The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
"Hey, you Dragon Girl!" Bulldog yelled from Damocles' back.
"Silvia." She said bluntly
"Whatever, I hate to admit it but...." He began. "I'm pretty bored up here."
"Here, play around with this....BULLDOG." She winked at him and smiled. Dragons, he should have known.
She handed him a wristphone, he didn't know wat he was meant to do with it, but oh well. He scanned the numbers. "Daddy", "Draco, "Dorodo", nothing interesting....until.
He stared at the name, as if it meant something. His goblin fingers slipped along the buttons of the vid-phone. Now he never meant to press call, it's a fact that the most important things that happen to people were never meant to happen. But this one did, and it wasn't long before the face of a young woman flashed on the screen.
Barkah muttered a hymn. He'd finally accepted that prying the door open, even with the grace of God, wouldn't work. He was sat cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, deep in thought. The woman called Mary looking at him. She looked as if she was about to say something when, a sound. A Vid-Phone is Barkah's sense of hearing was correct.
"Hello, Dr. Mary Turin speaking." She said into the wrist phone. "Silvia? Wait, your not Silvia!"
Barkah looked over, he could see a worried looking Goblin trying to hide something from another.
"I didn't think these things worked in here." He whispered "You must be inside the building!"
Jolly rubbed the Grenade like it was a cat. Filthy fraggers, they had forgot to disarm him. And they would pay for that! He looked around at the civvies, sacrifices. Like he could be if this went wrong. He got himself in postion, about to make the leap.
"Enjoy the fireworks, fraggers!" He lept up with untroll like argility, pucnhing open the top hatch of the Shift and climbing though. Laughing manically as the drones turned to shoot. He pulled the pin on the Grenade, and threw it. He lept against the wall, climbing as fast as he could. And then.......
The explosion was a lot bigger then he expected, it burned the skin right off his back. But he was alive. He looked down at the burning fireball, confident that everyone had died. What he saw next would live with him forever.
A woman, like an angel on wings shot out from the burning wreackage, flying straight past the Ork looking near enough unharmed. Jolly looked up in amazement, then she was gone.
"Weird shit...." He commented to himself.
This was it. She was free. Free from the bounds of the Earth, free from worry, free from care. Highness, the woman with wings, shot up the Shiftavator shaft. For the first time in her life, everything made sense. This is what she was made to do.
She made a sharp turn into a vent, no real idea where she was going. But something was drawing her to it, she didn't know what though. She didn't care, instinct told her to go, she went. Emmotions were lost on her, she was an animal.
The Monster was back - It still had a harpoon jutting from it. Somehow or other, it had survived the EMP detonation.
A mass of bubbles erupted from Chance's mask, where he reflexively tried to schout at everyone to scatter. He and Ash kicked them selves away from the wall as the beast Charged. Eva turned and fired a succession of Jet-Harpoons at the thing - They shot towards the Drone's centre-section, lacking the power to penetrate. Crystal was doing something behind Eva. Eva kicked herself off the wall and knocked Crystal aside just as three tentacles converged on where she had been a moment ago.
Three seperate streams of Jet Harpoons fired at the drone from three different directions - Some of them jabbing deep into it's less-armoured back.
Eva felt a hand grabbing her suit just behind her neck. She looked around - Raven was pulling her away. He had Crystal in one of his opposite arms - She was waving frantically at the Door - Now the monster was between them and the door.
Everyone was knocked spinning in a huge cloud of expanding gas. Stabbing headaches all but incapacited everyone - It was all they could do to press their hands to their heads - It felt like their heads were going to burst.
Crystal, Raven and Eva tumbled, all but unconsious.
Air. Coldness. The sickly-sweet smell of Fuel-grade alcohol mixing with the stench of the Aquaculture matter from the tanks.
Crystal felt someone slapping her face. She opened her eyes.
She was in the car park. Sub-Level 1, under RAb C Nesbitt tower, if the large sign on the wall wasn't lying. She gazed up into Ash's face.
"You made it." She grinned. Crystal grinned back, as Ash helped her up with a (gloved) hand.
Water was still streaming in through the ruptured door, as Chance revived both Raven and Eva - Both stunned by Hydro-static shock. They were lucky not to have been killed - Raven's powerful swimming had gotten them just clear, by Chance's reckoning.
"Frag." Said Eva. "That thing kept coming. I EMP'd it, and it survived. It must have been tajken out by the door-bomb in the end."
"How can a drone survive an EMP?" Crystal asked.
"Bad grenade?" Raven guessed. "Either that or these drones are getting better. EMP protected. Faraday cages."
Silence. No-one liked the implications of that - Their most effective weapons being made obsolete.
"How long does that water keep coming?" Raven asked, groggily. It was streaming in by the bucketload, flooding all over the floor, flowing down to the sub-car park levels.
"It keeps coming, I think. Until The Mall is drained."
