The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 17

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


(CKW)

Alex whispered.
"Rei, are you OK?"

"unn... What was that, Alex-san?"
The girl shut her eyes. She was a bit bruised, and some debris had shreded her clothes, but seemed OK.

"Do not move. Stay like if we were dead. It might work again."

"And if it doesn't work?"

"We can always try to shoot them and run."
Alex replied. While closing his eyes.Hopefully they would take them to the morgue. It would be guarded. He had heard of zombie paranoia lately... But still, it could be a free ticket to sucessfully infiltrate.

So, both two played like they were corpses.

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

Chance stepped over the wreckage of the door into the corridor where Alanya was. Bending over to examine the material, he confirmed his suspicions... the doors were actually fire-doors, thus the fire resistant ceramic coating on the plasteel.

"We need to keep moving mate." Rusty said as he sorted out which direction they were supposed to go. "Preferably down to their power plants or something critical like that."

"Ash, set off the sprinklers in the office before we leave." Chance said as he asked Lupus for directions... The wolf indicated the direction of north, and by comparing his own memorised format of the building, Chance indicated one of the doors for Silvia to attack. She stepped up to it and commenced cutting with easy clean strokes.
"The fire-doors are down and they already know where we came in from anyway, so setting off the fire alarms won't do any more harm. In fact, the alarms, short-circuits and associated alert might hopefully wreak havoc with the power supply in the building... I suspect that not all the electrical cables buried in the walls and floor are in tip top shape. Sooner or later, we might get lucky with a short circuit somewhere downstairs in this building." Chance explained.

"And finally, if the UCAS wants to send in troops after us, the power irregularies caused by the short-circuits would play merry hell with whatever tracking devices they have in this building. By then we'll be at their power plant to pull the plug on them." Chance said.

Ash was the last out of the office, after touching fingers to a smoke detector... The next instant, sprinklers in the vacated office exploded in a spray of drenching water. She hurriedly jogged through the next destroyed door that Silvia had shattered, escaping the soaking.

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

"Something. Something has happened." Draco stood silently, with his sight lost. He had an odd feeling. A feeling of honour and pride. A feeling of power.
But, what was it? He could not
The only thing he could make in clear was a word.
Museum
He sighed. He was too tired about this crap. Too much work. So he was spending the day in resting. And taking care of Varos.
She was getting a bit itchy because he wasn't full time with her. What a girl.
Someday she would grow up.

He needed to cool doom. So he searched for a coach. Two black mythril swords were in the living room, in the arms crest. They certainly were Hell Knight's ones, although they had been reduced to human scale for comfort.

"I do need to get to the museum. I do need to make sure it's not a paranoia."
He finally announced. He picked up one of the two swords in the crest.
Drazucorog Aphzorgas
Draco Firetongue
It was written into it. It had been the sword he had crafted when he became a Hell Knight.

He headed for the door.

"Hey, Draco... what do you think about my new dress...uh!?"

But Draco had already left.

"Damn IT!"
Varos anger rose and rose while he was reading the note he left. He was going to the museum.
"He's not going anywhere leaving me here!" She said to herself. She also noticed that one of the swords of the crest was missing.

She paid a closer look to it. The left sword was still there. She never had read the runes on it...
Servos Aphzorgas

So... that was Draco's father' sword! She became shocked at the discovery.
That must mean the other sword was... Draco's one. And if he took it, things were serious.

"Hmm... I better take this sword for me too. This is an emergency."

She weighted it. Definitely, it was awe-inspiring, as she had thougth of the sword of Mawroth's first liutenant, but fragging too heavy for a lady... Still, her stubborn attitude pushed her to drag the blade with her...

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

Vorug landed before the museum, and walked into the long corridor. There was no one there.

Sleg! It's closed. But I have to get in! I can't let them find out! Not after all that time...

A large figure blocked the light from the entrance of the corridor. Vorug looked back, and saw a golden Dragon walking towards him.

"Draco Aphzorgas." Vorug said in Draconian, and sighed. "I was expecting you."

Draco looked at the other dragon. "Who are... You're Silvia's father, no?"
"Yes... yes I am. You felt it too, right?"
"My father. His magic, anyway. But Why are you...?"
"We have to go in. It's the sword of the Medium."
Draco frowned. "The sword of the Medium?" Then, his dragon eyes widened. "You! You are th-"
"Shut up! I'm here to protect my past, Draco! I am, and will always be Vorug Serthedal."
"Why did I feel my father's magic?"
"Oh come on. Surely you know your dad and I conjured up a lot together." Vorug said. "The sword has a calling spell, and your father helped me cast it on the sword."
"Then why don't you just call it back?"
"You think I didn't try?!" Vorug yelled back at him. "It isn't working anymore! The sword is no longer mine!"
"You mean..."
"Only the owner can summon it. There's only one person besides me who could have the slightest chance of claiming the sword."
"Silvia."
"Yes. My daughter now has an arcanite sword in her hands with a name on it she doesn't know."

"Draco!?" they heard a third dragon voice yelling into the corridor.
The two dragons looked back, and saw a silver dragon at the entrance.
Draco brusquely turned around. "VAROS?!"
"Who is she?" Vorug hissed. He didn't like the fact that there would be more people involved; especially not silver dragons.

