The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 5

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce


The doctor jumped over the desk, salutating the newcomer.
"Wa-heey! Long time no see, Dragon!".
Wolf noticed that he was wounded. He rushed to grab Mac and put him over the operation bed.
"I was told you were retired, like us... But now i see you were in one of your looks-suicide-but-it-is-a-massacre run. Fortunately, i have the latest researches in healing technology."
Wolf noticed someone else. A Colt Revolver was put out with lightning speed and pointed at a very scared female elf.
"Oh, please forgive me... I am busy..." The doctor rushed to say, trying to calm her down.
"Well, Wolf, this is my friend, Illidia. She needs more medical treatment than me."
"Ahh.. Gotcha..."
The medic blinked to Mac. Obviusly he was telling that Mac was fragging lucky.
"Please come this way."

After an hour and half, Illidia arised in full condition.
"Wolf, you did it again..."
Wolf nodded. "Now it is your turn. This new TRM (Tissue reconstruction machine) is pure dynamite!"
Mac felt weird inside the machine. His wounds dissapeared after two hours and half of microsurgery and cell division electric impulses.
Wolf was an artist, rather than a medic.

After the two fully recovered. Mac rushed to pay but Wolf remarked that Mac did not owe anything.
"Think is as a gift for an old friend... And please take care..."

When they stepped out of the private clinic, Illidia asked who was that person, "Wolf".
"He was once one of the team members of the Six Stalkers. By now he is retired, practising what he liked the most: Medicine.
He is very wealthy right now."
Illidia felt shocked. The six Stalkers were the most dangerous group of runners, but they dissapeared two years ago, and no one had ever seen the team nor the members in action again.
Mac told her that he was supposed to be the seventh member of that team.

Crystal received a call from vidphone, from Marcus Wardberg. She didn't know who was that guy until he realised the shortie of that name: Mac.


The rent-a-cops were arguing back and forth with Chance over whether the apparent Aztech personnel had permission to tap into this partcicualr junction box. Chance was using his usual trick at the same time as trying to keep Ash in check. It didn't appear to be working. Crystal's hand slipped around her back to her bag of grenades...

Her 'phone rang.

"Hello?" She said, flipping up the screen. It was a 'Marcus Wardberg'. 'Mac'... The Dragon...
Thinking quickly, before Mac could say anything, she said:

"Yes! Thats right! They're arguing with us right now sir! Please can you tell them we have Aztechnology permission to use this junction box?"

What the frag is this now? Mac thought.

Crystal thrust the wristphone at the Daisaka cop. He looked dumbfounded, took off his full-face helmet, and put the phone to his head, noting the viewscreen was off.


"Uh, look scumbag..." Mac began. "This is Juan Alfredo Zwergmann, Aztechnology employee #54645858. Check it on your computer, will you?" Mac shouted, reading from the ID Tag he had torn from Zwergmann's dead body. If this worked, for whatever reason Crystal wanted it for...

The cop was taken aback. He relayed the info to his partner in the car who tapped it into the computer. In a moment he said:
"It checks out. The guy is real, an Aztech exec."


"Y-yes sir! No problem sir!" The cop said, suddenly terrified. He threw the phone back to Crystal, ran back to his car and tore off in a blaze of acid rain sludge.

Crystal put her 'phone back on.
"Cheers for that Mac, it worked. Now what do you want me for? I'm kind of on a run at the moment."


Chance's face, which had been creased with anxiety throughout his failing conversation with the Daisaka personnel, widened into a wide, laughing smile. He shook his head in wonder, chuckling with suppressed mirth as he put both thumbs up to Crystal, who was still on the phone with Mac.

"Sweet! Real sweet! You saved this soldier's bacon there... Big time! Can I have a word with Mac for a moment?"

Crystal passed over the wristphone and allowed Chance to speak into it. She felt amazingly light of spirit, the pleasure of having pulled a fast one instead of a gun running through her, a tingling quiver of excitement. It wasn't the same kind of bloodlust-thrill that she got from killing a hated enemy, but it felt superb in its own way.

