The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 9

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce


(Sn1P3r)

"See, she explained she had nothing against me, but she was hired to kill me by Sall Beerly, one of the top Wing Gliders in the world, I'm guessing he thought I was competition" Zizz whispered to Chance.
"So why didn't she just kill you there and then in the flat?"
"Maybe she needed to prove that I was dead, like my head on a platter" he forced a smile
"Fragging expensive platter" Chance frowned.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Bobby Woo and his hand-picked men made short work of the five DocWagon guards who had tried to surprise tham by rushing around from behind the hospital. Bobby's men were cybered with Wired Reflexes and Smartgun links - No contest. Moving at all times, firing on the run, they'd double-tapped the Armoured men in the face with their pistols, shattering their mirrored visors.

"Quickly! Into the hospital!" Bobby shouted. His men did as they were told, clambering in through the shattered window the flame-haired Elf had used.

Bobby hung back for a while. He stretched out his arms, aching from the recoil of his Shunwang ChongDu heavy pistol. He looked up into the sky - Not raining for once. He listened to the sound of the city: A great, all-encompassing roar of car engines, circling the city at all times, on the sky-roads and motorways that bisected London. Bobby found it relaxing to just stop and listen occasionally.
There was more: The wail of police sirens not far off.
The sound of more gunfire inside the hospital.
A helicopter - No, a Tilt-Wing - leapt into the sky from the roof of the hospital.

Man, they must really care aboyut their patients, sending out air ambulances in times like this, all their own men dead or dying out the front of their own hospital...

Bobby looked around St Mary's square.
At the outbreak of violence, everyone had vanished from sight, running from their lives. Many had been in cars and driven off. Many cars lay abandoned, their doors hanging open.

If I was still a petty thief, I'd have a field-day. He thought. He looked at the smart suit he was wearing - The finest from mortimer of London. This is but one example of the proof that I'm no common thief. I fought my way to the top, like any man should.

One car wasn't abandoned: A window wound down. A Muscled dark-greenish arm flicked a toothpick out of the window.

Bobby grinned. He strutted over, jandering up to the open window.

"Hello Mikey. Long time no see, eh?"

Mikey sat staring straight forward, already chewing on another toothpick. Beside him , a Black Ork stooge sat nervously in a cheap synth-leather jacket.

"'Ullo Bobby. Still taking Kara's rent-boy assignments are ya?"

"Better Kara's rent-boy then Kara's bitch, old man. How's the knee?"

Before Mikey could answer, the stooge had drawn a compact Shinzon 20 machinepistol. It would have cut Bobby in two, firing as it did at a computer-controlled rate of around 2500rpm.

That's why Bobby, with the best reflexes money could buy, flicked up his ChongDu. The three-round burst blew the stooge's brains out neatly through the open passenger-side window to land on the pavement. The corpse with it's vapourised face slid limply in the seat.

Mikey looke at the corpse, then straight ahead again, chewing his toothpick.

"Sorry about that. Fragging newbies."

"We were all newbies once, eh, Mikey?" Bobby grined, raising his gun again.

Mikey turned, grinning viciously - revealinghis massive yellow tusks.

"Bobby, my boy, you still are a newbie.

A split-second later Bobby's head vanished in a puff of red mist The smartly-suited corpse thudded to the ground.
The 7.62mm Frag-X round had done its job.

Mikey caught the ChongDu pistol neatly out of the air, licked the blood of his face and drove away. Seconds later, the first Metropolitan Police Armoured ACV arrived on the scene, sloshing through the stagnant flood water that flowed around Bobby's headless corpse.

***

The sniper broke down his Zaibatsu Type-120 with well-parctised speed and efficiency, concealing the various components in various locations on his person. Then he closed the window in the temporarily abandoned office and made his way to the griund floor, where he wordlessly ordered a robo-cab for the West End.

***

BBC News: Breaking News! Terrorist Outrage!

"This is Flaxine McJanadaren at the DocWagon St Mary's Hosptal where we have received word of one of the largest terrorist attacks this year! In a bloody gunbattle, a force of what us believed to be over thirty armed intruders engaged DocWagon security in a gun-battle through the building, their aim, to kidnap and murder famed Wing-Man Matthew 'Zizz' Zizler. Twenty of the terrorists were killed, along with seven DocWagon patients, including, sadly, Mr Zizler.
Tragically, three DocWagon guards were also wounded, putting their lives on the line to protect the only thing that matters to them: Their patients.
Their now follows a reconstruction of the events."

Cut to short and extremely bloody innacurate film:
A green-haired woman carrying a sack of explosives is machine-gunned in half by a DocWagon guard who is spouting blood from a ripped-off arm.
A psychotic-looking Elf puts a machinegun to a beautiful elven secretary's head and fires on full auto, before a surgeon throws a scalpel through his eye, into his brain.
A Lumbering Ork in military fatigues with a suppressed assault rifle is seen cheerily gunning down unarmed doctors, before he falls off the edge of the rooftop trying to catch a helicopter.
A brown-haired Elf is seen flameing a creche, cackling maniacally. She is shot in the fuel tank and explodes.
A man who looks like Zizz is seen having his wings ripped out by a Troll and dropped from a helicopter that looks nothing like Cy's Tilt-Wing into the corrosive Thames.
There is a small disclaimer: These events may not have happened.