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

"You are not letting me alone with only a lame excuse! You have been all the week out! And when we finally get together... you leave!"
The dragon girl looked upset. So upset she ignored the other Dragon.
Draco gave a painful look to Vorug.
" Listen up. I had important things to do. Really important things... Is that what I think!?"
Draco was now the one with the angry expression. Varos took a look at the sword she was carrying.
"you took one, I took the other one."
"I wanted to keep that one, Varos. It's my father's memento."
At this point Vorug tried to jump back in the conversation.
"Hmm... so you crafted another sword. Very Interesting."
Draco reacted to Vorug's word, ignoring Varos' rant about being unfair and wanting Draco's attention.
"She can be trusted. That's what you need for now. I will gladly answer to you later.Shall we move in, Vorug?"
"Let's."

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

The two dragons turned away and walked into the building, ignoring Varos' complaints.

They went into the hall, and looked at the closed doors of the museum.
"Hello?" Vorug shouted. "Anyone here?"

After a few minutes, a human-sized door opened, and a rather old dwarf came out. He looked up to the two dragons.
"I'm sorry gentlemen, but I'm 'fraid we're closed!" he yelled up to the two dragons.
"This is important." Vorug replied calmly. "One of the artifacts of the last Dragon War was just teleported out of this building."
"What? Which one?" the dwarf yelled back at them.

Vorug sighed, and looked at Draco. "The sword of Arzurug Trocimar, the Medium Dragon."

The Dwarf frowned. "How do ya know that? 'sides, this place is warded! No one can just teleport stuff outtav it."

Draco stepped forward. "I am lord Draco Firetongue, leader of the Hell's Knights. The museum's wards most likely didn't even react on the teleportation, since the sword teleported itself out.

"Well I don't think we should stop dese magical thangs; if dey wonna teleport oot, I say let 'em!"

Draco and Vorug exchanged looks. Draco sighed. and looked back to the dwarf. "Can we see the security mage now, please?"

"Oh, sure. He's a dragon too. I'll git ya to 'im."

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Out into the corridor, the infiltrators met Alanya again, who was somewhat surprised to see the Silvia's sword.

"How did-"

Crystal waved her hand in a gesture everyone immediately took to be don't ask. Crystal adjusted her pack, drawing the Submachinegun she'd seconded from the now messily dead (though no-one there knew yet) Tyme4cryme's stash. She pointed Chance towards the the turning that led to the inner-ring checkpoint. He nodded. Crystal slinked cautiously up to the corridor, keeping an intent eye on the concave mirror on the ceiling that allowed a view down the 'T' of the junction.

She froze. But the two guards some distance around the corner at the security checkpoint were talking with each other, sitting uncomfortably on metal-frame chairs. They hadn't spotted her.

She drew back, showing two fingers to Chance, pulling a flashbang from her webbing belt.

***

Jessica stared through the smoke and flame. All around was chaos. Smoke and noise, both getting in her ears. Someone was screaming somewhere. Sweat cut through soot on her face. Small pieces of random crap on the ground were being whipped up into a maelstrom, and she didn't have to look up to know a helicopter was around.

A figure lurched through the smoke. She could have put a slug through each of his eyes, but she didn't have to.

It was Shadow. A grin spread across his face in recognition. Then she saw the blood, and the Shadowrunner slumped to the floor.

Now Jessica saw the helicopter. It had deployed ropes, not far from her. Men in all-black fatigues, heavily festooned with webbing and kit were roping down.

***

Alex had practiced controlling his breathing to such an extent, he even surprised himself.

I should become a fragging actor He thought, not moving a muscle as the men over bim spoke. His keen hearing identified the approximate weights of the men, they type of boots they were wearing, the type of weapons they carried, how many flashbangs each had clipped on.

Big en. At least three were Orks, with Rifles and Submachineguns. They spoke precisely, clipped, not mentioning anyone by names, only codenames.

Delta Force, for sure. Heh. So professional, that they're worse than Amateurs.

"This them?" Spoke one.

"Yerr." Grunted another. "Look's dead ta me."

"Bag 'em and tag 'em. Wiz-boys want a look."

Some shuffling and clinking as a portable stretcher was deployed. A body was dragged slightly, then lifted and placed on the strecther and taken away.

"Cryin' shame..."

"Yerr. She iz pretty... For an 'oomie."

He knew they had to be referring to Rei. Then he too let himself be lifted bonelessly onto a stretcher. He was zipped into a body bag and carried away.

When all was silent and cold, he figured he must be in the morgue. About time too. It was hard to breathe in the body bag.

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

There was no time for subtlety... with the mirror positioned to watch the corridor, either one of the two guards could simply turn his head and spot movement in the mirrored surface. Should that happen, they would hardly miss the half dozen or so heavily armed people filling the corridor.

Crystal flipped the flashbang around the corner... there was a startled yelp as one of the guards caught a glimpse of the device before it went off with a startlingly loud bang. The light was blinding but brief, turning everything monochrome with its intensity.

Chance, Ash and Rusty were around the corner an instant later. There was a whump as Ash's thermorifle fired, one of the guards collapsing backwards with a smoking hole replacing his face. The other had gotten to his feet and was stumbling around blindly, groping for the safety of his rifle. Chance's burst cut his legs out from under him, and Rusty's shotgun blast finished the job.

The runners took up positions as Alanya jogged up, spotting a matrix plug-in point on the desk of the security station.

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

"Fraggin' 'ell... dey shudav' brought mah drone back before dis run." Alanya grumbled. She took her deck and grabbed a few program sticks.
While searching through the sticks she found something interesting... a stick she had almost forgotten about.
Alanya smiled. "AEROS... well well... the present ah got from our gobbo friend... lessee wot dis is worth..."
She looked up at the 'runners. "Ah'll try ta be quick."
She took the deck's dataplug and plugged it in the datajack behind her ear.

