The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
RPG Chapter 5: Untied States!
"Da, comrade. Keep mofos from crampin' my style and I give 20,000...each."
Getting up the dozens of flights of steps up to her flat in the dome support building had been tiring before. Now, with the breathing difficulties brought on by the injury sustained in her last job, it was murderous.
The woman moved doggedly, sluggish in the early spring/summer heat-haze. Days like this, you wore your respirator religiously, for it was the only thing between you and asphyxiation in Britsprawl's pollution.
Crystal opened her apartment door cautiously, aware that she had been attacked there before. Being unable to call for help (not that it would come anyway), she felt the need to be cautious all the more, so had her SMG70 ready, it's compact bullpup design balancing comfortably in one hand.
But this time, no one was home, save the awakened cockroaches and dome-rats, who scurried off through cracks in the ceiling, out onto the rotten surface of the Biodome the building helped prop up.
There would be no leaving here anytime soon: Crystal hadn't worked for some time now. She had been recovering. Besides, she felt safe here. The Zombie inhabitants of this part of town (whose numbers slowly dwindled) kept most of the human scum off the streets.
She took the bandage from her throat, and rubbed the scarred tissue thoughtfully. In the corner of the room, the battered 3DTV set clicked on automatically, but Crystal ignored it for now.
She had received a text-only message. A simple, ambiguously worded notification. Someone wanted her for a job - She wondered if the hirer knew of her new disability, and her tail curled up onto her lap sub-consiously as she pondered...
The message said to ask for Johnson, at The Chaos Engineer - A new bar opened in the good part of town.
awakened by the TV in his room, Plugin got up and looked at what the all-text message said...
"heh, time to make the doughnuts eh?" Plugin said to himself. (btw wes, i think i want to make him live in one of those rooms on the pillar thing if there are any :p )
Plugin got dressed, grabbed his cyberdeck and his pistol and ammo, loaded the gun, and set it on the table.
"now for a bite to eat..." he said, pulling out some food and eating it...
"ok, time to set off to this bar..." he said, grabbing his ID, his cyberdeck, and his pistol before leaving...
The streets were empty. Or at least, looked empty. If you strained your ears, you may hear the faint sound of thugs, thieves and Shadow Runners at work, assuming you hadn't already met one of these and still had your ears left. All was quiet. It was a night of professionals. Gun's were silenced, screams muffled, the merchants of the night worked quickly and quietly.
A car seemingly glided down the streets, although to call it a car was a stretch of the truth. It was compact, only fit for two very small people (Or four average size Goblins). And it seemed to have no visible wheels. It was jet black, and gleamed in the artificial light bouncing off the broken street lamps.
It parked, tilted forward as it stopped, landing softly, as if it was the perfect sea saw. One of it's doors swung open, a thin pale figure stepping out. After locking up, the woman, as we will assume, stalked gracefully over to the nearest lamp post. She looked it up and down, judging the distance between it and her car. She fumbled in her pocket, until she produced something small, a mix of glass, plastic and wire. She placed it on the lamp post, and walked away.
Hearse took in her environment. She had thought the outside was bad, the inside was much worse. At least on the outside, there weren't things growing on the walls that looked alive. Of course, it was the other living things here that also worried her.
They were all women. All in black robes and all looking very pale. Many of them had limbs, among other things, missing. And as for the stench, She thought that her skin smelt bad, she had never smelt anything this... overpowering! But still, she wasn't one to talk.
Hearse passed a table which looked like it had fed a family of wood worm for a month. There was a woman sitting at it, shuffling cards almost absent mindedly.
"Care to make a wager?" The woman nearly hissed. It wasn't a nasty kind of tone, in fact, it was really quite pleasant.
"I don't play." Hearse replied, almost automatically. The woman would have given her an inquisitive look if she could. But she couldn't... Could she? Even though it sounded stupid, Hearse had to ask. "You do realise... Erm... you have no eyes..." It was a weak statement, she was surprised she had said it.
"Some of us see in other ways." The woman said calmly. "They call me Abigail."
"Is that not what you call yourself?" Hearse asked, this time even weaker. She felt like sinking into a pit and never crawling out, or at the very least she felt like getting out of this horrid place.
Abigail just gave her a calm smile, and beckoned her on.
Hearse reached the door, she'd excepted something more from it. People had said terrible things about the... thing on the other side. The door just didn't seem right. I mean, it should at least have some decoration or possibly a warning even! But it was just a plain door, plain and wooden. It had saw mould, damp, wood worm... If doors were people, this one would probably be a wise old man. She turned the handle.
"Ah, come in, come in!" Said a cheerful croak. It sounded like an old man, but had a slight spark in it that said otherwise. "Make yourself at home!"
Hearse sat down carefully on the worn brown leather of the chair. She'd expected something to happen, like a swarm of disturbed spiders creeping out of it, but there was nothing. She settled in, pulling out her monitor, her eye on the world.
"You seek me for employment?" Hearse said to the man, who was moving swiftly though a small kitchen. It was strange, she could never quite catch his face. It was just a swirl of black as he twisted and turned from one thing to the next. She hated this place.
