The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
At the sound of the shiftavator opening, Chance snapped his head up and immediately began giving quick terse commands.
"No time for that."
Unslinging his autoshotgun, the soldier heaved the heavy weapon into Wirecat's surprised arms.
"Safety's on the the thumbpiece. Hold on tight... or the recoil will make you fly. Ash, your harpoon gun. Wirecat, I want those handcuffs. Don't argue, just give it to me. Trust me."
The redhead immediately handed over her weapon, withdrawing both her blades to compensate for its loss. Wirecat followed suit with his handcuffs, normal ones without thermocuff ability issued to MUNDI civil personnel.
Chance examined the gun. As he expected, the harpoon weapon had been equipped with a rope-attachment point and a motor to wind in kills.
"Whatever you do, don't stick your head into the shaft. I'll be quick as I can. Hold the fort, but stay quiet and avoid confrontation if you can."
Swiftly attaching the heavy-duty line to weapon, Chance cross-slung it across his back and climbed into the vent (shaped like a periscope with a side entrance and an overhead roof) without a second thought, starting a controlled slide down to Sarah's position, thankfully straight down the shaft at the bottom of an upside-down "t" junction. The vent was misting up... the result of cold and warm air mingling down below.
When he stopped nearby, the mage was already unconscious. However, there was another person nearby, the Ork named Alanya whom Wirecat had quickly warned him about before Chance had gone down.
The two exchanged very quick names before Chance straddled the mage, attaching the clasps of her cloak to carabinas mounted on his chest load-bearing ammo belts. Moving with the quick precision of urgency, he reached down and curled his left arm under her rump so that most of her weight stayed off her injured chest. Reaching across her, he grabbed hold of his webbing with the left hand, then handcuffed himself to the tough military-grade material to ensure that his left arm would not give way short of tearing itself out of its socket.
Next, he pointed the harpoon gun, which was still attached to him by its sling across his back, straight up the shaft and fired it... the head of the spear embedding itself deeply in the vent roof far above them. Alanya moved herself down the shaft a bit so that she could support some of their weight, while Chance activated the harpoon gun's motor.
Moving slowly at first, the weapon began to wind up, Chance hoping that the motor would not give up as it pulled both him and Sarah up the vent. Smoke curled from it... and Chance started whispering a quiet come on, come on to himself, staring up the vent as he did so, the light from above shining down upon his face.
Sarah woke briefly from unconsciousness to find herself being lifted heavenwards. There was mist everywhere cloaking details of what she could see, and she was muzzy and disorientated.
Then she realised that there was someone lifting her up... Someone who wore a winged helmet, staring straight up above him, the ghostly sheen of white light casting an etheral glow on his features, murmuring what appeared to be lines of prayer.
And he wore what appeared to be a blindfold... just like what a COL angel would wear, to ensure fairness; that whoever was brought to Heaven was not judged until he or she appeared at the gates.
So, I have died.... Angel, take me home... Sarah thought tiredly as she rested her head upon his armoured shoulder, falling once more into a blissful sleep.
Chance has all but reached the top of the shaft, the motor straining all the more heavily as it wound in. He looked again at his charge. He imagined he could feel the broken ribs moving together. The idea made him quesy, though of course he'd sen men with worse injuries. The woman ought to be screaming out in pain, yet she was strangely quiet.
I just hope I'm not doing her any permanent damage moving her like this. Better than leaving her down there, anyway.
Wirecat stood uneasily as the occupant of the shift-shaft approached him.
A man, middle-aged, techncian's uniform.
Green eyes, toolkit.
An 0ctopu5 by his side.
The moment Wirecat saw the drone, he clamped down on the trigger. The massive gun rocked against his shoulder like he was carrying a jackhammer.
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!
Each round felt like a kick to the head, he imagined he could feel his shoulder dislocating...
The solid bolts hammered into the drone's Chrome casing, leaving dents and welts. At least two penetrated. The machine came to a halt abruptly, fizzing sparks.
There was a crash as the green eyed man dropped his tools. He stood gaping for a second, as Wirecat recoivered from the recoil of the weapon.
Then the man ran back around the corner, heading for the shift...
By now Chance was back up from the shaft. Praise the spirits, the harpoon had held. Ash arrived to take Sarah from his arms as gently as she could.
Raven had never trusted Eva, she had forced him to betray Crystal way back during the Aztechnology raid. Badjimmy was just as bad, having tried to kill an infirmed Raven in Orkistonia. Raven disliked both of them, he knew one of them had murdered Zaid. Whether it was Badjimmy dropping the oxygen tank or Eva through lack of medical care, either way one of them was a murderer. Crystal was accepting Eva's Blazer, Raven still knew that Eva, being a BWG could kill everybody in the room with or without her weapon. Badjimmy had stepped to one side, while Raven couldn't really see him well he knew something was up....
Raven stepped forward, all four arms outstretched, holding two SMGs. He said to Crystal.
"Hey babe, this is a job for captain four arms. I can cover them both, ya know?"
He turned to the semi naked Eva and the cross dressing Badjimmy and declared.
'If one of you flinch, you both die. A guy like me aint got the reflexes to determine which one of you fraggers is the bigger threat so I'll just kill you both."