***

"Welcome, listeners, to WorldMedia radio news, with another update on the situation in Lyon. It seems the incinerator bombs didn't have much lasting effect; the forest has grown back to its previous size in just one night, with little or no lasting damage seen by the satellites! Meanwhile, protestors have come on the street to protect the forest, seeing it as a sign of a new era. So, how's things going for now, Samantha?"

"Well... people are trying to cross the ever-expanding police barriers surrounding the equally expanding forest. To be honest, it's really scary being so close to it; you actually see trees growing to their full height in mere hours!
I am now standing next to a young man that just tried to pass the police barriers. Tell me, why do you want to reach the forest?"

(young male voice) "The forest won't hurt us! It's our friend, as long as we are the forest's friend! We must let the forest know we have good intentions!"
"Ehm.. right...
(short pause) Oh my goodness! He just jumped over the barrier again! He's approaching the forest..."
(voice that seems to come from quite far away) "Embrace me! We will be one! We will uni...eh? AAAARGGHH!!!!"
(Greg's voice) "Sam?! Samantha?! What the fr*beep* is going on there!?"
(Samantha's voice) "Oh my goddess... oh my..."
(Greg's voice) "Sam? Talk to me, Sam!"
(Samantha's voice) "Some kind of... tentacles.. vines... came out of the forest... and ripped him to pieces! Greg, he was ripped to fr*beep*ng pieces before my eyes!"

(Greg's voice, slightly calmer) "So far for our... update on the Lyon situation. We don't know what the next attempt to stop the forest will be, but rumours are going around that the french government might have gotten corp-funding to use buclear weapons. That'll be all for now, people. This was Greg Mendels, for WorldMedia radio News."


The Dragon mage sighed, and put off the radio. Couldn't they just use magic against magic? Fragging bukes...

He looked up when he heard a knock on his door.
He got up and opened it. Two dragons walked in. The Dwarf janitor left them alone and went back to his office.

"Welcome!" the mage said to his visitors. "You are lord Draco Firetongue, no? To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence?"

"That would be me." Vorug replied.

The mage looked at the green dragon, and frowned. Not many dragons had the exact color of grass, and the mage could see Vorug was an old dragon; he was slightly larger than Draco.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"That question would give you no useful answer. But if you'd instead have asked me who I had been, I would have answered you that I used to be Arzurug Trocimar."

"By the coatl... the Medium?!" the mage stared at Vorug in disbelief."Everyone thought you died!"
"Everyone was right, too. Arzurug Trocimar did die in the last Dragon War. He couldn't stand the madness. The massacres... killing his own kind... He died there, with the rest of the Medium Dragons, and became Vorug Serthedal. And I am here to make sure I will not be forced to become Arzurug again."
The mage nodded. "You're here to take back your sword."
"You seemed to have missed my point entirely... I will never, ever reclaim that sword."
"Then why the sleg did you even come?" the mage asked impatiently.

Vorug looked the dragon mage straight in the eyes, and said very slowly: "The sword of the Medium is gone. It was teleported out of the museum mere minutes ago. I am here to prevent my old identity from being uncovered in the investigation that will follow the mysterious disappearance."

The mage frowned. "Impossible! This place has the best magical protection after the WES vaults! No one can just teleport in here and steal things!"
He rushed to the wall, and pressed a button. The wall slid open, and a large screen appeared behind it.
"Room 27... camera... four I think." the mage mumbled, while pressing a few buttons under the screen.

Vorug looked at Draco. "Which part of 'mysterious disappearance' doesn't he understand?"
"The part that will cost him his job." Draco replied dryly.

The mage roared when he saw the image appear on the screen.
"H... how?" he asked the other two dragons.

"A calling spell." Vorug replied. "Casted on the sword centuries ago by Servos Firetongue and me."
"But... calling spells only work when the owner uses them, no?" the mage replied. "So if you don't know who called it, can't you call it back anyhow?"
"Who said I didn't know?" Vorug said.
Draco sighed. "Vorug... we're wasting our time here. Let's get to the point." He turned to the mage. "We're not dealing with a thief here. The sword hasn't been stolen at all. It has been claimed. The one that Called it was his daughter, and apparently the change is final, since he can't call the sword back."

"Right. And you want me to make sure his identity won't be uncovered during the investigation." the mage said. "But how?"

Draco smiled. "I know a way..." He looked at Vorug. "Vorug... do you remember the Call of my father's sword?"
Vorug grinned. "How could I forget? Servos... always the joker. It was 'I need a giant toothpick', right?"
"Yep. I need a giant toothpick!"

Yellow flames raged around the Golden Dragon's hand, and there it was... Servos' sword.

Vorug frowned. "Draco... won't your friend outside be slightly upset by this?"
"Not as much as when I'm going to ask her how the sleg she could lose my father's sword." Draco grinned.
The green dragon laughed. "So, there's something of your father inside you after all!"
Draco grinned. He knew everyone said he looked an awful lot like his father, but no one ever referred to his father's more mischievous side with that.
"And actually, Varos is, eh, more than just a friend to me..."
"Oh? Heh. Well, she sure is good-looking. But how did you ever hook up with a silver?"

"Excuse me..." the mage interrupted them. "but... what were you planning to do with that sword?"
"I am planning an official exchange with the museum." Draco said in a very official tone. "Now that I have forged a sword for myself, I will donate my father's sword to the museum, in exchange for the sword of the Dragon that has always been my father's best friend."

Vorug smiled. "Clever!"
"So if you consider the fact the Medium's sword is already gone, I hereby give you my father's sword to take its place."
"I- I can't just do that! I'm a security mage! I can't make deals in name of the museum!"

