Best Served Cold

Fierce and Fire
Milk Run, Week 3

Razz and Fierce, Milk Run Week 3

I’m behind the wheel. Itching like crazy from this stupid outfit.

“Why do we have to wear these again?” We’re dressed head to toe in the firefighter outfits we used from the last job.

“Stop asking questions alright” Fierce responds. “Anyway, what happened with the transportation you dick – I thought you were going to grab Rickey’s Firetruck. We had a plan”.

And that’s the thing. I get carried away sometimes. I forget plans. Almost immediately after their explained. My crew knows this and keep me around anyway. I have other attributes…
The van rattles over every bump – the makeshift steel plating hobbled together to act as armor makes this one hell of a scary vehicle. The van is a large, full sized passenger with very light blue paint (mostly covered by dirt and rust). The interior includes a significant amount of homey comforts, such as chairs, plaques on the walls, an amplifier and other musical accompaniments (keyboards, microphones), and deep-weed paraphernalia. I’ve been living out of this thing for the last 2 weeks.

“Did you have to take this for the job!?!” Pierce says in his condescending tone again. “My god, someone wrote ‘RAPE VAN’ on the side!" Fierce pressures me more about the van… about its conditions, as well as the markings. I reply, “I wrote that. The van doesn’t have any locks, and the word RAPE keeps all the weirdos away”.

This isn’t the first Milkrun that Fierce and I have done together. It is the first time we’ve sold our brutality to a goddamn Evo Corp subsidiary. We make small talk only during the last moments of the commute. Fierce senses my nervousness…everything seems wrong about this job. I’ve built up something of reputation you see. I’m paid to be maim and kill, there’s something of an intimidation factor with hiring me. 5K NuYen to meetup with a Johnson for info. Light gang security, no pros.

I started to argue about the job, just what exactly we were doing and why we were doing it this way but he turns everything into debate. Soon I was tripping over my words. Somehow I agreed to a 40/60 split but snapped out of it just in time reneg. He was toying with me again… “Listen to me”, Fierce says, “everything’s going to be fine. Just hold your shit together, don’t speak, and follow my lead.” I respond hesitantly, this feels like when Uncle Yu…

Fierce cuts me off – “don’t you fucking mention his name again!!!” Tears forming, his anger getting the better of his usual buttery smooth approach. He breaks eye contact, takes a deep breath, and looks back at me with those soulful eyes. He shoots me a pearly-white veneer smile, enough to make anyone swoon. He does this you see, and people follow and love and trust him. This is his version of an apology.
I grin back and give my own version of a smile, the cybernetic mesh showing on the inside of my mouth – jaw half wired shut from the titanium lacing throughout my skull, my teeth a mishmash of chrome and broken yellow.

We arrive at the warehouse facility right on time for the shift-change. I park nice and slow. A punk walks down the long concrete set of steps toward us. He walks toward the passenger side to Fierce. As he approaches, I can tell he knows something is up.

“Hey losers, nice van!” The orc guard looks to be in his early twenties He’s big but he’s just a kid. “You can’t park here, so get lost before I waste you and firebomb your shitty van.” He laughs to himself and reaches for the gun holstered on his hip.

Pierce delivers a shock dart to the punk’s exposed neck and he crashes to the floor, throwing up and shitting himself while convulsing on the rough concrete. Pierce opens the door and steps. He pulls his fire-retardant ski mask over his face. He crouches over the now contorted body and puts his hand on the punk’s shoulder. It looks like he’s checking him for something. Patting him down maybe…?

“What the fuck are you doing Fierce?” He ignores me. I hate it when he does that.

We climb the long concrete steps to the front of the building. The place reminds me of a subterranean courthouse. We post on either side if the door and I pound with my clobber hand. Bang, bang, bang.

“I’m coming Lou, coming”, the sucker props the door open just enough for me to strike out like a camel-spider, I pull him toward me to throw him off balance, then away and down. He crashes to the ground head first and is knocked unconscious. I throw the door open and Fierce slips in, gun at the ready, slicing the pie with his Beretta Model 70, just like Yu taught us when we were little more than street punks ourselves.

Fierce then turns back and crouches to the side of the unconscious door guard. It looks like he’s applying tape or something on the guys back near his shoulder. Why is he patting these guys down after their out? They don’t have heavy weapons on them that I can see…

“What are you doing?” I say. No response.

We make our way down an adjacent hallway and come to our destination. An open door that leads to the data storage leads to the right. There’s another roving punk who notices us way too late, walking through the doorway while staring down at a holo-log.

I dispatch him quickly, uppercut to his jaw and left hook to his core. He topples over, the breath out of him. My hands around his stomach, I lift him above my head and slam him into the concrete. He will never remember due to the trauma I’ve just dealt on his stubby dwarf body.

Fierce crouches down over him, just like the last two. He applies the same sticky tape to this one’s back to. I notice a small blinking receiver in the middle of the application, it beeps.
“I know what I’m doing god dammit, he’s not waking up. What was that sound anyway?”

“Keep your eyes on those corners!” is his only response. What a condescending prick.

We sneak around the corner in tactical fashion and enter a small holding room. There he is, the Johnson. I’m guessing this is the Johnson.

Why did we have to dispatch these punks to talk to this guy about a job? I’m asking myself.

The Johnson is standing behind a towering tall Ice Spirit, and he’s grinning at us. There are surveillance photos of our Renton hideout on the walls, maps of the neighborhood, and a hierarchy chart. Old jailhouse lineup photos of Fierce and I sandwiched between photos of dark silhouettes, the style seen in old detective movies. The name Rachael is written on the wall (who’s Rachael…?) and I see a loop of spyfly footage – the replay ends with her lifeless body sprawled out on the ground and repeats again.