"Alors! Yet, monsieur Raven. Would it be ze 'onourable 'sing to, how you say, flinch and have you kill zat evil, nasty voman Eva at ze sacrifice of poor Badjimmy? She ees ze monster, Badjimmy 'ees willing to pay ze ultimate price eef it means Eva ees disposed of....."
"Quiet, snake. I don't trust you anymore than Eva."
Badjimmy had only one response to that...
Badjimmy's comical look of surprise was a sight to behold.
Raven allowed himself a smirk, a smug feeling of what could be called 'ownership' at having caught the tricky Elf off-guard. He savoured the moment. Crystal raised an eyebrow, and put her arm around Raven's waist.
And then... Everything changed.
The look melted off Badimmy's face. His tanned skin pulled into the familiar lines of a sadistic smile. That alone caused a twinge of unease in Raven.
Raven was hit by a memory... A drunken night, just after an ID0 gig... A Coffin motel... A drunken fumble...
"NO!" He screamed, shaking his head (but keeping his guns dead-level on target). The memory disappeared in a haze of alcohol before it could form properly.
But that was not why Badjimmy was smiling.
"Monsieur Raven? I wonder... 'ave you ever 'eard of an item known as 'le Internal Tracer' "
Raven looked, puzzled. Crystal took a step back.
"Let me refresh your memory." The Elf sneered. "Imagine, if 'oo will, le device small enough to be swallowed, yet powerful enough to broadcast ze position of le victim anywhere within un continent."
"Remember le vin zat I most graciously gave you that time... In Orkistonia?"
"Ah, le monde du merde, I forget... Ze tracer I gave 'oo was also fitted with... 'ow you say? Le Big Bombe. Anything 'appen to moi, you feel ze big stomach-cramp, non? HA! I call it 'l'Intestinateur!'"
While he was talking, he slowly and deliberately used his left arm to roll back his trenchcoat's right sleeve, the finger poised over a button on his wristphone.
"He's fragging bluffing!" Crystal yelled. But She didn't believe herself.
"Mon dieu. 'Ow did you think I found you? Now, I suggest you put down le gun, monsieur! Putain! Zis will teache 'oo not to mess with le Detective! Hohehoheho!!!"
"Shit!" Chance snarled as he ran past Wirecat and Ash, struggling to pull his pistol out of his holster. "We need that man alive!"
Still exhausted by supporting Sarah all the way up the vent, the soldier staggered as he ran, nearly carroming into a pillar as he finally got the pistol free. His left arm was still handcuffed to his chest, Wirecat having had no time to use the key on it before Chance ran after the technician. Only the persistence of a wolf hunting its fleeing prey kept the soldier on the green-eye's tail.
The shiftavator yawned wide... and the technician ran as hard as he could just as Chance finally got into a shooting position, firing his silenced pistol one-handed while running.
The first three bullets missed completely, spraying sparks at the man's feet. The fourth tore cleanly through the flesh of his shin... and the green-eye went down with a cry of pain short of the shiftavator's doors, which slid close with a click of finality.
And then Chance was upon him, holstering his pistol and extending the claws on his right hand in one smooth movement before he dived on the downed man's back, holding the shining blades against his throat.
"You move, you DIE!!!" Chance spat.
Wirecat had followed Chance, and soon, the handcuffs had found themselves a new role binding the green-eye's hands together. With Ash proving to be an unescapable jailor (anyone trying to break free of her hold risked getting flamed instantly), the team double-timed back to the scuba shop with their new captive, Chance taking point again with the shotgun while Alana and Wirecat supported Sarah.
While it was probably a self induced psychosomatic response, Raven dropped the SMG pointed at Eva and grabbed his stomach as if he could really feel the intestinal bomb! Crystal's hand whipped back to her own side in reflex. Crystal took a step to the side, as if she expected the weapon to go off any second! Raven felt his palms begin to sweat, his hold on his SMG was starting to slip. Raven's mind raced as he tried to make sense of what was going on. He tried desperately to keep his cool and think his way out of it.....Raven thought of something..
"Badjimmy, this bomb. How big an explosion are we talking? Enough to take you out if I bear hug your sissy, crossdressing ass before it goes off?"
Raven was relieved, here was his chance! Yet Badjimmy kept smiling and cruelly replied.
"Non non, ze bomb, she will rip your innards to pieces but not penetrate your blanc skin. Only you shall die monsieur."
Raven was growing frustrated now!
"OK fine! What if I just shoot your pansy, fraggin' fingers off before you can trigger the bomb?"
Raven waved his SMG about in a threatening manner.
Badjimmy continued to smile.
"Oh? you 'sink you want to take such a chance? Well, be my guest mon amie!"
Crystal took this opportunity to add.
"If you kill Raven, I will personally make sure you suffer for as long as possible before you die."
Badjimmy kept grinning, he was enjoying this immensly!
Eva, Raven no longer pointing a gun at her, contemplated either making use of the distraction to make a run for it or helping the poor fraggers Raven and Crystal.......