"Hey Mac! This is Chance... For a moment here I thought you were my long-dead Sergeant Major risen from the grave to haunt me! Good job!" Chance's voice was likewise flavoured with the thrill of bloodless success.

Crystal could still hear Mac's mirthful laughter when she got back her phone. It was the first time that she had heard the BWG laugh... and it was then when she found herself starting to regard her mercs as friends instead of pawns. She filed the feeling away for future reference as she and her party returned to the matters at hand.

However, a smile still lingered on her face...


The Aztechnology cyber-pyramid was huge, and expertly constructed. Mary hadn't seen anything like it, not even in the highly-maintained research websites she'd visitied.

Crash had a grin on his face like he was in some kind of cyber-heaven. Perhaps he'd found one of those horrific 'interactive sex sites' on another channel.

The two virtual persons proceeded into the pyramid. It was shiny, and all-too perfect. Various other visitors were visible, acessing the various virtual-libraries and information resources on Aztechnology products and services. That hardly required any decking to reach, and acess passes were easy to obtain, if extortionate.

Where they were heading was somewhere important, obviously. That meant it wouldn't be available in the public acess area.

Crash beamed a message to her.

"Through here". The decker lead the way, down a small side datalane. Two aztechnology guards, in the guise of serpents armed with some kind of pike in reptillian hands, were guarding a portal into another part of the Aztechnology network. The guards were specially employed Aztechnology deckers. That meant they were good. It also meant that the door certainly lead somewhere important.

Hopefully Crash wouldn't try the cake trick again. She didn't think that these snakes would be that partial to it.

"What now?"
"Hang on, I'm thinking"
In the real world, Crash thumbed through a pile of datadiscs. Mary did the same, with her albeit smaller pile of discs.

"Ok. This should do it. But you'll have to perform the operation".
Mary was bemused, but accepted the disc Crash handed her. Letting common sense take over, she removed the headset, and glanced at the disc.

Alternative Personas.

Looked safe enough. She slotted the disc into her machine.

Immediately, she was able to select from several billion new personas, the 'her' in cyberspace.

"Block 254, row 16, number 54". Crash's text said.

The high-speed deck located the new avatar instantly. The new persona Crash had obtained for her appeared in the headset screen, in all it's pornographic glory.

Mary gasped. And slapped Crash across the face. Hard.

"You little....... PERVERT!"

She slapped Crash again.

"There is NO WAY I am using that!"

She could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks. She slapped him again for good measure. He cringed, and removed the disc from her deck ashamedly, and placed it in his own.

It looked like he was the one who'd have to parade as one of the girls from allspeciessluts.3d to distract the guards, using the ID he'd just stolen in a little bit of 'forced usage' of the pornography site.


Mary watched disgustedly as Crash's persona approached the two security Deckers and began stroking them. His persona was transmitting confusing code to them, making their cyberdecks give them pleasurable neural-feedback.

It was just enough to allow her to slip through, unnoticed.

She didn't learn that at Oxford Matrix studies!


While Crystal was speaking on the 'phone, in the back of Raven's van The silent form of Mary and Crash were sifting through their optical disks.
Curim noticed Crash appeared to be grinning.

Then Mary reached out and slapped him, with a highly audible *slap!* that was heard even outside. Then ame another one.

After that, Crash began making disturbing 'purring' noises...

"Deckers..." Curim muttered, shaking his head.


A jolt suddenly crossed the mind of Crystal. Mac had used Zwergmann's name and ID... And that meant....
"Idiot!" She smacked her head. "Zwergmann is already dead. Mac had killed him!"
Chance was still speaking with Mac when this happened. He stayed speechless... That guy had slipped through the thick defenses of Aztechnology and killed the target so fast that the information wasn't even made public. Mac scruffy said to the soldier.
"You are a soldier, so you must understand what I am going to say. That man was killed by the ghosts of his past."
Chance felt a great coldness in the voice of the runner. He would say that he was not even an human feeling.