I feel the rage build up and finally put the shattered pieces together from my arguably-disabled comprehension skill. It gets tough sometimes, mostly living in 45-60 minute intervals of clarity followed by fog and mental dissonance… We aren’t here to meet a Johnson. This is a hit. We’re working for the man, hunting Shadow Runners.

I’m cutoff off by the Shadow Runner (who I just previously thought was a Johnson) standing before me. “So, you freaks came to us huh? Razz, I’d recognize you anywhere. The fairy in the mask must be Fierce, unless someone blew Rachael’s tits off! Ares Tech is paying big for your heads. Give up the names of the rest of your crew and I’ll make your deaths quick.” Boots come stomping in behind us, I look over my shoulder to see the 3 guards we dispatched and an axe wielding Troll.

I recognize him as “Chops”. His notoriety is worse than mine. There are now eight of us in this room. We’re trapped between a 3 disheveled thugs plus a maniac with an axe the size of pre-teen and a 3-meter tall Ice Spirit, patiently waiting for Johnson’s command to send us to oblivion. Chops bellows, “We are going to fuck you up you fucking ingrates!"

Fierce calls out, “Funny thing about being universally likable and well-connected, when I hear about a hit on MY crew, you find a way to make you disappear And get paid to do it.” He pulls what looks like an centuries-old RC-car controller from his coveralls and holds it high above his head. It has an ancient soviet emblem and the letters “EVO” emblazoned on it. He yells, "you dickheads notice those Immolation Patches I strapped to your backs? Those are for burning through the kind of steel used in bank vaults” and under his breath, whispers to me, “Rush on signal.” I understand now what’s happening and coil my muscles like a steel spring, ready to sprint forward.

He squeezes the trigger, I hear a deafening “whoooompfff” and in my peripheral I see the thugs burst in flames. The room is engulfed in an inferno. I feel the heat but the fireproof gear protect me from damage. The fiery, blazing punks scream in horror and clutch Chops, as if he can save them from their misery. Chops is screaming, his clothes and long hair now on fire. The room is engulfed in flames. The Ice Spirit shrieking in horror at the site!

This is my cue. I EDGE and all I see is red. I dash toward the Johnson and spear him to the ground. I mount him and stab my thumbs in his eyes, palming his face like an old-timey basketball. He gasps in agony. He’s calling out to his Ice Guardian but it’s no use – the Spirit is paralyzed with terror at the site of the dancing, flaming men in the room.

I’m smashing the Johnson’s head to the concrete now, over and over. I squeeze with all my strength and his skull bursts open like a pumpkin. And just like a pumpkin, the insides slip out like guts and seeds, except more wet. I feel nostalgic for Halloweens shared with Uncle Yu and Zarcain, and then slip back easily into my rage. The Johnson’s head isn’t a head anymore, only the tiny piece of his brain stem is left from the onslaught. I laugh hysterically at my work and stand up over the victim of my onslaught.

The Ice Spirit gives a guttural scream and dematerializes into god-knows-where, his master is nothing but a headless body now. Chops and his punks resemble over charred BBQ. The smell of burning flesh is sweet in the air. I understand now. This was an EVO Corp hit. Zarcain figured out a way for us to get paid for hunting the Runners hired to hunt us.

“Razz…” Pierce says, this time I do sense he’s sorry, “The job was to find these fucks and make them dead. I tried to explain it to you so many times… Let’s get out of here bro”. My mind drifts again. I pay no attention to what he’s saying now. The satisfactory feeling of blood on my hands and burning flesh in the air is somehow calming. I feel renewed.

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The Roof is on Fire
We don't need no water...

Much of the crew sat in the firetruck, just a few blocks from the temple. Zarcain had managed to assist procuring the truck, they had to stage a hijacking, and was now inside the temple. The plan was to set off the fire alarm, then ‘call in’ the fire department.

Zarcain carried a jammer with him to ensure that only he would be able to call out. On his way in, he had noticed that there was an increase in the guards, he presumed as a result of Razz’s antics a few nights before. Of note were two individuals who weren’t Chinese and dressed in something besides a suit. An elf and an ork.

Nothing for it, tonight was the night. Zarcain had previously sewn the seeds that he was interested in furthering his knowledge of Taoism and had been invited to tonights meeting of those seeking more information about the spiritual philosophy. He took a moment to relieve himself in the bathroom and dropped a magnesium grenade into the trash can before walking out.

Only a few moments passed before the smell of smoke was thick in the air. The jammer was on and amidst calls of ‘FIRE!’ zarcain let the team know that the time had come.

Ricky sat in the driver’s seat of the firetruck, along with Razz, Rock, and Oda. Michelle sat in her tree perch outside of the temple walls. Ricky gave a two minute pause between the call and flipping on the sirens and lights. He pressed the gas and careened the few blocks to the temple, blowing past the guards at the gate and moving to block view of the temple from the guards and the people who had been attending the meeting but were now evacuated.

Zarcain slipped away, intending to change into the Knight Errant uniform they had stolen in their first run for Brynn.

Razz and Rock, dressed in firefighters garb, rushed into the temple with fire extinguishers. Oda unhooked the high pressure hose and followed several meters behind. The grizzled veteran and dwarf tried to convince the remaining guards to go outside and they almost complied, but with a shift in posture, Rock’s coat opened just enough for one of the Triad guards to see he was dressed in combat gear, sporting a bandolier of grenades.

