Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Some Short Fiction
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
[ Spoiler ]

"Are you sure about this?"

"It's a little late for questions like that, isn't it, Sean?"

The pair of elves talked in anxious whispers. The attempt at quiet was a matter of reflex, a reaction to the tension in the air. Everyone in the room had been as stealthy as possible when they'd arrived, had kept their voices low while they waited, had tread lightly around this rundown apartment while they'd been here. They were terrorists, and stealth was their greatest ally. It was habit, and it kept them alive.

"This batch isn't much to look at, sir."

The red-haired elf was right. They were a rag tag group, but that had become the standard lately. The Rinelle ke'Tesrae were a hunted group, and every person in the room looked it. Desperate, unwashed, paranoid. Some, the ones who might have been involved in operations like this before, looked like they might be a little crazy. Others looked only nervous and afraid. Some of the first-timers would make it, some wouldn't. The ones that survived would do it again, and again, and again. Car bombs and Peace Force checkpoints, rifles from the darkness, graffiti on street signs, molotov cocktails on riot police, baseball bats on public officials. Over and over. Until they died, or until the Princes gave in. But there were so many in this room that hadn't done it before. Sean was on his twelfth mission. He felt like the veteran he was, compared to the others. There were another half-dozen in the next room, sleeping. He sighed quietly as he looked over the group he was about to start working with.

There was a massive ork woman whispering, almost crying, with an elven girl. They were mothers, or had been, Sean knew. Both held rifles, but neither had used them before. A knot of three young men bragged about previous operations as quietly as machismo allowed, AK-97's against the wall near them. A lone newcomer in a gin-soaked coat sat by himself in one of the few chairs, lips moving without noise coming out. Whether he was praying, cursing, or just singing along with a song only he could hear was anyone's guess. A male dwarf and his pretty elven girlfriend sat together in one corner, field stripping an assault rifle and smiling at each other's whispers. The movement had made for some strange bedfellows, Sean thought. The room's only human sat by himself by the window, with a bolt action rifle in his lap. They were all huddled in warm clothing, hats and gloves and layers of jackets to fend off the Portland cold. A few were lucky enough to have stolen armor beneath that clothing, too. Most weren't.

And there was Michael, of course. Sean and he stood nearest the door, both holding stolen Peace Force G36 assault rifles. Michael was their cell leader, and -- Sean was fairly certain -- wasn't using his real name. The secrecy was necessary. The Ghosts and Paladins and Princes had made it necessary. Michael was the only one who knew who was next in charge, the only one who knew what other cells operated nearby, the only one who knew anything. The rest got fed their orders barely a sentence at a time. But that was how things had to be.

Michael spoke softly, a moment after his own blue-eyed gaze had tracked Sean's disdainful glance around the room. "We can't judge people on their looks, Sean. And, at first, not even on their ability. Only their willingness to work for the cause."

The fairer-skinned elf felt his cheeks flush. He'd forgotten, for a moment, why they were all here. He wasn't a soldier any more, he was a volunteer. A reformist. A revolutionary. He wasn't a drill instructor who was taking in a batch of new draftees, he was a combat veteran for The People. Michael's tone had said it all.

Sean opened his mouth to apologize, to stammer out some emberassment. But no sound came.

The quiet whispers from a moment before had stopped. No -- not stopped. Just been silenced. Lips still moved and brushes still rubbed over rifle barrels and vocal chords still worked. But there was no noise. Everyone looked around, mouths open and silently questioning. The drunk who'd been muttering to himself tumbled backwards, eyes suddenly wide, taking the delipidated easy chair with him.

And then hell came.

The first fireball came in with a roar and a rush and what should have been a clap like thunder through the window. The shards of glass were superheated when they were driven through people's skin, but no one had time to care because right on their heels was the wave of flame itself. The world turned into pain and burning and shock. And then it happened again. The smell was worse than the burning itself.

There was still no sound. Only motion and fire and terror and the horrible, horrible, stench. Farthest from the blast's focal point, Sean and Michael were both simply thrown against the wall and sent, vaguely smoldering, to tumble against the ground like discarded dolls. Most of the others weren't even able to feel that they were dead, it had come upon them so quickly. The upturned chair blazed away cheerily over in the corner.

After the fireballs came a strange rippling effect streaming through the window. Something shimmered vaguely, pure motion with no real form or shape. In the adrenaline rush and slow motion, Sean noticed a rope hanging outside. He had his rifle up, felt his hands blistering as he flexed his hand tightly on the grip, and opened fire as Michael did the same. The bullets hit the charred wall, went out the ruined window, but hit nothing. There was an answering muzzle flash from seemingly nowhere -- "A Ghost a Ghost Jesus help me it's Ghosts" -- and Michael's head exploded.

