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virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
"Hmph. They prolly biased it already." Papi muttered, then quickly retracted her hand back. She then stormed to the bar cursing violently under the breath. She really had a major problem with people taking authority who she didnt know, much less respect.
She walked to the bar and leaned on the counter, staring dead in the bartender's eyes.
"Johnson. Tell me where he is."
And with that, Papi was led into the back room.
Alan reentered the Chaos Engineer after a bizzare incident earlier, and noticed the population inside the place dropped substantially. Some semi-familiar faces were still there, including Crystal, who would always catch his eye whenever they passed her way. Anyway, Maniac wasnt a drinker, and so he found no point in going to the bar itself, and excepted this 'Johnson' character to come through the doors for a mission briefing or something. He sat down close to Lee (but kept a respectful distance) to see the evening news.
Crystal saw the Wolf-lookalike go to the barman, sip him something along the bar and get let into the back.
It Can't be...
But if she believed her eyes, this nutcake seemed to be after the same job as her.
Her first thought was to turn and walk away...
But then again, this job was the first piece of work that had come along for what seemed like an age, and she needed the money if she was going to do anything about...
Thoughts formed in her mind, her hope that Chance would pick them up.
Frag it, lets go.
First though, she went to Raven, gave him a tight hug.
"Hopefully we'll meet up before long.", She tapped out to him.
Then without further ado, she, Chance Ash and Jessica stomped up to the bar.
A paper note flew across the bar in Crystal's terrible handwriting (the product of a society where the written word is more or less regarded as an anachronism, replaced with the typed or DNI-laid word).
"Right you hare, young Lady."
Now, they were led into the back room, where the others waited. Crystal recognised Tank, but not his Ladyfriend, and some others she'd seen earlier in the bar. Those she regarded as a professional should. Ie: With suspicion. In this business you never know who was going to stab you in the back.
She was especially wary of the Wolf-a-like.
"What a coincidence we are working on the same job." He leered. Crystal put some distance between herself and him, but she still felt his eyes on her wherever she went, wherever they were or not.
Chance let out a gasp.
"What is it?" Ash hissed, inconspicuously.
"Not sure." Chance said. In truth it was hard to explain: How to explain to mundanes an experience that his growing knowledge of shamanism knew to be magic-related?
He'd felt what could only be described as an interaction with his aura. He had dtepped through some kind of magical field - It felt like walking through a wall of water, yet he was dry.
Maybe this room was warded, or mana-barriered, or something...
It made the hairs on the back of his neck prickle.
The room was dark, and the 'runners (those without Natural low-light or thermographic vision) couldn't make out much. That was until the door at the other end opened, and the silhouetted form of an Ork (by his massive shoulders, with spiky shoulder-pads and some kind of sword strapped to the back, within reach) appeared.
He led the way for an Elven man with a blond flat-top, fashionable dark business-cut suit and shades to appear.
The man marched in, barely looking at the 'Runners (who all had seats laid out for them. Some seats were missing, even counting the three that tank took up).
He pulled a chair up to a round table, and set his case (chained to his hand) down while his guard watched over him, and another watched from the doorway. An overhead light came on automatically and bathed the table in a warm amber glow, and Mr J opened up his case: He pulled a cable from it and plugged it into the datajack just in front of his left pointy ear. That told everyone that his case had some form of portable computer built in, and from his shaded gaze, they could tell he was checking the faces arrayed around the table off against some files on there.
"Our Apologies, Ladies and Gentlemen." He said, speaking at last, a lilting baritone.
"We will begin once everyone is here."
"Of course....Johnson is it?" said Plugin
plugin had already gotten a look at who was there... there were two orks, one russian-looking guy,a lady, which strangely, he didn't go gaga over.... maybe his born curse was wearing off... maybe he was getting normal...
there were also two other people.. one looking frightened somewhat, and one not so....
"so, while we wait.... shal we introduce ourselves?" said Plugin.
"Lee! Come here."
Lee turned his head, and saw Alanya walk towards the door through which the others had disappeared too.
She finished her drink while waiting for Lee to come over.
"All right. Apparently our Mystery Man arrived. You stay here... I'll see what he has to say. Don't go away."
Lee answered with a short nod.
Alanya disappeared into the room. Lee kept standing against a wall in the bar, and looked around at the people sitting in chairs around the tables. He had no need for a chair, and realized that they probably couldn't support his weight anyway. Even though he had designed the body to be as light as possible he still weighed about twice as much as the average ork.
