body, which was dangling in the air, held up by chains locking his wrists together. He spat the blood out of his mouth and looked at his tormentor through swollen eyes.

"Aw bloody hell, now you've done it. What am I supposed to do when it's blazing hot outside and I don't got no shade?"

The large human man scowled and backhanded him across the face, cracking his neck like a whip.

"I'm running out of patience. You will tell us what we want to know or you will die. It's that simple."

The pixie rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll tell you what I know. I know that it's way too hot in here, and you folks really oughta look into getting some air conditioning. I know that this magecuff you stuck on my neck is terribly out of fashion and does not match my clothes at all. Hmm...I know that you punch like a five year old girl, seriously man, look into getting a gym membership or-"

His words were cut short as the man slapped him across the face again. He coughed and sprayed blood all over the walls.

"Say, do you think you can get me a beer or something? I mean, I think you owe me one, since I'm letting you torture me and all."

The man shook his head in frustration. No matter...the night was still young. He had many more instruments in his toolbox that he has yet to deploy, all of them designed for the very specific purpose of inducing as much pain as possible. His prisoner will break by the time he's done with him...this he guarantees.
[00:05 January 1st, 2072; Evergreen Apartments 12B, Touristville, Redmond]

Ultima wondered how much longer the metal folding chair she sat in was going to support her weight. Not that she was a heavy chica at all, but time and exposure had exacted a heavy price on on it. As she rocked back and forth in the uncomfortable chair, arms crossed about her chest in a self-embrace, it squeaked and squealed and sounded as if it were on its last legs, so to speak.

She sat on the crumbling, remaining half of the balcony to her room, looking out at the sky and watching the fireworks as they exploded in the misty, cold, overcast night. The flares of light caused eerie specters to flash across the cloud cover, and multi-colored sparks showered the horizon. Blinking away the burned-in images of the flowers in the sky, she wondered momentarily if she was really seeing them, or if she were under any lingering effects of the red mesc sitting on the kitchen table.

Why had she thought about that? More hot tears streaked down her otherwise cold cheeks, and it felt like rivers of lava pouring down her face in comparison. Thinking about drugs inevitably made her think about her need, of that irresistable, inevitable, magnetic pull towards The Other, the Psyche tablets wrapped up in a little plastic sandwich bag, still unopened from when she had purchased them from the dealer down the hall. Ultima knew what they were doing to her, and what effects they were having on both her mind and her body. Originally just a tool to be better, now they were just another Master.

Always, when she gave in to her addiction, there was a brief moment of relief and ecstacy before the pain returned. The Psyche was like an abusive lover who always promises he won't hurt you again, he loves you too much to do that, and he doesn't want you to leave. Time and time again she gave in and indulged herself. And always, whenever the pills wore off, the shakiness would return to her hands, and her head would swim. The nausea would return, though whenever she puked up whatever soy she'd had for lunch that part always ended quickly. But try as she might, and pray as she would to God for Him to help her, she could not break away from that pull. Whenever she did as she was doing now, sitting with her back to the table and crying, there would always come a point where her will broke down and she moved like a drone moves when controlled by its pilot program, focused unerringly on a single goal, to do what it is programmed to do and no other task.

The cold, desperate woman knew it wasn't supposed to be like this. She knew that somehow she had to break this need, this addiction. Sure, she was an agent of Change. She brought Destruction so new things could grow or be built in their place.

Maybe... maybe God was doing that to her? Destroying her, so something else, or somebody new could be borne of the ashes of her old self?

It was a sweet, endearing thought. She took it with her as she rose out of the chair and walked to the kitchen table.
[00:05 January 1st, 2072; Summeroaks Apartments 29C, Renton]

Track lighting winked to life in Dahlia’s ‘office’, flooding the woman’s workspace. Rows of stainless-steel tables against the walls and up down the middle of the room were thrown into harsh relief. Enough tools and components for a small chem shop dominated the space, although a medkit, toolkit, and various other pieces of laboratory equipment vied for room in the same general area around a desk and com terminal. A refrigerator and oven-sized incubator loomed against the wall, sporting a yellow ‘biohazard’ icons in AR.

Dahlia heard the front door swing closed, and the woman’s PAN informed her when the electronic locks activated shortly after. Seti had left. Asim would spend a few hours playing videogames or talking to his friends on the Matrix before getting to sleep. Something like that. And Seti would return to his own home to…well, do whatever it was that Seti did in his spare time. As long as the sniper occasionally showed up from time to time and provided a reasonably responsible male adult figure for Asim—well, Dahlia didn’t really care what the sniper did in his spare time.

It was a lot like playing ‘House’, setting up a little box, making sure that even if all of the right people weren’t there that there was something close. There would be an approximation in the place of the absent figure.

The young woman rolled up her shirtsleeves and pulled on a pair of latex gloves from the box at the door. A quick overview of the room revealed that Dahlia’s guns were cleaned. All of her gel rounds were loaded and prepped. Both injector knives and both Kanmushi drones were similarly prepped and primed with various deadly payloads. In short, everything was as it should have been. Dahlia checked and rechecked these things before starting on her long-term work.

Covered petri dishes came out of the incubator in pairs—indicating their culture source, incubation time, and other associated bits of data via old-fashioned permanent marker on the dish plastic. Samples were taken, inoculation loops used, sterilized, used again, etc. Slides went under the microscope. Notes jutted down. And then the promising cultures received their first meal of the New Year: a soup of common anti-bacterials, cut to a dose low enough that the strongest strains would survive it. From the surviving colonies, she would select the strongest strains. And those colonies would be bred on a slightly stronger cocktail, and so on and so forth, into infinity. If Doc M wouldn't supply Dahlia with a sufficient sample, Dahlia would simply have to cultivate her own. It was as simple as that. When she was finished with the bacteria, the petri dishes went back to rest in their incubator. A few spritzes of bleach went onto the bench. The gloves went into a bin marked 'biohazard', to be burned later. Another pair of gloves went on.

Dahlia didn’t have any hours scheduled at the hospital later that day; she wasn’t an actual Doctor. And so the inevitable parade of excitement and substance related injuries weren’t hers to handle. There would be few diagnoses to handle—only stitches and stomach pumps, perhaps the occasional bullet wound. These were not things for someone as under-qualified as Dahlia.

The dark woman settled in for a long night at the lab. There was just so much to do.

You wake up to your commlink's alert that you've just received an incoming message in your OKCupid account. Greeting the new morning with a gigantic yawn, you open up the message in an AR window as you get up to brush your teeth.

<hiiiii, do u want 2 go 2 club penumbra tonight @ 8? i herd they got good music there lol. btw, i think your pic is totally hot!!!1 smile.gif xoxo blondebeauty1827>

They say that the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you never burn brighter than when you're riding high on Psyche. There's some part of you that knows that this has to stop, that this is a road that will lead to nothing but your own destruction...then there's the other part, the part that doesn't give a shit. The second part is getting louder even as the seconds tick away on the old clock hanging on the wall, each smug tick another nail being driven into your brain. Experience has taught you that you've almost reached your won't be long now before the hunger takes you. Suddenly, your trance is broken by a man's voice coming from down the hall, loud and angry.

"Get the fuck out of my apartment, maricón!" You recognize the voice of the neighbor who sold you the pills. "No money, no drugs, got it estúpido?"

"Come on, Enrique, I really need them, man, don't do this to me."

"I said get the fuck out."

"You know I'll pay you when I get the money, so give me the fucking drugs already!"