With that, the Triad guards pulled their guns and opened fire. Reacting quickly, Oda opened the nozzle up on the hose to full, knocking one of the guards down. Rock pulled out one of his grenades and tossed it between the wall and the remaining two triads before ducking down. The ensuing explosion chunked the remaining two guards and kncoked Razz over. His armor held and other than a few minor bruises, he was fine.

The elf and ork outside had, by this time, moved to react to the situation. The elf fired a bolt of lightning into the temple, hitting Razz. The ork raised an assault rifle but was knocked over by Michelle’s sniper round. Before getting up, he immediately began trying to track her, but she had dropped from the tree, opting to give up her position rather than be shot at.

The elf began rushing forward to the temple and Ricky responded. He gassed the firetruck and the vehicle lurched forward. With a satisfying grin, he crushed the elf between the truck and a supporting pilar of the temple. The move ripped the firehose out of Oda’s hands, but also put the truck between the ork and the runners in the temple.

Ricky’s smile faded when the elf looked at him, still pinned between the truck and the pillar. Lightning arced between the elf’s eyes, then lanced out at the rigger.

Ricky’s body convulsed and he faded into unconsciousness. The elf didn’t have time to extricate himself as a bullet found it’s way into his skull. Oda moved to the window and, noting the ork on the other end rising, began to channel his own magic. He did not get his strike off before the ork located Zarcain, who had since abandoned the police uniform plan amidst the gunfire. Zarcain went down to a bullet in the shoulder before the ork fell to Oda’s spell.

Meanwhile, Michelle has climbed the wall and was on top of the temple, locating the remaining Triad guards outside the temple and taking them down, one by one.

Inside, the door to the second floor opened, revealing three more Triad members. The fire elemental from before materialized between Rock and Razz. “Frag that!” Rock called out, taking his fire exinguisher and spraying the spirit. That held it at bay while Razz pulled his Mossberg out from beneath his fireman’s jacket and let loose on the Triad. As the men died, the fire spirit dematerialized.

With all threats eliminated, the team quickly grabbed the fan and any other items they thought might be of value and boarded the fire truck, Oda having managed to awaken Ricky with a quick spell.

The team escaped the temple, stowed the firetruck beneath an overpass, and made their way to deliver the fan to Brynn.

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Razzed Razz
Git Gud

Not to be outdone by the reconnaissance of his fellows, Razz considered how best to approach the situation. Giving it a moment of thought, he determined that the best way was:

1. At night

2. Over the wall

3. Through an unusual entrance

With that, he headed to the Taoist temple in the night. As Michelle sat in the trees behind the temple walls, watching the guards within and trying to determine her own means for gathering the information she needed for the team, she noticed a shape tromping through the woodline.

“What now?” she muttered.

Razz walked over to the wall, took its measure, then backed up about 5 meters. A short running start and he easily scaled up to the top, then hopped over from the top of the wall just a few feet over to the roof of the temple’s gift shop.

Taking a look around, he hopped up and and grabbed the ledge above, hauling him onto the second floor roof, then ran across the archway leading to the main temple building. There he looked into the open air third ‘floor’, a small roofed construction that looked like it might hold a bell. He peered in.

A gong. And a stairway down to the second floor. That’s where the team thought the fan might be. He hopped over the railing and made his way down the stairs.

All of this was done as quietly as he could. However, Razz wasn’t really know for being… quiet. As he opened the door, a gun poked into his face.

“Step out, idiot,” the man holding it commanded.

Razz was never one to follow instructions from assholes and instead, he ducked back while bringing up his arm and grabbing the man’s wrist. A quick twist snapped the gun from his hand and then brought the arm behind his back. Razz applied pressure as he stepped out, the man screaming in agony.

Two more men stood further into the room. Razz noted the fan set on a pedestal off to the side. The two men held their own guns trained on him. The murderhobo smiled when he realized that his back was getting warm. Turning back he saw a large Chinese warrior, armor from an ancient dynasty. Worse, the man looked to be made of pure fire.

“I have to go,” he told his captive, before shoving him forward towards one of the men with machine guns. He then dashed through the room, sprinting, rolling, and dashing past the furniture, keeping cover between him and the gunmen as best he can. Their weapons rattled as he got to the door, coming up and kicking it open in one swift move. Getting through the doorway, he slammed it shut behind him.

Pondering his next move he looked across the hall he had entered. At the other end would be the gift shop. Just moments before he had come this way, except on the roof. Looking back at him was another man, another one of the Triads. The man didn’t even have a gun! Razz took a step towards him.

The Chinese man raised a hand and Razz’s head twisted with the impact of an invisible sledgehammer.

It knocked him to the floor. Razz shook his head to clear the stars and watched two of the same man slowly step his way, their movements precisely choreographed.

Fire monster behind and one… two… onetwo mages in front of him. Then, the fire spirit materialized in the hallway between him and the mage. That was enough, and Razz stood up and hurled himself out the glass window. He landed roughly on his feet, allowing his legs to collapse while rolling backwards to absorb the impact.

Having rolled back, he was out of sight of anyone above and he looked about for his escape route.

There was another Triad gangster running his way, but the man flipped back with the impact of a high powered shock round. His face screwed up in slight confusion before he remembered that ‘Rachel’ was out there somewhere.

He quietly uttered a thanks and then turned and bolted to the temple wall, climbing up and over.

OK, he though to himself. That was rough. But at least I know the fan is actually there! I’ll tell the guys.

