The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 2

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


(GrumpyKlonoa)

The near silence inside the bar ceased as a urban tank reverbrated outside. The noise stopped and some screws were bouncing off the glass of the bar. A tall slim feminine figure goes inside.

She stands in a corner, twilling her thumbs, even though there were plenty of tables left. She knew if she got comfortable, she'd have to remove her cloak, then everyone would know who she is, and that she was on local news almost an hour ago.

***

Maniac (alan) just slightly overhead a conversation about a 'Johnson' and wanted to join too. He got a message too, and could relate, right? Besides, he just got shot down by the one in the corner, and being unsocial was killing him!
He stood up, rubbed back his spikes of hair, and started towards Jessica and Rusty. "Hello, you two." He greeted, and extended a hand.

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

The scene was starting to worry Hearse. Even though nobody was focused on her, which was good, there was still the factor that everybody was focused on one of the dark corners. She was actually quite shocked that so many people could fit into such a corner, but she let it go and just moved closer to the bar.
She could hardly contain herself anymore. There were just too many... People. She had to get moving, now!
She walked over to the bar, pushing though the three figures and glaring at the barman under her sun-glasses.

"Watch where your bloody well going, Eh mate?" Said the arrogant Australian man. His voice went though Hearse's mind like a hammer. Many things were happening to her, she was getting uncomfortable, paranoid and over all, very angry at herself.

"Johnson." She hissed at the barman. He stared blankly for awhile, then just went back to cleaning the tables. Hearse slammed her own cyber hand down on his arm. Crowded,confined places really got to her. They put her on edge. "I asked for Johnson. Where is he!"

She let go of the barman, leaning casually on the bar. She knew people were watching her, and tried to force it out of her mind, but she didn't like it.

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(LeFire)

Chance gave the paramilitary man an eye-over, suddenly recognising the face... It looked oddly familiar, and now he realised he was looking at someone who was remarkably alike to the late Wolf. His brother, maybe? Chance shot a questioning look at Crystal. He could not read minds, but he did the second best thing and fired off another thought towards her.

He knows we are friends. We'll be around if you need us.

Raven had caught onto something too, and the fitter's shoulders felt tense as Chance indicated to him with a pointed finger at the bar... Both him and Ash had noticed people they recognised and were going to check them out first. Crystal looked like she could handle herself for the moment.

***

"I take it that you are still pissed at me." Chance spoke as he stepped up beside Jessica, who pointedly ignored him and turned instead to another newcomer who had stepped up offering a friendly handshake.

"Look, I'm sorry, ok? It was a bad call, I admit." Shit, I was never good at this apology stuff. And Ash's is watching how I handle this one too! Somehow Transys... mabe even Geneva, seems pleasant in comparision.

Another man beside the ex-ship officer, originally preoccupied with a cloaked woman who, Chance assumed, was drunk and trying to pick a fight with the bartender, raised his head and looked in Chance's direction. The latter had his eyes covered by his mil-spec goggles, and it was hard to see his face in the bad light... Then suddenly Rusty recognised the voice, exclaiming in his loud Aussie accent.

"Chance? Bloody hell! You lovely bastard! You're still alive!"

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(Wesforce)

Crystal knocked the credstick away with her hand.

She looked up, scowling. The mannerisms seemed familiar - The condescening 'Me big man will protect you little woman' attitude was there. Looking at the face seemed like staring at a ghost.

The guy really did resemble Wolf.

Being careful to keep up her mask of ignorance, Crystal took a sip of her beer and looked away.

Looking up at the sound of a loud-voiced red-headed man, Crystal pushed past the military stalker, into the huddle that was Jessica, Ash, Chance and Rusty. No wait, they were too distracted...

She made for the man who'd been staring at her tail earlier, who had just approached Jessica and Rusty.

She looked at him, then, with her best fear-fillde puppy-dog eyes, she glanced over at the army guy fearfully, praying that the guy would get the message she was trying to put across. As a final invitation, she waved her tail some more, before making sure he was between her and the army guy. and standing at the bar.

***

The Barman hissed something low at Hearse. It wasn't clear what exactly, but he seemed to want Hearse to follow him.

He motioned with his eyes to a small door behind the bar, which opened as she walked near.

***

A moment later when Rusty asked the Barman for Johnson, he did the same thing. The Barman was careful not to let the other customers see who he was letting into the back room. He had done stuff like this before.

***

Crystal noticed this, and turned to see if she was still being tailed by the nutter. Finally, she caught Chance and Ash's eyes: They didn't do anything so obvious as waving, but she saw they recognised her, and she motioned them over to her with a flick of her tail.

