Shadowrun n. Any movement, action, or series of such made in carrying out
plans which are illegal or quasilegal.
†††- WorldWide WordWatch, 2050 update
Usually on orders from a corp thatís competing with the
†††- Snake Eyes, addendum to the WorldWide WordWatch
Shadowrunner n. A meta that is legally insane in the membrane to risk
his/her/its life for a couple of nuyen as a corpís Ďexpendable deniable
†††- Thumper's add on thingy
And then goes and uses said nuyen to buy more/bigger guns, and/or stuff that
explodes, and/or enough cyber to turn man the toolmaker into man the
†††- Gargoyle's clause to Thumperís add on thingy
September 6, 2057
I don't know what it is about this idiotic spell, but it doesn't seem to do upright, let alone pleasant, landings. Or maybe it's just the idiot casting it....
Well, this time it was into what looked like a nice, ordinary (hard!) tile floor, but it felt like I'd just french-kissed a light socket (No, I'm not speaking from personal experience! Jeeze! I'm just going on what Frank once told me. Clan. Oy). A heavy duty, still running on the full power generator, major ouch light socket.
We are talking serious voltage here. Enough to kill your normal human and send me unconscious. Hope you'll pardon me if I restrain my enthusiasm. I wasnít having fun.
The familiar, raspy tones of the decker, Gargoyle, pulled the team up short. Brian swore under his breath, ignoring the fact that the subvocal comms were picking up his litany and sending it to his five teammates. Taking his unspoken commands and moving with the ease and speed of (almost) total trust and assurance in each other that made him proud to be leader of the group, the team spread out. Toby and Lenore moved to flank them, the bulk of the troll samurais nearly filling the hallway. The whine of servos told the orc that Grayís drone had risen to the ceiling, rotating gently to cover all directions, while Gandalf pulled some magical doohickey out of his coat. It took only seconds and was accomplished in near silence.
"What the hell was the supposed to mean?" Brian growled into his comm, eyes scanning for anything that might be a threat.
"It means weíre fragged," Gargoyle snarled, sounding half distracted. "Something set off the bug zapper and this son of a slitch node is spewing orders and alert screams like a pregnant devil rat. Iím not sure I can Ė Damn! Divide and conquer!" With that last cryptic statement, the comm clicked as Gargoyle disappeared to do whatever it was she did in the matrix.
Brian shot a look at Toby that clearly asked ĎWhat did that mean?í
"Run," the gillette said. Without another word, the team moved out.
"Has it occurred to anyone," Gandalf panted, "that we make an abso-fraggin-lutly wonderful target for anyone who happens to be watching?"
"Yeah," Lenore snapped as she put away her Predators and pulled out a minigun.
"Gargís got a handle on it," Toby said. "She couldnít stop the message, so she misdirected the location. Security thinks weíre running around the other side of the building. In the sub-basement."
"Then hel-lo, we donít need to be running like this, do we?" the mage said, slowing to a jog.
"Guess again, halfer," Brian drawled back, grabbing the back of the mageís coat and pulling it, and the dwarf, along. "Gargoyle can only do so much, and sheís got her hands full. We need to get out A SAP." The dwarf grumbled, but sped up to the pace of his larger companions.
As they approached the exit, Brian noticed Toby drifting away down another corridor. "What are you doing?" he demanded, nearly disproving the belief that itís impossible to yell when talking sub-vocally.
The troll shrugged and continued on his way. "Garg couldnít get a good pic of what set off the alarms. Iím gonna find out."
"Hurry up," the leader growled, "cause things are going Ė" The rattle of Lenoreís minigun and the woosh of Gandalfís fireball interrupted him. " Ė down the drekker. Hurry up!"
When Brian caught up with the others, he found that an entire sec team (formally a dozen, now down to seven) had stumbled over the team and thought it would be a good career move to try to stop them. Apparently their arrival had been a surprise on both sides; Lenore had a gash from something across her forehead while Gandalf nursed a hole in his shoulder.