"You don't get out of my face right now, I swear to God I'm gonna-"

The deafening boom of a gunshot sounds out and reverberates down the hall. Looking through the fisheye peephole, you see Enrique slumped down beneath the doorway to his apartment, a bloody hole in his chest. A man you don't recognize looks around frantically with a pistol in his hand, his face a mask of terror. As you watch, he picks something off the corpse, then turns around and high-tails it down the stairs.
[00:15 January 1st, 2072; Evergreen Apartments 12B, Touristville, Redmond]
To Ultima, withdrawal made the world seem like a child's drawing, with colors all askew and edging out of the lines in which they were supposed to be contained. Nothing looked as it should, but rather it was all smudged and out of place. The very walls around her tilted like some old expressionist film, and she had to lean up against them to keep her balance. That was her, clawing up against the walls for support, up to the door of her apartment after she heard the gunshot.

Slowly, second by second, the dry-swallowed tablet made its way down into her stomach, and from there it blossomed outwards throughout her whole body, banishing the painful debilitation that washed over her limbs and suffocated her brain. She could focus her attention without her mind swimming in languid circles that left her dizzy and afraid. The woman took slow, deliberate breaths, an exercise she developed to try and maintain her calm as the medicine took hold. She also did it to calm her nerves; gunshots this close to her in the hall? It could be anyone... It could be somebody from Caracas, trying to track her down here...

Ultima held a revolver upright in her hand, and she pulled the hammer back with her thumb to ready a round, just in case. She normally kept the gun on the kitchen table, next to the drugs that kept her going, ready at a moment's notice to blow her own brains out all over the wall. Long ago she read some philosopher who said that thoughts of suicide got one through many a bad night. She supposed they were right, in a way. No matter how bad things got, she always had an out, a way to commit herself to total Destruction and Rebirth, if the pain became too much. But it was too soon... It wouldn't do to presume too much on God's behalf. Maybe He still had plans for her yet. Better to tough it out rather than let Him down and be consigned to the Outer Darkness.

When the woman first peered out of the peephole, everything came in twos. Double-vision made two versions of the bloody man slumped in the hall. She willed herself to focus them into a single, coherent image.

Enrique! she thought to herself, accompanied with an audible gasp. A wave of horror swept over her, "No... no no no no..." she repeated.

The woman hadn't been in town long. She was just some border jumper out of South America, who ran to Seattle to escape her past and her own personal demons. She hardly knew anybody, and Enrique had been her only source for her fix. This man, in a way, had been her confidante, her medicineman, her priest. He knew her fears and her pain, and for a small tithe he made them go away for a time.

She tucked the gun down into her shorts, hastily disarmed the explosive traps around her front door, and then dashed out into the hall.

"Enrique!" she called out to the man. He was already starting the process of assuming room temperature, but she was still in the first stage, that of Denial. Out of this was borne a fitful and resilient optimism. Even as she touched the side of his neck and felt no pulse, she still called to him. "Enrique! Are you okay? Please get up." Tears streaked down her face, and yet still she pleaded, "Get up. Don't... don't leave me like this."

The man... He took something off of Enrique's body. She imagined him going after the same drugs she was trying to score, and snatching them specifically from Enrique, leaving her to starve without her fix.

But then... Enrique wouldn't have ALL of his product on his person. He often had to go back inside to get what she needed. For a brief moment she imagined a giant pile of drugs next to his bed, some endless trove of psyche just waiting to be picked up, now that the owner was deceased. Fast forward to Acceptance. Enrique's dead, and I bet he's got a ton of the stuff inside his house.

You dig the well before you are thirsty, and thus was Ultima's thought process. She ran inside the dead man's apartment, dragging his corpse inside with her, and then she quickly slammed the door. She didn't know how much time she had before somebody came to investigate, but she wagered it wasn't much. Thus she began tossing his domicile, looking for his stash.
Suicidal Street Sam
[09:43 January 1st, 2072; Birchwood Apartments 12-04, Renton]

Dragging the AR display with him into the bathroom, Seti read the message again:

<hiiiii, do u want 2 go 2 club penumbra tonight @ 8? i herd they got good music there lol. btw, i think your pic is totally hot!!!1 smile.gif xoxo blondebeauty1827>

As he brushed his teeth, he surfed through to blondebeauty1827's profile. Bah, he thought. Sure, she's blonde, but why do so many women think "beauty" means augmented tits? Well, whatever. Might as well start off the new year on one foot or another. At least she thinks I'm hot.

He was off today--he had worked at the hospital long enough that he got seniority among the security guards when it was time to bid for days off. He ran through a mental list of the things he had to do for the day--a bit of grocery shopping, renew the parking permit for his bike...maybe hit the gaming store and see if anybody wants to play 40K...

He knew people thought he was a bit of a dork for playing these games--and even moreso for playing them in person, instead of online--but the truth was, he liked doing the math. Sure, he wasn't the smartest guy in the world, but a sniper needs to be able to do trig in his head, and keeping up with the simple math of 40K helped keep him sharp; the tactical play didn't hurt, either. If only Asim could understand; Seti was trying to help him prepare for the streets that would inevitably embrace him once he was old enough to leave home.

What the hell. Why not go out tonight? He threw a threadbare towel over the sink in his combination bathroom/shower, and composed a message to blondebeauty1827. <Sure, I'd lov 2. I tnk yr pic is hot, 2. I'l C u @ 8!>

As he turned on the tepid water, he thought to himself, Maybe this won't be such a shitty year, after all.

After you're done cultivating your new supervirus (and disposed of all hazardous materials according to the proper procedures!), you check your day's messages on the new Hermes Ikon you got for Christmas from one of the doctors at the hospital, who you're pretty sure has a major crush on you.

A bunch of spam...into the trash bin they go.

One from Sage...

<Hey what's cookin', good lookin'? Haven't seen you in awhile. Miss you lots. Got hired by this troll broad yesterday, who just happened to be the biggest and ugliest slab of beef on this side of the Mississippi. Only got through it cuz I was thinking of you the whole time. Ugh, I need to go take another shower. Call me, darling.>

And one more, from a commcode you don't recognize...

<Greetings, Ms. Bekhit. I understand that you are a woman well-schooled in the science of bioengineering, with a specialty in biowarfare agents. If you are interested, we wish to offer you a freelance consulting opportunity with a project we're currently working on. We require a scientist with your talents, and you would be very well compensated for your services. If you're interested, please meet me at TransGeni laboratories at 68th Avenue and Kenmore tomorrow at 4 o'clock. Ask to speak with Mr. Reynolds. I hope to see you soon.>
[04:22 January 1st, 2072; Summeroaks Apartments 29C, Renton]

By the time Dahlia even thought to look at her mail—most of the civilized and even uncivilized parts of Seattle were sound asleep. If Asim had knocked on the laboratory door at some point, Dahlia had missed it entirely in her focus. What had she even been up to? There was the virus, and then some programming work on the agent—that was taking no less than forever to wrench on—but, what else?

It had been a night of chasing a handful of rabbits down each of their respective holes, as the young woman’s mind followed one train of inquiry before erratically jumping to another. And each of those twisted and curved in their own particular flavor, until contact from a source outside of Dahlia’s own headspace seemed the strangest of them all. She peered at the first message, uncomprehending for a moment. Then it was almost like a lens snapped into place, and all was clear again.

Ah. Yes. Sage. With the winter weather in full swing, Dahlia had become so intent on obtaining samples for her latest pet project that she had indeed neglected to address just about everything else. I mean, sure the drone that spat out food was still stocked and rent for the rest of January was paid. But, the kitchen refrigerator was probably woefully empty, and the holidays had otherwise taken their toll on the family bank account. Unless a real job fell into Dahlia’s lap, nothing else would be any time soon.