Cut back to Flaxine, in the rain, with rapidly-dissolving umbrella:
"Those bastards. But rest-assured folks, DocWagon assure us that the patients who were killed were on the terrorist's side anyway, and that there is nothing to fear for the thousands of other, happy, paying customers.
This is Flaxine McJanadaren for BBC news, at DocWagon St Mary's. DARREN! GET ME OUT OF THIS FRAGGING AC-" Click!]

Shot of Decker's brain being fried.
"Want to make sure your systems are deadly secure? Buy Digital Guardian ICE! DGC - For all your computer needs!"

***

"They thought I was AN ORK?" Chance roared.

"They thought I had green hair? THIS COLOUR IS FRAGGING NATURAL!" Crystal screamed, scandalized.

"I wasn't even in it!" Crash was equally pissed off. He stomped off to the 'kitchen'.

"They got me just fine." Firearm smiled, already starting yet another narcobeer.

"And I notice they 'killed' us all. It makes it easier for them when they realize they can't trace us for public trial." Chance added.

Crystal nodded, heading for the door of the abandoned Docklands flat.

"Where are you going?" Chance asked.

"Oh, didn't I tell you? Crash and I are going to a meet with a fixer at Club Hate. We're trying to get him a new Cyberdeck. If there's anything you need, now's the time. By the way, where is Crash?

***

Crash had gone to the filthy kitchen of the flat, where there was a working telecom port.
He couldn't help himself. He had Matrix withdrawal. The fibre-optic cable clicked into place in his skull.

Fragging hell!

His mind screamed, as it was rammed full of data like a dumptruck of explosives ramming the gates of heaven. Suddenly the Matrix and all of its gigapulses of data were given free-reign to enter his mind. He had no Cyberdeck to translate it for him, had no way of defending himself from the knowledge breaking into his head...

It's like something's trying to re-wire my Head!

His mind screamed. He opened his eyes - His meat body stumble around in the kitchen. He saw everthing as negative. He blinked - Now he saw everything as vector outlines in black and white. He started to see what he thought were dimensions - five, seven at once, and then back to three.

No! Must...fight!

Using every ounce of will he had - and didn't know he had - he fought back, pushing the matrix from his head. He felt stronger, better. He somehow knew his brain - like the organic computer it was - was being reprogrammed. He pushed back the matrix further and further, until it was gone from his head.
He carried on pushing - Now he was in the matrix.

This is incredible! I'm in the matrix without a deck! I should be dead!

he appeared as himself - Not the persona that had been on his Cyberdeck.
He passed an icon that seemed to belong to another decker - A Neon Exclaimation mark. He passed his virtual hand through the icon - He inadvertently corrupted the icon's data on a level that shouldn't be possible, even for a decker with a nova-hot attack program.
The icon screamed digitally and disappeared, blinking out of existence.

Oops...Hope I didn't just kill someone...Don't I?

He rose up off the virtual ground. In the distance, he saw the Tri-prong tower instantly recognisable as the Transys Arcology, with a glowing nimbus irradiating from it.

A voice formed in his head.

Welcome, Crash. I await you with a great task.

And then, it all went dark.

***

Crystal slapped Crash again - The crazy kid had just tried to go into the Matrix without a deck.

"Crash! Wake up! WAKE UP!" She screamed, pulling the datajack plug - With a csoark of electricity.

Crash's eyes opened.

Frag, back here again.

"Are you okay?"

"...Yes." Was his uncharacteristic response.

---------------------------------------------
(LeFire)

Crash looked ok after a minor nagging session by Crystal... although Chance could have sworn that the kid looked a tad bit more 'robotic' than usual.

Deckers... He shrugged. Strange guys.

"Well Zizz mate," Chance replied, moving over to the athelete as the latter sat in the sofa watching the news repeats, taking care not to disturb the napping Ash as he left her on the bed. "Seems like you've a choice now."

"That Kara woman may not be dead... Both you and me know how good medical care is nowadays--only way to make sure someone's down for good is to put a round in his, or in this case, her, head or heart." Chance replied.

"I don't know if any of Kara's surviving Hunrunners are going to come after us, or if that competitor of yours is going to try another trick on you. What I do know, however, is that you are probably as good as dead to Sall... Heck, he would understand if the police can't get anything from the Thames besides your DocWagon bracelet. That water will sizzle anything short of those mutant native London fish."

"This means that if we can lie low for the moment... you'll escape his attentions for a while." Chance gave a sudden quick smile. "Until, of course, you decide to 'rise from the dead' again just in time to win that big world championship event of yours. Hell, imagine his face when you suddenly pop up again just when he thinks that he would have a free run."

Zizz paused for a while before he gave his reply.

"Yes... That sounds like a good idea. DocWagon would have some problems with me after that fight on their turf, of course... But there's nothing a little donation to the hospital won't solve."

Chance did a double take... he had forgotten momentarily just how famous the athelete was. That guy had girls fainting by the battalions during his shows, and fame and fortune large enough to rival many third-world countries.

"But anyway, I wish to thank you for saving my bacon back there... Really sorry about how everyone got hurt." Zizz said.

"Well... We do occasionally have problems with credit..."