The team leaderís arrival turned the battle, leaving a single guard in a span of minutes. He was taken out by a shot that originated behind them. Automatically, Brian turned, then relaxed when he saw Toby. Then the orc blinked and stared. Something with giant clawed feet, bright magenta skin, and absurd blue wings, was slung over the samuraiís shoulder. "What the frag? On second thought, letís just haul hoop and discuss this in the van. Go!"
I came to once (er, sorta) before dawn. Whoa. Where and whenever I was, it pretty much maxed out the weirdness quotient. First thing I recognized was I was in a moving vehicle, maybe a van. Blurs finally settled into a group of (mind you, Iím going out on a limb here) people. Going clockwise from the top, they were a really, really big and ugly human that could pass for a gargoyle, espically with the tusks and horns, its kid brother, its slightly younger brother, and a guy who really reminded me of an Asian Doc from Snow White, except he was wearing black leather instead of some cutesy tunic getup. At that point, I decided staying awake wasnít worth the effort.
"Well, I still say itís pretty damn ugly," Gray announced over the speakers. He hit a bump as if to prove his point.
Lenore shrugged. "But it is alive, whichís more then any of us would be if we hit that trap."
"The question is, what do we do with it?"
Brianís question left them silent.
"Well, I could always keep an eye on it until we know what it is," Toby ventured.
"Yeah, heís always looking for a cuter roomie," Garg added over the speakers. "I checked with some contacts, but they and my search progs couldnít find anything like this. Closest I found was a match on the coloring, and that was a feathered serpent. And that does not look like a draco form."
A crackling noise at their feet instantly had the team aiming various guns and weapons at the creature, only to see it turn to stone.
"Well. That solves that," Brian muttered shakily.
When I woke up I was pretty sore, so that voltage had toíve been serious (like I didnít know that before). I was stuck in the corner of a small apartment, typical city housing. Furniture was old, and there was a surprising lack of pictures ect. All I could see was what looked like a TV screen/intercom combo hanging off the wall.
"Freeze, motherfragger!" an animalistic, rasping voice growled behind me. I raised my hands automatically and slowly turned around.
Whoa. A female person was sitting in a wheelchair, pointing some sort of nasty looking gun at me. I could tell she was short even in the chair. She wore ripped jeans, a t-shirt advertising Maria Mercurial (???) and had what I have to call copper colored hair, the left side of it cut off to a few inches while the right side hung over her shoulder in one long tangle. Otherwise she was normal except for her ears, which come to a sharp point (my first thought was one of Oberonís children, but I never thought one of them would need a wheelchair) and her face, which was a mess. In a vague way it reminded me of Freddy Krugerís makeup, but taken to an extreme (and not nearly as symmetrical) that wasnít pretty.
"I said freeze," she snarled. So I froze. "Now whatíd you do to the statue?"
I blinked and stared (some more). Statue? Ok, I mean, this was different from the usual Ďah! Monster!í reaction I usually get, but (a) getting threatened with a gun is not fun and (b) not recognizing me as the statue is just weird.
About that time, I suddenly realized that her eyes werenít closed, but she didnít have eyes. Eww. Well, Iím sorry thatís my reaction, but while I may be a gargoyle, running into people Ė humans (?) Ė that look like this is not normal.
"Um," I said intelligently.
"Donít move," she snapped, then let go of the gun with one hand and fished around in the bag hanging off the right side of her chair. She came out with a small cord (I couldnít see what it was attached to) and proceeded to plug it into her head. Seriously. There was a round slivery port on both her temples (the right one now attached to whatever was in her bag) that looked like some sort of outlet. Major weird.
A few seconds later, there was a faint whine from the corner like servos kicking in and a foot long metal trash can (think R2D2 cut in half, with the top able to fly and has a major attitude) flew into sight.
"Holy drek! What are you?"