She needed to ask them if they were going to be on the same job: And if they were, make sure the Wolf-clone wasn't looking when they got the barman to let them in the back, which was surely where they would be meeting Johnson.

Even if that meant taking the Wolf-clone out: No room for chances. The man was surely up to no good. He could be a Corp agent, KGB (his Russian accent was a dead giveaway) or even a Wolf-clone made by a VOES, back from the dead.

She shook her head, unwilling to think of the possibility.

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

Red pushed her way up the stairs, past lines of boxes, and into the small room that she was hiding Mary and Silvia in.

The first thing she noticed was the tall, hansome, although dishevelled elf standing in the middle of the room, wearing a battered red and black samurai robe, with gold trimmings. In each hand he clasped a katana, and golden cybereyes glinted in the light for the shattered skylight. Red dropped the letter in shock, and stammered incoherantly.

Silvia, back flatterened against the far wall, and dragon-skin flickering onto her form in some kind of inbuilt self defense, was the first to recover.

"Xecktos?"

The elf turned slowly towards the dragon girl, and only then did Red notice the heavy bloodstains on the robe, obscured by the colouring. The elf breathed slowly, rasping, and spoke.
"Silvia. So you remember me. And this is Miss Turin"

He looked for a moment at the Doctor, and shyed away, as Silvia, back in human form, rose to hug her old comrade.

"No! Stay back! I am pure!"

Silvia stopped, bemused, about to speak, before Xecktos cut in.

"Listen. I have little time, and must warn you of this, before it is too late. Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever job you take on, Do NOT go to Terganon. Something terrible is in the works, something that will not be stopped by a simple magician, something that is not part of some ancient dragon war. This is a corporate war, something far more brutal than Geneva, as it's men in charge, not dragons."

"Terganon?" Silvia was rightly confused, and it showed on her young face. "But, but... that's home!"

Xecktos frowned, lines far too old for his reconstructed young man's face.

"Silvia. I mean this, I know far more than you about this, and have far, far more enemies, as you can probably tell from my wounds." He gestured at his bloodstained robe. "I must leave, but as a runner, as a comrade, as a friend, I warn you that something dark is brewing, something a few 'runners will not be able to handle. Do NOT go to Terganon!"

Xecktos paused, and clasping Silvia's pale hand, looked into her eyes, before his wounds overcame him, and the elf assassin collapsed onto the carpeted floor.

***

Choak crossed the highway during a pause in the traffic, limping slightly all the while. (due to a previous battle with chaso) He didn't like cities, but, as far as he could tell, there wasn't much way to avoid them in the modern world.

It was hot, even now, at night, and he wished he had something lighter than this coat. Maybe he could find one, afford a cheap one, or take on another job to buy - no, wait, the mission comes first.

A electric tram, sides flashing with (outdated) animated adverts for Transys arcology, cruised through the night, whooshing to a stop under the glare of the streetlights. Choak, following his nose, stepped inside the vehicle, coughing up money from his deep pockets for the fare, and making his way to seats the back of the tram. Along the hour journey, almost instinctively, the other passengers migrated to the front, as far away from the black coated ork as possible. Choak didn't hate them for it, but, in his experiance, people tended to fear death.

The first thing Choak noticed when he got out of the tram was that this dome was still mostly intact - unlike the others, south of the river.

His feet crunched on a layer of fresh fries on the pavement, disguarded with a half-eaten soyburger. Ahead of him, the lights of the chaos engineer flashed, and through his finely tuned astral perception, he knew he had found his prey.

The hunter stalked onwards through the night, tormented.

***

Tank entered the bar, Luna still at his side, (and fluttering her eyelashes at the trollish guard) and made for the darkness at the far end. Most of the people in the Chaos Engineer weren't runners, and so, Tank had beaten up a Trollish businessman on the way here and stolen his suit, as well as combing his sparse and bizzarely coloured hair with his fingers.

"Scuse me, sah," mumbled the ork, to the barman, pushing past the humans at the counter, "but do you know if dere is a Mr. Jonnsonn here?"

---------------------------------------------
(Desolator12)

"May ai help you sir?" said the barkeep...
Plugin looked around, scribbled something on a piece of paper, folded it up and gave it to the bartender... it read "I'm looking for a Mr. Johnson"

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(Wesforce)

The Bartender discreetly let the Huge ork in the almost-fitting suit into tha back room, holding the door open for his Ladyfriend.

Then moments later he did the same for Plugin.

"Business his good, haye." He muttered.

Then he realised none of them had given a tip... If they'd even bought any drinks.

He shrugged. and whistled through his moustache as he thought of the money he was getting for this.

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

Sarah let her hands fall from the silky orange-brown fur around wirecat's neck. This small, rented apartment in a reasonable area of britsprawl wasn't much, but it did for now, and was comfortable enough - until the money ran out, which it would soon.

