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Making our favorite games even better
By Ty Larson
Black Eagle was proud of his wizard costume for the big Halloween party and was admiring it in the polished chrome of the elevator walls leading from his condo to the parking lot below. It was nice to have an excuse to take his staff with him without having to worry about the shamans teasing him. During his last year of college while he designed the ritual for his thesis he carried the staff everywhere just in case he had an eureka moment. Plus, it really did help with the attunement connection by developing that kind of familiarity. The staff had been sitting in a corner since last year’s Halloween gathering dust despite being his greatest magical creation. Leaving the south side elevator he started walking to his parked Eurocar Westwind 3000i when he noticed four suspicious looking riff raff wearing what looked like biker’s leathers standing next to a beat up van that really shouldn’t belong to anyone living in this neighborhood.
Without warning and with blinding speed the Anglo Ork quick draws a gun from his holster and fires at a woman stepping out of the west side elevator.
“Oh, Tawa what’s going on!” Black Eagle exclaimed in shock.
“Keep out of this Gandalf and you’ll live.” snarled an Anglo human with a mohawk standing next to the Ork with the gun. His accent was barely comprehensible between the growl and Nipponese style Cityspeak of someone from a bad trid or from a Japanese ghetto in San Francisco not a sane and safe place like Sante Fe.
The two asian humans with face tattoos ran to the woman who was now collapsed outside of the elevator.
“The narcojet worked she’s out!”
“Grab her and move, I want this extraction done and done in fifteen.” snarled the Anglo Ork with the gun.
The two street trash were dragging the woman towards the van. She was dressed to the nines in a faux Elven costume including a filigreed bow.
“She must be going to the same party I am going to.” muttered Black Eagle.
“I have to do something for her.”
Gathering up his courage and channeling his fear and anger into his center Black Eagle raised his staff and pointed it at the two gangers and shouted “Crear Fuego!” Flames leapt from the tip of his staff engulfing the two men causing them to drop the woman and roll on the ground to try and to stop the burning.
The Anglo Ork spun and fired two shots at him striking his chest. Black Eagle looked down expecting to see holes but instead saw two small darts trapped in the folds of his wizard’s robes.
“Drek! Marty go grab the girl and get her in the van while I geek the mage.”
The ork tossed his gun through the window of the van and turned to Black Eagle with a snarl. With a burst of inhuman speed the thug sprinted directly toward Black Eagle while his hands began to glow with the tell-tale aura of an Adept using the power of Killing Hands which would make his hands as deadly as sword blades. Adepts are martial artists whose magic wove through their bodies allowing for impossible feats of physical prowess.
“Crear Fuego!” Black Eagle screamed flinging flames into the space the ork had been a second before as he weaved back and forth zig zagging until the adept was suddenly only a few feet away and completely untouched by the flames.
Panicked Black Eagle realized that he had no chance of hitting him with a flame bolt or fire ball. The only other spell that might be useful was a touch sleep spell he last used as a prank during hazing week in college. There was no way Black Eagle could lay an hand on the adept but maybe he could get the ork to the hard work for him.
Black Eagle thrust the staff at the ganger who dodged the blow with ease and moved in to strike when Black Eagle awkwardly turned the thrust into a push and the Ork automatically grabbed the staff between Black Eagle’s hands just as Black Eagle put him to sleep with a single whispered “Crear Sueno.” The Adept could feel the magic flow into him through the staff and ground through his psyche as he had just enough time for his eyes to glaze over and his face to turn slightly puzzled looking as he slumped to the ground.
Black Eagle turned to the last of the street thugs and brought up his staff menacingly. The man blanched and ran. Bringing up his AR GUI from his ‘link Black Eagle called Knight Errant and alerted them to the situation with the lady and her location along with the two dead, one escaped, and one sleeping ganger. After getting his first close look at her he realized she was Holly MacMann the network reporter who had had several major successful stories in the news about corruption in the Pueblo Corporate Council and had done a piece on racism against Anglos and Utes with their glass ceiling in the upper echelon corporate and government positions most of which are held by Hopis and Zunis.
By Ty Larson
The copycat killer grinned at the litter of ork babies screaming as the new Mayan Cutter went to work on their mother and father with the many surgical blades and lasers that were part of his trade as a professional interrogator.
“Tell me where and when Project Freedom is having an inner circle meeting.” He spoke slowly and carefully as he had during the entire process with never an hint of hurry or worry.
“Frag you!” Whimpered the once strong frame of the ex linebacker and minor hero of the ork rights movement and prop 23 known as Ryan Two-Tusks.