There was still no sound. That might have been the worst part. The dwarf in the corner's face was melting and he was trying to scream and there was no sound. There was no noise as Michael's corpse hit the floor, no crackling flame, no chatter and roar as automatic fire chewed apart the wall. The ripple was moving again low and inhumanly fast, and Sean's fire missed it.

More ripples came through the window and Sean kept his finger on the trigger, spraying and shouting without sound or words, when the door behind him shattered into a million silent pieces from a magical battering ram. More ripples. More blurs, more Ghosts. Some came from the other room, and Sean spent a half second crying in his head, because he knew the sleeping volunteers there must all be dead. They were everywhere and nowhere, leaving corpses in their wake.

Muzzle flashes flared into being from the blurred forms swarming around the room, and corpses twitched and jumped as explosive rounds tore into them. Sean's autofire ate it's way across the wall towards the nearest ripple-Ghost but suddenly he hurt all over from a series of impacts too quick for him to register or block. He was on the floor and his ribs felt smashed and his gun was gone and the gin-reeking volunteer stood over him with his gloved hands flexed into fists. The elf that had just done something to beat him was shouting something, angry, but there was still no noise.

Sean blacked out. As he did he thought, impossibly, he finally heard the muted cough of a weapon firing.


The silence spell faded, just in time to hear a burst being fired at the only one in the room not wrapped in a stealth suit. That the undercover agent was the only one not also wrapped in layers of combat enhancement magic being sustained by dedicated Ghost spellcasters from outside was apparent only to Tintagel himself, viewing the carnage as he was on the Astral, making certain the life energy was, indeed, gone from all those who appeared to be dead.

"...ease fire, cease fire!" Captain Alec Tintagel suddenly snapped into vision as he deactivated his ruthenium suit, an open hand waving up and down over his face. The silence spell had dissipated in the middle of his order, but he shouldn't have had to give the order in the first place. "I said hold your fire!"

The rest of his team blurred into being as their own polymer suits were deactivated, and Sgt. Broussard lowered his submachinegun. By then the explosive 9mm rounds had torn into and through the wall as Broussard's target -- still smoking a little and reeking of liquor -- had rolled, then sprung smoothly to his feet as twin sets of chrome-gleaming blades six inches long sprang out and through his gloves. In the process of dodging the burst, he'd covered half the distance to the shooter.

Despite the half dozen Heckler and Koch submachineguns ready to tear him apart, the 'terrorist' jabbed a finger at the Ghost who had nearly decapitated him. It was like the rest of the team wasn't even there, dressed in their black camo with their facemasks on and their laser sights dancing over his chest. He stood in a room full of corpses they'd just created, and ignored all of it with alarming confidence.

It was like the man honestly beleived the finger he was jabbing accusingly at Broussard was more dangerous than the weapons pointed back at him. "You won't believe how quick I'll kill you."

That had gotten Broussard's weapon shouldered again, and in the sudden shouting no one seemed to hear Tintagel giving orders. Broussard was taunting the other elf as the crimson beam of his laser sight stayed centered on his ten-ring, the rest of the team kept their own weapons trained, and he just stood there and stared them down. The Ghosts started hurling insults, half in English and half in Sperethiel, and the other elf began to give right back, still completely ignoring their weapons.

They knew who he was, that was the problem. Half the Tir military knew who this joker was. Some respected him, most hated him. An unlucky few had to work with him. No one knew quite where the rogue's loyalty lay in the specifics of it, but Tintagel had been assured the man was loyal to the Tir. He couldn't let him catch a slug, though. Not after the man had used that headware of his to talk them in, tell them right where each target was standing, tell them...everything. The op had been the mole's idea, from start to -- almost -- finish.

He sighed. His headache had nothing to do with the spells he'd just cast. He'd been handling power like that for more than half his life -- they'd been less than nothing to him. The smell of cordite and blood, the smoke, none of it was the reason his temples were throbbing right now. It had everything to do with the man in civilian clothes, and the effect he had on Tintagel's team.

The Captain focused for a heartbeat, and a shimmering wall of force dissected the room. The uniforms and submachineguns were on one side, the red-faced 'civilian' on the other. Their commanding officer's spellcasting shut up the men of the Ghost team, but their mole just kept on running his mouth.

"...and what fucking supergenius shot the cell leader? I fucking handed him to you, and you stupid bastards..."

"That's enough. Sir, shut up. Men, stand down." Tintagel hated calling this one 'sir,' but it was out of his hands. He knew the man's rank was as hard to pin down as the rest of him -- better to err on the side of protocol and be polite.

"...and then you had the balls to shoot at me instead of the bastard waving a fucking HK at you? He was standing square in your kill zone, dipshit, and you wasted the time putting a burst into the body at your feet instead of taking out your own target? Do they not train you people since I transferred, or wha--"

Tintagel sighed. Over his radio, he gave his men a simple command. "[Ignore the milessaratish. Sweep the rest of the building, then get back to base]" He knew their earpieces would convey the message, even over the ranting.