"Ah, yes... Yes... Tea?" He asked, Hearse was about to say "Pardon?" when the man waved a tea cup vaguely in the air.
"Ah, yes please. That is very... kind of you." She dread to think what it would contain, but her mother had always taught her good manners. Or rather forced them into her skull with a blunt stick. The figure fell like a bunch of twigs into the opposite chair. Hearse didn't even see him place the cup next to her.
"Now, this... "Employment." He began. "It is a very special, but simple task I have for you. But very important." He seemed to shake for a moment, lost in thought.
"Carry on..." Hearse risked, sipping her tea, which to her surprise, tasted quite normal.
"Ah yes... this... Person. The person in this picture..." He handed Hearse a picture, she observed it. "I want you... to find that person. Find her and..."
"Goodness no! I want you to make sure no harm comes to this person, and report to me on this persons progress."
"And payment?" The all important question.
"I have things you can sell. Things I no longer need."
Hearse picked up a golden orb. It could have been a helmet, if it hadn't had one to many holes in it.
"Like this?" She asked.
"No. You will get your payment, when you do your work. Now, I', sure you have many more questions..."
"Not at all." Hearse replied automatically.
"I admire your confidence."
"No confidence." Said hearse, looking over her monitor. "It's just somebody is trying to steal my car."
The black figure nodded, She walked out. And even in the years to come, she would still swear that Abigail had winked at her on her way out.
Red swore, and kicked at the dwarf under the table. She was rewarded by a loud grunt, as the toe of her boot connected with a fleshy bit that she hoped was the dwarf's thigh - you never could tell with stunties - but thought twice about it as the four foot tall humanoid keeled over, with his hands between his legs.
The smoky bar in Maidstone, Kent - one of the most notoriously dirty and depraved areas of Britsprawl wasn't ideal, in both company and smell, but it was a good place to lie low. She knew the owner - an angry looking elf with a glass eye and a cyberarm called Pastor - and had called in a favour to keep Mary, as an ex-Transys Worker and Silvia, quite a conspicuous person hidden, until they could contact one of the other runners, or just find a way to get the Transys agents off their back.
For at least four weeks now (maybe more, Red had never bothered to keep much track of time, unless someone was paying her to be punctual), they had been evading the bounty hunters sent by the Transys Megacorporation, after the events in Scotsprawl. During the chaos following - as far as Red could tell - the main AI co-ordinator of the massive Transys Arcology going haywire, it was clear that the remenants of Transys's european operations had been instructed to deal with anyone who might spread word of what had truly happened in the arc, and the runners had been forced to lie low here, having left Eva somewhere in BirminghamSprawl Red herself was unlikely to spread much of it - she only half believed it anyway - but it didn't look like they'd taken that into consideration. She was only down here as it was getting remarkably tense upstairs, with the three women sharing one medium-sized room, and she wouldn't be surprised if Mary or Silvia came down here soon.
Red got up, leaving the dwarf who had tried to hit on her on the floor, and almost walked into a woman the size of a bus. Red had met Tank in Transys, and this was almost as big, in the same way - not fat, just literally huge. She wore a large brown cloak, of the kind that some magic-users liked, her face obscured, out of some bizzare idea that was what people who could use magic wore, but Red doubted someone this big would have the brainpower to use magic, let alone the inclination when such huge bulk could suffice in most shadowrunner's careers.
"Thiz one seekz you. Here. Take thiz"
The metahuman (or so Red assumed), thrust a rolled-up envelope, of the kind still occasionally used for formal and communication instead of electronic means, into her hands. Before Red could say anything, her messenger had pushed her way through the misty, badly lit crowd, and dissapeared.
Red sat down at the bar, and ripped open the decorative letter with one fingernail. A single sentance was written, shorthand, on a small white card inside. In an age where softscreens had surpassed paper, this was a rareity.
your prescence is immediately requested at the chaos engineer, northeast britsprawl dome.
Looking at this, perpexed, Red made her way to the stairs behind the bar, just in time to hear the telltale sign on smashing glass from upstairs.
Tank looked out over the river, and watched the sun set slowly over the urban horizon, red streaks of cloud in the overly warm spring air. The re-routed Thames stretched out unbroken through Britsprawl, a line of sluggish water that the twenty four bridges across spanned in a row of arches running into the distance.
From the most coastal of these bridges - the twin yellow Arcs of the McDonalds bridge, Tank sipped on his Alco-coke, and felt the warmth of the green-skinned beauty on his arm - a woman as orky as they got, covered in freckles and tatoos, imperfections and scars only adding to the overall effect. Tank had known the ork with young yellow eyes - Luna by name, almost ever since he had become a proper shadowrunner, and the two shared a tangled relationship that resurfaced whenever their adventures took them were in the same country, leaving the rest to be enjoyed with whatever was at hand, neither minding that the other may have had other lovers. He flexed his heavily synthed cyberarm, and watched her silent eyes travel up to his face.