"I'm sure that my company would be extremely pleased when I turn up alive and win that world championship... And when they are pleased, they are generous." Zizz gave a meaningful shuffle of this thumb and forefingers.

"I see your point." Chance replied. "Well, don't worry about the injuries... many of us have lived through worse. Ash has busted eardrums, but I'll get her to a street doctor to do that eardrum/inner ear-repair op they do for diving accidents and rock musicians in a short while after Crystal sorts Crash out. Not a big problem there.

The rest of us have flesh wounds that heal easily with typical tissue-regen-fluid inpregnated bandages. Sides, Firearm, Crystal and Ash will heal a bit faster than a human... they all have elven blood in them."

***

Five minutes later, all four Shadowrunners were ready. Chance called out to Zizz, asking if he wanted to go along with them, or stay with Cylinder Head and Firearm in the apartment.

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

The Binman, being opted the most likely to converse with the Ork and get some useful information, asked the pig-herder if he knew a Remini. Apparently the string of grunts he uttered indicated he did. The jabbered exchange ended with the Ork gesturing vaguely towards the far end of the villiage. Apparently that was where she lived.

Raven parked the van along the grass verge, and opened his door, stepping out and remembering to take his gun. The others flung the back door open, and began to unload, Hurricane wrinkling up her nose in disgust at having to lift up her long red dress with her hands to avoid the sticky mud.
Badjimmy, at the front of the van, opened his door, and dropped out lightly. He failed to check where he was dropping to, and ended up knee-deep in a thick mudpit that stretched across what passed for the road. Mary had no idea how Raven had manauvered his van to avoid such pitfalls, as Tank hauled the cursing Elf out of the mud effortlessly, with one heavy green hand.

The party of eight skirted the mud, and made their way up the road. Despite the mud, and run-down atmosphere of the almost medieval villiage.

"Ok, the last house, right," said Mary to The Binman. She was carrying Curim's metallic staff in one hand, and looked run-down and worn out after the long journey. Hurricane, on the other hand, was a model of pristine beauty and care, walking alongside the doctor with a purposeful yet graceful stride.

"I still don't like her" whispered Silvia to Dorodo, who nodded his head in agreement.

Having passed several other houses in various states of disrepair, Raven was the first to reach the last house, which was believed to be Remini's. It was obviously larger, better built, and better kept than the others. Infact, there was nothing wrong with it....

... except the door hanging off it's hinges, and muddy bootprints heading into it's darkened inside.

"Looks like someone got here before us", said Hurricane, matter-of-factly, and brushed some red-gold hair out of her eyes.

---------------------------------------------
(CKW)

The blizzard seemed to go worse.
To hike up the Everest alone was difficult,but in the middle of a blizzard... was a suicide. However, he needed to do this way. He needed to push himself to the limit.

Illidia looked at the pistol.
"The only memento of my only friend,Mac."
Someone was knocking on the door.
"Must be customers. They do want to have a room to garrison from the acid rain of London."
She smiled. At least, her inn had several rooms for them, and customers were welcome.

---------------------------------------------
(Sn1P3r)

Zizz had been thinking...
"Chance... I don't think I can dive..." he mumbled
"What?" Chance turned around, looking astonished
"I've seen death now... and I'm finally afraid of it... I can't dive" he muttered, tears running down his face.
"Frag" Chance replied "Well if you can't dive, then you can't enter the comp"
"No..."
"You gonna lie low?"
"I have to"
"What do you want to do..." Crash smiled, realising that Zizz would be a new member of their group.
"I'm rich, I have more money than I could spend in seven lifetimes... and I want to use some of it to help you guys, and I want to join you" Zizz smiled.
"You have any experience with weapons?"
"None"
"What can you help us with?"
"I can drive... I'm the best fragging driver you'll ever see... and I can hire myself a bodyguard from DocWagon... they'll be very quiet about this if I donate a few million to them."
"Cool... welcome to the team man, I'll talk to Ash and the others before we make any final decisions though..."
"Of course"

Zizz shook Chance's hand and the two smiled at each other... This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

---------------------------------------------
(Nyerguds)

Hurricane walked into the house.
"There's no one here, as far as I can tell. But there's... something... ooh!"

Raven stepped inside, and looked at Hurricane. Her face was all red, and she looked a bit intoxicated, as if she was drunk.
"What the frag is that smell?"
Mary came closer. "Oh my..." She quickly covered her nose. "Get her out of there! Silvia, stay here."

The Binman and Raven quickly got Hurricane out of the house. She still looked a bit 'high'; It took her a while to come back to senses.

"Feromones." Mary said. "I've been studying this stuff a while ago. But who would use them as a weapon? Guys, can you go in there and open some windows so we can come in and investigate the place?"

Silvia had a hard time supressing her laughter. There wasn't a shred of dignity left on the Priestess' face.

---------------------------------------------
(BlueThunder)

Sorrow was bored. He was in his cell like room, watching Polt though a small window he had cut out of one of the walls. He didn't really pay much thought to the bio assassin Damocles, but he sensed something about that being. Something... abnormal. These thoughts were driving Sorrow insane. He needed a bit of fun... suddenly an idea struck him, he got closer to the small window and started to speak softly.