Damn. So much for the acceptance method. Since the plug in the head was unusual enough, I decided to go for total sci-fi and say the drone was like her seeing eye dog or whatever. Hell, if Nicole can get away with using Taz as hers, why shouldnít this nutcase use a machine? "A gargoyle. My nameís Megan. How Ďbout you?"
She snorted and her face twisted in what I hoped was a smile. "A gargoyle?" she repeated softly. "Well, Iím Shanna, but my Ďtrix handle is Gargoyle."
Trix? Okaaaay, whatever. "What a coincidence. Where and when am I?"
"My apartment, Seattle, and why the hell do you want to know that?"
I sighed. Well, she didnít seem that phased and there was something about her that was just plain irritating. "Iím traveling through space and time. Itís a bitch, but Iím guessing this isnít the 1990ís since last time I checked, people didnít plug their vacuum cleaners into their heads."
"Itís a combat drone, not a vacuum cleaner," she snapped. I didnít care, I just wanted to get a chance to take it apart to see what made it tick. Whatta toy. Drool. "And you expect me to believe that drek? Time travelís for the trid, not real life."
I couldnít stop a laugh, even if I didnít know what the trid is. "And itís the fairy thatís telling me this."
The drone zipped forward and whacked me over the head, hard enough to sting but not enough to dent (no comments about if it would be me or it thatíd dent). "Iím an elf, not a fairy."
Whoo, Ms. PMS has an attitude. "Iím quaking. So when is it?"
"Howíd you get into the compound? I was monitering the system, and even with the wings, you couldnít just appear in that corridor."
"I told you, it was time travel! Itís magic, itís not supposed to make sense. How the hell should I know? All I can say is one minute I was having a nice chat with my granddaughter then wham, bam, thank you maím Iím getting electrocuted!"
Ok, so I was a little ticked by then. Iím not at my best without a cup of coffee first thing at night.
Little Ms. ĎTude hesitated. "Magic... okay, I guess Iíll buy that. Itís 2057. Can you go back in time?"
"I hope so! Otherwise Iím not gonna get home."
"Then could you go back to a certain time? Say, a year ago?" She wasnít hostile anymore. In fact, she almost seemed desperate. ĎHungryí is the word that comes to mind.
I shrugged. "I suppose. I canít control when or where I go. Anyway, the past is set. Canít change it."
"Oh." Her shoulders slumped. "So since you didnít, you canít and wonít."
I couldnít figure out what she was referring to, but that wasnít that important. "Well, I dunno. I mean, the future can be changed, I think. So since this is my future, it could be different. But then again, since itís your past, that means itís set, but Ė whoa. My head hurts."
"Yeah. Temporal physics are a pain in the hoop."
There was an uncomfortable silence during which the elf finally holstered her gun. "So, why exactly are you time traveling here? Not really that important, Ďless yer out to screw the corps."
"Corpse?" I repeated. Iíll admit, my dirty mindís first response was to tell her I preferred them alive, but I figured weíd prolly crossed wires somewhere.
"The corporations?" She was saying it like it was the easiest thing in the world to understand, like Iíd asked if fire was hot.
"Look, I donít know shit about this time, furthest along Iím familiar with is 1997." I canít really say about last trip, I mean, I didnít really know anything. "So take it slow and treat me like an idiot country cousin. Whatíre the plugs in your head for?"
Shanna seemed a little surprised about my outburst. So sue me for a short temper. "The right oneís a VCR, vehicle control rig. Allows me to control the drones."
Ooo, she has more than one? Heh heh heh (insert Snidely Whiplash laugh here). "How?"
"Um...." Well, most people use TVs but wouldnít have the faintest clue whatís inside, so guess I shouldnít prod that much. "The VCR translates electrical processes and routines into impulses to the brain so it seems like the rigger is the drone or vehicle. The datajack - " she pointed to the right port - "does pretty much the opposite, so a decker literally interacts with the Matrix."
TOYS!!! Waitaminute. "The matrix?"
"Yeah... uh, the... drek, whatíd you call it? Oh, right, the web."