Her partner was purring softly at her touch, and, slightly obscured by her red-gold hair falling over her face, she could see the headlines of the softscreen updatable newspaper scroll across the top of the paper over his feline shoulder.

TERGANON INVESTIGATION CONTINUES, SUSPICIONS POINT AT MUNDI
Director General declines to comment

GRETA SAYS BUY GREXXON!
(accompanied by a picture of a scantily clad scandinavian elf)

UCAS GOVERNMENT RECALLS ALL CHURCH OF LIGHT PERSONNEL
Major problems at home says President Stormcrow

TRANSYS STOCKS PLUMMET IN WAKE OF DISASTER
Ill fortune hits megacorp

Wirecat's hand tapped the screen, and the picture flicked to a large shot of the tumbling Robot The Bruce tower, next to the full report.

"No, wait!" snapped Sarah, hands falling away from their idle stoking of her lover's neck almost snatching the paper from him, before pausing, and tapping him on the nose to say sorry. She cycled back, and selected the UCAS report.

"shit," she said, before looking at him again. "I've got to go back."

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

"Hostility is rising up..." Alex commented up, while picking the credstick and cleaning the dust. He also carefully drove his hand to where the gun was hidden. A soft click indicated the automatic mode of the gun. He was also feeling more paranoid than ever. He was experimentating some kind of sixth sense, a precognition, something like the feeling he got when he was aimed at. Someone was trying to pick him as target. Of course it could be senseless... but what if it was true?

He double checked his weapons, while his heartbeart got more intense... before returning to normal, ice cold attitude. He rubbed his scar, once more. The mark of a wolf's paw. A wild wolf made such scar.

"Well, Colonel. If you want to know runners... act like a runner, you were invited too, after all."

With confident steps, he faced the barman.

"I heard there is a Johnson who asked for runners. I wish to meet him. I was invited."

He indicated, sliding a credstick in the barman's pocket.

***

Itsuke was getting nervous. Runners... made him sick. They had no codes, only wanted money. He wished he could draw his sword and end with their lives... but something was still puzzling him- the army guy. He remembered he had seen him A HELL lot of times, but he didn't remember where.

***

After cleaning the blood out of his clothes, Iceman tipped off his gangers.
"My dear vamp ladies. Today daddy's gonna go on a job... and won't come soon. Take care of yourself."

The hissing of the creatures seemed like parodies of cries. But Iceman continued.

---------------------------------------------
(Desolator12)

Plugin entered the back room and found a chair. He noticed two hulking figures a couple feet away. Orcs. Plugin took a glance at them then thought about a corruption program he might make. Hopefully, the program would take other programs and turn them into malicious code. kind of like planing a virus, only you had an inside man and knew exactly what was happening...

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

Al ralaf stood alone in the alleyway behind a house. It belonged to the more wealthy residents of the Neo Soviet Union. Who probably had Goblin Servants running around at their every whim, oppressed! He despised them. It was a cold night. Although, to say cold in the Neo Soviet Union was like saying the Sun was warm. It was freezing! He stood, alone, dressed like a rather lob-sided Eskimo. He stamped his feet and blew into his hands every so often, just to prove to himself that he was alive.

"What's keeping the fragging bastard?" he thought as he stared inside a dustbin. "Holy frag! They threw away a perfectly decent 3D-TV in here. By the Revolutionary! It even has a remote!"

That's when he became aware of faint footsteps of, what he guessed to be another Goblin. Mainly because they were faint. He dropped the remote, spinning around to see a figure in a grey coat stare back at him. The eye-patch gave away his identity immediatly, it was Bulldog.
He'd changed much since the whole Transys incident. He obviously hadn't shaved or had a hair cut since then, nor did he even know what a hair brush was. His single eye stared out at Al-Ralaf. Who drew himself up to full height.

"What took you so long? It's bloody Brass Monkey's out here!" Al-Ralaf almost yelled. "No way to treat an old man! No way at all!"

"Oh shut up, you old coot! You've already woken the cats!" Bulldog said in a calm manner, hoping in vain to silence the Goblin.

"Coot... COOT! I think it's time to show you some respect!" Al-Ralaf's hand tightened over his gun handle, but he was looking down the barrel of Bulldog's pistol before he could get any further.

"Now may we talk business like Gentlemen?" Al-Ralaf relaxed under Bulldog's gaze, who withdrew his own weapon in response. "Have you taken care of the arrangements?"

"Yes... All taken care of." Al-Ralaf was shaking, he just had to say it. He had to let his feelings be known. The words slipped out his mouth before he could control them. "We'll never get away with this!"

He clasped an ice cold hand over his mouth as Bulldog raised an inquisitive eye brow at him.