At the edge of the street, an elf and a human headed for a luxury flat, unnoticed.


Crystal fell back against the side of the van.

Zwergmann dead? How? She thought, but then: The guy used Zwergmann's ID number. The Rent-a-cops checked it out, which meant it must be genuine

Zwergmann was dead. She knew it now. She couldn't get her revenge on him, Mac had beaten her to it, damn him.

But she - and everyone else here - were still contracted to kill him. And by the sound of it, no-one knew it yet - If they did, AET or IWS would be onto them, cancelling the run.

Aztech must be keeping it hush-hush She thought. IWS asked me for proof he was dead... If we can find Zwergmann's body...We can get that. If we can get his DNA, we could use his security clearance, providing Aztech haven't destroyed it yet.

She started to get back up again, smiling once more.

Zwergmann will just have to die again, won't he?

Crystal strode over to Chance, her old comrade. He looked down, doubtful, like a man seeing thousands of nuyen sliding away. Making sure they were out of earshot of the others, Crystal said:

"Chance, we can still do this..."

She explained to him.

But then, AET must have their own reasons for wanting Zwergmann dead.

They decided not to tell the others, apart from Ash.


Past the net portal, the place was different. Really different.

The beautiful textures and effects in the public area of Aztechnology were gone. This place was angular, diagrammatic, and unwelcoming. But it probably held what she needed to do, much as she didn't want to do it. This was the only other time she'd done illegal decking, short of the previous Aztechnology incident. She didn't even know why she was doing it, if it wasn't for those damned runners.

Crash appeared, emerging from scattered pixels next to her, as they swirled to form his old persona. The emotector displayed him as looking hot and flustered. Obviously things had gone quite a way with the guards. Serve him right.

"Ok", said Mary coldly, thinking of sending a neural shock to Crash via a program she had stashed, then deciding the save it for later. "Now we split up, and search this area for anything on how to allow us to implant the fake IDs, and details of the van full of 'techs. Nothing more. Don't change anything yet, wait until we find the best way to help us get to Zwergmann. Then we carefully do the simplest, and least obvious thing. It will help cover our trails"

Crash looked put out. He'd obviously wanted to get his dashing persona into some sort of beauty contest.

"I'll take the data stores on the left. You the right."

Crash agreed (luckily), and the two went their seperate cyber-ways.

The first datastore was empty, so Mary ignored it. The second was well-indexed, and a careful search revealed that it contained detailed genetic information on the staff meals, for the food synthesisers the Aztechnology canteens.

This looked like it would take a while.


He saw the deckers enter his domain, as he saw everything. He followed them, then left the larger persona, who was busily searching through a datastore full of corporation historical records. This was relatively low-risk - there was even a public acess to a duplicate of this store -. The AET headsets he could easily acess revealed via tiny micro-sensors that this man was a young male human. He, from pervious encounters, knew male humans to be, on the whole, impulsive and illogical. He wasn't a threat.

The second was different, however. She was methodically looking for something, and he could detect that she was half-elf. Elves were tricky. Via the huge network of circuitboards and datacorridors, he followed her every movement. She was dangerous.

He himself was only a he for a trivial matter of identification, and was a testament to the skill of Aztechnology programmers. He was an automated anti-decking program, semi-sentinently sweeping aztechnolgy cyeber-spacelanes. Outside of corp-territory, he'd be illegal.

Nethertheless, he was a hunter here, in his own domain. His sole purpose was to detect hackers, and call in Aztechnolgy deckers to flush them out, at least initially. Nowadays he had evolved to abbhore this, enough so he took his own plans.

Slowly but surely, he could destroy a decker. By entering his part of the matrix, they were risking alot more than breaking occasiona hacking laws.


Raven at impatiently in his driving seat, glancing abck at the Deckers.
They still not finished yet? How long's it take to Deck some bloody records in anyway?

Just then, Mary's inert form jumped. Though the eyes remained closed, and she remained connected to her deck via the datajack, the body visibly jumped.

Blood started seeping from her nose.

The body convulsed again.

