The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce
MUNDI?!? What the sleg is this?!
The group kept running, but the guy was catching up on them.
"Can somebody PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT THE SLEG JUST HAPPENED?!?' Silvia shouted to the others. "What's all this stuff about Lady Zero, and why the sleg do we have MUNDI on our tails?"
With all the action last night no one had had a chance to tell Silvia why they were being chased.
"She's been kidnapped," Crash said. "They chased us last night because they thought we did it."
Silvia was interrupted by a familiar sound coming out of the small black box on her belt. It was the sound of Lady Zero singing.
"Now what?" she said. "A message? Who the sleg would beep me on my MP5 player?!"
She quickly took the box off her belt and stopped the music. She kept running while she read the message on the small display.
"Oh... mom of course..."
Silvia, where are you? We've been searching all over the place! Dad came home early, and he wants us to leave Geneva immediately. We have to be at the Dragon Field at 18:00; we're going to Terganon.
What?! Dad never comes home early... something is very wrong here...
The Dragon Field... the special airport to give dragons the space to shift to their Dragon form and fly away. She'd been there before when she went to Terganon with her dad.
So dad's going to fly us to Terganon. But the Field's on the other side of Geneva! I'll never get there in time!
Shadow nodded to Lady Zero and he turned his back and began to walk off, he turned back for a second and said something to her: "Lady Zero... I will let you go. Just be careful, and try to get to the police station."
Shadow heard sirens and such as he raced out of the alleyway he saw the Daisaka taking Xecktos to the prison compound.
He then got into his car and drove on a side road were he could see the police armored car take him, he followed until they got there.
Shadow had stayed in the shadows while watching them take him in and throw him into an cell.
Shadow was then planning to get Xecktos out of there alive.
Daylight was beginning to break, and he would need to a get a uniform and an identity...
"Haw haw haw!"Oddly, the MUNDI inspector laughed.
In a sprint run through the coridor he caught up with them. Crash and Mary look eachother when they saw the face of the inspector. Both two laughed and poked the newcomer.
"Say, mr Wonder Boy, where did you get that stupid fake moustache?" stated Mary. Clearly she knew that the fake accessory that Dragon was wearing gave him a stupid look.
Crash inquired about all the MUNDI fake.
"Well, certainly a good alias. Overmind did a good work on this, cracking the MUNDI database"
Crash, as if a snake had bitten him, cutted him. "Overmind!!!?? The legendary hacker!!??"
Dragon nodded, smiling. "A true mate. He says that you are quite promising, boy."
Silvia eagerly approached the newcomer. Dragon felt sick, for some reason. "Who are you and what do you want?"
"My name is Dragon, and I am an errand runner seeking for... errr... stuff, ma' am." Dragon gazed at her. "Oddly, I could swear that you are quite like a dragon, but somehow, different..."
"Why do you say that?"
"it's an old story... You only need that once a dragon had made this scar in the head, and it reacts to nearby beasts, with great pain..."
Silvia continued her speech. "If you are not telling lies, I could swear that you were the punk that was rumored to defeat a dragon, as my father told me once... But you are way too arrogant..."
"C'mon Mac, we have some stuff to deal with." cutted Mary.
"Let me escort you. Those Daisaka bums will surprisingly let you wander around if you go with me. They still think that i am a MUNDI inspector."
"A MUNDI inspector? WTF?" thought Eva, as she heard the loud noise of the policemen. That was odd. MUNDI inspectors were sent to deal with real dangerous guys, and those runners were like pimp fellas compared to them...
Raven had really felt better after telling Curim all of his troubles. There was a bounce in his step that hadn't been there for years. Raven was just returning from the local store with lunch for himself and his new friend Curim when he saw his precious van take off down the street. He saw the runner Firearm at the wheel.
"Oh well. Who gives a frag anyway?"
A massive grin on his face, Raven didn't care. Curim had shown him there was more to life than money and materialism. There was Crystal. Still smiling idiotically, Raven started jogging down the street, still holding his groceries, with no particular destination. Homeless goblins in shanty towns looked on as the grey haired fitter sang at the top of his lungs as he jogged along.
"Ohhhhh, I'm a fitter and I sell stuff. I'm no fighter, I'm not tough!"
Making up the words as he went along, obscure rhymes and nonsensical lyrics. 'Another lunatic raver' was what most people who saw him thought. Running felt good. The breeze playing with his locks of grey hair, the coolness on his face. 'If only all of life were this simple' Raven thought. Little did he know, things were going to get complicated once more...
Xecktos was lying in a bed. The police had used an EMP wave device to moniter his cybernetic gear, and have only the most vital systems run. Meaning Xecktos could barely move his back, leg and his arm was disabled. He was blind as well because his cyber eyes were turned off.
Xecktos wanted to sleep but he couldnt, he could only wait until what ever they were planning to do with him happened.
Xecktos heard a metal bar hitting against the cell wall.
"Get up you scum, the chief has come to see you." one guard said. As a black human walked into the room, he had dark sunglasses on, a shaved head, and a long black trench coat.
"I refuse, it hurts to move." Xecktos returned. The guard got up hurrled Xecktos to the ground. Xecktos gasped for air
"Stupid elf boy! do as your told! Or else i'll give you a mighty beatn'!" The guard said with a cocky tone. The chief walked over and backhanded the guard across the face.
"There is no honor or dignity preying on the weak, and helpless. When one does so it shows who worthless that person is." The chief said coldly.
"but sir, he... he... killed those defenseless bouncers." The guard whimpered while holding his face.
"But my dear Johnson, that is why i came here." The guard blinked and then ran out of the room. The chief kneeled down next to Xecktos
"Now my dear boy, why did you kill those two bouncers." The chief asked warmly. Xecktos paused then answered.
"They wouldnt let me into the bar, they were part of Jimmy Lefixit gangs, they were packing heat, 2 uzies on each of them. I did it in self defense."