Draco smiled, "Don't worry about it. Just put the sword in the box, and I will make sure the deal with the museum is done by tomorrow.

***

The two dragons walked out of the corridor.
"I am amazed, Draco. That was a stroke of genious."
"Not really... I would probably have donated it sooner if I had thought of it. Sleg, I might even have made the same deal anyway."
"Say, Draco... why was you father's name still on that sword? Didn't you inherit it?"
"Well... It's strange... the runes never changed my name. As if the sword knew I wasn't going to keep it as mine." He looked up. "I've always been able to call it though."

They reached the end of the corridor. Varos was nowhere to be seen; she probably got bored and went home.
"So... what do we do now?" Draco asked.
"Nothing." Vorug replied. "I'll send Silvia a message on her MP5 player to wish her a happy birthday, and then I will wait for her to come home and ask me about the sword."
"Sleg... is that today?" Draco asked.
"Yes. But knowing her she probably forgot about it herself. Wouldn't be the first time."
Vorug looked up to the blue sky. "Well.... she already got her birthday present."
He turned to Draco. "I'll keep in touch. Bye for now."

The dragon unfolded his large, green wings, and took off.

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(Master Chris)

Rusty turned his back to Alanya, watching for any sign that more soldiers were on the way. Those concave mirrors worked both ways, it was unlikely the runners would be caught be surprise here. Rusty, not taking his eyes off the mirror, wondered aloud:

"Ya think the others got out alive? Those guys in Team One were trapped like rats."

***

The soldiers, clad entirely in black, silently dropped onto the pavement. Jessica didn't know what to do! Her SMG had been thrown out of reach by the concussion grenades impact upon the van so she couldn't shoot at the soldiers. Not that that would have accomplished much, these were obviously elite troopers and Hayes wasn't much of a gun slinger. Even then, there were many soldiers and only one Jessica Hayes, the rest of her team had disappeared in one way or another. With no options available Jessica just sat there, hypnotised by the rythmic beating of the helicopters blades.

Fanning out in a precise formation the elite troopers scanned their surroundings. One trooper spotted a quivering young woman, seemingly shell shocked, and called out to his fellow squadmates:

"We've got a live one, looks unarmed. No threat. Orders sir?"

Another soldier, indistinguishable from the others, walked up to Jessica Hayes. He examined her closely, she just stared back at him vacantly. In a business-like tone the man spat orders at his squad:

"She's probably one of them, no nerve for combat I guess. Command will want to interrogate one of them, may as well take what we can get. Check her for wounds and hidden weapons, cuff her and strap her onto a return line for the chopper, send her up."

The soldiers obeyed immediately, gloved hands expertly probed Jessica for anything suspicious. Thankfully, her equipment had been wrenched from her person by the concussion blast and she was unarmed at the time. Jessica felt her arms being wrenched behind her back as handcuffs were wrapped around her wrists, then she was strapped into a winch and hefted into the sky....

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

*BANG*
The rotor started to expel smoke. It had been hit by a huge caliber bullet.
"Die, you DELTA PRICKS, DIE!!!!"
It was Iceman. Somehow, his maniacal mind had put the cross on each operative, as he had seen how the bollocks had stolen him a kill.
Alex had been zipped and dragged away to the morgue.
They had stolen Alex's death. Now they would pay it... with interests...

---------------------------------------------
(Master Chris)

The chopper started to quiver in the air, the rotor blades were wobbling precariously. One by one the helicopters blades wrenched themselves free of the drive shaft and threw themselves violently into the air. The craft started to tip onto its side and descend slowly onto the ground. The rigger of the craft, an experienced pilot, was struggling for control while blood trickled from his rigger-jack and rolled down his neck. A distorted, disembodied voice filled the aft compartment:

"Can't...HoLd...hEr..MucH...longer. BaIl OUT!"

The Delta Force soldiers still in the chopper jumped out of the helicopter just as the rigger finally, and fatally, lost control of his craft. The chopper cartwheeled as it hit the tarmac, bounced, and landed a hundred meters away from the Delta Force team. The whiplash effect of the chopper hitting the ground wrenched the handcuffs restraining Jessica Hayes apart but also dislocated her right shoulder. Freed from the crashing helicopter she was lobbed, like a discarded doll, a fair distance away from the action. Hayes came to a rest in a pile of garbage that had cushioned her fall. There she lay for some time, it was all too much for her to handle.

Meanwhile, Iceman had used the distraction caused by the chopper to continue to kill Delta Force soldiers. His sniper rifle barked again:

Baboom!

Another soldier fell, a heavy calibre slug forcefully implanted between his eyes. The other soldiers realised they were under attack, hitting the ground and returning fire. They didn't know where Iceman was exactly but they were trained to fire back regardless, it forced ones opponent to keep their head down too. Iceman was enjoying this, they were good enough to make it a challenge but not too good to seriously threaten Iceman...for the moment.

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(Desolator12)

Plugin watched as the flaming wreckage of the helicopter landed with an explosion, flames engulfing anything within a 10 foot radius as the fuel leaked out of it. Plugin pulled out his pistol, even though he realized it would do not good, and turned the safety off... he could see the anger and hate in Iceman's eyes... Plugin said nothing, especially since there was too much noise to say anything in, between rifle shots and gas canisters exploding, sending shrapnel into the air... all he did was ducked and watched Iceman's back, so they wouldn't somehow get surrounded.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Alanya was quickly disapponted by the Matrix access-point. This building had a rigger security net, and wasn't so reliant on Matrix control. Almost all security systems - Cameras, Sensors, Maglocks, Drones, even Fire Control systems - Were controlled directly by the rigger (with a few independent failsafes, like the emergency doors). While taking out the Rigger had saved them from being detected, it also left their movement severely restricted.

