Shadowrun - The Titans of Old

Line Matrix Journal #7
Awakening

I’m writing this at the Chimney Boys warehouse, where we’re currently bedding down. It’s the calm before the storm, and it’s a storm I’m only half looking forward to. My nervous system is shot, warping reality with hyper sensitivity, but I guess that’s inevitable when you’ve had desperate spinal surgery and no hint of bliss for nearly 24 hours.

Two vertebrae replaced with segments of superconducting material, amplifying my perception in a manner I’ve only ever experienced on jazz or novacoke. Bliss always slowed me down enough to dampen the tweaky, paranoiac sense when leaving the matrix. This surgery is a commitment to regaining that loss of speed; I’ve accelerated my conscious perception permanently.

All of which has left me in a state of confusion, the underlying anger broiling but directionless as minor waves of nausea grip me, adjusting to this new modality. You know, there was a time that messing with my mind on drugs in the matrix was all I lived for, recklessly embracing new realities without consequence.

The losses I’ve suffered brought those consequences home, right to my doorstep, and I won’t run from them again. It’s time to run through the fire.

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3am was when I put my head down; 7am I’m awoken by my commlink. Hard to ignore when it’s wired directly into your head, besides I wasn’t sleeping well after the chaos of the night before. Outside the rain had stopped, but the London fog had thickened. I opened the call, and was immediately greeted by a vidfeed.

Tied to a chair having been savagely beaten, was Reno. If I had only been half awake before, I was all the way now. Blood dripped from fresh wounds, eyes blackened – I’d seen worse before, but not by much. As the dormant adrenaline refreshed itself a figure wandered into the camera shot, horrifyingly familiar.

That fucking Red Samurai. Adorning the full armour you’d expect from a Renraku elite, katana sheathed, cybernetic faceplate hiding all but the thin, Asiatic eyes. Even then they stared with a red glow, vicious and demonic. He walked toward the camera and held up one hand, dangling something in front of the lens.

Cybereyes, familiar ones, having previously belonged to the green haired Johnson we ran the job for the night before. Whether he was alive or dead was irrelevant – the samurai had got to him, and from him got to Reno. I extended this call to both Knife and Ivory too, but couldn’t raise Nuggler.

Suddenly the vidfeed cut and Reno’s face appeared, live this time. He had washed himself up a little but still looked like shit, coughing before talking;

“Shut up and listen. I got this to you all as soon as I got my hands free. You guys have been a pain in my ass but while I’m not gonna die for you assholes, I can at least warn you about what’s coming. It’s probably a waste of breath, but lay fragging low. He’s coming for you and he knows everything I know about you, and probably a sight more thanks to that green haired pillock. I’m going to disappear for a while. Damn well make sure you do the same.”

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Without further words the stream cut, and we were left in a three-way call. Silence punctuated the moment as we realised we were actively being hunted by a corporate elite, a red samurai, those near psychopathic zealots that would die before sacrificing their mission. Knife spoke first;

“Let’s skip town?” he asked. It was probably a smart idea, and I guessed that Ivory would agree. But through that adrenaline and the shakes I sat upright on my bed, the fury which had awoken telling me otherwise.

“I want to fight” I said, clear as day. It surprised me as much as the others – I’m a decker, and only ever been half handy in a scrap. Actively choosing to go up against Red Samurai was near suicide, although this one mercifully seemed to be working alone. Some part of me knew that this was all linked to two years back, when I ran, not stopping to look back until it was too late.

“I think we should…” started Ivory, but stopped as a noise sounded in the background. “Hang on, someone is trying to get into my apartment – I better go”. She dropped the call leaving Knife and I, probably thinking the same. At that moment, the early warning system for my home hub sounded, and I knew I was also under attack.

Bailing on the call I jacked into the matrix to have a look, cold sim in case of savage damage. This was an attack alright, a comprehensive one, but it hadn’t penetrated just yet. Anticipating that fighting would be pointless, especially if the Red already had my address, I did what I could to stall them and jacked out.

Gathering my things, weapons and creds, a pack with survival essentials, I ensured to finalise a backup of the Glow. The only real valuable thing in this apartment anyway, if they got that my work would have been for nothing. Sliding my jacket on, checking my revolver was loaded I exited towards the corridor, riding the fear.

It was clear, and as I hit the stairs downward I initiated what self-destructive measures I had on my home hub. It lit up like a Christmas tree, both from the attack and the suicidal failsafe, scorching as much stray information they could use to track me as I could. Outside was still quiet so I hit the garage, grabbed Axiom and rode off into the thick fog.

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After I’d cleared about a kilometer my commlink went off again – Ivory calling Knife and I. Answering I was greeted by “hey guys, people tried to break into my apartment. I’ve escaped, could you come and pick me up?”. Knife volunteered, and said he’d drive Goldblum over to a neutral location – I followed suit.

Checking again there was still no sign of Nuggler, I got a message pinged from the matrix:

Red Queen: [Your home hub is a pyre. Where are you?]
Line: [On the move. How do you know that?]
RQ: [It draws the eye. My Agents just gave me word.]
L: [Well you might have seen that since we last talked I got famous. Did you glean any further info?]
RQ: [Some. I’ll transfer what I know when things have been quelled.]

I’d not heard from the Red Queen in a while, did some work with her a few months before I started running. It didn’t surprise me that she’d kept eyes on me, and part of me was grateful. Connections made in the matrix are almost ethereal, rarely crossing into material reality, preserving a magical quality I missed these days.

I ripped through the fog ridden city streets, lungs resistant to the worst of it from years of Asian living and bliss smoking. Finally, a call from Nuggler, video of an unconscious Ork lying face down on a pavement;

“He ones of ours?” he asked.

“Nope” I replied.

“What happened?”

“Reno had a visit from our Samurai ‘friend’, and now we’re being hunted”

“Hmm, where you headed?”. I pinged the location to Nuggler, the coffee shop we would all convene at, and dropped the call.

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A while later I arrived, noticed Goldblum parked up and headed indoors. Ordering a black coffee, I sat down with Knife and Ivory.

“Priorities?” asked Knife.

“Murder a Red Samurai” I said bluntly, aware of the absurdity of it all.

“We don’t run?” asked Ivory. I shook my head, there was to be no running anymore.

“Kill, then run?” asked Knife. It was a distinct possibility. Running on four hours sleep and with two of our homes having been attacked it was little wonder the conversation was so curt.

“Killing is a foregone conclusion at this junction” I finally said, as Nuggler burst through the café door.

“What did I miss?” he blurted out, not missing a beat. We relayed a video of Reno’s beating, of the Samurai holding up the other Johnsons eyes, pausing on his cybernetic face.

“See that? We need to kill that” I said.

“Why?” asked Nuggler, waving the waiter over. I shuffle in my chair, deciding to give the short version.

“He’s a bad person” I reply.

“He killed my best friend” said K1. Nuggler ordered several plates of food, and we largely sat in silence whilst he vanished it in record time. Letting out a troll sized belch he slapped his belly and proclaimed;

“Let’s go kill someone then”

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We left the cafe and I got back on the bike, the other three hopping into Goldblum. Nuggler had been in touch with Big Smoke, something to do with his daughter, and after learning of our situation offered the Chimney Boys help if we required. As we no longer had individual safe houses we accepted, deciding to meet him in a nearby playground.

On the way, I messaged Red Queen to check on that info:

Line: [???]
Red Queen: [In the last four hours’ people have been pinging requests to the Hong Kong Renraku offices. They’re tagged with your name. Three others as well, but nothing came back attached to them.]
L: [Shit. Know if they found anything?]
RQ: [They received video footage and other files in return, but I couldn’t see what was in them.]
L: [Ok that’s bad. Thank you RQ.]
RQ: [De nada.]

Upon arrival, I hopped in the van to provide sniper cover – recent events had spiked my paranoia enough to reinvigorate old security measures. The fog had become thick enough to cause Ivory to start coughing, not a great sign, making my task harder. The others walked to the center of the playground for the meet, and we waited.

A few moments later a shadow began to emerge from the fog, an engine heard. I doubled down my focus through the Rangers scope, adjusting my cybernetic eye to compensate for the weather. The outline became the shape of a van, engine noise echoing through the thick air. There came a slow, dawning realisation that it was, in fact, a fucking ice cream van.

Chugging slowly towards the pavement it pulled over and a head stuck out, adorned with ice cream vendor cap. The owner looked over as if he was perfectly incognito – Big Smoke. Shaking my head I rested the rifle and sat back in the van, letting the others handle the rest of this absurdity. For all my frustration, it’s moments like this which remind me to lighten up, and somewhere deep I’m sure there’s a gratitude for that.

The others talked for a few minutes whilst I listened on comms – Nuggler and Big Smoke reconnecting like old friends. He offered us use of the Chimney Boys warehouse as a safehouse, apparently having already been looking after Nuggler’s daughter for a few hours, and access to any equipment or stock we needed. I recalled the shopping list I drafted the night before, and realised this was exactly what I needed.

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Once back in the van we followed Big Smoke’s undercover Ice Cream van back to the gang hideout, and dispatched. I handed over my shopping list;

2 x Flashbangs
2 x Frag grenades
1 x Ruger Super Warhawk
10 x High Ex Rounds
1 x Armor Jacket

The Warhawk was a little extra, after all I already have the Deputy, but it packs a bit more of a punch, which in combination with the high explosive rounds should put more of a dent in a Red Samurais armour. As I organised the gear Big Smoke mentioned they had a cyberdoc.

My conscious mind locked onto that fact like a sniper. There’s always been a peculiarity with my lack of augmentation, especially when you consider my cyberdeck was put into my chest so many years ago. I never wanted to matrix to leave me, hell it’s part of my identity at this point almost more than the meat. But some part of me was subconsciously holding onto my essence, as if it retained some important part of my humanity.

Truth is the loss of my parents, of Blue Sun, and of Recursion, stripped me of that a long time ago. I’d known for a while that burying my head in the sand in London, throwing myself into the drugs and idle harmless decking, was barely a BTL away from giving up entirely. And in that moment, it occurred to me that I was so far gone already, fuck I even lived through the Crash 2.0, that what did it matter anymore?

“I need reaction enhancers in my spinal column” I said straight, “and an upgrade to my cyber eye”. I could have sworn Knife looked across at me with a type of pride then, and Big Smoke nodded in acknowledgement.

“Lenny” he yelled somewhere towards the back. A few moments passed, before a short topless guy sporting chemical burns and strange swirling digital graphics on his skin wandered in through a doorway eating a sandwich. Clearly this was not a clinical corporate cyberdoc, more street level and rough around the edges, but needs must.

“Wash your hands” I said to him directly, “I need a new spine”.

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Lenny put me under for the surgery, and I was more than happy for the warm embrace of chemically induced consciousness loss. There was no trepidation left in me for this op, after all I’d had my eye and chest done before. In its place was a strange sense of serenity, as if accepting new responsibility. Rating 2 reaction enhancers would allow me to see faster in the meat, shoot faster if needed, and a laser targeting upgrade to my cyber eye should mean those shots landed more often.

I didn’t dream when I was under, something I consider a mercy these days, and awoke in that groggy peaceful way you do when opioids begin to wear off. Opening my human eye the light flooded back in, and I found myself staring at the floor. I couldn’t hear anybody else around so tried to move my arms which worked, individually running my fingers along my vertebrae.

Lenny had stitched me up good, chemically rebinding my flesh to mend faster, and it felt as complete as a new scar could. I watched the sub systems for my eye boot again and found the new settings, flicking the laser on and off a few times with a thought as it lit the floor below. Moving from lying on my front I rotated onto my back, and found there was no pain where the surgery had taken place.

I tried to sit up too quickly, and immediately felt a wave of disoriented sickness. This was oddly familiar to me, the number of bad trips and burnout matrix sessions I’d had too many to count at this point, and I did the normal response of closing my eyes, focusing inwardly and breathing. Running a conscious scan of my body it was clear something had changed, but not how quite yet.

I sat there for a few minutes just breathing, near meditating, adjusting to whatever new normal this was going to be. As the sickness abated I re-opened my eyes and felt ready to stand, shifting off the slightly grubby operating table. Lenny was nowhere to be seen, which I had to take as a good sign, and I stood up to slowly pace across the room a few times.

Everything felt remarkably stable, a testament to Lenny’s skill over appearance, and over a few minutes something more than stable. Like a deep dive in the matrix time seemed to have warped a little, felt a little slower somehow, as if patterns were shifting more quickly. Usually when drug induced this was matched with visual feedback, but now it was just an intuitive feeling, as if the world had physically slowed.

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I headed out of the operating room into the main warehouse, where various members of the Chimney boys were relaxing or rigging. I was twitchy, and grabbed a soycaf with some half-baked hope it might level me out. As I sipped it I noticed a crude, hand drawn note with the word ‘Meet in the meeting room’, signed Nuggler.

After a quick search, I found a side room with ‘Meeting’ crudely scrawled above the door, and entered to find the other guys already waiting inside. Nuggler nodded in acknowledgement, explaining Ivory was taking a break having picked up a brief illness from the polluted smog. A quick matrix search had revealed we were all wanted villains now, to the tune of 50k nuyen a head.

Something twitched within me and I leant to the side, raising a hand to catch a stray object hurtling towards my head. Gazing over to where it came from I found Knife, adorned with something resembling a smile.

“Wanted to check your new tech” he said, pleased with himself. I flicked my laser eye on, staring at him as if targeting, then knocked it off in acknowledgement. As I sat for the meeting to start Lenny walked in, and K1 greeted him warmly.

“Guys, can I uh join?” he asked. With no objection, Lenny entered and sat with us, Nuggler starting.

“This Samurai whatever” he said, “How do we kill it?”. I looked across to the others before volunteering my opinion.

“Red Samurai are fanatics, devoted entirely to their cause. Their body is like an extension of Renraku itself, augmented to do one thing and one thing extremely well”

“Hunt. Kill” finished Knife, with knowing admiration. I nodded.

“Usually they work as an incredibly tight knit unit, 4 or 5 of them that live and train together intensively, to foster group intuition. We’re lucky this one seems to be operating solo”. The discussion moved on briefly to tech, armour, what we could expect, before returning to the first question of how to stop him.

“I could blow myself up” suggested Knife.

“Oh, I could help you put bombs in your body” suggested Lenny with genuine enthusiasm. I wasn’t sold on some psycho suicide, but explosives might be a good shout.