Lee found it odd to be thinking about that. He wasn't considering actually sitting down... it didn't make any difference to his cybernetic muscles; they didn't grow tired. And yet he was thinking of it. Distracting himself while he could be doing other things.
He realized that being in a humanoid body restricted his multi-tasking. He had to combine all his senses to get a complete image of his surroundings... in the Arcology he had senses everywhere, and a constant flow of updates on the changes in the entire building.
But then again, that was exactly the reason he had given up on the name VOES.
Crystal would have gotten acquainted with the other 'runners... But owing to her lack of speech, it was hard. Instead she opted for the casual cold stare, or the 'gaze off into infinity' move. That normally served her well in these situations.
She knew a good half the 'runners here... The people she'd come in with, Tank, (but not his girl), the Middle-aged ork woman who came walking in just now had been in Transys...
She didn't know the friendly-sounding decker who called himself 'Plugin', so she stared at Mr Johnson.
For some reason her mind wandered back to the last Decker she knew.
Crash, who died with Wolf in the hell of Transys. Crash, Wolf, a few thousand others.
Maybe a large piece of Crystal, too...
Bad memories came flooding along like a tidal wave. They had threatened to consume her, while she was recovering. With the help of a few friends, she had overcome the fear. The paranoia of anything technical, which skittered at the edge of her sub-consious.
Eventually, using the same self-control that had gotten her over her childhood, she had won the battle.
Her, and the drugs she was taking to stop The Fear.
Raven was sitting just behind Crystal, the seating arrangments didn't allow him to sit beside her. He didn't bother looking about, he didn't care. Raven just wanted to deliver his ammo cache and get to Orkistonia as soon as possible, every moment he tarried made it harder to convince himself he had to go. Crystal seemed so fragile and dependant now that she couldn't speak, Raven felt that he needed to protect her as best he could now. That was why he needed his old pistol, just before he had lost it he had accidentily discovered it had properties rumoured to belong only to the elite equipment of a particular corporation, Western Etherspace Society. The weapon was enchanted in some manner, it could focus the raw emotion of the user into mana-blasts.
Raven would need such a weapon if he was going to look after Crystal, and he was going to find it!
The lanky young man had suggested that the company gathered introduce themselves to one another in order to pass the time. Rusty solemnly stood up and proclaimed;
"I'm John Larcen...but you can call me Rusty, 'cause of me red hair an all. I currently work as a personal transport for business types and stuff....Ummm.....It's bloody great to meet you all."
He looked around sheepishly, knowing that he had once again said too much. He sat down quickly and stared at the floor.
Jessica Hayes had watched the Australian blunder his way through his introduction and wondered how such a dull man had survived so long in the cruel world of 'running'. After the man had sat down an uncomfortable pause filled the room, nobody wanted to talk. Jessica couldn't endure the stagnant atmosphere any longer, she lethargically waved an arm and spoke without enthusiasm.
"Hayes. Currently unemployed. You can call me Jessica..."
She let the last part of her speech trail off, she didn't really want people to use her first name but there didn't appear to be an alternative. She sat completely still, not wanting to turn around and survey the reactions of the other people.
Alex was particulary suspicious of how the place was dispossed. A trap. It was the perfect place for an ambush. They were really vulnerable here. In the darkness there could be guards...
He made a sign to Chance, hoping that he would be an ex-militar, and understand the tactical sign.
And he added.
Need to verify
Some of the other people wondered why he was doing such a hell of weird moves with the hands.
"It's just that i am a bit nervous, that all."
He said, masking his true intentions. He wasn't joking at all. For some reason, the sensation of being spotted was still there, and that made him to be on alert, waiting for a quick and unexpected move with the intention to hurt him to open fire.
He glared at the decker. He had asked to meet everyone. He should not be dissapointed.
"Name's not important. They call me the Duke, and I am Colonel."
A voice, coming from the back interrupted Alex.
"Since when your name became unimportant, Alexander Alexeiv?"
Alexander, like tormented with ghosts coming from his past, turned his head back.
And there he was. The least expected person to arrive. Sebastian Alkoi. AKA Iceman.
"Alkoi... you bastard..." Were his words.
"I like you too, Alex." He added, while his cybereye glared at the character in the dark. He faced him.