"OH FRAG! Someone get to her, quick!" Raven screamed. He knew what was happening - Lethal bio-feedback, causing physical damage. Either a decker or an Ice was attacking her meat body through the link.

"Should we unjack her?" Crystal asked, paling. She seemed very concerned over the doctor, RAVEN THOUGHT.

"Negative. Unjacking someone while they're in cybercombat could damage her. Someone get a bloody medkit to her!"


Mary flicked through the next index.

Maintenance staff records, IDs, and timetables, Geneva Compound. This was it.

Her hand, in the real world, slotted a new disc into the cyberdeck, and the upload began. This would take a minute or two, even on the high-speed AET link.


His world suddenly took on a new tone, the pale colours being replaced by a vivid red.

Something was being uploaded in his network. His personalised sirens flaring in his virtual head.

The half-elf. It was her.

The ICE swooped down, firing in a series of electrical impulses through the myriad cables between the security node and the doctor.

The pulses hit her hard. Her body spasmed, and blood began to trickle, from a ruptured capilliary in her nose.

They hit again, and the body convusled again.

His prey. His hunt. His victory.


A wave of pain hit Mary, smashing into her persona and physical reality. She spun in the virtual-air, altered-physics models allowing her to catch her feet in the slowed-down decent, she faced her attacker.

There was nothing there, apart from a swirling of the pixels on in her vision, too fast for normal human vision, but just perceptable by her half-elf eyes.

An ICE. And a good one as well. Probably expensive, installed to protect important stuff. She could feel the damage it had done to her in the real world, but not the pain - that would be reserved for when she got out.

Don't panic. The most important thing is to stay alive.

She reached the scream for Crash's assistance, but found that she could not. Her link to him via the matrix had been cut.

Not good. Get out. Crash will see you blink out, and follow.

She tried to flex her real muscles, in the real world, and remove the headset, freeing her from the matrix. However, her just-shocked muscles refused to respond.

Frag. Why? You didn't want this. You'd be happy back in England, living happily in some leafy suburb. Not fighting some horrible monster in cyberspace, doomed to lose

Her eyes, functioning despite the shutdown of the rest of her body, followed the ICE. It circled around her, seemingly unaware as to when to launch another attack.

Don't panic. Think. There IS a way out of this. Don't despair.

A second wave of pain hit her. Flowing over her, tormenting and spasming her muscles.

Shit. This is bad. You felt that, in the real world. Meaning it's bad. Really bad.

The ICE's pixels swirled, and began to drift together, seemingly randomly.

It formed a skull, ornate, gaping, and devoid of emotion.

Except mirth. Cruel, twisted mirth. Your scared now. If you have any blood you haven't lost from your nose, it's probably draining from your face, sending you deathly white. Death. The skull means death.

The skull was laughing at her, cackling insanely. Caught in the rippling, twisting laughter, as it took a liquid form, she was bourne away, and smashed into the virtual wall of the datastore. Her persona slumped to the floor.

Pain is flooding through you. You're done for. The skull still looms there, laughing.

Her vision darkened, the virtual world dimming, and merging, into dark, forbidding, all-encompassing black.

In the real world, her body spasmed once more, and grew still. The lights on her headset flickered. One, two, and three light flicked off. Only the fourth remained.

On the screen of the headset, the upload box flashed into view. 100% complete.

The ICE, morphed and evolved after years of service, did not notice the change in the files. It was not his job, after all. He had had his prey.

Now he could finish off the other, weaker decker.


Tank had been regarding the deckers, solitarily in the back of the van. He'd been left in here, not asked to join the others outside. Raven had came in, and said something about Mary. Tank wondered what it was.

Seconds past, and stretched into minutes. Ten had past, when the huge Ork saw the red liquid dripping down the deckers face. Raven and Crystal were searching for a med-kit, not bothering to explain to Tank why this was important.

Tiny gears slowly ground in his head. Now he understood.

Somehow, the 'deck was hurting the tiny doctor. Somehow, it had to be stopped. Why didn't the humies do something? They were meant to be clever.