She almost laughed after reading the second message. It was a Christmas Fracking Miracle! The appointment went down in Dahlia’s appointment book as something suitably vague, and she threw an empty briefcase onto a mostly-empty table. What would be appropriate to bring to a meeting like this? The comlink would go in, and probably an embroidery hoop, in case she got bored or stuck waiting. Spare string and needles. Into the brief case they went! Most likely, she wouldn’t be able to get away with bringing a side-arm into a laboratory; or, security would just take it away. No, she’d have to settle with going in un-armed. Someone might get upset. Even if Dahlia didn't recognize the comcode, she didn't have the Matrix know-how to try to track it. And isn't that the way this type of thing always went, anyway?

Dahlia thumbed out a reply to Sage as she threw a few other knick-knacks into the briefcase.

<A little something is finally starting to come together. I’ll call in the evening, and we can discuss a meeting.>

Never one for terms of endearment, Dahlia sent the reply as-is. Sage would probably be used to it. The woman took a few moments to ponder getting an hour or two of sleep. Dahlia hated sleeping—hated the wasted hours and the creeping things at the edges of her unconscious mind. But, she should look presentable for what amounted to a job interview.

Lab sterilized, Dahlia left a suitably vague AR message on the fridge for Asim—something about errands in the afternoon—explaining absence later that evening, and went to sleep. All rather silly, considering that she’d still probably be awake before her brother. Maybe she'd call up Seti at a more decent hour and confirm what would be appropriate to bring for the meeting. Maybe.

Enrique's roost is a small, cluttered space that smells of dirty laundry and cigarette smoke. The floor is littered with discarded articles of clothing and pornographic magazines. In one corner is a brand new trideo set - you recognize it as a NeoNet Looking Glass, a top of the line piece of hardware that seems out of place in such a crummy dive. On the kitchen table is a half eaten slice of pizza with a fly perched on top and three empty beer bottles.

It doesn't take long for you to go through Enrique's place, and you quickly discover the most likely place where your treasure is hidden: a small steel safe in his bedroom, built directly into the wall and secured by a keypad maglock.
[00:15 January 1st, 2072; Evergreen Apartments 12G, Touristville, Redmond]
Ultima paused in front of the large safe with the maglock. Thoughts of what might be inside faded away in the face of this challenge, this device in front of her. Immediately she saw a puzzle to be tackled, and the satisfaction of successfully bending a device to her will overshadowed the joy she got from any fix.

But time was ticking, and she didn't have time to fuck around. There could be people here any moment to interrupt her. She jumped up and began rummaging through the house for tools, actual or improvised. She slipped a knife from the kitchen; a pair of small, sharp, hair-trimming scissors from the bathroom; from the junk drawer every kitchen has she snagged some electrical tape. She jerked a lamp from the wall and cut the plug out from the base and began stripping the wiring with the knife. A butterknife worked in place of a flathead screwdriver for breaking open the maglock casing, but she wrapped the electrical tape around the metallic handle, just in case any there were any countermeasures inside to send a jolt through the device... it wouldn't do to get a zap, after all.

Finally, Ultima moved behind the large trideo unit and hefted it over on its side, letting it crash onto the carpet. With a few swift cracks of her improvised tools she broke open the case, exposing all of its electrical components to her, just in case she needed some wires, resisters, capacitors, or any other parts that would help her circumvent the maglock.

She wrapped the tips of the fingers of her right hand with electrical tape, reached out to touch a metal cabinet to discharge any static electricity she may have pulled from the carpet... and then she got to work.

A clean, freshly ironed outfit that's in sync with the latest fashion trends...check. A box of expensive British breath mints, in case the night goes well and you two end up making out at the club...check. A condom in your back pocket, in case the night goes really well and you two...well, you know. Anyway, check. You give yourself a once over in the bathroom mirror, flashing a grin at the sexy beast looking back at you from the other side of the glass. You're locked and loaded and ready to have one hell of a night. Go get 'em, tiger.

You arrive at the Penumbra a few minutes shy of eight o'clock. A popular shadowrunner hangout, you've met with the Johnson on a few of your previous jobs here, so you're familiar with the layout of the club. You grab a corner booth opposite the dance floor. Here in this particular spot, the music isn't quite loud enough to drown out your conversation, but just loud enough to foil any attempts at audio surveillance. You kick back, order your usual drink from the bartender, and wait for your date to arrive.

You didn't have to wait long. A buxom blonde who's even more impressively proportioned than her photograph comes through the door, spots you, and makes a beeline to your booth with a huge, man-eating smile on her face.

"On my God, are you superstud65? I'm blondebeauty1827! My real name is Maria, what's your name? Aren't you just the cutest thing! You remind me of my cat, Savannah, she's an Egyptian Mau, I love her sooooo much! Wait, aren't you Egyptian too? That's sooo cool! I'm half German and half Scandinavian and half Korean! Do you like cats more or dogs more? I like cats more. They're soooo cute when they're kittens! What is that you're drinking, I'll have one too! I think I'll also get some chicken fingers, I'm starving! I didn't get to eat dinner today because I had to take Savannah to the vet. Don't worry, she's okay, she just came down with a case of worms! What's your favorite food? Mine is pizza, but I can't eat too much of it because then I'll get fat! I'll have to change my name from blondebeauty1827 to blondefatty1827! LOL!"

You can't seem to tear your eyes away from the fascinating way her enormous fake breasts move about when she talks, punctuating every other word with an animated bounce.
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:03 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

It's like watching a train-wreck, Seti thought to himself. I want to look away, to look her in the eye, but I can't seem to. They're even bigger than in the picture! Has she gotten more work done?

He wrenched his eyes away from her chest, forcing himself to look her in the eyes--her shallow, superficial eyes. Make conversation, Seti. Ask her something. Quick! Before it gets too obvious!

"So, are you, uh, enjoying your drink?" Seti made sure to maintain eye-contact as he brought his cranberry-amaretto to him lips, taking a sip.

"Oh, yeah!" Maria flashed him a toothsome smile. "It reminds me of this time my cat blah blah blah blah...."

Seti tried to listen. He really did. But then the barback came to see if they needed drink refills, and...well.

Shit that boy is hot. Jesus Christ. He is as hot as the hell this woman is going to. He could keep me warm all night long. I just want to tear his clothes off and keep him in my apartment as my personal pet and never let him go. Hell in a handbasket, the terrible things I would do to that boy. Please, God, oh please, let him like me. That's all I ask. Just let him want to hold me like I want to hold him. I promise, I will start going to church again and all that if please God please I could just have that boy...

"...and that's when I thought, 'uh, well, duh! She's an Egyptian Mau, so I'll name her Savannah, after the desert in Egypt!' Right, doesn't that make sense?"

"Uh, yeah, absolutely, sure." Seti realized he had absolutely no clue what this woman was talking about. And it was suddenly really hot in here. "Excuse me for a moment, I'll be right back...Little Boys' Room."

He left Maria at the table, eating chicken wings and talking about her cat, and crossed the club to the restrooms. Pushing open the door to the Men's Room, he bent over a sink and turned on the cold water. He wet his hands, and held them to his face, palms over his eyes, letting the water cool him down.
[21:02 December 31st, 2071; the 99, Tacoma, Seattle]

Sure, all elves were quick and nimble and oh so very pretty, but they were also so very dumb. Angron was leaning against the concrete railing along the overpass, whistling to himself and twirling a four-foot length of chain by one end as the Ancients came screaming onto the bridge, the tell-tale whine of their sportbikes' engines signalling their arrival from a mile away. From his hiding place behind the railing -- hanging off the edge on the other side from Angron, Rhodes smiled. Like moths to a lightbulb.