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A Fan of the Triads
The next big gig

Another drizzly day in Seattle. That is to say, a day like any other. Sitting in a cafe near the Renton warehouse district, Brynn Taggart sends a group message.

“Hey, chummers, got another job, pay is good. Meet me at 3000 Lind Avenue SW, Renton Warehouse District at 6pm. The door’s open, let yourself inside.”

Responses from Ricky and Razz indicated that they were busy at that particular moment but were interested in what Brynn might have had for them. Michelle, Rock, Oda, and Zarcain RSVP’d in the affirmative.

Arriving first was Michelle. Always wary, she posted on a warehouse roof across the street around 5 and watched, a few minutes later, as Brynn arrived in a truck with two men. They unloaded the truckload of furniture into the warehouse in question. Afterwards, the two men left in the truck, leaving Brynn behind.

Just before 6pm, Rock Hardigan arrived and, as instructed, let himself in. Seeing nobody inside, immediately, he did notice that a household’s supply of furniture was corralled in the middle of the warehouse floor, including a bed that he recognized.

Hopping onto it, he cast a glance around the rest of the place and noted that the warehouse had been converted to a living space, the sort of place a new bohemian sort would take out, for art and parties. He approved. A moment later, Brynn stepped down from where she was, upstairs and started upon seeing Rock. He casually indicated with a hand that she join him.

She grinned and shook her head. “You and me, isn’t going to work out anymore.” The dwarf shrugged and put his hands behind his head, lounging back.

By that time, Zarcain and Oda arrived, Michelle following shortly after. Brynn got down to the brass tacks:

“So for this, I’ll be acting as Johnson. I went ahead and negotiated the deal, so you’re getting what you’re getting, which is a solid 10K apiece, assuming Ricky and Razz join you guys later.”

The others looked to each other and then shrugged. “What do you have for us, then?” Zarcain asked.

“Simple, up front, you head to the Taoist Temple in Tacoma and steal this,” she held up a photograph of a folding fan. “It’s an artifact called the Jiuwei Hu and there’s a collector lined up for it. Now, the twist is that the Temple is guarded by the Seattle Triad. Not sure why.”

The team quickly agreed. Brynn allowed them to use the warehouse as a base of operations for the run. The team called Ricky and Razz with the details and both agreed to assist.

Razz told them he’d join them later, after he took care of something he had to do. Ricky would join them at the end of the next day.

The team decided to scout out the Temple the following day. The Temple was open for visitors. Zarcain, Oda, and Michelle all walked the grounds at separate times. Rock laid in the grassy park in front of the Temple grounds and hacked the system.

Between them, they learned that the Triad had guards posted at least at the front gate and on the second floor of the Temple. They also noted at work that might be worth taking. Though they did not see the fan, they assumed that it was on the second floor with other items of note.

Meanwhile, Rock decided to enter the foundation of the host in an attempt to backdoor the system. The paradigm of the system was a medieval castle and Rock found himself playing the part of the King’s Seneschal. Realizing he’d need to find the portal, he begged the King’s pardon for a leave and turned down the hall.

As the rest of the team met up to wait on Rock to finish his journey, a rider on a Dodge Scoot arrived. The man must have been dressed in an entire body sleeve of traditional Chinese tattoo-work. His shorts and short-sleeved shirt seemed specifically fashioned to show it all off. Then, the man pulled off his helmet.

“Razz,” Zarcain said, after a moment. “What the frag are you doing?”

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Yours Truly...
... Rock Hardagan

Drek! What a week. Had a good Run. Not great, mind ya, but solid. Pacified perimeter guards without issue. Secured the objective. Clean breach, smooth as silk. “Too smooth”, I remember thinking. And then we hit static, in the form of a fat, out of shape dataslave, Narco’d at point blank range, who hit the ground like a sack of meat, just had to almost hose the whole Op. You would have already cut the commo and the alarm system at this point. You were always one step ahead of me. Guess that’s one of your perks, being a Technomancer and a Decker. Or maybe you’re just a lil’ Bithead Netnerd.

Such a showoff.

Stage Left; Enter: 3 more guards; Early to rise, early to bed, courtesy of a Sleepytime Nade from “Yours, Truly”… Chinese Take-Out, to be sure, but it did the trick. We secured our package, only to find Badges with a Pig-Rig and an APC waiting for us outside. Well, bad luck for them; we had our Extraction, Overwatch, and some Big Iron Bopper elements providing our Support-By-Fire, all ready to rumble and itching to go. They never knew what hit them. Maybe because a whole bunch of stuff hit them. All at the same time. From a bunch of different directions. It was Symphonic.

All in all, zero friendly casualties, minimal hostile casualties and overwhelming fire superiority, perfectly executed in proper proportions. Papa Hardagan would be proud. For once, I wasn’t the guy blowing everything up. It’s a strange feeling; For once, I’m not the most violent, destructive, and aggressive member of a crew. People laugh when I tell them I’m a Combat Decker. They laugh even harder when I tell them I don’t use guns. Well, you can’t laugh at the results. I’m still breathing… Drek… poor choice of words. I’m not the most charismatic dwarf, eh? No offense… I’m just saying, Deckers are more likely to die from Bullets and Blades than from Bits. I guess that makes you exceptional, doesn’t it? “Never cold-sim”, you said. “Waste of time”, you said. I’m still inclined to agree with you, although there was that one time we wanted to “experiment” on the grid, of course. That was definitely good cause for cold-sim, if ever there was one. Best dumpshock I’ve ever had. Might have killed us if we tried that Jam in hot-sim. Gonna need a couple min…

Wow. That was a distracting reverie. Back to the mission; Papa Hardagan always taught me, Guns are for when you don’t or can’t plan well enough. Controlling the battlefield, that’s how you win without firing a round. This Run was solid. But it could have gone better. It will next time.

