The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce
"Wait up there, Curim... We still have to deal with this fitter here." Chance pointed out the hapless fellow who was still under the menacing barrel of Ash's flamer. The big troll was startled... he had obviously missed seeing the soldier and his partner standing nearby.
"One. Crystal has shot off a bunch of ammo during the fight, and I think that she would need a resupply soon. This man Raven claims that he has sources, and I don't see why we should not entertain him. Two. We need a vehicle... My scrambler can only take myself and Ash. If Raven can get a vehicle for us, that is one problem solved."
He looked over at the blue-haired woman, but Crystal was busy talking with the Doctor, catching sideways glances at Tank. The soldier shrugged and after a moment's consideration, asked Ash to lower her flamer and come to him. He slung his assault rifle and extended a hand to shake Raven's, signalling to the latter that he could ease up.
"That van isn't for sale, is it? My boss is busy at the moment, and I might as well get things moving by checking out your available stock." Chance asked the fitter.
"Sorry, no go on the van man! She's my baby. And wouldn't you be so kind as to introduce the lady?"
Chance grinned. "Sorry, she's my baby. And I am sure that she thinks the same of me. Anyway, her name's Ash."
Raven glanced over at Ash... then took a harder look.
The redhead had removed a glove and was playing with a flame! She let the fire dance over her fingertips, the curling tongues tumbling and shimmering over her hand. The flame cut out with a snap of her fingers and a little smile from Ash.
"Int... Interesting baby you have there... Chance." Raven was smart enough to know why Ash had done the little demonstration... She was aware that Raven was a much better negotiator than Chance. And rather than see her soulmate get tricked or swindled, she was reminding the fitter that the danger did not diminish with the lowering of her flamethrower.
Raven brought a smile to his lips.
"Well, money and business wait for no one... Let's trade."
Crystal saw the opportunity...and seized it.
She marched right up to Raven. She recognised a cocky, chancey type when she saw one. The only thing he would like better than cold hard cash would be the promise of even more cold hard cash... Or something of equal value.
"This your van?"
"Aint she a beaut?"
"If you get all of us over to AET in one piece, we can make it worth your while." She said staring him in the eye.
Raven had mischevous thoughts.
"And how might you do that, lady? Guy like me's gotta make it worth his while, ya dig? Time is money. You got nuyen? two grand?"
"Better than that... See that Elf there?" She said, flicking her eyes towards Ery - looking nervously at the cops moving off slowly. "Hes got contacts. Corp contacts. We've got some real fraggin' wiz gear lined up. You want a cut?"
Raven visibly thought it over, although Crystal knew a chancer like this would never show his true intentions purposefully. Maintaining a first-class poker-face, Raven put a fingeron his lip, looked at Crystal, looked away. Looked at her again, looked back at his van...
"Around, ooh, at least ten grand's worth of stuff?" He eventually came back with.
How the frag should I know? Crystal wanted to say. "At least." She answered, with a wink.
"Maybe something a little extra for me, personal like, yeah?" He said, eyes resting on Crystal's chest, then to Mary...
Grud save us from testosterone... Crystal thought, momentarily disgusted. No, wait... If I play my cards right, we can have him eating out of our hand...
"We'll see...Raven." She flicked her eyelashes at him coquettishly.
"WELL WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR!" Raven shouted. "lets get goin'!"
The van's suspension bucked and creaked alarmingly as everyone piled into the back of the van - Curim, Ash (Chance taking the scrambler), Dven (taking a last mournful look at his taxi), Ery. Crash and Tank took Crash's car.
Last on were Crystal and Mary.
"What did you say to get him to help us?" Mary asked, knowing something was up.
"Never you mind, Doc. Situation's in hand!" Crystal smiled thinly. Something in that smile, a glint in Crystal's eyes made Mary deeply uneasy...
Raven sat in his cab. He saw the motley gropu of 'runners through his rear-view mirror. Fraggin' suckers. he thought. A vanload a easy money just waiting to happen...And if they try anything cute, well, heh heh, I'll just love trying out my new cans of neuro-Stun VII...
"Okay. Don't touch nothin' back there. We ready?"
"Where's the other man? The Other Elf?" Mary asked. Everyone knew she meant Xecktos.
"Frag him." Dven said. "I seen his type, lads. He's crazy."
I couldn't agree more. Crystal thought.
And off they went, Chance and Crash in tow, leaving the Daisaka goons on the pavement, milling around, not knowing whether to follow or not...
Crystal sat upfront with Raven. She noticed his eyes wandering her way from time to time. She found it both funny and unnerving at the same time. She hadn't had a boyfriend since...since...
"Dad, you fragging arsehole..."
"You say something?" Raven asked. It was hard to hear over the roar over the van's engine. It was a tricked-out, supercharged monster of a van engine, the vehicle bumped up and down over kerbs, pavements and the occasional public-access Matrix-kiosk. The passengers in the back had to hold onto the cargo-belts in the ceiling for protection. Mary was turning white as a sheet.
"No, I'm fine. She told Raven." She had a grenade out in her hand, casually tossing and catching it. It caught Raven's eye.
"You like grenades huh?" He grinned.