“Tsk-tsk now I suppose removing your eyes by laser after the dental surgery Mr No-Tusks means you won’t be able to see what will happen to this creature you call a baby.” The copycat killer reached down and grabbed the ankle of a few week old baby girl dressed in a purple onesie emblazoned with UW representing the University of Washington one of the first universities to allow in goblinized people to the school and where Ryan had been a star.
“Nooorrrarrw!” Came a roar from Ursa Two-Tusks as all the rage she had felt at watching a former government torturer mutilate her husband merged with the fear for her children and the flood of emotion awakened within her a latent gift for Sorcery that had slumbered since her tribe had cast her out at the age of eight to fend for herself. A vaguely bear-like and hazy mask began to shimmer around her face.
Glancing over at the ork mother the killer smirked on seeing a shaman’s mask appear on her.
“Hmm…that definitely wasn’t in the file. Oh, well. There is nothing you can do little cub. The astral pollution I have created here interrogating and cleansing the world of your filth over the past year will block any attempt to save you and renders even experienced spellcasters helpless…”
Reaching deep down Ursa remembered the training the tribe shaman had given to her all those ages ago before she committed the crime of goblinizing. Calling out to the spirit world and Mother Bear with all her heart and all of the sudden the swirling chaos of fear, terror and pain stopped and a dozen children and a great she-Bear appeared in her mind’s eye.
“Mother Bear is here my daughter. I have quieted the Astral Maelstrom and brought these cubs who have suffered so much at this monster’s hands.”
A dozen children rushed toward her and entered her mouth and were transformed with her gift into a spell that charged like an enraged bear from her soul into the copycat killer’s mind.
“Geeeeeaaaooogghhhhcht.” The torturer fell to his knees his mind teetering over the abyss as the agony experienced by each of the children splashed at once into his psyche.
Little Tara chose this moment to free herself and place her newly erupted tusks into his wrist.
Ryan saw everything that had happened in the astral with his Adept powers but instead of Mother Bear he saw the wisened warrior form of his old football coach telling him this terrible ordeal had initiated him to the inner mysteries giving him increased physical strength and that the chains holding him suspended were no barrier to the prepared and thoughtful player who remembered his lessons.
Ryan used his great ork strength bolstered with his newly improved Adept strength and rocked back and forth with tremendous force causing the bolt in the ceiling to give way dropping him ingloriously onto the concrete of the basement floor.
Using his astral sight he saw his wife exhausted from her first spell and the copycat killer’s aura starting to become ordered again.
Dragging his body up Ryan wrapped the chains that had once imprisoned him around the shaking form of the copycat killer’s neck and began to squeeze.
Whitestaff and Blaze
By Ty Larson
Sergeant Carson was readying his drones laden with nanites designed to find and bond with pollutants and render them safe by altering their chemical makeup as the two mages walked by arguing.
“It really seems unnecessary for this operation to have someone of your limited skill set here,” said the man in a British accent with artfully silvering hair at his temples and dressed fashionably in an Armanté suit under a Mortimer of London Argentum great coat.
“Geezers like you put us all in danger during an operation as delicate as this one. Just because I am an aspected magician doesn’t mean I am not more competent and battle experienced than a wannabe druid who goes to war in a tailored Italian suit.”
“You’re what 14 girl?”
“My name is Blaze just like your name is Whitestaff. I am a chaos magician like my father and his father before him and I spent two years in bug city cleansing out insect based astral pollution, re-aspecting a dozen power sites using advanced memetics to reprogram their genius loci spirits, and dealing with astral fallout from Ares’s nuke so chummer shut the frag up.”
Major Matthew Grayson appeared out of the shadows then. “Now that you’re done bickering I need the two of you with me as we go over the battle plans.
Four hours later a team of four physical adepts in full ruthenium stealth suits entered the swamp from the north while two squads of Knight Errant’s Tactical Division entered in the south with the two mages, Carson and his combat and nannite laden drones.
“I have made contact to the ley line Captain.”
“Thank you Magus Blaze. Lt Foxrunner you are to follow orders and maintain defenses here and protect Blaze at all costs while she performs her Cleansing Ritual. I dont care if four of those horned gators rush you nothing breaks her circle.”
“Yessir,” said the young Sioux shaman before he started ordering a perimeter and began singing to the spirits to lull them to sleep.
“Good luck kid.”
“Same to you geezer.”
Three hours later the team had finally penetrated to the heart of the swamp leaving a trail of dead toxic and mutated creatures and arrived the old dumping ground from the 19th and 20th century with a pond laden with centuries of lead and decades of toxic waste disposal by cost cutting corporations.
“Ready the last of the delivery drones Sarge.”
“Are you ready Whitestaff?
“Yes, just give me cover until I get to the nexus point and can access the power site.”
“Team 1 you’re the ram; team 2 you’re the net…let’s go!”