Pardon me, I need to go drool in the corner right now. Direct neural interfacing with the Internet? Better yet, direct neural interfacing with machines! God, I could get to love this era!
Unfortunately, my rational side seemed to be in charge. "Youíre taking this awfully well. Díyou get time travelers through here often?"
She gave a short bark of bitter laughter. "Hell, Iíve had weirder things then you happen to me before lunch. My roommateís a troll, Iíve been attacked by everything from devil rats to a dragon, and killed people thatíre more machine then meat. A gargoyleís just another fancy drain spout that might decide to rip out my throat. Youíre just another SINless meta."
My head was reeling a bit by that time, so I latched onto the nearest weirdness. "Sinless meta?"
"Without a SIN, System Identification Number. Oneía the faceless metahuman masses that crowds the UCAS."
I know when Iím getting over my head. This passed that mark quite awhile ago. A buzzing from the TV/intercom thingy saved me. Shanna rolled over (nearly running me over) and hit a button. "Yeah? What can I do ya for?"
"Shanna, thank god yer there."
She looked puzzled, plugged into her drone, and hit a button on the comm. The screen changed to show one of the weird humans (metahumans?) from last night. First off, he was big. By human standards, heís prolly considered ugly too. Caucasian descent, surfer dude shag of blond hair barely held back by some sort of leather tie, pair of ragged rams horns, tusks, and a lovely collection of scrapes and bruises, topped with a black eye. "Toby? I thought you were on door duty."
He sighed. "I wuz. But a suit thought this wuz an overnighter, aní tried ta getta room fer a few hours. Tole him this wuznít that sorta place. Got angry, aní...."
"And you got involved. Dammit, why?"
He looked stubborn. He obviously thought heíd been in the right. "He wuz dragginí in a girl that wuz underage aní she sureís hell dint wanna be there."
Shanna changed, stiffening in her seat and jaw sticking out. Apparently she thought the same thing about this as he did. "So the Starís got you?"
He hesitated and shifted, looking uncomfortable. "Look, ah, Iím not gonna be home anytime soon, so ya might wanna look into gettingí a new roomie."
"Wha-? Chummer, you have rights, thereís bail - "
"Weíre SINless, Ďmember?" He smiled almost apologetically. "We donít got no rights. Hey, maybe Iíll see ya sometime? My timeís up. Bye."
"Toby!" Shanna shrieked as the screen went blank. "Dammit all...." She slumped back in her chair. "Damn."
Ya know, itís disgusting. Honestly, is there any couple in the entire universe that acts on love and impulses and hormones before contemplating all the intricacies and problems in a relationship? I mean really, Tate and Jay are just plain sickening, but this.... Itís this close to a freak show, but those two didnít even say anything remotely like ĎI love youí when itís as obvious as the wings on my back that Ė Argh. Humans.
"Do me a favor, will ya?"
The ripsaw voice managed to stop my mental rant before it got too far. "Which would be?"
Shanna raised her head and let out a deep breath, more a fortifying signal than a sigh. "If I start twitching, screaming, or foaming, yank the cord." She plugged a cord Ė datajack? Ė into the left port in her head and slumped back.
Well. Díyou ever get the feeling youíre caught in a cheap soap opera? Ok, so maybe it was more like a cheap sci-fi novel, but really. Anyway, since I didnít feel the need to natter to myself about my plans to bump off any rivals (as if I had any) or take over the world, I checked out the fridge and started munching on some cheese and crackers.
Not a peep out of the elf until she suddenly ripped the cord out, with a snarl of "That fragging slitch!"
I raised an eyeridge. "Bad news?"
She took another deep breath, this time like she was trying to keep herself under control. "Family. Sucks."
My latest cheesy cracker nearly got spewed over the couch. "What?" I managed after nearly choking on the crumbs. The clan is one of the most important things in life. Clan is... well, clan.
"Never mind." She rolled over to the telephone/visual thingy and punched what Iím guessing is the 2057 equivalent of speed dial.