“I have some experience with ordinance” I inserted, “Lenny, if the Chimney boys can get their hands on some maybe we could set up an ambush”. The talk continued, plans drawn and redrawn, strategy discussed, before we settled on something crude and barely finished. Details, we agreed, would be settled later, but we did know one thing about it.

It would be a full ambush and assault with everything we had.

TBC

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Line Matrix Journal #6
The Kidnapping

Fresh in the memory. Fresh in the memory. Write it down now to retain the sensation. Focus on the feeling, remember the feeling. Record the moment.

Because right now I’m livid.

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It’s been a month or so since our last job, when we wiped out the cabal. I’ve mostly been laying low, avoiding any undue attention whilst I decide how best to use my newly acquired resources. Didn’t hurt to keep our head down after the Renraku facility, either.

Not that it matters anymore.

I got a call from the same Renraku job Johnson, the prick with the spiky green mohawk.

“Hey man… how’s it going? Listen, you guys pulled through last time so we got a follow up if you’re interested?”

He sent the co-ordinates for a face to face meet which I floated over commlink to the others. They seemed keen so we agreed to meet up and head over.

“I’ll pick you up in Goldblum” said K1. Turns out that was now the name for the customised Bulldog the Chimney gang had arranged for us as payment for the last job. As he scooped up Ivory and myself I couldn’t help but notice the bright purple paintjob he’d given the thing, hardly inconspicuous.

Damned Riggers.

“The fuck is this, an ice cream van?” asked Nuggler as we stopped to collect him.

“Sure” replied K1, “Want an ice cream?”

“Yeah”

“Don’t have any”. Nuggler climbed into the van as the axle audibly creaked under the weight, and we set off the meet the Johnson. Rocking about central London on a Sunday afternoon in a neon adorned van called Goldblum was not exactly the cloak and dagger vibe I was used to from before. Still, the van was solid, and would do for transport on runs.

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We pulled up at the meet point, some tacky milkshake diner utterly typical of this Johnson’s style. Walking in I spied him in a booth and approached the counter, asking if the coffee was any good. The disinterested response of the employee convinced me not to bother, and I headed over to negotiate.

Nuggler decided this was, at it always was for him, a great time to eat.

“100 waffles” he said without irony, “and a crate of maple syrup”. The bemused employee took a second to clock that he was serious, darting into the kitchen to do what he could.

I slid into the booth seating opposite the Johnson, K1 and Ivory browsing the place. He smiled as I did so – we were reliable earners after all.

“Good you came. Listen, the job is something of a follow up to the last one”

“How so?” I asked, nervous about the attention we had drawn before.

“The buyer we had lined up for the item you took has pulled out. We have found new buyers, but they need certain assurances before the deal is agreed”. Nuggler had since sat his huge bulk into the booth behind the Johnson, starting to devour the first wave of waffles.

“The job is worth 100k, and its basic extraction. All we need is for you to get the scientist who originally worked on the job to a meeting point of our choosing, so the new buyer can glean some information on his purchase. Simple enough?”. A snatch and grab worth 100k wasn’t too bad, depending on the circumstance.

K1 remained nervous about the Johnsons’s motive and after last time I didn’t blame him. He scrutinised the guy but came up short, sent me a PM in my AR eye; “dnt trust him”. Without blinking I AR hacked the guy’s cosmetic cyber eyes, sending a PM back to K1; “Dw, if he screws us we’ll take his eyes”.

Ensuring that Ivory was also on board we took the job, and the Johnson smiled heartily, giving us the details. Moving to leave we indicated for Nuggler to follow, who shouted;

“I’ll take the rest to go”.

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Goldblum turned out to be a decent ride, even with a nine-foot Troll devouring waffles the whole way. As we had some time before arrival I ran a matrix search on the target – ‘Dr. Kenneth Lesco’.

He had attended an American University; physics and engineering. Other than that, details were a bit light – he had a family, used to be on a softball team. Somewhere down the line he had been picked up to head the Renraku project we broke into a few weeks back.

These days he lived in a condo building in central London so we pulled up about a block away. Starting a sweep K1 sent Mr. Jefferson up high, Ivory checking the astral. Everything here seemed remarkably quiet for the city; the distinct scent of money.

I needed access to the buildings network but the grid was fuzzy, so decided to check if I could hardline from inside.

“I’ll need a reason to be in the building before I jack in” I said to the others, open to suggestions. A few moments of head scratching and a plan was drafted – Ivory would disguise me as a delivery man, utilising Nugglers left overs.

“Gimme the waffles – I’m going in”

The rest of the crew hung back as I entered the lobby, single guard on duty. The Ork looked up as I entered, barely bothered about my presence. The door to the security room seemed to be about a meter behind him, rendering that idea moot.

“Waffle delivery man, here to deliver waffles” I said flatly. I’m not a great actor.

“Which floor?” asked the security guard.

“23” I replied, realising that delivering waffles at 11pm on a Sunday night was in fact more suspect than we may have considered. Still the guard waved me onwards, toward the elevators.

Entering I pushed the button for the 23rd floor and got to work. The security camera in the elevator had a jack point so I stood under it, ran my datajack in and set the camera to loop. Noticing a vent on the roof I hopped out into the shaft, perched up on top of the elevator and hacked the network.

The security system wasn’t difficult to crack and granted me full access to the elevators, security cameras, door controls.

“I’m in” I said over commlink, sharing the AR feed with the others to watch.

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It was at this moment we realised we hadn’t planned the rest of the run, and initiated ‘winging it’.

“Does the building have a parking garage?” asked K1 over comms. It did and I clocked his plan – I even had access to the garage doors. I relayed this and the others headed over in the van, parking up ready to extract the target.

The elevator got to the 23rd floor and I opened the lift door. After a short attempt to lure somebody with some strange door behaviour I realised that the apartment was separate to the lift, and buzzed the flat instead.

After a minute or so of waiting a rather laboured voice came through the other end.

“Hu.. hullo? Who is this?”. Winging it.

“Hey, this is downstairs. There’s been some sort of delivery of… softball memorabilia for you. Could you come and collect it?”

“What? It’s 11pm on a Sunday evening… can I do it in the morning?”.

“Well we need a signature and I think it would be better if…”

“I’ll see you in the morning” came the voice, hanging up.

“Good plan Line” joked Nuggler from downstairs. This face stuff was not really my forte.

“Patch me in” said K1, “I have a plan”. I ran his comms to the buzzer and he summoned the man once more. An even more tired greeting this time;

“Hello..what?”.

“Hello. Dr. Lesco, this is Mr. Fumasu from Renraku. I apologise for contacting you at such a late hour”. This seemed to get more of his attention than ridiculous softball delivery attempt. Knife continued with a valiant effort to emulate his father, something about an emergency project, but again no dice.

Two failed attempts at pursuasion, Nuggler suggested his own plan.

“In the front door. Pick him up. Walk out”. As blunt as it was subtlety hadn’t done it, so I ran the lift down to the garage to collect the rest of the gang. On the ride back up I hopped back out of the vent and the four of us stood awkwardly at the nights proceedings.

Once again arriving at floor 23 I used my autopicker to get us into the apartment. K1 moved ahead as stealthily as possible with the rest of us in tow, and I kept my network connection active. To the left a light shone, and as K1 crested the corner a man stood in his dressing gown and total surprise.

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In these moments, it helps to have your entire nervous system rewired for maximum reaction time. K1 leapt at the guy using his shock hands to render him unconscious before he could do much. A black object dropped to the floor which K1 scooped up, making only a slight noise.

“Dad?” came a child’s voice from the next room.

“It’s nothing, go back to bed” replied K1, imitating Dr. Lesco. The blag seemed to be working, but we heard murmurs of a woman’s voice shortly after through the wall. As a light turned on through the crack in the door adjacent to ours Nuggler took action.

“My way it is” he announced, lifting Dr. Lesco off the floor. I cut the lights to the floor and heard a woman scream, forcing us to move. We booked it out of the apartment back towards the lift, and I sent us straight down to the parking garage.

We got to the van and bolted sharpish – not the cleanest job. Hitting the streets, we tore away from the apartments, and I was just grateful that it was done. From the driver’s seat K1 lifted the bit of black plastic he retrieved, which looked suspiciously like a panic button.

“Guys?” – All of us knew enough to know that meant trouble.

“Give me a second” I said, firing my cyber eye’s AR to scan for signals. My heart skipped a beat as I found one on Dr. Lesco’s person, buried in his leg. “Ok we’re fucked”.

“What is it?” asked Ivory.

“That’s a panic button, right? Well the tracker it’s linked to is there” I replied, pointing at his leg. If Renraku knew where he was they knew where we were, where the van was, and we were all in deep shit unless we could solve it.

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“How long have we got?” asked Nuggler. I shrugged, and booted my cyberdeck to check.

“I have a plan – Nuggler take the wheel” said K1, shifting from the front. They switched and K1 pulled out one of his combat axes to perform desperate mobile surgery.

“This could get messy” stated K1, and with Nugglers driving I could see why. Whilst the amateur doctor got to work on our patient as delicately as a cyber enhanced killer can, I soft simmed into the matrix and scanned the Renraku grid to check if they were onto us. There we were, lit up like a Christmas tree, broadcasting our location to whoever was on the other side of that tracker.

“Two minutes, tops” I said, getting a read. Ivory wedged up against a corner of the van, trying not to get blood on her white clothes, whilst K1 opened Lesco’s leg.

“Where are we driving?” asked Nuggler whilst swerving, as a blood pattern decorated a wall of the van. Still in the matrix I talked fast in response;

“An alley, get us hidden. Ivory, prep an illusion spell. K1, when you’re done get Jefferson to fly that tracker as far away from us as possible”. Any authority I had in that moment was mimicry of someone I once knew, the way they used to speak when shit hit fans.

With a final splatter K1 wrenched the tracker from the unconscious Lesco’s leg, summoning his drone to collect it. Distracted by dodging plasma I missed the intrusion, and switched back to VR in time to see something which froze me solid. A figure walked towards me in the matrix, and slashed at me with a digitised katana.

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I reeled taking damage and panicked – jacking out and suffering dumpshock which careened me into the side of the van. Shaking it off I looked up to Ivory’s bemused stare, smoke rising from my chest where my cyberdeck has taken a hit.

“Line…?” she started.

“Get us hidden, NOW” I said with as much force as my muddled head would allow. Nuggler pulled down an alleyway leading to a small park, as inconspicuously as possible. Ivory performed some gestures I’d never seen, and when she finished we gave off the appearance of a simple tree. Best we had.

In the meantime, K1 handed off the tracker to Jefferson, who flew it straight up into the sky. Just as everything quietened down in the blood soak van we heard it – VTOL blades whirring in the distance. Exchanging glances, we realised how tight that was, hoping the illusion would hold.

Jefferson reached a fair height and began to rotate, spinning until he was fast enough to let loose the tracker a kilometer or two. With that done it looked like a sit and wait job – that was until the vulcan cannon opened fire.

We heard it tearing bullets through the air and braced, but the impact never came. Instead there was a sound of metal shredding above us, and the dawning realisation that Mr. Jefferson was no more. The VTOL descended into view, foliage rustling at the force of its presence. We held our collective breath.

It hovered at first, likely scanning the area for anything it could find. Deep parts of me were soaked with fear, but beneath that something else had begun to awaken. We sat quietly as it flew around, scouting comprehensively, and I noticed that K1 also seemed displeased by the events.

After a few long minutes it stopped scanning, backed up and flew off the way it came. Somehow in all of this we had escaped, and made it away from a Renraku response unit. But not just any.

A fucking Red Samurai.

“Another textbook run” said Nuggler.

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With the hand-off still to do we waited a few more minutes before driving away. I was hesitant to use any tech in case they were still watching, and Nuggler commed the Johnson.

“I’m the waffle troll, not much time – where do you want the guy?” he said. Details of a location not too far from ours were exchanged and agreed, and we headed towards the drop, desperate to finish this mess. K1 looked at me, and the visible damage I’d taken from the cyberattack.

“Line what happened?” he asked. I looked back at him gravely, and perhaps he saw something in my human eye he’d never seen before.

“Red Samurai” I responded. K1 nodded knowingly, something there too maybe, and went into himself a little. I took off my coat and peeled up my t-shirt to check the side of my rib cage, where my cyberdeck sits. There was some scorching around the edges of the flesh, singed muscle tissue, but it was minor.

Reluctantly I took a deep breath and booted it on silent mode to check if we were still being followed. Fortunately, we were in the clear, and I relayed this to the team before slumping against the side of the van. Eventually, we arrived at the drop site.

Somewhat sloppily none of us swept it first, but it didn’t matter. The Johnson appeared with a few rent-a-goons trying to look hard, but a quick look at the four of us piling out of a blood-soaked van conveyed how unimpressed we were.

“What happened?” asked the Johnson, a little shocked as he looked at the unconscious Dr. Lesco and the blood stains along his leg.

“You ask too many questions” replied Nuggler, “You got the creds?”. The rent-a-goons did their best impression of being intimidating, and Knife sighed.

“We weren’t followed” said Knife bluntly, “and we lost the gunship that murdered my best friend”. There was something in his tone, possibly vitriol, maybe something worse, which made the Johnson and his boys stop pushing. I looked across to Ivory and felt a sense of pity that things got so out of hand, regret that we couldn’t keep it clean.

The Johnson threw us four credsticks which we accepted, and Nuggler carried Dr. Lesco’s bloodied unconscious form over to them for the drop-off. Wisely, the Johnson and his boys accepted, and swiftly left. As they vanished back into the darkness of the early morning I felt a sense of tiredness wash over me, and was relieved this was all done with.

line6-10.jpg

When I saw him appear in the matrix I froze, and suddenly it was two years ago all over again. Red Samurai – the same kind of cunt that probably killed my last family back in Hong Kong, coming into the matrix, to my cyberdeck to hunt me. Upon reflection, I know what sensation awoke under that reactionary cold fear in the van.

Rage.

Absolute and complete, suppressed since I got to London, hidden beneath the waves of Bliss I’ve smoked, buried in the past. The unbridled fury inherited when someone attacks you. And worse, those you love.