A small group of teenagers - bodies almost completely covered in softscreen tatoos flashing corporate advertisments in a way that many people made money these days wander down the opposite arc. This kind of sight was becoming more and more common, people taking up new means of income, new ways to survive in a mean world. His eyes drifted down to his partner, but were stopped, almost instinctively, by a phrase flashing across one of the youth's forehead, in solid black lettering on a white background, far different than the other swirling adverts on the adolescent.
Chaos Engineer - Ask for Johnsonn - ¥¥¥
Chance and Ash had been slumming it in a pathetic hovel of a South Britsprawl flat ever since the Transys incident.
Life in the foreign City was depressing and difficult, and the fact that the couple's best contacts were either hospitalized or fled wasn't helping. As yet Chance hadn't managed to find any Deckers worth the name to help with finding his lost comrades, but at least Raven was on hand to keep him supplied with ammo.
Sitting exhausted on the rotten couch, Ash brought in a tray of nuke-fries - They seemed to be what passed for fodd with the locals. Grimacing, they two chowed down, while the 3DTV blared.
Again, a simple text-only matrix-mail flashed up on his 3DTV screen. This 3DTV was set up with an assumed name on the account, yet still he knew this mail was addressed to him.
We have recently learned of some exploits of yours, and are eager if you would be interested in helping us.
You will, of course be paid handsomely. But let us throw in a sweetener for you...
The mail came with an attachment:
Name: Wang Fei
Location: 86 East Dearborn, Cermak, Chicago. UCAS.
Security Grade: Declassified to Orange4 after memory cap.
The message continued:
If this whets your appetite, and you'd like more, please make our aquantance at The Chaos Engineer pub. Ask for Johnson.
Raven received a text mail on his wristphone from Crystal. The two had been seeing each other on and off over the last four weeks - Seeing her but not being able to hear her made his heart bleed. but he was a big boy now. He got used to it, though he wondered if Crystal ever would. It puzzled him why she hadn't gotten some kind of cyberware fix or speech implant... But Raven knew enough about the woman to know that trying to persuade her from a course already set wasn't a good idea.
--->jOB gIOiN on at teh kAoS EnG1n33tr... Want to go?<---(Crystal)
Alan was sitting in a dim-lit locker room suiting up for 9MR, one of the most dangerous forms of racing ever derived. He starts to slide on a sleeve of the glossy rubber suit when a muffled ring was heard under his duffle bag. He stood and lifted it some, and saw that his PDA was emitting that floursent green color.
Alan knew that he hasnt been in town long enough to have met anyone, much less given out his frequency, but here he is with a message? He earegly picks it up, his curiosity getting the best of him.
"We know you love a dangerous challenge. You little free-fall race from 9 miles up has nothing on this.
More information at the Chaos Engineer bar. Ask for Johnson."
"now what exactly can beat what I do now?" He thought to himself. However, since the message has so much relevance to something he does from something he doesnt know, he had to take the chance. Thats just his nature. Alan the Maniac.
He hops into his brand new Nuovo Inzio B-class SUV and starts for Chaos Engineer.
There is a good firefight going on in downtown Britsprawl. The local authorites, along with a makeshift militia have Epona Rhi trapped in an alley, with numbers of urban tanks and news choppers crowded around like ants around fresh prey.
Although bullets and flash granades whizzed by, it seems incoming ordinance actualy has a soothing effect of Epona, and she stays tucked behind wrecked vehicles planning and plotting.
Her cell starts to beep and she immediately put it to her ear saying "yeah." A slight bit of embarrasment comes after she finds that its a text.
"New "job" open at the Chaos Engineer. Ask for Johnson, it says." Epona thought "It better pay better than these idiots on the street."
She stands up behind a smoldering truck, brandishing that infamous PPC. "OK, its been fun showing each other what kinds of bullets we have, but I have to be somewhere!"
The following shot explodes everything outside the alley, and the surrounding forces are doused with flaming shnapnel and debris. Through the embers and men running on fire, Epona steals away with one of the urban tanks, and it slowly makes it way down a few blocks to the new Chaos Engineer bar.
Raven stood still a moment, considering the proposal. Crystal had sent him a message out of the blue. kAoS EnG1n33tr? Raven had heard about the place from fellow fitters recently.
Over the recently passed weeks Raven had felt cramped and depressed. Transys Arco had sapped alot of his resolve, he had seen unthinking machines murder people, he had witnessed people resort to tribal savagery and even foul amalgams of man and machine, taking the worst of both worlds in the forced evolution of a program gone wild. Seeing Crystal in her current state, slowly recovering from her wounds had really gutted Raven, he had resisted letting it show but he suspected Crystal could tell he was pained by the sight of her.
Crystal wasn't the only one who was recovering from wounds received during the Arco incident, Raven had copped a fair few injuries himself. Nothing as bad as what Crystal had suffered but Raven certainly wasn't hopping out of bed in the morning. The cold Britsprawl climate did nothing for Raven's bad leg there were days when merely walking proved to be agony.