This wasn't right! DeadEye had only just recently had his vision restored after years of darkness, no way he was going to suffer that again! Itch or no itch, sight was a beautiful thing. Peter turned back the young girl, she had stopped crying after she witnessed Peter start to freak out, she was looking at him with those big, brown eyes full of concern. Forgotten tears still rolling down her face, she inquired.
"You OK mista? You just started goin' all mental like. You'll be fine right?"
Peter, despite his momentary panic, smiled at the girl's naive concern over his safety. Had she forgotten where she was and why? Peter patted her outstretched hand softly and said, in a voice full of false confidence.
"I'm fine. We'll both be fine. I'll make sure nobody hurts us."
Peter waved his shotgun at her, to remind her that he had a weapon. The girl smiled, it was a lovely smile, something Peter hadn't seen for years and nearly forgotten entirely.
"Are you a soldier, here to help?"
Peter thought about it for a moment, sure, he used to be a soldier but that was years ago. If he counted his brief conflict against the daemon swarm and Parker's mercenary's then he'd been a soldier quite recently. Peter didn't know about 'helping' though. The last time he had tried to help a young girl he had accidently killed her. The revival of that painful memory stung Peter's pride. By now the girl was impatient for an answer. She repeated herself.
"Mista, did you hear me? Are you a soldier?"
Peter looked at her, he gazed into her eyes. The memory of that night was still in his mind......
But this time he wouldn't fail her! Peter nodded, stood up and said.
"Yes, I'm a soldier and I'm here to help."
Peter gripped his sawn off shotgun and strode over to the Blackwatch Elite guard, posted to keep the civillians from making trouble. The guard looked Peter up and down, not noticing the shotgun behind his back, and commanded.
"Subject P. Stephenson. Return to your place. Your time will come soon."
Peter gave a morbid grin before replying.
"Now look, it's time you and I see cyber eye to cyber eye, pal. Why don't you give me your assault rifle, you're not going to need it."
Puzzled, the guard asked.
"You may not have my weapon. What makes you think I won't need it?"
Peter swung his shotgun around, pointed it at the guard's face and said.
"Here's why. You'll be dead in half a frag!"
Peter's free hand grabbed the elite's assault rifle. The guard, taken by surprise, opened his mouth like a landed fish....
Peter unloaded both shells from his shotgun into the guard's face.
Jessica, Barkah, Tank, Wolf and Mary were taken up to the next level on the Shift-a-vator. As a pair of doors opened before them an unseen bell announced their entrance with a shrill ring. A woman wearing a blood stained smock greeted them. She had disarmingly bright green eyes, cyber wear. Although the eyes betrayed no emotion the woman's other facial features revealed a hint of sadistic pleasure at finding a fresh batch of meat to tinker with. She opened her arms to them and said.
"Welcome, newcomers. To the family, where you will be spending some time. Of course, there will have to be some adjustments in order to fit in with the rest of us."
The woman strolled over to Tank. She reached out and squeezed his bicep. Tank growled, not happy with the invasion but unable to do anything about it. The woman nodded appreciatively.
"Mmmnn, yes, yes. I can do much with you my greenskinned friend. Pity about the temper though, not to worry. You'll feel differently soon enough."
The woman inspected Barkah, her comments were much of the same. She moved onto Jessica.
"Oh dear, you're not much to work with my dear. Nothing physically special about you. Just Sarah plain and tall."
Jessica thought to herself angrily.
Jessica plain and tall to you, crazy old bat.
The woman inspected Jessica's neck, she exclaimed.
"Oh, oh! You are special my dear! Data jacks on a combat specimen! We must investigate further!"
The woman pinched Jessica's neck and dragged her over to a data port. Producing two data leads the woman urged Jessica to jack in. Jessica reluctantly complied. She instantly felt a spine tingling surge as the green eyed woman began tapping at a nearby console.
"What's this eh? Capital ship class data jacks? The Red Dawn? My my my, you have been a busy one deary. Jessica Hayes is it? Navigator 1st class? You were an officer on an airbourne carrier? I'm not sure if we can risk wasting such a resource on a combat upgrade. You, my precious, are somethng more than the rest of these-"
The woman motioned towards the others before continuing, a hint of disgust in her voice.
"-these husks of meat."
The woman told Jessica to stand out of the way before returning to her inspection of the others. Mary was next.
"Hmm, you're not much also. Have you any secrets like our Jessica over there? Any astral influence? We've not had a cybered mage for quite some time. They burn out rather quickly you know? Cyber wear and magic aren't entirely compatible as it were, but we are working on it!"
Having inspected the group the woman wiped her greasy hands on her bloodied apron and addressed the group, smiling like a shark would to a group of goldfish.
Chance stopped short in surprise... Something was wrong at the scuba shop. He was sure that he had seen Crystal and Raven guarding the outside before. Now none of them could be seen.
But then he picked up voices with his wolf-shaman hearing, Lupus having taught him the necessary spell (over many frustrating nights of being nagged) needed to activate the innate skill.
"OK fine! What if I just shoot your pansy, fraggin' fingers off before you can trigger the bomb?"
"Oh? you 'sink you want to take such a chance? Well, be my guest mon amie!"
"If you kill Raven, I will personally make sure you suffer for as long as possible before you die."