I’m pretty sure there will be a next time. It’s strange; More often than I care for, I’m a voice of reason in this group. Scary thought! How did that happen? I’m a bit older than most this crew. Am I just getting old? When did that start happening? Even though it was our first run together, it felt like a crew. I’ve seen Crews that have been together for years that didn’t sync as well as we did that first run. Just the right amounts of rivalry and co-operation. This might the start of something special. Maybe make a fortune. Maybe knock the MegaCorp-drekheads down a peg or 10.

You know me. I’d love to kill GOD. Free the shackles of the wageslaves. Bring it all tumbling down. You were right. The Corps can’t defend themselves on their own anymore. Not with all the disaffected Technomancers and Deckers looking to dissect every corporate secret and auction it off to their competitors. It’s a tenuous Alliance. Precarious, even. GOD is the one thing keeping the Mega’s from outright cyberwarfare against each other. KILL GOD and it all falls apart.

Obviously, the moment that happens, all bets are off. Cyberwarfare IS Conventional warfare. I’m sure even within GOD, even as we speak, the Mega’s are waging a political shadow-war to cut each other’s throats any chance they can. Maybe I can KILL GOD by nuking their C&C center, maybe not. If I can stay with this group, I just might be in the game long enough to make GOD bleed. That’d be a start.

Or we’ll just go out in a blaze of glory. You never can tell. Bad Luck happens. Things happen…

Sometimes no amount of MILTEL and planning can prepare for the unforeseeable.
Either way is fine by me. I’m just here to party. You know that.

So, anyway; No drek, There I was; Sitting pretty with over 10k Nuyen, thinking about all the Merch I’m gonna buy. Twitchers! Pepper Punching Throwing Stars! (Patent Pending*) Flexcuffs! Incendiary Breach Kit! Crossbow w/explosive and Narco tipped bolts! (Why the drek did Papa Hardagan never teach me to Crossbow? I’m sure he knows how. I’ll have to ask. Old guy might even have an old Twenty-Cent piece lying around, though I’m sure there are better models available if I looked, ((btw, this is why I like writing you, talking to you would always help me get my thoughts organized))(((seriously, this is getting kind of ridiculous, but I am now in the subpoint of a subpoint of a point, just wanted to point that out)))))).

Of course, the Dice had other ideas for my Nuyen.

My cyberdeck pings. It’s this Club Kid I know, Skittles, with a job a job for me. Did I say job?

Oops. Job’s usually pay you, right? This wasn’t one of those. This was a FAVOR. Now, to be fair, I call her for favors occasionally. She’s reasonably connected to the local Club scene. If it involves dancing, drugs AND music, she probably knows about it. If she doesn’t know about it, she usually she knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows about it, though she doesn’t always know she knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows about it. Tracking?

But I call her for a favor; She called me for a FAVOR. Although it didn’t seem that way at first.
Clever or lucky on her part.

If I knew what I’d be getting I could have said no. I wouldn’t have. You wouldn’t let me. But I could have.

So, anyway, the message reads “Rock Hard! Chummer! YourN ace with tech, amirite? I have a job for you; it doesn’t pay, but if you want an Edge with the Karma of the Universe, there’s some to be had!

Just be an Angel for some SINless souls. Yea?”

Now, I’d just helped murder some corporate drones; My Credsticks were bulging at their digital seams;

I’d had a good Run. Of course I don’t want to spit on my Dice. So I meet her. Long story short, there is a SINless family mom, dad, and two daughters, being shaken down by this Bronze thug. He’s threatening to hurt the father if they don’t pay him. These people are barely surviving, and this fragger is shaking them down. Skittles wants me to dig some digital dirt up on him and anonymously report him, get him fired/reassigned. Too easy. Wham bam. Guy is stealing ammo. He’s SINless within 12 hrs.

Sweet, sweet Irony.

Apparently though, Officer Thefty McStealypants had told his buddies about this family. I get a message the next day, Stealypants’s replacement roughed up the father a bit, wanted even more.

Angry his slotfaced friend got dumped out the system, he got it in his head that some Corpse might care about how some Cylon was treating some Blanks. Dumb. Even more dumb to double down. Fortunately, though, most Drones are as corrupt as the corporations they protect. Officer DumDum McPunchyface was actually shaking down registered citizens too. Even better, I cracked his Home Terminal and found he was actually a petty criminal using a fake SIN. Hopefully they executed him.

He was removed from payroll the same day as my anonymous report.

Not TWO DAYS LATER (!), the DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER Officer Dum Dum was removed from payroll, HIS replacement visited this SINless family. He was very polite. He very calmly threatened to sell the daughters into slavery on The Street if he wasn’t paid a percentage of their scrapwork a week.

So I called Skittles to let her know how this FAVOR (!) was progressing. She talked to her people, who could arrange a low-grade SIN and low-scrutiny employment for the father, and shared Squat for the family in a different part of town. All for the low, low price of 7,500 Nuyen. Care to wager who paid THAT bill? At least they’re off the Fringe. Good for them.

As for the slave-trading piece-of-drek, We’ll call him “Ashes From Dustington II”;

Fitting name, considering how his vehicle burst into flames with him inside.

Bottom Line: The Sec Corps should pay me to subcontract some of their Internal Affairs investigations. (Side note: GREAT IDEA! DO THIS!!!!)