"I like to make an impression." She smiled back, momentarily.
Raven, still driving at breakneck speeds, bent down and pulled something from a box under his seat. While he did this the van mounted a pavement, scattering a crowd of pedestrians.
Raven had taken out another grenade: A Sphere with one red and one white hemisphere, with a circular button fuse at the join.
"Zaibatsu IPE grenade. Top-range general-purpose explosive. give you six of 'em for ¥800."
"Done and done!" Crystal said instantly. She took the grenade, slapped an ¥800 credstick into his palm and then pulled out the bos from under Raven's seat. She knew a good deal when she saw one.
Later, staring out the window, Crystal thought she saw the sun shine off something silvery, high in the sky. It could have been another drone, or an aircraft. Daisaka security had several reconnasaince drones for traffic duties, but after the incident with the Aztech drones, you couldn't be too careful...
The van eventually reached the AET compound, a few miles out of Geneva - and not before time, too - Mary was beginning to suffocate, being in such a small space with a troll and a dwarf for company. The stench was overwhelming.
The arms company had a sizable tract of land here - A large space for the testing of military grade weapons with few unwanted guests. A four and a half metre fence topped with monowire (invisible of course, but there were warning signs), with a series of plascrete tank teeth behind kept out these 'guests'.
At the security checkpoint, the Four Elven guards wearing armoured suits in company colours kept the van well at arms length while Ery went out to flash his AET credstick ID and be subjected to a retina and palmprint scan.
Eventually an AET vehicle was moved up to the gate - They didn't trust Raven's van on Corp. property, with good reason - there was no telling what ordnance he might have hidden in there.
Ery, Chance, Ash, Mary, Crystal and Crash boarded the AET van - Raven stayed with his beloved van, with Tank and Curim to guard them.
"Make sure these animals don't do anything stupid, sir." The AET guard Sergeant told Ery, out of earshot of the others.
The AET van rolled into the compund, toward a waiting ammo store - One among hundreds.
Ery persuaded the guards to step aside again - But there was little he could do to remove the rotor drones that were now following them at low altitude, visibly armed. He tried radioing AET control.
"Company policy, sir. All non-AET personnel are routinely monitored."
"Almost as if they don't trust us." Crystal sneered.
Sniper was brought to a room. His sensors showed him this room was magically sealed, and the plans of the complex he recieved through his neuro-link told him they were in one of the newer R&D labs.
He was put inside an energy shield. He knew these shields. The type that burns everything it touches in a split second. He was trapped.
The man behind the scanner stood up and passed a notescreen to the chief engineer.
"Sir, you're not gonna believe this... This guy is made with our tech... stuff that we developed only a few years ago!"
"You mean he was made here? By our people?"
"Yeah. He's even connected to the company's neural net. Not surprising he got in here so easily; he's hooked up to every sensor in the complex."
"Can you disable that link?"
"Sure thing boss. Already working on it."
Suddenly, Sniper was cut off of the network. All contact with the outside world disappeared. He was really trapped now...
All is lost. There's no chance in hell I'm gonna survive this. I'll never get to him now. Unless...
"If you just asked me I'd be able to explain all this, you know..."
"Well, well. It talks.", the chief engineer said. "So... who are you?"
"I'm the son of Lewis Olsen. I'm sure you've taken a DNA sample. Just compare it to his if you need proof. I was nearly killed when an assassin mistook me for my dad, and my father rebuilt me using the company's facilities."
They might have taken my hand gun, but I still got the rifle inside my leg. It'll take them a while to find that, even with those scanners.
"What?! Get Olsen here right away!"
"He's in the Nirya-center, sir. It'll take him a while to get here."
"I don't care. Abuse of company resources is a serious matter."
Nirya Aztech Research center, Antalac
Lewis Olsen stepped aboard the subrail. The train started to move.
Man, they can't miss me for a single minute there, can they? Now what can be so important that they can't let me do it here in Nirya? Couldn't they at least have told him what this was all about?
After half an hour the subrail-train started to slow down.
"Ah... here we are. My old workplace."
When he stepped off the train two men in security-uniforms came to him.
"Mister Olsen? We have to escort you to the lab right away."
"Oh... OK. Which lab is that?"
"R&D lab S14, sir."
A scanner lab? Then what the frag do they need me for? I only do developement!
R&D lab S14
Olsen looked at the cyborg in the containment shield.
"Oh my... Rick? Is that you?"
"You bet it's me.", the Sniper replied. " Your friends here seem to think I'm am 'Abuse of Company Resources'".
The cyborg smiled. Those thirty minutes had been more than enough to prepare everything. Luckily they didn't find the folded rifle in his leg.
A minor energy pulse will weaken the shield enough to get a bullet through... just one bullet...
"So, mr. Olsen. You admit that you used the Company's technology to create this cyborg?"
Olsen looked pale, but he said nothing.
The Sniper knew this was his moment. No one was paying attention to him; even the mage was distracted by the presence of Rick's father.
Slowly, he took the sniper out of his left leg.
I got only one chance... I wish the rifle didn't take so long to unfold. Well as long as they don't hear it...
The rifle was unfolded. The guy behind the scanner wasn't paying attention; he was still looking at Lewis Olsen.