"Why wouldnt people of Jimmy Lefixit's men be so aggressive against you?"
"I screwed Jimmy over, I got hired for a kidnapping job, which I alone - why you are covering for that slime Shadow who tipped you off I don't know, Xecktos - performed I kidnapped a woman named Lady Zero and took her to a warehouse. Then I let her go. Jimmy found out and sent his goons after me. The only reason I took the job was I needed money, I've had a bad week, and my Girlfriend got shot my a rogue sniper and needs new lungs."
The Chief frowned. He pulled out a file and began looking through it.
"I know you cant see what I'm doing, but I have your record in my hands. Lets see here... Name T'voir, Xecktos Lorcan. Age 27 Height 5' 8" Born in Iceland to one Nateria and Lithan T'voir. One brother Voltec T'voir, and one sister Nia T'voir. Family moved when you were six to Japan, where you studied martial arts. You are a master in Karate, Tae Kwan Do, and Kung Fu. Skilled in the use of a Swords, Throwing knives, and throwing stars." The chief glanced at Xecktos who had a stone cold expression on his face." Whats this... when you were 17, a three well skilled magic users attacked you and your family, killed you parents, one took your brother away, one took your sister away. And the other took you. but you somehow fought back, and cut his arm off. But he gouged your eyes out... so i guess that explains the Cyber eyes. At 18 you took up the job of Assassin, a very good one too. Your street credit is of the chart. You earned the title 'The Silent Doom.' Nice name I might add." The chief chuckeled. Xecktos spoke.
"How did you get all this information? I demand to know."
The chief chuckled again.
"Let me finish before questions. You travel around the globe doing jobs for people, then a childhood friend by the name of Dakkon Darkblade told you he saw your brother here in Geneva. That was about a month ago, a few days ago your last known action was you killed a rent-a-cop in seemingly cold blood, but I can't blame you; I never like those guys either. Anyways... then you got run over by a super tanker... ouch... that explains the cybernetic gear, and then ended up here after killing some bouncers." He closed the file.
"Why did you dig up my horrible haunting past, have you no shame?" Xecktos said coldly and sadly.
"I was just checking up what man I had infront of me. I'm honored to be in the presence of the Xecktos T'voir" The Chief removed his glasses. "I had heard of you before, and I know why you kill for money, you want to find your family and every person you kill is one less person in the world. Thats one less who isnt your family. Though those people have families too, its still a noble act, not everybody can see that. You word is also your bond, so I can trust your statment, but the people above me might not." The Chief helped Xecktos up unto the bed again. "By the way my name Is Racon Kelly."
Racon closed the cell up tight and walked off.
Xecktos stewed in his head for a minute.
Racon Kelly? That sounds so familiar...
He then fell asleep to get some long awaited rest.
Shadow had waited for at least 4 hours. After that, he ran up to Xecktos's cell and tapped on the bar lightly.
"Hey Xecktos... it's me, Shadow."
"If you would like to get out of here, then please let me help you..." Shadow said to him.
Shadow looked around. He could see the sun, beginning to come up slowly.
Shadow peered over into the cell slowly, and looked down at Xecktos.
He said to Xecktos: "I've got Lady Zero to a safe spot...I let her go and she was going to a safe spot, and I think she is there now"
He waited for Xecktos's response.
Gunfire... SMG class at least...
Chance stopped the phone call as he spotted the source of the fighting. People in bedclothes were spilling out into the street from a Street Clinic. He spotted a woman running away and disappearing from sight around a street corner... that woman sniper who had wounded Lora.
Lora... Didn't Xecktos say something about his wounded girlfriend being in a street clinic before? Lung replacements were not easy to do, and Chance knew that those street clinics catering to the occasional illegal runner were rare. This clinic had to be the one, which meant that Lora was in danger.
Somehow, that touched a nerve in him... He knew from Xecktos that Lora was a high-level fighter, but she was wounded, for grud's sake! Attacking helpless people was something that he was vehemently against.
The rent-a-cops hadn't arrived yet, their slow response probably due to overstretched resources, given the Aztech corp war and the trouble the runners have been giving them as of late. Chance and Ash dismounted, carrying their weapons and armour with them as they began to systematically clear the building in the manner of a well-drilled SWAT team.
They found Tank... lying together with at least five dead bodies (three in Italian Mafia suits). Obviously, the Ork had given better than he had taken. However, the (unconscious) big guy wasn't in a very good shape. Chance abandoned his misgivings about Tank attacking him the day before... He liked the big guy, and his instinct told him that Tank had not attacked him under his own will.
With Ash covering him from any threats, Chance worked rapidly to staunch the bleeding with bandages seized from nearby medical trolleys. The soldier's first aid wasn't something that Mary would have been proud of, but it worked well enough to stop the Ork from bleeding out.
Moving the Ork was more of a problem... Chance spied a powered gurney nearby used to lift patients and activated it, lowering the tray to ground level. It took all his strength to roll the Ork onto the platform, but at the end of it, he had an unconscious Tank on the powered gurney.
Ash pushed Tank into a nearby room to shelter him from any further gunfight as Chance covered the hallway, wiping his brow, his muscles aching.
They had to find Lora now...
The three Jyl's slowly approached the fear stricken drawf. The drawf pulled the trigger, aimed at the Jyl in front of him. The slug flew through the illusion and the dwarf stared in disbelief.
Jyl's laughter erupted from everywhere. "You missed me!"
The drawf turns and fired into the Jyl on the right, the slug also tore through the illusion and Jyl lauged again. The drawf smirked and turned, firing into the other illusion.
Jyl's hysterical laughter fills the warehouse, the drawf shakingly asking, "W-W-W-ho----What are you?"