Couldn't the humies see that all they had to do was take the doctor away from the deck, not dab at her face with various peices of cloth, spray various substances over her bleeding nose, try to hold down her convusing body?

Tank leapt up, and swatted the two humans out of his way. He seized the headset, and with one motion tore it from the doctor's head. Static played around it, and his hands for a second, and was gone.

Crystal and Raven looked at him first in uncomprehension, then anger, and then rushed to the inert form of the doctor he was holding in his huge, green-skinned arms.


"Frag frag FRAG!" Damn you, you bloody Trogg! What the frag are you doing?" Raven screamed, battering Tank with his fists. The Ork looked over at the man, like a human would at a fly on his arm.

Why humiez try hurt me? I only savin' Mary... He thought.

"Leave him, Raven! I've found a medkit! Tank, help us! Help Mary! you have to lay her down!"

Reluctantly the big Ork did so.

Chance rushed in, immediately saw what was happening, and took command of the situation. As a soldier, he'd been on many missions escorting Deckers into enemy positions. He'd seen more than one Decker brain-fried... He'd be damned if he'd see another one!

"Crystal, get that med activated!" The old soldier barked.

Crystal pressed a few buttons, the kit came online, disgorging several skill-tendrils. Immediately it applied an ECG - The van was filled with a steady beeping. There was a heartbeat.

"Raven! Take these and wipe up that blood!"

The heartbeat began declining, slowing. Crystal's heart sank. Chance didn't give her the time to lose heart. "Get her top off! We need a clear path fro the defibrilators, NOW!"

Crystal didn't hesitate. She was coming to like Mary. She ripped off her shirt, unhooked Mary's bra and tore it away. As soon as she did, Chance pushed past her with a shot of adrenaline - He stabbed it brutally into her chest with sickening Crack as he punctured the breastbone, into her heart.

"We need to keep her brain going!" Someone said. Was it Raven?

Don't die Mary! Christ, if she's brain-damaged... She had a tear coming down her face.

Chance had moved the medkit into position.


The body jumped from the shot of electricity.

Mary was up lika shot.

Everyone took a breath of relief.

"You fraggers! What the hell are you doing? Taking advantage of me while I was..." She slowly looked down at the needle jabbed into her chest.

"Here." Crystal threw her bundle of clothes back. The tear was already gone.

In the corner, Crash was silent.


Xecktos and Lora, had changed their movements to jumping for roof top to roof top, a form of travel more suited to the agility to the two Assassin Elves.

Xecktos paused for a second, he caught a scent in the air. It was a scent that he remembered. A scent of a woman, a very important woman. CRYSTAL!!!

"I found them." Xecktos pronounced. Lora grinned angerly.
"They left you before how do you know they wont do it again?" Xecktos looked at her and smiled.
"Regardless, I am still bond to help them until my deed is done." Xecktos followed the scent as he ran jumping rooves, Lora followed closely behind him. There he saw where the where

Xecktos nodded to lora, then the both jumped off of the roof top, and landed in front of the building and came rushing in. When the came bursting in like bats out of hell crash let out scream like a little girl. On the other hand Crystal reconized the robes Xecktos was wearing. Xecktos Had a half smile but once he noticed the hurt mary on the floor, his face turned very cold and serious.

"XECKTOS?! What the frag are you doing here?!" Xecktos stood up and bowed.
" I have a job to finish, May I introduce my lover, Lora; she is as skilled a Assassin as myself, and she can use magic." Crystal and lora locked eyes for a brief moment.

Crystal Clutched her forehead, she could have this raving lunatic following her around, and his willy nilly girl friend, but she couldnt stand up to him, he would most likely cut her from one end to the other if she tried anything funny. She Decided it was best to let him and his girlfriend tag along for awhile.

Lora walked over to Crystal and whispered into her ear.
" I know women like you, you're probably going to let my man do all your work, and when he's of no use to you anymore use him as a meat shield. Watch your back girly girl, or else you'll find a sword in it!"