Also, the Matrix-point also offered no way into the main data-hubs of the complex - It was isolated among the checkpoints, being used primarily for communication purposes.

She was able to see that the guards on the other checkpoints were in some disarray. Some Ogfficer named Forbeson was yelling at eveyone to stay put and arrest or shoot anyone that moves, and ask for ID later.

She also reported the death of One Caucasian Male Human, One Caucasian Male Dwarf, and One Oriental Female out the front entrance. Bodies were being taken to the sub-level 2 mortuary.

"Looks like Tyme, Alex and Rei bought it." She whispered, in a low tone.

Sullen faces all around. A moment's silence. In the heat of the situation, with nerves frayed, adrenaline surging, it was hard for the 'Runners to believe their teammates may acyually be dead. With little time to ponder the situation, they resolved quickly to act now and think about the loss later.

Crystal examined the heavy shutter in her way, fairly confident she could blow it.

"Nope." Interrupted Silvia, carfully nudging her aside. "Can't let you do that, I'm afraid."

She raised her sword before the door, about to make short work of it, before apologising for denying Crystal's chance to blow something up.

"Can't risk the noise, Crystal."

Crystal sulked, and instead rigged up flashbang booby-traps under the bodies of the dead men, using their own grenades. The grenades had their pins pulled, with the weight of the bodies compressing the trigger-levers. If anyone moved the corpses, the levers would be released and... BANG!

Hopefully it would make anyone searching for them slow down and wath their step in future. To keep them on their toes, Crystal would swicth to using frag grenades later on.

Silvia made short work of the door - Chance and Ash rushed through after Sil made a quick astra scan to make sure no-one was on the other side. There wasn't.

A standard office door led off to the left, and another T junction led forwards and to the left and right around the building's second-inner circle.

Sil went Astral again: Wait!

She could sense someone in the small room. Human or Elven sized, cowering under a table, emitting strong emotions of fear and remorse...

***

Alex 's breathing jumped as he heard the Morgue door open. Two women were talking among themselves.

"-Shot just a few moments ago. Forbeson wants us to deal with them ASAP in case they get up and start chewing on brains. Remember that incident on Comet night?"

"Goddess, how could I forget?" Replied the second. "Well, lets get moveing. We'll do the girl first."

"Okay then, get the bonesaws." Then she spoke to an unseen third figure, close now. Right next to Rei.

"Wait outside please, Soldier, situations's well in hand. We'll page you when we need you to burn the bodies."

"Yes ma'am." Heavy footsteps, then a heavy metal door shut.

***

"Frag! Chopper down, chopper down! COVERING FIRE!!!"

Amid the roar of the Delta Forcer's return fire, the Sergeant yelled into his comm-link.

"Commence bombardment on my mark!" He flicked out his minature laser-designator.

"MARK!"

On the roof of the ONI building, mortar teams snapped into action, arming and firing their laser-guided suppression munitions mechanically.

Seconds later, the building the 'runners had used as a jumping-off point erupted into smoke and flame. A few more hits and the whole front facade was torn ff, and several fires were blazing merrily.

The Delta Sergeant tracked the laser designator along the ground as mortar bombs fell continuously - He placed the bombs in such a way that covered as much of the ground in front of him as possible.

---------------------------------------------
(Master Chris)

Orkistonia:

Delori lazily dropped the sweetmeat morsel he had been gnawing on, North's apprentice, Raven, had returned.

"What news of your progress, fitter?"

Raven smiled and raised one hand above his head dramatically, the doors of Delori's hall swung open and a gaggle of confused orks and goblins shuffled forwards, bound together with steel chains. One of Delori's men prodded them along with a cattleprod. Mawrose stood up and said:

"Well done fitter. You've fulfilled your part of our bargain, I must inquire; How did you do it?"

Raven replied, cool as ice:

"Trade secret Delori, that would cost more than even you could afford."

Delori chortled politely, then spoke:

"I have my slaves, as you promised, now you will have your reward. The golden pistol, yes yes?"

Mawrose dangled a gold plated pistol in one hand and threw it to the floor in front of Raven. Careful not to appear over hasty, the four armed albino thanked Delori before bending over to claim his reward:

"Many thanks, great and fair Mawrsoe Delori. May your empire regrow to its former glory and beyond."

Delori, well aware of the blatant flattery in Raven's words, indulged himself and enjoyed them anyway. For his masterstroke was about to be played. Raven, his verbal ego stroking out of the way, bent down to pick up the weapon. His eyesight being rather poor he wasn't able to see that the pistol was a poorly disguised duplicate until it was in his hands. As his fingers ran down the barrel of the weapon Raven came to a grim realisation. He stopped mid-stroke, terrified of the implications of the falsified pistol. Mawrose had never intended to actually trade quid pro quo, but was going to have his cake and eat it too! Raven concluded it was quite possible that Mawrose had never even known where The Negotiator was! How could I have been tricked like this? Better play it cool, don't give that six limbed freak an excuse to kill me.

Raven took the pistol off of the floor, nodded at Mawrose, turned and made his way to the door. Mawrose, amused by this, let Raven get most of the way out before calling out:

"Not so fast, fitter. We both know you hold nothing but a fake. I don't think you'll be leaving quite so soon, you still must tell me how you came across those slaves. I'll be needing more, in fact, you can join them. Put him with the other one."