So that was my week. Murder. Mayhem. Mischief. Magnanimity.

And I had enough left over to make “Pepper-Punching Throwing Stars.” (Patent Pending)
Reminds me of some of the times we used to have. I hope this reaches you in there.

Somehow, I hope you’re in there, even though I know it’s a million-to-one.

It was a million-to-one situation. Nothing I’d seen before or since.

And I’ve seen you beat worse odds. Anything is possible, I suppose.

I’ll keep an eye out for you in the Code. Look out for me, if you can.

Give me an Edge in there. Keep my Dice Loaded. Stack my Deck against our Enemies.

Still “Yours, Truly”,

Rock Hardagan.

PS. I know I mention this in every letter, but you really have NO idea how much I appreciate those BTL Trid’s we made. Actually, I think I may be overdoing it. Seriously.
I might have a problem. Like there aren’t neough minutes in an hour! Bwahahahaha! Til next week…

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Even Slate
Oda's Milkrun

It was a normal misting Monday morning in Seattle. Oda was awoken by an incoming message on his MCT-3500. He activated the message and Brynn Taggart’s familiar voice began to play.

Oda, I got a small job for you. It doesn’t pay but it will make us even from the favor my brother and I did for you about your mother’s death. Meet me at the Rabid Rabbit at nine tonight.

Oda played the message another time to ensure he got the time and location correct as the haze of slumber slowly left him. He was surprised, it has been over two years since his mother’s death and the help the Brynn and her brother gave him in finding out the real truth on what had happened. He honestly thought Brynn was always resourceful enough to take care of things herself, that the favor would never be repaid on his part. For most of the day Oda worked on his magical initiation. Then around eight pm, Oda got ready for the day and headed to the Rabid Rabbit to meet with Brynn.

Oda arrived at the bar around eight fort five that night by foot, it was a perfect night for a stroll through Renton. The walk brought back numerous memories of the times spent running with Brynn and her brother when they were all teenagers. As he approached the Rabid Rabbit, his thoughts drifted from the past back to the matter at hand, it was time to settle the debt with Brynn.

RabidRabbit.jpg

He went into the Rabid Rabbit and noticed that it was empty besides Gromwell the bartender and Brynn who was sitting at the end of the long low backed brown couch. Oda nodded to Gromwell and Gromwell returned the nod. Oda had spent many nights drinking away his issues in the years past with Gromwell, that old troll had given Oda some great advice and helped him piece himself back together after his mother’s death. Oda then refocused his attention to Brynn.

RRInterior.jpg

Oda approached where Brynn was sitting and took a seat on the short round ottoman across from her. Brynn took a second and finished the last sip from her glass before proceeding.

Brynn: Oda I need your help and its very short notice.

Oda remained quiet, not a man of many words he waited for her to proceed with the particulars of what she needed.

Brynn: There is a man, by the name of Vincent Marseille, who has a file folder with some information that would negatively affect my current profession as a fixer. It is very important that this information does not get out.

Brynn slid over a photo across the table to Oda.

VMarseilles.jpg

Oda: So I need to just get you a file an
Brynn Interrupts

Brynn: No, if it was just that I could take care of it myself. I have been informed that he is looking to sell the information off to an info broker tomorrow. I need you to see who he is meeting with, get the file, and then ensure that he has no more copies. If he does, I need you to get those as well. Vincent lives at 714 Grant Ave S.

Oda: That shouldn’t be an issue. I will need some transportation and some clarification on what you want done with Vincent or his contact.

Brynn: No issue with transportation, there is a car in the parking garage at the Renton Hospital, in parking spot 18D, and the key will be in the driver rear wheel well. My only stipulation is you return it how you found it and it doesn’t get noticed during your job. As for Vincent, nothing, but take of his contact. I just want send him a message that I am not to be messed with. Don’t kill him, just scare him a little.

Oda: And this will make us even.

Brynn: Even slate.

Oda nods to Brynn, gets up and leaves the bar. Not a lot of time to get this done and a lot a variables. Oda knows if he is to complete this he will need to act fast. Oda heads straight to the parking and retrieves the vehicle. He then drives to the 700 block of Grant Ave and passes by the house of Vincent Marseille. He parks the go down the end of the street. He glances around to see if anyone is within eyesight of him. After feeling the coast is clear, Oda exists the vehicle and casts improved invisibility on himself. He then scopes out the residence noticing that a car is in the driveway. He walks up past the car and continues around the house, checking the windows as he makes his way past. As his passes a window in the back he notices Vincent asleep in a bed cascaded in a feint light from a cracked door on the far wall. Oda then carefully makes his way back to his car and waits.

Oda had fallen into a light sleep but was awoken by the sound of a car starting up nearby. Oda shook the sleep off, and peered down the street, noticing that the car starting was parked at Vincent’s place. Oda waited until the car backed out and then started to drive away from him. He started his car, at the same time casting Vehicle Mask; this spell made the car appear like any other Renton taxi cab. He then proceeded to follow Vincent at a safe distance, ensuring not to draw attention to himself as he did.

After about twenty minutes of following Vincent, he had pulled into an alleyway behind a warehouse not far from the docks. Oda drove past the alleyway and then shut off the car, and as he exited the car it no longer was vehicle masked as a Renton taxi. Oda then walked to the edge of the alleyway and cast Improved Invisibility on himself. He then slowly entered the alleyway, spotting Vincent getting out of his car carrying a leather briefcase. Oda noticed that he started walking towards a door to the warehouse that was halfway between each other. Oda in suit bee lined for the door, matching Vincent’s’ footsteps as he went. He arrived outside the door at the same time as Vincent, who was now fumbling for a key.