There were three of them -- strength in numbers. They skidded to a stop and set the kickstands on their bikes, crowding around Angron. Knives were pulled, threats were made. Angron just laughed in their faces. That was Roadie's cue.

The seven-foot ork hauled himself up and over the rail and charged across the asphalt, meaty fists already cocked back as he raced for the one on his right. The elves heard him coming, but they weren't quite fast enough. Rhodes buried his right fist in the stomach of the one on the right, who gave a strangled whumpf! as all the oxygen was blasted out of his lungs. He landed a solid left hook on the middle one and gave a grin of satisfaction as blood and teeth exploded from the bastard's pixie-face. The two elves collapsed. Roadie looked over and watched as Angron garroted the last one with his chain, the elf's face turning a dark purplish-blue before he finally passed out and the other ork let him go.

The two Ragers high-fived and started rifling through the elves' pockets. Commlinks, credsticks, weapons, ammo -- anything of value, they stripped it, ignoring the occasional groans of pain from their victims.

As they worked, Angron said, "You know, I'm startin' to wonder why we don't just kill these fraggers."

"Elves is metas too, right?" Rhodes replied as he pulled an honest-to-God wallet out of the now-toothless Ancient's back pocket. "Talk about old-school," he muttered to himself as he flipped through it. It was mostly filled with glossy pictures of an elf chica who was drop-dead gorgeous. Elves weren't exactly his style, but she had this sort of an impish grin on her face that set off her obviously Asian features. "Lucky fucker," he said, and put the wallet back where he found it.

"Yeah, but it's not like they's dragged out into the street and beat like our folk, ya know?"

Rhodes shrugged. "Who gives a shit?"

"I gives a shit, bro!"

"Yeah, and who do I look like? Lord-fucking-Torgo?"

"Don't --" Roadie's head snapped around, staring down the freeway. Angron frowned but kept quiet -- and heard it too. That same tell-tale, high-pitched whine of overcharge sportbike engines.

"Time to roll, brother," Roadie said with a grin.


[22:49 December 31st, 2071; Loveland, Puyallup, Seattle]

As Roadie came in through the door -- Pops had forgot to lock it again -- he was assaulted by six, no seven, little orks intent on being the first one to climb to the top of his towering frame. "ROADIE!" they all squealed in unison as they clambered up his legs.

"Hey, littles! Ow! Helena, no biting!" Rhodes stomped through to the combination dining room (a laughable label, in this case) and kitchen. His father was over by the stove, grilling something.

"Hey Pops," he said, sniffing the air. "Soy burgers?"

"Yeah. Stuffer Shack had 'em on sale, but the fridge's compressor died again an hour ago. Figured I'd cook 'em up now so they won't go bad as fast."

"Smart, Pops," Roadie replied as he peeled adolescent orks off of his torso. "Mom watchin' the Trid?"

His father shook his head. "She's in there, yeah. Wheel of Fortune's going off, but she wants to watch that stupid Dick Clark-looking drone do the countdown."

Rhodes grinned. "Course she does." Roadie walked into the den to see his mother sitting on her old recliner, its patchwork covering going from threadbare to non-existent, watching the wall-mounted trid. She glanced up when he walked in and stood up, all smiles.

"Rhodes, my baby boy, give Momma a hug."

He hugged her and gave her a peck on the cheek. "Happy Birthday, Ma," he said. "Brotcha a present." He pulled out two of the credsticks he'd taken off the elves back on the freeway.

"Awww, Rhodes, you didn't have . . ." She frowned. "Did you steal those, young man?"

Roadie tried to look hurt. "No, Ma!"

"Rhodes. . . "

"Ma, I didn't steal 'em! I won 'em bettin' on the bikes! Seattle's on a tear this season!"

Suddenly she was all smiles again. "Oh, well that's ok then. Just give them to your father, he holds on to those things."

"K, Ma," he said. He leaned down to give her another peck, then walked back to the kitchen and put the credsticks on the table. His father spared a glance for them and shook his head.

"Next time, boy, you might want to wipe the blood off of them."

Roadie snorted. "I'll try to remember, Pops. I'm off with the guys."

"Happy New Year, son," his dad said with a smile.


[00:01 January 1st, 2072; Tacoma Docks, Tacoma, Seattle]

Rhodes and Angron toasted with their beer cans, then promptly guzzled the cheap, bitter liquid so fast they could hardly taste it.. It wasn't worth tasting anyhow. Behind them, the rest of the gang and their female groupies were laughing and carousing, drinking heavily and snorting, shooting, slotting, or smoking their drug of choice. The two leaders were a few yards apart, watching as the first of the fireworks began exploding over Puget Sound.

"So how's that shadowrunning shit going?" Angron asked.

Roadie finished shotgunning another beer, tossed the can, and took out a pack of cowboy killers before answering. "Got a couple of small jobs so far. Breakin' kneecaps, that sort of thing. No big scores yet." He lit up his cigarette and handed the lighter to Angron, who lit up a joint.

"Yeah. You keep sayin' 'yet'."

"And I'll keep sayin' it, too. Shit's gotta break some day."

His buddy laughed. "Ok, ok. Just don't go wastin' yer life on it, eh, bro? We've got plenty of hooch and hoochies to go around, and we ain't gettin' knocked off any time soon."

Roadie snorted. "Hoochies? Like Gloria, there?" He nodded to an ork girl who was trying -- and failing -- to drink Hotshot the troll under the table. "That bitch fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down."

Angron laughed. "What's yer dad say? Somethin' 'bout pots and kettles?"

"Fuck you."

Angron just laughed again. "Yer life, bro, do what you need. Me? I'm going to go nail an ugly chick." The other ork turned away and made a beeline for the rest of the gang. "Gloria! Get yer ass over here, I need it!"

Rhodes turned away from them, the smile slowly melting from his face. He leaned back in his bike's seat and watched the fireworks scatter their lights across the city with distant pops. And prayed.

Sitting across from you is a slender human man dressed in a sharp three piece and sporting a pair of stylish designer glasses. The man who had identified himself as Thomas Reynolds had come down to the lobby to meet with you after a short wait with the receptionist, and you were now sitting in his office at TransGeni headquarters in downtown Seattle.

"TransGeni is a subsidiary of the Chimera Group, a firm that specializes in bioengineering with an emphasis on low intensity conflict applications," he says. He smiles wryly. "We deal exclusively with contracts in the private sector. Most governments and corporations are not progressive enough to understand the work that we do here."

"The reason that you're here today is because working at TransGeni requires a very unique personality that combines raw talent with a libertarianistic drive to pursue scientific breakthroughs at all cost. Your name was provided by a mutual acquaintance, who believes you to be such a personality. The goal of this interview today is to see if our acquaintance was correct. So, Ms. Bekhit, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?"

Working with deft hands well-trained in the task to which you've assigned them, you quickly pop the case of the maglock and begin to work on rewiring the internal circuitry. Plug that one in there...snip this off at the base...bridge these two components together...almost like magic, the lock on the safe disengages with an audible click. After a quick glance at the front door to make sure no one has discovered your intrusion yet, you pull open the safe.