"Polt, Polt... I'm calling you Polt." he whispered.
"What? W-who's there?" replied the scientist with a tone of confusion.
"It's me Polt, it's all of us... we're after you polt. All after you, no protection will serve you... YOU WILL BE MINE!" Sorrow was trying so hard not to laugh as the scientist spun around panicking.
"St-stay away! I warn you, my hands... hands will come for you! Yes my hands! Precious hands..."
"No hand will save you Polt, we want you...and no one will stop us from taking you... we're EVERYWHERE!" Sorrow was almost in tears with laughter, he watched the scientist running around, screaming to the walls, tables, lamps, Carde. It was insanity, but he loved it.

"Once again, my powers of illusion serve me well" he thought to himself, he turned toward the door to go calm the weak minded fool, But Damocles was stood in the doorway. The manufactured Ork gave him a blank stare, as if there was nothing behind those expresionless eyes. The two stared each other in the eye for a few seconds, until Damocles moved on. Sorrow picked himself up out of his chair and headed towards Polt's office...

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

"A-hem.. Before you two get married, I have a meet to go to?" Crystal reminded them.

"Yeah." Chance agreed. Okay.

Much to Zizz' chagrin, Cylinder Head drove, with his own Land Rover he'd pre-parked at the hideout. Chance decided to take Ash with him - The only other 'runner staying behind was Firearm, and for soe reason or other Chance was loathe to leave her alone with him., and would be even if he wasn't drunk yet again.

Everyone made sure they weren't wearing obvious armour and carried only pistols, but Chance kept his rifle in the back of the rover, as Crystal left some grenades, under a wad of camo netting.

Soon the bright London lights were flashing by. It was night now, and all the clubbers, trancers, chippies, druggies drunks and other hedonists were making their marks on the city.
Luckily Cy was able to bypass most of these by taking the 500ft high Sky Road.

As with most British roads, this was in various stages of dis-repair and corrosion from the Acid rain trickling in from the domes - Now close enough to see, twinkling with the rain splashing onto their surfaces.

"Almost looks...Beautiful." Zizz said.

"Breaking my fragging heart." Cylinder Head intoned, zombie-like from his vehicle rig. He dodged sideways to avoid a Troll on a Honda Viking, who waved a big mddle finger at them.

A police helicopter buzzed the skyroad, giving them all something to look at as Cy turned off, taking a down-ramp into the West End.
A few minutes of congested night-traffic - Make absolutely sure all doors are locked - in the once-prosperous shopping district of London, and the LandRover pulled up behind a small clinic, which looked fairly legal.

A greasy black haired Dwarf doctor with a prosthetic hand met them at the back. Cy had told them about him - Ex army doctor, apparently. Rumour had it he was involved in the warfare that had divided North America. On whose side, no-one knew, and how he'd got there, just being a regular army doctor...
Smart people knew to ask no questions.

"Alright Cy?" He asked the man who had arranged the meet. "Where's the injured girl?" He spotted Ash, wide-eyed, pale-faced and frightened. "Ah, there ye are. We'll have you fixed up in a jiffy. Just don't get seen by any o' t'other patients."
He turned to Chance. "Take me a couple o' days, three, tops. Call it £75,000, shall we?"
"What's that in Nuyen?"
"¥850 - With 'conversion tax'" The expensive - but honest-sounding doctor said, smiling.

"Just remember, Hammerhand Harry's the name!"

(GM - Chance, I'll leave you the option of going with the others or staying with Ash. Of course, you don't have to leave Ash here if you don't want...)

Cylinder Head drove the Landrover to it's next stop - Club hate, dropping his charges off and going for a place to park and wait. He didn't feel like clubbing tonight - He was going to a scrapyard to try and fix something interesting out of the corroded junk. Crystal said her goodbyes.

A low, constant bass could be felt reverberating through the ground. The club entrance was down a set of dangerously corroded concrete stairs. As they entered, they were greeted by the familiar sight of a Troll bouncer and his human lackey, both wearing synth-leather jackets, waiting by a bored-looking Dwarf woman in a booth ready to 'look after' coats and weapons for an extortionate price.

"Don't try nothin' stoopid." Grunted the Troll as he started giving pat-downs

"Oh don't worry, I wouldn't want to encroach on your territory." The Troll, scratched his head as the skinny human sniggered.

"You talk the talk, lady! Do you walk the walk?"

"I walk like a woman, and so will you if you don't get off my case, motherfragger!!!"

He backed off, smiling nervously.

They grudgingly handed in their pistols to the Dwarf 'woman' (although the beard made them all unsure), handed over a few £500 coins for entry, and made their way inside.

Opening the neon-framed doors, the music hit like a slap in the face. It was the same monotone hum they'd heard upstairs, only now they could make out occasional random-sounding synth drum-beats.

On the dancefloor, a large group of dancers stood, swaying slowly side-to-side, arms moving slightly.

"Man, I love this music." A young girl said excitedly, running up to the dancefloor.

The background hum - A major irritance - Changed almost imperceptibly.

"Oh frag it, that last song was good, but this is fragging crap." She spat, disgustedly.

"Crash!"

He looked around. Lady Zero came up and put her arms around him.

"I missed you Crash!" She told the young decker, a whole foot shorter than her.