Jyl dropped down behind the drawf and took a hold of him by the back of the neck. The drawf dropped the gun and Jyl leapt back up into the rafters. Balanced on the rafters, Jyl tied up the drawf and hung upside down in the middle of the warehouse room, 20 feet up from the concrete floor. Then, he waved and dropped back down, crawling back into his sleeping hole for the remainder of the day.
Thorensson and Grashnak continued to shout at the blue-eyed guy behind Lady Zero.
"Put down da gun, humie!"
"Let the girl go! We can Talk about this!"
The all-too familiar sound of a twin-rotored helicopter filled the air.
Grashnak chanced to take his eyes off the gunman.
"Backup? Allready? Dey got her' quick!"
"Wise up, greenskin! Thats not one chopper! Its two!"Thorensson kept his gun pointed at Shadow all the time, unwavering, just waiting for him to make a move. Lady Zer saw her situation worsening. She cried out.
One helicopter - Dasiaka colours - put down to land in the street directly behind them, while the other one - a civilian, Probably news jackals, Grashnak thought - stayed hovering, as if unsire what to do. Grashnak ran to wait at the door for the Daisaka men to come out.
The door opened. The figures who came out were NOT Daisaka.
"What da you think - "
The thunder of an autoshotgun resounded across the sunlit morning strasse. Grashnak was hit by the triple-blast and spun to the floor.
Thorensson truned in slow motion, pistol levelled.
"NOOOOOOO-" His heavy handgun roared twice. One bullet smacked against the 'copter. The other one punched a man in a black suit and dark glasses off his feet.
Jimmy Lefixit and his remaining mafia man were undeterred.
"Don't shoot the blue-eyed guy or the girl. Frag the dwarf."
Crystal sensed the end of hostilities in the ward outside. Then she heard a fragging autoshotgun blasting away in the street outside. Slowly, she let go of Lora's shaking hand, deactivated her grenade-trap and ran outside. There she found -
"Frag, Crystal! I've been trying to get in touch with you for bloody hours!"
"No time to explain, whats going on outside?"
The two Daisaka guys were out for the count. The 'Shadow guy had disappeared, leaving Lady Zero to be picked up by Jimmy Lefixit. He was just taking her back to his landed 'chopper...
Cylinder Head shouted to his 'runners:
"Stop 'em taking off! He's got Lady Zero!"
Billy opened up with his little machinepistol, spattering the top of the Daisakae vehicle with small bullets. Jimmy braced hmself and used his Daisaka autoshotgun ironically to blow massive holes all over the Daisaka chopper on the ground. Fat red spent cases fountained out of the weapon.
"Drek!" Jimmy shouted. He teuned to his mafia guy. "Take 'em out!"
The mafia man squeezed off a well-placed burst at the chopper. A screaming black-clad figure ina big floppy haircut fell out, smacking dead into the pavement. There was a scream from the civilian helicopter, kind of like:
And then ragged shotgunfire turned the mafia man to mush.
By now, Jimmy Lefixit had pushed the screaming Lady Zero into a car - a hydrogen fuelled sportsjob - and torn off down the road.
Crystal, Ash and Chance came out of the hospital. The Strange - Very strange, Chance thought - Blue-haired Elf was cursing, waiting in his car.
On the pavement, the two seriously injured detectives moved slightly.
"Erznar, take care of the threat, as the runner seems that was not able to do it" N'zar finally spoke. The actuaction of Eva had been a bit poor... but that was OK. A single person could not catch the human named Dragon. With two assasins after him, it would be easier."
Erznar, even knowing that a lesser dragon was not allowed to answer back a Greater Dragon, finally said. "My lord, it is way too much spoiled effort to send me to finish the job, as the bi-nuclear bomb will kill me aswell. I suggest to use a puppet, with no value on its own."
N'zar stepped towards him. "You are more than a simple servant,indeed. I like new ideas, even if they aren't mine. Explain it a little more."
Erznar breathed deeply and answered. "Lord, we could use a bone dragon. They can be easily controlled by distance and have great powers, besides they are already dead, and therefore can't be killed."
An evil shine appeared in N'zar eyes.
"But I don't see any scar..." answered the half-dragon.
"The scar is deep inside my mind. It's not a physical scar, it's an Astral one." Dragon explained.
Crystal wasn't at home. Or at least no-one appeared at the doorway when Mary knocked.
Dragon lead them to the lift, and pressed a button. It rose into view, and the five got in. It's plexi-glass wall looked out over the street, and the occupants could see the Daisaka troopers and vehicles outside. Hopefully Dragon would be able to get them out.
The elevator stopped on the ground floor, and Dragon stepped out first. A group of occupants were busily engaged in a heated argument with Daisaka personel, which allowed the runners to slip past. They hurried down the steps outside, where a second group of rent-a-cops awaited. These were primarily human, and not busy so might take some more convincing.
"Daisaka Security. You do not have permission to leave the building until he current hostage crisis has been resolved"
"Inspector Terrance, MUNDI peacekeeper police. I assure that I do"
"Can I see your ident?"
Dragon scowled - this guy was obviously more on the ball than those he'd met on his way in. He handed over a bunch of documents from inside his coat.
The officer flicked through them, and handed them back.
"Looks ok, Inspector, but what about them?" He motioned to the other runners. "I'll have to run 'em through the 'scanner"
Dragon had no choice but to agree.
The 'cops lead them over to a large machine, mounted in the rear of a Daisaka APC. Dragon grimaced. He'd seen these before, and didn't like them. They were basically machines that read both your magic signiture and physical makeup, checking you against corp police records. It had been a major new weapon against 'crime' in recent years, bypassing all disguises.
"You first, gobbo". The officer lightly shoved Dorodo into the machine. Dorodo, obviously having been in this situation before, simply scurried through. The light stayed green.
"Now you". Silvia stepped lightly through the 'scanner, slightly uneasy, but with no alert sounding, let off a sigh of relief.