Knowing all was lost Raven slumped to the ground, he should have never gone looking for The Negotiator. Two of Delori's men scooped up the prone fitter and carried him away, Raven fell into unconsciousness.

Hours later, Raven awoke to find himself in the perfect example of a dungeon. It was dark, smelt of rotting flesh, and even featured the standard incessant dripping of water that drove countless others before Raven insane. Raven tried to stand but found his feet shackled to a long and heavy chain. At the other end of the chain was a man who was observing Raven silently. The man had skin the colour of soy-chocolate, a hue most uncommon in Orkistonia. He spoke rapidly:

"Been waiting for you to wake up, sleepin' beauty. Seems Mawrose has seen fit to give me a room mate, you musta really ticked him off to score accomodation with me. Name's Jack, Black Jack. As in the game, you know, Twenty One, Pontoon and such. I beat Mawrose at his own game, cheatin'. Instead of payin' up he throws Jack's sorry ass into his finest dungeon and leaves Jack to rot. What's your story?"

Raven shook his head, this Jack character spoke pretty quickly and Raven was still kind of out of it. Raven then cleared his throat and replied:

"My name? Raven. I was looking for an item I had lost and Mawrose offered to find it for me in exchange for certain other items. 'Course, I deliver and Delori gives me a fake then here I am, pleasure to meet you, Jack."

Jack stared at Raven for a moment before unashamedly commenting:

"Daaaa-mn, you're as pale as if you had seen a ghost, buddy. I'm guessing that you're a mutie, seeing as you got four arms as well."

Raven smiled weakly:

"Pretty observant aren't you? Hey? Hey! What do you guys want?"

At that point a trio of burly orks had entered the dungeon, unlocked the chains binding Raven and Jack, and carried the pair upstairs without a word.

After being lugged several stories up they were carried back into Delori's main hall. Mawrose Delori's voice greeted them, although it was strangely muffled. The two men were strapped into seats that faced each other. Black Jack turned his head towards the muffled voice and demanded:

"Hey, Mawrose. What's wit' this set up? You behind some glass wall and us sitting face to face?"

Delori laughed:

"I've thought about that little game you told me about, Jack. Russian Roulette. You two shall play a round for my amusement. I've taken the liberty of putting only one bullet into your six cylinder revolver, Jack. Of course, you know the rules already, yes yes? As for your question about my glass wall, this is here so that I may watch your game without fear of either one of you taking a shot at me."

Raven asked:

"Why should we play your little game?"

Mawrose laughed:

"If you don't, you both shall die. Play the game and anyone who isn't dead walks free. Of course, I'm quite sure only one of you shall walk free. That's the way Russian Roulette works, am I right Jack?"

One of Delori's goons, as if on cue, presented a plush, rich velvet cushion, upon which was a fancy, long barrelled revolver. Jack asked politely:

"Mind if I go first, Raven?"

Raven nodded, he had given up all hope. Whether he died during this game of Russian Roulette or was shot in the back after winning the game, which he was sure Mawrose had planned, he was a dead man either way. Jack hefted the revolver with practised ease. Jack made a request:

"Can I give the cylinder a quick spin, Mawrose? Just to make sure it's a fair and random game?"

Mawrose replied in a cautious tone:

"Yes, but don't try anything, I'm watching you."

Raven looked at Jack, at that distance he could just make out Jack's facial features, Jack looked slightly suspicious. Maybe he's gonna spin it so the bullet has my name on it, slimey fragger. With a sudden flick of his wrist Jack's revolver snapped in half, the cylinder revealed. Jack span the cylinder violently and with another flick the revolver snapped shut again.

"There we go, all random-like."

Jack then slowly lifted the revolver, arm shaking nervously, and slowly put pressure on the trigger...

Click

With obvious relief Jack flipped the revolver around and offered the handle to Raven who accepted it with dread. Did he meddle with it? Is this my last moment on Earth? Raven found the urge to whip the pistol around and shoot Mawrose almost unbearable, the bullet-proof glass was no deterrant. Raven shot a glance at Black Jack, the man flashed him a quick, toothy grin. Goddess! He has tampered with it! He knows I'm a goner. May as well get it over with.

Click

Raven found he was holding his breath, he exhaled loudly. Still alive, guess that wasn't the one. With a severely shaking hand Raven dropped the revolver into Jack's palm. Mawrose laughed and commented:

"Truly this is a great spectator sport! The agony! The fear! Fickle chance dictating one's fate! Bravo!"

Jack wiped his brow and pointed the weapon at his temple. Eyes shut tight his finger pressed against the trigger...

Click

Raven suddenly found the revolver in his hands again, Jack had seemed relieved to pass over the weapon. Not daring to dwell on the inevitable Raven stuck the barrel under his chin and squeezed the trigger quickly. Better get it over and done with.

Click

Still nothing. The centaur stood up, whistled, and clapped loudly, his goons did the same. It was an enthralling spectacle! Mawrose spoke:

"Only two chances left boys, who will it be? Who is destined to die today?"

Jack took back the revolver, he gulped and slowly pointed the weapon towards himself. Raven watched as the firing pin moved back slowly, it stopped moving, anymore pressure and the pin would fly forwards and strike the bullet. Assuming the bullet was in position...

....


Click

The entire room was silent. Jack opened one eye, then the next, he broke into a grin that stretched from ear to ear. There was only one place the bullet could be now, and now only one place where it would end up; in Raven's skull. Mawrose Delori howled in ecstasy, his goons joined him! Panting hard Mawrose delightedly babbled:

"Wonderful...brilliant..this is unbelievably exciting!"

Regaining control of himself, Mawrose proclaimed:

"Remove the victor from his bonds, he is free to go!"