Somehow, even on the other side of the world, even after leaving that life behind I’ve ended up back in their crosshairs again. Another team I’ve just started to warm to now on the brink of being torn apart by the same people who took everything from me for the third time in my life. I guess you can’t outrun fate.

Perhaps this anger can be used. Perhaps if I channel it, I can find a way to prevent the same thing from happening again. I’m just a decker, I can’t fight Red Samurai, Renraku, head on; it’s suicide. But there’s something about this team that makes me believe we have a chance somehow, found somewhere in navigating the cracks, almost by sheer force of will alone.

Dangerous to hope, I know. For now, I’ve drafted a list of gear and ordinance just in case, including something special, in case the fight does find us again. In the meantime it’s 3am and I’m shattered, so I’m going to hit the hay and hope this all dies down.

Line out.

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View
K1/Log
Events To Date

1.
Finally got some work. Needed this for a while. Running out of funding for upgrades and
new toys. Was almost considering talking to family. Almost. Price of that would be too
high.

Juno put me in touch with a team. Pretty good one. Line’s a decker who takes his shit
seriously. Pretty sure he’s built his deck into his own goddamn torso. Respect.

Nuggler is seven foot of wasted potential. All that meat and muscle. It’d be a perfect
canvas. He’s like a fucking fetus that hasn’t realised it’s supposed to grow.
A fetus that could tear a car in two without breaking a sweat though, to be fair.

Job was an extraction, and one for Juno himself, not a Johnson. Victim had been taken by a
bike gang. Small timers. No-one interesting.
Line set up across the way to get his snipe on. Nuggler lurked round a corner. I went in
to lure the fuckers out. I mean… I’m fairly certain the plan was that I fuck with them.
They chase me. Nuggler gets the target out. We go about our business.

The fucking with them part was spot on.

I raked my Horizon-Flynn down their rides to a glorious cheer of scraping metal and
shrieking alarms. They weren’t rigged up to their rides so their alerts had to be audio, a
couple had default screamers but a few had some custom old junk-metal tracks as their
alarms. Good tunes.

Line has eyes on the place from a vantage point. Feeding it to us, along with commentary.
Doesn’t feel like he wants to be a leader. Feels like he should be though. Could be a
problem down the HAHAH wait no I can’t say that.

Some of the gang come after me, but not enough. Gonna have to actually deal with them
properly. Oh dear. What a pity.

Nuggler gets a fucking chrome idea to wrench a lamp-post from the ground and twat a few of
them with it, so I 180 around and head on back. Motherfucker can’t shift the pole though.
That’s okay.

We’ll work on that.

I’m coming at a couple of these bastards, hell for leather, and they seem like they’re
ready for a game of chicken, or maybe to pop off a few shots? I don’t know.
They certainly weren’t prepared for jousting.

I can now tick “skewer motherfucker during vehicular combat” off my bucket list.

Between Nuggler pasting multiple meatsacks with a single punch, Line popping off precise
watermelon snipes, and my high speed spearing antics, the gang goes down smoothly. It
feels good to stretch the limbs. We get the target out. We get paid.

Good times.

Job Done.


2.
Last job should have gotten us some respect from Juno. Better jobs. Better targets.
Fuckers having a laugh at us with this one, I swear.
Pinch a manuscript from a film set.

Gotta play it quiet. Gotta play it careful. BECAUSE THERE ARE LITERALLY HUNDEREDS OF
GODDAMN EYES EVERYWHERE. Crew, fans, PRESS, security cams, GODDAMN PRESS CAMS they are
EVERYWHERE and if anything goes south on this mission then IT WILL BE ON EVERY FEED ON
EVERY SCREEN
EVERY WHERE

So we gotta play it cool.

We decide to infiltrate the place under the guise of “extras!” Nuggler uses some of his
experience with the more theatrical side of professional combat, and the rest of us get by
on looking the part. They need some “runner” looking types. What a wonderful coincidence
we fit the part.

It all went… wonderfully.
We managed to blend in. We got the job done. We had fun with it. We didn’t get caught.
There’s nothing to go into. it went that smoothly.
We got the manuscript, plus a few fun props that would sell for a pretty penny.

Everything went ridiculously well.
Until it came to getting back to the Johnson.

So we go to him with a copy of the manuscript, and we give it to him.
He thanks us and says our cash will be with Reno.
Cool. Same as the last job. Great.

Nam8.

We call up Reno. He points out that the last job was for him and usually the Johnson
pays up directly.
Johnsons gone.

I hit up Line, who’s already half-cut, and get him to flag up the cctv for the johnsons
vehicle.
Easy job for him and he flags up a location quickly. I’m on it.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

I get up alongside the vehicle and give the window a polite little rap.
Johnson looks at me like I’m a headless fucking horseman, and I give him a polite grin and
gesture for him to please kindly pull the merry fuck over. Right now. Please. Now.

He peels off. Hahhaha! HAH! He’s in a car. In London. And i’m on a fucking bike.
I make a show of tailing him, then vanish off just to appear from an alley ahead of him.
Repeat to fade, when he gives up and pulls up to a nice quiet spot to deal with business.

For the temerity of trying to fuck us, I tell him that we will be receiving 50k, rather
than the promised 30k. He stutters that he needed this to pay of some debts, and I feel
for him, i really do.

But I call down Mr Jefferson anyway.
Now. Jeffers had been politely keeping to himself all mission. I had him with us when we
did the job, lurking up there with the FEEDX and NEWSCAS and CELEBRO drones all keeping a
constant desperate vigil. Just hanging there hoping that shit would hit the fan.

He’s a good drone, but the Johnson didn’t seem suitably impressed. So I had Mr. Jeffers
whip out his impressive package. All three foot of it. All three foot of rotating spinning
blade death. Hah!

Guy pisses himself. I let him know that it was easy enough finding him the first time,
it’ll be even easier keeping tabs when I have Mr Jefferson keeping an eye on the place. So
he’s gonna pay. He can pay by installments. He can pay in trade.
But he will pay.

He agrees.

Good times.

Job done.


3.
Might make a new rule. No jobs involving kids.
This one seemed pretty straight-forward;
Look after a Yakboss’ teen daughter while she hits up a ravecore gig. There’s a risk of a
rival gang making a play to grab/geek her, but the public venue means any such shit is
likely to be low-key and manageable. Good pay, considering.

We meet the girl. She’s an absolute brat. A real mob princess. Kinda kid that doesn’t just
know daddy could buy you, she knows daddy could make you and yours disappear with a
whisper, and she flaunts it. She doesn’t want us breathing down her neck while she tries
to have fun.

I’ve got no idea what to do with her. Needs a softer touch than I’m capable of. I let the
others handle her and try to put thoughts of how neatly her skull would suit my ride out
of my head.

Its an outside gig. Pretty massive. High stage, with screen-drones floating around shaped
like large mirrors and windows, giving those at the back a better view of the acts. Sound
system carries across the field. Great set-up. Pity about the trash playing.

Problems spark off fairly early on. We try to persuade her to stick by us, but she slips
away.
Kinda preferable. Hopefully she’ll cause some trouble we’ll get to put down.

We spot a dodgy looking shitbag heading her way, try to warn him off, he laughs at us.
Offers her some drugs and shit back in a private tent, and she eagerly follows.

We try to get in subtle like, and Line manages to loudly knock over a fucking fence.

Now, we’ve been playing nice up to this point. We’ve been trying to be good and
resposnsible. Deal with things with subtlety and persuasion. But its just not working.
Its just not who we are.
Line lies there flat on his face and mutters “Go Dynamic”.

A few punches, some electric fingers and a small grenade later and the goons are ko’d/gone
and Princess is pretty pissed off at us for ruining her fun. Boo-fucking-hoo.
Weren’t sure if the guys in the tent had regular nefarious intentions, or full on gangwar
plans.

Next guys were definitely of the mafioso persuasion. A few besuited trolls sauntered our
way with a definite interest in the princess. We tried. Again. I swear we tried. We tried
to warn them off. We made a play for the diplomatic option.

They declined.

We murdered them.

Good times.

Job done.


4.
This coulda been a great one, but it all went south quicker than your mother’s decapited
head.

First off; we’ve got a new playmate. Ivory. Mage with an inclination to headfuckery.
Illusions. That kinda shit. Useful.
But the slitch has it in her head that its a good idea to wear all white. In this dirty
business. Hah.

She’s in on this to fill for Nuggler, who is apparently Preoccupied. Trading muscle for
magic seems like a twitchy switch, but that all depends on the nature of the job.

We’re meeting the johnson at a Blue Banana. Tacky yufash for kiddies that want their
rebellion mass-produced and without risk. Always tempted to slip a lil toy into one of the
pockets as a little incentive for some random disgruntled teen to take things a step
further. Almost did it, but then we spot our johnson.

Green spiked hair, ostentatious bling and a piece of a shit replica-retro punk outfit that
has its attempted message drowned out by a scream of “I’m A Fucking Tool”.

Wants us to do a switch with an item in a Renraku facility. Fucking with Renraku always
tickles me, so I’m cool with the gig. 30k, plus a 10k bonus if we can do it quite. No
trace.

We’re down for that and start moving on the job straight off. No reason to wait around.
And I admit I was eager to start screwing with some suits.

Place is a pretty average multi, with a few different corps and such renting space. We
stake it out for a while, looking for an in. We’ll need an employee card to get in. Or at
least to get in quietly.
I want to find something big with lots of wheels carrying lots of metal and make a new
door.
Do it quiet. Get more mulah. Get better gear.

Across the street there’s a coffee place that half the damn staff seem to file into around
lunch time.
This is where Ivory gets to give us a little taste of her tricks. Sirens sound. Smoke is
smelled.
A false fire alarm. Nice stuff.
Works well and we nab an ID in the confusion. A little digifiddle from Line and “Jeremy
Fines” is upgraded to enjoying the full range of the facility that top security clearance
offers. Good for him. You’re truly going places Jeremy. Your wife and all you little Fines
would be proud. Except Clara. She’s a cunt.

Midnight comes around. We make our move.
Ivory uses her wibbly wobbly trickery to figure out there are only two sec in the place.
But there’s something else in there, something in the Renraku facility, that seems hazy to
her. PROBABLY NOT A PROBLEM. RIGHT GUYS?

We are stealth. We are grace. We are the night. Three elite agents effortlessly busting
into a OH WAIT WHOOPS THERES A GUARD RIGHT THERE

The guard we thought would be in the secrooms standing in the fucking lobby, eyes widening
in surprise. But before he can blink I’ve cleared the space between us and I give dat boi
MY DIGITS BABY. My fingers. Down his throat. And then I electrify him.
He’s down and unconcious, and barely had enough time to swing his torch our way. Not as
quiet as we’d hoped, but certainly not loud. Still every chance to make our extra 10k,
which Line works towards by taking supremem domination of their secsys. All cams set to
loops. All alarms put to sleep. All he can access that is. Renraku is its own authority.
Got its own seperate secsys to deal with. Easy enough, I’ve got a good ken of how they
work their shit.

We make our way their, avoiding the second guard, and Line gets us in easily enough, but
as we’re entering the Renraku area Ivory says the seven words that send this milk-run
sour.
“There are two Barghests down the hallway.”

Well. Fuck me. Fuck you. Fuck this. Fuck them. Fuck that.
Barghests.
Magic screaming murder dogs.

We get to the Renraku secroom and Line does his tricks again. We’ve got eyes on the
beasts. They’re patrolling together, sniffing the air. Those things get a whiff and they
will hunt us down. We map the place and try to figure out the mostly likely location for
our target, labs downstairs. Lift and stair access. We opt for stairs and start searching
while line keeps an eye on Scooby and Scrappy.

Good news; we find info on Project Crystaline, which matches the description given by the
Johnson.
Bad news; its back up the stairs. Which the dogs are currently approaching, noses glued to
the floor, following precisely the path we took. Fuck. Shit. Fuck.

I have no idea if I can kill a Barghest. I’d quite like to find out.
But I’m pretty sure murdering the magical guard-beasts is the polar opposite of “quiet”,
especially as the beasts in question have a “disturbing magical scream” going on.
They’ve got noses. We’ve got a multisensory illusionist. Ivory wiggles her fingers and
suddenly there’s a new scent leading from us down to the sub-basement, and we’re on way
back up the lift.

Getting the item was quick. Switching it was quick. Decoys a perfect match for it.

Job done?

No. Not sure what went wrong, but as soon as we get up to the main floor we see on the AR
feed from the cam that the Barghests are on the way back up, with a hell of a lot more
enthusiasm than they headed down. They KNOW we’re up here. These aren’t just animals.
These things can think, and reason, and want, and I’m pretty sure they want to eat us.

Map shows us an external door, leading to some kinda walled in area.
We bolt for it and Line starts trying to pick it.

A howl pierces from beind us. Even with the sensory protection my augs afford me, it was
still rattling. It sounded like something starved and hungry, not for meat, but for souls.
They’re about to be right on us, but Line gets the door open at the last moment and we’re
out, over the wall, and into the night.

So that’s it. Fuck yeah. We escaped the beasts. We got the loot. From the guard and the
pissed of barghests they’ll know someone was there, but thanks to the decoy they’ll never
know why, and soon as Line scrubs the vid they’ll never know who.

Job… done?

As soon as Line…

Hacks…

Oh shit.

Line fucking dropped it. He’s been solid up to this point. When it comes to decking he’s
been fucking chrome, but as he’s sitting there twitching away pulling at digital threads
only he can see his smile fades and I can fucking see it in his fucking face.
He’s fucking dropped it.
“We need to get out of here, right now” he says, and we do.

We peel off into the night on our bikes. Get a loc from the Johnson at a club named Pulsar
and as we pull up he holds up a commpad displaying exactly why Line got so rattled;
“Break-In at nearby Renraky Facility”
Our glorious ghostop broadcast for all to see, complete with vid of all of us.

Johnson’s happy enough about this. Saved him 10k.

My commlink goes off… It’s dear old dad.
He is not particularly thrilled, to put it mildly, that his darling baby boy has stolen
from the company he works for. He’s not exactly keen on my line of work, or my aesthetic
choices, or my moral ones, or literally just about anything about me. So I can honesly say
that the amount of fucks that I give could be easily counted by a Trog with cranial
trauma.