Chance immediately guessed what had happened. He had trusted Crystal for a long time, and Raven had been a good friend from the days of pre-buclear Geneva. On the other hand, BadJimmy was a wildcard that had probably gone bonkers.
But then... there was evidently a bomb present... And that meant any drastic action was bound to cause harm to Raven, something that he couldn't afford to do. Chance couldn't even tell where the trigger device was without seeing them. Motioning to the others to stay and take cover, the soldier crept forward on rubber-soled boots into the shop and along the edge of a counter, careful to stay out of sight from the storeroom where the voices were coming from.
Scarcely breathing, he tried to mentally probe for the location of the bomb... only to receive a flat "no way" from Lupus.
The bomb and trigger do not have emotions nor feelings Chance, you cannot seek them out with mental vision, the wolf said.
Grimacing to himself, Chance decided to take his chances. While it was impossible for a rookie mage like him to go invisible, Chance could do the next best thing... a stalking spell that was one of the best specialities of the Wolf spirit. A mage using it was still fully visible to the naked eye and capable of being spotted... but only if the spotter was already specifically told that he was there. Eitherwise, any casual observer would not assign any significance to the shaman's presence if he made no sudden moves out of the ordinary.
For example, Chance could use the spell (for a very limited time at his current experience though) to fade into insignificance when observing targets, even in full view... but it would not work at all if for example, Ash was looking specifically for him to do some chores for her.
Sliding prone out of the corner of the counter with painstaking slowness, the recon soldier murmured the phrases of the spell, while zooming in his goggles on the form of BadJimmy.
There... on his right wrist. The wristphone.
Chance brought his autoshotgun to bear... single-shot already selected as he braced against the counter's leg, his breathing stopping as front and rear sights lined up just inches above the wristphone on BadJimmy's arm.
The huge slug could blow off BadJimmy's entire trigger finger if the soldier wanted to, but Chance couldn't risk such a small target as a single finger...
With the SAR-125 rifle, which he had become so attached to that he could fire without aiming and accurately predict where the bullet would land, he could do the job. But not with the comparatively unfamiliar autoshotgun... Chance was good at guns, but he was no DeadEye.
So he aimed to take off the elf's arm above the wristphone instead... at least that offered a larger target.
His world compressed into that one single moment... as he slowly squeezed the trigger....
The butcher-woman stepped back, and waited.
"No-one?" I guess I'll have to choose, then. "Don't worry, it may sting a little, but it will be fun afterwards!"
"The group stared back - no-one had any idea what was going on, and none felt inclined to ask about it, given the suspected violence that could happen at any time.
"Ok then. I'll pick for you." The woman exended one finger, pointing at Jessica.
"Eenie-meanie, miney-mo, catch a subject by his toe, if he hollers let him go, eenie, meanie, miney, moe..." The finger alighted on Mary, who gulped.
At that moment, unsuprisingly, given his orkish tendancies, Tank stepped foreward, and punched the woman in the face.
Or rather attempted to.
Both arms shot up, at lightning speed, and caught Tank just below the elbow. With a look of immense shock forming across his furry, orkish face, Tank was lifted into the air, over the woman's body, and slammed hard onto the floor.
The woman smiled again, her face twisting into a rictus of malice that only extended muscles could achieve.
"It looks like we have a volunteer! Experimental Cyber-implantation it is!"
The bloodstained cyborg dragged Tank's unconcious body out of the shiftavator shaft. The doors slammed shut with a hiss of compressing air.
Charlie groaned, and sat up. He'd been dropped, into a shiftavator, by the looks of it. There were still many civillians here, whizzing upwards, or sideways, or something. Blood stained his shirt, he must have heavy bruising, but not enough to stop him getting up...
He staggered against the wall, feeling the pain in his chest.
Two goblins stared up at him, along that chef-dwarf guy. One of them was the dog-shaman, or whatever made her so hairy.
"Vell, it lookz az iv zhe runnerz have betrayed their wounded, after all... but I admire zour bravery, human pig, and we will not leave zou here to die."
Nixie smiled toothily.
Red watched the Ork-thing life her goblin compainion up, while Dragon-girl and the sheepish-faced guard watched.
She stood up, feeling feeling return to her body after her rigger shock.
Dragon-girl turned to her, and Red noticed how strange her eyes looked.
"We're going to get out of here, somehow. Check the shiftavators, check the airport, and if all else fails, try and get out the conventional way down the bottom of the tower. From what we've gathered from your goblin - "
" - it's hell down there."
"Right. My name's Silvia, by the way."
"You're a rigger?"
"Good. You might be useful with the shiftavators."
Red cringed at the memory of what happened last time.
"We may also have to help Damocles with a little errand, said Silvia, as she began to walk away."
"That flying thing... was that yours?" Silvia asked the rigger.
"Yeah." Red replied, with a painful grin. Her head still hurt.
"Sorry 'bout that. Damocles can be a little paranoid."
Silvia looked at the tanks all around them. "Not that that's a bad thing in a place like this..."
"About this 'errand'..." Red asked. "What kind of errand?"
"Damocles lost his... boss... somewhere in this building. And I got a bone to pick with that guy too."
Brandon walked towards Silvia and Red.
"Are you OK?" he asked Silvia.