Mawrose continued:

"Of course, with every winner there must be a loser. Raven, you lost. Now pay your dues!"

With baited breath everyone watched Raven carefully, would he do it? Would he freak out and take a shot at someone else? Raven didn't have the strength to hold the revolver, it dropped into his lap. He looked up at the people watching him from behind the glasswall. They chanted softly in unison:

"Do it, do it, do it, do it."

Raven saw that even Mawrose was chanting with them, he looked at Black Jack, the fragger had an expression of pure joy on his face! Bastard! He set me up! Raven watched as Jack gave him a quick wink. It was a disturbing wink, something about it...This is it. Well, at least I'll die thinking about Crystal. To think that I came here for her, to find the one thing I thought could help us, only to meet my end. Adieu my beloved!

With uncharacteristic strength the man once known as Raven grabbed the revolver, angled it under his chin and pulled the trigger...



Do it, do it, do it, do it......

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

Silvia took her sword, and sliced the door in pieces. She ignored the mild headache she got from channeling mana to the sword... her magical side was still seriously beaten up by the mistake she made outside.
She stood still before the door. The sword was heavier than normal swords... it was heavy, even for her, even though the Arcanite it was made of was based on mithril.

She kicked the door in, holding her sword ready for any possible attack.
Inside the room, everything was dark. She found a light switch, but it didn't work; the lamp on the ceiling was smashed.

"Who is there?" she hissed.
No one replied.
"I can sense you, under that table. Come out."

Slowly, the figure crawled from under the table. It was a young elf.
From the moment she saw him, Silvia realized who he had to be.

"Sleg... you're the contact."

"C-contact?" the Elf replied. "I don't know what you're talking ab-bout."

Not the contact? But he sure did something wrong here...

By that time her eyes had adjusted to the dark, and she noticed the open drawers and all the papers on the ground.
Silvia suddenly realized what the man was doing here... he had been locked in when looking through the documents, and has smashed the lamp when he heard the people coming.

"Sleg. He's not the contact..." She laughed. "He's a common industrial spy!"
She glanced at the others. "So... what do we do with him?"
She saw the fear in the man's eyes. By now he had realized they were 'runners, and not the security people catching him red-handed, and might thus be his only chance of escape from the fully alerted fortress...
Or, they might just kill him and move on.

"W-wait!" he said. "I can help you guys!"
"Reeeeally?" Silvia said, teasingly, still with the sword in her hands. "You don't even know why we're here!"
"I... could help you." the man said, slightly calmed down. "I work here, officially. If you get me out after all this, I might get you deeper inside. That's what you want, no?"
"Hm. But the place is locked down."
"I know! But I know most of the guards. They won't suspect me. I could help you get through some of the most secure places!"
The man looked around through the papers, quickly grabbed a bunch of them he had apparently dropped when hiding, folded them and put them in his vest. "I just need to get out with this stuff. That's all I ask. Otherwise I'm dead anyway."

Silvia looked at Chance. "Your call, boss..."

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

"It won't be any worse than the situation we're in right now." Chance replied. He turned to the spy, carelessly allowing the muzzle of the Browning to sway in his direction. The meaning wasn't lost on the fellow.

"Let's say we go for a little walk eh? We need to get to the power station. Failing that, send us to the ops room or their equivalent of a central command point. Of course, if things don't go well, it might be lights out in more ways than one, if you get what I mean."

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

The spy nodded nervously.
"So... what's your name?" Silvia asked, casually letting the sword lean on her shoulder.

"Werrick." he replied.
Silvia smiled. "I'm Silvia. And I sure hope you can be useful... you're cute."
Werrick frowned, not sure whether it was a good thing to be labelled 'cute' by a girl with a big sword.

"And you're probably not even legal yet, flirt" she heard Crystal reply in her head.
Silvia grinned. "Hehe. Legal. That's a good one. But seriously, Crys, I'm almost sixteen ya know. My birthday will be one of these days."
She frowned. "Sleg. Might even be today. What's today?"
"Twenty-third of July." Crystal said.
"Sleg. Great. Just great." She looked around to the others. "Woohoo. Congratulate me, people. I'm 16."
She sighed. "Let's finish this quickly. I'll buy you all a drink when we get out of this place."

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

The new guy looked nervously around at the assembled 'runners. Crystal raised an eyebrow at him.

"Er, right..." He murmured. "Lets get moving then. Just be warned - Those sec-boys are probably turning this whole fragging place over for you. They'll shoot anyone or anything that doesn't identify itself, and believe me, there are enough things in here to be wary of.""

"Just have to Chance it, won't we?" Chance said, cool as Ice.

Bad pun, manling. Baaaaad. Lupus cringed.

With a quick glance at the arsenal of Therm-guns, SMGs, swords and Cyberdecks being pointed at him, Werrick quickly decided which side his bread was buttered on.

"Follow me."

"Follow you why?" Came a third, new voice, making the combat-minded 'runners jump.

"Oh FRAG IT!" Snarled Werrick, and everyone quickly got the idea he was very pissed off."

Crystal edged into the office, following the direction the voice had come from. A drawer on the desk. She oved, but decided Werrick should open it. He pulled out a Heavy pistol by the butt, gingerly with two fingers, so as not to be filled full of wholes by Crystal next to him.

"A gun?"

"Yep. I'm a gun" Said the gun. "Whaddaya want, a fraggin' medal? Hello darlin', nice baps." The gun said, presumably at Crystal, LEDs along the grip winking appreciatively.

"Hey Werrick, ye weaselly gobshite! you weren't trying tae loive me behind were ye?"