This is it!
He kicked at the energy field with his left foot. While the cybernetic foot started burning and melting he overloaded the circuits in the foot, sending an energy pulse into the shield.
It worked. The shield was weakened. The head of the research center heared the sound and turned around.
Too late, guys.
The sniper pushed his rifle through the weakened shield and shot.
The front of the rifle started melting. But that didn't matter anymore. The bullet went through... it was all over. He saw his father falling. The bullet went right through the head.
Then he felt the pain. The mage had performed a spell... a spell that would definitly kill him.
But that didn't matter anymore... it was done. It was finally over.
The Sniper's circuits overloaded. Blood came out of every part of him that was still human.
Everything turned black.
Zwergmann was confused. An assasin pumped on cyberware could not resist those attacks. Idiot. Mac had not cyberware. He was that strong for natural terms, not cyberware.
Mac arised. Pain was through his whole body. Wounds felt like iron bars sticked into his body. But he didn't give up. He couldn't.
"If only... if only i could cast spells like you, Jade" said to himself.
Not expected by his rival, Mac made an acrobatic jump at the hovering mage. The attack was so quick that the barrier he casted absorved part of the shock, propelling the two opponents in opossite directions.
Both two felt into the ground.
Nobody could expect what was going to happen.In an unnatural way, the katana started to shine. Zwergmann mumbled something about Jade's spirit.
Mac felt much stronger. He remembered that sensation. Jade's battle aura. He swung the katana once again.
However Zwergmann did not stay still. His hands shaked, and a bolt of energy striked onto Mac. Mac felt great pain, but he was not going to surrender.
"Now, Zwergmann, watch the sword that tresspased you, the sword of your victim, the sword who claims you!"
The assasin was like possesed by Jade's spirit.Mac threw the sword. It spinned towards the dwarf, and stuck in the chest, in the middle of his heart.
Zwergmann tried to cast a Death touch spell, to bring Mac with him into the depths of the hell, but he only felt great pain. It couldn't be. The Maelstrom. The sword itself casted a maelstrom spell upon him, turning his magic against him. Jade was one of the few who knew it.
Zwergmann finally collapsed. With an hatred and anger scream, his dead corpse dropped into the ground.
Mac kneeled into the ground. He was exhausted. He made it. He finally made his revenge.
He looked at a small control panel on the wall, and touched one of the symbols on it.
A pipe organ appeared in the back of the room. Stumbling, Mac headed towards it.
In the outside, tunes of a melody were heard. Some of the people recognized that melody. It was Mozart's Requiem.
Whoa. This place was huge.
In full daylight, Mary was able to experiance the sheer size of a corp compound. From the slightly-misted windows, she could see that the rows and rows of almost-identical buildings stretched off, as far as she could see. Several firbolg grunts were visible, high-powered rifles in hands, and clad in blue and silver AET uniform patrolled the grounds around the buildings - trust Elves not the hire Orks as guards, and chose something more Ethnic Inside the often glassy, and beutiful elven structures, she could see the exclusively elf employees.
Gosh. This place was beautiful. But it was also sinister. It wasn't purely menicing, like the other compound - Zwergmanns, whatever hell-spawned Corp he worked for - , but it still held an air of lurking violence, despite it's pristine towers.
It was like an airport, she decided, one of the old early century ones, when they still had runways, before the verti-jets became popular.
She turned, and tried to spot where they were going. Crystal caught her eyes, leaving Chance and Ash alone in the corner.
"Where are we going?"
"If I knew, we wouldn't be going there. There's something I don't like about this place".
"There's something I don't like about Ery, as well. He's slimy, and I don't like him, even though I've only spent minutes in his company. Tank - the ork - he's ok, though, but he's under Ery's thumb and too dumb to anything abou it."
"Doc, Ery's a corporate pawn. Of course he's slimy."
As if alerted by the mention of slime, the Elf himself moved over, from conversing with the elven driver of the wide and airy vehicle.
"Ery". Crystal turned away from Mary, and regarded the dwarf.
"That is where we are heading." - the Elf gestured towards a looming crystalline structure. Mary could just pick out the words above the huge, gaping doorway :
"Warehouse 23/J - Red Acess"
Red. Red meant bad. Even Mary knew that.
The vehicles slid - rather than rumbled, as suited the Elvish construction - onwards, and into the silo. It seemed to stretch up forever, as Mary crained her neck. She could see lined of floors, the silhouettes of Golems heaving huge loads onto gargantuum rows of shelves. She could make out the some of the wordings on some of the crates.
With the limited knowledge of Elvish she had learnt at school, she knew what these meant.
Great. They were in a weapons store.
The 'Runners were like youths in a free simsense arcade.
The boxes were filled with Assault rifles, Light Machineguns, SMGs, an Assault Cannon - Even a fragging minigun (although it looked like only Tank or Curim would have a chance in hell or controlling the thing).
There were AET Hyper-Velocity assault rifles: rifles with two or three motorized rotating barrels that fire specialized flechette-like light ammunition at stupendous-rates from a top-mounted clip of sixty-five rounds.