"Well pretty much... my shoulder still hurts like hell though."
She wiped the blood off her shoulder and swiched back to her normal skin. Brandon frowned when he noticed there was no wound on it.
"Don't be fooled by that." Silvia said. "The shift to dragon skin force-healed it, but the inside is still damaged."
She looked at the shoulder. There wasn't even a scar.
"Not to mention that the force-heal probably hurt more than the actual bullet wound. But these shifts are becoming a kind of reflex..."
They walked on, Damocles taking lead.
Silvia grinned when she saw the Goblin hanging over Damocles' shoulder, remembering that she had been carried by the Bio-ork too, a few months ago.
"What's so fraggin' funny?" the Goblin grumbled.
"Nothing... just memories."
She looked at the goblin for a while. It really bothered her that he didn't give her any kind of name.
All right then, wiseguy.
She searched his mind, carefully avoiding the long-term memory. The last thing she wanted is to get some goblin runner's childhood memories downloaded into her brain.
'Bulldog' eh? Well that's better than nothing.
"Are you forgetting who iz running le show here, Madame Nixie?" Pierre reappeared from the corner where he had been hiding. He'd dropped Nixie next to the former Brit-Guard to survey the area, and he was rapidly getting fed up of acting the good guy.
"But, Pierre.....Ve cannot leave 'im 'ere." Nixie pleaded, but he remained impassive, despite the grin on his face.
"I can leave all you pig-dogz at my whim, I need none of you!" He drew a throwing dagger. "Anybody like to, how you say, argue?"
"You back stabbin' bastad!" Yelled James, Nixie went into a low growl. Although Pierre didn't expect and attack, not from the love struck puppy dog. So he was quite surprized when she leaped. Although not as surprized as she was when she found a throwing knife in her chest.
"Now..." he said, withdrawing the blood stained knife from the Wolf Shaman's lifeless form. "'Oo would like to be next?"
"Urgh..." Jolly mumbled as he awoke. How long had he been out? A few hours? A day? A month? No, not a month, that was stupid....wasn't it? He got to his feet, slowly. His condtion hadn't improved much, if he was too be honest. He didn't even think it had improved, but he had too move.
You see, the problem with the Human, and indeed Troll body, was that when you lay perfectl still for too long, your muscles snapped. This meant that Body Iron couldn't be used for extended amounts of time. So he had to move, and it was hard.
He slogged up the esculator, it was a painful process. And when he reached the top, he only fell down backwards, adding more injuries to the list. He rose once more, he couldn't really see, blood clouded his eyes.
He blindly walked along the mall, looking for something. He didn't know, didn't really care. For the first time in his life he felt like he wanted to curl up and die, not a natural feeling for a Troll. But it would be so easy to just lie down and stop fighting, almost too easy to be true. He could do it, he could just die, leave the world of pain behind him. But he wouldn't, he was a fighter. Death could come for him later, he had a prison to escape from.
That was when he ran into something.....
Highness' awakening could only be described as rude, a Troll in a torn up mime costume had blindly walked up from one of the lower levels and ran into the drone carring her. There was of course, no BlackWatch around her. She had been with the last and smalled group of civvies taken from the bar. All they had with them was the drones, and not even the one that had been carring Highness noticed the Troll until he was upon them.
"HALT!" Came the mechanical voice of one.
"Wot? oo dat?" The Troll waved his trunklike arms around blindly, looking for the source of the noise. The drone lifted it's auto shot gun, the stunners removed and replaced with real ammo, and shot him in the arm. He bellowed in rage, one fist swinging blindly and by pure luck knocking the head off the drone that had shot him. More drone's turned to sqaush this threat, shooting prescisley at the Troll until he stopped swinging and fell to the floor.
A lot of the civvies ran, and they too were shot. Instinct had told Highness to run, but there was also a smaller feeling in her mind, one that basically said "run and they hurt you". For some strange reason, she'd decided to obey that voice. They picked her, the escaped civvies and the Troll up and continued their march, she felt a kind of short lived saddness for the Troll, as he was dragged along behind them, mortally injured. But it faded, her mind went blank. She'd just do as she was told.
"So, you a Goblin?" Bulldog asked Damocles. "Biggest one I've ever seen."
Damocles grunted, Bulldog didn't take this as a yes or a no. He looked around, made sure the Dragon wasn't watching and whispered into the bio-ork's ear.
"I belong to an organisation, big on Goblin rights. Want to hear more? Just say the word!"
He relaxed, well as relaxed as you can get someones shoulder. taking in the situation. Pretty grim, but at least he wasn't alone.
"Up you go miss" Said a Goblin dressed as a Neo-SU trooper. Her name was Mole, she was leader of a Transys gang and had a sister named MasterMind. At least that's what Stitch had been told. As for the others left down here, a group of Neo SUer's, Cracker, a couple of chippes that thought they were rabbits and three others. People in black suits. She was amazed by them, they had made a rope out of a person and she'd never seen them before.
The situation in the prison level was getting desprate, water was dripping down the vent the Troll had gone up. They were up to thier ankles in water, and it was rising fast. Sticth was being hoisted into the vent Belinda had gone up by a Neo-SU Ork, she didn't really trust him looking up her skirt, but who was she to argue.