"Ok, kid," The officer grinned at Crash. It didn't look like this guy would really care if the machine beeped at all. It was just a procedure.
Crash stepped into the machine gingerly. A single red light flickered on.
"Boss, we got something."
The older rent-a-cop scratched his graying head, and glanced at the screen.
"Don J.? Says here you've got some minor decking charges with Astoledor International Bank. Been lifting some nuyen, have you?"
"But.." Crash began, but the officer cut him short.
"Yeah, I know, everyone does it, but it's still against the law. Tell you what, give me your credstick, and pay the fine of 500 nuyen, and we'll wipe your record, m'kay?"
Crash handed over a creditstick. The officer swiped it across another, and handed it back, smiling.
"There ya go. Just don't get caught next time. You could get caught by someone who won't bend the rules a little for ya."
Crash ducked through, and stepped out.
Now it was Mary's turn. She had nothing to fear, a perfect record. She stepped into the machine.
Every alarm on the thing went off. Sirens sprung into life, spraying red light in all directions.
"Holy fr-" the officer began, then, with presence of mind, grabbed the panic-stricken doctor. He looked at the screen.
"There's a reward of 100,000,000 nuyen on this girl! Holy fraggin' drek!"
"Hang on, officer, she's with...", Dragon began.
"Inspector, this woman's on Red clearance with Daisaka". He glanced down at the screen. I have liscence to remove her, take her to custody. She's fraggin' dangerous! MUNDI-Corp custody agreement 102, 2052"
Dragon looked on dumfoundedly.
"Boys, we gotta get her back to base!"
Crash stepped into the way. A rent-a-cop kicked him against the vehicle. Silvia screamed in alarm.
Dragon didn't like to have to do this, but...
"I'm sorry, officer". He swung a BWG augmented fist, connecting soundly with the older man's face. The 'cop groaned, and fell back. Dragon caught Mary's arm, and pulled her after him, already running, despite the shouts of the 'cops. The others followed.
"How the frag did you get Red level?", he yelled.
"You think I know?"
Dragon swung open the door of a waiting car, and thumbed a concealed ignition button. The 'rig roared to life, and Dorodo only just managed to leap in as it sped off down the street, the Daisaka APC revving behind them.
Dragon took his eyes off the road, for a second, and glanced at Mary, hurled into the seat next to him. Silvia, Dorodo and Crash hung on in the seats behind.
"You sure you don't know how you got that record?"
"Of course not!"
"Ok." Dragon took a long pause. "Look in the glove compartment. There are two small cyber-cubes in there. Take one"
Mary, still shattered from the experiance, shakily opened it. The two cubes were amoung assorted other gubbins. She picked up both."
"Just one! I wanted to save them! I don't think I can get any more!"
Mary looked at them. One of them was labelled 'Indo-asian female, 21", and the other "East European Male, 23". She took the female one.
"Ok. Roll up your sleeve"
"Just do it"
Mary, looking confused, rolled it up, revealing her arm.
Dragon took one hand off the wheel, and looked regrettingly at the cube, before pressing a button. It opened out into a flat patch.
"I really wanted to save this. They're priceless"
"What does it do?"
Dragon applied the patch onto Mary's arm. Suddenly all three other passengers gasped, as the doctor's appearance shimmered for a moment, then changed, taking on the appearance of another, oriental, woman, the same height as Mary, with similar features, but darker skin and longer, darker hair, as well as a more eastern-looking face.
Crash was still dumstruck, so Silvia replied.
"You look different. That thing hides who you are, somehow, makes you look like someone else. You look like an Indian girl..."
"She's right. I stole 'em from Western Etherspace. Prototypes, I think. Changes both your real and magical appearance. Throw those cops off ya for a bit."
"I dunno. I didn't build it, did I? All I know is it works, and will work, as long as you're conscious, and don't step into any EMP fields with it on. Will turn on and off, too, if you flick that switch. I wish mine still worked, but an EMP burnt it out. They only work once. When they're gone, they're gone"
Mary, sitting next to him nodded with a different face, still in shock.
Silvia looked out the back window. "Nice driving... it looks like we lost those cops. But where are we going now? I have to be at the Dragon Field by 18:00, and we're going in the wrong direction!"
"The Dragon Field?" Mac replied. "So... you're a dragon then?"
"Nope... half-dragon. But my dad's a dragon; one of the smaller types. And he wanted me out of the city for some reason; he's flying me and my mom to Terganon."
"What?! Then he must know..."
Mac was interrupted by Silvia. "Know what?! I'm sick of being left out of everything!"
"Some maniac is going to launch a bi-nuke at Geneva. I don't know any details, but if your dad knows about it, it might have something to do with the dragons. Do you know anything more about this?"
"A bi-nuke?! Why the sleg would I know anything about that? I just got a small message from my mom!"
Dragon put the car on auto-pilot. It kept following the road.
"Can I see that message?"
"Oh, sure." Silvia handed him her MP5 player.
...and he wants us to leave Geneva immediately.
"Your dad obviously knows about the bomb; he wants you out of town ASAP, and he doesn't want to use normal aeroplanes to be sure you and your mother are safe from the shockwave.
Oh frag. If a lesser dragon knows about this they're probably evacuating all dragons. So this is indeed a dragon affair... I'm afraid some power-hungry lizard got way out of control."
Dragon deactivated the auto-pilot. He took a small 'phone out of his pocket and gave it to Silvia.
"Even with the car I can't get there in time. Phone your parents and tell them you'll be safe. And ask your dad if he knows the exact time of the detonation."
"Umm... OK." Silvia started dialing her dad's wristphone number.
Shadow had seen the two detectives and stood there, and then saw Lady Zero in between him and the other two.
Thorensson and Grashnak continued to shout at him while he was behind Lady Zero.
"Put down da gun, humie!"
"Let the girl go! We can Talk about this!" said Throensson and Grashnak.