"I am sorry for arriving late, doc J. I had some stuff to solve out."
With "doc J." he was reffering to the Johnson, wich now, waved a hand, indicating to seat.
He chose to stay side to side with Alexander.A couple of old russky spec-ops buddies... Ironically, they were not buddies anymore. Alex made a slight weird face when he discovered that Iceman's clothes still smelt to blood.
Rei AKA Itsuke stood glaring at the odd thing she had next to her. A machine, a robot that resemble a hell lot like a human.
Chance saw the Colonel raise his hand palm-inwards in front of his face, and draw it down in a spread-fingered motion. To a civilian observer, it could have been just an attempt to massage the sides of his face, but to Chance, it was an immediate warning.
Ambush That was what the sign meant in universal infantry hand code.
Chance watched the Colonel carefully... The man moved with the tight, controlled step of a special forces operator, and his lack of small talk certainly fitted that of a experienced professional who knew when to keep his mouth shut. Real operators, or special forces troops, never drew attention to themselves (save, of course, Evans. But then Evans was different... He was Australian )... it was too quick a way to die.
But his face was too cold... That sort of impassiveness that touched on inhumanity. Chance was normally more apt to trust fellow soldiers and ex-soldiers more than anyone else... but he reserved judgment on this one. Crystal, afterall, seemed to be very leery of him too.
So, our Colonel senses a trap?
Nothing much that Chance could do though... He eyed the elf and orc, but it was unlikely, even given total surprise, that the two of them could take on an entire room full of hard-core runners. That left the possibility of sleeping gas being pumped in... but a quick check of the ceiling revealed no vents that he could see.
Chance closed his eyes, sending out tentative feelers of thought to the edges of the room, in the way that a wolf might sniff cautiously around the edges of a sealed box. The room smelt of magic all right... Chance could feel the pulsating mana waves resounding off the walls around him.
Choak entered the bar, pulling his hat down, so no-one would see his face. This bar was full of reasonably well dressed people, and he'd stand out like an elite BWG in a tutu - so he better try and stay as inconspicous as possible.
Looking around, he spotted a stooped, hunched over woman, moving with the gleam of cyberwear out of an unoccupied booth in a dark corner. That was exactly the kind of place he needed - to observe, and wait for the moment. Fighting off the Chaso-inspired urge just to roast everyone in here, and thereby kill Alexeiv, he moved past her, as the woman stalked up to the bar, just close enough to hear her hiss the word "Johnson!" to the bartender. Intrigued, Choak sank into a seat, and watched, as the barman gestured to a grey door, between two imitation-oak panels.
The door opened, and from the subtle light inside, and a gentle probing with his astral perception, Choak identified that his target was in the room. Throwing his thoughts foreward, and for a breif moment stealing the vision of one of the people inside, he also noticed that there was no other way out - Alexeiv would have to walk right past him as soon as he finished in that room.
As soon as the cyborg had entered, another woman - if you could call her that being approximately 8 feet tall and built like a bear - stood up from the bar, and, pushing the bartender out of the way, followed.
The door shut. It stayed shut.
Everyone looked up as Hearse entered the room. No-one recognised her, but then, almost-entirely cybered people weren't that much of an oddity in the modern world, so she wasn't anything to stare at. The next woman was. Even those who knew Tank were shocked - the figure in the black cloak was almost as large as the ork, as bulky - and from the face, clearly female.
Johnson looked at her.
"Sasha? Is there anyone else?"
The woman pulled back her hood, revealing long, dark brown hair, and a face that was just about human - it wasn't that she was appallingly ugly, just it seemed that she had some kind of animal quality about her - something that would hide just outside the corner of your vision when you looked at her, but would be just noticeable when you weren't.
"There iz only the rigger-girl, and thiz one delivered the invite. Thiz one doez not know why she iz not here."
"Very well, well done Sasha," said the overtly anonymous elf, and, looked at the others.
"Shall we begin?"
The Barman sealed the door electronically from his bar console. Now the door would open for no-one but him - Or at least someone with his thumbprint.
He sighed with relief, now that those scary fraggers were out of sight, and not scaring his customers anymore.
Well, most of them anyway... He squinted at the Cloaked, stiff-looking man in heavy overcoat that an Ork woman - Fragging Troggs the barman thought - had left out here.
'Mr Johnson' looked up, and pulled the cable from his Datajack.