GM: did you read the story, MHP? Crash is in the matrix, and Crystal is unlikely to respond with the current situation.

Mary hurriedly pulled on the shirt and pulling her mithril jacket over it to hide the huge rip down it, blushing with whatever reserves of blood she had left. She didn't know what had happened, since Crash had distracted the guards. But her face was covered in blood, mainly from her nose. There was blood on her chest, too, but modesty prevailed.

It had obviously been bad.

Tank was looking at her, with tears in his eyes. Crystal, and Raven and Chance were hunched over Crash in the corner.

What had happened?, she wondered. Then she remembered that she'd lost alot of blood, from whatever had hit her . She needed to drink something.

"Tank...." she rasped. "Can you.... get some water?"

The huge Ork was gone in a flash, shaking the van as he leapt out past a startled Curim.

Mary leant back against the side of the van, her vision still slightly blurry. She regarded the others, and wondered what they were doing around Crash? Was he in trouble? She tried to talk, but her parched throat wouldn't let her.

Now Tank was back, eager to please after before, and holding about two dozen huge bottles of water. An irate dwarven storekeeper was yelling something outside about 'breaking and entering'.

Tank pushed a bottle to her, snapping of the lid with Orkish logic. She held it in shaky hands up to her mouth, and drained it quickly, the life-giving fluid splashing into her mouth. Tank forced another couple of litres upon her, which she politely refused, before collapsing back against the wall, exhausted and confused.


"Mary, I've got nothing on my side. How about you" said Crash into his intercom. Nothing responded. "Mary, are you there? I repeat, are you there? nothing again. "Damn, an ICE must have gotten her..." suddenly, a shock stunned him, and he fell to the floor. when his eyes opened, he saw the distorted figure of an ICE.


Xecktos walked over to mary and sat down. Infront of her, He sat down and crossed his legs. He placed his hands onto the sides of her head. He closed his eyes.

" What he do'in!" Tank roared as he moved toward Xecktos, Lora shot her arm out to stop him.

" Its an old Elven healing trick. He's going to merge Chi with her to cleanse hers to help the healing process, it will help the blood clot and the wounds to scab over. The Chi Cleansing will also allow her to have more energy to compensate for the lose of blood. Trust him ork he's a good man."

Xecktos's Chi flowed into Mary's spirit and began to merge. Xecktos had full control over Mary's body, thoughts, and memories. Xecktos was only intrested in removing the bad Chi, and cleansing her soul. Probably was a good thing too.

Crystal on the other hand slapped Lora in the face.


" I will do anything to protect my love, now that we are finally reunited"


"Come close lil'runners... A bit closer. I had no positive ID on the target, so I will have fun with you..." An insane smile came from her face. In her hideout, she had several runners in her scope.
A total mess. Carnage. That was the fun. A Gore party. Many thoughts crossed Eva's mind. She was unique. No one could match her. She had been created and raised to be a perfect weapon.

"Oh, a bitch slapping!... Well let's make it end... now..."
The VLR- Sniper Rifle was fired. A bullet, like a spear, crossed Lora's Lungs. She was not dead, but she was going to die in a few moments. The sniper laughed with an insane expression.
No one was Dragon, yet these neutrals were quite amusing...
"Now, elf boy... you have two lives in your hands... Wich one you shall save? Choose" She shouted. Obviously, her position was revealed, but it didn't matter. She could make a bloodshell against them anytime. Pherhaps on spare time. But not now. She was on a mission.
Tank owled as the cruel sniper got away.

Meanwhile, in the flat, Dragon's intuition knew that something was bad.
"Oh well just imaginations... Yummy dinner! Illidia is a great cook, for sure!".


One moment, Xecktos' girlfriend had slapped her.
Crystal slapped her back in rage: She wouldn't take that off anyone!
The girl, Lora, obviously wasn't that bright. She moved to hit Crystal again.
Bang! Crystal hit her a sweet uppercut that sent her reeling.

"You want some more, bitch?" Crystal shouted. She wasn;t much of a fighter, but her gang days had taught her a few tricks.