Connor's blood was up, there was no mistaking that. Alec sighed as the operative kicked his smoldering liquor-soaked jacket across the smoking room, sighed as the other elf cursed and stomped his way down the stairs, and sighed again as he made a beeline for his waiting motorcycle, brought up to the scene by a thoughtfull aide. The street outside was empty, except for the truck that had brought his team, and the still-full truck that had transported their unnecessary back up. No firemen would be coming here. It had been arranged.

"Hold on, sir." It still bit just a little, to call this half-rogue sir. Tintagel cleared his throat, nodded to his own waiting car. "You'll be riding with me."

"The boss wants to see you," was the only explanation he gave to the augmented elf's impatient gaze. It snapped his mouth shut quick enough, though.

The car ride was less than comfortable. Tintagel had little love for those who tainted their bodies with artificial enhancements. Half the reason this man's chest had been dancing with laser sights five minutes ago was the simple fact that his bias had bled off into the men he commanded and -- to a one -- they had refused time and again the offers of discounted cybernetic augmentation. They all relied on their own prowess, their own internal abilities, minor enhancements from friendly spellcasters, but not smartlinks. Every man in his unit was Talented, in some fashion. He had trouble respecting anyone who wasn't. Especially someone who'd call himself a Ghost. How could someone that was half a science project think he'd earned the right to be in a unit like Tintagel's? His passenger was a mystery to him. How had he even made it through the training program, without the reserves of will a Talented had?

Oblivious to the officer's disdain, the man just kept on complaining. "...and what supergenius tossed the goddammed fireball? That's fucking brilliant. In the pre-op, I'd specifically explained that I needed a non-physical spell. Non-physical. No splashing me with acid or lighting me up with a fucking lightning bolt. I understand that policy states a nonlethal spell wouldn't be necessary, but I was sitting where I was for a reason. With line of sight obstructed, I wouldn't be hit by a mana oriented..."

"How would you know the difference?" Whether Tintagel meant it to or not, a sneer formed as he interrupted.

"So, it was you, huh? Thought so. And I know the difference because my girlfriend could fry your ass in a heartbeat, Blondie. I know the difference because I've trained with, fought with, and taken out mages. You coulda nailed half the room with a direct spell and then sent in your shooters to mop up. And instead you lit the fucking place on fire and almost got me killed, since I had a whole half second to get out of the way. Half my fucking disguise was the fact I was soaked in booze, and the other half was this damned beard I had glued to my face. You also could have cooked off every round those guys wer--"

"Are you always like this?"

"Only when I'm dealing with fucking amateurs. I don't know if I just had the best fucking unit around, or if the Ghosts are backsliding since I left, or what, but that shit was sloppy. And the way your shooters divided up the room was pure crap. Wasting ammo on non-threa--"

"I had orders to eliminate them in a dramatic fashion, and did so. Their neighbors will know what happens, now. Word will spread. They weren't beaten, they were destroyed. And they were destroyed in a manner that was obviously visible and viscerally frightening to anyone who was nearby. Visible spells. Piles of corpses. We shoot on sight, and we shoot to kill. We're Ghosts, not Peace Force, Tybalt. Let the Pee-Eff's try to arrest them, let the Info-Sec spooks try and break them. That's not our job. We weren't there to fight them, we were there to kill them. And Broussard could see you were about to take the other one out."

All the explanation did was keep the vatjob shouting, of course. Tintagel wanted to argue. Truth be told, he wanted more than anything else to wrap himself in his most potent armor spell and just run the coupe off the road. If it wouldn't have damaged a tree so badly, he might have. Instead, he just sighed. They had another thirty kilometers to cover, at least.

As his unTalented passenger kept politely critiquing, Alec accelerated. Let the boss deal with him. The faster he drove, the faster this conversation would end.
An enjoyable read, I hope you have more to continue on this story.

Though, my main gripe... Not enough elves have perished! More dead elves please! biggrin.gif
Heh. I've got plenty more with Connor fics, trust me (and ask MFB or WK or CrimsonDude). He was the unnamed elf in the fiction (wetwork on a UC campus) I posted to the last big fiction thread, and he's in...uhh...a half dozen other pieces about twice the size of this one (which I only posted half of), set before or after this one.

This is the one most directly dealing with Ghosts, and how I see them operating, though. So I figured it'd do just to slap up and share my thoughts on 'em.
Post the other half? Please?
very well done.

my search button won't work, so if there are links to more it would be greatly appriciated.
New thread is up ("Fat Stacks of Short Fiction," I think I named it). It's got the other half of this story, and a ton of other stuff related to/revolving around that character.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012