Whitestaff strode forward cloaked with finest enchantments of protection and astral stealth making him invisible to spirits and most dual natured critters but not to a starved looking woman whose gaunt face had seen too much as her hair had fallen out except for a few stubborn patches barely clad in an grungy ‘Terrafirst!’ camo shirt much too large for her body but clutching a State of the Art Heckler & Koch assault rifle who aimed unsteadily at him as she pulled the trigger.
Whitestaff had managed to evade the sudden melee by falling into the toxic pond as toxic critters poured in from all directions and ecoterrorists took badly targeted shots at the Knight Errant forces.
Shuddering Whitestaff realized that the nexus was at the bottom of the pond so he pulled out a golden egg from his soaked great coat and began twisting it until the shell collapsed into a vaguely pyramid shaped device that evoked Babbage’s difference engine or a retro steam punk table weight.
Breathing deep he dove and swam to the nexus and activated his creation which began to send sonic vibrations throughout the land and water by the time he made it back to the surface. Climbing through the mud he saw that the team had mostly survived the initial onslaught and had left a pile of dead beasts and ecoterrorists.
An old man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a biohazard symbol cried out “enough!” Raising his hands above his head a swarm of toxic water spirits and a tsunami wave of acid dove towards the team. Whitestaff attempted to counter the area effect spell but the toxic shaman was far too powerful for his attempt to do much more than blunt the spell so no one died but many screamed as their armor bubbled before they could strip it off.
A backhand from the old man sent a telekinetic strike at Whitestaff that sent him flying more than the length of an football field.
“At least the shield held.” Whitestaff muttered to himself after extracting himself from a twisted tree rubbing his neck which probably had whiplash.
Suddenly a materialized astral face appeared before him looking like a small not as bright version of Blaze. “Master wants Geezer to know the moment is nigh or whatever you Brits say.”
Whitestaff pulled out a small stick from his belt and planted the strangely beautiful wood and channeled his magic into it and the device willing a change in mana flow and the stick became a tree pulling mana from the device which was causing a mini earthquake disrupting the toxic shaman’s domain and purifying it while creating a new power site with Blaze’s ley line.
An howl of rage and it’s echoes filled the swamp and a swamp thing monster that had once been a man concerned about the environment who investigated the wrong locale came barreling towards Whitestaff and the rapidly growing tree as four ghosts or vague shapes like in that old 2d movie predators began rendering the swamp creature into mulch.
“We did it.” Whimpered Sergeant Carson who was clinging to his last aerial drone a few feet above the ground.
The Smoky Mirror’s Shield
By Ty Larson
The light of the noonday sun bored into Javier’s uncovered head causing rivulets of sweat to pore down his face and his stylishly designed airmask designed to filter out the deadly particulates in Tenochtitlan’s smog and also provide ample space for his tusks to move comfortably while talking.
Javier stood at the top of the temple of the sun listening to the chanting in Nahuatl preparing for the ritual ‘Aegis of the Protector’ that would be the key to furthering his career as one of the best bodyguards employed by Aztechnology. The Nahuali priest magicians had moved around him like serpents around an egg since dawn while he stood still without water or food.
“I hope this ends soon” he subvocalized into his commlink which again showed no response to his query about the ritual’s length. “I should become an amigo to a mage so I can know more about this kind of stuff or at least find the answers.”
Shortly after thinking this a young blue haired and eyed girl with pale strangely reflective skin approached him and took his hands.
“You shall be my Shield against my enemies.” She said in a sweet voice in flawless English.
“I am Zyana Annabelle Rivera Citlalmina and you are Javier Padilla Chimalli now and forever.”
With the last syllable the sun came straight down upon the two far different people standing in the exact center of the great pyramid of Tenochitlan burning away their differences in a flash as exact noon struck. All around them Nahuali wonder workers employed blood magic upon enemies of Aztlan and the great corporation that funded the temple removing enemies while strengthening the people.
Javier could now feel the direction and distance of Zyana and her general emotional state and health as if she was him. He was of the Chimalli. The shield of the people. He had arrived to the pinnacle of his profession.
By Ty Larson
Maker-of-Death grimaced in distaste causing his Maori face tattoos to ripple. The dwarf shaman a few paces away let go another undulating scream into the cool night air blanketing the desert. The music earlier had relaxed him to sleep for the first time in weeks but the multi tonal screeching put him on edge and seemed to strike at his bowels.
“I should never have taken that fraggin mask. I knew it was unprofessional,” Maker-of-Death whispered to Crimson his long time mate in the Australian shadows.
“Well, who would’ve guessed Maker that…well now I’ve seen everything!”