"You aren't backing out on me... Are you?"

"Well... No... it's just..." He struggled for the words. "This could destroy us James! What if something goes wrong! This could be a major blow to our organisation, What if... they don't accept it! What happens then? We'll be powerless James! Nay! Leaderless!"

"Calm down old boy..." Said Bulldog, trying to calm the frantic old man. "I have it under control..."

"You are sure, James?"

"Positive. Now run along, and say nothing!" He went to turn his back on the figure, then spoke once more. "No you can't blow up the household, and yes you can have it."

He walked away.

***

A few minutes later, Bulldog stood alone. It had been a month since that hellhole in Scotsprawl, he still refused to talk about it. His wounds had healed, cyber leg replaced and now he was here. In the Neo Soviet Union, freezing his ears off (). But it would all be worth it. Transys had lit a spark in Bulldog, made him want to aspire for higher things. And now, he was going after the biggest thing he had ever known.
But before that, his mind flickered back. Back to Transys. The rigger woman, Red. He wondered how she was doing. He hadn't seen her since she had left the temporary encampment in Britsprawl, which was basically a bar cellar that was boarded up and unused. They all seem to have gone different ways.
The dragon girl known as Silvia had gone off with Red to the Revolutionary knows where, The ex-military woman had left straight after and as for the injured one. Bulldog never even caught a name, the medics just healed her the best they could then she stormed off in a huff. Not a word of thanks. But still, none of that mattered now.

Bulldog took out his Vid-Phone, it was about time he contacted the woman. With an attitude like that, Who knows what she's got herself into?

***

Hearse waited queitly in a corner, not dark enough for her liking. She watched as people walked in the door, all from the bar and no sign of this "Johnson" man in sight. She glared at the new comer, he was some kind of kid probably a decker. But whatever he was, Hearse had perfected a very intimdating glare, which usually put people off coming anywhere near her.
She'd given the same glare to the Australian, reserved it on the Ork as he seemed preocupied and too stupid to notice, and then gave it to the next man to walk in. Some kind of millitary wannabe or whatever. He looked too proud in himself for his own good... She made a note not to trust him... At all!

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

"Go back? To the UCAS?" Wirecat asked.
"Yeah." Sarah replied. "If we get enough money."
"Look... whatever you're thinking, I'm going with you. No way you're going on your own. And don't worry about money. I'll ask Alanya if she wants to do me one more favour."
"Alanya... Where did she get that much money anyway?"
Wirecat grinned. "She managed to get her hands on the few remains of the Transys technology. Lucky her."
"I don't know if you can go with me, David. I mean... I have to report back to the COL. I've been missing for almost half a year now."
"I wasn't planning to... I just don't want to be on a different continent. In a different country even."
"You want to go to the Shamans."

Wirecat got up, and looked at Sarah. "I have to. You know how I feel about Transys!"
"David!" Sarah said. "You helped a lot more there than I did! There's nothing to feel guilty about!"

"Yes there is. There's more in me than just a fighter. I felt so... useless at times."
Wirecat sighed. "I want to be a Shaman. A fully-trained one; not what I am now. I'm nothing now."
Sarah grinned. "Oh, I assure you you're something all right. You're the catman I love."

Wirecat tried to smile, but failed. He sighed. "I almost lost control in Transys you know... and more than once. The darkness, the thrill of the hunt... I have been suppressing my cat instincts, but I can't keep doing that. It's destroying me! I have to learn to live with it."

Wirecat looked at his wristphone and typed a number.

***

"Is he... dead?" Red asked.

Silvia rolled Xecktos on his back, and checked for a pulse.
"No."
"So... what are you going to do now?"
"What do you think? I'm going back to Terganon as soon as I got some more info outta him."
Red sighed. "You sure that's a good idea? I mean, he explicitly..."
"It'a my fragging HOME!" Silvia yelled. "If anything's wrong there I wanna be there! I haven't even been able to warn my parents I'm still alive after Transys... this is REALLY getting on my nerves. I'm just staying here for Mary."

Mary was just sitting there, on one of the beds, staring at Xecktos on the ground.

Red sighed. "You should stay with her. She's in no condition to be left alone."
"Then I'll take her with me." Silvia replied.

***

"Yess?" the electronic voice said.
"Alanya. It's me. Get that damn generator outta your phone."
"Jusst a minute. Ssecuring line." the electronic voice replied.