And of course - Piles and piles of ammunition: Explosive ammunition, Hollowpoints, Triple-flechettes, Armour-Piercing Discarding Sabots...
Crystal was in heaven too. She had found a box marked (both in Elvish and English) Aerofoil grenades (High Explosive) x20. She took one of the deadly frisbees out for a closer look...
"Ery, I could kiss you." She remarked, momentarily forgetting her earlier comments.
Ery however, was growing impatient.
Mid-way up the Aztechnology Tower, Jaguar leader stood in Zwergmann's office. Broken glass crunched underfoot. The plush carpet squelched.
Correction: His ex-office.
The decimated corpse of Juan Alfredo Zwergmann lay on the floor. Ironically, the blood Zwergmann relied on so much for his magic was in abundance: On the floor, on the walls, the ceiling.
Of the assassin there was no sign. Jag had followed orders to stay put and observe. The guy - woman? - had disappeared. The mages refused to follow him in case any side-effect of Zwergmann's magic remained. They had seen what had happened to their comrade earlier.
However, some of the blood in the office was bound to be his, too. The fight had been too intense, too brutal for Anyone to remain unscathed.
The lab was analysing samples now.
Once they had positivlely ID'ed the killer's blood, they would know who - and thanks to the advent of ritual magic tracking - where and why the killer was.
With blood for a material link, a team of mages could set up a ritual circle, pooling their power, using the link to cast spells which would affect the owner of the blood. Perhaps fatally.
Jaguar knew Aztechnology had some of his own blood, kept secure underground in a vault for just such a purpose, should he decide to go rogue.
Now, white-garbed medical techs arrived to remove Zwergmann's body. It would be kept in Aztechnology posession. The remains were still highly useful for use by other blood mages.
Jaguar spat on the floor before stalking out of the building.
Back downtown, running down rain-sodden alleys, Xecktos didn't know what the frag was happening to him.
First, threatening his employer, then slicing Ery's ears (something you NEVER do to an Elf), then attacking that rent-a-cop like that in full view of all his friends. Thirdly, running off, leaving the rest of the 'runners as they went off to do the mission...
"Heh heh! Frag 'em!" He told himself, athletically jumping, grabbing a drain-pipe and starting to scale the building at the end of the alley. "I work better alone! Heh heh!"
"Oi! What the feck are you doing?" Said a gruff voice from beside him.
An ork was poking his head out of his apartment window. The guy was an elderly 40-something. He looked angry.
"I said what the frag are you-" He looked absurdly comical to the Shadowrunner.
The ork's face abruptly vanished in a splintering mound of blood, bone and cartilage after Xecktos' deadly fist left its mark.
"Don't swear at ME, Trogg! HEH HEH HEH!" Xecktos said, clinging with one arm.
In a moment, he had cartwheel-jumped in through the window. Not a moment too soon: The Daisaka rent-a-cops had come back and flooded the alley below him, running about, covering all the corners. They would have seen him had he not entered the apartment.
"Troggs. I HATE Troggs." he told himself, giggling.
He looked throught the pathetic apartment. It contained a 3DTV set, a basic microwave and a sofa.
"Fragging destitute Trogg." Xecktos, sounding increasingly deranged told himself. "I did him a favour, killing him."
He built a small pile of shredded newsprints in the centre of the room and set fire to it, before breaking down the door to leave. The fire quickly took hold of the apartment - but by that time he had left.
He pushed brutally past an elderly human man - knocking him to the floor with a 'crack' which told of an unhealthy hip - and ran up the stairs. The now-crippled OAP screaming behind him.
In no time at all he was on the roof.
Smoke was coming up from the decrepit tenement block. The fire was going well. But Xecktos didn't notice:
A patrolling Daisaka rent-a-cop patrol helicopter was facing him.
The machine had been called by the street cops below. It picked up Xecktos the moment he got up onto the roof. The pilot and gunner couldn't believe their eyes...
"Unidentified individual! DO NOT MOVE! repeat, DO NOT MOVE!" and amplified voice screamed, in a wavering voice - with laughter or fear it couldn't be told. The Chopper's chin-mount minigun and wing-mount unguided rockets stared the madman in the face.
But, like a flash, he jumped, swinging wildly from a fire-escape. The chopper could not hope to follow him down into the narrow alleys...
"Jez!" said crash, "I just realized, if you need it, i can, um, let's just say, obtain some money for weaponry, if ya need it. All i need is something hooked up to the matrix that has a datalink port."
Crystal said to crash, "But wait, first off, how come you have yet to get pulled over for your licence?"
"Easy, with all those migits and halflings and such around, I can lie about my age and stuff. see? my licence says I'm actually 30. in this day and age, you can pull just about anything off. even had my birth certificate edited so they can't really find out, unles they're family, not that I actually have any." said crash, ending this with a sad sigh.
"Oh, and also, I think I'll contact Joey, he's the best guy I know. I got my datajack, rigger device, and even my tazer from him."
Doctor Turin interrupted, "wait, how do you get the money to pay for all of this?"
"That's simple, I do hacking jobs for companies. I also hack them, making sure I'm not on any lists, even payroll and such. I just go to em to get my money, and It's like I never existed. I also have a special swiss bank account, so meh money is safe. also, I get money from that way I told you about earlier, Take a few credits from people, and they never miss it, especially the rich ones."