She had almost got a grip of the cable when it fell limp in her hands.
She could here something tumbling down the shaft, she soon realised what was going on....the vent was collapsing! It had fallen in on it's self! She ran, but a lump of metal caught her on the leg. She fell face first into the water, the other's started running around screaming. Except the people in black, they had disappeared to some other part of the prison level. Although, that didn't help Stitch. The rest of the prisoners scrambled for a way out, while she was trapped, possibly drowning soon.
Life, she decided, was unfair.
"Ok.", said Mary, looking around. "I think we need to find out what's happening."
It was rare, but often in times such as this, that Mary took charge of the situation. Somewhere deep inside of her, buried under layers of meekishness and gasping, was the soul, or at least some other kind of bodily organ, of a leader.
Jessica and Barkah looked back with the kind of gormless expression only saved for when someone else has said something incredibly stupid.
Mary lifted up the front panel of her wristphone, and quickly, using the minute keys, searched it's number memory...
C for Charlie.... C for Chandra... C for Chance!
Chance was the kind of person, being a professional mercenary, and ex-soldier, who MIGHT be able to help, somehow. Mary knew him fairly well after Geneva, and he seemed to have a kind of solidarity, that most of the other runners didn't, apart from Charlie, who was probably still incapacitated in the lift, if he wasn't dead. Chance was the one to call, and he was inside the building, so his wristphone MIGHT be able to pick up the signal. Just co-ordinating with some-one else might give them the help that they'd need.
And, knowing runners, they might be able to get a decker
somewhere to let them out of this lift.
Chance's vidphone began to wring.
Tank was dragged down a corridor from the lift. It smelt funny, but he couldn't quite put his metaphorical finger on what it was. The green-eyed woman had the strength of at least three trolls, and Tank knew that he'd have to be cunning to overcome that.
Unfortunately, cunning didn't come easily to Orks, especially ones like Tank.
A door moved open quietly, and Tank was dragged through, his hair catching on the magigrid locking system on the floor. This place was well guarded, whatever it was. With a buzz, his cybereyes flicked off, leaving him in darkness, as someone slid a localised EMP hood over his head.
Somehow, Tank thought better when he didn't have all the distractions of fighting bothering him.
The stench was deeper here, more concentrated. And now Tank was lifted, onto a table, which was slightly wet, and sticky. He could hear at least one other person than the nurse in the room - who talked in a prescise, almost robotic British accent, but with a strange, rambling tone that made it almost seem like he wasn't there.
More voices, a buzzing sound, and Tank felt a slight prick beside his ear.
He slipped into unconciousness, and the operation began.
Just as Chance applied the final pressure to his trigger, the very picture of utmost concentration...
His wristphone rang.
Instinctively, he fired... and immediately felt the horrible sinking feeling.
That he had missed.
Instead of shattering both BadJimmy's radius and ulna and blowing his forearm straight off, the off-target shell went a fraction of an inch lower.
In a strange twist of fate, the slug missed flesh totally, but caught something even more useful...
The strap of BadJimmy's wristphone.
There was a sudden flash of pain, and BadJimmy stabbed his finger down instinctively... only to poke his finger into the flesh of his arm. His cybereyes widened in surprise as he looked down...
Only to see that the wristphone had vanished from its rightful place!
Eva thought for a while. That indeed was a tense situation...
And she was unarmed. Except for one thing. The plastic explosive.
She had to smuggle it attached to her ass, and, it had worked, and passed the security... But others would laugh at her if they saw what was that stuff about.
But everyone seemed distracted.
Badjimmy lose grip on the wirstphone, who almost dropped off, if the fragger, being astonishingly quick, jumped to grab it again.
Raven was about to fire... when he saw the elf grabbing the wristphone again. A bad move, whoever wh had shot the elf.
Now he could be very very pissed... And that was not reccomendable, being Badjimmy the kind of person he was.
Eva winked to Crystal, and she got a hand on her ass, under the pants.
The gross sound of the partially amassed plastic explosive sticking to Badjimmy´s back.
Eva had not forgot the details. She had putted the detonator of the explosive before strapping it to the traitor.
Hell knows where she had hidden the detonator, but it was near the explosive if she managed to place it so quickly...
"Two can play the 'I have the detonator' game, dear..."
She smiled, while grabbing a small device that was hidden in her top underwear.
She faced Crystal, and passed the detonator of the explosive to her.
"Your chance, boss!"
Crystal looked at the detonator in her hand. Although this had been hidden in Eva's bra, Crystal noted Eva wasn't been wearing gloves... She held the thing in her thumb and forefinger, always cautious of hygiene.
"Okay... Lets all get back to a safe distance." Crystal winked.
She turned and Vaulted back over the shop counter, Eva dived behind a rack of drysuits which fell on top of her. Chance, already quite far away, dropped prone, taking his companions down with him.
"Hey, Jimmy! Watch the fireworks! FIRE IN THE HOLE!"
Badjimmy started to shout something out - Something about there not there being no intestinal bomb after all, that he was bluffing because he was always scared of having guns pointed at him... That he could help them.
His hands flailed, he reached to his lower back, grabbed a handful of the putty-like explosive. Something hard within - The detonator...