It's just as you predicted...Enrique had stashed all of his surplus product here. You find two Ziploc baggies of Psyche tablets, similar to the one sitting on your kitchen table, as well as a throng of other street drugs like Bliss, Kamikaze, and Novacoke. Sitting next to the pile of drugs is a Colt Manhunter and a thousand nuyen in certified cred.
[00:15 January 1st, 2072; Evergreen Apartments 12G, Touristville, Redmond]
Ultima sat for a moment, staring at the trove of drugs that was hidden away behind the safe. The sight was as beautiful as she had imagined it, and the image overwhelmed her. Blinking, she snapped back into reality. She was robbing a dead drug dealer in his own casa, so it would be best if she were out of here as quickly as possible.

She rummaged through the kitchen until she found a plastic grocery bag, and then filled it with the contents of the safe. The certified credstick she tucked in the pocket of her shorts, making her feel like she actually had a few nuyen to her name.

When she went back to the front door, her heart was pounding. With the grocery bag in one hand, and her revolver in the other, she peered out of the peephole to scan the hallway. Nothing. She turned her head and pressed her ear to the door, and likewise she heard nothing.

She knew better than to run out into the hallway, though. The door to the apartment opened slowly, allowing her to peer out before committing herself to leaving. When she was satisfied there was nobody watching her, she dashed out down the hall to her room on the opposite wall, slipped into her own apartment, and then shut the door behind her.

Thoughts of the murderer had completely left her while she was busy scoring the dead dealer's goods. However abundant her fix was at the moment, she knew it would run out over time. The old fear returned on the knowledge that she no longer had a source. Where to find one so close by, so convenient to where she was living?

A tiny, nearly muted whisper in the back of her skull wondered why she was bothering, that she should be fighting this demon inside of her instead of feeding it. But it was hard to hear that voice when the screams of painful withdrawal were so much louder.

She fished a cigarette out of a mostly empty pack, stuck it between her lips, and lit it. As she puffed on it and stared back out of the balcony window, a thought skittered through her mind.

I don't know who supplied him. I don't know who Enrique was affiliated with. They're going to notice that missing product, and look to blame it on somebody. I'm going to have to leave here.

With that, she set to making plans to leave.
00:07 January 1st, 2072; Tradition Lake View, Apartment 6-3, Renton

Silk rubbed her fingers across tired eyes and stretched in the cocoon chair which was her one decent possession now. Dimly outside she could hear the crackle of fireworks but she resisted the urge to get up and go to the window. Apart from the necessity of rubbing the grime away from the glass she knew that the view would only serve to remind her again of what she’d lost…nearly two years have gone by already, that’s hard to believe, the memories are so vivid still…

Running, splashing through dirty water, the door slamming, climbing the stairs, the reek of cordite, and then her body…

She shook her head to clear the thoughts before they overwhelmed her again. She unconsciously brushed the tears away and settled back in to the comforting embrace of the cocoon engaging her commlink as she did so. Aria would help…although she jogged memories she never changed herself and her cheerfulness was highly infectious. She’d held Silk together when everything else was falling apart…hell, it was New Year and she should be celebrating not moping here.

The matrix unfurled around her and with a hi res rush of sound she was off, silks flowing around her and a cry in to the wind to attract Aria’s attention…

When you return from the men's room, Maria polishes off the chicken wing she was working on and immediately begins gabbing again, picking up from where she left off. You suspect that this is going to be a long night. Distracted, you see the cute barback making a return trip from the counter with your drink, and wonder what's the best way to ask him for his number.

"Here's your drink, sir!" he says cheerfully, plopping it down on the table in front of you.

"Thanks," you say. "Do you work here every night?"

Not the best opener you've ever devised, but hey, they can't all be three pointers.

"Nah, this is just a side gig to help me pay my way through college," he says. "I go to school at-"

His words trail off as his chest opens up and the dark crimson of fresh blood blossoms on his shirt like flower petals. He looks down with an expression of surprise frozen on his face, then collapses on the floor, falling lifelessly like a puppet that's had its strings cut. Before you can even process what just happened, three more gunshots ring out. You follow the sound to a booth next to the bar, where four Italian men are holding guns that are still hot with murder. A couple of Japanese men lie dead at their feet, shot in between the eyes. For a brief moment, the entire club is silent - even the music stopped, the DJ frozen in shock in the middle of a track change.

"God damn Japs," the mafioso says contemptuously, spitting on the floor. "When are they gonna learn that you don't mess with the Family?"

You know that the screams and the stampeding and the hysteria will begin soon, but right now, everyone in the club is stone still, frozen in shock at the senseless outbreak of violence. Well...almost everyone.

"Hey! Hey! What the hell, you stupid idiots!"

With slow-dawning horror, you realize that those words are coming out of the mouth of the person sitting across from you. The mafiosos turn their attention to Maria, who had stood up with an indignant look on her face.

"Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you!" she declares. "Helloooo? Where do you guys get off shooting people when I'm in the middle of a conversation? I'm on a date here, you over-muscled morons!"

The throngs of clubbers are still dead silent, stupefied by the bizarre scene unfolding in front of them.
[16:03 January 1st, 2072; TransGeni laboratories at 68th Avenue and Kenmore, Downtown]

Dahlia kept a pleasant expression on her face, her posture straight and her appearance neat—in keeping with the expectations of a respectable person, or at least someone maintaining the illusion of someone respectable. These jobs are altering my sense of perspective. The idea crackled through Dahlia’s mind slowly, almost slowly enough for her to be aware of the thought forming. I’m starting to feel naked without the guns—without the knives. Security hadn’t given her any problems, precisely because Dahlia didn’t have any weapons on her. For all intents and purposes, she was a legitimate citizen. And she didn’t have anything illegal on her person for the meeting, the perfect picture of the unassuming egghead. The only real problem would be lasting through the interview itself.

She cocked her head to one side, looking politely thoughtful for a moment or two after Thomas Reynolds’s prompt.
“I suppose you could say that I don’t believe in the word ‘finished’, only words like ‘sufficient’. There is, after all, always room for improvement—for progress,” the woman’s eyes took on a slight gleam as she smiled, something just outside the realm of conscious control.

“But, that doesn’t mean I’m not an appreciator of the classics,” Dahlia sifted through her purse, edging aside hoops of fabric covered in practice surgical sutures in bright colors. After a few seconds, she pulled out a small collection of wallet-sized pieces of electronic paper—each displaying a high-definition rendering of a pathogen. Smallpox, cholera, and the Spanish Flu leered out in digitally enhanced Technicolor, as well as one or two of the sixth world’s new epidemics. “They are classics for a reason,” she grinned, the cadence of her voice like someone talking about photographic techniques or clothing silhouettes.

As she took in Mr. Reynolds’s appearance and office, it only vaguely occurred to Dahlia that this was very similar to a life that she could have led. A fashionable suit, no doubt one of dozens. An office. No, an office with a view of something other than the building across the street. Six years ago, Dahlia would have been quite envious. Now the woman had to wonder if she should be envious, should even care. But, it felt like she was looking in on Mr. Reynolds and his office through a computer screen or a feed—like she was somewhere else entirely. Like she wasn’t even really there. Dahlia was impatient for the word dancing to finish, but tried not to make it obvious.

Asim could use the nuyen. I could use the nuyen. And if this pans out long-term it could mean moving to a nicer neighborhood. She repeated to herself. Patience. She thought as she continued to speak with Mr. Reynolds.

Reynolds nods, clearly pleased with your answer. He drums his fingers on the desk and leans forward.