"Wirecat? Gud ta hear yu!" the soft Orkish voice said. "How ar' ya doing?"
"Fine. Well, not that fine. I came to ask you another... favour."
"Look, David. Ahm yur friend, but ah can't pay for yur livin' ya know. Ah got that gobbo lady off yer back already."
"Don't worry. I can still buy my own food. But as you may have seen on the news, the UCAS is recalling all COL people. So Sarah has to go. But this isn' just about Sarah. You know I need to go back too. For the Shaman training."
"Ah've seen da news... ah don't miss a thing. So yu wan' tickets back to the good ol' UCAS eh?"
"Well we can get 'em ourselves if you..."
"No, no. Yer travellin' dere wiv mah money. An' ah can get ya dere much cheaper. Can't guarantee da comfurt, but ah can make shur no Transys goons get ya."
"Wow. You're great, Alanya!"
"No prob, David. Ah'll call ya back."

The Orkish woman pulled the plug out of the datajack behind her ear, and looked around. There wasn't much in the room... her cyberdeck, a fridge, a bed and a table full of screwdrivers and what looked like cyberware parts. Someone seemed to be lying in the corner of the room; unmoving.

Alanya got up and looked at the figure. "Time ta work on yu again, eh?"
She smiled, and put the body on the table. It was completely made of cybernetics... only, they weren't atached to anything organic. It was a complete cybernetic body.
Well, not quite complete. The head was still missing, and most of the body was empty.

"Yu'll be pleased ta hear ah finally got mah hands on a CyberCowl." Alanya said to the robotic body. "Wiv some modafications ah'll finally have something to upload ya in."

"That is good progress."
The voice came from the cyberdeck behind her, but she didn't look around. "But I still don't quite understand what this experiment will have to lead to."
"Look, Lee. We need ta get ya outta dat deck. Yu'll be able ta see and feel da wurld like metahumanz. Iz exactly what yu need, in mah opinion."

Lee, she called him. Or 'it', maybe. It didn't matter. The computer program Transys had worked on for so long was no longer V.O.E.S. It was now L.E.E, or Living Electronic Entity. And in a cybernetic body without any explicit sexual features it would be seen as male, so Lee wasn't that bad as name. The program itself had liked it right away, although it felt that the "living" and "entity" pretty much meant the same, and that the "living" part could thus be dropped. On which Alanya had remarked that there was such a thing as a Dead Entity too. Ex-VOES had to admit that was correct, and was thus be renamed to LEE.

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

After a quick exchange of greetings with Rusty, and a promise to talk after business was done, Chance and Ash came over to stand by Crystal's side, eyeing the military guy who had now proceeded to talk with the bartender.

Without looking at Crystal, Ash spoke in quiet tones,

"Either someone's back from the dead, or we just saw his brother."

Crystal shrugged and fingered her neck, indicating to the duo that she could not speak due to her damaged throat. She reached for a notepad, but Chance motioned for her to stop and sent a burst of thought.

We can talk this way. I do not have enough skill to read your mind. But if you form a 'thought sentence' and make it available to me, I can pick it up and read it. This way, we can talk without any of the other patrons overhearing.

Like this?

Yep

The two old friends exchanged greetings and questions for a while, from which Chance gathered information that both Crystal and him, as well as Ash, would be on the same 'Johnson'-serving team. Ash looked perplexed, until Chance paused and explained to her what he was doing to save Crystal the trouble of writing or using her damaged voice.

And then Crystal tapped his arm urgently. Chance looked at her, and picked up the mental sentence that the demowoman had left hanging.

Where did everyone go?

The barkeeper seemed busy enough... but Chance picked up something amiss with his thermographics, the slight outline of a small door on the back wall of the bar leading to some sort of back room, betrayed by the slight increase in heat as the hinges moved back and forth. He indicated the place to both the women.

"I think its time to look for Mr. Johnson." he said. Crystal, after a moment's hesistation as she tried to find the military man in the crowd in vain, nodded.

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(red_Dawn)

Rusty found himself in a room with a hulking orc, a female who was obviously his companion, some lanky kid who looked zoned out and also the two people who had come in with him; the polite and reserved woman called Hayes and some other guy who introduced himself as Maniac. The three found themselves seats next to one another and sat in uncomfortable silence.

***

Jessica had dropped her duffel bag by her side, it was too big to keep in her lap and there didn't seem to be any threatening people in the room, she had surmised they would probably all be working together in the near future. She placed her hands in her lap and patiently sat still, wondering why that Chance person had apologised so readily. In retrospect, Jessica knew she had been overly selfish in trying to escape the Arco without going back for the others, there were times that she just couldn't think rationally. Her thoughts were interrupted by the fidgeting of the Australian, the man couldn't seem to stop shifting his position.
He noticed that Jessica had been watching him, he smiled nervously and gushed;

"I don't believe that Chance is still kicking up dust! I saw him talking to you, do you know him? When did he pick up the red headed bird? When we knew each other he never mentioned a girl like that."