The ancient samurai mask floated in the air surrounded by a nimbus of neon purple as Crimson saw into the astral for the first time revealing the form of a deadly Japanese warrior whose form bubbled with dozens or maybe hundreds of tiny faces mutely screaming their pain and terror before dropping back into main body of the samurai to be absorbed in a constant flux of suffering.
The dwarven shaman turns to the pair. “You want to unweave the artifact’s hold on you then you must make a better story.”
“What do you mean Allambee?” Said Crimson as his cyber spur popped out.
“Defeat the artifact by overcoming your fear and your friend is free and I can begin the next stage of disenchanting it.”
Maker-of-Death freed his damascene sabre and Ares Predator in a smooth motion firing his pistol as the mana flowed into his mind and body speeding up his motion to a blur and the orichalcum in the sabre began to glow red in the night as it began arcing towards the wispy neck of the samurai and clanged upon an opaque katana blocking the blow while the mask spun and drop kicked Crimson before his cyberspur could strike beginning the melee and a new chapter of the legend of the cursed japanese artifact or a new chapter of the Legend of Maker-of-Death and Crimson…
The battle raged and Allambee told the battle and fear aspected spirits gathered by the hundreds around the Song pool. “We get good entertainment tonight and a new story to share with the Dreamtime no matter who wins.”
Hide a Dagger Behind a Smile, and a Cannon Inside Your Arm
By Caith Barrows
Caith Barrow’s cyberpunk writing blog
It was pitch fucking black. I could hear Mace tapping away in the background, fingers like lightning, the keys ringing like a hailstorm. I knew – and our Neural Emotive Interface told me he did, too – that we were not even close.
The first light I’d seen in hours was dim red, illuminating the tiny crawlspace the two of us had crammed into. The sliver of red was not a death sentence, but it meant Lorimar Global Accounting’s watchdogs were on the loose.
Mace had himself wrapped in cables, some snaking out of the thin, gray steel panel I had deftly pulled off the datacenter wall. My anxiety pulsed over the NEI, and I heard Mace manage to tap at an even faster pace. They called him Breakneck Mace, and he had earned the name on every front. The South London slum that coined it for him had a term for security countermeasures too – “FUCK YOU, BOB!“ – and there it was. I could tell Mace was pissed. Mostly at himself. It would be time for me to go to work, soon. But I wanted Mace to have his shot, so we could keep things clean.
“Almost done, Mace?”. I tried to keep the tension out of my voice, but the NEI, in spite of its many advantages, jolted him with my fear.
“No, sir. Not even fucking close. Now would you calm down and let me work?”
I pulled up a terminal overlay in my Good Eye – the metal one, that is – and tried to follow the bitstream Mace was laying down across Lorimar’s local net. I could barely follow, but I could see that the metaphorical shit was about to hit the proverbial fan. He was holding down three Black Dogs – a Night Driver’s worst nightmare – a pair of semi-sentient packet-sniffing Eidolons, and spoofing a dozen other data streams to keep a “Live Kipper” at bay. I could tell the jig was up, it was just a matter of getting that sweet, sweet grist, and escaping to tell the tale down at Donny’s.
The red light was warning; countermeasures had been deployed, personnel were to assume the possibility of a breach. When the blue lights hit, the sirens would start. That meant I’d be earning my keep.
My code is Jack, but Mace always called me General Jack, or Sir. I never mastered anything, in love with the thrill of the new, and could always spot for a bit of anything – for this job, I pulled the setup, the neg, made the blues, manned the break, and helped Mace engineer the hack. In truth, however, my greatest strength was the 20mm cannon – with Newtonian dousing, integrated targeting, and a myometal heft compensator – hidden in my left arm.
I had hoped we wouldn’t have need of it, but I could smell the blue lights coming, and we had passed the window of tactical egress. Excitement, relief, and a weird bit of a sexual thrill passed over the NEI, indicating that Mace had hit paydirt.
“FUCK YOU, BOB! I WIN!”
Mace screamed into the crawl space, but in spite of the ringing in my ears, I smiled and nodded. He jacked out of Lorimar’s datacache, and started pulling cables off the plate in his shoulder and his datapad, a shit-eating grin on his face. I pulled out a pair of roto-spies and flicked them out of the crawl space.
They whirred to life, scanning the area for hostile intentions. I dropped them into overlay on the Good Eye, and seeing a clear coast, pulled the panel down.
All was still red outside as I stretched into the datacenter, filled with the hush of millions of creds worth of fans and lights, and billions upon billions of creds worth of names, addresses, and bank account numbers.
I inhaled the ozone, stretching my arms overhead. I lent a hand to Mace, and heard his spine stretch and crack as he straightened out.