Meanwhile, Crystal had spotted her contact - The Dwarf who'd been on the door earlier, before the Troll took over. He came walking off the dancefloor. Crystal noted he had some kind of chip in his datajack.

"Oh, I know, is this that new music you can only hear properly if you have a special chip slotted?" She asked him. "Apparently it works on more wavelengths than the human ear is capable of hearing."

"Nah." The Dwarf said. "It really sounds like this. They call it 'Floortile'. The chip is just my wife's shopping list."

"Oh. Oh, well, we're meeting our mutual friend."

"I know. Walk this way, please."

Zizz stayed, as Crash and Crystal followed the Dwarf into a secure back room.

An Elf with wraparound shades and a blue jumpsuit approached Zizz.

"Hey, chum. Want some of the good stuff? BTLs? Neoleum? Novacoke? I'll give ya good rates man..."

***

Shadow was in a room - It appeared to be a storeoom. It reminded him strangely of the Jagged Nails back in Geneva.

The city that isn't there anymore.

"So." The metallic voice asked him. "I would like you to check on some 'runners I am hiring - They expect something from me, and I shall demand this run in return. If they do not comply, you are to kill them. I'll pay you the usual ¥10,000. How about it?"

Just then, The door opened. A Dwarf led Crash and Crystal in - They stared at Shadow - He stared back. Then they stared at who Shadow had been talking too.

It was a bog-standard IWS DLK mk6 utility drone. The tracked machines half the height of a man were a common sight all over factories in the UK - They could be configured for a huge variety of tasks. There were many armed variants.
This one Crystal knew, acted as one of the Puppet Master's - More commonly known as 'Dj Doppelgänger' - emissaries.
'Dj Doppelgänger' was a legend in his - or her - own right. Apparently, no-one had ever seen him/her in real life, only one Ork who'd acted as his mouthpiece for a while, before dying in a car accident.
The Dj - so known for his use of music instead of voices in his telecom calls - was one of the most successful fixers in the West End. He had men in the forces, men in the police and men in the corps. It could have been some guy who never left his house, a dragon, an Elf, a fragging ghost as far as anyone on the streets new.
If the government or corps new, they weren't telling either.

The drone mounted a speaker.

"So I understand you two require something of me." It told the newcomers. It was not a question.

"You got the deck?" Crystal asked.

Crash's mind suddenly snapped into the present. Deck? Cyberdeck? I don't need a fragging cyberdeck! Whythe frag am I here?

The puppet master's drone said: "I have a deck. A Yamaha zx81000 MPCP. That is your equirement? I understand that that is .state of the art' these days."

Crash new it was, but why would he need a deck?

He moved to speak, but Crystal spoke first.

"Yeah, that'll do. Pay him, Crash."

"Pay him what?" Crash said, honestly confused. Why should he pay for something he didn't want?

"Pay the fragging money!"

"How much?"

"¥50,000 should suffice." The drone monotoned.

"Okay. Oh, wait...I think I left it at the room..." Crash lied.

If the drone could have smiled, it would have.

"I do not like being insulted in this manner. However, Crystal, due to our dealings in the past, I am prepared to offer you a deal. Perform a simple task for me, and I will let you keep the cyberdeck."

Crystal didn't need to be told that the only other option was death.

"You may converse with your comrades before you decide what to do. Choose wisely."

As the two were led out back to the club, The drone told Shadow:

"Remember what you are to do. Make sure they do my bidding and you will be rewarded."

Crystal and Crash went back to the main body of the club to meet the others.

***

Jol's rig was almost at the Orkislavian capital.

"Drive the rig into the Capital building," The CAS voice had told Xecktos. "We had that thing loaded woith enough C-12 to send the whole fragging Trogg 'nation' to the fragging moon. FRAGGING TROGGS!" The harsh speaker spat.

"Don't matter if the Trogg dies, or if you die for that matter, just do as we say, and the girl lives...For now."

On the outskirts of the capital now, Xecktos realized his cyber-body must also be wired in some way or another. Whoever had been willing to put so much cyberware into him would have marked it some way, so they could track him.

He had to think of a way to get rid of it...

---------------------------------------------
(The_Alpha_Gibbon)

After the destruction of his HoverCar, Ery and his partner found themselves in a Orkish Taxi, cruising at faster-than-comfortable speed down the road. Ahead there was fire and water and Orkish battle cries resonating for miles around the skirmish. The taxi rushed darinly into the fray until a Ork heavy laser cannon melted the windshield and disintegrated part of the cabby's head. As Ery grimaced, the taxi veered off the road unnoticed and crashed roughly into a large boulder. Puffs of steam were emitting from what was left of the hood and Ery staggered from his second car crash of the day. His colleague did not.

"Fragging land cars. I'm never getting in a another car as long as I live" Ery muttered as he staggered a few more paces and collapsed in the grass. As he fell into unconsciousness, the blood of his damaged leg slowly seeped into the grass.

He awoke with a headache a few hours later and wandered onto the road. Corpses lay everywhere, far too many to keep track of. Well, if Turin and the staff survived, they'd be heading for the village. As he arrived down the street, he saw the last of several figures enter the house.