He sits there in his Renraku office, with his Renraku suit and Renraku sword, pointing at
me with a Renraku cyber-limb and glaring at me with Renraku eyes asking me why I took
Renraku property. I am not Renraku, and once upon a time neither was he. This sell-out
piece of shits got even less of a soul left than I do.
“If you’re interested in hiring us to reacquire the item in queston, then feel free to
make an offer.”
He hangs up.
Fuck him.
Fuck this.

Job done.


5.
So, we’re in the doghouse with Juno. Too hot to handle, which suits me just fine.
He threw us a bone though, another contact of his with jobs on offer.

This guy was a prof of magical theory at the university. No clue how he got involved with
matchmaking runners and johns. Gotta be a story there.

Had two jobs for us. Diametrically opposed ones. Gangs on a turf-war. Established black-
market tech dealers with a penchant for victoriana garb vs magical upstarts dipping their
toes in drugs and organ chop-shops. Both sound like they’d show me a good time, but the
Chimney Boys would likely be more useful to me in the long run.

Me and Nuggler went to see the Chimney Boys. Line and Ivory made contact with the magical
fuckstains. Bone-somethings.

Chimneyboys boss is a troll called Big Smoke. Hangs at a bar called Blood and Thunder.
Nice place. Really nice. Combat Bike Bar. Had the Tir na nog v UCAS game playing when we
arrived, so we just chilled watching that. UCAS have the tech but Tir na nog have the
moves. Almost a draw until Tir na nog made a pretty sweet chassis roll into UCAS’s last
jammer and came out on top in wipeout. Got talking to Big Smoke after that. Pretty
straightforward stuff; put an end to the bone bastards, get nuyen. Offered about 50k, but
I chimed in that what we’d really be after is a Bulldog. 25k and the ride was the final
offer. Big Smoke agreed, and said he’d throw in a little “something extra” for a full on
scorched earth.

Reported in to Line and Ivory, who got a pretty crappy impression from the Bone-Bastards.
A good offer, 60k, and a more precise mission, take out the CHimney Boys top brass. But
their set-up seemed pretty flakey, and the gang themselves were a pretentious drug-ruined
mess.

No debate needed. Chimney Boys had us. Nuggler and I headed right on over. Best to get
this out of the way asap. Grabbed Marmaduke on the way, and a combat axe I haven’t had a
chance to try out yet.

Gotta say I felt a little aprehensive. Tangled with spellshits a few times, but normally
just one or two in a larger squad. Geek the mage, slaughter the rest. Wasn’t really sure
how to approach a whole gang of the fuckers. Too many tricks to keep track of.

One trick, for example, was some kind of spirit Ivory saw watching the place.
We spent a touch too long on our planning and set-up, electing to have the rest of the
squad go in first under the premise of accepting the job, with my shiny slaughterous self
making the scene once our true intentions had become apparant, but that went straight to
shit when the rest of the team walked straight into a fireball.

So, seems that spirit had tipped the fuckers off. Need to get Nuggler to work out how to
punch those things. Or, more specifically, how to convince him that he can.

Me and the dog come straight on in and get ready to open up on what we can, but it looks
like most of the fuckers are invisible. Fucking invisible. And one of the shits covers the
floor in a bunch of ice too thick to get my claws into. Fucking ridiculous shit.
But this also pushes him a bit too far. He becomes visible. He gets an axe through the
torso.

Next thing I know Nuggler’s throwing a fucking table at ME because of MAGE BASED
MINDFUCKERY, and some martial arts motherfucker is trying to come at me. Thankfully he’s
having as much problem with the ice as I am and we both go down in an inept struggling
pile.
[VIDEO://k1import/NEWPARADISECCTV/NINJAVCYBORGFAIL]

He recovers through “Ninja Bullshit”. Literally running across the wall and backflipping
into the doorway seemed easier for him than just walking there.

And leaping across the room to land behind him was easier for me.
Because of my goddamn hydraulic backjointed robot legs.
Fuck I love being me.
[VIDEO://k1import/NEWPARADISECCTV/EVENT:NINJAVCYBORGMOBILITY]

Yeah, so that was about the time the fuckers with assault rifles up the stairs unloaded on
me.
Bare in mind that with my wired reflexes running full time this shit feels… slower to
me. Sometimes it’s like it’s happening underwater, or in a dream. You know, those ones
where your mind is working normally, but everything you interact with has slowed to a
crawl.
So I can feel flesh being shredded from plastic bone, I can hear this cacophonic pattering
of bullets hitting chrome like rain on a scrapyard, and I basically think this is it. I’m
dead.

Then the firing stops. The hulking form of Nuggler carrying a table like a shield rams in
between me and the stairs, and I feel my flesh knitting back together as Ivory drops a
heal.
Good team. Good tank. Good healer.

Good eyes from Line too, who has the mages leader, Mother Dream clocked in the room we’re
heading up to. It’s a glass vip room overlooking the club, so he decideds to set up a
sniping.

Nuggler heads in first though, and tries to tackle Mother Dream through the window… and
goes right through her.
Fucking. Mage. Bullshit.

He cracks into the ice… then charges back up to repeat the process somewhat more
effectively on one of the other, far more tangible, targets.

I try and threaten the last fuck into given up her boss. Credit to her, she aint scared.
Line puts a bullet through her.

And then things get a little hazy.

Because Line shoots me.

The assault rifles from before tore me down bit by bit, but even with my drawn-out
perception this shot was just one solid moment in time. One moment I was up, then I was
down. Flat on my back with a hole right through my chest, and out the other side. Too much
weak meat.
And again, Ivory gets me back on my feet. That’s two I owe her.

So someones fucking with Line’s head. Someone who hasn’t already been eviscerated,
perforated, or flattened. I switch to thermal and low and behold, there’s a hot silhouette
in the corner of the room. I start chopping. Been restrained up ‘til now, been a good boy
trying to keep the rest of the squad from freaking out like the last guys, but fucking
scorch it I really can’t keep it down any more. I’m half dead, and the half that aint
weren’t really alive to begin with and this bitch has fucked with two of MY lads heads, so
no I am not going easy on her. I take the axe to her, again, and again, and again, until
she is fucking paste. Until she’s been worked so deep into the floorboards they’ll have to
burn the place down to bury her.
[VIDEO://k1ocu/motherdreamdead]

Job done.
Mostly.

Back room up there has the chop shop. We’d almost forgotten about that. Looks like a
surgery, but look a little closer and all the tools are sharp, all the chemicals are
preservatives, no sedatives. Something useful stuff in there. Useful to me, or just
valuable to sell on. Pretty strong temptation. Feeling the need for some upgrades. There’s
a guy working in here. Room’s soundproofed, so he doesn’t even know all his friends are
dead. Felt pretty tempted to just take over. Tell him I’m in charge now. Get him to fix me
up with some new flesh, something more durable, more sleek and shiny and less disgustingly
vulnerable.

Nuggler picks the guy up, and he turns to me, and he says

“We need to leave a message.”

They leave, they don’t want to see what’s going to happen, they can’t.
And I just let it all go. Everything that’s been building up, everything that I’ve been
choking down. I let it all out on this fuck. I tell myself it’s because he trades in sick
shit, but you know what I don’t give a fuck about that. Hell, I’d probably happily get
involved. I tell myself it’s because it’s the job, send a message, take down the gang, but
we have DONE that, these guys are not coming back and its a strong warning to anyone else
trying to move in on the Chimney Boys turf.

I did what I did to that man because I wanted to. Because I needed to.
And I loved it.

[VIDEO://k1ocu/sendamessage]

It’s done. The guy is still alive, technically. Hands gone. Feet gone. An eye gone. Most
of his trade goods from the rooms coolers also gone. Most of his sanity and self likely
also gone. But alive.

Fuck I don’t think the others were expecting that. The way they looked at me afterwards
when I dragged him out.
They asked for it. “Send a message.”
Can’t stomach it themselves. That’s why they need me.

We torch the place and leave.
Big Smoke’s happy with the job done. Well. No. He’s satisfied with it. But Line plays him
the video of what I did to Mother Dream and he goes pale too. A gang boss can’t stand to
look at it. The whole gang have to fucking look away. Just small timers who couldn’t
stomach the violence themselves. That’s why they needed us.
I just fucking smile.

We head to their place. Get the money, talk on the Bulldog. It’s coming soon.
I’ve stopped fucking listening. Keep thinking about kicking out the supports by a mechanic
working under a car. Some dwarf that was at the bar glances at me and panics when he sees
me looking back, and I just want to grab the back of his skull and crank up the juice til
his head looks like a jack-o-lanterne. I gotta disable my own goddamn arms at one point to
stop myself feeding a guy into a scrap-crusher just for looking at me. Fuck.

Great times.

Job done.


6.

I’ve been waiting for a job like this one.
Needed to get a better measure of my current coworkers.
They got squeamish on our last romp, which had me worried they might not be able to
stomach the harder shit but here we are, presented with a request to kidnap a man, and
they don’t even debate it.

Same Johnson as the Renraku job that got me even deeper into dear old dads bad books. Boo
hoo.

Big Smoke hooked me up with a sweet Bulldog, complete with drone rack.
Her name is Jeff Goldblum. I’ve already painted her up with Jeff’s beautiful face
surrounded by neon electric eels.

We roll up in that to a milkshake bar that hipster shits waiting at and head on in.
He’s got himself some fancy new gold and green eyes, likely using the money we earned him.
Mine are better, but hell who doesn’t need a few spares! Hoping he’ll give me an excuse.

Johnson hasn’t met Nuggler, so we have him hang back and keep it covert. Keep an eye on
things.
He orders 100 waffles.
Of course he does.

THAT THING YOU DONE STOLE FOR ME
Yeah?
DONT KNOW WHAT THE FUCK IT DOES
Cool, sounds like your heist was poorly planned then.
KIDNAP SCIENTIST WHO MADE IT
Hahaha, what. No. Nuggler’s a family man, and Line doesn’t seem like he’d
Sure thang.
Wait what.
That
Just happened?

The 25k offered might have something to do with that.
Okay. Cool. I’m down with this.
Nuggler gets his waffles to go.

Dr. Kevin Lesco is the target.
He’s Bunraku boy, so he’s got a fairly nice place. Apartment complex ain’t gonna be hard
to bust, but the louder we make it the more shit Renraku are likely to rain down upon us.

“Ivory, can you make me look like a waffle delivery man?”
That plan gets bounced around a bit, but whichever way we twist it, we can’t make it
float. More recon needed, but we’re leaning towards a straight up grab.

Line heads on in and bluffs his way up as a
Once he’s in we get plenty more cards up our sleeves. Line’s got his fingers right up
every inch of the blocks bits and bobs, as usual. Lifts/doors/cams. Opens up the parking
lot and Jeff Goldblum rolls on in.

So, Line’s got access to the guys intercom, and I’ve got a FANTASTIC PLAN.
A little playing with my throat aug and I can make myself sound like just about anyone I’d
like, and this guys a Renraku tool… which means he’d be familiar with the head of
Renraku’s local Heavy Industries manufaction. Dear. Old. Dad.

“DR. LESCO. DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS. THAT IS RIGHT… MR. FUMASU.
I’VE BEEN WORKING ON A PROJECT DR. LESCO. ONE VERY IMPORTANT TO THE COMPANY.
IT’S ALMOST COMPLETE DR. LESCO. BUT THE ONE THING WE HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO PERFECT
ARE ITS EYES

I BELIEVE YOU ARE THE MAN WE NEED DR. LESCO.
THE MAN WE NEED TO BRING RENRAKU’S GREATEST CREATION TO LIFE.
I HAVE A CAR WAITING FOR YOU DOWNSTAIRS, YOU ONLY NEED TO JOIN US TO TAKE A STEP OUT OF
OBSCURITY AND INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS.

WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER, DR LESCO."

“nahm8”

“…WELL. FUCK.”

Paraphrasing, yeah, but basically the whole ruse fails and we skip straight to the
breaking and entering, then possibly more breaking?
Line gets the door open, I head in and clock a few signs of cohabitation. Icefucks.
Complications we were half aware of the danger of, but likely should have taken more
seriously.

Lesco’s still awake, getting himself a midnight drink in the lounge after being so rudely
and weirdly awakened by a division head with a bizarre offer… He sees me.
The glass falls from his hand.
His other hand SQUEEZES SOMETHING.

And the next moment I’m on him running enough volts through him to send him straight back
to sleep.
A wife wakes. A scream is heard. And we run, unconcious physicist slung over Nuggler’s
ample shoulders.

So. That thing he squeezed. That’d be a Renraku panic button, meaning they know somethings
up and likely where its heading. Button (and likely tracking tech within) goes straight
out the window… buuuut I’ve got a good idea of how Renraku work. Employees are part of
the company. They’re owned by it. Like some vast flailing organism trying to assimilate
all others as parts of its body, as twisted reflections of itself. So Dr. Lesco here
likely has a bit of that beast in him as well. A tracker.

Nuggler takes the wheel and I have a go at carefully and surgically removing the device I
find in his left thigh.

I fail. So i just carve the fucker out and let Ivory heal the mess, but problem is… we
were too late. Line gives us the heads up that something had a lock on the signal already,
and that something is coming in quick. Something in the air.

And then that something shuts Line’s shit down. Last thing he sees in cyberspace is a Red
Samurai icon, before he burns out to keep their trace spreading to all our shit.

A Red Samurai.

These are Renraku’s special boys. Their top enforcers. They protect all Renraku’s most
important assets, including their rep. They keep Renraku respected. They maintain the
myth.
Renraku are just another corp. They devour lives and shit out profit. But the Red Samurai
make them seem like something more. Something special. They’re cast as honourable heroes.
The good guys. Riding in to save the day when rogue agents would seek to steal medical
advances that could save sick kids. When rival, less benevolent, corps swoop in to steal
and murder. When cowardice and dishonour threaten the innocent.
It’s bullshit.
They’re just corps thugs with a more fanatical mindset.

And they’re after us.

So this doc is a big deal, but we already knew that. We need to get rid of the second
tracker, but whatever is on our tail already knows where we were and which way we’re
going, so we make for the cover of the park hoping to obfuscate our trail.
GOOD THING WE HAVE A SUBTLE AND STEALTHY RIDe why did I paint jeff golblums face on the
never mind

We find a spot and try to sit quiet. I send Mr Jefferson up to take the tracker off, and
hopefully take a quick look and… he’s eviscerated.
A goddamn gunship comes in hot and heavy and Jefferson does an elegant dance between the
hail of fire that instantly opens up like rain on your wedding day, but it aint enough.
He’s gone. The hours, the days of work that went into his custom chassis, trying to keep
him aiborne with all that whirring death hanging out like satans cock, recoding his pilot
and targeting software so he can shred without spinning himself out of the sky, all that
work just gone.