The explosion was heard all through the mall levels. Everyone standing was knocked to the floor by the concussion wave. All the shopping gantries swayed - People pitched off the escalators above, falling to the floor or the flooded floors below.
The diving shop collapsed, big construction-plas panels rainging down, with dust covering everyone inside.
The place where the explosion had been was blown through completely - A huge hole down to the partially-flooded floor below. Beams and chunks of plascrete splashed into the murky depths.
Chance rushed over, throwing the panels aside.
Chance found the two, covered in debris behind the shop counter. The entire front room of the shop had caved in. Luckily, the thin plastic panels weren't heavy enough to do much damage to those caught under them.
Crystal had a huge grin on her face.
"Damn. Its been too long since I blew something up." She turned round, wrapped her arms around Raven, and kissed him for a whil. A long while.
Chance saw the situation was under control, breathed a sigh of relief. As he left the ruined shop, Eva got up from under piles of Drysuits which had protected her.
Finally he was able to answer his phone.
But the signal was weak, distorted... Jammed. He couldn't receive a picture, and only occasional words through the static. But he recognised the voice all right.
Dr Mary Turin.
Crystal heard too, and broke away reluctantly from Raven.
"Frag! The bar! We should get back there... They'll be eating each other by now..."
"What the frag was that?!" Wirecat said. He'd been paying more attention to Sarah's prone form than to what was happening inside the shop.
Eva stepped outside, with a grin on her face. "That was Badjimmy."
Sarah opened her eyes.
Wirecat kneeled down beside her. "You're with me, Sarah. I found help."
He examined her ribs. They probably still hurt a lot, but they didn't feel broken.
He looked at Chance, who was busy with his writsphone. He could see the aura, and knew what it meant.
So... our wolf is a healer then? And apparently quite good at it too.
He was too busy wit the aura to notice the voice on the wristphone. After all he hadn't been with Mary quite as long at these runners.
He looked up when he heard Chance yell something about a bar.
It was getting dark. A group of men, dressed in black, were on the Transys monorail station, about half a mile from the entrance to the Arcology itself.
This had also been sealed off, and the power to the tracks cut. The small army cordon here was the heart of the operation, and the men in dark suits were RSAS elite - Royal Special Air Service men, in Borghunter company.
This was the Lord General's gambit. Dressed in rubber suits to protect them from any reconnecting of the monorail's power supply, armed with plastic assault rifles, and decked out with biowear instead of nanowear, these were the men trained for an operation exactly to these specifications -
This small group had been founded after the Liverpool 'Borg Crisis of '59, and had only seen action once afterwards, in Corporate Iceland, of all places. Nethertheless, they were prepared.
They made their way, into the jaws of death, via the small maintenance walkway on the side. Normally, this would be highly dangerous - like touching an overhead powerline. Infact, this was normally only switched off once a year for repairs, on Queensday, when the traffic to Transys would be slightly less intense.
There were twelve, all apparently identical in the moonlight. All doomed to fail.
Infact, it was a manauver similar to the Charge of the Light Brigade, although considerably more unpublicised. These men were priceless, one arm's implants worth millions of NuYen alone, and hand-picked so precisely, they were possibly the best professional cyberhunters in the world.
The VOES watched from it's millions of electronic eyes at the windows and security cameras of Transys Arcology, and plotted their demise.
Raven watched as Ash and Chance began jogging back towards the bar, obvioulsy something had come up that circumvented the retrieval of their weapons. Raven knew that anything more important to Ash than her flamethrower, Chance his assault rifle, was very important indeed! Raven, still dusting plaster off his coat, tried to limp behind them as fast as he could. The effort soon tired him. Crystal, concerned, pulled back to check on him. Raven panted.
"Keep going.........I'll catch up....eventually..."
Crystal agreed and started sprinting in order to catch up with Chance. Raven watched his friends disappear around a corner, he thought to himself. Geez, I remember Chance being somewhat slower than that. Since when did he get so fraggin' fast? Raven couldn't put his finger on it.
Manling... I'm not sure it's all so well back at the bar...
Chance arrested his motion at the sound of Lupu's voice.
"What's up?" Ash asked. But she fell silent at the far-away look in Chance's eyes.
"Oh-oh. Spirit-talking time again. Hold up, everyone."
"We weren't moving." Crystal winked, peering down the hole the explosion had blasted through the floor, with Eva.
Time I taught you one of our shamanic tricks, Chance. Tune your eyes to the astral and get comfortable.
Wondering if he had time for more lessons from the spirit guide, Chance nevertheless did as he was asked, lying down on the floor.
"Watch me, hon?" Chance asked Ash.
"You bet." She winked, shouldering her Jet harpoon easily.
Now manling. Relax. Free yourself from your bonds. Examine the auras. Ash's aura's quite pretty, don't you think? Woof!
Easy there. Chance growled. Lupus began chanting, in astral space.
Chance began to loosen up. He felt himself becoming free from the physical plave. like never before.
Get up, manling.
You said lie down...
Chance got up.
He looked at himself - And got a shock. He was naked. His physical, aura glowing form. But naked.