"so what do ya think? Joey's got all kinds of stuff, and I also heard that since I buy from him so much, he's giving me a discount on my next purchases. I plan on buying a bolt gun, and later, if I can somehow conceal it, a bolter for my car. maybe a new engine too, that things going on some fumes and a prayer"
Crystal said, "so, basically your rich?"
"not necessarily, you see, i usually live modestly, If i need some money for the bills, i just get it. If I have a surplus of bucks from a job, i dont. i don't like the rich life, and plus, there's too mny rent-a-cops around the richees, and what will they think about a rich person with no rent a cops around? they'll get suspicious, that's what"
Ery was like a demented Santa Claus, handing out weapons to homicidal children. Crystal had already found a box of expensive-looking grenades, shaped like frisbees, and if they were chocolate, half of them would have been down her throat by now.
Mary spotted Crash running his fingers greedily over a shiny rocket launcher, and hastened over to him.
"You don't honestly think you could Lift that thing, do you? It looks like it's designed for Firmirs!
The hacker sheepishly stepped back from the weapon, and went over to inspect something that resembled a main gun on a Panzer.
Cuh. Some guys never learn.
She mentally retracted that statement, as she found Crystal marvelling over the same weapon only seconds later.
"Ery!" Mary hailed the elf. "Do you have anything more defensive?" She really should invest in a flak-jacket or something, seing as she was about the be inexplicably thrust into another firefight. She could feel it in her bones.
Ery showed her across to a less pilfered pile of crates. She opened one cautiously, incase some insane Elven weapon fire off in her face.
The box was full of beautiful jackets of elven mithril. This stuff was practically laser-proof, and could absorb heat, and impact to a significant degree.
This stuff was valuable.
The doctor lifted a jacket, that was remarkably light. She removed her raincoat, and slipped on the mithril. It seemed to shrink slightly to fit her form, and rested comfortably.
"Suits you". The voice was Dven's, and Mary spun around the regand the dwarf, who was toting a brand new Velocity rifle, with a set of keys hanging from them.
"They got you a new car?"
"Even better. They got me a hover-car, with a smart-rig as well!"
Frag! She looked at Ery, who was smerking.
Something wasn't quite right about him.
Nethertheless, this jacket was WONDERFUL, and fitted so well. Mary regarded the other crates, her eyes alighting on one, half open and ignored. She inspected the contents. It looked like a type of dart-gun, with large storage for ammunition.
"Ery! What's this?"
"AET non-lethal neural supressor. Puts your victim to sleep for, oh, a couple of days at least. Or hours on low setting."
It was tempting. Very tempting. And useful. And it probably went with the jacket. And it didn't kill the victim, something she was deeply against, along with Pizza Slut, and 'Golem Slavery'.
Mary picked up the rifle, and cradled it in her arms, testing it's weight. It was perfect, light, and beautiful.
"I'll take it."
Ery smirked again. Something was definately wrong.
"Hmm, what's that? what kind of jackets?!? MITHRIL!?!"
Crash ran over to the big crate of elven mithril jacketts, inspecting the fine craftsmanship of the item, picking one up, and trying it on. Fitting, he satisfied himself by finding a box labled something strange, written in elvish. He addressed Ery, and asked for a translation.
"hmm, Bolt Gun. these are pretty nice" said Ery
"Pretty nice, PRETTY NICE?!? They ROCK! these babies are the pride of any mercinary,well, if you want to get the job done quickand such. they carry a 12 round magazine, fire off one gas propelled shot per trigger pul, have an automatic option, and also, a SmartGun link port in em."
Pulling out a smartgun link wire, he hooked one end up to his robo arm, the other to the back of the deadly beauty.
"I would take this instead of a rocket launcher anyday. The recoil is too big on rocket launchers. Save 'em for tanks, or just Tank in our case" chuckled Crash.
"Please remember, this gear is all AET property. We are only letting you have it on the condition that you kill Zwergmann, remember?" Ery was protesting. He had trouble getting to the awe-struck 'runners.
As if on cue, a squad of twelve AET Elves in full armour marched in, fingering the triggers on their rifles.
"I think thats quite enough, don't you?" The Sergeant sneered at Crash, blocking his way.
"AET will take precautions as to the proper use of its equipment!"
Ery reminded them.
"Okay OKAY... don't worry...I'll return my stuff after the mission.
Yah sir, sure. That's all I'll be borrowing from here." said crash, stepping back toward his friends.
"Frag. Those wounds hurt like hell..."
"Hey, atleast you haven't been treated like a boxing punch... Unn... I feel worse than you... After all I am delicate, remember?"
Dragon stopped walking.
"Illidia. I have something to tell you. Pizza Slut's gone. For good or bad, you might consider taking other job. I can help you with this. Will you come with me?"
A credstick was slipped inside her hand. She doubted a while.
She finally agreed. After all he was her saviour. She need to repair the favour somehow.
"Heh, I like you, elf woman"
Dragon smiled. Illidia's face went red.