Suddenly, secondary doors slammed shut over the door they'd come in, stopping the water supply.
"Or not." Crystal was forced to admit.
"Okay then, we'll need another way back up. We need to move quick. The drones that were massing here won't stay away long. I remember the Van being parked a good 250 metres from here. Raven?"
"Yeah. Slotted into a socket in the wall. Like a car pigeon-hole."
"Well, someone'll need to find the control room for the car lifting cranes then. Shouldn't be too hard to find. The place is well signposted. But there are still drones around. Be careful."
Wirecat reflexively dropped to the ground as a burst of Autoshotgun fire filled the air, not far off.
From the sound and direction, Wirecat could tell whoever was firing was on this floor. Someone fired back - A few people. Their weapons sounded completely ineffectual up against the roar of autoshotguns.
The firing was moving their way, and quickly.
"They're coming for me!" The Green eye beamed. "GLORY BE! I'M BEING SAVED!" He screamed at the top of his voice.
Using his Aura vision, Wirecat looked through the walls to locate the men - Men with lots of cyberware. They were advancing down the concourse toward the diving shop - Right where he was. A few scattered gangers popped up to take a pot-shot with pistols or Submachineguns.
Wirecat took a quick look at the greeneye's body aura emission too - What cyberware he had was in his head. He wondered if the man was somehow communicating with his 'saviours' via a headware radio, or broadcasting his position somehow.
Either way, the men would be here in minutes, unless he did something...
"Hell, didn't expect this place to be dry." Chance muttered as he tramped around, water squishing underneath his feet. The soldier shook out his shotgun, making sure that the weapon was cleared and ready to fire. He passed whatever bolts he had left for the jet harpoon to Ash, thankful that he could now use the armour-piercing autoshotgun since they were out of water.
"Right... Time to find the control room, if you guys are ok."
"Still a little bit groggy, but I'm good to go." Eva said.
The party clambered to their feet, still looking rather bedraggled from their swim and subsequent near-concussion. Following the signposts and moving as quickly as stealth allowed, the group ran down the massive carpark, looming doors on both sides concealing vehicles locked away in their car-slots.
Two hundred meters on, Chance halted and hurriedly motioned to the others to take cover behind the support pillars. Peering out, he checked out what he had spotted.
It was the control room, set in a two-storey mushroom-shaped structure in the middle of the carpark. The windows were dark and silent, and neither aura vision nor thermographics revealed any signs of life.
There wasn't enough time to hesistate. Motioning with a hand over his helmet for the others to cover him, Chance loped from his cover to take up position beside the small door in the side of the structure.
The catch was a simple lock-and-key affair... Chance guessed that the high cost of a maglock had not been deemed neccessary for such a mudane thing like security doors for public carparks. A wave to Ash later, the padlock was soon just a heap of slag on the ground.
Chance borrowed one of Ash's blades and slid it around the edge of the door and doorframe.
No bumps nor protruding spots... Good. That meant no contact alarms.
Softly pushing the door open with the tip of his shotgun, Chance motioned to the others to hold up as he pulled a plastic squirt bottle from his belt. The thing was filled with dusting powder, used to dry hands or reduce sweat-shine when applying camoflage paint. But it served another useful purpose.
Puffing a cloud of powder into the air in front of him, Chance made out the red line of a low-powered security laser alarm being emitted from a tiny peephole in the floor.
Tricky drekheads... The soldier thought as he held the door open, puffing powder into the air as each person passed into the structure and started up the stairwell so that they could easily step around the laser. After everyone had passed, Chance closed the door, wedging a harpoon head between it and the doorframe so that someone trying to gain entry would have to force the thing open and make a lot of noise doing so.
Everyone had waited on the spiral stairwell for him to finish. Then Eva took the lead and cleared the top, both Blazers ready to fire.
The circular control room was empty.
Raven looked over the consoles. He was eager to get back to his precious van and the surprises he had left in there. No drone was going to mess with him again once he had what he wanted! The system proved somewhat more complex than Raven had anticipated, a dazzling array of monitors, keyboards and blinking lights met his eyes. Raven's eyesight was poor so all he could comprehend was a visual cacophony of flashing colour.
"Ahh, it hurts my eyes. So bright, so distracting."
Raven rubbed his eyes with his palms. Someone else would have to operate the machine. Raven posted guard at the staircase, in case a drone or blue eyed guard decided to extend their patrol into the control suite.
The rest of the party searched the room for the crane controls.
Jessica was elated to hear Mary Turin talking to someone on her wristphone! There was a chance she would get out of this alive! Someone was coming! This revelation gave her new hope, Jessica began methodically examining the walls, looking for something, anything useful. Barkah, sensing the sudden change in the atmosphere, renewed his efforts in prying open the door.