Jessica was bewildered by the barrage of words, she just nodded quickly and smiled. Were all Australians this loud?

***

Standing by Chance and Ash, Raven had tried to work out the staring competition being acted out across the room by Crystal and Chance. When they finally had met up and suggested finding this Johnson person Raven risked a long look at Crystal, she caught his gaze and smiled, she didn't look bad if you ignored the scar on her throat. It was times like these that made Raven's departure so much harder. Still, he had to find his beloved pistol, Crystal would understand. Wouldn't she?

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(virtualoctopus)

"Ok," said Red. "Have it your way, but seriously, he warned you."
She turned, and tossed her vidphone to Silvia, who caught it.

"Call your family and at least tell 'em you're coming. They might know what this is about or something, they're dragons, ain't they?"
Silvia looked at her, and Red continued.
"Don't worry, that thing's encrypted. Nothing short of a proper A-star decker will stand a chance at tracing it, and I reckon I could deal with anyone who could. You do that, while I figure out how we're going to get super-elf here some medical care." She glanced at Mary. "Something more than you can provide, Doctor, he's seriously hurt."

"I know," Mary snapped, feeling slightly hurt at Red's assumption, and still very bewildered by the situation.

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(Nyerguds)

"Silvia... I got a, ehm... business proposal. I'm going to some bar and see what it is, OK?"

"Hmm..." Silvia didn't seem to be listening. She was checking the Samurai's robes for weapons.
"What are you doing?"
"Look, we have to get him to a hospital. But they won't like it of his guy has tons of weapons on him. There's a nice series of knives here too... and a..."
Silvia stared at the golden gun in her hands.
"Sleg!" She turned to Mary. "Mary, this is Raven's gun!"
Mary looked up. "His 'Negotiator'? How did Xecktos get that?"

"Raven?" Red frowned.
"He was in Transys too." Silvia replied casually.
"Oh."

Red looked at Xecktos. "We really gotta get him out of here."
"What was that 'business proposal' you talked about?" Silvia asked.
"Oh, the usual. Anonymous message, meet some Johnson at some bar."
"I see. But we can't leave Mary here alone with him."
"Alone? I was going there alone. You stay with Mary."
"Look, I can' have you ending up dead in the streets. I'm going with you."
"But what about..."
"We'll take 'em with us. Both. They can all fit in the car, and I'm sure there's some hospital nearby to drop Xecktos off."
"What about his weapons?"
"I keep Raven's gun. The rest... well, leave it here."
"I don't wanna have that stuff lying around here!"
Silvia sighed. "Doesn't matter!"

"Will you two calm down? He's dying here!" Mary yelled.

Silvia and Red stopped arguing.
"Sorry. Let's get going."

***

Alanya smiled.
"It's perfect. The cybereyes fit in the head-frame, and the cybercowl fits on the back of the frame. Now, the supporting fibremuscles for the neck, and the power source in the chest."
She took a pair of blue cybereyes out of her pocket. Taken from a dead guard in the Transys Air Traffic control, while the others were gazing at the airplanes.

"It looks great, Lee. Nice design."
"Thanks."

She put the head on the cyber-torso, and connected the last pieces.

"Good. We got a complete robotic body, Lee."
She smiled at the computer, and grabbed the smartlink cable.

"Let's do it. I got a bar to visit."

***

Two figures walked through the dark streets of Britsprawl. One of them was a female Ork. The other one looked like a tall man, but the long cloak and hat hid all distinguishing features. But anyone that saw the shining metal under the hat knew it was better not to obstruct him.
The two blue cybereyes recorded everything they say, and stowed it, together with a quite simple 3D-wireframe of the environment, in the short-term memory. There, it was filtered out for 'interesting things', keeping the general wireframe to pinpoint the point of interest.
LEE walked on, absorbing everything around him. It was fascinating, to say the least. He was walking around, controlling his very own movements, knowing that the touch sensors inside his cybernetic limbs would transmit unpleasant pain-signals if he tripped and fell. He understood now what the 'living' part of his name meant. He was no longer an entire building, an entire city. He was one single being... an autonomous drone, not part of any collective mind. He was alive. And no matter how strong the cyberparts were... vulnerable.

"There it is." Alanya nodded. Lee barely turned his head; just until he could complete the wireframe of his environment with the help of the blue cybereyes' 3D-vision.

"Let's go inside then." he said.

He grabbed the doorknob, careful not to break it with his cybernetic hand, and opened the door.

It was an attack on his senses. The temperature was changed, the smell was new, the light was different. His memory filter had so much to absorb he didn't know where to focus first. But he quickly started a methodical scan of everyone in the bar.
The whole 'confusion' only took a split second. He walked into the bar, kept the door open for Alanya and closed it after her.
Then, he walked to the bar.