"Well manling," Lupus said, standing right beside him - No longer a voice in his head, but a full-bodied spirit of the Wolf in his own right. "You are now a fully-fledged astral plane traveller. Look down."
Chance did - And saw his physical self. Dead, lifeless. The body still functioned, but it had no aura. That aura was up and walking now. It was disconcerting to see Ash crouching over his inert form.
"Astral projection..." Chance murmured, looking at his golden, glowing hand again.
He'd heard stories. It wa sone of the things that creeped him out most about magic... Back when he hadn't learned the power himself, that is.
"So manling, going somewhere?"
No sooner than he'd thought it, he was on the way there. Travelling the speed of thought, flying, passing through non-living barriers like the air, his spirit guide by his side.
Auras made themself known to his senses. Emotions of fear, anger, hatred and despair, mxing with some of the lingering, happier thoughts of people who'd been shopping here before it all went fragged-up. Chance thought he was going to gag on the conflicting feelings.
"Easy manling. Easy. Focus."
With force of will, he blocked the emotions from his mind.
And a heartbeat later, he was in the bar, floating.
Yet more emotions assailed him - The helplessness of those being taken away by armed men seemed to be imprinted into the walls like a bad stench. Anger and violence - Some he recognised as his own - From the room where he'd fought the 0ctopu5.
Near the front doors - The mental scream of a man being killed, or very nearly so. No way to tell whio it had been, though.
But no life. There were no people here.
He headed back to the others, to give them the puzzling news.
Chance jerked upright in a rush, cold sweat dripping from his forehead. Almost convulsively, he patted himself down to make sure that everything, limbs included, was back in its proper place... The paranoia of somehow "leaving something behind" always at the back of his mind.
Ash instinctively knew that he needed some time to recover from his experience, hushing the others while Chance gathered his breath.
Finally, chest heaving with the effort of clamping down on the worst of his tremours, the soldier began to speak.
"The bar's been raided. Mary, Tank, Charlie... everyone there is gone. No, Raven..." Chance shook his head as the fitter was about to interrupt.
"They have not been killed. At least, not there anyway. But we now know from her phonecall that Mary's still alive and somewhere else in this building, and she did not go there on her own free will. In short, she, and the others, have been kidnapped."
"I'm starting to piece together a rough idea of what has happened. These..." Chance reached into his pocket and extracted the pair of blue eyes. In the background, the green-eyed technician gasped while being held by the iron grip of Eva. Chance ignored him for the moment while he continued speaking.
"These eyes have something to do with it. Whether blue or green, I haven't seen any cybereyes like these before. Even Winston, who had been issued MUNDI's best as a Special Forces Sniper, has cybereyes that were unmistakably more "technical" than these ones."
"We now have two choices, people. I will bet my last dollar that whoever, or whatever is controlling these things, whether blue eyes, green eyes or drones, is based above us... in the headquarters of this building itself. So logically, that is where we would find Mary and the others. But now you must decide on whether you are with me... Once we go swimming for our gear, that would physically be the closest we would get to the outside of this damned place. If we can find a route out underwater, I must know who would be staying with me..."
Chance met each person's eyes.
"For I'm not giving up on those people in the bar. Something tells me that whoever or whatever had taken over this building is a "body-snatcher" or sorts, considering that they have taken the trouble to capture instead of kill. We've seen them... drones herding up people to the shiftavators earlier today. Same thing with the fat kid left with the broken leg in the hall... I noticed that he had been removed, and from the lack of bloodstains and physical damage to the carpet, that they didn't kill him before they did that. So Mary and the others are probably being lined up for 'conversion' now, and I will be damned before I let them become some mind-controlled freaks in a building gone mad."
"This place has an airport on floor 150, together with the main hospital facilities. Logically, that will be the place where anybody outside this building coming to the rescue would try to enter. Similiarly, eye replacement is not easy surgery... we haven't seen anyone's eyes being plucked out and replaced by drones nor Blackwatch before, and the man whom I removed these eyes from had no signs of severe trauma to the orbital bones... meaning that his original eyes were removed with care, not ripped out. So the most likely place for the "body-snatching" process will be the hospital on Floor 150."
Chance pulled himself to his feet, suddenly feeling weary beyond his years as he checked his shotgun.
"We will each get at least one underwater capable weapon from this shop... the biggest you can carry. Then we'll move out to the garage via that skylight to gather weapons and ammo from Raven's van. I suspect that we would have to go through the Hydroponics level before we can enter the water. And watch out by the way... for I have seen some shapes in the water that I can't explain."
"Wait Chance... There's a closer hospital at Floor 50... Maybe they went to that one instead of the bigger one at 150." Crystal said.
The soldier nodded.
"We'll check that one out before going further up."
"It all sounds good, my man. But how do we get up to Floor 50, or for that matter, 150? Its a long way to climb if we are going vent-crawling again... and I'll hate the thought of meeting another one of those roll3r things. I know that the shiftavators aren't working... They didn't seem to react to any of the other people in the mall levels when they pressed the buttons. We need some sort of keycard or passcode." Raven asked.
"Well Raven, that's something we will have to ask the green-eyed fellow here, won't we?"
Narrow, lupine eyes glared below the dark gleam of the military goggles as the technician gulped.
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