We keep still. Not sure how long we’re there, but we stay still, and silent, and wait for
the fucker to sod off. Nowhere to set down here. He’s got nothing to track on us any more.
No reason to risk giving him a visual.

He goes.

We go.

We find our way to the hand-off, and we’re suitabily irate with the Green Prick.
Fucker must have known the kinda heat he was inviting with this, and when he sees how
pissed we are that mask of smug confidence he’s been wearing finally drops.
Fuckers terrified we coulda been followed. We reassure him otherwise and chuck him his
meat.

25K Payday for us.
Part of me knows I can use this to build something new. Something bigger. Something
better.
Part of me feels like it just died.

Job done.


6.1

RUSTED COCKSHAFT
CRUSTED FUCKSTICKS JAMMED UP A BLOATED EXHAUST PORT

I AM AN IDIOT
LINE IS AN IDIOT
IVORY IS AN IDIOT
NUGGLER IS PROBABLY ASLEEP

We were all so eager to get that job done.
We were all so keen for it to be over.
For the entire shitstorm of a Red Samurai squad to NOT descend from the sky.
We were so fucking RELIEVED that it didn’t happen that we just fucking accepted it.

I can blame grief. I can blame distraction. BUT I KNOW HOW THOSE FUCKERS OPERATE

Hasn’t been long since my last update. I went back to try and grab Jeffersons wreckage…
all I found was his hat.

Then I get the call. It’s Reno.
It’s video.

He’s tied up in his office. He’s battered. He’s broken. But he’s breathing. Someone’s
worked him over hard. And that someone is still there.
A Red Samurai. Heavily cybered. A skull face in his armour seems to move naturally as he
does, as he speaks, like it’s alive. I feel envy.
He addresses us as gaijin. We’ve insulted Renraku’s honour.
And he knows us.
He holds up the Green Pricks shiny gold cyber-eyes.
Envy strikes up again. I wanted to take those…
He promises to come for us next, and part of me is looking forward to it. To getting to
see this thing in action first-hand. I wonder how much meat is left under there.

And that’s when I see the news.
RENRAKU SUBSIDIARY CEO COMMITS SEPPUKU IN FRONT OF WORK FORCE

My father is dead.
My father has killed himself.
My father has been killed.

His death is the result of actions taken by myself.
I am aware that I should feel something concerning this, but I do not.
Whether this is shock, my inherent nature, or a side-effect of the repeated stripping away
of my humanity, I am not sure.
I hope it is not shock.

He was an artefact of a life I never wanted, nor felt any attachment to. His removal
allows me to more purely be me. His removal eliminates any possibility of him being used
against me in the future.

All I have truly lost is a contact. A resource for acquiring information, and an
unreliable one at that due to his ridiculous dedication to a corporate entity.

I am not glad he is dead. I feel nothing.

View
Line Matrix journal #5
Linewater/Gang War

Adding those memories to the glow has helped clear my head, as if somehow reliving them, sorting through the details of my past allowed me to dust away the edges of my mind. I feel a renewed sense of focus and after the Renraku run put together a few shopping lists to get myself back on my feet.

Not to mention additions to my pet project.

I just got back from another run less than 24 hours since Renraku. A messy one. The short version is that Nuggler and Knife are effective team mates, focused and capable. They’re just front door people where my background in infiltration jars a little.

The long version goes like this:

soundwave.jpg

Commlink from Reno:

“What the fuck did you guys do? I got heat crawling all over my place after your last job – Renraku? What were you thinking? Don’t answer that just listen – I’m going quiet for a while until this blows over, I suggest you do the same.

In the mean time I have a lead if you need work, a new fixer. Name of Professor Vandel operating out of the Imperial College. Here’s his details if you want to check the run. Oh and don’t contact me – I will contact you".

Without giving me a chance to respond he drops the call. I open comms to the others:

Knife seems to be somewhere checking out LED hair implants. Ivory is sat in some coffee shop, probably acquiring those fake SINs we need. Nuggler appears in a leotard upside down doing some training exercise.

“You guys wanted to be famous too huh?” quips Nuggler, alluding to the news reports.

“You can thank Line for that" replies K1. I grimace and push onward.

“This isn’t a social call – we might have a job. Reno wants nothing to do with us whilst the heat dies down but he gave us a lead. Should I hit it up?”. Nodding heads all round – I guess we all could use the nuyen.

Without waiting I patch us all to Professor Vandel.

“Ah yes hello” he says, “You must be the people for the job. Well let’s not hesitate – meet me at the Imperial College London, metaphysics department in the auditorium, as soon as possible”. Commlink off we all dispatch post haste.

I scope the place out half hour before the meet – old habits – but it’s just a placid university grounds. Ivory rolls up in a different floppy hat, Nuggler and Knife soon after. I join them and we head into the college, towards the auditorium.

university.jpg

If you could say anything for London it certainly does historical buildings with a certain class. Walking through that place was like an echo of the past, a time before the awakening when human progress was achieved in mahogany chairs on marble floors.

The auditorium is a great open space with students scrawling notes from a digital whiteboard. Towards the front is an older man, bearded and balding, Vandel himself. We head down towards him as Ivory checks out the rudimentary magical equations the students are learning.

“Ah yes please, have a seat” he says. We all sit except Nuggler who, being 8’5 lunges his foot onto a chair. The Professor apprehensively nods at this.

“Reno tells me you people can solve… particular problems?” he asks.

“We’re professionals” I reply as the seat Nuggler leans on creaks under his weight, distracted by some old sci-fi reference. Vandel seems convinced even if we aren’t and proceeds.

“I have two jobs to offer you, though they are somewhat mutually exclusive” Vandel continues, “A gang dispute if you will. On the one hand the Chimney boys, operating out of the Linewater industrial estate".

Knife nods in recognition at the name – a gang who specialisies in smuggling and chop shops – and I vaguely recall a decker named Oilslick associated with them.

“On the other a group called the Silk Bone cabal, new to the area. These upstarts have a lot of money and not a lot of sense – harmless in general" he looks more grave as he speaks again, “but these are mages”.

“There’s some sort of turf dispute over a warehouse currently in the hands of the Chimney boys – The Silk Bone’s want it. It’s up to you who you support in this… conflict. The Chimney Boys operate out of a combat biker club called Blood and Thunder, the Silk Bone’s out of New Paradise".

Vandel gives us the contact info and we exit the auditorium to discuss options.

“Dark Nuggler by the way” says Nuggler, “And you are?”.

“I’m Ivory” she replies, “I’m a mage”.

“A what now who? One of them magic people like Line?”

“I’m a decker…” I interject.

“Sure sure” says Nuggler dismissively. Ivory performs a basic illusion to show Nuggler what she means and he nods blankly. Knife speaks up;

“Should we split up to check out both options?”.

“I think that’s a good idea” I agree. Before I can continue Knife and Nuggler call ‘dibs’ on the combat biker bar leaving Ivory and I to check out the mages. Back outside the college Knife and Nuggler ride off and I give Ivory a backie to New Paradise.


bar.jpg

A while later Knife and Nuggler pull up outside Blood and Thunder. The place is adorned in heavy metal motifs with a row of bikes outside. Walking in they scan around – heavy drinking minotaurs, bar stools and bucking broncos, combat biker match beamed onto every vidscreen in the place.

“I’m home” exclaims Nuggler and they head up towards the balcony area to find Big Smoke, leader of the chimney boys. Once there a troll clad in gang leathers shouts at the on screen action;

“Yeah! Break his arms!”. Thinking they’ve found their guy they head over and try to spark up a conversation. Big Smoke gestures for them to sit instead, eyes locked onto the on screen action. Knife and Nuggler sit down to watch the game with genuine interest.


Across town Ivory and I pull up outside New Paradise and dismount. Knowing that we might be playing the sides a little here Ivory throws up a physical mask for us both hiding some of our more distinctive features, and we head in.

Inside you can tell they were going for old school elegance in their design, but it just looks tacky. There’s a bar, a big open dance floor and a glass room suspended above which likely doubles as the main office. Nobody in sight Ivory starts knocking the nearest door and a bleary eyed Troll with average tattoos stumbles out.

“Huh? Yeah?” – clearly under the influence. Commercial techno and bliss smoke drift out from down the corridor – I try to hide my distaste.

“Hello, we’re looking for Mother Dreamed" replies Ivory. The troll nods and gestures for us to follow him, leading us up a stairwell into the glass room. Inside is a portly but strikingly attractive woman, probably half cut herself, and she flashes recognition as we approach.

“You must be here from Vandel” she says addressing us. Ivory takes the lead – I don’t like dealing with mages at the best of times.

“We are” says Ivory, “We hear you have problems with the Chimney Boys”. Mother Dreamed smiles.

“They simply have something we want, and we’re willing to pay for. Specifically, a warehouse they occupy. If you can clear them out, bloody their lieutenants, we will pay well”.

“How well?”

“¥60K which I assume will be split…” she trails off.

“Four ways” says Ivory, “We have two more assets in the field”. Mother nods at this, slightly perplexed at their absence.

“That’s decent pay” I say, honestly impressed by the amount of money they have to throw around.

“So you’ll take the job?” she asks.

“There will be resolution within 24 hours” I reply, riding the ambiguity. She scrutinises me at that but seems happy enough, nodding and ushering us out. We head outside past several more doped up bodies in various states of disrepute to commlink the others.


Back at Blood and Thunder Knife and Nuggler are getting into the swing of things, reveling as the combat biker match wraps up. Big Smoke shakes his head in joyous disbelief at the result then turns to address them.

“How can I help you fine gentleman?” he asks.

“Vandel says you have a problem” speaks Nuggler troll to troll, “We’re here to help”.

“Awesome” Smoke continues, “We got some bloody mages harassing us, some upstart yuppies called Silk something. We gone up against them already and lost a few, we don’t want to lose anymore”.

“So you want us to clear them out?” Nuggler continues, Knife smiling at the prospect of violence. Big Smoke nods swigging his beer deeply as only a troll can;

“Wipe ‘em all out far as I care, just get them off our backs. Pay is ¥45k”. Knife jumps in;

“I was thinking we could use your services instead of just straight up nuyen”.

“What did you have in mind?” Smoke says, raising an eyebrow over his tankard.

“A Bulldog in good working order” replies Knife, “Plus ¥25k”. Big Smoke weighs this up before nodding in agreement.

“Well I like you boys” he says, “So if you do a good job we’ll hook you up”. Content at this Nuggler and Knife rise and start heading out. Nuggler turns back;

“Hey Smoke?”

“Yeah”

“After this can we be friends?”

“As long as you buy the next round” he laughs.


Back across town Ivory and try to commlink the others a block away from New Paradise. Knife and Nuggler pick up, lot of rowdy background noise from the bar.

“Okay we spoke to Mother Dreamed” I say, “Terms are we bloody the Chimney Boys and they give us ¥60k. I’m not sure I like these people mind you”.

“Well we spoke to Big Smoke” replies Knife, “Terms are we wipe out the Silk Bone cabal and they give us a Bulldog for the team along with ¥25k. Oh, and we really like these people”. Ivory and I look at each other before nodding in near instant agreement.

“I guess it’s time to kill some mages

mages.jpg


Whilst Nuggler and Knife head over to meet us at New Paradise we do some legwork. I check the owner – one ‘ Duncan Lambert’ – no direct links to the gang but previous run ins with the law for human trafficking.

Ivory checks the astral and finds us being shadowed by a smoke spirit with burning sapphire eyes. Whilst she assesses whether its watching us it indicates in the direction of the club, it’s aura glowing a sickly dark green and purple.

My intuition had been right – not the kindest of places.

I head to my mirage and slide open the side casing, retrieving my Ranger SM-5.

“I’m going up that building to put eyes on the place, run a matrix sweep” I say to Ivory and head off. Up a few floors of an abandoned office building and I set up, watching the place through the rifle’s scope.

On the way over Knife stops at his stash to grab his Doberman drone Marmaduke before they eventually catch up with us. Matrix security is light and there’s no external activity since we left – everything seems steady and I report this to the team.

“We got a plan?” asks Nuggler dismounting his bike.

“Not yet” says Ivory checking the astral plane one more time. The spirit has vanished – could be a bad sign. I quickly scan for other entrances but none seem telling. Besides, the place looks calm enough.

“Front door then” says Nuggler as if it were self-evident. I head back to join the others, link our visual AR feeds and we start walking towards the club. As we approach Knife scans and finds a nearby van, decides to hold fire in case he has to jack it if we need to go really loud.

Just before we hit the entrance I stash the Ranger out of sight. Hoping we still have the element of surprise Nuggler, Ivory and I push open the front door and step into the club. Nobody visible, everything seems fine.

fireball.jpg

The fireball explodes between us and Ivory and I take a hit, only partially mitigated by her counter spell. Whilst we recover and scan for targets Knife activates Marmaduke and runs in behind us in response.

Go dynamic

I look around and can’t see shit which means they’re using magic. Whilst I’m thinking Nuggler sprints forward and spears something invisible. A guy suddenly appears moments before he slams into the bar with such force that his spine snaps immediately – one down.

Ivory scans the astral and finds two mages with active invisibility spells nearby. With no solid way of communicating their position she casts an illusion of sparkling lights at their location – finally we have something to aim at.

Nuggler dodges something I can’t see, presumably another attack. I take the opportunity to quick draw my deputy and fire a shot at the lights but only hit air – they must have moved – then dive behind the bar for cover.

ice.jpg

At that moment a massive sheet of ice appears and spreads out to cover the whole dance floor area – dense and potent – but the mage who cast it must’ve overcooked it and their invisibility drops as a result.

Marmaduke fires it’s assault rifle at the now visible guy who attacked Nuggler but he pivots away, diving away from the shots. Knife runs towards the mage stood across the ice barely keeping his balance, swinging his axe straight at her. She raises her arm to block but it cleaves straight through and into her head.

Two down.

Knife barely has time to yank his weapon out her corpse before a chair rockets past his head, apparently thrown by Nuggler.

LEAVE THIS PLACE bellows Nuggler at us all.