There was a ringing. And more ringing. I was about ready to fly out to wherever the other end was just to pick up and stop the bell when someone did finally connect. They growled something like "frag off" and slammed the phone down.
Shanna pushed the button again.
The first bell had barely rung when they picked up again. "Lissen you son of a slitch, you better not be selling anything Ďcause if you are Iím gonna hunt you down and make you swallow whatever youíre selling after it gets shoved up yer hoop!"
"Bri, I need help."
"Garg?" The screen flickered to life, showing a rumpled, sleepy looking black guy wearing boxer shorts and not much else. He also had tusks (smaller than the ones of guy before), shaved head, and looked about as muscled as your average body builder. "Whatís wrong? Canít it wait until morning? I havenít had a good nightís sleep in - "
"Toby got taken in by one of the corps."
"Drek." He finally managed to look awake. "Any particulars known?"
"Star Industries, really owned by the Salish-Sidhe council. They took him so... part of an old argument. Theyíll use him to make me a good little wage slave."
"Excuse me?!?" Okay, okay, so I canít keep my mouth shut.
The guy on the screen turned to stare at me. "You got it back from stone," he observed.
Shanna shrugged. "Did it on her own. Look, can you get hold of the team and then everybody meet here? I got the room and by then I should have the stats needed."
He agreed and hung up, Shanna plugged in again, and I spent an hour surfing the tube (over a hundred channels, almost all in 3-d, and there was very little on. Then again, I couldnít tell what was the news and what was twisted sci-fi, even if there was a new Star Trek). Why bother sticking around? Simple. A, I owed these people, B, all this talk about unlawful imprisonment and Ďcorporation wage slaveí appealed to my need to protect, and C, they had KEWL TOYS I might get a chance to look at. However, I did get freaked when I turned to put down a drink and it landed smack dab on the journal thingy. I know I hadnít woken up with it, but it was sitting on the side table like it was waiting for me. Weird.
Then again, it is magical.
Anyway, after the hour of channel surfing, there was a knock on the door. Shanna growled at me to open it, and since I had nothing better to do, I did.
The person knocking was big. Very big. As in, about 7 feet big. She (apparently) was surprisingly similar to ĎTobyí with the horns and tusks (and prolly size, too), but her horns were sorta straight, going back from her temples to curve upwards about halfway back her head. She looked like Spanish stock; dark skin, black hair, but blue eyes.
The instant she saw me, she reached under her jacket and whipped out a hand gun of some sort. "Whatís going on?" she rumbled.
I raised my hands slowly. "Iím trying to let you in and youíre pointing a very big gun at me."
"Veeery funny. Whereís Gargoyle?"
Geeze, do all these people have an attitude problem? I sighed. "This gargoyleís praying you donít shoot. That Gargoyle is... decking."
"Uh huh." Slowly (way too slowly for me. Under ordinary conditions, Iíd take my chances on taking it away, but supposedly sheís one of the good guys. Or as close as these people get), she lowered her gun and stepped inside.
"Hoi!" she called to Shanna. They got into some sort of conversation, but there was another knock. They didnít look like they were gonna get it, so I did.
This time I got the impression of slim human, male, with graying hair before there was a yelp and he body checked me.
Compared to some of the bruisers thatíve come after me, this was nothing. But remember, no caffeine, exasperation, and generally being torqued makes for one cranky gargoyle. I rolled with the blow, scrambling to my feet before whatís-his-face recovered, and snarled at him and the world in general, "Havenít you people heard of decaf?!?"
Somebody cleared their throat in the doorway. "Are we interrupting anything?"
Iíll cut out the unpleasantries that followed and bring it down to the first arrival was Lenore/Loren (I couldnít figure out which, but they called her Lenore more often) and apparently a troll. Go figure.
The guy who attacked me was Gray. It was later explained to me that heís a rigger. At the time I was more concerned in trying to figure out how a human could have plaid eyes. Seriously. Very weird.