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

Bulldog looked down at the phone. He was quite surprised to see it wasn't Red that answered. It was the girl he recognised as Silvia, the dragon, or whatever she was. She gave him a puzzled look, then finally said...

"Hey, Bulldog! How you doing?" She said in a cheerful voice, he swore he heard Red mumble in the background. "I thought you were injured..."

"A minor inconvenience." He replied.

"Well look, we're... kind of busy right now... Not that I'm not happy to see you but..." She began.

"Are you still in Britsprawl?"

"Well, yes but..."

"then I must speak to Red. Now!" Bulldog's urgent voice must have made an impact, as seconds later, Red was staring back at him.

"What do you want, you old fragger?"

"Listen to me, We have had reports from our agents in Britsprawl. Apparently theres this... Man... At least we belive him to be male. His name is Johnson. He's been sending out messages to all Runners. We are unsure if this is completely random, or wether he has actually selected these people, but they are all currently located in Britsprawl. What these messages are, we don't know. And we'd usually take no notice... But, I am worried that this could lead to trouble..." The Goblin paused for a minute, as if pulling himself together. In reality, it was before he said something stupid like "I worry about you". "I just want you to be careful, and I urge you that if you get a message of the like, please... tread lightly."

"I got a message, written on paper. What do you think I should do with it?" Red gave him a look that somehow managed to say, Don't bother saying "Not go", as I'm going anyway.

"Stay sharp, stay alert, heed all warnings given to you..." A slight grin formed beneath Bulldog's beard. "And try to blow something up. Although, while I can't help you myself... If you need help... Just look for the suspicious looking Goblins."

Red nodded. The Goblin had changed since Transys. He'd got a new leg for a start. Either that, or he had a pile of phone books under one.

"Oh... And I just remembered..." The Goblin carried on. "Your dragon friend is from Terganon, correct?"

"Yes, she wants to go back. But we've just been given a warning not to."

"That is one I suggest you heed." There was a tone of concern in the Goblins voice. "Theres been a lot of... corporate talk about the Dragon city. Those money grubbing bastards are up to something... Possibly a take over of the place. A lot of the data discs recovered on the subject are heavily encrypted, but something bad is happening... And I have a horrible feeling this "Johnson" is a part of it." Red's mouth hung open, she was about to talk when the Goblin cut in again. "Listen, I've talked for too long. And on very... sensitive subjects. I must leave you know... But take care of yourself... ok?"

Red just nodded, her brain hadn't caught up with events yet, and completely ignored the fact that Silvia was practically screaming at her to get more information about Terganon.

Bulldog closed the vid-phone. He threw it over his shoulder, not even watching as it exploded into a flash of orange. Each piece sinking into the snow. As if it had never existed. Bulldog walked away carefully covering his foot prints, With that over, he could concentrate his mind to the matters at hand..

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

"Ah, sleg. So everyone seems to know something's going on in Terganon, and they want to keep me out of it. Can I have the 'phone back?"

They were all in the car now. Silvia was sitting in the back, next to the unconcious Xecktos.

"Sure." Red handed her the vidphone.
Silvia dialed the number. It was a pity her own wristphone broke down shorly after the gobbo's had saved them, but at least she had her MP5 player back.

"Hello?"
Silvia immediately recognised the voice.
"Dad! it's me, Silvia! I suppose you know about Transys..."
"Silvia! Thank the Goddess you're alive."
"Well I think she had little to do with it. I survived on my own... with the help of my old friends... and a few new ones."
"Where are you? I tried to find you after the whole incident, but no one at MUNDI or Transys was willing to help in any way. "
"You... went to the Transys authorities?" Silvia saw her dad looked more serious than she had ever seem him before. "You shouldn't have. They're hunting us down."
"They're... WHAT?" Vorug sounded angry. "Why?"
"Weird stuff happened at Transys, dad. The whole computer system went mad. It was a hell in there." Silvia paused. "That's the reason I didn't manage to get back. But I'm coming home as soon as possible."
Vorug noticed she was in a car with some other people. "Hm. You're bringing any friends with you?"
"Eh... I dunno. Mary, probably. You know. The woman that had my MP5 player. The reason I went to Transys. She's still having trouble with what happened there... she needs some rest."
"OK. I'll get the spare room ready and tell your mom. She's been worried sick about you."
"Hm."
Silvia felt the car slow down, and looked out the window. They were at the hospital.
She looked back to the vidphone. "I, eh, gotta go, dad. I love you. Tell mom I said hi."
The dragon on the screen grinned. "I will. Love you too."