Peter Stephenson stood perfectly still, hoping his cyber eyes would return to funtionality as they had before. No such luck. Peter's sense of sight came only from the smartlink he had with the assault rifle he had 'borrowed' from the blue eyed guard who now lay dead on the ground. He could hear the crowd murmuring amoung themselves.
"Why is he just standing there?"
"Is there something wrong with him?"
"Is he crazy!?"
They were slipping away from him. There was nothing he could do, the only way he could see them was by pointing his weapon at them and that was sure to completely destroy any hope he had of gaining their trust. What could he do? The young girl quivered as she stood up, her legs were thin and weak. She took a breath before yelling.
"Hey hey peoples! This here guy is our hero. He's a soldier come to help us get out."
A cynical woman shouted back.
"Aint look like no soldier I ever seen!"
The girl tartly replied.
"That's cause you only see soldiers at night you slut!"
The crowd gave a tired chuckle while the woman glowered at the girl. She continued.
"If we are gonna get out of this here Arco, we're gonna need to help the soldier all we can. He needs our support, right?"
Peter felt the crowd warm to him again. The suspicious whispers died down as people began to stand up. Their will to survive returning. Men, women, children, goblins, elves, humans alike all rose to their feet. Peter lifted his chin, looked in their general direction and said.
"We need to find a way out of here, look for doors, gateways, portals. Whatever can fit a person through."
They responded to the confidence in his voice. Forgetting their previous peril children raced around the bay looking for points of egress. They had made a game of it. Peter smiled at the sound of giggling children, shrieking joyfully whenever they found something they thought was useful. Peter could hear the teenage girl scampering about, directing the people and encouraging them. She's something special Peter. He thought to himself.Her parents are gone but she still has faith. She believes in you. Peter turned his thoughts to the morbid reality of his situation. They'll soon wonder why the guard hasn't checked in and why the technician never came back with a fresh specimen. They'll come soon Peter, they'll kill you without a thought. Maybe even the girl. Peter felt adrenaline rush through his system as the idea of her dying revolted him. He purged the thought with a mental effort. No, I won't let it happen a second time. She lives, even if it means I die. It's what I deserve. Peter felt his hand close into a white knuckled fist as those thoughts paraded through his mind. His mental soliquay was interrupted by the girl as she made her way back to him, her voice hinting at barely concealed excitement.
"We might have found something! Really, 'ave a look. I'm so relieved!"
Peter let himself be led away, the girl cradling his hand in both of hers. She continued talking.
"Please 'scuse me. I bin mighty rude not introducin' meself. My name is Sally. What's yours?
Peter felt his heart stop as he heard the girl's name. It couldn't be! No! Sally was the name of that other girl, those many years ago...
Eva, still a bit dazzled, saw a text terminal of the transys net.
As nobody was there, she putted off her weapons, and started to fiddle in.
She snapped her finger and drew Crystal towards him.
"Crystal... Are we going to stay here? Because I am gonna talk with the main boss of this stuff throughout the terminal just before we leave."
Crystal scratched her ear.
"What? Are you crazy?!"
"No... I am starting to suspect many things. I need to be sure of that. Anyway, this thing is by now disconnected from the main frame."
"how do you know that?"
Eva waved the mainframe jack of the computer.
"Maybe we can get useful infro from the comp."
"Apart from this... did Raven smuggled my special package, too?"
"Why do you ask?"
"I had hidden few clips of goldshots there. You, know, the ultimate armor piercing bullets. Mythril heads. it cost me the entire cash from one of my previous runs... but i think this situation requires them."
"Only a few!?"
"What!? These stuff is REALLY REALLY rare. More than APDU. We will be lucky if we get one clip per person."
A hand came out of the lift hole... then an arm... an arm of a fine dressed lady, wich was partially wet by now.
Varos crawled out, still wheezing and moaning about the effort.
Belinda instinctively pulled Emmie towards her and pointed at the dragon girl.
"Hey... you two. Are you sighting the landscape, or something?"
At least the effort had not drained her sense of humour.
"Oh... it's you. The dragon bitch." Belinda sneered. "What happened to the others?"
Varos waved her head, still trying to keep her long hair in a decent look.
Some people are snob to the death. Belinda thought.
"Dead... or trapped. A lift went down and killed the poor fools, and destroyed the rope."
"And... you? How did you got all the way up."
Varos slightly bite her lips.
"My feet are hurting like hell for not using any kind of shoes while i climbed the hole doing wall jumps"
Wirecat scanned the man quickly. There seemed to be no 'blind spots' apart from the cybereyes... unless it was too small to see with his aura vision. It was quite inaccurate to scan bodies with it, since the strong emotions aura emitted from the head blinded most of the rest of the body's aura emission.
Then I better start with deactivating those eyes.
In a swift movement, he grabbed the technician's neck with one hand, and pushed two clawed fingers of his other hand into the technician's eyes.
The eyes sparked, and went dead.