The last two arrivals were Brian and ĎGandalf.í Brian was the black guy I saw before that was apparently the leader (not to mention he moved like a combo of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and the members of the Pack all rolled into one), which they called a "phys ad" (apparently physical adept) and kept trying to explain to me, but they didnít make much sense. The gist I got was something about magic to enhance skills, maybe. Eh, I dunno. Gandalf was a dwarf. No prejudice or anything, but thatís what they all called him. Short, wide, and looking like he stepped out of the anime version of Snow White (meaning Asian and wearing lots of black leather). He said he was a mage, and the glowing hands oí death when he came in convinced me.
All of them liked dark colors and trenchcoats. Not to mention guns. There were a lot of guns around.
Iíll spare you the details of the conversation about gargoyles (and stone sleep) and skip right to after revelations of the compound or whatever maps and the hashing out of various plans and their drawbacks, which was mostly irrelevant arguing.
Brian sighed and sat back when everyone had their say. "Well, the best plan seems to be an aerial attack," he said, pointing to the tower on the paper littering the table. "Gray, what do you have in terms of flight?"
"Hmm." He squinted at the plans, hiding his bizarre eyes for a moment. "Only thing thatíll carry more than one is a military helicopter, which wonít get within a mile of that even if we do follow a flight plan."
I leaned in to get a closer look. "How close could you get?"
Silence. They stared at me, but then again I hadnít said much during the plotting. Or maybe because they realized I have built in wings.
"With a filed flight plan, maybe half a mile. If we manage to snag a doc wagon Ďcopter......fifty feet."
"All right. At that I could definitely manage Gandalf, Shannaíll be no problem without the chair Ė "
She was already shaking her head. "Iím not going in."
"íKay. Brian, eh, thatís borderline." I just looked at Lenore and shook my head. "Donít even think about it, especially if I need to lug someone even roughly your weight back."
"But if you can fly - "
I cut Brian off right there. "Glide. Not fly. I need height and air currents to get anywhere."
"So the chopperís downwashíll be a slitch." (Gray) "Be best if we can hover around for any reason..."
"I know where to get some hell raisers," Lenore threw in. "Two mages, specialize in illusion, decker, and sammie." Seeing my (obvious) confusion, she added "Street samurai."
"Then I can handle rigging some drones to add to the havoc if you trust this decker to redirect the alarms Briís group sets off to the lower Ďweíre here to cause troubleí group."
"All right. Sounds like a plan." Brian looked around the group. "Anything else we need to worry about right now? No? Good. Letís roll."
Megan stared out at the building looming a mile away from the helicopter, awed not so much by its size but by the fact that several other buildings dwarfed it. "Shite, thatís big," she whispered.
Gandalf leaned over to get a better look, then shrugged. "Not really." Meg managed a faint, disbelieving chuckle. The dwarf turned and looked at her more closely, noticing her white knuckled grip on the arm rest that was leaving four distinct puncture holes. "Are you all right?"
The gargoyle shrugged. "I donít usually go this high, and even when I do, Iím in charge of things."
"Never been in a helicopter before, eh?"
She flashed him a grin, grateful yet feeling odd when he didnít flinch at the sight of her fangs. "Humans arenít exactly gonna offer me rides or anything."
She gave him an incredulous look, only to find he was utterly serious. "Well, I mean... where Ė and when Ė I come from, itís humans, a small amount of gargoyles, and maybe the fay. Gargoyles have just been myth to the general population until not too long ago when the Manhattan clan got in major trouble with the news and stuff."
"Huh." The dwarf looked puzzled. "Funny, I donít recall anything like that. The reports of metas began in 2011, when elves and dwarves were born to human parents."
"So, youíre basically humans?"
He nodded. "Essentially. Just something slightly different in the DNA. Same goes for the trolls and orcs. Some were born the way they are, others, such as Brian, goblinized."