“They’re using mind control” yells Ivory. She twists her arms through the air and a lightning bolt arcs at the adept who attacked Nuggler, tearing into his side. In response he whips out a throwing blade and lashes it at Knife – it grazes his cheek.

lightning.jpg

Knife tries to move across the ice but slips – this sheet is thick.

“God damn my robot legs” he exclaims, scrambling back to his feet. Nuggler shakes his head and seems to have recovered from the brief mind control, picking up a nearby table and throwing it at the adept’s legs. He leaps aside and it misses but the guy is still clearly in pain from Ivory’s lightning bolt.

I fan fire my deputy at him but even wounded he’s quick and I miss all three shots. Ducking back behind the bar I check the glass room above the dance floor and see three figures through the frosted glass, one that seems to be the curvaceous silhouette of Mother Dreamed.

I AR this info to Knife’s eye and Ivory’s shades for context.

“There’s the prize”.

Ivory shoots another lightning bolt into our last attacker which hits but he’s still standing and more, vaulting onto a wall and running along its length to avoid the ice sheet on the floor. He’s headed for the exit door to retreat upstairs, presumably for backup.

Knife compresses his hydraulic legs and leaps a good fifteen feet over the ice, landing in front of the guy in the doorway, finishing him off with his axe. Confused by Nuggler’s mind controlled attack against K1 Marmaduke opens fire on Nuggler – fortunately missing its shots.

Knife grimaces and proceeds through the doorway – straight into automatic rifle fire. It’s lucky he’s primarily metal these days and he manages to duck back into the doorway with bullet wounds he can cope with for now.

Nuggler seeing this rips the metal top off the bar and heads to the doorway to use it as mobile cover. Between the fireball, mind control and automatic weapons things are getting seriously out of hand.

“Fuck this” I exclaim, heading out front where I retrieve the Ranger. Nuggler heads through the doorway and he and Knife use the top of the bar for cover from the rifle fire. Knife pokes up briefly and throws a knife nailing a guy in the shoulder who promptly drops his weapon.

Nuggler swings the bar into the head of another, smashing him in the teeth. Knife charges the staggered man and hacks him up with a combat axe. Licking his wounds, the other retreats back up the stairwell into the glass room and Ivory joins as they pursue him.

Downstairs I delicately navigate the ice to one of the booths to get a good line on the figures in the glass room suspended above me. Once there I lean the Ranger on some cover and using the AR feed from Knife’s vision aim upwards patiently at the silhouettes inside.

acid.jpg

Nuggler kicks open the door and swings the bar horizontal for cover. An acid bolt immediately hits it dissolving it promptly – cover down. Marmaduke flies into the room and opens fire at the glass at the back, clearly registering my plan.

It’s bulletproof so its weakened but remains intact. Nuggler spots Mother Dreamed crouching in front of it and he’s off again at full pelt to shoulder charge her. At the point of connection, it’s revealed as an illusion and he barrels through thin air – straight into the weakened glass.

It smashes and he falls out of the glass room, dropping the fifteen meters onto the dance floor below. Instead of taking any damage Nuggler cracks the ice sheet in one – I guess an 8-foot troll isn’t too afraid of frozen water.

Without removing my eye from the rifle scope I shoot him a thumbs up – he’s just opened a clear line of sight for me. I watch as one of the mages fires another acid bolt at Marmaduke which melts some of its casing – it’s out of the fight for now.

Ivory heals the damage Knife took from the rifle fire earlier and he’s good as new. I pick my moment well and fire a shot turning one of the mages head to paste. Nuggler has started to sprint back upstairs at this point and Knife yells at the last visible mage;

“Where the fuck is your boss?”. She doesn’t respond so he swings his axe at her which she dodges – I shoot him straight through the chest. He falls back floored and bleeding heavily, shit. Mind controlled I am denied agency over my actions – it’s not a feeling I enjoy.

The still unseen Mother Dreamed attempts to switch the control from me to Ivory – a mistake which Ivory willfully shrugs off, instead using her time to heal Knife further and stabilise his condition.

The mage we can see takes this time to jump out of the smashed window casting levitate to cushion her fall. As she does so she turns back to look up and in her last moments is witness to a Troll barreling after her out of the window, grabbing her head to smash it full force into the floor below.

I shake my head as I regain control and exhale reflexively at the sight of the mage now smeared across the dance floor. Knife pushes himself to his feet dripping with fury and notices a red outline of a figure, rolling to swing his axe at it. It connects and the force drops Mother Dreamed’s invisibility spell.

Bad luck for her.

blood-005.jpg

He goes at her like a man possessed, tearing her to shreds. It’s isn’t pretty but given she was the last one standing the combat ends and we all relax for a second. Nuggler starts to sweep the downstairs for other rooms, opening a door to a man operating on a corpse.

“Yes… hello?” he says, perplexed. It appears he’s harvesting the organs of the dead man – that would explain the negative aura of the place. Nuggler grabs the guy and Knife joins him in the room, covered in blood and still seething.

“We need to leave a message” says Nuggler, dropping the guy.

“What… I don’t… should I get a pen?” he jitters. Nuggler leaves the room whilst Knife remains axe in hand, closing the door behind him. Truth be told I don’t know what followed in that room and I don’t want to know.

Ivory, Nuggler and I start sweeping the bodies of the fallen for useful items. I find a credstick, some narcotics and an UZI pocketing them for safe keeping. After a few minutes Knife drags the guy out he’s been torturing, still alive but missing his hands, feet and an eye, and we regroup near the bar.

The place is a mess, it’s faux stylings ruined by fire, ice, lightning, acid, blood, bullets and a particularly violent axe wielding rigger. Those of us that need it have a stiff drink before pouring the alcohol over any and every surface we can.

Knife pulls the tortured man outside and props him against a dumpster, a warning to any who would try the same against the Chimney boys. I find it a little savage and distasteful, but it will likely be as effective as we need it to be.

Torch it says Nuggler and we spark the fire, settling New Romance ablaze. Given that it’s still evening time and not wishing for any more attention we bolt, heading back towards Blood and Thunder.

cluynburn.jpg

I’ve said it before but these hatchet jobs are less my style than the last run. The only thing is we’re more effective at them than anything else as a team – my botched decking last week a testament to this fact.

We roll up at Blood and Thunder and head over to where Big Smoke and his boys are sat.

“Heeey” he yells, pretty drunk by this point, “You guys were quick!”. Nuggler nods and fist bumps the guy, they must have built a rapport and I can see why.

“You get the job done?”. Nugglers about to respond when I hack the feed of the vidscreen their watching sports on. I replay the footage of it all including the tortured guy at the end, holding nothing back.

The initial enthusiasm of Big Smoke slowly turns to apprehension as the full ramifications of what he asked us to do sink in. Like an artist finishing a painting Knife seems pleased by this, beaming with a sadistic pride.

Nuggler shrugs – we did what we were asked and we did it well. I can’t get a read on Ivory’s feelings; mages are too complex. I am evidently grouchy and my little stunt has made everybody feel uncomfortable, so I cut the feed and walk away to lean against the bar.

“You uh… well thanks I guess” says Big Smoke.

“No problem. Sorry about that bro” says Nuggler, mitigating my behaviour. Big Smoke nods and gestures for us to follow him. We head over to their warehouse, a chop shop with a few guys working on some rigs where he sorts payment.

“Here’s the ¥25k I owe you for the job. The Bulldog will take a few days but we’ll get it dropped to wherever you want if you leave your details. Cheers boys”. Nuggler fist bumps him again – probably made a good contact there – and we head out front to bail.

Once there I remain quiet and insular, unimpressed by what I consider a messy job. Knife seems pleased enough and Nuggler shows no signs of any issue. We mount up to leave – Nuggler rides off to get some food, Knife to clean off and heal up, myself to brood on tonight’s events.

Ivory, still without transport, hails a taxi.

taxi.jpg

-———————————————————

I was a decker who made good and got out of my background, escaping the difficulties of my past with my intelligence. The violent side of my job came later when I met up with Devin who trained me so I could hold my own, but I was never front and center.

That work went to Xiang, Devin and Karin with Milly and I providing support. I’d always be deep in the network, we always had information to retrieve or something else to do. I’d killed on missions – we often went up against people who had earnt it – but it was rarely my task.

With these guys it feels different, rawer somehow. Nuggler seems completely comfortable when it all kicks off, as if each fight is a performance with him the star. Ivory’s only been with us twice but her support has proved invaluable, keeping tabs on the astral and healing up when needed.

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Knife… Knife must have demons or something, I don’t know. Whatever they are he seems to have dedicated his entire being to ripping himself up and rebuilding himself for one task – murder. He’s good at it, there’s no doubt about it, but Xiang was also good at it except he never really enjoyed it.

Knife does, like he finds a type of validation in it. It’s not that I don’t trust him, he’s been nothing but focused and dedicated to the completion of each run. It’s that I don’t know if he trusts himself, seeming to have an insatiable appetite for destruction that may well consume him in turn.

I don’t know, I’ll keep watching for now. In the meantime, I’m going to work on that shopping list – ammo and ordinance, tweaks to my own systems to help me on the frontlines.

It’s true enough to say if I ever find myself toe to toe with whoever is responsible for what happened I’ll need to be ready, and in that regard training this violent is about as good as I’m going to get.

For now, this is Line signing out.

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Nuggler.net: Update A
The backstory

// Log in … booting up command scripts … input variables … scrambling code … Line Secure.

Audio Log selected – Numerical coding value #019821_

Running has been a part of me ever since I hit puberty. What else is an 8ft tall man, with an innate knowledge of wrestling supposed to do with his life? I’ve done the odd jobs here and there, but never really found a groove. I ran for profit, for selfish reasons. That’s all changed…

Life has a way of getting in the way of the important things (lifting, wrestling, lifting, sci-fi and lifting.) but I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl.

This meant I needed more serious money, and for that more serious running.

I am part of a new crew now. They all seem like pretty switched on people.

Line Seems to be the brains of the team. He acts the same as most of those computer loving weirdos, but he seems to get shit done. For me, thats all I can really ask for. Always late to a job and staring past you while he probably puts more faux-nuyen into FarmVille4000, or whatever he does for downtime.

Knife1 Since it all happened, I am sure there are more weirdos in the world now. Knife is just one of the more practical weirdos. He’s dangerous, he’s deranged, he is in love with robots, he’s not be trusted. But, he’s on our side. You got to have someone that doesn’t mind doing the dirty work.

Finally we’ve got Ivory. I’ve just met her and I am always suspicious of magicians. Still they make things look pretty and confuse the hell out of others…

I’ll give you all a run down of what we’ve been up to later.

Signing off Dark Nuggler

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Line Matrix journal #4
Renraku/Acquisition

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Two weeks since the last run and I’ll admit it’s been hazy. Between the indulgence in Bliss and the matrix I’ve not moved forward much whilst I decide how best to use my earnings. Still, the shadows don’t run themselves. Commlink from Reno;

“Got a job, new Johnson. Wants to meet at a Blue Banana somewhere 10.30am, he’ll be wearing a gold watch. I’ve told Knife 1 but can’t get ahold of Nuggler, so expect new blood to fill the spot".

I send confirmation back and grab my stuff before heading out.

Arriving 10am I climbed the fire escape of the building opposite to get eyes on the site. It looked fairly innocuous so it was probably just the paranoia from three dingy days spent in the apartment.

Knife rolled up on time followed by a curvy woman in a white turtleneck, jeans and an enormous floppy wide brimmed hat.

Reno had given me the commlink details for the new player so I tried it, watching her reaction. The figure on the street seemed slightly startled at the moment I buzzed her – confirmed.

“You our third?” I asked.

“Uh.. yes” she replied slightly taken aback. I headed back down to street level to meet the other two and introduced us.

“I’m Line, this is Knife”.

“Good to meet you. I am Ivory she replied. Chit chat complete we headed into the store to find the Johnson.

It was one of those teenage alternative stores replete with anti-establishment symbols and brightly tie dyed clothing. The Johnson was easy to spot from the gold watch, the green spiked hair and retro punk outfit.

Taking one look at us he nodded – I guess we can’t hide the fact we’re shadowrunners from some.

“Got a job for you near Greenwich” he started, “Client needs a thing, wants you to swap it out with this”. He handed us a pellet about the size of a coke can.

“It’s a Renraku facility”. I have no idea if my reaction to the name was visible, I hope it wasn’t. Anger surged and I held it down under practiced apathy.

“The pay is ¥30k, which I make 10k a head”.

“You want us to go up against one of the big ten it’ll be 40k, minimum” I try, still adjusting to negotiating.

“Hah” he laughed, “I was only given ¥50k for the whole thing so no deal”. Knife stepped forward:

“¥40k or we’ll leak that you held back 20k for this, and we’ll ensure nobody will work for you on this job”. The Johnson seemed slightly phased by this, probably the amount of metal K1 was packing, and gave a counter offer.

“You do it clean, no trace, then ¥40k” he said. “You make noise and it’ll be 30”. We nod in agreement and wanting to waste no more time head out. Ivory had no transport of her own so she jumped on the back of my bike and we split.

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Arriving close to the facility we pulled up and I looked to Ivory.

“Ivory I’m a decker and it should be obvious what Knife does” I said whilst Knife grinned, “What is it you do?”.

“Magic” she replied, “Illusions mostly”. Others might have wanted a combat mage but in the right hands manipulating the mind is much more dangerous. I nodded and we started the legwork.

Heading down a nearby alleyway I hotsimmed to scan the matrix security whilst Ivory went astral to give the place a closer look. Knife sent Mr Jefferson on aerial recon and checked out details of the facility.

The building housed 4 different businesses – Call Friendly call services – Medco Diagnostics – Mandy staffing solutions – Renraku components. Knife checked to see if any of the surrounding businesses could be useful in anyway but turned up a blank.

Ivory found bio lacing in the walls, standard astral security, but otherwise the place was quiet. I found a very light security system and threw a mark on it’s central server for later use. Knife did turf up some useful information about the security routines though;

“Light security, 8 – 10 guards only. Building is locked at night and only accessible to security team between midnight and 6am. Keycards for employees and security staff with differing clearance levels”. So we needed a keycard.

Fortunately, it was lunchtime and some of the employees from the site had left to eat in Caffeine Baron, one of the nearby cafés. I looked to Ivory:

“We need one of those badges, any ideas?”