"While your knowledge in the sciences is valuable, and make no mistake, you will have many opportunities to use our facilities to pursue scientific discoveries should you join our team, it is because of your...other talents that I have reached out to you today. It is rare to find an individual who is skilled in both the application of the scientific method and the application of more practical talents to solve problems in the real world...but you are a rare individual, are you not, Ms. Bekhit?"

He pauses, and looks you in the eye, his gaze gleaming with intensity. "I will be frank with you. Much of the work we do here at TransGeni is illegal. Like I said, most governments aren't forward-thinking enough to understand the scope of the research we conduct here. We are always in need of skilled operatives, troubleshooters on company payroll who apply their talents to solve company problems. As I understand it, you're well-versed in the arts of operating outside the law. What is the word the general public likes to use to label those in your line of work...shadowrunners?"

He laughs, then immediately becomes serious again. "Ms. Bekhit, I am blunt with you because I respect you, otherwise you would not be here today. We want you to work for us. Officially, you will be just another laboratory technician on TransGeni's payroll. Unofficially, you will work for our black operations division - you will go about your daily life in the usual manner until contacted by your handler, who will give you the details of your next mission. A lot of the work you do will be distasteful, but you will be well-paid, and you will have the autonomy to approach your objectives in whatever manner you deem fit."

"So what is your answer, Ms. Bekhit? Will you walk? Or will you join our team? It is not my intention to rush you, but I am afraid I will require an immediate response."
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:15 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Jesus Holy Shit, Seti thought. This woman is going to get me killed.

He pushed away from the table, intent on being anywhere but where the approaching Mafioso intended to be. No gun tonight. The thought raced through his mind like a 5.56 centerfire--a thousand meters per second and destroying everything in its path. No gun tonight, I'm on a date. No gun, no armor. No armor tonight, I'm on a date. No gun, and no armor. I'm vulnerable. I can't fight back; no gun tonight.

So intent was he upon escaping the approaching mafioso, that he didn't even see the second one until he bumped into him. Not good. Combat imminent. No gun. Tunnel vision starting; too close to the action. No gun. No armor. Shit, shit, shit.

"Where do you think you're going?" Sneered the goon. "Not trying to ditch your date, are you? That's not very gentlemanly." A big, ugly smile split his face like a glasgow grin.

"Now you see what you've done?" He could hear Maria still shouting in the background. "That was my fucking chance, you goombas! That was my freakin' date!" Please shut up, Seti thought. Please shut up. I don't have a fucking gun, I don't have any fucking armor. Shut up. Please. "I was going to get LAID TONIGHT!" She was practically screaming now. "I fucking NEEDED THIS! But NOOO, you stupid assholes needed to prove just how big your fucking dicks are..."

He needed to stop listening to her, now; she was distracting as hell, and the last thing he needed, as combat was about to begin, was a distraction. He began looking around; this was Penumbra. Other Shadowrunners came here; surely they weren't all as monumentally stupid as he was? He began casting his gaze around, looking for familiar faces.

[Perception Roll, 2 Hits]
[And just in case, Initiative Roll with 3 Hits +9 =12]

GUN. Your perception of time slows down to a snail's crawl as you see the first mafioso reach into his jacket and pull out an Ares Predator, the chrome on his firearm gleaming with metallic menace under the resplendent sapphire lighting in the club.

"Sorry love, looks like you're not getting any action tonight," he says with a cruel smile. "You should've kept your mouth shut...we don't respond well to disrespect. How about we kill your boyfriend for you to teach you some manners?"

The gun comes up and blazes with muzzle fire, shattering the still atmosphere with a thunderous boom.
Suicidal Street Sam
Dodge: Five (5) Hits. All Sixes.

[I'm actually going to sit on this for a bit to see if anybody wants to volunteer to help me. If nobody has by tomorrow, then I will explore my terrible options.]

Moving with lightning speed, you dive behind a chair as a bullet punches through the Lunar surface flooring of the club not three feet away from where you were standing before, sending a shower of gravelly chips spraying into the air.

"You dumb ox, now you've done it!" Maria screeches. She raises her foot and stomps down, driving her four inch stiletto heel right through the man's leather shoe and into his foot, pulverizing bone with a sickening crunch. He howls in pain, buckling and falling to the floor, clutching his punctured foot in agony. His gun skitters across the ground as he drops it and clatters to rest a few feet away from you.
Suicidal Street Sam
QUOTE (unsound @ Jul 29 2010, 07:47 PM) *
His gun skitters across the ground as he drops it and clatters to rest a few feet away from you.

Seti scrambles for that gun like a teenager for a bra clasp.
[16:03 January 1st, 2072; TransGeni laboratories at 68th Avenue and Kenmore, Downtown]

Ah, so that was what this was all about. At least Mr. Reynolds knew exactly what kind of person he was talking to, and he was familiar with her work. And, truth be told, this was the exact sort of opportunity Dahlia was looking for. She might have to quit her more legitimate job at the hospital for a new ‘legitimate’ job at TransGeni. But, what the hell did that matter, anyway? She might even be able to get access to some nicer laboratory equipment. Hell, Mr. Reynolds probably wouldn’t even care if she got her hands on a few choice components—all the better to work with, right?

Dahlia returned the eye contact, a rather serene expression on her face in comparison to the rather intense look on Mr. Reynolds’s face. She wasn’t exactly the kind of woman who cared too much about legality, evidenced by the fact that this man had contacted her in the first place. And she wasn’t exactly the kind of person bothered by unsavory jobs. For crying out loud, this was a woman who grew super viruses in the spare bedroom of her apartment. The young woman had already made up her mind before Mr. Reynolds was finished talking. Dahlia needed the nuyen; she needed the job. The rest was just icing on the cake.

“I think I like the sound of this arrangement, Mr. Reynolds,” she smiled. Now that the man had his answer, they could make finer arrangements. Dahlia would probably have to exchange her day jobs, if only for convenience. But, at least she’d always have a relatively flexible schedule. After all, the woman hardly had to sleep.
Combat Mage
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Silver had been sitting on his stool at the bar for about an hour now, slowly sipping at his beer. He had convinced himself to go out tonight, maybe meet some new people, have some fun. No girls of course, he was faithful to Aurora, but in the month since he had arrived in Seattle he had done nothing but work on developing contacts in the shadow scene, trying to find a lead on his girlfriend's whereabouts. And he'd gotten nowhere. He needed an evening off to replenish his energy.

He had hoped to find someone interesting here, maybe a potential friend. With some luck he could even get to know a real shadowrunner. There were rumor's that said this club was a favorite among the shadow community.
But so far the only thing he had accomplished was draining his crestick by ordering drinks. How do you even go about meeting shadowrunners? He couldn't very well just ask people. Hey there, how ya doing? Might you be a professional criminal by any chance? Yeah that's sure to work, he thought sarcastically.

His musings were interrupted by the sound of gunfire. The tall white-haired elf looked up in time to see some japanese men dropping to the ground, having been shot by mafiosi that looked like they walked straight out of a bad trid show. Should I get involved in this? The decision was made for him when, to everyone's amazement, a girl with unbelievably huge breasts started talking shit to four armed men who just killed multiple people. Some people have just no sense of self-preservation, he sighed.
Getting up from his bar stool his Synaptic booster kicked in and turned the world around him into slow-motion. He focused on one of the mafiosi that was aiming at the unfortunate date of the suicidal silicone girl.