***

LIGHT soared through the strands of the Matrix with abnormal speed, absorbing and collecting the information in it's databanks. He felt a surge of power entering the Matrix and milliseconds later, found the newcomer corrupting another's icon. Fascinating, the power seems to have. Perhaps not yet rivalling my power, but incredible none the less, it thought. LIGHT was, at the moment, invisible to all in the Matrix. He analyzed what threat Crash might possess to itself, assured itself that such ideas had no reasonable basis, then assumed the form of a young Elven girl. He could use this "Crash". Indeed he could.
"Welcome, Crash. I await you with a great task." The young decker suddenly disappeared, surprising LIGHT greatly.

Can the mortal sense my intentions? Why does he leave at this moment? This could prove to be interesting. The ideas raced through the databanks of the ICE as it began it's patrol of the Matrix once more.

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

After about half an hour, the house had been suffiecently aired out. Now the women could go back inside, although it now smelt as bad as the rest of the villaige. Mary thought she might almost prefer the pheromones.

Badjimmy had pulled some chairs up to a low table. On it, he had arranged seven bottles of wine, and several half-full glasses. An eigth bottle was moving back and forewards to his lips - obviously he didn't see any need for the glasses now. Mary looked at it distastefully.

"Have you actually done anything apart from sample Curim's wine?"
Badjimmy giggled and shook his head.
Mary picked up the bottles, tried unsuccessfully to remove the one grasped to his chest, and handed them to Silvia, with instructions to find wherever they had came from, and return them. She was going to see how Raven and Tank were doing, sorting through the numerous chests and cabinets on the upstairs story of the building to see if they could find a clue to where the troll could have gone.

Silvia took the bottles, and, leaving the vaguely intoxicated BadJimmy, one fingerless hand waving slowly over where the bottles had been, she stepped into a room with a large fireplace, ashes still smoking slightly. Obviously this place hadn't been deserted taht long. Hurricane, having recovered from her 'dizzy spell', was flicking through a dairy/calender on a wooden desktop. Cruim had obviously lived alot better than the rest of the people in this little villiage. Or else the place had got really bad after he left.

A door was open, leading down into what was presumiably a cellar. The cork from one of the wine bottles was lying at the top of a flight of stairs. Obviously Badjimmy had got them from in here.

Silvia prepared to descend the stairs, one hand on a wooden rail, the other clutching several bottles of wine loosely. She better be careful not to drop these.

She was being so careful, Silvia didn't notice Hurricane look up furtively, a wicked glint in her eyes. Flicking out her index finger, the red-haired elf shot a fine stream of summoned water across the room, splashing onto the first step of the stairs Silvia was about to step onto.

With a shriek and a smash of breaking glass, Silvia slipped up, and tumbled down the stairs into the dark cellar. Hurricane managed to supress a laugh, and leapt up in mock suprise.

"Silvia! Are you ok?" She intoned, making sure her rich voice sounded like she really was concerned.

A groan echoed up from the cellar, as Silvia picked herself up from the wreckage. Her clothes were soaked in wine now, and there were several fragments of glass embedded in her hands. Blood was mingling with alcahol on the floor.

"What happened", Hurricane's voice carried down to her. "Oh, Jimmy must have spilt something on this stair"

Silvia wasn't so sure.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Badjimmy hugged his bottle of wine like a lover.

Je suis l'amore...j'adore... He said, over and over.

"Strange, ya know?" The Binman said. "Heer I iz, in da muvvaland, roight? An I ain't thougt nothink about drinkin' or gettin' laid once..."

He turned around, suddenly with a maniacal glint in his eye.

"We need some ORK BEER!!!"

Badjimmy looked up from his wine.

"Non, mon ami. This is mine..."

"I mean da propa stuff..."

---------------------------------------------
(Riff)

Shadow stood in the room looking around for a couple of moments.

He then noticed a voice talking to him, Shadow looked over at it and listened to what he said.

The voice said, "I would like you to check on some 'runners I am hiring - They expect something from me, and I shall demand this run in return. If they do not comply, you are to kill them. I'll pay you the usual ¥10,000. How about it?"

He nodded to the voice in agreement, just as he said this, the door came open and 2 other people came in

The man and woman looked at him, as he stared back at them.

Shadow had seen the man before,but had never seen the woman before.

"So I understand you two require something of me.", said the drone to the man and woman.

Lukas then listened to the drone, woman, and man talk for the next 15-20 minutes about a deck that the man wanted to buy.

He glanced at the man and was suspicious about him, when he said he had forgotten the money back in the room.

After Shadow had seen the 2 newcomers leave, the drone then exchanged a couple of few words with him and he quietly followed the man and woman.

Shadow thought of his new objective and mission as he did this.

---------------------------------------------
(Nyerguds)

Silvia gave Hurricane an angry look.
Slegging bitch... you can act very well, but your thoughts were far too obvious.

Oh man... how am I going to get that wine out of my clothes? Blegh. Let's just do it the easy way.

She changed to her dragon form. It was an incomplete shapeshift, without the wings or tail.

With a quick spell the clothes disappeared into her skin. Suprisingly, most of the wine didn't disappear with them, but simply leaked off her body.
Of course... I put that spell on the clothes themselves. I have to remember that; might be useful.

Now let's find a towel or something.


Then she felt the pain again. There were still some glass splinters in her hands. The shift to her dragon form had pushed most splinters out, but not all of them.