“Not bad for four hours work, eh?”. Elation pulsed between us over the NEI. Mace began to crack a smile when the lights went pure blue.
With no time to pat ourselves on the back, Mace deftly dropped his pad into its sling, and booked it for the door. We both knew it would be locked behind two tons of steel blastdoor, but we ran anyways.
Mace wasted no time. He pried a nearby panel off the wall, pulled a length of cable from the panel at his shoulder, and jacked in. His eyes glazed over as he dove into the circuitry, a literal ghost in the machine. Only a moment later, his eyes resumed normal saccadic motion.
“Can’t do it, sir. No hardline to the doors from here, and of course they ent got wireless.”
I nodded to Mace, with what I’m sure was a grim look of absolute non-assurance. He nodded back, and went to curl up behind a rack of bitboxes.
The moments passed with agonizing lethargy. I sent a few mental signals to Lefty – uncoil feedback dampeners, perform diag, and chamber a round the size of most guns. I felt my faux fingers split apart, folding back to reveal the million-credit muzzle I always carried with me. The thing – the relic of a series of increasingly poor decisions during my youth – precluded me from security checkpoints, commercial airline travel, government clearance(turns out they want to do the work themselves), and anywhere with a strong opinion on myoreplacement.
But I never again feared the night, dark alleys, crooked pubsec – or security drones.
The door shot open, accompanied by a burst of light and sound from four sets of sensorial dampeners. Good Eye kicked in with compensation measures, targeting software already noting four non-biotics. Bad Eye hadn’t seen more than a glimmer since ‘53, and didn’t disappoint.
I waited for the electro-convulsive darts to strike. I hated the pinch, but had enough creds into absorbtive subdermal circuitry to have no fear. I heard a series of high-pitch beeps from Good Eye’s aural status implant, and felt Lefty calibrate and aim. I braced myself, always expecting more kickback from the massive cannon implanted into my myometal arm. A few gentle thuds in my shoulder – accompanied by a deafening set of four roaring reports – and the drones were done. A shower of sparks and metal washed over me, shrapnel stinging my flesh. I mentally commanded the roto-spies to run Damage Report™ software, and didn’t seem to have pierced my reinforced clothing. Bad Eye had taken a shard, but that could wait.
“Time to go, Mace.”
Mace knew better than to be near when Lefty came out to play, but had a massive spiked stunbaton in his hand – “Just in case”. He came around the corner, grinned at my handywork, and stepped out into the hallway beyond.
The halls of Lorimar Global Accounting hummed with the symphony of destruction we created. Mace cracked skulls and burned circuits while I cleared paths and ruined hundreds of thousands of creds worth of security equipment. Pubsec arrived within minutes, and the place was crawling with “bobbies”. A switch on my back-mounted ammo holster changed the cannon over to supressive rounds, while Mace put bobby after bobby out of commission – “The old fashioned way”, as he put it. We were bloodied, scraped, and weary when we hit the loading dock. An adrenaline driven dive later, and we were safely in the back of a floating, armored waste skimmer. I willed Lefty to return my hand to normal functionining, and started giving the municipal vehicle commands.
Armor-piercing rounds sounded a hailstorm outside of our custom built flying panic room. I smiled at Mace, success humming over our shared neural interface.
As my fingers peeled back again, revealing Lefty’s furious secret, Mace’s eyes grew wide. I doubt he had time to register his shock before the burst of electro-convulsive rounds took him in the chest. I could hear a few ribs cracking, but the feelings of surprise, sorrow, and betrayal that pulsed over our NEI told me he had felt worse. I pried the datapad – with its precious, priceless cargo – out of Mace’s sling, and programmed the skimmer for my drop point.
By now, I was sure we’d lost pubsec in the congested air traffic stream of 6 AM Antananarivo. Our skimmer would be playing pretend, cleaning the trash-clogged channelized waterways of the massive African city. The door opened, revealing a smog-dense, grimy city filled top to bottom with citizens of the World. Madagascar was one of the last holdouts from the Globalization of Big Government, an absolute Black Market Metropolis, and a center of ungodly wealth – but still as dirty as any and every human settlement in history. I took a look back at Mace, sprawled awkwardly in the back of that dirty steel chariot. I allowed a final apologetic blip of feels to wash over the neural feedback implant, pulled the NEI chip from the ACCport behind my ear, and tossed it into the skimmer.
By RunnerPakhit on Reddit:
Almost a week ago, I posted and asked about ideas, about how to clean out an entire building of goons. And yeah, as I got many helpful replies, I wanted to tell you, how the entire mission went. And yes, I am fully aware that shadowrunners are supposed to be professional criminals, but somehow our group is less and less so.