The technician gasped in pain. Wirecat quickly put his hand on the man's mouth to prevent him from screaming, and pulled him closer to the wall.
"Tami! I think we might need another EMP grenade."
"Why not just something casual?" Tami replied.
"To be honest... I think these guys are so cybered up they'll keep walking after we kill them."
Silvia turned around abruptly when she heard the voice. "Mary?!"
She grabbed the wristphone and looked at the screen.
Of course! She's here too!
Silvia hated to wear the wristphone. She got it as compensation for her MP5 player, so that her parents would have some way to contact her if she went away. But since she mostly made it disappear with the storage spell she never used it as a phone, and her parents just sent text or voice messages to it she could check when she felt like it. She did store a bunch of numbers in it... but she never actually called any of them.
"Mary? Thank goodness you're alive! You'll never guess who I met here."
Silvia saw Mary frown. "Who?"
"Damocles. The bio-assassin that kidnapped me in Orkistonia. You know... that enhanced Ork."
She noticed Bulldog looked a bit pale after she said that, but she didn't pay any attention to the Goblin.
Silvia continued. "He's a bit paranoid, but a great help to have around. So... where are you?"
Crystal was far from a computer expert, but she found the crane controls easy enough. All she had to do was enter tha code from the Van's numberplate (a fake code at that) and the crane system, running on backup power using the emergency vehicle release system, retirevd the Van from it's socket, setting it down in a chevronned area.
"Alright! I could kiss you Crystal!" Raven yelled. He did so, but Crystal was still covered in the sickly organic matter from the Aquaculture water. Raven turned green.
"Ahem." Crystal said. "Alright, kets get to the Van."
Eva went for the console, Crystal blocked her.
"I wouldn't recommend it. You'll tell the fraggers exactly where we are. They could already be on the way back here now! We have to move!"
In the back of the van, as Raven popped the back doors, was the ear they'd left earlier, and Raven's other stuff. Crystal got an IWS SMG70, with two clips each of explosive and flechette ammo, and her bag of assorted grenades. She clipped two aerofoil grenades to her armoured jacket, which she zipped on. She took one of her two EMP grenades out, wondering if the thing would still be effective. Perhaps it would still be good, say, for sabotaging computer systems.
She also carried an electronics toolkit she'd found came in handy to carry with her.
Chance clicked an APDU clip into his Beloved assault rifle, pulling on his combat gear with a few more clips in his webbing gear. Ash retrieved her Flamethrower.
Mary was very relieved to see Silvia on the other end of the 'phone. She was so relieved, infact, that she didn't hear Barkah's sudden words - the only thing he had ever said in her prescence.
Quickly, she explained to Silvia where they were, and was relieved to hear that Silvia was heading for a shiftavator control room. Although they didn't know which floor the lift was on, it was obviously in the same tower, and close to Silvia's position, and if they could find the ID number of the lift, she could easily open the doors for them - if she was a decker..
The problem was, she didn't seem to have one with her, in her assorted group.
Mary would have to explain to somehow how to deck into the system to open them. That might be tricky, seing how many mistkes could be made by a badly informed decker. They needed to choose someone - and the runners in the lift needed to find out what the ID was.
Just then, Barkah, still prying at the lift roof with his sword, caused an enormous clang, almost deafening Mary, as part of the metal casing came loose, revealing the cavernous shaft above them.
Eva stared at the wrapped package.
It was handwritten by her "Emergency only"
To hell with it. This is an emergency.
She unwrapped the package, and showed the content of the inside.
"Cookies for all of you, kids! These are GoldShots, the ultimate piercing bullets... Pick up a clip. I picked them fairly assorted. They costed me too much, and are scarce, so think twice before using them."
"Why? Why are you giving this stuff to us, Eva?" Raven replied, still sighting the clips fulled with golden bullets, half covered in the package stuff.
"Because we are in an emergency, and I like you,people."
Eva carefully picked two clips... one for each Blazer she had carried. But now, she had only one pistol.
But she needed more stuff.
"Er... boss..." She gently asked Crystal. "May i have a few explosives and that nice looking assault rifle over there?"
Raven threw Eva a rifle - A cheap Chinese knock-off assault rifle. Bullpup magazine, 35 rounds, no laser sights or mods.
Crystal lobbed Eva a couple of grenades.
"No explosives. Sorry, only got a couple of charges. I'll hold onto them for now." Crystal said.
Chance was feeling ridiculously optimistic now that he had his old assault rifle in his arms. Still, he wasn't someone to pass up a good thing and accepted the Goldshots from Eva.
The soldier pulled out an empty magazine, inserting the two 5mm calibre Goldshot rounds that he had been given into it. The ammo was nose-heavy, the tip oddly golden-grey with the unnatural shine of mythril. He had fired most ammo before, but had no experience in Goldshots. Tucking the Goldshot-containing mag in his web gear, he slapped a conventional APDU mag into the rifle.