To keep his mind of matters Raven had thrown himself into his business. As always, Raven had proved to be a great fitter, his reputation always preceded him. Fitter's aren't known for getting involved with their clients or showing loyalty to anyone but the precious Nuyen, which was why Raven was held in awe by other fitters. The rumours flew thick and fast, some said that Raven had single handedly stood up to the Bone Dragon of Geneva (The Orc mage, Curim had never been a well known figure), others claimed that Raven had killed his old teacher, Fardel North, in his quest to become the greatest fitter in the world. His obvious mutations had been the talk of the town, some people surmised correctly that he had been to Orkistonia during the passing of Halley's comet, which had been hotbed for random and spontaneous mutations. Raven didn't care what they thought, he had his own plans to carry out. He had been stockpiling ammunition, knowing that eventually Crystal and her runner friends would have need of his services again. Whenever the runners had needed ammo badly Raven hadn't been able to deliver, which was why he was stockpiling for just this occasion.
Ever since he had lost his precious, gold plated pistol Raven had felt incomplete. Other weapons just didn't suit him, "The Negotiator" had always served him well. After Transys Raven decided to find his pistol no matter what, he had planned to slip away one night in his van and track the weapon down. However, this new message from Crystal forced Raven to change his plan. He'd let them all know he couldn't come, give them his ammo cache and then set off for Orkistonia, the last known location of his quarry.
Raven picked up his keys from his desk and left his apartment, his door slamming shut with a crash and a hint of grim finality...
(I hope I made it clear previously that Raven won't be in much of this chapter, he'll deliver the ammo cache and leave. He *might* return later as an emergency plot device, but only if he's got the negotiator with him. S'all good people?)
Jessica Hayes had parted ways with her fellow Transys escapees fairly soon after they had left the MUNDI carrier The Red Dawn. Which explained some of her surprise when her compact deck suddenly chirped with the arrival of a text message.
"Lieutenant Hayes, your presence is requested at the Chaos Engineer, ask for Johnson."
Anybody who knew about her old rank also knew that N'Zar had a price on her head. Ever since she had started a mutiny onboard the airbourne carrier, Red Dawn, she had known that N'Zar, a powerful dragon who owned the craft, would hold her responsible and see her dead, no matter the cost. It didn't help that MUNDI had bought the wreckage, repaired it and paraded the newly recommisioned carrier before the world, as if adding salt to the wound Jessica had caused. Hayes thought she had better obey the request and go to this Chaos Engineer tonight for fear that whomever sent the message would inform N'Zar's security forces of her whereabouts.
Jessica packed up her meagre possessions, said goodbye to her two room mates, who had taken her into their apartment in exchange for a reasonable weekly rent, and left them forever.
As she wandered down the street she wondered if the zombies were out tonight, thankfully she still had her BAR-15SE assault rifle but she lacked it's special ammunition, Meat Grinder rounds, instead opting for three clips of sixty 7.62mm NATO standard bullets. She'd have to ask directions but she'd find the place fairly easily, it was just a question of covering the distance in time.
"Ahhh, sparkling clean aren't we?"
John Larcen, AKA Rusty, dropped his sponge into a soapy bucket and admired his own reflection in the cockpit glass of his Akula helicopter.
"Nothing like a good wash, eh girl?"
He crooned at the helicopter while he stroked the fuselage lovingly.
"Too bad the nasty Britsprawl weather will make you all nasty and grimy in no time at all right?"
The helicopter was his most precious asset, his main source of income and his pride and joy.
John's one sided conversation was interrupted by a series of beeps coming from his wrist-comm. He answered the call in a brisk, business-like voice;
"Larcen Personal and Business Transport Company, how may I help you?"
John listened for a reply, there was none. He shook his wrist-comm slightly, it didn't seem broken. He glanced at it and realised it wasn't a live call but a text message. John sighed, he liked using his business voice with people, it made him sound important and intelligent. Larcen read the message.
"Your services are required. Be at the Chaos Engineer tonight. Ask for Johnson.
He smiled, it was a pretencious attempt at being mysterious and cryptic.
"Bloody business fraggers, always making themselves sound cool, eh girl?"
The wind picked up a bit, the rotors of the craft bobbed up and down slightly. John interpreted that as a nod of agreement.
"May as well go, it's Nuyen in the bank, baby."
The rat stared at the man cautionosly while he continued with his self centered speech.
"Damn it. All of this... all this stuff... is far beyond normal people. Not everyone can do that job, for sure."
The message in his vidphone was clear.
You are not like everyone, Duke. You are the best person for this job. You won't deceive me
The rat squeaked, and ran away. Colonel Alexander Alexeiv, AKA the Duke checked once again his equipment. Damn toll guards. He could have smuggled more than a simple pistol and a knife. He shivered.
"Like old times, Colonel" He said to himself checking if the boots were tied, the tactical googles working.
He rechecked the briefing once again. Like a profesional special operations. You never quit being one of these.