"Relax, ladies, gentlemen." He glared at Iceman, then Alex (even through his shades).
He had to have some guts, one unarmed man staring down such military monstrosities.
"We are all professionals here." He added. He may secretly have been hoping that was true, but the man displayed no sign of his inetrnal thoughts at all. Maybe he had had micros-surgery to deactivate some face-muscles, or something like that, Crystal thought, because he may as well have a had a face of stone for the emotion it displayed.
Not even Chance could pick up any of the man's surface thoughts. Either he had a hightly-trained, disciplined mind, or he was shielded in some way. Maybe a bit of both. Or Maybe there was nothing there to pick up.
"And as professionals," Johnson went on, in the smooth voice that may have belonged to a classically-trained actor, "I'm going to be upfront with you about our business from the very beginning. To this end, I will ask anyone who isn't absolutely sure they are going to take the employment offered to leave now. For taking your, ahem, valuable time to come here I will offer a parting gift of ¥1,000, to help you forget all about this meeting."
He gave the 'runners a moment to make up their minds.
Chance didn't need to turn his head towards Ash... He could already sense her reply.
Actually, they would have preferred taking a trip to the UCAS to find Wangfei and see if Johnson wasn't lying to them. But both time and money were short. Besides, unless they found a way to remove Wangfei's memory block, they would still be in the dark about the locations of the other team members. Johnson was their best bet now at finding the lost MUNDI team.
"I'm in." Chance said.
"Me too." Ash followed, looking at the others to see if anyone else wanted in. There were some which she would gladly work with, but then there were others too whom she would be happier to see walk out of the door with the Y1000.
Crystal gave her affirmation by nodding,.
Many employers were similarly paranoid about their security to make similar demands. They gave the usual 'Don't tell anyone or you're dead' speech.
This Johnson seemed more... Reserved. Plus it made a change for him to be taking the softly-softly approach.
That didn't change the fact that if she backed out now, she'd be in serious trouble. Just looking at the number of 'runners being hired for this job told her that.
Raven didn't even think about it, he stood up. Johnson glanced up at him, if he was surprised he didn't show it. An unmarked credstick was dropped onto the table, the parting gift Johnson had just mentioned. Sasha, one of his goons, had dropped it. Raven scooped the credstick up and softly lobbed it into Crystal's lap.
Raven started to walk out of the room, Johnson whispered into his cuff, the door unsealed itself and swung open. Just as he reached the exit Raven stopped and stammered, his voice choking up;
"Sorry guys, I've got something to attend to....I'll see you when you get back..C..Cr..Crystal, go to your apartment before you leave. I've left a gift for you. Bye. Chance, make sure Crystal doesn't get herself k..killed...Okay?"
With that Raven limped out of the room, it had been hard not to stay but his mind was made up. What really bothered him was that he may have just seen Crystal for the last time, this might be her last run for all he knew.....
The door shut again with a soft hiss, it sealed itself again. It was final now, no going back.
His beloved Crystal was so close by but an entire world apart.
The only thing Raven could do know was get to Crystal's apartment and drop off the ammunition he had hoarded over the past few weeks.....
Jessica Hayes had listened to the exchange, not willing to turn her head and see what was happening. That mutant, Raven, had seemed like a nice guy back in Transys, too bad he wasn't able to come on this job. Judging from his voice, Jessica guessed that he really wanted to come along, if only to be with that silent blue haired woman. Jessica sighed, she had always dreamed of having a man as loyal as that Raven guy had been but the Red Dawn was a demanding charge and left no time for other 'interests'.
Rusty really didn't pay attention to the four-armed, albino freak's stuttered soliquay until he heard the name Chance. So, Rusty thought. Yet another person knows Chance here, eh? Popular guy, I'm not surprised though. Rusty turned in his seat and looked at the woman, apparently named Crystal, she looked fairly unresponsive....unless you happened to notice the solitary tear rolling down her cheek and splashing on to the credstick she was gripping with white knuckles, Raven's parting gift.
Tank stood up suddenly, his chair falling backwards against the wall. Everyone looked at him from all across the room, but the huge ork stared straight at Johnson.
"Rite", he began, leaning foreward over the table on his knuckles in a gorilla-like posture - "I'm not sure wat I shud say about dis job." Now he looked around, taking in the whole room. "Yu see, for runners of our cal-i-burr, we are normally given sum sorta informashun ovva dan get out if yer not interested. I hav sum interests ovva dan da job, so if you want da best, you better give me sum details about da job - where it iz, and watz da chance dat I get fragged in it - as I aint taking no suicide run, mate."