Lora was about to wipe some blood from her lip, when there was a really fragging horrible *smack* sound, a wet slap with a *crack* aftereffect of breaking ribs. Lora was flung forward into Crystal's arms. Crystal was knocked back against the van. Blood leaked all over. Lora's mouth was gaping, blood flowing. She stared into Crystal's eyes. She stared back.

"Sniper! Sniper! Get in the bloody FRAGGING van right now! NOW!" Chance roared.

At least three pairs of hands hauled them both in.

Another round hit the telecom box that Crash was still jacked into, sending up a shower of sparks.

Xecktos stared in disbelief at Lora, at the blood. It soaked her tight clothing. The scarlet patch was spreading rapidly.

Chance slammed the doors of the van - So many figures were in the van it was a wonder he was able to.

THUMP! THUMP! High-powered bullets smacked into the van's skin. Raven said his silent thanks to Elvis for the nuyen he'd spent on armour. The van was already moving.
The Cable plugged into Crash's cyberarm was pulled out roughly. The young decker started screaming as he got dumped from the system. He passed out. Dump-shock.

Crystal was lying on the floor, Lora bleeding all over her.

"Help! Help! Get this bitch off me! She's dying!"

Everyone standing was swaying all over the crowded van - crowded even more now that they'd left Crash's car and Chance's scrambler behind - Anyone would have to be mad to channe the sniper's fire to get either of them.

At least the shooting had stopped now - They had traveled far enough to leave the sniper's line of sight.

Raven gunned the van crazily for three blocks straight before swerving up onto the pavement and stopping.
"People! Tell me what the frag is going on back there!" He yelled frantically. He was scared some of his van's paintwork may have been damaged.

Chance and Tank had pulled Lora off the floor, while Ery made sure Mary was okay - she was still badly injured. A moment later, Ery stopped everyone walking. Crash passed out on the floor.

Curim was whispering something, chanting in monotone, crouched over Lora. It was a strange sight - He at least three times her bodyweight, crouching over her.
The blood that now washed over the van floor was anything but pretty.
Curim's hands glowed with an astral light.
"What's he doing?" Someone said.
"Shut the frag up, fragger." Someone else growled.

The magical healing took a good few minutes.

Chance, Ash, Raven, Ery and Mary chanced getting out of the van for fresh air. Sweta dripped off them. Crystal stayed inside - being covered in so much blood wasn't good in public.

Xecktos paced back and forward.

Eventually Curim came out.

"The female Elf is stable. She is alive and will not die. However, she needs a new pair of lungs, and will be out of action for at least a month. She will require medical attention every day."

Xecktos had stopped listening after the first sentence.
He was sobbing, sitting on the floor, just like back in the alley.
Reduced to gtaers again - This time in front of all the others.
He didn't care about them. He blocked them from his mind with his grief.

Half an hour later, Raven had stopped at a Street Doc's he'd told the 'runners about.

The Doc came out - A short man with bad hygiene, a stubbled face covered in cuts. He stank of cheap soy-whisky and his coat was covered in a multitude of stains. His street-clinic was a run-down, damp old building on Stardust Straße, not far from Crystal's place.

"I'll look after your bitch for ¥100 a day. If you can't pay, she goes to the organ bank. Deal?" He asked Xecktos.

Crystal brushed Mary's hair out of her face.
"You don't look so good either. You want to go home for a rest? Or do you want to come on the run with us?"

Crystal turned around to look at everyone else in the van.
"We ARE still going to Aztechnology, you know!"

"I...I'd like that, please. I...I just want to rest." Mary said, with difficulty. Crystal suddenly felt sorry for all she had put Mary through. She really wasn't cut out for this.

They had her home in another twenty minutes. She kept her Cyberdeck, but Ery had insisted on taking back the mithril jacket.

"I'll be back, Mary. I'll bring what you're owed."
And then I'll leave you alone. You deserve it.