Hope APDU will suffice... Anything that's going to need a Goldshot isn't going to be very pleasant. He thought as he tucked the magazine away. His autoshotgun was hooked vertically onto his back so that he could draw and fire in one movement if needed.
Chance cocked his head and checked out the area around them... There had to be another way to get up. Then he remembered seeing something else in the control room.
"Crystal, I remember see something in the control rooms that might help us. It's a hunch... but I think we just found our ticket up."
"Look at that... EGES: 'Executive Ground Egress System'. I'm doing a little bit of guesswork down here, so bear with me. Now... what if executives working up there want to get out of the building in a hurry and weather or circumstances doesn't permit flight? Its pretty reasonable to assume that there'll be a separate lift system to bring down the execs straight to their limos stored down here, since the high and mighty don't like to share the same lifts with people like us.
Being exclusive, I think that will mean that few people know about it, thus its going to be less guarded than the normal shiftavators."
"So, all we gotta do is to find this particular system?" Raven asked.
"Yep. In fact, I think I just saw it over there..." Chance popped open a panel that was covered with a gold-lined plastic dust cover. "Bingo. Here are the controls to the mini-lifts. Trust the security to even decorate these damned 'high-class' switches with gold paint."
Chance pressed a switch to call the lift down, then another to open the doors. One opened, revealing a gold-effect shiny panelled elevator with plush velvet carpet, and a railing that seemed to be made of real walnut.
Crystal rubbed her chin in thought.
"Hmm. They missed a chandelier. But it's a start. How does this thing work?"
Her eyes alighted on the control panel, with the standard voice-activation panel.
"Please state clearly and concisely, your name, position within Transys Neuronet and required destination." It said in a stately Scottish male voice.
"Ah. Not to worry. I'll have a go." Crystal said.
She took a screwdriver from her toolkit, adjusted the point to a blade tip, then jabbed it firmly into the side of the control panel. Adjusting her grip, she proceeded to lever it off.
A piercing, shrill electronic scream broke the air. Crystal fell back in shock.
"Drek! Anti-Tamper!" Hissed Alanya.
All stood frozen, Chance aimed his rifle out the control-room window, certain of hordes of killing machines descending on them any moment now.
The alarm noise trailed off... And silence once again prevailed, less the sound of five rapidly-beating hearts.
"Why did it stop?" Ash whispered.
"Low power?" Crystal wondered. "This place is still on emergency lighting."
"Let me take a look." Alanya pushed in.
"Maybe that's what they want us to think." Eva told them, unhelpfully.
Raven looked back to the computers.
"Maybe there's a way to hack in through here. Pity no-one's a decker." He frowned. He looked over the options on the console. there was no option for EGES control. Maybe you needed executive authorisation for that. There were options for controlling:
3)Main gate access
4)Vehicle terminal access
"Frag! The main gates! We ought to be able to open them, get out while the metal bastards aren't here!" Raven smiled.
"And leave the others?" Chance pointed out.
"They could already be dead." Crystal sighed. "Mary..."
"Anyone who gets out could go for help." Raven reasoned.
"Or we could get to the Train terminal. Or the sea port." Ash pointed out.
"I could have another go at that panel. But don't blame me if the fragging drones are already coming for us." Crystal said, brushing hair back out of her eyes.
Peter was led to the opening the kids had found. A panel had been left loose by whoever (whatever) had put this cell - for thats what it was - Together.
The thin piece of construction plastic wasn't much of an obstacle to move. Peter found himself peering into a surprisingly brightly-lit room.
"Well, I'll be..."
He was looking at a large room. So large, it had to have been made by removing the floors of one of the levels, effectively turning two floors into one. From his hole, the wall below dropped vertically down, entirely blank, no handholds. The floor a good 50 feet below was empty but for the covering of glittering shards of what looked like glass.
In front of him, dangling from the ceiling, were a succession of hanging lighting rigs. They'd been lowered so as to be level with the hole he was peering put of. He'd be able to reach the next one - And maybe clamber along it to the next. But from there the distances between the fittings grew larger and larger. All in all, the room was a good 80 metres long. 80 metrews over those things?
Plus he wasn't sure they'd be able to take his weight. They weren't firmly attached to the ceiling.
Much as he tried, his eyes weren't good enough to see through to what was on the other side of the 'bridge' of lighting rigs...
Belinda spotted the bedraggled Goblin stumbling from the shift-a-vator. Spotted the datajack immediately.
Decker. He'll be useful.
Illydrian went over and grabbed Overmind, brought him before Belinda.
"How'd you like to join our party, gobbo boy? We give good perks to Deck-jockeys like you."
Overmind saw the shift close behind him. The fragging Elf-poser had jarred the screwdriver away when he'd grabbed him.
Damn it. Ah well, might as well playa long for now.
"Get me a deck and I'm yours." He grumbled. Belinda smiled. He didn't like that smile.