Dear Alexander Alexeiv. I am so sorry that a tragedy occurred to your closest family members. Your cousin and your aunt died in the Transys incident. But it's no time for cries my friend. Before dying, i suspect that Wolf had hidden some ace in his hand, some secret that could be important. Your mission is to get to know what is such secret. Eva has discovered some keys to something classified as "Project Phoenix". We believe that "project phoenix is linked to that secret. I am sorry that we cannot go with you, since Dragon and Eva are in a training season to perform their new abilities and I, personally, am returning to my base. However, if you have any doubt, our phones are at your disposal.
The first step in your investigation is to locate Wendy Fiennes AKA Crystal Trigger, Wolf's best friend, and interrogate her.
I have managed to hack into her phone and track down a message. She'll be in Chaos engineer (see attached text file 1).
I know this mission is a hard trial, but you won't dissapoint me. You are not like everyone, Duke. You are the best person for this job. You won't deceive me.
You will receive updates in your mission once you have accomplished this task.
He mumbled once again.
"Oh well. Like Iceman said. :Finger on the trigger, and mind on the earth."
He waved his hand, asking for a cab car. The military outfit, with the military boots and the belt with satchel, plus the tactical, the trusty tactical googles, made the cabbie think "What a freak. Meh"
Once the cab dodged the traffic and made its way to the club, Duke rubbed his scar, the scar on his cheek, and with confident and quick steps, he headed towards the bar.
"Smell of blood... I like it. I like all of it." The restless assasin chored once and once again, to fall and end the life of another victim. Ravenous creatures, who were at his orders, took care of the corpse, eating and ripping it to pieces like if it were a frag fest.
Iceman smiled. To his eyes, the Hunt had been reopened.
The world was a shade of tinted purple. Dark purple shadows played across the purple buildings, while the blazing purple of any light source still left lit up the streets. Not that she needed it. That was the joy of cyber eyes, you were never truly blind. Although, Hearse had never found much pleasure in cyberwear. It had been her dream to be a cyborg, now it was her living hell. But still, she sat back in the seat of her mono-car, a delightful machine given to her as a gift. The seat was currently fixated in the centre of the car, but could be moved to the side to make way for another seat. You had to be careful with balance, too much wait on one side and your on your roof!
For such untrustworthy streets, the journey had been very peaceful. Well, you heard the odd blood curdling scream, but as long as it wasn't happening to you, it didn't matter. But peace always worried Hearse, as it was just the lead up to chaos.
And she was right.
There was a thud on the roof, followed by a slight dent. As if somebody very light had fallen from a short distance. Hearse knew this meant trouble. She steered frantically, trying to keep the car balanced, but it was no good. The cars one wheel slid across the road, eventually being lifted off the ground. Taking the rest of the car with it.
Minutes later, the car was rocking gently on it's roof, one wheel spinning aimlessly into the night sky. Hearse stirred within it, held upside down by her seat belt. She braced herself, unbuckled it and hit the roof hard. She muttered a curse word under her breath and searched for the door handle.
She was unsure what had just happened, but guessed that something, somehow, had landed on the roof of her car, tipping it over. Why they had done it, she didn't know yet. But that was half the fun of finding out!
The door opened with ease, she crawled from the machine and stood, dusting herself off. She looked around, trying to find this phantom person, but there was nothing. Just a note at her feet.
It was written on paper, which was very rare. Not much paper mind you, just a scrap. A scrap of paper, with words written in red ink.
"Your esteemed scientist. You need to pay for your mistakes, and I have the Nuyren. If your interested, come to the Chaos engineer and ask for Johnson."
She folded it neatly, putting it in one of her many pockets. Then she looked at her car. This was going to hurt in the morning. She fixed her cyber fingers underneath, lifting slightly to get and idea of the weight. Then, she tipped the car onto it's wheel. Her real muscles recoiling in pain.
She got into the car and drove off, she'd never been to the Chaos Engineer, but she was sure she'd find it.
Chance spat out a fry upon reading the last words in the message.
He turned and looked at Ash, the latter frozen with a fry half raised towards her lips, the other hand holding the tray, keeping it warm with the soft glow of her left hand. One of her eyebrows was raised in surprise.
"Whoever this 'J' person is would probably know where the others are too..." Chance began.
But Ash was already on her feet and headed for their weapons store in the dilapitated apartment, after tossing the Nuke-fries into the recycler port... not that she would miss them anyway.
"I'll grab the guns. You go sort out the armour."
Choak woke with a start, knocking over the pile of crates that he had been leaning against. He had only slept for a few minutes, but he could still hear the cackling of his tormentor.
Wearily, he rubbed his bleary eyes, and looked around, trying to remember where he was. The packing crate that had fallen was on it's side, spewing some kind of soyburger bun, complete with burnt-on logo of some megacorporation, just obscured enough by the packaging for him not to be able to make it out.
He ripped open one packet, and spat, clearing his throat, before gulped down one of the buns. It tasted pretty foul, but it would have to do.