Johnson almost visibly gulped. Hearse watched, considering her options.
"Very well" Said Mr J.
He removed his shades.
Tank could see piercing, gold-irised eyes with Crosshair-like pupils. They were engraved with the manufacturer's logo in gold.
Mr J started him right down, turning those crosshairs on Tank, meeting his gaze.
"You'll be travelling to another continent. I won't say which one, but said continent can be classified as a warzone. Most likely you'll need to access and aquire information from several secure sites, and those sites will probably not be best pleased about it. You will possibly face opposition from highly-rated opponents. Your aim will be to aquire data which is needed for an investigation of a very high profile event. Pay will be handsome, and there may be other benefits. We can supply transport and equipment as it may be required, within reason."
He broke the gaze with Tank, momentarily, to look at Chance.
"There are...other ways our resources can help, Mr Vei."
He looked back to Tank.
"Is that clear enough for you, Mr... Tank?"
Papi looked over at Tank, hoping he'd decline the job. "More money for me!" was her mindset. Then she reclined back in the chair looking around at everyone, nodding her head and with a grin across her young face. She was going to have fun doing international stuff.
Maniac, over his apparently naivity, finnaly managed to make it into the back room. Noone payed him any mind and he sat down promptly, listening and studying every detail despite cleaning his fingernails and other idle motions.
"Hmm... " said plugin as he decided what to do...
"I'm in i guess. life's gettin borin for me..."
as he said this, he checked his pistol to make sure it was loaded and the safety was off... if something were to happen all of the sudden, he wanted to be ready
"Frag, I'm gonna be too late!"
Red raced through the streets of London.
"Watch it!" Silvia yelled, bracing herself. "If the 'cops stop us we won't get there any sooner!"
But Red didn't seem to hear her, and speeded on.
"Ah sleg. You're gonna get us all killed. And I know who's going to be the one that'll have to get you out of the burning wreck."
Red sighed, and slowed down. "All right. Have it your way. But if I miss Johnson you'll owe me for this run."
"You're only saying that because you know I got money." Silvia replied.
"Hm." Red grunted.
"We're almost there anyway." Silvia said. She pointed at the neon sign a bit further in the street. "Look, there it is."
Red stopped the car and got out. She almost bumped into a man that just came out of the bar. She pushed him out of the way and ran into the bar.
Silvia opened the car door. "I'm just going to see if she finds her Johnson." she said to Mary. "You stay here for a few minutes, OK? Make sure no one steals the car."
Mary looked at Silvia and smiled. "You're better at that, you know."
"Yeah." Silvia replied. "But sometimes I think I hurt them too much. I mean, we're all street scum. Red stole this car too."
She got out of the car and walked towards the bar.
"Johnson." Red Growled. The barman suppressed a sigh, and opened the back door using his concealed console.
"Right you hare, lass."
Red vanished and he closed the door, just as Silvia came in
(GM: For simplicity's sake I'm going to assume that Silvia looks completely human here... If not tell me and I can edit.)
"Hanything I can get you, young Miss?" Asked the barman politely (although in his head he was already formulating his request for more pay).
"HI'm sorry but HI won't be selling and halcoholic beverages to young 'uns. Hi'll have to hask for HI.D or hask you to leave."
The assembled 'runners turned to spot the newcomer.
Crystal noticed her - And her rigger jacks.
Two Riggers... Interesting. Maybe they plan to split us into two groups... She wondered.
Alex looked at Iceman, and Iceman looked back. Both two nodded.
"Doc J- Please leave the pimp words. You look you are talking like if we were girlies here." taunted Iceman, while punching Alex in the shoulder. "We two are in.For whatever reason or money."
Alex regreted he had not brought a grenade to put it in Iceman's pants. The only thing he had was a tear gas grenade.
He looked back at Crystal. She looked stiffened for a while, she heard his name... and reacted to it. She then made an odd gesture and looked at Iceman when he said "girlies".
But Alex... Alex had to say something else.
"Mr Johnson... err... I don't know how to say it... but, who are the people that are staring at us? Because i have a feeling that i am being spotted somehow...."
The ambush. A secure to keep the order amongst the runners. Alex's thought was focused in that word, while he pronounced the words.
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