Dragon explained Illidia he was going to visit an human medic, an old friend of him. He was quite good at healing wounds. His name was Nicholas Alexeiv, or "Wolf". Illidia felt that Dragon knew that man long time ago. Dragon was thinking in the "clues" he had left. If the Aztech screwnuts tried to track him by DNA analysis, the only information they could retrieve would be that he was a BWG. Not a pleasant notice.
"Okay... We heal your wounds. Then we go back to my old flat. It is a luxury one... but six months have passed and, well needs a clean" Dragon finally said.
The AET members were confused. Looks like Zwergmann had been already killed. By someone else. Crystal looked sad. If the target was already eliminated, there should be no mission and no weapons.
Raven, like any fitter proud of the name would have done, was stuffing as much AET "merchandise" into the back of his van as possible. He was almost skipping back and forth as he mentally counted the millions of nuyen he'd make from selling the equipment. Then the AET soldiers came in. The elven warriors in their shiny armour were no doubt here to stop Raven from doing exactly what he was presently doing!
"Frag, Frag and double FRAG!" Raven cursed. The sergeant, having mocked Crash, looked at Raven suddenly and said:
"You, grey hair. Who are you? My superiors do not recall hiring you for this mission. You are on AET grounds without permision, I shall personally escort you out."
Raven wimpered like a child who was caught with a hand stuck in the cookie jar, which was exactly how Raven felt. Sure he had been caught stealing AET property, sure he was going to be kicked out with no chance to return but damned if he was gonna return the three mithril jackets he had on under his trench coat!
Raven sulked towards his van, stupid elves, stupid stingy elves not letting a guy try to etch out a living in this dog eat dog world!
He was about to get into his van and drive away when Crystal had a guilt attack, mind you a very small one, put on her most commanding voice and said:
"The fitter is with us. We hired him to help us, he's got contacts and can supply us with equipment not even you can give us. You want us to finish the job, you let us do it our way!"
There was something about Raven, something Crystal didn't want to let go of just yet...when she looked at him she thought of her father and her dead boyfriend....it was....interesting in a way. The elven sergeant looked surprised at her outburst, he mouthed silently as if about to retort violently but decided against it and instead sullenly replied:
"The fitter can stay, for the moment, I will check with my superiors as to whether we will allow unauthorised merchants within our walls. In the meantime he will return all equipment of ours that is within his vehicle."
Behind the thankful, puppy dog eyes Raven was making at Crystal he was wondering if the elves would check the "secret" compartment of his van for "stolen goods", that and how the armoured elf had said "all equipment with the van". Well surely the three mithril jackets on his person were not "in the van" as such!? The elven soldiers simultaneously spun around and marched out of the warehouse without a word. By now Crystal was sick of the looks Raven was giving her, they were cute for a while (a very short while) but were now sickening.
"Cut that out merchant boy! We saved your ass because we might need you, you owe us now. Before you even mention payment I know you have spirited away some equipment in your van, even if the AET troops don't find it. Without my help you wouldn't have got half a frags worth of nuyen. Now help load up some "necessary" equipment and I'll tell you about our contract with the AET......"
"You know Aztechnology Corporation, right?"
"Oh, the Mexicans with the big-assed pyramid instead of a normal Corp HQ. Yeah, I know 'em. Their stuff is cheap but crap. I've had a few of their weapons..."
"Yeah yeah, I don't want your life story. Gruddamn it, I don't know why I'm telling you this, but...Well, interested in a job getting us to their Geneva HQ?"
Raven stopped what he was doing and brushed a stray grey hair from his face. He studied Crystal's face very closely. No, nothing. He studied her face again. No, she definitely wasn't joking. He would have laughed himself, only he was a bit close, and he hadn't brushed his teeth this morning. He didn't want to gas the woman he thought he might score with...
"What you going there for?"
"Killing a dwarf. I owe him. He... well, he killed My Dwarf."
"Mmm, fair enough..." Raven thought.
He thought it over, seriously this time.
Aztechnology were a militarized Corp. They had choppers, panzers and APCs. Not good...
But then again, those choppers, panzers and APCs would be loaded with men armed with tasty mil-spec weapons and armour. Raven may have already got a not inconsiderable supply of gear, but more was always good...
Ash had that look in her eye, Chance noticed. He scanned the shelves to see what she was looking for and discovered her temptation.
Sitting there in its full glory in front of her was a AET laser rifle, a heat-based weapon that drew power from a hip-pack to form quarter (or half second with a flick of a switch) second laser pulses.
She was uneasy about taking the device... As far as she had known throughout her life, the maxim of "No Free Lunch" had been grinded into her by repeated bad experiences. Still, the laser appealed to her... She could almost feel the deliciously white-hot light blade.
Chance himself was being tempted by a AET hypervelocity slug-thrower and a box full of flashbang rifle-launched grenades. His CIS SAR-125 was probably the finest rifle in the world, one of the last of its kind to roll out of Singapore labs before she had fallen to the Japanese attack. Still, that big gun was horribly tempting.
Chance compromised by taking only the box of twenty rifle-launched stun grenades... all his current weapons were lethal, and the soldier suspected that a non-lethal solution might come in handy in days to come.