Vincent unlocked the door and flung it open and entered quickly. While the door was closing, Oda slid around it into the warehouse. He noticed that Vincent has kept walking and was headed down a long corridor towards a set of stairs to the catwalk. Looking along the catwalk, Oda noticed an illuminated office that overlooked the warehouse floor. Oda decided not to follow him by foot as the likelihood that he would be discovered traversing the catwalk was very likely. Instead he cast levitate on ascending to the door to the office. Arriving shortly before Vincent entered the office. Peering through the windows that surrounded the office, Oda observed a man of medium build sitting behind a desk looking through files and glancing back to an open computer screen. The man looked up as Vincent entered the office.

Info broker: Hey Vincent, you got what I needed.

Vincent: Mr. Kain, have I ever failed you. I got the information you asked me for.

Vincent opens his briefcase and pulls out a folder with numerous documents. He hands it over to Mr. Kain, who quickly thumbs through it. He occasionally stops a various documents, adding additional scrutiny to each.

Mr. Kain: Looks likes you got everything I needed. As usual, this is the only copy right?

Vincent: Yes, I know that you are very particular about that.

Mr. Kain types on his computer for a bit, then refocuses his attention to Vincent.

Mr. Kain: Ok the agreed upon amount has been transferred. I’ll let you know when I have another job for you.

mKain.jpg

Oda waits for Vincent to exit and then levitates into the office. He stops sustaining the spell, materializing in front of Mr. Kain.

Mr. Kain: What the hel…

Oda casts Mob Mind, implanting the thought to remain silent and still, which quickly takes hold, and the words he was speaking trails off. Oda reaches across the desk and picks up the file.

Oda: I don’t know why you needed this or for whom. I honestly don’t care but this is the last time that you will bother Brynn. In order to make sure you understand the gravity of what will happen if you don’t. I will leave you with a reminder.

Oda then implants a second series of thoughts which Mr. Kain carries out. Mr. Kain slowly stands up from his chair. He then forcefully bends at the waist, sending his face full force into the desk. The audible sound of maxillofacial bones breaking filling the room. He then raises back up and continues to slam his face into the desk. After about five or six times, he slides off of his blood covered desk and slumps to the floor unconscious. Oda recast Improved Invisibility and exits the warehouse. The next day he meet with Brynn and covers the outcome of the mission. He then gives here the file and his slate is swept clean.

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Highway 101 - Working for the man...
Milk Run, Week 1

Me: “Well wouldn’t you know it, Zarcain’s on my comm…”

Z: “I’ve got a lead on a job for a Razorguy, I recommended you. Thought you may be interested. Horizon’s offering a big pay-out because they need results, NOW. Plus they agreed to set you up with a cyber-doc if you’re interested. You owe me for this one… Meet me at XYZ later. Don’t fuck this up.”

Meet up with Z, make introductions with the corporate agent. “The job is as follows: The Yakuza stole a large shipment of psyche pre-cursor chemicals from Horizon Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. We do not wish to have it returned, only denied to the thieves. Payment will be delivered to you on this one condition: destroy the precursor chems before the Yaks have a chance to synthesize the drug and flood the black market with cheap psyche – hit them before they hit our bottom line” says the suit. He hands me an HE grenade and a detonator.

“Love to” is my response.

The suit suggested that the best way to handle this was to destroy the shipment while it was being transported. “Security will be lighter then” he tells me. I take the advice for once in my life.

That same evening I arrive at the transport intercept location just outside of the sprawl, I’m on my scooter, waiting on the shoulder of highway 101. The Horizon tracer-beacon picks up on my smart link, I know this is it. I spot the innocuous-looking, white box truck in my rear-feed and speed ahead of them on my scooter, just a car-length ahead of them now. We are traveling at normal speed down HWY 101. Through my side mirrors I can see there are 2 yaks in the cab, sitting between them is a gorgeous looking dandelion-eater. They are singing and laughing. They do not notice when I unsheathe my Mossburg. I set my bike on auto, shift in my seat and burn EDGE, full-auto blasting through the front windshield until my shotgun is empty. The truck speeds ahead, I squat-jump on the seat then leap through the shattered front window before the trucks grill crashes into my bike – I’m cushioned by the bloody gore bag that used to be a beautiful elf. Ewww.

In the truck and on my side now, I give the passenger a kick as he’s swinging a submachine toward me. He flies out the side of the truck along with the passenger door. I slap an HE grenade to the dashboard, prepped with gecko-tape. Looking over my left shoulder, I butt stroke the driver with my shotgun, with my right hand I grab the lady driver by the collar and smash her face into the steering wheel. The air bag goes off. Shit.

The truck veers left then lurches right – we sail off the highway and into the ocean below. The dark impact nearly knocks me out, the rush of cold snaps me back. Water floods the cab, the driver is unconscious. The world tumbles and spins. I burn EDGE again and slip through what used to be the door on the passenger side and into the ocean as the box truck sinks below me. I swim to the top, shotgun still in hand. I emerge from the drink – alive, unscathed, with a smile on my face. I stand on the beach, the waves crashing just below my knees. I pull the detonator from the small of my back (also secured with G-tape) and squeeze the trigger. Debris and blood and white-yellow substance breach the ocean like a geyser, then dissipate into the Pacific – washing westward as the undercurrent pulls them out and away.