Shadow then heard two helicopters that were coming up and in fast.
He then saw Thorensson still pointing his gun at him while he looked away.
Shadow heard him say a few words, but they were drowned out by the chopper noise.
Greshnak then went over to the helicopter that had Dasiaka colors as soon as it had landed.
He had seen Greshnak waiting for the Daisaka men to come out.
The doors of the chopper had swung out, the guys that stepped out were Jimmy and his mafia men!
There was a sound of an auto shotgun as Shadow, Lady Zero, and Thorensson saw Greshnak fall to the floor.
Thorensson swung towards the chopper in a slow motion, he then fired his handgun twice and one bullet hit the chopper, while the other bullet hit one of Jimmy's mafia men.
Thorensson seemed to be shot, and he fell dead to the pavement.
Shadow looked at Jimmy Lefixit and noded then fled quickly, without being noticed.
He heard Lady Zero, scream as he had fled, and more gun shots rang out.
As soon as Shadow got to safety, he looked back towards the compound, Xecktos has been in.
He now waited for a new mission to be issued to him.
Jimmy Lefixit's commandeered car tore off into the distance. No matter how much juice Badjimmy coaxed out of his battery, there was no way in the seven metaplanes the little gridgude car would be able to catch up.
"Frag! Gimme my rifle!" Chance snarled. But it was hopeless. There was simply too little room in the cramped commuter car, and to fire he'd have to pop the car's canopy.
"We're going to lose them..." Ash said. No-one disagreed.
Across town, the idiotically grinning Raven slammed down his bag of nuke'em burgers and soy-pops in the back of his van. Curim and Firearm both looked on, astonished.
"The Frag are you so happy about?" Firearm demanded.
"Y'know, isn't it a great day?" Raven said.
"Do you realise we're all about to be buked off the face of the Earth?" Firearm snarled.
"Probably. I don't really care. Anyone want to come for a ride?" Raven said, jerking a thumb at his van.
"Might as well." Curim said, still lying down.
Firearm was silent, probably contemplating imminent doom. A doom more imminent than he would think.
Raven closed the back doors and hopped up into his driving seat. The engine kicked into life. He started driving.
Tearing arse down the main roads of Geneva, Jummy Lefixit checked his autonav map. The AET compound was coming closer. He thumbed a key on the dash. A vid-phone screen popped up. Ery's worn yet still elvishly good-looking face appeared.
"Ery, target extraction will have to begin sooner than anticipated. I'm now doing the job in person. ETA six minutes!"
"Whatever." The screen went dead. Jimmy Lefixit took it as a good sign. He couldn't even see the other tilt-wing that had been following him any more. He'd lost them.
In the back seat, Lady Zero lapsed into a kind of catatonia. She didn't realise it, but she was about to enter astral space. Senses she didn't realise she had flared with the colour of life. She felt her spiritual presence leaving the physical plane.
Before she knew it, she was hovering above the sppeding car, looking down at her own, inert body.
The feelings of people of the city assailed her. She could see in the auras of people they passed in the car - emotions of fear - fear of lateness getting to work, fear of the speeding lunatic in a car. Behind, far behind, a small vehicle filled with figures fearing for her, Lady Zero.
She took interest with this car. Three occupants were determined, vengeful against the man known as Jimmy Lefixit. The driver was a different story. A damaged man, a confused man.
Lady Zero felt sympathy for him.
Nevertheless the little car couldn't rescue her. Nor could the hovering helicopter, filled with emotions of grief and revenge.
Moving at the speed of thought, Lady Zero moved further afield.
There! She thought. A vehicle, its driver high on the spice of life...He could save her, though he didn't know it!
Raven rounded a corner, still humming the tune to himself.
Turn left here.
"Curim, you say something?" Raven said.
"No." Curim grunted.
Turn left here.
Raven turned left, for some reason.
NOW TURN RIGHT!
"OW!!! Not so loud, will ya?" Raven shouted, at the female voice in his head. The voice seemed to come from the tune he was humming, somehow, kind of like an embedded signal in a 3DTV cast.
He turned right. Firearm and Curim looked at each other, puzzled. Then they noticed the van had steered into the middle of a flow of oncoming traffic...
The sportscar struck head-on against the armoured van at about 80mph. The van's armour and side-on attitude gave it a good measure of protection. The sporter had a kevlar canopy. No contest.
The van skidded crazily across the road, mowing down shrubs, light-posts, telecom-boothes and the occasional mini-car.
The car ruptured in an orgy of wheels, thin plasteel-alloy plates designed for lightness and shards of it's expensive changing paint-finish. The solidified block of securo-foam that had materialised to protect the passengers bounced around like a rubber ball, eventually coming to rest in a patch of synthi-grass on the central reservation.
"Fragging hell! Looks like all hell's broken loose!" Badjimmy shouted. He swerved the car to an abrupt halt just short of the cloud of smoke that shrouded the wrecked vehicles. He popped the canopy and everyone jumped out. Chance snapped his Assault Rifle ready.
"Drek, just like Kwanlung beach all over again...". He ran forward...The smoke was thick...
"Don't shoot! Don't hit Lady Zero!" Crystal shouted after him and Ash. She pulled down her thermographic goggles to see through the smoke.
"Oh, by the gods...no! Lady Zero!" Cylinder Head whimpered, looking at the carnage his idol had just been driven into.
Behind, in the crew bay of the 'copter, The Binman tried to console the stoically silent Jimmy for the loss of his brother, Billy.
"Don't worry mate. You soon get used to losing brothers. I did, see?" He grinned, revealing his nice yellow teeth.
A fist punched a hole out through the foam. The hand then broke enough foam away for a wheezing, injured figure to pull itself out.
Jimmy Lefixit groaned, then pulled out his sidearm - An AET Heavy Pistol. He stumbled around blind in the smoke.