She noticed something lying on the ground.
Nose plugs? Then she knew about the pheromones!

She quickly grabbed the plugs and got up the stairs.
"Mary... look at this."

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

NewsEye Update

"Today marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the UCAS, as president-elect Terence Andrew Gibson was sworn in at the blue house, Washington FDC. In his inaugural speech he swore to remain true to the platform he was voted in on, yet played down rumours of a US-Canada divide."

Cut to the new President - A silver-haired human male in a blue suit. He has the face of a hawk and piercing green eyes.

"I will remain true to my voters. This nation will remain tru to it's people - all of it's people."

Cut to scenes of red-white and blue balloons, live matrix casts and cheering.

"The other candidates, were, for their most part, graceful in defeat."

Cut to Dunkelzahn in human form:

"I acknowledge Terence as the new President of my adopted country. The events of this year have been moderately difficut for this wyrm, but I'm sure I can rely on dear Terence to keep the bugs biting. So to speak, you understand."

Cut to Cynthia Stormcrow, a beautiful woman for her age, she has a powerful edge to her voice:

"Although the country - and the human race - didn't get the result it deserved, there is still hope for us all against the approaching night. Light is the killer of darkness, and light will prevail."

Cut to scenes of violent rioting: A wheeled APC riot vehicle ploughs into a crowd, sending broken bodies flying all over Pennsylvania avenue's road.

"Unfortuanately, some losers didn't go quite so gracefully."

Cut to George Bush IV

"Gruddamnit! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO MY FATHER IS? A Bush doesn't take this lying down, you know!!! You'll be sorry, all of you!"

Cut to Jake Featherston:

"You Trogg ass-licking traitors! You'll be begging for the Freedom party, on account of y'all gonna be knee-deep in Ork shit this time next year. Just cause y'alls a pack of lying traitors that wants a shootin', don't mean the Freedom party won't try and protect you! Just watch!"

Cut back to newsroom.

"Oh, like, we're really scared Jake! In other news:"

Cut to scenes from an orbital station:

"The IWS comet probe, 'Halliday's Reach' was successfully launched from the IWS station. The slowest probe yet assembled, it is reported to be heavily armoured in case of asteroid hits which may cause terminal damage. It was assembled in secret on board the IWS geostationary orbit station codenamed Midnight & Royal.

The umnanned probe is the first to begin its long journey to intercept the comet, though it may not necessarily be the first, or only. Other probes scheduled for launch include:"

DGC:Valkyrie
Aztech:Rélampágo
AET:Brightstar
LGSys:Silvia
General Metro:Whittle
Zaibatsu:Kamikaze

"Of course, each corp is keeping their plans under strictest security. These are multi-billion nuyen investments. It is not known where each probe will be launched from or what the schematics are, so we can only speculate on who will win the Comet Race.

And what speculation! Comet hype is already reaching fever pitch! No matter who wins the first race, the lasting effect will be tremendous. Already new plans are being laid down for new and improved orbital facilites. The orbital population is set to at least double by this time next year."

"Looking to the heavens, this is Wena Haniliakayr, NewsEye news."

Cut to advert for new simsense film:
"One was an Air Elemental. One was an Ork. One was a Dwarf, and one was the President of the CAS. Foursome - A story of forbidden love at high government, coming to a simplex near you!"

---------------------------------------------
(LeFire)

"Well Dr. Hammerhand, don't mind me asking... But I don't see too many dwarf doctors around." Chance said as both Harry and him relaxed on battered looking stools in the doctor's establishment. Ash was asleep in a private patient's room (Only the best for a fellow soldier's girlfriend! Harry had said), recovering from the operation.

"Just call me Hammerhand or Harry, Chance. I know... we dwarfs are better known as technicians and engineers, better with steel and plastic than bones and tissues. But there's always one wild card or two among the pack, right?" Harry replied.

"I've seen enough of this world, Chance... I see you're a soldier, just like myself once, and I'll humour you this once and tell you a bit of my life story. Grud knows just how many lives I've seen wasted over these years. I became a doctor to help in whatever way I can."

Chance nodded, seeing the framed photographs on the wall. Harry was present in most of them, wearing uniform and armour that proclaimed him as a medical officer in his old army. In those photos, the doctor's real hand was still present. Chance looked at Harry's replacement limb, a high-quality military version that the doctor used with practised ease. The dwarf noticed him watching the hand.

"Lost it during the 2nd American civil war... but not in a battle. Some poor guy came in with an unexploded round buried in his ribcage. I was doing an op to take it out, but the thing went off in my mitt. That explains the metal hand you see here. I don't blame anyone for that... the thing is, Chance, war hurts innocents whether you like it or not. All you can do is just to lessen the suffering, up to what you can bear."

Chance remembered the innocents killed both on purpose and by accident in the DocWagon hospital and forced himself to let go of the ghosts. He nodded his thanks to the doctor.

"Well then, time to go check on your friend. She's healing fast, you know... she has mixed elven blood, right? Figures. We might just get lucky and get her running in a day and a half. Once she recovers from the anesthetic, she's gonna be fine."

"Thanks Doc..." Chance said as he handed over his credstick, "Expect us to patronise your business often... We do tend to get messed up a bit more than the average guy."