Silvia closed the 'phone and sighed. "All right. Let's get this over with."
She took the golden gun out of the old leather vest she was wearing (the t-shirt she wore under it still had two big holes at the shoulders) and hid it under the car seat.
She opened the door, grabbed Xecktos and carried him to the hospital, accompanied by Red and Mary.

***

Lee examined the people in the bar. He knew many of them... and even managed to get rough profiles on them.

Subject: "Crystal".
Real name: Unknown, insufficient data.
Race: human; possibility of Elvish relation (F)
Comet mutations: tail
Profession: demo expert
Severely damaged in Transys


'Wounded', Lee corrected himself. Not 'damaged'.

Last external data (DINA5) suggest inability to speak

Subject: "Chance"
Real name: Chance Vei.
Race: human (M)
Comet mutations: horn on forehead
Profession: mercenary
Additional info: albinism (74% chance to be mutation). Emotional bond with subject "Ash".

Subject: "Ash"
Real name: Unknown. Possibly 'Ash', but this might just refer to subject's fire abilities.
Race: partial fire-elf. Complete genealogy unknown. (F)
Comet mutations: unknown
Profession: mercenary, flame specialist
Additional info: Emotional bond with subject "Chance".


The list continued. Lee dug up memories, images, sound fragments form the security cameras and drones in Transys, and made a profile of every one of the people he knew.

Subject: "Wolf"
Real name: Nicholas Alexeiv
...
Data missing. This is not Nicholas Alexeiv. External data (DINA5) suggest Subject "Wolf" is dead. Restarting procedure.
Subject "Alexeiv-2".
Real name: Unknown. Possible relation to Nicholas Alexeiv (94%). To be examined if the need arises.

Race: Human (M)

That was sufficient for now. Lee saw the man had a military attire, but from the external data Alanya had been given him he knew many gangs and such used these uniforms too. Although this man really dressed with care.

Subject "Alexeiv-2"
Real name: Unknown. Possible relation to Nicholas Alexeiv (94%). To be examined if the need arises.
Race: Human (M)
Profession: unknown. Probably mercenary/military.
Probability on involvement with Neo-SU Spetsnaz (78%)


Alanya had given him all data he required without giving him actual access to the Matrix. She knew that he should not reach the Matrix before being able to think like a 'runner. Only that way, the ex-VOES could see the error of its actions in Transys.

---------------------------------------------
(GrumpyKlonoa)

Alan had sat back down wide-eyed after what he though was a staring game between Crystal and Chance. He then started actively talking to himself; Maniac could only stay mute for only so long. Finally, he just simply got up, still yakking, and walked back out to his B-12 SUV, frantically trying to figure out what was going on. His quick-wittedness helped none here.

***

Papi (Epona) just looked at the poor putz who walked out. She then starts mindlessly walking through to bar; boredom getting the best of her. A bluish flash from a plasma tv screen caught her eye:

" *sobbing in the background* We continue these reports of a shoot-out occuring at 2:11 this afternoon. These images are the last one before the news chopper was shot down, killing both of our beloved newscaster onboard. These are graphic and may not be suitable for children...

*the camera hovers over an aprtment building. Smoke obscures the lenses, and a whiiring noise blocks out some of the reporter's speechs, which was hurried and barely inaudible anyways. Suddenly, the screen goes black, and a mechanical scream is heard, followed by explosions from all directions and breaking glass.*

Papi then kicks a pressure pad on the screen, turning it off.

"I was watching that!" a voice said

"And now you're not, so stop bitchin!" Papa retorted.

Her voice, nearly identical to one heard on the broadcast, may have blown her cover.

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

Lee walked forward, pushed the woman aside, and turned the TV back on. It provided information. And he needed information.

"...the killer managed to escape, but..."

"Hey!" Papi yelled at Lee. "Put that off dammit."

Lee looked at the screen, an absorbed the information. He didn't seem care about the woman at all.
"Ah, frag you!" Her hand moved towards the pressure pad.

In a split second, Lee's arm shot out and stopped her.
The chrome hand grabbed Papi's wrist, and held it tightly, but very careful not to hurt it. Like the doorknob, it was simply an exercise.
"I am watching that." he said without the slightest movement of his head. "Please don't interrupt."

***

The three people walked back to the car.
"Well... that went better than expected." Red said. "Where did you get that much money anyway?"
"From my dad." Silvia replied. "To pay for a flight home, and any possible complications."
"I see. Couldn't you have told me about that?"
"No. I kept it for emergencies." Silvia said. "Like this one."

Red sighed. "Hm. Oh well. Let's go see mister Johnson then."
She unlocked the car and got in.
Silvia got in the car, took the Negotiator from where she had hidden it and put it back in the leather vest.

A bit later they were on their way to the Chaos Engineer.




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