"Bitch! Where are ya? I'm gonna kill you!"
He collided with something. It gave a soft female cry of alarm. But Jimmy Lefixit was good. He was fast. He caught the girl, put an arm around her and put his gun to her head.
"Got you again! Now, we walk, bitch! Try anything - ANYTHING -and I fire!"
And then, for Jimmy Lefixit, there was only pain.
Crystal watched, dumbfounded as a floundering figure caught hold of Ash's heat signature.
The next moment, so much heat had enveloped them both, Crystal's goggles had tempororily overloaded.
Then there was an explosion - like a gun's magazine cooking off.
"Ash!" Chance yelled. He ran headlong into the smoke - Starting to clear now. A woman lay on the floor. It was Ash, and she wasn't well. Her head was peppered with shrapnel and bullet fragments, and she was burnt and bleeding profusely.
Jimmy Lefixit, however, was nothing but a lump of charred meat. He was still screaming.
Raven jumped down from his van.
A girl was there, red hair, silver jumpsuit, slightly bruised. He recognised her instantly - both because he'd seen her last night, and because she'd just been projecting into his head.
Pretty soon, all were clustered around Ash's limp form. Curim tried to stabilize her.
"Chance, we need to get her to hospital."
Chance wasn't listening.
Behind, Cylinder Head landed the Tiltwing on the road.
Dragon could drive slower, and less dangerously now - Mary had blinked off the Daisaka trackers like magic, although he still mourned the loss of the disguise cube. He only had one left now, and knew he wouldn't ever be able to get hold of another one.
The traffic was slowing now. Smoke billowed across the road, and peices of wreckage littered the synthgrass. Some nasty accident had happened here.
Suddenly, Dragon noticed a distinctive blue-haired girl.
Crystal. He braked, and slowed the car to a halt illegally on the synth-grass. Little bits of metal crunched under the tires. This place smelt of burning fat.
Dragon opened the door.
The girl turned, looking through blackened eyes.
"What the frag happenned here?"
"Save it for later! We gotta get Ash to hospital!"
Mac saw the corpses on the ground. Grabbing Mary's arm, which shimmered as it's holo-field was disrupted by his hand, he dragged her out of the car. Crash opened the door, and leapt out. Dorodo and Silvia following. Silvia was still talking with her dad on the small wristphone Dragon gave her.
Mary was almost hurled out of the car, and saw Ash's body. She ran over, feeling in pockets for her medkit. It wasn't there.
Crystal stepped infront of her.
"Who the hell are you"
Mary suddenly remembered the disguise.
"It's me. Mary"
Crystal looked at the girl. She looked nothing like Mary. But the voice did sound right.
"What the fra..." she began.
Dragon stepped up behind the indian woman.
"She's Mary. It's a disguise, special holo-projector thing. The daisaka rent-a-cops are after her for some reason."
Crystal looked on dumbfounded, which allowed Mary to slip past her. Ash was unconcious, and Chance didn't offer any resistance to the doctor slipping past. She looked professional.
"Holy..." Mary saw Ash better now - she was covered in wounds, and the blood was pooling on the synth-grass below her. It looked like she'd been at the centre of whatever had exploded her. Next to her was the burnt and charred corpse of something looking human-ish. It was this that was giving off the awful smell -it looked like he had been microwaved.
She checked for breathing. It was there, short, and weak. At least the girl was alive.
"Does anyone have a medkit?" She yelled into the confusion.
Raven appeared, lumbering through the dispersing smoke. He had the one from his van.
"Someone ring the hospital! We need to get her somewhere where they can actually fix her up - I can just slow the damage down!" Crash was too infatuated with Lady Zero to care, but Silvia had a wrist phone, and was already calling on it. That was good.
Chance was yelling something, and she heard a gunshot. She didn't look up. Suddenly, Chance was beside her, pushing her out of the way, unrecognising her. She let him. He was a trained soldier, she doubted he'd do anything much worse than herself, and it might help him. In this situation, both his and Ash's life seemed on the line. His eastern face was deathly pale.
Curim stepped out of the damaged truck, and followed Raven, firearm at his heels. In the last seconds before the crash, he'd detected a strong astral prescence. But who could have caused it? He began to scan the minds of those assembled, slowly and silently, with his arcane powers.
The assorted 'Runners stood, numbly, feeling oddly detached in the centre of the ring of devastation from the car crash.
Raven's van had taken a huge dent in the side from Jimmy Lefixit's car, but the armour plate Raven had fitted had saved it.
Not Ash... No... Not like this...
For the first time in in life since he had met her, Chance felt true fear. She was always so capable, charming and naive in her own way, but never lacking the skills and ability to survive and prevail in any fight. Chance had known her to be the superbly capable shadow always beside him, her very actions so tied to his that the duo almost appeared mind-linked to others.
The soldier was shaking, his normally steady hands unconsiously trembling... Every ounce of his self-control evaporating as he fell to his knees beside his fallen soulmate.
His mind, his intellect told him that he should do something... take control of the situation, arrange medical support, organise the medical evacuation...
But all he could do was gasp for breath, shaking and chilled in the middle of his own personal hell as he watched his friend bleed out. The doctor... what was her name? Darn it! What's her bloody name!... She was bending over Ash, but Chance didn't hear a word she said, his mind so derailed and confused that nothing seemed to register.
It wasn't going supposed to happen! Ash did everything right! But why the hell was she lying there like THIS!
Crystal saw him slowly get back on his feet, his eyes changed in a subtle, yet alarming manner. She started to speak, but Chance was not listening anymore...
He raised his pistol and cocked it as he drew himself to full height... Curim began to shout, but it was too late.
Chance took two steps, marching up to the fallen form of the man who had attacked Ash. He didn't know who he was, but he didn't care. With a stylised formality that gave an almost ritual air to his actions, the soldier raised his pistol, giving the execution shot to the wounded man's forehead at a range of three paces.