The area he was in looked like some kind of low-grade warehouse, lit only by a thin beam of light through a murky skylight. From outside, the hum of traffic drifted in, betraying his location to be in one of the massive sprawls that covered most of the developed world.
Choak pulled on the coat he had used as a blanket - not that he needed it anyway, in the hot summer air, and willed a tiny flame to flicker into existance on the palm of his hand. It danced silently for a moment, casting long shadows, before Chaso, unrestrained for only a tiny second, cast a tendrilike touch into the world, and magnified the flame to a roaring tower of flame.
This, of course, alerted the idle guards.
Bauj dropped his hand of screencards, including the three programmable multicards hidden in his left sleeve, set to obey short-ranged commands from the small transmitter all Harpok Megafoods had implanted. With a cry of alarm, his chair clattered backwards, as light filled the room, incinerating the dwarf and his two troll companions.
If he had survived, he would have seen the black-coated shaman tread delicately through the flaming wreckage minutes later, flames licking at his tough orkish skin.
He would have heard the deep voice of the shaman, muttering seemingly insanely to himself, as he regarded the charred corpes, and would have seen the figure step past, slowly, slowly turning over a softscreen it had dug out of it's pocket. On it, was a badly recoreded video of a figure tumbling from the collapsing third tower of Transys Arcology building. Somehow, this must have snapped memories together in it's head, for it then moved away, with a new purpose, sure of it's mission to rid itself of the torment.
To Kill Alexander Alexeiv.
Crystal arrived at the Chaos Engineer.
As she walked in, she unclipped her rebreather and took a grateful gasp of the purer air, while taking in her surroundings. The bar was newly refurbished. It had been a shop before this area was flattened by a Panzer whose engines had suddenly cut out one day, long ago. Things like that happened quite a lot these days. The company that made the vehicle launched an investigation into the accident, which concluded the accident resulted from human error. Conveniently, this pilot was dead and had no estate, so the victim's andf their families call for compensation fell on deaf ears. A few Nyen sprinkled over the local council made sure of that.
The bar was decked out in fake wood panelling and brass piping, lit with an orange light from electro-candle holders in the wall. Pieces of machinery and Victorian-era pressure gauges on the walls were supposed to give the place a Steampunk feel to it. The pipes even hissed and let out steam occasionally, and the Bartender was dressed in a leather apron Victorian Navvie's shirt, wearing a handlebar moustache and hair slicked with enough brylcreem to destroy a small coastline. The effect was ruined by the Hardcore ElectroThrash from the Jukebox and the ill-fitting customers.
Crystal made for the bar, tail flicking around behind her. Above the bar were mounted brass-framed pictures. The men all seemed to be stereotypical mad-scientist types, with wild white hair and mad staring eyes. Crystal hoped whoever designed this place was laying off the neo-valium these days.
"Ah good hevening Miss. Hand what can hi do for you?"
It wasn't clear if he really spoke like that, or whether he was paid to add a 'h' onto every word starting with a vowel.
Crystal pointed at one of the (fake) ivory beer taps, and proffered an unmarked Credstick with enough money on it to cover the transaction.
The bartender grunted and deducted some money on the bar computer, only then did he pour the beverage Crystal had wanted.
She went to a dark corner . Unnoticed by the clientele. There were four darkcorners here, due to the subtle lighting. There she sat, in shadow. She wanted to see who else would be turning up here. It always helped to know who else you'd be working with, she knew.
Then she sighed. She was getting too cautious in her old age. Almost 28 now.
She sipped her drink. It was fizzy, weak and had a nice toilet-cleaner aftertaste, like most beers. She barely noticed-it.
Plugin wandered into the bar, flashing his ID to the bartender and asked for a beer...
"oh, hold on" he said, as he pulled out a credstick with the money needed for the beer.
"Now you hare speaking my language" he said, as he checked the credstick, pulled out a mug, and filiied it with the beer.
Plugin took a sip, and thought sarcastically, " Mmm... toilet cleaner, my favorite"
Plugin took a look at the dark figure in the corner. maybe this was Johnson (i can't see that your female, which is good because i'd have gone gaga by now placing the beer down, he walked over to where this figure sat, looking around.
The boots rithmycally tapped on the ground while Alexander walked towards the so called pub.
"Damn it. Why scum is hiding in scumy places?" He asked to himself.
Scratching his head, and checking if his weapons were hidden correctly, Alexander breathed deep. The taxi had just ran away, for another client. He entered the bar.
Filled of geeks. He was as noticeable as a neon light in a dark pithole. A military tough goon, possibly of high rank, with tactical googles in his forehead. But... no one would say anything of his aspect, though. Equipment like his, were unfortunately, shared by many people. Paramilitars or gangers, it didn't matter.
Without waiting for a response of the bartender he asked for
"Vodka double." and got a glass filled with a substance that tasted like cheap alcohol and gasoline. He then gave a glare at the corners. The target was there. He could barely distinguish a weird reaction to his face and voice: He phisically resembled his cousin Wolf, except for the scar, the tougher build and the eyes. Now he needed the right moment to introduce himself, and his mission.