"Meaning one morning I woke up with tusks, more body hair than youíd ever believe, and a really slotted off girlfriend," the man said as he moved in from the cockpit. He shrugged. "I got lucky. Was painless and quick. For some...." His eyes flicked downwards and years away Ė "itís not. Sorry ĎDalf, but youíre gonna hafta leave the rest of this charming lecture for later. Itís nearly time Ė "
An explosion below cut him off and sent Meg partially out of her seat in a combination of habit and fear.
"Thatís our cue," Brian rumbled.
All right, I can do this. Just another flight. Meg flexed her wings nervously and moved over to the window.
"Hang on. Can you use a gun?"
She turned back to Brian with a confused look. "I donít like lethal force. Itís not my style."
"But it is ours, not to mention the security guardsí. Can you use a gun?"
"Yes," she sighed reluctantly. The orc tossed her a handgun.
"Sixteen bullets. Donít use it unless youíre sure you can hit the target, and make sure we arenít in the way."
She bared her teeth at him in a growl, letting her eyes flicker red. "I said I know how to use it. Besides, Iím better in hand-to-hand." She went back to the window and crouched down, motioning to Gandalf. "You first. Go piggy-back and donít choke me."
When the dwarf had a secure hold, Meg nodded to Brian, who threw open the door. The rush of wind caused the gargoyle to hesitate for a second, then she threw herself into the night.
They fell for several harrowing seconds before she flicked open her wings, turning the dive into a swoop towards the building. Gandalf whooped as they sped forwards. "Gods, this is amazing!"
Megan laughed. "You have no idea!" she yelled back. "Which floor?"
When they landed on the ledge outside a window, the dwarf slipped off her back and began patting down his pockets.
"I know I have a glasscutter here somewhere...."
"Alarms donít matter, right?" He nodded cautiously. The gargoyle shrugged and raked her talons across the glass, making both wince at the shriek. Then she punched the window along the scratches. The plasti-glass shattered inwards. "Rookery sister of mine came up with that," she told Gandalf with a smug grin. "Hang tight inside while I get Fearless Leader."
Brian watched the first flight with critical wariness. After all, his life depended on this stranger. Ordinarily, heíd prefer to use hang gliders and/or Gandalfís spells, but her help left them with the extra money Ė and with the backup help they were hiring, the team needed all the nuyen they could spare Ė and a fresh wizworm.
Later, he reminded himself as Meg returned to the chopper, save the thinking for later. We got a job to do and a chummer to save.
The gargoyle turned around and spread her wings. "Second verse, same as the first, just a little bit louder and a little bit worse."
"You wouldnít happen to know a decker named Thumper, would you?" he couldnít resist asking as he took hold of her shoulders. Drek, sheís smallerín I am! Hope we make it....
"Nope!" she yelled, jumping out again.
The orc quickly realized his weight was more than she expected; her flight path was more erratic and she was flapping more than the first time. They somehow made it to the building, but were a floor lower than what they needed.
"Drek," he hissed, letting go and glaring upwards.
"Just gimme a sec," she panted, "and then we go."
"Youíre going to fly more?"
She gave him a Ďdonít be stupidí look, took a deep breath, and straightened. "Back on."
He obeyed. Before his shocked eyes, the gargoyle then proceeded to climb the wall, talons digging into the ferra-crete like it was nothing.
"Shit, you need to lose weight," she snarled.
"Drek," he corrected with a laugh. "If yer gonna swear, at least do it right."
Gandalf paced beside the window, trying not to fret but not really succeeding. Heíd seen Brian and Megan coming in the right direction, but the second he looked away to make sure he hadnít heard a sec guard, theyíd disappeared. He could not figure out where they were, and there was no noise whatsoever over the comms.
The crackle of stone and the appearance of a fuchsia, four-taloned hand on the window sill broke his rising hysteria.
"-so anyone under fifteen is a rugger," Brian was saying cheerfully.
"Thatís not a swear, or an insult," Meg observed.
"It is if youíre the rugger."