FINALLY, after more driving, saiitng in silence in the back of the bloodstained van, they were at the Aztechnology compound. Everyone had changed into work overalls, but there was nothing they could do about the dried blood all over the floor.

As they pulled up, Crystal and Chance, sitting up front next to Raven truned and looked at the guard on the gate.

"Routine maintenance, my good man." Chance stated authoritatively. "Check the manifests. We were slated for three o'clock. Uh, unfortunately, we were...delayed."

We were attacked by drones, An Aztech hit-team, our decker was brain-fried, a sniper attacked us...
"Identification, please?"

Chance and Crystal handed over their credsticks.

The Aztech guard slotted them into his viewer.

A tense moment passed.

The guard looked up, looked at Chance, then Raven, then Crystal. He laughed, and then called his friend over.

"Get ready to hose 'em..." Crystal whispered.

The other guard came along. He took a picture of Crystal, and then said:
"Okay you're fine. You can go as soon as we look in the back."

"What the frag was that picture for?"

"Oh, its okay seniorita. He just fancies you. A pic for the archives!" Both men roared with laughter.

Crystal kept quiet. Very quiet. See you two again, you'll both die. We'll see who laughs then.

The back doors were opened. The guards looked in: A huge ork, two elves, a fiery-looking woman, a troll and a groggy teenager looked back. There was something all over the floor.

"Fragging oil stains, eh?" Raven said.

"Uh, yeah." He mulled over whether or not to bother checking all their IDs, decied against it - his shift was almost up, anyway. "Yeah, you guys can go."

"Thanks buddy." Raven said with a wink.

Finally. It seemed lika an eternity had passed.
They were in Aztechnolgy.
Or back, as in Crystal's case.

Raven parked the van at a manhole just between the huge, huge monolithic golden pyramid and one of the support buildings.

"Okay, everyone, split up." Crystal said.
"Wear your uniforms, keep your weapons hidden in your toolkits at all times. Keep in touch by 'phone. Crash: Find a safe decking point - It should be a lot easier in here to find a port where we can find where Zwergmann is. You shouldn't even need to crack any ICE. Just don't do anything stupid, like trying to crack the bank or anything. Everyone else, follow Crash's directions.
Raven will stay with the van, and I'll arrange a little sabotage.
And remember: look natural!"

Everyone dispersed rapidly, even Crash, Tank and Curim.
Crystal felt proud of them.

Crystal went down the manhole. Xecktos followed her. She let him. He might be useful if a guard came along.

Taking a torch from her toolkit, she found a cable running along the wall. It was thick and extremely insulated.
"Could be useful." She mumbled. She took out a small explosive C:12 Charge and pressed it onto the line before attaching a radio detonator. She made sure she had the trigger safely in her pocket, before going off to plant more of the charges.
Before she could, Xecktos called her.
He had something to say.


Xecktos found Crystal. His black Eyes found hers, his lips trembled with anger. His face was incredibly angry, it looked as though he was going to lose it. Luckily he didnt. He had come for a more less selfish reason. Crystal opened up her arms as if to taunt Xecktos.

"What are you gonna fragging do? huh, Are you going to kill, me beat me, rape me what, that bitch desreved what she got!" Xecktos still angry let the words out of his mouth you would never think an assassin would say.

"No one deserves pain or death, death comes to people though the selfish desires of others. You had done nothing to provoke Lora, and she did nothing to deserve getting pumped full of hot lead. As such no harm will come to you form my hands. I know, and you know what she was accussing you of is false. She's just one of those women." Cyrstal put her arms down and raised an eyebrow.

"Then what do you want?" Xecktos' face went solemn, and he kneeled before Cyrstal and pulled out his sword. This was a great sign of respect form the elves.

"I have caused you too much trouble, and i want to make up for it. I, Xecktos Lorcan T'Voir, The Silent Doom; pledge my life to you. to protect you, to be there for you for what ever. I dont care what the other think of me doing this, and even what Lora thinks but I swear upon my blade, no harm will fall upon you while there is breath in me. My soul is yours."

Crystal looked at him in disbelief, not knowing what to say.

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