Rei, under her disguise, felt uncomfortable. The bandages over her chest were killing her, but they were needed to show it flat like a man... and the voice syntethizer... was odd to wear. A thing firmly attached to the neck, that was.
She had heard that in Chaos Engineer they needed staff. And since she had left her home, she was out of job, and running short of money.
Ignoring the weird stink of the contaminated air, she... or better to know, HE, entered.
Alan arrived at the Chaos Engineer in style; the Nuovo Inzio brilliant reflects the lightbeams from the street lights. As the SUV drops to its idle suspension height, he steps out slowly, hoping that his vehicle, which is in its maiden year of production, would turn heads. Instead, all he finds is a thick, choking haze with del sol-colored figure moving about.
He sprints inside the bar to catch a bit of fresh air (compared to whats outside hose doors) and collapses and gags at a table. Eventually he regains his composure and goes to the bar showing the credsticks.
He walks back to his chair thinking that AJAX never tasted so good. He glances around and see someone in a corner. Apparently, it had a tail that moves side to side like an anxious cat. "anthropomorphic" people have always intrigues him, and he just looked.
Hearse parked outside the Chaos Engineer. The gentle hum of the gyro stablisers stopped. That always worried her, it was always so reasuring... But she had work to do. She made sure that her face was wrapped, took out her sunglasses and hat, then got out of the car. She took in the Britsprawl air, it was a bit cleaner here, not like her lungs would notice. She checked that her appearence was in order, then stepped into the bar, just dodging one of the steam pipes as it hissed into life. Pulling her hat tighter onto her head, she took the nearest empty table going.
Hearse didn't drink, and wouldn't trust the sludge that this place sold if she did. In fact, she never trusted anything that came out of Britsprawl. But had unfortunatly suffered it for awhile. She took note of the barman glaring at her, dropping her sunglasses just enough to glare back. He shook his head, giving her an apologetic nod and getting back to work. She would have asked for Johnson, but had a feeling that Johnson would come to her. She sat back and she waited, with only the rubbish they called music playing though her ears.
Crystal sat in her dark corner, waiting. A few random punters were going to the bar, but didn't seem to be up to anything more sinister than ordering drinks.
Then, some guy in loose fitting jeans and T-shirt (he looked pretty dirty, due to his stubble. The other people in the bar - Obviously people with legit jobs, as they were actually well-clothed) gave the guy a few stares
Then, to Crystal's consternation, he came over. Just as another guy from the bar came over to her. This second guy seemed to be hypnotised by Crystal's tail. She cursed mentally and held it still with a hand under the table. She'd had attention because of the damn tail before, in clubs and pubs. She told herself it would be cheap to buy an amputation job. As if by magic, the tail stopped it's oscillatiing.
Before these strangers could speak, an obviously ex-military looking nutjob waltzed in, briskly ordered a Double Vodka from the bar and started marching towards her, past a short, hunched and very pale woman who was bundled up like it was winter (Hearse), followed by another figure dressed almost identically, who seemed to be in some pain (Rei).
Immediately Crystal recognised that such a motley collection of out of place people in a high-standard area must be 'runners.
Since none of them were asking after Johnson at the bar (like she'd been told to), she had to assume they were on a different job...
And judging by the way all of them were converging on her (save the two at the bar - Lookouts?) she had to assume also that their target was her...
She decided to sit still and play dumb.
Well, not exactly 'play', she realised with an inward snort.
Chance missed his old scrambler... but the beat-up motorbike that he had rather recently 'liberated' from a street ganger would serve for the moment. Ash rode pillion behind him as the soldier turned into the street that would lead to the Chaos Engineer.
After paying a tip to a street kid to watch over the bike (and casually stroking the butt of his holstered pistol with his right hand to make sure that the kid knew what would happen should anything untoward happen to the vehicle), Chance unsnapped his rebreather and winced at the foul air, strapping on his backpack with the assault rifle, stock removed, stowed in it.
Ash, with her disassembled flamethrower tucked away in a duffel bag slung over the shoulder, was already scoping out the front of the bar, looking for any signs of ambush. It looked clean... but the couple hadn't survived so long in the runners' world by being slack... Paranoia was a gift which only the living shared.
The duo stepped in, Chance switching his goggles to NV as he scanned the dark corners... another precaution of his. To his surprise, a familiar figure came in sight, the sinuous tail cinching it for him. Motioning to Ash, he tipped his head in Crystal's direction. The redhead nodded, figuring that talking with Crystal would be better than just jumping in and asking for "Johnson" at the bar. Their old friend might just know something about the deal.
Then Ash heard Chance's breath catch... His eyes had just locked onto another military man in the bar. For a moment, the redhead thought that he recognised a friend, maybe from his past military days. Then she realised that he was too tense for that... Chance didn't know the man... And the latter was striding purposefully towards Crystal.
Chance's rifle was still in his bag, leaving him with a pistol and his hand-claws. Likewise, Ash had only her twin katanas available, her flamer stowed away and useless for the moment. The couple moved closer, staying just out of sight, but positioning themselves where they could defend their old friend should any danger come to her.