He turned back to see Ash rather sheepishly sling her newly acquired laser rifle over her back. He didn't blame her, but resolved to remind her not to take anymore equipment... The backpack-fuelled flamethrower and laser rifle was already testing her carry-weight limit. She wasn't Tank.
Besides, the security sergeant was giving them dirty looks... and Ery seemed to be hiding some sort of hidden motive. Chance chose not to take anymore equipment, remembering that one should not take AET at face-value. Tank for example... that Ork was rigged up with hidden gear that was surprisingly advanced.
Hidden gear... he looked at Ash's laser rifle with suspicion. It was untampered with, its finish unmarred and paintwork immaculate. Could it be...
Could the weapons be bugged? Or worse, rigged with explosives?
Crash was startled by his wristphone beeping suddenly. He jumped. The AET security sergeant and Mary both turned to look at him.
"Uh...my 'phone. Hang on a moment..." He flipped up the screen on the wristphone and put the ear-bead in. "Yes?"
The voice on the other end was distorted so badly he could hardly make it out. It occurred to him that maybe it was supposed to be like that. The image on the screen was nothing but static.
"Cancel your run...*SSSSS* Fragging *SSSSSS*...I'm Onto you, you know *SSSSSSSS*-got powerful fri*SSSSSSS*ere you live SO DROP IT!!!". Click.
Crash stared at his phone in disbelief. What the hell was that? Some kind of threat? The guy's 'phone had left a number. Maybe once he got some time, Crash could trace his number, find out who the hell it was and what he wanted.
In a shopping district, a figure staggered out of a public-access matrixphone booth and unclipped the voice scrambler from his neck.
Hehhehehehe. That oughta show the stupid kid. He thought. Then he looked at the ground - His bottle of prime Jack Danger's Brandy had smashed. He must of dropped it while he was giving the kid the scare of his life.
"Ah well. My new employer paid me enough. Might as well go and get me some more."
The shambling figure staggered to his car, frightening an old lady on the way. Reeking of booze, he collapsed into his car. The canopy closed, and the autonav took him home.
Ery leaned against the wall and watched the others grabbing the high-tech AET weapons and armour. He saw them pick up the mithril armour, and and then watched as Raven began hiding weapons in illegal compartments in his van. A smile slowly dawned on his face, there were several things his "clients" didn't know about this equipment, he supposed he'd better tell them one of those things now. The reaction they made when he stepped forward and walked towards clearly illustrated that they had forgotten about him.
"I might inform you that all of our equipment is being guarded by a few simple wards. Essentially, they were placed with sentry wards, so we always know where they are, and a...more dangerous ward to protect against their theft. You might want to be careful what you do with them." There. That ought to satisfy their suspicions about him for a while. Certainly long enough for...a crash caught Ery's attention as everyone looked over at Raven. Raven had dropped a highly expensive piece of hardware while trying to smuggle it aboard his van. Luckily for him, the Security Guards weren't around.
"Excuse me everyone, I should remind you - we still have a compound to attack."
The 'runners reluctantly left their arms paradise, scowling at Ery. He had revealed his true colours: The silver and blue of Arm Eire Tirann.
Well, would a corp scum really help anyone out for a favour? They want Zwergmann dead, pure and simple. And thats what they're going to get...
Mary shot the others smug 'I-told-you-so looks.
Crystal didn't worry too much, all she had really been interested in were the aerodynamic grenades, but Raven was almost crying.
It occurred to Crystal that they'd have to keep him sweet with promises of Aztech gear instead.
Loading themselves back into the van, they hauled one last crate at Ery's request. Since he was still flanked by AET guards - inclusing the ever-more pissed-off sergeant - they decided it wise not to disagree.
The crate contained bronze and red Aztechnology uniforms - simple maintenance men's overalls, with toolkits. There were an equal number of Aztech ID Credsticks.
"Those have been pre-loaded with the Identities of Myself, Ms Fiennes (crystal frowned), Doctor Turin, Mr Tank, Mr Chance, Ms Ash and Mr Curim. I have here on optical chip a simple datafile identifying you and this van's transponder as a routine maintenance crew that Aztechnology have requested. It will need either Doctor Turin or Mr Crash's skills to plant it in the Aztech Geneva building's datastores. That should get us into the compound. From there, finding Zwergmann is your job. Please, use AET equipment as a last resort and ensure it is undamaged." He smiled a brilliant white smile that could have been straight of an AET infomercial on 3DTV.
"Very fragging slick, Mr Corp." Chance said, echoing the sentiments of the others as they went to their respective vehicles.
Arrogant street scum, Ery thought. They don't know a godsend when they see one. They'd do well not to get on the wrong side of AET. If they do, well, I'm going to enjoy teaching THAT particular lesson.
The small convoy rolled off - Raven's van, Crash's little car and Chance on his bike, thinking perhaps he should be riding with Ash in case she got near Crystal's explosives. Behind them - with Tank on board - came Dven, happy as Larry with his AET Banshee Hovercraft car.
"As soon as I get a buddy of mine to deactivate the fraggin' wards, and I unbolt the transponder, I'll be back in business Mr Tank, don'tcha worry."
"Ya, Mr Ery kind." Tank grunted, not quite grasping the subversive actions Dven was suggesting.