This was a solo run – or at least it was supposed to be – of Pakhet, my character, though she took an NPC along first. But yeah, in the end it was a team of six runners working on this. The poor GM had to NPC everyone, but the Doc.
The escalated search for a prostitute
I start of with Pakhet, because that was the adventure that escalated. But it started with a simple enough mission: Later that evening, after she had finished work, she phoned her fixer, if he had any sort of “small job” for her. Yes, he had. A prostitute had gone missing several days ago and had know appeared in a pretty hardcore simsense porn online. Find her and – if possible – bring her back alive.
Alright. So Pakhet phoned Murphy, as she basicly felt, that she owed him (after all he had lost his nice armor on a mission she was his bodyguard on) and after all: That charismatic elf kid normally is really good at getting information out of people.
Well, they are at Hamburg and of course there is St. Pauli and the Kiez, on which the girl had gone missing. They knew in what general area the girl had last been seen, so they went there the next day on noon to look for anything that could help them. Of course because it was noon most people being around there where tourists and very few prostitutes and other people who, for example, owned “businesses” there. Pakhet got quite annoyed after she got asked by such a business owner, whether she wanted “work”. But at least they got some information out of that guy: A nearby bar, where the girl used to hang out at. Well, he did not exactly give them the information knowingly, but they got it either way.
So after changing disguises Pakhet and Murphy went to that bar later that day. Apparently it was really mostly a normal bar (even though one could rent rooms above it) and discotheque. Murphy went with his SIN, according to which he was the son of some rich ass and as Pakhet’s SIN went for “private security” she was his bodyguard. So he started to aggressively flirt with a few girls, while Pakhet went to talk with the bar keep, complaining about her job being a glorified babysitter. After a while she went on with the story, that she was supposed to get back money from “that girl”, because the kiddo went over his allowance. So she found out, where the girl was working. “Kiddo” though also found out, who her boyfriend was and after a few minutes in the matrix Pakhet was able to find out, where he lived.
The two of them decided to first go to the boyfriend – because maybe he knew something. After all the guy she was working for was most likely the Johnson and hopefully he had already given all the information he had. Murphy managed to con them into the building without much of a problem and was able to get a hold of the boy, who was still living with his parents. He had not seen the girl for the last two weeks and when she had run of after a party. But he was really worried, which is why Pakhet decided to not tell him about the porn part. The boy was very helpful but did not know much. But it seemed that he had taken up a fight with the girls pimp (aka our Johnson) and gave them some hints, that made them think that the Johnson indeed might know more then he had told them.
Well, Murphy and Pakhet went to the bordello owned by our Johnson – but once again disguised. Pakhet wanted to actually go flirt with the pimp, because she concluded after some observation, that he let his guard down way to much around women. Murphy, though, was totally against it, because he could not handle how “out of character” it would be for her – at least the way he knew her. So he went with a new disguise (an “ex lover” of the girl) and tried to get some information. But it was a dead end.
Okay, that seemed to be leading to nothing, so the two of them thought about what could have happened to the girl. Obviously the most probable answer was “snatchers”. Both did not know much about snatchers but Murphy is not leader of his small gang of street kids for nothing. A few calls to his brothers and sisters and they knew where different snatcher gangs where working from including some information to what kind of people they were selling “slaves” to. So they obviously went with a snatcher gang who got girls for porn and prostitution. They watched them take a girl at a parking lot and followed them… Till those guys were controlled by the police. Somehow they managed to con their way out, but the girl was taken to a hospital and the snatchers retreated. And so Pakhet and Murphy had to go on and watch them. This time they were able to follow them with Pakhet having a fly-spy drone land on their van and follow the signal. That was: Until her drone console was being hacked. She had to shut off the control (after all she is a street sam, no decker) but still was able to follow the signal.
When the signal stopped she suspected a trap and parked away from it – just for her car to start again. Great, that thing was being hacked, too. Well, damn it. She removed the car battery, because it was the fastest thing to do. Just for her to be shot at by drones. Great. Just great. Pakhet managed to get into the car, just for three snatchers and two drones to start firing at the car.
Well, what those snatchers had not anticipated was that the Jack Rabbit was a fucking tank that could take way more hits. So while Pakhet changed into her proper armor, Murphy fired at the snatchers with magic. After he took out one of them and the two drones (thankfully his speciality is electro magic) sending the rest to flee. By then Pakhet was done changing and took the two snatchers and the rigger out with her Para-Shield. She bound them up with cuffs and first took a look into their van, to find an unconscious girl. But Pakhet would not be Pakhet, if she was not prepared. She examined the girl and realized that she had been narcojected. As Pakhet herself uses Narcoject for the Para-Shield she had the antidote with her and woke the girl up. The girl – of course – was frightened, especially as Pakhet of course would not remove her helmet. But thankfully Murphy was there and with his winning smile he got the girl’s trust (and a bit more).