"No, I-"

Without warning, the gun span in Werrick's hand, as he tried to duck. A single shot rang out, sending the Elf to the floor, bloody cartilage where his ear used to be.

"WANT SOME MORE FRAGGER! GET SOME OF THIS!" Yelled the gun. Chance trapped it with his boot. "Urk!' It said, surprised and no mater how much its internale gyros span, it couldn't move.

"Alroight, ya got me, so ye did. Oi surrender!"

"Werrick!" Grunted Chance, furiously.

"Alright, alright! I'll explain everything!. Lets just get moving, okay?"

***

"Gunshot heard, second ring admin section 3."

"Move Ryan's patrol, to investigate, they're nearest." Replied Commander Forbeson, crisply. "And bring Creer's squad in to cover the East gate."

"Aye aye, ma'am. Ryan reports the post security post at 3-2a have been eliminated. Looks like the ring-access shutter has been, uh, cut by something."

"Cut? Clarify that crap Sailor!" Now it was Forbeson's turn to sound irritated.

"Aye aye sir. Ahhh!" The Comm's man winced as a deafening burst of static came in over the com-link. Forbeson could guess why.

"Traps." She sighed.

Time to see to matters personally..

She waved her second-in-command over, and simply said "Cover for me."

With that, she slumped in her chair, consiousness leaving her body, searching.

***

As the 'runners crept around several corridors, Crystal on point, Werrick gave a brief explanation.

"Basically, that gun's why I'm here." He said, pointing at the firearm Chance carried securley, turned off, or so he hoped. He'd forcibaly ejected it's sizable magazine, just to be sure. "Lets just say the entity I represent is interested in that gun for it's own reasons. Doesn't take a genius to realize what for. Seems it's programmed using revolutionary new Artificial Intelligence software that's cropped up in the intelligence community recently.

Revolutionary new Artificial Intelligence software.

Everyone turned at the sound of that, turning decidely pale, apart from Chance. His skin-tone supplements had already put paid to his natural paleness.

"What?" Werrick shrugged.

"As for the Irish acent, well, I can only assume it was programmed for infiltrating the AET facilities or something, ha!"

"Whatever. Keep moving."

Silvia felt a tingle at tyhe back of her mind.

"Feel that?" She whispered.

"No." Replied Chance, puzzled. Sil instinctively shifted her gaze to the astral plane. A rigid, female astral signature stared back at her, backing into a cold metal wall and disappearing.

"We've been spotted." She snarled. "Seems there was one mage Iceman didn't get."

"Damn!" Chance cursed.

Sil hadn't even told him about the two converging 4-man/Ork/Elf UCAS Marine teams converging on their position, either...

Up ahead, Crystal heard the low beep of a Com-link being used...

And realised how stupid it was to place a mute like her on point in a situation like this.

***

Forbeson shifted back to her control room, safe in the knowledge that the wards she had prepared should hold it against just about anything.

Still, not every day you see a Half-fragging Dragon snooping around your Intelligence building. The astral signature had been unmistakable. She was young, very young, and not at full potential.

However, she wasn't exactly sure where this Dragon was, as writing didn't show up in Stral space; only the emotion behind it. As the machines that printed the signs on the walls had no souls: They were about as much use as a chocolate teapot to the astral-traveller.

She contacted Younghusband again.

"We've got a Half-Dragon snooping around." Her words were clipped, curt, and in no way showed the respct owed to a superior officer.

"Oh don't frag me around Forbeson." Laughed the Admiral.

"Shut UP, fat man," The Dwarf fell back, aghast, at such insolence. "This may constitute an international incident. Tell the White House." She hung up, and set Younghusband's number to 'ignore'.

There was some good news, too.

"Ma'am, the reserve rigger will arrive at HQ in 3 minutes."

"Excellent." She steepled her fingers.

***

"Delta leader here. No sign of hostiles. We're investigating further. By the way, get a medevac here quick, might be a few survivors in the downed 'chopper."

"Roger that."

"Follow me, men!" He yelled. The mortar bombs having stopped falling, he and his men moved to sweep the blazing building.

***

"Thank you very much, Comrades," Said Iceman with genuine geniality, putting a bullet into the heads of each of the UCAS marines, after they had finished on the com-link.

Next he turned to the cowering, overweight rigger they had been escorting. While running from the bombardment, Plugin had noticed the second chopper, the one going in to land on the rooftop heliport. Iceman had all but physically thrown Plugin onto the roof, and scrambled up after him, just in time to catch the arrival of this, who he presumed to be the second security rigger.

Said Rigger nervously itched the scabby flesh around his neck implants and stared at the doughnut juice stains on his silver jumpsuit.

"What are you going to do to me?" He mumbled.

Iceman couldn't be bothered to tell the slobbish rigger that he wanted him to get him and Plugin access to the control centre exactly three floors down from here through the secure-lift, so he told Plugin to tell him, hoping that his only accomplice could act threatening enough.

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

"What the!?"

The woman dropped down silently as Alex slit his throat with the scalpel.
The other guy tried to retaliate. It was clear they weren't dead.

But, as soon as he aimed at him, he fell with a sickening gurgle. A well aimed shuriken from the girl.

Rei smiled wickedly. Killing is not that bad.

The door opened... a very pissed off soldier wanted a piece of both.
But another shuriken made him sleep forever in peace.

"Well done Rei."
Alex congratulated. He grabbed the radio.
There was no radio. Crap. Their equipments were removed.

Fortunately, they were in...

"Hmm... Rei... Dress yourself as medic, I'll take the soldier's clothes."
he finally announced.




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