Nobody spoke for a few seconds after the execution... Chance standing absolutely still, a tiny wisp of smoke curling from his pistol. Then with a solemn air, the soldier holstered the weapon and turned back towards them.
The others could see the change right away... Bound by honour and rules of war, ex-military men like Chance had taken vows of self-restraint to obey certain unofficial laws in combat. That single shot that he had taken, an execution round to a wounded man, was a little death of sorts... Part of Chance's heart died with him.
And along with its passing came new resolve. Striding purposefully now, Chance began snapping out orders. This time, he didn't care who was top dog and if he offended anyone... His soulmate was badly wounded, and her survival depended on speed and precision. His voice was quiet, clipped and resolute in its timbre... all trace of his terror before now blown away by the practicalities of saving Ash.
"Mary, Curim. You will help me stablise Ash. The others, split yourself into two groups. One will secure the perimeter while we secure Ash for evac. Dragon, you are the best in combat here. Take command of that team. The second will collect as many pieces of evidence from the crash as possible and look out for Lady Zero. Crystal, I recognise Cylinder Head on that chopper. Grab him, we'll need him for the evac to a hospital... Move."
While he was speaking, Chance was already moving towards Ash. He knelt down, gently examining her head and throat and checking her breathing. Part of her left cheek was torn and bleeding, exposing some of her teeth and gums, but that was the most minor of her wounds. Chance guessed at a fractured skull, but none of the cooked-off rounds had passed through the bone. Ash's resistance to flame had saved her from any burns, but her jawbone was badly broken and possibly dislocated... the soldier was thankful that she was unconscious. Chance noticed that her left hand was badly lacerated with several bones possibly broken... She had probably pushed her attacker away at the last moment, lessening the blast and fragmentation wounds she suffered.
She would survive... but Chance knew that she would rather die than be "Cybered-up". Ash was a traditionalist... just like him. Her healing would have to be via tissue regen treatment, or... (Chance took a deep breath)... Magic
Her breathing was laboured, fragments having slashed her windpipe in several areas... Chance leaned over her nose and chest, listening...
A punctured lung... one or two of them, he wasn't sure.
"Doctor. Pass me your pen and the plastic packet from that bandage of yours."
Mary handed it over, suddenly realising what Chance had to do.
He sealed all but one of the punctures he found in her chest with the plastic... there were three of them, possibly passing through the links in her chainmail. The last one he left open for the time being.
Working rapidly, the soldier stripped the pen tube, leaving behind the hollow outer casing. He fished out duct tape from his webbing, along with his combat knife and cigarette lighter (he didn't smoke... it was standard equipment for a soldier).
Passing the flame over the blade, Chance sterilized it. Next, Mary helped to ease Ash's chainmail off as the soldier used the flame to sterilize a patch over Ash's side, somewhere between her ribs. Careful not to touch the keen blade of his knife, he made an incision in her flesh with a single precise stroke.
It felt like he was cutting open his own heart.
Pink frothy blood rushed out, wet slurping noises as air passed in and out of Ash's lung. Chance pushed his makeshift breathing tube into her collapsed lung, allowing her to breathe through the pen tube. He secured the makeshift device with duct tape, at the same time ensuring that the last wound in her lungs was closed. Her breathing now came in horribly wet sounding slurps as air passed through breathing tube, bypassing her damaged windpipe.
Crystal stared at the Chance's face when he was done... and looked away.
It was totally silent, almost undetectable... but it was certain... The soldier was crying.
Silvia just finished the phone call to her dad. She went to Dragon and gave him the phone.
"Dragon, he doesn't know. He just knew it was going to be one of the following days, and wanted us out of here as soon as possi..."
Then she noticed the whole mess on the street. She had been so busy with her phone call she hadn't even looked around. "Oh man... what the sleg happened here?"
"I'll explain later... we got no time now; Ash is badly wounded" Dragon replied, not realizing the girl had never met Ash. "We gotta move fast now."
A bit later Crystal returned with Cylinder Head.
"OK," Cyl said. The chopper is ready to go. Let's get her in there."
Silvia looked around. She remembered seeing most of the people in the club when ID0 performed there.
"Are those the friends you were looking for?" she asked Mary, who was still trying to stop the bleeding of Ash's wounds.
"Yes... these are my friends.", Mary replied quickly, without looking up.
Dragon walked towards Silvia. "You said 'one of the folowing days', right? So not today?"
"No... not today. Might be tonight though. So... who are all these people?"
"We'll explain that later. More important now is if they're all here. So people... is anyone missing?"
Nobody replied. Curim and Mary carefully moved Ash on an improvised brancard and Cilinder Head helped them move her in the chopper.
Then, Chance slowly moved his head. "Tank... we found Tank in the nearby hospital."
Silvia turned to Dragon. "What did he say?"
"Tank... He was a member of our group. Really big Orc; in fact, he's the biggest Orc I ever met. We lost track of him a while ago."
"TANK?!? You mean you guys know where he is?"
Everyone turned their head to see who just said that.
"You mean you know him?" Crash asked.
"Yeah... I met him a few years ago; I rescued him from some Rent-a-cops that had shot him with sedation bullets. I was amazed he wasn't asleep yet from the stuff they put in him... well anyway, I took care of the cops for him. He was my best friend in the orc district, but he disappeared a few months ago. I gotta get to him!"
"I'll come with you," Crystal said. "I know where it is."
"Don't bother," Dragon replied. "We all gotta get to the Hospital anyway. But I don't think we can all evac with one helicopter when Tank's with us..."
"It'll be allright. Cyl told me the late Mr. Lefixit parked his helicopter before the hospital, and I got a bit of flying experience. I'm sure he won't need it." She looked at the burned body of Jimmy Lefixit that was lying a few meters away from them.
"Come on then, what are we waiting for?" Silvia yelled. "Let's go!"