Meanwhile Pakhet phoned the Doc to help her with those snatchers, who needed to be dropped somewhere. She ordered Murphy to get her (now pretty beaten up) car back to the hospital and used her time, to use some antidote on one of the snatchers. The guy woke up with a gun to his head and basicly shit himself, once he realized that: “You are the invincible iron bitch!” Well, great, apparently Pakhet had made herself a street legend name. But yeah, the guy spilled all the beans and said, where those girls were held and the porn was shot and so on.
While Murphy drove off (oh, he will be so dead, once Pakhet finds out, that he fucked that girl in her car) the Doc arrived and he and Pakhet decided to drop the snatchers of at the next parking lot and give an anonymous tip to the police. The doc had contacts within the police, so no problem. Pakhet wanted to basicly instantly go, storm the building and get the girl out, but the Doc managed to talk sense into her. So they both drove back to the hospital (where they live) and waited for the next day.
Sadly on the next day they got the message, that there was too little evidence against the snatchers and that they would probably not be charged. Well, shit, but Pakhet and Doc went to the building, where the porn was shot and ninja’d their way in. On the third story they found some suspicious looking stuff, but no porn. The next story was the same. But on the fourth story they not only found a couple of guards, but also rooms in which the porn was shot. Mostly due to dumb luck they stayed unnoticed. And yeah, the porn shot there was some hardcore rape porn – with the rape being real and some of the girls and boys being raped being just teenagers. Same on the next story. On the seventh story they also found something, that basicly can only be discribed as a “butcher’s medical facility” where a girl was fitted with a sim rig.
Pakhet needed quite a bit of self-restraint to not do something stupid. You need to see, Pakhet is overly protective of “the innocent”, especially children. She also hates people who imprison people for sinister reasons, she hates rape and rapists and she has a thing about people breaking other people’s will that ticks her off, too. So, yeah, this is basicly what hell looks like to her. But thankfully she had enough self-restraint to not start of a fight, because she and the doc had been hopelessly outnumbered.
Once again they had to retreat to the hospital, but she phoned Murphy to come there the next day. She also phoned Alice, an elite technomancer, who normally is overly expansive but agreed to go for half the price (after all she almost ended up in such a situation herself). And the doc phoned Hazel, his new matrix security for the hospital. So with this team they met the next day around noon and started to make a plan. Storming the building was out of the question. Even if the rest of our main team was present, they would still be outnumbered. Alice suggested to send the video the doc and Pakhet made of the interior of the building to ProSEX (a coalition of prostitutes, former prostitutes and people who care about the lawfulness of prostitution with some political influence in Hamburg), but Pakhet did not quite trust them, as those guys work together with HanseSec and we all knew HanseSec is corrupt and incompetent and also tend to criminalize the SINless. Still, to give them a chance Pakhet sent Murphy, to try to get into contact with ProSEX. But as they did not knew, whether ProSEX could be trusted another plan was needed. So Alice was asked to hack into the buildings security and also try to find out anything about those guy running the thing, while Hazel was going to cross reverence databases of missing persons with the girls Doc and Pakhet had seen in the building.
While the backup plan was set up to probably use NeuroStun gas, the Doc started to brew up antidote for that stuff, while Pakhet made another phone call. She knew she could not trust her fixer with this, so she phoned Mr Schmidt, the Johnson from out Gas-Rig-Adventure, whether he knew people, who could help. Indeed he knew one person. A runner, who had formerly been a sex slave and had been freed, so he would not only know people working against this, but also was likely to help.
Alright, so Pakhet phoned that runner, who went by the street name of Jack. He suggested, that they could meet up in a bar. Accidentally the one bar Pakhet and Murphy had been investigating in a few days ago. Well, as the barkeep had promised her a free drink for “the evening” she went there earlier then the meeting time. Thankfully the same barkeep was working there and while doing small talk she tried to find out some information. Then a guy showed up and started aggressively flirt with her. Annoying. When he would not let it go, she tried a prank and ordered him a very spicy drink… But he would not stop. Great. Well, it turned out, that guy was Jack, who tried to find a not too suspicious way to get her in one of those rooms over the bar. So Pakhet played along after a while and both of them went to the back.
A few hints ticked Pakhet of to realize, that the guy was probably a former Bunraku, but she did not say anything. Jack agreed to help for near to nothing but a date and did also contact a few people he knew could help.
Pakhet received a few mails and a phone call. The phone call was from her fixer. Apparently the porn guys had been warned, that she was after them and they had played a bounty on her head and had hired a few runners, as well, to take her our, if she was to come near the building again.