Belinda went to address the others.
"Well now." Belinda shouted, loud enough so all that had escaped with her could here her. "Are we ready?"
"Ready for what?" Shouted a man with a hangover.
Belinda fired her arm at the man. The grepple attachment flew out, puncturing the drunk's stomach. Then his jerked and danced as Belinda fed thousands of volts into him from the Tazer attachment. The poor fool ended up being pushed down the shift shaft.
Must be getting full down there by now Emmie thought.
"Ready..." Belinda took a breath. "FOR A TAKEOVER! Too long have the Corporate slags ruled over this place! Too long have the fraggers stomped us and ruined our fun! We're gonna round up anyone left alive in this hellhole, and we're gonna make our own fragging city! Who's with me?"
She was quite obviously mad. But seeing as quite a few of the escapees were ex-gangers, malcontents or general troublemakers who didn't have much else to do, she got a surprising level of support.
Even the big Native American, Redwing, silently fell in with her and the others.
"Good then. Everyone... We're taking a trip to Deep Red." Belinda shouted.
Deep Red, up in the club section, had itself become the personal fiefdom of its new occupiers.
Belinda, and those with her - Including the Elf-Posers, Mimes, Redwing, Hachiman, Varos and Emmanuette (who Belinda never let wander far from her side) stood outside the darkened club. Along the way, they'd picked up half a dozen new recruits - Men with tattered shirts and ties around their heads from the 'office' tribe who'd been burning their boss earlier.
Looking at the large bloodstain on the floor (which Belinda would never know was the point where Grind Storm had met his death), Belinda screamed out a challenge to those within.
"Come out come out wherever you are fraggers! You've got some new lodgers, and unless you come out, we'll have to redecorate the place a deeper shade of red."
This was her old gang turf. Where better to move her new gang into?
Most of her 'followers' were in a dream-like state still, after the release from the prison, the sudden dawn that something seriously weird was going on in the Arc. They stood back and watched what was happening.
A voice came from the darkened interior of the club.
"Well well, if it ain't the old leader of the FrozenBlades. Thought you wuz gone for good, Belinda."
Belinda stared for a moment, registering quietly what had happened. Since she had gone, her second-in-command, with her flashy new blue eyes, had taken over the gang and the old hideout.
"Elenia. I'm proud of you. You've grown so big and strong."
SIlence. Belinda nodded at two of the office boys who'd been recruited. They were 'armed' if that was the right word, with Iron Bars.
The two looked at each other uncertainly, shrugged, and walked into Deep Red.
Both men flew back, holes drilled in their heads.
"Please." Elenia snorted, somehwere in Deep Red. "Don't make me yawn. I'm entertaining guests here."
Belinda came up with an idea.
"How would your guests like to see... Some one on one action?"
"Keep talking." Elenia shouted back.
"One of yours. One of mine. No magic, no weapons. How 'bout it?"
A moment of silence, then everyone gasped as Elenia walked out of Deep Red.
With her, her surviving Robogoths... But a couple of the blue eyed Transys Security and Blackwatch men, adjusting their clothing, as Elenia fixed her hair.
"I choose... Sergeant Mercandlen." Elenia smiled.
"HUH?" Mercandlen protested.
"Shut up and do it, worm."
"Humph." Said the stocky Blackwatch man, unclipping his webbing gear, dropping his guns and weapons, getting into a fighting stance.
"I choose..." Belinda ran an eye over her followers...
"YOU!" She said, winking at Varos.
Heh, the fragger won't last long up against a Dragon... I hope.
"Me!? But I am a defenceless lady!" Varos argued. But was part of her mind trick strategy. That should create confusion amongst the others.
"OK, OK... I will do it..." And she added a sorrow expression and gasped.
Why would Belinda would choose that wimpy lady having all of these thick-as-nails gangers? Something is fishy in here.
Elenia's face was a completely puzzled.
By that time, Varos had arranged herself for the fight, tying the hair a bit up, and trying the best she could to mkae sure nobody would see her underwear through the partially soaked clothes.
Emmie lowered her head. Poor fool... A dragon still in human form was something to reckon with.
Blonde... sligthtly weird eyes... I think that remembers me something. thought the BlackWatch, ready to attack.
And so, both fighters started.
"I will be good with you... lass... He he he." the kiltie cynically spat.
And he landed a fist in her face. His mean right hook. A girl with that frame should be knocked off easily.
But Varos wasnīt the kind of girl she looked. She only moved her head, with the hit, and then stoically pulled it towards.
She looked at her lip. Blood.
"Not too bad for a pitiful human like you!"
Elenia's expression was priceless when he saw his fighter flying a few meters with the kick of the girl. She could not believe it. Now she knew that Belinda had chosen her cards right.
"Are you hurt, dear?" Varos cinically taunted to the now stumbling BlackWatch. That kick made him snap out of his overconfidence.