Cylinder Head, Mary and of course Chance took off in the helicopter with the unconcious Ash, and the Binman and Jimmy. Cylinder Head was a good pilot - he'd get them to hospital quickly and without disturbing the wounded girl.
Silvia, Crystal, Curim, and Dorodo and Raven piled into his van. It was a little cramped, but it would get them to hospital. Dragon took his car in the back. Firearm and Crash elected to stay with Lady Zero.
They'd meet up back at the hospital, and Firearm and Crash would meet them there, after they'd got the singer to safety.
Forodiran sniffed the air. Even in the air-conditioned hall given to her, she could smell the hydrocarbon fuel from outside. Vladistok was mobilising. Silently, and steathily, it was getting ready, for the inevitable.
The six other dragons were in seperate halls. However, as superior, Forodiran had direct comlinks to all of them, on the walls.
Vladistok APCs ground across the compound, full of troops. Attack Choppers filled the air with whirling rotorblades, and squadrons of panzers were on full alert. At all entrances to the city, Vladistok scouts waited, scanning with cyberware enhanced eyes for any sign of the bomb.
Everyone in the compound knew it was coming. It was only a question of how. Knowing N'zar, he might even INVADE the city to plant the bomb. Every option had to be counted for.
Lady Zero sought out Crash. The kid was dazed and bewildered, not knowing quite what to make of it all. It was Lady Zero then, who spoke.
"Huh?" Crash said. He'd heard the term before, but his mind wasn't really working.
"I'm magically active, Crash. I don't know if I'm Hermetic or Shamanic, but the power is in me."
"Why didn't you tell me before?" The youngster frowned. He absent-mindedly itched the spot where his cyberarm had been.
"We don't always know what power lies withing us, Crash. I don't know my power. This was the first time I've ever used it. It scares me."
She trailed off, eyes cast to the floor. Crash took her and huged her, with difficulty - He always was a short kid, even for his age.
"Look, maybe we can get help...Curim is good. He can teach you spells!"
Lady Zero opened her eyes again, drew back and looked at Crash.
"No Crash. We don't have time. Daisaka will be coming. You'd better go."
"But..." But the words dide on Crash's tongue. He saw Lady Zero was carrying a gun. Chance's gun, the one that had killed Jimmy Lefixit.
"Crash, Go. I Killed Jimmy. I did it in self-defence. The rent-a-cops will go hard on me if they find out I'm awakened. But I'll get them off you. I'll clear your name."
All this time, Firearm had been sitting by the sidelines, finding something incredibly useful under his fingernails. Now he pulled Crash away.
"Yeah kid, she speaks sense. Lets go!"
Crash wanted to speak out, but couldn't. The last he saw of Lady Zero before being dragged off the road and into a blind alley was Lady Zero sitting serenely by the side of the road, still in the silver jumpsuit from last night. She was tired but still beautiful.
Words formed from the ether in Crash's head.
See you soon.
And the word's vanished.
Alone rookie detective from Daisaka was first on the scene. He let out a low whistle, surveying the carnage that had been Jimmy Lefixit's car.
Damn, two senior detectives seriously wounded, one of the city's top fixers dead, a babe kidnapped...I guess my job doesn't get any better than this!
He spotted Lady Zero, sitting contemplatively on the kerb.
"Hiya, Lady." The young human said. "Whatcha doin'?"
"I killed Jimmy Lefixit. The other suspects had nothing to do with this."
Suddenly the young rent-a-cop's mind was filled with a deep, calm clarity. Of course! She was right! I'd better get her to safety right away and file a report to my bosses!
He had no reason to suspect whether or not the thoughts were his own. Eventually he put his Daisaka Light Pistol away under his trencchoat, and moved Lady Zero to his car.
He took Lady Zero - with no resistance - to Daisaka HQ.
Shadow looked at his wrist watch and wondered who he could go to now.
He stood there in silence as he brushed the brown hair away from his eyes slowly, but swiftly.
Shadow had thought to himself.."Why did Xecktos and Jimmy Lefixit betray me?..."
Shadow walked along but decided to go to the Prison compound that Xecktos was being held it.
He ran fast over to his car and got in and closed the door.
Shadow then realized something, the two detectives had still been on the ground, he got back out and walked over to the two seriously injured bodies.
He kicked whatever weapons they had away from there hands.
By the way they looked, they had lost massive amounts of blood.
Shadow then took the uniforms off Thorensson and put it on himself, it had fit just right.
He then looked at the Security ID, and nodded.
Shadow then went back to the place he had been staying and had washed off the whole entire uniform and then placed an ID picture of him.
After he did this, he went over to the laptop, and hooked up his data taping device to it, he then broke into the Security's mainframe and got a name from there.
He then unhooked it and put it away, and left the hotel with his security uniform and the pair of glasses he picked up from the dead guy that had been shot during Jimmy's little raid.
Shadow then started off towards the compound, at high speeds...
The hospital was a madhouse of Daisaka police and detectives trying to piece together what had happened... With what appeared to be Italian Mafia men lying dead together with wounded patients and staff, the rent-a-cops were being overwhelmed by panicked and hurt people dressed in hospital garb.
Chance took one look and knew that it was hopeless to get Ash there... The other team would have to extract Tank. The soldier hoping that the Ork had not fallen into police hands yet.
Just then, his wristphone beeped with a call... It was Dragon, and that terminator guy told the people in the helicopter of another doctor that he could use. Chance thanked him... and suddenly remembered another person whom they had forgotten... two of them, actually.
"Dragon, Lora is still in the hospital with Tank. I do not know if the police have found them yet. And someone ought to go get Xecktos... That fellow has been missing for hours and probably doesn't know of the buclear threat."
Wheeling expertly in the air under the control of Cylinder Head, the chopper headed for a legendary healer... known only as the "Wolf".
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