There was an audible sigh of relief as they left AET territory and the armed rotor drones stopped following them.
That doesn't mean they aren't still following us. Crystal knew. She knew a lot about drones from Cylinder Head.
Cylinder Head... better meet up after this, see how he's doing.
Raven was alternately crying and fuming. His driving was erratic. He put the van over a rack of bikes on the pavement before swerving back onto the road.
"...Fragging AET smartasses...its My gear...mine..."
"Hey, relax. Theres always Aztech, like I said." Crystal said, next to him. She put a comforting hand on his knee.. Just at that moment, Raven shifted in his seat unexpectedly.
The hand didn't touch his knee.
Uh oh Crystal thought. Better distract him, quick.
"Raven! Pull over to that telecom box!"
The van skidded over, coming to rest with he door facing the junction box perfectly.
"Okay, Doc, Crash, you know what to do!"
Chance had already changed into his Aztech uniform - it would double as great cover for some kind of telecom engineer. He jumped down from the van, unspooled a fibreoptic cable which Crash helped him patch into the junction box (easily opened with a few kicks by Tank).
With the illicit matrix connection established, Doc Turin and Crash sat ready in the back of the van.
"Ready Doc?" Crash said.
He's having fun. He really likes this. She realised. Has anyone asked me if I actually want to do this? NO! I just want to get back to England...
"Lets get it over with."
Simultaneously they plugged their cables - through their cyberdecks - into the connector.
Both appeared to fall into a deep trance, eyes closed, fingers moving slowly over their cyberdecks.
"Wish I could sleep while I work." Chance mused.
In the brilliant neon-blue of the Geneva Matrix, two new Matrix personas appeared - One had been set as a small, yet pretty woman in a white coat. The other - a huge, hulking dashing handsome man. One arm was robotic in a brilliant chrome finish, and he looked like he could eat a troll for breakfast.
The Deckers' persona programs, stored on their cyberdecks. were basically them in the matrix. The Deckers designed their own personas, so they didn't always represent them in the real world. Crash's, for instance. Mary had seen Deckers with personas like Dragons, Cars, Mice, Simsense stars, anything.
In another time, they would have been known as 'Avatars'.
The matrix was like a whole alternate world for Mary. It comforted her, so much more familiar than the real world.
"Lets go, Doc!" Crash said in a booming, bass voice that sounded nothing like it's real world counterpart.
"Might as well." Turin sighed, and both the deckers zoomed down the datalines toward their target at the blink of an eye - the huge golden pyramid of the Aztechnology.net, mimicking it's real-world counterpart. Streams of data floed into and out of the huge imaginary structure, millions of Megapulse every second.
Inside would be pathways, IO Ports, Slave Nodes, Datastores, SPUs, CPUs...and enough Black Ice to brain-fry any decker from here to neon-blue eternity if she was't careful.
At the entrance node, a hazy cloud of shifting numbers formed coalesced into a large Jaguar - the Aztechnology symbol. It was an IC, low-level. It said:
"Please enter valid name and password to enter Aztechnology.net."
"Watch this, Doc!" Crash said. A form appeared in his cyber-hand - a cake. He thrust the cake into the Jaguar's mouth. The Jaguar started eating it, and stood aside, letting them through.
"Deception program, level 5! I designed it myself!"
"Well, I hope finding the right datastore will be that easy..." Mary said, resigned to her fate.
Back in the real world, A Daisaka car pulled-up to the parked vehicles. Chance, Ash and Crystal stood stretching their legs, shielding the deckers in the back of the van from view.
The cops walked up.
"What's going on here?" One said.
The pathetic drunk Elf flung open the door to his apartment/office (the name on the frosted glass read Hal Lynch property services. 'Hal' wasn't here anymore. He'd long since moved on to better things in Portland, Tir Tairngire).
It slammed shut behind him, scattering 'roaches.
The drunk stumbled over a loose floorboard and ended up on his bed. On the bed, surrounded by junk and spare heavy pistol bullets was a dossier, with various pictures and names he had put together. The first, 'Crash Override' had been dealt with for now. He put the file back and pulled out the next holo - A shy-looking woman with a datajack.
"Hehehehehe! I'm going to 'enjoy' you, doctor..." He told himself.
First... he went to his wardrobe...
Xecktos did nothing but walk all day, his pride and honor hurt. He knew that the rest of the party had left him and ditched him on the side of the road. He knew he was worthless to begin with. He fell to his knees.
He began to cry some more, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. and a sweet voice of elven female.
"Why do you weep my love?" Xecktos looked behind him. There standing was the one who had sent him the note, the elf Lora, The Dark.
Xecktos turned his head and placed his forehead on the pavement.
"I failed, my duties, my employer, and myself. I dont deserve to live." Lora just smiled. She picked his head up, and placed her soft lips upon his. The Kissed for the longest time before the parted thier faces.
"A man as strong as you needs not work like a dog. For people uncaring of your skills," She Helped Xecktos to his feet, " Come my love, come with me, and find bliss."
The two of them walked off down the road, Xecktos unaware that lora was leading him to Aztechnology, to meet up with those who deserted him, so he would reclaim his honor.
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