Then Belinda notice something that inspire awe. Those eyes... the eyes of Belindaīs fighter... were the ones of a dragon...
"Geez.... why did I com' with yu anyway?" Alanya sighed. "I am a decker!"
The others turned around. Alanya hadn't said much during the whole trip, but she had been smart enough to take her deck with her in a waterproof bag she got from the scuba shop.
"Ah 'll see whot I can do... but I ain't leavin' this place without Wirecat. An' be damn sure he ain't comin' without Sarah."
Alanya opened the bag and took out her cyberdeck.
"Isn't that deck fried by Eva's EMP grenade?" Crystal asked.
"Dis ain't no cheap thing ya know..." Alanya grinned. "itz MUNDI equipment. EMP proof."
"Frag. They're still heading in this direction." Wirecat said. "And there's more than two, it seems, and not all of them are over-cybered."
"So... regular stuff then?"
"Yeah." You can detonate that from a remote?
"Baby, I can make it detonate with movement sensors if ya want."
"Cool. Do it. But put the explosives close to the door itself, and the sensor a bit further, so that they're all in the blast. And quick, they're not far anymore."
"All right. Where do we hide?" Sarah said.
"We go to the storage room, and into the hole that Troll made."
"How are we gonna get him to climb up there?"
She nodded in the direction of the now blind technician.
I'll get him there."
He went to the room, pulled up the racks the troll had pulled down and put them under the hole. Not too stable to serve as ladder, but it would do.
He clawed his feet into the shelves, pulled the technician up with both his arms and pushed him through the hole. Then, he helped Sarah up.
"If he moves... zap him." Wirecat said to her.
He pushed the rack back to the wall where it had been standing before the Troll had thrown it to the ground. It made quite a lot of noise, but his aura vision showed him the attackers didn't come any faster anyway. They just walked, closer and closer.
"I'm ready!" Tami whispered to him, and ran to the back. "Twelve seconds!"
She quickly climbed on the wall and jumped through the hole in the ceiling.
Wirecat took a deep breath, and jumped. He grabbed the side of the hole with his claws, and quickly climbed further into the hole.
"Get to the sides! Spread the weight. I don't want us to fall through the floor like that troll did."
Tami counted down.
"four, three two, one... set." She grinned. The proximity detonator was armed.
"What if they deactivate it?" Sarah said.
Tami pulled a small remote out of her pocket.
"Then we'll just do it manually. I'm an expert. I don't take chances."
Mercandlen, his face a red mask of rage, bounded to his feet - Narrowly avoiding giving the watching crowd a horrifying glimpse up his kilt.
"Heh lass. Ah used ta screw girls like you in prison!" He Laughed, ignoring the pain in his stomach due the the adrenaline being fed into his veins.
The thousands of Nuyen's worth of cyberware implanted into him proved their worth as he darted nimbly left and right, at a blinding speed Varos couldn't hope to match. His speed was unreal. He feinted left, he feinted right while Varos tried to keep up - WHAM! He headbutted her full in the face. There came the crack of breaking bone. Varos was overbalanced - Mercandlen sent her to the floor with a roundhouse kick, covering her face in shock, to the loud booing of the crowd.
"Heh heh! Aye, Ah Scotsman knows how to treat his lass!"
"Darn... That guy is too quick. I will need to anticipate its attack... And strike when his guard is down. But that guy is so darn fast to anticipate the moves... and... he is covering his back pretty good." She muttered to herself, while spitting the blood out of her mouth.
"Enough of this, sissy? Go cry to your whore mommie!"
The kiltie sneered out.
Bingo. Overconfidence. That guy is a sexist.
Another hit of the guy. This time she was hit right in the chest, again. She felt horrible, as if her guts were about to come off.
More spat mixe with blood.
She stumbled and fell into the ground, gasping, while the guard was merciless kicking her waist.
Frag it... What are you doing, dragon bitch!?
Belinda bite her hand. That girl wasnīt supposed to go that way.
"He he, you wonīt make it, bitch!"
The guard continued to kick on Varos. The oddness was... she was not yelling with pain.
Kicks have gone more slow now. I am pretty sure he wants to enjoy the moment. Big mistake
Suddenly the kicking of the lady stopped.
"UGh!" Mercadlen shouted in disbelief. Varos, battered but still capable of fighting(unlike he thought when she fell to the ground) held the leg with her hands.
A grin on her face. Like if she were saying: My turn, fragger.
"YEARGHH!!!!!!!!" Mercadlen owled in pain, and stumbled to the ground. His left leg was hanging at the height of the knee, motionlessly. Varos had kicked him in the side of it. A very fragile point, and a big disability.A badly broken knee. The kiltie could have a chronical limp for this injury.
"Heh. You were slegging fast, fragger. But now... you are crippled, and it is my turn already."
Varos stood up, snapped her fingers, and got back again ready for action.