Murphy meanwhile had found some information: He had found somebody from ProSEX, who could be trusted and would meet with Pakhet. He also had found out of a former runner, who was now running an orphanage and who also agreed to meet with us the next day. Back at the hospital she also got the information from Alice and Hazel. At least ten of the girl had had a SIN and for five there was even some bounty, if they were brought back to their family. Also Alice had managed to hack several stuff in the building, to find out that they had upped the security there and had installed additional tech security, against which our sneaking gear would probably be useless.
So the next day Pakhet met with the ProSEX woman in a church (a place Pakhet never had set a foot in, if not for a run) and after some talk got the problem with the SINless, the ProSEX woman agreed to take care of that. Also she said, that there were some HanseSec people, who could be trusted and who would take care, that the scum would end up in Big Willy for a long time.
One problem though: Pakhet could hint, that maybe there would be more security then seen on the videos, but not of the runner team preparing a trap for her, because that would maybe blow her cover.
Well, only so much one can do. So first of all she and Murphy went to meet up with the woman, who owned the orphanage, which actually was a very oldschool farmhouse outside of Hamburg. The woman – “Mother Goose” – was friendly, though she warned Murphy quite insistently about his mentor spirit. But she agreed to help, so we could hide the girls there for a few days. Also she knew some people who could help, too.
After that Murphy and Pakhet were on their way to meet with the Doc, who had been looking for some psychiatrists who would be willing to work in the shadows for a while, when a gull started to fly next to them. Well, it turned out that at least Pakhet knew the gull – and the gull knew her. Because it was a air spirit, that several times now had been summoned by Kah Pak and apparently somehow had become a free spirit since the last time, the group had seen it. Because the spirit loved fish Pakhet got some fish to feed it. The spirit asked quite a few questions about the physical world (especially about meta human obsession with metal). And it asked what Pakhet and the others were up to, so Pakhet told it. But it flew away before they got to the doc.
Alright, later they got the information, that ProSEX were going to make their move the next day around noon. So Pakhet, the Doc, Murphy, Hazel and Jack went into the area of the building a while before that. After all there was still a runner team waiting there for Pakhet and who would like to keep them waiting? We spyed the area with drones and found the other runners. Well, two sharp shoots were waiting on a sky scraper.
Murphy – who was kinda pissed, that Pakhet’s plan for him was to play bodyguard to Hazel (because she was afraid, that he would end up a Bunraku) – insisted that he could take them out. Well, as he can shapeshift into a crow and hence would easily get onto the building, Pakhet agreed. So Murphy flew up there, only to meet a certain gull on the way up there. The spirit actually had decided to help. And so Murphy took those guys up there out with some little magic and then helped Doc and Pakhet to set up a trap for the other runners, who also were taken out easily.
So far so good. But now Murphy had a problem, when a toxic spirit suddenly came for him. A spirit summoned from a guy working for the porn guys, but that acted right now against its orders. Because toxic spirits don’t like Murphy. So Murphy and the gull had a fight against the spirit and somehow managed to get out of it mostly unscathed even before the rest could come and help.
The entire shoot out had confused HanseSec, who were already watching the building and decided to move in earlier. So, nothing much to do for us anymore. We drove the van into an alleyway and watched with the drones. HanseSec actually did a good job for once, until the gangers took the girls hostage. But thankfully we had still a decker with us, who used the electrics against the gangers. Nothing, that did much damage, but it was enough for HanseSec to find an opening to take the last few gangers out.
The group watched how everyone got taken away. The gangers as prisoners, the girls either to hospitals or to ProSEX shelter houses. Jack helped to find out where the girl, Pakhet had been tasked to find had been taken to, so she phoned the boyfriend to go see the girl and for heaven’s sake help her stay out of trouble. After that Pakhet phoned her fixer, that she “sadly had not been able to take the girl back, as apparently the girl was been taken under protection from HanseSec”. Of course her fixer saw right through it, was a bit pissed and she would have probably had to carry the consequences, if it had not been canceled out by all the other stuff.
So, yeah, no reward, apart from the stuff we got from the snatchers we had beaten up, but we did not sell those things. A completely altruistic mission. And I have to wonder, when exactly Pakhet went from “being motivated by money, though having a certain code of honor” to actually doing good. Well, the answer probably is, that her main motivation right now, is to get the doc out of the shadows and somehow hanging out with the Doc ended up with him rubbing of on her.
Funny enough: In Game at the same time, Slap and Dacart were working on a similiar case. A boy, that had gone missing. His sister asked them for help. They found him. The Likedeeler had him hooked on drugs. They brought him to his sister and Dacart – though having risked much more, then Slap – did not want the reward, as it was the sisters money. So: Yeah, even more altruism.