Staring squarely at Crystal, Chance used one of his latest mind tricks, shaping a thought sentence and sending it across at the speed of thought, hoping that the woman would recognise his mental voice.
Bogey approaching you. Don't look at us, but we've got you covered.
Alexeiv stood a while before turning back the sight for the newcomers. Sometimes, it was good to follow his instinct, and turn back the head when you think you are spotted. Obviously, those weren't like normal scum. Those were in a way... odd and familiar. Ex- militars.
"Well Alex, lucky your mission is only to talk..." He said to himself, while walking towards the blue haired girl.
He stood up in front of her.
The girl froze..
"...AKA Crystal Trigger?"
The blue hair didn't react at all, just stared blankly. It was when he recognized a scar in her throat. She couldn't talk.
"People call me Duke. I AM an Spetnaz colonel. Do not worry, i mean no harm to you. I just need to ask you some info."
A credstick spinned towards her hand.
"And you are lucky to have friends like those."
He turned back in the direction of the military couple and indicated with the hand to come close. He knew it. They were covering her.
Rei AKA Itsuke got her twentieth rejection for a job. She, better to say, HE, was not very lucky at getting jobs. He was running short of cash, and he had been cheated out of her-his- home recently, with the only possesions of a guitar, and several ninja weapons, now cramped in a bag staying next to his feet.
But that military man... his face was familiar... Maybe he had seen him in 3dtv a long ago? He couldn't remember. But, nothing would happen if she came closer to give him a look.
Rusty noticed a beautiful car parked nearby the industrial-themed bar. He nodded and remarked to himself;
"Sweet wheels, a recent model if I'm right."
Rusty strolled into the establishment, he didn't even bother looking about as he made his way to the bar. John thumped the counter and demanded;
"Give us a beer, eh mate?"
The bartender was busy serving someone else but soon responded, producing a glass of nasty looking amber fluid and then taking John Larcen's credstick and completed the transaction.
John took a single sip of beer, swilled it around his throat before setting it down, he then loudly proclaimed to noone in particular;
"Bloody good brew, nothing like a refreshing drink after a long days work!"
Rusty looked around, expecting some sort of response. When he didn't get any reply did he finally notice that more than a few people were focussed on a particular corner. Rusty shrugged and spoke to the bartender in a loud voice;
"Where's this Johnson bloke? I got a message to come here and ask for him."
The bartender looked at Rusty without responding.
Jessica Hayes had walked the entire distance from her old dwellings to this bar, it was quite a tiring effort. She readjusted her sports bag, the weight of the assault rifle within was uncomfortable, before entering the bar.
Some tall, loud mouthed Australian was shooting his mouth off. Jessica caught enough of the man's words to work out that he, also, had been called to the bar and instructed to ask for Johnson. Jessica took a quick look around, trying to see if anyone was responding to the name of Johnson. There seemed to be a few oddballs in the crowd, a paramilitary-esque uniformed man, a hunchbacked and cloaked person and a pair of somewhat familar people... Chance!
Chance, that man who had been in the Transys Arco when she had been. He had forced her to risk her escape by looking for his mate, the red haired elf woman. No doubt about it, they were both there.
All these people were looking at the orange haired Australian who had mentioned Johnson. Jessica surmised that all of these people were here for the same reason. Wanting to appear punctual, business-like and professional, the ex-lieutenant walked up to the Australian, tapped his shoulder and said;
"I'm here for Johnson too, I'm Jessica Hayes. A pleasure to meet you, sir."
The Aussie turned to look at her and beamed.
"G'day sheila. It's plenty nice to meet you too."
Jessica looked over at the oddballs and surveyed their responses. Her eyes caught Chance's for a moment, she didn't know exactly what he was thinking but from what she could see, she didn't want too.
Raven parked his van as close to the bars entrance as he could, he wanted to reduce to distance he had to walk, his leg felt awful today. Locking the vehicle he dropped the keys into his pocket and limped towards the front door.
Raven stopped suddenly when his eyes swept over the Nuovo Inzio sports car. So new, so beautiful... so
expensive! Raven liked anything expensive, expensive things belong to people who have lots of money. Raven liked people with lots of money, they were so easy to fleece!
Dragging himself away from the car he slowly made his way into the bar. It was an interesting scenario to say the least. Straight away he recognised Chance and Ash, they seemed preoccupied at the immediate moment. Raven followed their gaze, that weird woman from Transys, Hayes, was here also. She seemed to be talking to a burly, orange haired man with an unusual accent. Raven continued to survey the bar, a suspiciously familar tail flicked when his eyes past over the person sitting in the corner. Crystal. Raven started making his way over, putting his hands on the shoulders of Ash and Chance, trying to drag them with him over to Crystal.
They seemed reluctant to move, it was then Raven saw why. A man with a disturbingly familar face in military garb was near Crystal. Tensing slightly, Raven stopped pushing his two friends and stood up straight, some weird stuff was going down right here!
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