Gathering mana around him Silver formed it into a spike of deadly energy, unleashing it directly into the italian's mind.
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Son of a bedan bitch whore fucker! Seti was too focused, the tunnel-vision too strongly overwhelming; he grasped for the gun with his fingers straight out, and ended up knocking it even further away. Now, instead of having a weapon with which to properly defend himself, he was splayed out, on the floor, completely vulnerable. His only chance now was to keep moving, keep dodging, hoping they would keep missing long enough to get back under cover again and make another attempt for the gun.
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Rhodes watched with mild fascination as the dumb blonde went psycho-bitch on the mobsters. He wasn't really a fan of organized crime, though he'd dealt with mafiosos a couple of times. But this was too good.

He watched in silent amusement as Seti leapt behind the table and again when he tried to grab one of the fallen mobster's guns, only to push it further away. It slid to a halt not twelve inches from the ork's foot. The big meta smiled, took a half step forward, and kicked it back. He nodded to the splayed-out, vulnerable guy even as he saw a pansy-looking elf move up off to his left. Huh. Drinks and a show, he thought.
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Seti was still cursing himself when the gun came sliding back. He grabbed it as it slid past him, looking up to see the giant, hulking, chromed ork that had kicked it back at him. Look at him, sitting there all casual. He must have tons of experience with this sort of thing!

He flipped over onto his back and took aim at the remaining mafiosos. Sighting down the barrel of this tragically maligned gun (Who sands down the sights? Seriously, now.), Seti squeezed the trigger, falling the hammer and igniting a cloud of hot gas to push the leaden ball down the barrel at roughly 800 feet per second.
Silver's stunbolt pierces the man's mind, shattering it like a sledgehammer being brought down on a glass doll. He crumples immediately, oozing to the floor like someone had liquified all the bones in his body. This one is down for the count.

Seti opens fire at one of the remaining mafiosos, and his aim is true. The Italian curses in his native tongue as the bullet hits him in the shoulder, but his armor jacket manages to absorb most of the impact. He half-spins, brings his own pistol up, and returns fire. His two friends, having recovered from the shock of witnessing two more warriors entering the skirmish, take a target, one each, and fire their guns.
>>Posted 1/04/72 in the Redmond Pioneer, an independent screamsheet giving you up-to-date coverage on all the action happening in Seattle's most savage slum (owned and operated by the Seattle Post company, all rights reserved)

"Local man found murdered in own home," by Adam Sawyer, staff writer

Local man Enrique Chávez was found murdered in his own home last night by land lady Anita Saunders, who had gone to Chávez's apartment to pick up this month's rent. Instead, she came upon Chávez's already cold corpse, left unceremoniously on his kitchen floor in a pool of his own dried blood.

"It was terrible," said Saunders. "The look frozen on his face, the smell...I'll never forget it."

Chávez was presumably killed by a burglar, who emptied the contents of his wall safe after shooting Chávez. Lone Star officials confirmed that they are not currently investigating Chávez's murder, and do not foresee opening a case file for him in the near future.

"The guy was SINless trash, this is what they do to each other," said homicide detective James Harkness. "Your readers can rest assured that their hard-earned tax dollars are being used to protect all the legitimate, law-abiding citizens of Seattle."

Chávez is survived by his ex-wife and two year old daughter, who live in another part of Redmond. They could not be reached for comment.

Always as dependable as the turning of the seasons, Aria responds to your call, materializing in front of you in a brilliant light show, radiating with good cheer.

"Hullo, little sister," she says. "How's the New Year treating you?"
Posted on ShadowSEA VPN -> subforum='Bounties' date=1/03/72 adtitle='Paranormal Critter Hunt'

>>Looking for a runner to help us track down a paracritter that has escaped from our zoo. Critter in question is a Chill Penguin, an awakened variant of the King Penguin that is capable of casting frost spells. It escaped from our facility yesterday when one of the animal handlers forgot to engage the lock to its habitat and is loose somewhere in the Seattle metroplex. Mark prefers cold environments. Reward for tracking down the mark will be ¥5000. Mark MUST be brought in alive and in good health, reward will be forfeit if mark is injured during capture. Please contact us at 38A-9182-555J to claim your reward once you close this bounty. THANK YOU.

"Excellent," Reynolds says. "I have a feeling that you will quite enjoy your work here at TransGeni. Now that you're officially a part of our team, allow me to formally introduce the man who will be your principle link to the corporation. Commlink, display communications channels."

A virtual grid of numbers shimmers into view in the air in front of him. He taps a few of them with one hand, and says, "Mr. Watson, could you please come into my office? I have someone I would like to introduce you to."

A few moments later, the door slides open with a hiss, and a stout redheaded dwarf walks in.

"What is it, Reynolds?" the dwarf grumbles, staring at you with a hawk's gaze. "You know I'm busy as hell trying to fix the mess those idiots at Northgate let happen. I don't have time to chit chat with little girls."

"Mr. Watson, I would like to introduce you to Dahlia Bekhit," Reynolds says with a smile. "Dahlia is the newest addition to our black operations division, and she'll be working directly under your supervision. Dahlia, this is Samuel Watson, one of our most experienced operations managers."

"That so?" the dwarf says, unimpressed. "And what makes you think you'll be useful to me, girl?"
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Rhodes saw one of the mobsters point a gun in his direction and threw himself to one side; he heard the snap as the round shot past his ear. With a grin splitting his face, he drew Outlaw.

The pistol had seen a lot of custom work, and it showed. The handle had been replaced with a larger one tailored to his grip -- erga-something was the word the guy at Weapons World had used -- and replaced with honest-to-God wood. Two R's had been carved into each side, stylized in blocky letters and placed back to back. The Cavalier itself, normally cobalt blue steel, had been completely chromed over and then had Or'zet lettering carved into it along the sides of the barrel and all around the cylinder. The lettering on one side of the barrel read "The Outlaw;" the other side, in smaller script, said, "Become the Law." The wording on the cylinder aligned with each of the enlarged cylinder's nine apertures and each was the name of a hero of the Wild West, real or not: Josey, Rooster, Wyatt, Doc, Wild Bill, The Kid, Jesse, Butch, and Sundance.

Rhodes didn't even bother to bring the gun up to take a proper aim. He whipped it from the holster and fired twice, sending Wild Bill and the Kid at the goon who shot at him. He was rewarded when the mobster staggered as the hollow points blasted into him.
[16:03 January 1st, 2072; TransGeni laboratories at 68th Avenue and Kenmore, Downtown]

Oh how Dahlia disliked these dances. They were so…wasteful. Aside from establishing leader and subordinate patterns within social groups, what purpose did they really serve? But if Mr. Watson wanted to dance, Dahlia would have to dance. As the dwarf entered the room and fixed his sight on Dahlia, she was well aware of his curtness and the fact that he was calling her a little girl. And maybe someone else would have been offended. Maybe someone used to negotiations would have been able to turn that around, or simply pretend that it didn’t happen. But, it just didn’t matter to Dahlia—it was completely irrelevant to her, superfluous.

“No one ever thinks about what they’re touching,” Dahlia sighed, almost wistfully.

“It’s not as bad as it was in the twentieth century when people still used doorknobs and telephones, but it’s the same. Everyone’s worried about being shot or hacked or fired or set on fire and they just make the assumption that they’re not going to catch anything. It’s like a blind spot in everyone’s reality. But, one spritz of a little something on a favorite gun or a telecom or anywhere people put their hands, and wait a few days or a few weeks and half the department is out with the flu,” She was on the brink of bursting into laughter, a small chuckle punctuating her sentences here and there.