The Nuyen is in my account by morning. I’ve got a medical appointment to make next week… :)

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Massacre on 75th
Shouldn't have got in our way!

The next night, the crew met up with Julio Fernandez in the Flying Hermit. The job semed simple enough:

Break into the UCAS Archive building on N. 75th and get to the second floor. from there, find a physical file, make a copy, and get out without UCAS knowing what it was they were after. An initial offer of 7500¥ was countered by Zarcain Fierce and they walked out knowing that 11,000¥ was on the table, 2000¥ of it up front.

The gorup immediately got a hold of a friend of Razz’s who held various safehouses throughout Seattle. Choosing a nice pad in Bellevue, they made their plans, with Rock hacking into the UCAS systems at N. 75th.

It was easy to determine that the 1st, 3rd, and 4th floor were standard fair, with security contracted out to Knight Errant. The 2d floor was an enigma. Reaching out to a friend of Zarcain’s, they learned that it was a secure facility harboring some of UCAS’s older secrets. They spent much of the evening hashing out various possibilities before moving to the site the next morning.

Located in Downtown Seattle, the building took up an entire block. Around it were several office and apartment buildings, most with storefronts along the ground level. The group parked themselves in a cafe and watched. Hedging their bets, Zarcain and Razz ensured that the team had procured a few maglock cards from the employees and that evening they moved on the location.

They started with Zarcain and Oda moving to the door with their stolen maglocks. As soon as they had the door open and vision off all of the security guards on the first floor, Oda cast his first spell, a group mind control spell, drawing all of the guards to the center and waiting for the face to put a tranquilizer into each of them.

With the guards on the ground floor out, they put the rest of the plan into motion.

Michelle provided sniper cover from a nearby roof for the exfil while Ricky waited nearby to make their getaway. Inside, the rest of the team moved to the second floor where they discovered an outer ring of doors surrounding a cubicle farm. The group managed to find one wageslave burning the midnight oil and put him gently to sleep.

Their noise managed to alert the security on that floor, but Rock managed to put them out with a well placed gas-grenade. Unfortunately, Razz moved in before the gas dispersed and found himself passed out as well. To compound their troubles, the security on the second floor must have sounded an alarm, as Ricky reported activity at the Knight Errant station just a few blocks away.

The group inside moved quickly to secure the documents they needed and make a copy, placing the originals back where they found them. Outside, Ricky and Michelle reported the placement of the Knight Errant response team. with that intel, the four within prepared their escape. An opening salvo from Ricky’s Bumblebee and Steel Lynx followed by a lightning bolt from Oda sent most of the response team scrambling.

Michelle brained another one and Razz came out blazing. In less than three seconds, an entire squad of Knight Errant first responders lay dead or dying and the team easily made their way into the night.

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Renton Reunion
The start of something... special?

A mildly rainy day in Seattle. Typical. just anough drizzle to keep things grey but not enough to warrant an umbrella. Well, not if you were a native of the area, at any rate.

It’s about 11am when the text gets pushed out.

“Long time no see, chummer. Hey, I’m celebrating a comeuppance and I’d like to invite you to the party. I’d really love to chat, it’s been such a long time. If you are up for it, meet down at the ”/wikis/murdered-mime" class=“wiki-page-link”>Murdered Mime in Renton. Party starts at midnight."

A picture of Brynn Taggar accompanies the text. Been a long time since anyone’s heard anything from her. A pretty girl from the upper middle suburbs of Renton. Her brother had gotten involved in the shadows some years back and met his end on the wrong side of an Ares Alpha. A comeuppance sounded intriguing. Each recipient looked over the text and made a mental note to be at the Mime.

Six individuals had received the text. Rock Hardigan was a decker who was raised by his special forces grandfather. The result was a dwarf who was good at what he did with a fondness for things that went BOOM in the real world. Michelle Tracey had a beef to pick with the go-gangs of Seattle and the 405 Hellhounds in particular. She was primed for that middle class wageslave life til her sister got caught in the crossfires of a sour deal. She’d spent the few years since learning how to handle herself and take care of others.

Oda Nobunaga, not his real name, had moved to Renton during their pre-teen years. The Japanese elf had a hard time making friends, it was Brynn who had befriended him and made sure his life wasn’t a living hell amidst racist bullies. When he awakened, she had celebrated with him even as he tried to hide his talents from the world at large. Ricky was an eccentric ork with a love of cars and a fear of the government, corporations, oragnized crime… the Ork Underground… homeless people… aliens…

Then there was Zarcain Fierce, a suave and ruggedly handsome elf with the right words for any situation. Rumor had it that he had hit some hard times, but the proud elf wouldn’t admit it to anyone. Given the right opportunity, it wouldn’t last long anyway. Finally there was Razz Jackson. Razz and Zarcain had both spent time with Brynn’s brother, Dusty. The man had a reputation for being a loose canon, but sometimes that’s what you needed.

The Murdered Mime was known to be a Yakuza haven and most everybody picked up on that right away. Still, Brynn had reserved a room in the back and the group was able to meet without much trouble.

“Glad you all could make it.” That was an innocuous start. By the end of the conversation, Brynn had explained she was dipping her feet into fixer waters and had managed to line up a shot at the big time. Well, for her it would be big time. A real job paying real nuyen and were these six chums in?

They all agreed to meet Mr. Johnson the next day at 6pm, at the Flying Hermit and made their way out.

Of course, they couldn’t leave before Razz stirred up a bit of trouble with the Yaks, but nothing that the group couldn’t handle. Money talks and it was saying to each of them that it would be best to keep each other out of the soup until they got paid.

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