“I could fake a fire alarm so we could swipe one when they evacuate?” she suggested.

Perfect.

Before we entered I handed her the AR shades I’d snagged on the Templeton job so I could AR feed her information. We grabbed a soykaf and sat down, at which point Ivory excused herself to the bathroom.

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Once there she crafted a superb illusion of a fire alarm replete with heat and smoke – very impressive. The customers vacated and on the way out I grabbed an employee card of one ‘ Jeremy Fines’. Ivory wasn’t far behind me but I noticed her nose bleeding as we made our way back to Knife.

“You alright?” I asked.

“Just need to rest a while is all, that took it out of me a little”. Given that it was probably better to come back at night time we made for a cheap nearby hostel and holed up so Ivory could rest.

Whilst she did so I exploited the mark I’d left on the facilities security to alter the access rights for ‘Jeremy Fines’, upgrading him to full security clearance. We waited until it got late and headed back to the facility for midnight.

Ivory confirmed she could tread lightly and Knife assured us his metal limbs wouldn’t give away too much. Besides in a pinch Ivory could manipulate our sounds to hide us, so we all headed in as stealthily as possible.

The facility was barely lit so under cover of darkness K1’s thermographic vision combined with my augmented eyes meant we were able to navigate freely. On top of that Ivory used her astral senses to confirm two guards inside.

“Guys there’s a signature I can’t get a handle on in the Renraku facility itself” she said. Something to watch out for.

The security card worked perfectly and we ended up just inside the lobby, outside the security room where we knew a guard resided from the astral scan. Whilst debating what to do about him he picked this moment to open the door and clock us.

I’ve already seen how fast K1 can move but even as his hand closed over the guard’s face, fingers jammed into his mouth, I was surprised. He fired a shock charge from his palms and the guard fell back drooling and jittering.

“In” I said and with Ivory dragging the body we entered the security room. Once there I jacked straight into their systems and gained camera access which I AR fed to our eyes and Ivory’s shades. Now we had eyes getting to the Renraku facility would be easier.

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It did however have its own separate network so until we were in we were relatively blind.

Shit.

Still the second guard was far away patrolling so we headed straight to the entrance to the Renraku area. Even the sight of their logo on approach brought up some anger in me which may explain my sub par performance in the matrix.

Ivory held up a hand to cast a counter spell just in case and I hacked the electronic lock which guarded the facility easily. Entering Ivory sensed something astral and quietly told us:

“There are two barghests down the hallway”.

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Fucking barghests. I don’t know too much about them except for the fact that they’re big angry looking dogs that would likely try to tear us apart if they found us. Wanting to keep this quiet we slipped into the nearby security room and I marked up the system, again feeding the cameras to us in AR.

The Barghest showed up in the auditorium down the hall but had left and were headed this way. We located a map of the Renraku facility which was scrutinised. Given that the Johnson hadn’t told us exactly what we were looking for it was going to be a clumsy sweep whilst dodging these big fucking dogs for now.

Not ideal.

Down the stairs there was a lab along with an office indicated on the map. Deciding that was as good a place as any we rotated around the main corridor to avoid the now approaching bhargasts and headed downstairs.

Once there I kept eyes on whilst K1 and Ivory searched the lab, finding nothing. We hit the office next and I checked the computer which was a lot more fruitful. Notes on a ‘ Project Crystalline’ were listed along with lab access codes, and an indication that we’d probably find what we needed in ‘Lab 3’.

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Lab 3 which was back upstairs, the stairs the Barghast were now headed towards tailing a scent – ours. Checking the map we agreed to go back up the elevator whilst the Barghast sniffed around down here, giving them the runaround.

Ivory came up with a plan to cast a fake scent leading further down to the sub-basement level to lead them away and we headed back up in the elevator. Once there we punched in the access code and walked into Lab 3.

The cheap Japanese ambience of the place gave me the shivers, flashback to where it all went wrong. So far I had held onto my vendetta and I wasn’t about to give our position away now due to nostalgia.

We checked the room for clues. Right in front of us was an object resembling the pellet the Johnson had given us.

“Ta da!” said Knife, and as I switched the false item for the real and pocketed it, “Where are the Barghest now?”. Checking the camera feeds we found them running back up the stairs – they hadn’t fallen for the ruse.

“Shit” I exclaimed, “Time to go”. Watching them closely on the camera feed we circled back another direction again to avoid their route, heading for a door that lead directly to the outside. Moving fast and quiet we made it only to find another lock.

I made to pick it but that brewing disdain for Renraku must have boiled over and I fumbled it. The Barghest nearly caught up and let out a horrific howl which stunned Ivory as we heard it. She recovered and I doubled down, cracking the lock on my second attempt.

We shot out the door, closing it as the Barghest sprinted up the hall behind us. Backing off across an employee car park we had made it, and they were unable to follow.

“Let’s get off site” I said and all agreed – that had been a little too close.

Once we got back to the alleyway we were home free. Although I had hacked the security feeds the records would still show us so I knew I had to scrub the footage. I hotsimmed into the Renraku system once more to get it done.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened next. Sure, Renraku security is good but I’ve been up against worse before, back in HK. Maybe that’s what triggered it – the familiarity. A memory buried for two years resurfaced and all I could hear was Xiang’s voice.

“Always wondered how good the Reds were – I don’t want to miss a chance to find out”

My consciousness blinked and the next thing Renraku’s security systems lit up like a Christmas tree. Realising I’d fucked it I jacked out immediately – I’m an infiltrator and fighting that ICE would not have been a good idea.

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The dump shock hit me pretty hard on the way out, a deep electrical ache throughout my nervous system and I keeled over, bracing myself against the wall of the alleyway. Knife and Ivory checked that I was okay – I was still breathing sure – but the clean run we’d worked so hard for was a bust.

“We need to get out of here right now” I managed to say, sweat beading down my forehead.

Back on the bikes we booked it across London, commlinking the Johnson for a meet en route. He hit us back with the address of a club named ‘ Pulsar’ so we high tailed it down there fast as we could.

It could’ve been so neat and it all pivoted around that last point – mine. I’d never have made that mistake back in HK but that was a long time ago now, before the drugs, before the dark days. I was angry at myself, I was angry at Renraku and I could no longer hold it back.

As we pulled up the Johnson met us outside, holding up a commlink which displayed an expected headline.

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Break-in at nearby Renraku facility

The Johnson threw us a cred chip each:

“I think you’ll find there’s only 10k on each of those, as agreed”. I wanted to pull my Deputy right there and fire a few shots into the guy, take off and go underground again. Knife seemed to sense my stupidity and shot me a cautionary glance.

“Here’s what you need” I said, handing him the real pellet.

“Pleasure doing business” he said, smiling as he headed back into the club. I guess I’d be that happy if I earned ¥20k for barely any work. Knife received a commlink from someone at that moment, seemed heated though he was shrugging it off. I made a mental note to ask him about it later.

I nodded towards Ivory at a successful job, she performed flawlessly even amongst my fuck ups. I pulled away and headed back to the apartment to sleep off the worst of the dumpshock.

Looking back it’s obvious I would’ve been compromised against Renraku. I’ve spent so long supressing these feelings, these memories, that they have nowhere to go but haunt me.

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I was a professional once with a good team and a SIN. It’s only the fact it got scrubbed when I hit London that stopped my name being plastered all over the news, replete with footage of the break in.

And now the other side of the world I’ve managed to draw Renraku’s attention all over again. It’s not that I don’t want it, I’d like nothing more than to tear down the entire Corp and find who was responsible.

It’s that I’m nowhere near ready yet, tonight’s mistakes a clear indication. If I can’t focus on the shit that I’m good at, if I can’t be a reliable decker for my team then how will I ever build enough to find out what really happened.

Still the last few runs have been lucrative and I have some nuyen put away. I guess now it’s just a matter of figuring out the best way to apply it.

Fuck Renraku.

Line out.

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Line Matrix journal #3
Hamada/Escort

It’s been another week since the last run, a fair time given the sizable payoff. The first I heard we were back on was a typically clumsy commlink from Nuggler:

“Is this on? Hello? Line – they want to meet in the matrix. I ain’t going”.

Knife and I hotsimmed in, seeing each others avatars for the first time. Between his cybernetic violet glow and my cobalt hue we looked like a simsense music vid. Still, we had somewhere to be.

It was a fairly basic matrix room, templated probably, but checked out as legit so Knife and I met the Johnson straight.

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“Afternoon gentlemen” it said in a Japanese accent, “I have a job for you. Have you heard of ”/wikis/shoji-hamada" class=“wiki-page-link”> Shoji Hamada?"

Yakuza. Dangerous. Stories abounded of severed fingers, drowned enemies and a particular case where someone who had preyed on his daughter had been fed to the dogs.

Nasty shit.

“He needs you to play bodyguard to his ”/wikis/tagami-hamada" class=“wiki-page-link”> daughter at a concert for the evening".

Perfect.

“Pay is ¥5k a head totalling ¥15k for your three man team”. Continuing my assumed role as face for now I took the lead.

“Doable, but at ¥7k a head”.

He locked a stoic gaze on me but this was the matrix and that shit doesn’t work here. I’d been decking since I could walk and seen more in this realm than most would want – he was in my house.

“¥6k” he finally replied, “More than adequate”.

I nodded at the half victory.

“You will pick her up at 20:00 prompt and have her back by 01:00 sharp. Failure will result in… consequences”. Ominous and immediately understood.

We jacked out and agreed to meet at a bakery in north London. Arriving in time Nuggler grabbed something to eat, quite a lot to eat in fact, and we took off.

Knife’s street knowledge was less on point in the more monied areas of London and we arrived at the mansion 15 minutes late.

Not a great start.

Once inside we realised just how vast the grounds of this place were and the decor reminded me of back home. I quashed a stray memory of the past and focused on the run at hand.

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Hamada’s daughter Tagami met us in the cherry blossom gardens with all the sarcastic enthusiasm a 17 year old could muster. Presumably three shadowrunners did nothing to assist her street cred.

“How we getting to the gig?” she asked. Knife thumbed towards our bikes.

“Uh uh, no way” she replied, “Is it even safe?”. It was at this point a new side of Nuggler emerged:

“Get on the bike”. She shook her head. He grinned, took a breath and spoke again.

“Get on the bike”. Something in his tone had shifted this time, more authorative somehow and her resistance faultered. Finally she donned her own custom pink helmet and we took off towards the concert.

A little while later we pulled up at a field just outside greater London with the distant drone of guitars being shredded permeating the air. A modest but still sizeable festival space with a stage setup, more noticable than that was the numbers of trolls here.

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“I’ll go overwatch” I said as we approached the arena, Nuggler and K1 moved to shadow Tagami. I climbed some nearby rigging, hacked Tagami’s phone to track her and between myself and the ever present Mr Jefferson we had good eyes on her.

Perched up here I pulled out a spliff and debated lighting it. Recalling the end of the last run I used my better judgement and tucked it away, resisting the small festival’s call for hedonism.

It’s at this point the fun began.

Turns out a troll heavy metal gig is one of the more difficult places to track a 17 year old girl. Nuggler and K1 start getting harassed by some small time dealer as some guy starts chatting to Tagami, seemingly with intent.

When they finally brush the dealer off they find that he’s inviting her back to some V.I.P area – no deal. They try to strong arm him but he’s surprisingly unphased and in the confusion of the crowd Tagami vanishes with the guy.

K1 and Nuggler make after them but find themselves stopped at the entrance to the V.I.P area, cordoned off by a fence, by the guards. Wanting to keep the peace I commlink a solution.

“Hold for now” I say, “I’ll hop the fence, get in and find out what’s going on”. Climbing down from the rigging I cross the crowd and find a quiet area of the fence. With practiced grace I start climbing the fence not wanting to draw attention.

It promptly collapses under my weight crashing to the ground exposing my entire scheme. Back here again.

“Go dynamic”.

Nuggler and K1 push past the guard, now focused on my failed trick, and start searching for Tagami. Not wanting to miss the party I dash to join up with them with guards in tow.

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We find her by some pool near a house and by the atmosphere just in time to avoid getting ourselves in serious trouble with the Yakuza.

“Yagami, time to go” says Nuggler.

“I don’t want to go yet” she responds, oozing teenage defiance. The guards have caught up by now and we’re flanked by security – not a great spot. The guy who lured her over pipes up:

“She doesn’t want to go, I don’t want her to go. But I do want you to go”. He indicates to his guards to usher us out of there.

Not the smartest move.

Before tonight I’d never seen a mans head cave inward. Nuggler granted me that honour when he hit the nearest guard with such force that the entire situation stopped before it started.

Unsurprisingly the sight of a troll mangling their co-workers skull with a single hit the rest of the guards lost their enthusiasm. Yagami screamed so Nuggler grabbed her and we started marching out of there, K1 giving the eye to anyone feeling brave.

“Let’s just get out of here before this gets worse” I said, heading back towards the bikes. It was with a tired inevitability we got set upon on the way out by what looked like rival yakuza thugs, probably looking to kidnap Hamada’s daughter.

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“Give us the girl and there won’t be trouble”.

“K1, Nuggler” I respond, “Give them trouble”. Startled they fumbled for their weapons but as I held onto Yagami and backed away Nuggler and K1 did what they do best.

Nuggler lifted the first guy by his chest to head height, before power bombing him into the ground with a crunch. I barely saw K1 move before the second was torn to ribbons, painting the grass crimson.

The last guy had a go but to little gain. He died just as swiftly as Nuggler held him whilst K1 prevented him from breathing ever again.

For all the violence I’m grateful to have kept my own hands clean tonight. Not quite as messy as the first run, not quite as clean as the second I’ll have to settle for the tone we’re setting, especially whilst the nuyen rolls in.

We mounted up the bikes and headed back to the mansion to drop Yagami off, her protesting shouts dampened by the turn of the evening. If we were late to arrive we were early back, the ‘complication’ having cut the concert short.

I don’t remember the details once we got there though I do know we got paid promptly and didn’t piss off the yakuza, which is something. We commlinked Reno to let him know the job was complete and went our seperate ways.

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I had a feeling this time there might be a bit of a break before our next run. Sure we were successful but we were winging it too often, never having enough time to do real legwork and preparation.

The others don’t know about my background yet but I was meticulous before, had to be. Just because you’re able to fly by the seat of your pants doesn’t mean you have to, and ultimately it tends to be more profitable to keep things clean.