“And the bioware mods that could take care of it are so cheap. When I did a stint with a street doc, I never even heard of anyone going under for a pathogenic defense implantation procedure. So careless. It boggles the mind, Mr. Watson,”

It might not be that convincing, but it was the best someone like Dahlia could come up with. She put on her most winning smile, and slipped the virus pictures back into her purse, as she waited for the verdict.
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Seti was learning to hate that sound. Not the sound of gunfire; the sound of twigs snapping.

When you're creeping along in the woods, it means you've been careless, and people know you're around, now. When you're getting shot at, it means the bullets are flying WAY too close.

At least he wasn't alone in this fight anymore. That was nice. Another elf--a pretty one, yes, but his dye-job was a little unnatural--had come up and done something to one of the mooks, and it looked like the chromed ork had decided to join the fray, as well. The biggest advantage to a club like this, thought Seti, is you can always count on meeting new friends.

He threw himself behind a table, a took a half a moment to breath. Then he stood up, hauled the barrel of his borrowed gun in line--Seriously, who sands down the freakin' sights?!--and squeezed the trigger on another dumb gangster.
Proving that a true warrior can overcome any deficiency with his tools, Seti aims, fires, and hits in a stream of continuous, practiced motions. The mobster doubles over as the bullet punches through his abdomen and he drops to the floor, screaming in pain. This one is out of the fight. His partner, who has already suffered injuries at the hands of the ork gunslinger at the bar, realizes that he's all alone and none of his comrades had even drawn blood before they went down. He sets his gun down on the floor and throws his hands up in the air.

"Okay, okay, basta! I surrender! I surrender!"
Combat Mage
After the first mobster had gone down to his spell Silver turned around and shifted his focus on another enemy. He drew in mana, maybe a little more than he could safely take, and sent a bristling bolt of lightning through the bar that hit the italian square in the chest and struck him down like a hammer. The smell of charred flesh slowly spread through the club, mingling with the bitter taste of gunpowder and blood.

The drain hit hard, he he had exerted himself a little too much as evident by the droplets of blood rinning out of his nose. But he shook of the headache and analyzed the situation. The big ork and the unfortunate bachelor had taken care of the rest of the mafiosi. Only one of the italians was still standing, having dropped his weapon and surrendered.

Looking around the bar Silver didn't notice any severe injuries on bystanders, safe for the mafiosi and the yakuza guys of course. But maybe there had been innocents hurt in the crossfire that he couldn't see from his position.

Turning to the stunned crowd in the club he called out: "Anybody here severly injured? I can help you with that! Just come to me."

While waiting for any eventual victims to come forward he went over to the egyptian guy whose's date had been the cause of all the trouble.

"Well that was some date huh? Nothing says love like a bullet wound." He grins loopsidedly while wiping the blood from his face. "I'm Silver by the way. Nice to meet to you. Now what are we gonna do with that mafia guy?"

He looked at the big ork that had also joined the fight. "You got any ideas?" The guy looked chromed. Maybe he was a real shadowrunner? That would be some turn of luck after all.
The shootout having been concluded, the crowd begins to applaud, having seen the best show they're probably going to see all year. One spectator points at the bleeding barback crumpled up on the floor, the one who was unfortunate enough to catch a stray bullet from the mobsters.

"Er, he could probably use some healing," the spectator says. "I think he might be dead though."

Meanwhile, Maria, whose fury has not yet been spent, continues kicking and stomping at the mafioso whose foot she had broken earlier. The Italian is curled up on the floor in a fetal position, whimpering as he endures the full awesome force of Maria's wrath.

"You stupid *kick* ugly *kick* little man *kick* think you can just come in here *kick* and ruin a girl's date *kick* I spent an hour doing my make up tonight *kick* and you messed everything up *kick* I hate you so much!*kick* *kick* *kick*"

She pauses briefly as Silver introduces himself. "Hi, I'm Maria. I know what I'm going to do with this Mafia guy."

The mobster looks up at Silver with pleading eyes. "Please, stop her, she's gonna kill me!"

"Shut up," Maria snaps, resuming her assault on the fallen man. "I'm not done with you yet, you bastard!"
Rhodes holsters his hand-cannon and walks over to his erst-while allies. "One in the head and one in the heart, rifle his pockets, and toss him in a dumpster." He looks the made-man up and down for a moment then shrugs. "I like his shoes, though. Shiny. Wonder if they fit me." He flashes the mobster the biggest, toothiest grin he can possibly manage -- and its a pretty big one.
Combat Mage
One thing at a time. The innocent guy is more important than tha fucking mafioso who starts shooting in a club full of people. On his way to the waiter Silver passed close to the egyptian and whispered to him: "Better calm down your girlfriend, no need to kill any more tonight than we already have." Arriving at the victim he put his hands on the bleeding wounds and concentrated. He didn't know if the guy wasn't already dead but he would try at least. Mana was streaming from his fingertips, trying to mend the broken brody.
Suicidal Street Sam
[20:17 January 1st, 2072; Club Penumbra, International District, Seattle]

Seti dropped the the magazine straight from the well to the floor, never touching it. When LoneStar arrives, they'll need prints...and nobody ever thinks to wipe down the bullets they load.

He looked at the Ork. Silver was right, the last thing they needed right now was a Mafia APB. All this so far can be explained, if necessary--please, god, never let it be necessary--but that goes right out the window when we start shooting their unarmed soldiers. He turned his back on the elf--if he actually heals that kid, I'll buy him a beer--and faced the man who had saved his life. First the one that can actually do some damage, then I'll deal with Maria.

"Listen, Chombatta, I appreciate the save back there. I really do. So you can have those shoes. They're yours. But right now, this is just a bunch of drunk fuckers endangering their Dona by being stupid in a bar. They threatened some club-hoppers, but worse yet, they lost. You think that's going to go over well?" He snorted. "But the moment we kill them after they've surrendered, the Mob hasn't got a choice; they have to hunt us down. It's a pride issue."

He shook his head, and looked over his shoulder as a soft light from behind him cast pale shadows on the floor. Silver. Which reminds me.

Seti stuck his hand out. "I'm Seti, by the way. Pleasure to meet ya. You part of an official Shadowcrew, or you freelance?"
Rhodes considered the proferred hand for a moment, lips turned down in a grimace he didn't bother trying to hide. But then he shrugged and took the other man's hand in his crushing grip. "They call me Roadie." He gave a squeeze -- nothing too hard, of course, he wasn't out to break any bones -- before letting go. "Freelance. Tryin' to busy inta the bizz. You?"
It was at this point a small band of obviously piratical men, The leader brandishing a massive samurai sword, moaned in German "Did we miss the Fun"?

"Herr Kommodore" one of the pirates called "Was" came Kommodore's inevitable reply
"Otto ist geflogen"

"Damn" Kommodore snapped. It was then he noticed the menagerie of people congugating on the dance-floor. He decided it was safe so sheathed his Nodachi and wandered forwards

Watson stares at you, his mouth gaping open, seemingly at a loss for words. You get the feeling that this doesn't happen to him a lot.

"Ms. Bekhit is a bioweapons specialist, one of the best we could find," Reynolds says helpfully.

The dwarf blinks. "Well, why didn't you just say so? Bioweapons, huh? Hrmph. Well, then your arrival is pretty fortuitous, I have a time-sensitive crisis on my hands that I think you might be able to help me with. I'll need to get some stuff in order first. I will contact you in two days with more details. This is a mission that will require a team of operatives, so use this time to tap your sources and get a group together. If you can't assemble a team, let me know and I'll throw you in one."

With that, he turns around and walks out the door without even bidding you farewell.
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