"Well, long as you fellows are subtle about it, I'll be glad to do business with you guys."

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

"Nose plugs?"
Silvia nodded.
"Hmmm..... I assume that means that Remini knew whoever sprayed the pheromones in here, and was expecting them. However, that doesn't explain what happened, if she had these to help her resist them"

"Erm, doctor..." called Hurricane condescendingly from the top of the stair "They did break down the door, didn't they?"
Mary looked shocked, then embaressed, colour flowing to her pale cheeks.
"Ok....." she began, the other two women looking on. "We have an idea of who broke in - they used pheromones to try and control Remini or something. The question is, who would use them?"

Just then, Tank's Orkish head appeared around the doorway.

"I just found sum letters in achest, an' it sez dat she got sum from sumone whoz name iz..." he paused and looked down, eyes squinting at the writing.

"Mor....rode...... Del....orey"

"Let me see," said Silvia, and began to ascend the stairs, eyes fixed on Hurricane, just in case.

---------------------------------------------
(CKW)

The dim light surrounded Illidia as she examined carefully the book.
Besides the pistol, a telephone conversation, the inn and the money, it was the only remnant of Dragon.
She started to read.
Runner's Book

"Dear friend.
I know you would be seeing this after I have dissapeared.
This is a book I had put all my knowledge. A knowledge that must remain in the shadows, but not dissapear.

Marcus Waldberg 'Dragon'. "

She continued to read. The prologue was followed by a quote.
Here lies the strength,
Here lies the death,
Here lies the wisdom and power,
but also, life, responsability and moral.

------

The names of the following people were faithful friends that I once asked them for help, and it was answered.

Eleanor WindSpear "Jade"
Beth WindSpear "Mist Lotus"
Jason Fiennes
Grigor Alexeiv
Nicholas Alexeiv "Wolf"
Uruk Zamer "Behemoth"
Carlos José Zwergmann "Hammerwing"
Griez Ryyxe "Overmind"
Roszondas Quetzacoatl


She was fascinated at the book. Maybe now she could find more about the man once called "Dragon".
And the pages went on...
Chapter 1: Hand to Hand Combat....

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

"Duh, iz u shoor dis is da plaz we gotta go?" Jol asked Xecktos, as they massive rig ploughed down the main street of the Orkislavian capital.
Rickety old cars and carts carrying food were crushed under massive wheels or knocked into so many flying pieces. Bystanders went screaming in all directions, but so far, this was normal driving conditions in any Orkislavian main city.

Xecktos saw the capital building looming ahead; A large stone building that had once boasted impressive, beautiful architecture, covered almost obscenely with Orkish idols, banners and adornments - Like the heads of various Ex-Dwarf leaders.

***

"Crash, I missed you so much." Lady Zero was saying. "I've got great news! Identity Zero have been confirmed for a world tour, and I've been offered a part in a simflick!"

Crystal looked on at them, hugging. She saw Shadow hovering behind them, keeping a low profile. Crystal knwe he was dangerous, in fact, she could recognise the look he had. He had just killed someone.

Crystal dialled a number on her wrist-phone.

"Chance, it's me. Crystal. I'm in trouble - Don't know if you've heard of some fixer called Dj Doppelgänger. Scary fragger, works through drones. Says he wants us to do a job, won't take no for an answer, can't explain why. What will we do?"

Crystal turned her head - A woman had caught her attention. Not only was she wearing a dazzling red PVC suit that showed evey contour of her body, she had violet eyes, obviously cyber, and a TAIL.... She moved with obviously wired reflexes, darting inbetween the zombie-like dancers, occasionally scracthing with razor-sharp retractable nails.

She slunk up to Zizz - talking to the Drug-dealer Elf.

She had an amazing, artificial attraction to her, her presence felt pretty powerful...Men and women turned to look as she passed.

The tail brushed against a man walking past Zizz.

"AAGGHH!" He screamed, convulsing as the Tazer bit him, knocking him out cold. An instant later, a tranced up punk had made off with his credstick and a packet of chips (the computer kind). The dancing crowd began trampling him. In slow motion.

"You may call me Miss Lucifer." She breathed, chest rising and falling. Her New Orleans accent set Zizz' teeth on edge."And who might you be?"

---------------------------------------------
(Nyerguds)

"Sender: Mawrose Delori" Silvia read. "That sounds familiar somehow..."

"Delori?" BadJimmy shouted from the other room. "That's the fraggin' centaur that practically owns Orkistonia! Dangerous feller... you don't wanna get involved with him!"
Apparently he was too drunk to understand that there was a big chance they were indeed going to get involved with him.
"A centaur?!" Mary said. "That figures... they can indeed easily seduce people with feromones... but I've never heard of one that actually uses them as a weapon."


Silvia looked at the letter. "Woah... this is plain weird. You're never gonna guess what this is... an Official Governmental Threat Letter. Can it get any weirder?"

"I wouldn't be surprised if it could. This is Orkistonia after all." Mary replied. "What does it say?"

"Something about reposession... wait, I'll look for the first letter."
Silvia browsed through the letters. After a while she found the one she was looking for.
"OK. This must be the first one."
She started reading the letter. "Oh my... Mary, you got to see this!"




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