Still they did more than I on this run and I got paid so can’t complain. Messy or not those two are effective, and I’m grateful to have a team again that can complete runs.

This is going to be a long road before things are right again, and it will likely get darker before it gets bright. But I am resolved to task, focused on my end goal now. Even thinking about kicking the Bliss habit.

Tomorrow maybe.

Line signing out.

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Line Matrix journal #2
Templeton Bell/Infiltration

Second run, same team. Think this one might stick for a while.

This time we proved that we can succeed entirely without death, something I was unsure of after last time. Not to mention we made some serious nuyen, the kind of earnings I need to pull this off.

I used our time off to fix up that Ranger SM-5 kindly donated by a gang member last week and spread some more BS about ‘ the cavefish’. Who knows what the other two got up to. Knife seems somewhat unstable and Nuggler is still an unknown variable.

Reno sent us a comm about a new Johnson at some strip joint, said it was a solid job. I ran some recon on the place and it checked out, so joined with Nuggler as he approached. Knife was soon with us and we entered.

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Tits and neons, basslines and nuyen. For a dive it wasn’t half bad, could probably score here if needed. The johnson was a portly dwarf stuffing egg rolls into his mouth even as he motioned for us to sit.

The run was like this – some shit hot troll film director name of Templeton Bell, a real auteur who shoots ten times the required scenes, most of which never get used, simply to maintain the mystery. Our job was to uncover that mystery in advance.

The johnson offered ¥20k upon completion, not bad. Nuggler spent the meeting gorging on the free buffet, massive fistfuls of food. Knife read up on the mission from the notes we’d been given, turning to me:

“What assets do we have for this?”

“Me” I replied reflexively, old confidence resurfacing. If the job is data extraction then I am the job and anyone with me simply cover. Still, a murderous cyborg rigger and an eight foot troll is about the best cover I could ask for right now.

The job involved entering some filming space, few cordoned off city blocks. I told them I’d fly solo to the directors trailer where we suspected the script would be held. I wasn’t sure what the other two were going to do – I couldn’t have imagined if I tried.

We booked it to the site using K1’s knowledge of London’s sidestreets. Upon arrival I headed up a nearby fire escape for overwatch whilst Mr Jefferson, one of K1’s drones, swept over the area to map it which we AR’d to our feed.

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With the area mapped a crude plan was put together involving K1 and Nuggler infiltrating the film shoot as extras.

A very crude plan.

“Hello fair sir” bellowed Nuggler, “We are thespians”. The proclaimation startled the grip who promptly vanished to find Charlotte Kellogg, the stage manager. When Nuggler fought on the last run he did so with an effortless automation, as if busting heads is childsplay for a troll.

On the other hand he seemed to embrace the task of being a film extra with a rare enthusiasm. Knife cringed his way through as support and they were accepted as last minute replacements for some no shows.

They would ironically be playing the part of shadowrunners.

As I hit the roof I saw that the sky had a few stray drones; two belonging to Horzion, one in a top hat. Ignoring Mr. Jefferson’s attire I hacked the Horzion drones and found a control point in the opposite building.

This had two useful coded subroutines for the drones; one to usher the drones out of shot for filming purposes and two a short range signal jammer burst.

Perfect.

I commlinked K1 the jammer as backup, overhearing a glimpse of the inane chatter Nuggler was peddling. He had bumped into the muscular main actor of the film, Murphy Law.

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“Bro, big fan, huge fan” he fawned.

“Hey thanks man, what’s your favourite film of mine?” Law replied.

“Oh so many, so hard to think” Nuggler bluffed. Truth is he was bullshitting at a professional level – he had no clue who Murphy Law was until half hour ago.

They fist bumped and verbally jerked each other off whilst K1 sorted props for their upcoming performance; an SMG and a huge claymore for Nuggler.

I used this setup time to jump down from the roof and blend in with the crew to cross toward the trailer. Although there was Knight Errant security they were thinly spread and probably too full from the catering trailer to care.

I approached the directors RV and noticed it was covered in it’s own surveillance and security gear – I’d have to disable that first so I commlinked the others.

“Buy me some time”.

Nuggler stepped up and floated an idea at Murphy Law for a film entitled ‘ Murphy’s flaw‘, describing it as ’an erotic science fiction tale of platonic love featuring a moon base’, Law as the frontman and as of yet an uncast sidekick. No prizes for guessing who Nuggler had in mind.

Meanwhile I located an access panel on the underside of the RV and swiftly silenced the security. As I picked the lock on the door I felt a nostalgic wave about the old days in HK. K1 activated the jammer burst to cover me.

Once inside I was going to need more time to locate the script. Fortunately that time was bought by the others during a disastrous first take of a high speed chase scene in which K1’s wooden performance and Nuggler fumbling a sword through a nearby window summoned the director himself to chew them out.

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As distractions go I couldn’t complain.

In the trailer I located a safe and quickly cracked it, the subtle art of subterfuge renewed in my being once more. Another city, another time this had been my whole life and I recalled the movements to this dance with rare clarity.

Inside the safe was a datastick containing the script and some particularly incriminating dirt on Murphy Law. Recognising pay data when I saw it I palmed both and headed out. The signal jammer expired so I quickly commlinked the others to evac.

On the way out K1 lifted the prop claymore to sell on the black market for decent money, along with some footage he’d shot with his augmented eye. A real profiteer that one.

Which brings me to the twist in this otherwise smooth run.

We head back to the strip bar and drop the datastick at which point the Johnson thanks us, notifying us Reno will pay us before leaving. Happy with the outcomes Nuggler dives back into the buffet and I head out back to get stoned.

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Knife comms Reno:

“Job complete, you can pay us”.

“What do you mean?” replies Reno.

“The ¥20k, for the job”

“The Johnson pays you. Where is he?”

“Gone” replies Knife, suddenly irate.

“You idiots”. At the time this information was revealed Nuggler was knee deep in egg rolls and I was working my way through a spliff of Bliss, neither in much of a state to jump into action.

K1 on the other hand seemed renewed by this. Not at the idea of getting revenge on the Johnson who snow jobbed us.

At the chance to maybe kill someone today.

He bolted and shot off on his mirage in pursuit of the Johnsons car using the club’s security footage to infer direction. Operating on predatory intuition he tracked his prey through the city streets at pace.

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Back in the club I tried to run a matrix search to locate the guy but between the meatspace, A.R, the narcotics and the neon club’s techno I was too fucked up to offer much in the way of assistance – I’m not proud of that.

K1 was on his own.

Fortunately I still had a link to K1’s augmented eye so I pulled the feed and watched as he finally found the Johnsons car. Pulling up next to it as it stopped he softly tapped against the driver side window.

The dwarf nearly shit himself, an appropriate response to finding yourself face to face with a cybernetically enhanced elf with a penchant for murder – your murder – burning in his loin.

“Give me a reason to kill you” said K1 with a grin.

“Uh” fumbled the Johnson, desperately trying not to piss himself.

“Pay us or you die. Or I follow you and your family, friends, goldfish, whoever really – they all die”. K1 has a rare talent for threats I don’t think I’ve ever encountered before.

“I can’t…” stammered the Johnson, “I haven’t sold the script yet”. At this point Mr. Jefferson lowered itself into view replete with top hat and twitching chainsaw limb. Skimming the rest of the Johnsons struggle with his bowel movements K1 didn’t get to sate his bloodlust this time, but he did get us paid.

I should thank him for that.

The pay went up to ¥50k as a result K1’s pursuasive techniques. Add to that the sale of the set footage, the prop sword and the compromising footage of Murphy Law and this was a serious score. I got big plans for my earnings, long term goals that will remain buried for now.

Knife earned his place tonight, no dispute there. I guess I’m warming to Nuggler’s propensity for embracing life with such enthusiasm too. That and the fact he can take bullets to the face.

A quiet job, a solid payout and a decent team. Maybe I could get used to being a shadowrunner after all.

Line signing out.

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Line Matrix journal #1
Wrongway/Extraction

First Shadowrun last night, head clear enough to bother. Call from a local fixer named Reno Pyatt – matrix digging told me he was probably honest, hates drugs. As a precaution I left the Bliss behind this time, but brought the light fire.

Volunteered my concealed firearms at the door to the place, best to start on good faith, and was ushered to a table with the other runners. Reno introduced himself, said as long as we don’t fuck about there’s work around, then it was the teams turn.

The first was a fuck off big troll wearing a black vest and cape, no mods, barely a commlink. Called himself ‘Dark Nuggler’, asked if I had heard of him. Apparently he used to wrestle out East but not in HK so I knew nothing.

Next guy was probably once an elf, now a rigger jacked to the eyeballs. Name of ‘Knife 1’, K1 for short, definitely dangerous. Audacious neon colours and two drones to his name, probably keep my eye on him.

Reno laid out the job straight. Some guy named Feldman Wrongway had some of Reno’s things which he wanted returned, and we were his guys. Complication was a bike gang called The Kickers who had claimed that turf and had him pinned down.

We noted the details and bolted making little small talk which I appreciated. Turns out K1 rocks a mirage like myself, easy bond over a decent ride. Nuggler on the other hand had some piece of shit scooter though we were saved its shortcomings by K1’s knowledge of the back streets.

We took a ferry to the river side where Wrongway was holed up in the pissing rain. Reno had mapped out the area for us so I AR’d it to the other two. Chatter remained light as we arrived to an old shipping yard.

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The area was some rundown shit-pile of London that had seen better days. Feldman was across the road in some hardware store adjacent to a coffee shop. K1 told us about the gold/green Kickers gang colours which matched several bikes parked up nearby.

“What’s the play?” asked Nuggler. In lieu of a real leader I had been volunteered the task, for now.
“I’d like to keep it as quiet as possible for as long as possible” I replied, “No need to make a mess”.
“I’ve got my bike” floated K1,“could lead them on a merry dance whilst you get Feldman out”. I like it – hypothetically it avoided attention and confrontation, was as neat as we were likely to get.

Hypothetically.

I hacked the surveillance net and AR’d the cam feeds – three Kicker goons making noise. I checked the bikes for a smart-link and that’s when it began.

An alarm triggered on one of the bikes – stupid, sloppy – which attracted the attention of a female gang member I hadn’t clocked. Kudos to Nuggler he managed to sneak up on her before lifting her off the floor by her neck and marching her over to us.

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She was rocking a ranger SM-5, a decent piece of kit I could put to good use. He handed me the rifle, scared the shit out of the woman and she fled. I commlinked Wrongway and told him to hold tight whilst we tidied up, cam feed showing me five gang members leaving the coffee shop.

“We’re on” I said, “I’m headed up the shipyard crane to get a sniper spot”. K1 nodded and mounted his mirage, Nuggler cracking his knuckles.

Time to find out if we were a team or a disaster waiting to happen.

I made it up the crane and used my augmented vision to zoom the scene as the gang poured out, AR broadcasting it to K1. K1 pulled up adjacent to one of the gangs bikes, pulled a rapier and scratched the fuck out of one of them.

“Eat shit and choke” he spat before booking it away from the coffee shop. All hell broke loose and the gang scrambled in pursuit.

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The leader got after K1 and started firing his weapon. Nuggler waited at a nearby corner in ambush. I fired at one of the bikes tyres but missed – too rusty – and the rest of the gang set off in pursuit.

“Is it safe?” – Wrongway on the commlink.
“Safe is a strong word” I replied. Subtlety out the window we baptism of fired a gang skirmish.

K1 held his own well, throwing knives and dodging bullets as only the cyber enhanced can. Nuggler missed a dive at one of the passing bikes and I found that the Ranger was jammed, forcing me to fix it whilst the bikes crested a corner leaving K1 without cover.

It’s in these moments you find out how good a team you’ve got, when the plan explodes into fractured shards. My old team had a phrase for these moments, may as well put it to good use.

“Go dynamic”.

K1 turned on one of the bikers, stabbing him through the eye which wrecked the guy, then commlinked me a new idea.

“I’ll swing around and grab Wrongway on the fly” he said before pulling a U-turn and charging down the remaining pursuing gang members. Three more gang members emerged from another building and I finally scored a shot on one of the bikes tyres sending the riding reeling.

Maybe not so rusty after all.

Nuggler was set upon by some of the gang, axes and guns in hand. One fired a shot at Nuggler’s face point blank. Nuggler shook it off like it was nothing – Troll’s scare the shit out of me sometimes – then made the attacker pay in teeth.

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K1 spun through rapid machine pistol fire with a deadly grace before carving a path through the other bikes with lethal speed, rapier flashing.

Nuggler started laying waste to the axe wielding gang members, laughing off their best attacks. I fired a shot to assist and turned a man’s head into paste.

It’s not that I haven’t killed before, just that I wanted to avoid it if I could. I guess Shadowrunning has an inherent darkness I’m going to have to adjust to if I’m to see through my plan.

Nuggler and K1 finished the rest with savage punches and some street level fencing until only their leader was left. I hacked his commlink.

“Two options – stay very still or die”. Realising the game was up he backed down, smart, and K1 and I headed over to join Nuggler near the man.

He had a nice pair of shades which I took and I told him to fuck off – he acquiesced. Feldman came out and the run looked a success.

Messy, but a success.

“You got their leader right?” asked Feldman, “You must have, you’re wearing his shades”. It seems letting the leader go was something of a faux pas. Realising we had basically initiated a gang war we played the part.

I smeared ‘ Cavefish rules’ over any matrix icon I could find nearby marking the territory for a fictional gang, should keep them busy. Nuggler switched out his piece of shit scooter for one of the gang bikes and we headed back.

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If Reno cared about the violence he didn’t show it – Feldman however did by hitting the bottle hard. I recognised the nerves of someone unused to the darker side of life.

Reno paid up and said there should be more work soon – good by me as I need the bank. Honestly I’d rather thieving than strong arming but beggars can’t be choosers so for now I’ll take what he’s got whilst I consolidate.

I nodded at K1 and Nuggler and departed, keeping a line open on commlink just in case. When I get back I got high and serviced the Ranger – don’t want another jam if I can avoid it.

I guess making some Nuyen and faking a biker gangs existence is a successful shadowrun, who knows what the metric of success is down here other than profit. I guess I’ll find out soon but for now I’m going to get some rest.

Line signing off – until the next run.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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