"You... can't... Keep... A SCOTSMAN DOWN, LASSIE-BITCH!" The red-faced mask of fury that had been Mercandlen's face roared.
Getting onto his one good leg, ignoring the pain of the other by din't of the large amounts of adrenaline that were being pumped directly into his veins from his Blue-grade cyberware installations, he scrambled for a way to defeat this Woman, though he was dimly aware that she was more than just a woman.
She wants to play Hardball, aye?
He spotted his heavy Browning, in the floor next to his gear.
He snatched it up, twisting his mangled leg even more badly as he did so.
By now, he would never walk again.
He didn't care. He was on a mission from God, so to speak.
He aimed the gun, as his smartlink crosshairs zeroed on Varos's pretty head.
The mere sight of him going for his gun triggered yet another brutal chain of events. Belinda pointed her Cybearm at him - A SMG burst caught him in the side of the head, tearing his face away.
He kept coming.
By now Elenia and her followers were firing at Belinda's mob - Who switched their fire onto their opponents.
Mercandlen, faceless, his lering red skull lunging right at Varos, barrelled right into her.
For once, she was faster than the lurching, hopping, bloody figure and its grasping hands. The hands grasped only the balcony railing. Varos was on hand to give him a helping hand... All the way over.
"KILLLLLL YOUUUUU!!!!!....." The figure screamed, all the way down. By the time it hit the water, at close to terminal velocity, he was out of sight.
Varos lay on the floor, gasping for air.
A close call.
The gunfight had ended as quickly as it started. Elenia's minions lay messily dead - Cut to pieces by Autoshotgun fire. Of Elenia herself, there was no sign. She disappeared at the first sign of trouble.
But the dead also included a good eleven of Belinda's men, pullged neatly through the head with the accuracy only cyberware can give so cheaply. She wasn't too disappointed. She gave her Champion a tight hug, and a peck on the cheek, before they all went into Deep Red to celebrate with some free drinks.
Belinda took Varos into the private room at the back, and lit the 'do not disturb' sign.
Overmind, running a close eye over the discarded gear outside the club, came upon Mercandlen's duffel bag. And the Cyberdeck he recognised as Vega's, although the program chips had ben pulled out...
"Phew... Even us... the mighty dragons... are mortal."
She stared at the beer she was sipping. Belinda stared at her.
"I almost died today, Belinda. Such thing makes me think... life is way too valuable."
"You were just too much for that fragger. He could do nothing but cheap tricks."
Varos grinned with pain when Belinda cleaned a cut on her face and lips.
"Besides... I need to go find other clothes. These just donīt fit with the rithm." She pointed at her spoiled-by-now dress.
"And a pair of shoes, too."
Frag it. They got Zeros. Overmind embraced the deck as if it were his friend Vega.
"And they have you two, Vega."
He opened the deck, and plugged on it. He knew the passcode, so it got logged in quickly.
"Letīs see the log of her messages..."
On the next floor up, the shiftavator control room gleamed. It was a protusion from the wall of the large, open level, and one-way glass windows formed all three walls. A doorway, complete with complex electronic lock, was on the wall facing them.
"Hopefully, with the power out here, we should be able to get in", said Silvia into the wristphone. Mary nodded in acknowledgement, and hoped Silvia could give her a decent view.
Damocles put the goblin down, and briefly checked the tanks that were also the main feature of this level. Most of the nearby ones were empty, or full of tiny creatures that would be no danger. He wished he had the torch still, which had been damaged irrepairably by it's underwater adventure, to check the signs near some of the tanks which was too difficult to make out.
"Shit". That was Red's voice, as she tried to open the door.
"What is it?" Silvia moved to the rigger, who was examining the handle closely.
"This thing has a backup lock, a regular antique key-thing. They must have anticipated power loss or something."
"And we don't have the key?"
"Duh. I might be able to get this open with one of my drones, but I'd have to reconfigure it beforehands, and that might take ages. We can't wait that long."
"Yeah. Looks like we'll have to use Damocles then. I didn't want to, it doesnt seem like a good idea to encourage him to break everything that gets in the way."
Red nodded, and grinned. "Not when you can blow it up."
Withing five minutes, they were able to use the doorway, now missing the door, which was propped up at the side. Red stepped inside, and looked around at the padded chairs and masses of controls, linked to datajacks. It was dark inside, but the runners could make out enough to hopefully find the controls. It didn't matter about the lights as long as they had -
"Oh Frag," Red muttered. "We don't have power for the control deck!"
Bulldog, hobbling in on his walking stick, laughed.
"Of course you do. If these controls lost power, anyone in the lifts would die. There must be a backup generator, just for the shiftavators. They won't be affected by the rest of this level."
Bulldog flicked on the light with one hand.
Mary watched the events unfold via the wristphone, and, as soon as they had the lights on, asked Silvia who was going to do the decking.
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