Gandalf helped them up, the leader casually sliding to the door and checking the hallway while Meg perched on the desk. She was breathing hard and looked whipped. "I still say you need to lose weight," she growled at the orc.
Brian grinned and pounded a fist on a washboard stomach. "Of what?"
She glared at him for a second, jaw sticking out to the side and eyes slits, then gave him the finger. "Frag you," she declared.
Gandalf could not figure out why they found that so funny.
They moved through the hallways to where Toby was being held, Gandalf suppressing the urge to shiver at the way his companions moved. Brian was like always, smooth and silent as a jungle cat. The gargoyle surprised him; with her coloring and all those extra limbs, he expected her to make excessive noise, or at least stand out like a sore thumb, but instead she stalked along silently, somehow blending into the shadows so much that occasionally, when he looked away, he was unable to spot her when he looked back.
They stopped around the corner from their objective; the hallway was actually patrolled by two nervous looking guards. Brian made his intentions clear with several gestures and Megan disappeared back the way they came. Several tense minutes later, the guard at the further end of the hallway yelped. There was a thump, and silence, broken by the other guard, who had taken a few cautious steps down the hallway Ė and away from Brian.
A blood-curdling scream that came from the throat of something most definitely not human echoed down the hallway, sending the guard stumbling back, firing wildly. Muzzle fire flickered, briefly revealing a demon howling down the passage in cheap stop-motion photography.
One quick rabbit-punch from Brian later, darkness descended, broken by sparks from the now sputtering lights.
"Is he done or reloading?" Meg called.
"Done. Was that you?" The mage knew he was tempting fate, but he had to ask, to find out if she truly had been the one to produce that unholy noise.
"Wasnít Sleeping Beauty here," she quipped, tossing the guardís unconscious body at their feet. "By the way, any particular reason he pulled a Wolverine?"
She rolled her eyes and crouched down, picking up a limp hand and turning it so they could see the three small exit holes in the manís hand. "Three metal claws, about six inches long... way cool."
"Cyber spurs," he commented, wondering yet again if she really was from a different time if she was unaware of such a simple and common use of modern cyber.
"Whoa," she breathed, face glazed in an expression heíd only seen before on fanatics. "This is normal?"
"Well, other cyber modification - "
"Cyber? As in cybernetics?"
"No, cyber spaghetti," Brian drawled. "We have a chummer to rescue, if it fits into your busy schedule."
"Right." She stood, apparently going from tech obsessed to devoted entirely to the mission in seconds. She reverted the instant they got to the door, seeming obsessed with the mag lock. "Ooo, does this really work well?"
Brian shrugged as he pulled out a passkey, swiping the card through the reader. "Standard issue, so if you have the right picks - " he pushed the door open as the magnetic card scrambled the lock into thinking it was legit - "not really."
Brian cautiously led the way into the room, daring to flick on the lights only when he was fairly certain there were no more unpleasant surprises. He heard a gasp from Meg as the fluorescent lights flickered to life, revealing the corp at its worst, a combination of medieval inventiveness at torture and modern technology. Toby was strapped to a medical examination table, shirt stripped to reveal a multitude of burns, cuts, developing bruises, and puncture holes from the needles littering the floor and disposal tray. The troll glared at them with one eye Ė the other too swollen to open Ė and mumbled "Frag off, Ďm not intírested."
Brian and Meg swiftly moved to tear away the restraints, while the mage guarded the door.
"Toby, I donít know if youíre in any condition to hear me, but itís me, Brian," he told his teammate as he tugged at the straps, encouraged by the way the troll tried to focus on him, "and weíre here to get you out. Ya hear me, chummer? Yer gonna be okay."
The instant the last restraint was removed, Toby began to thrash about wildly, nearly taking his rescuers out. "Get away from me!" he screamed, "Not gonna tell you fraggers anything!"
Brian and Meg tried their best in a losing battle to hold the hysterical troll down, but it worked long enough for Gandalf to dart in and slap a tranq patch onto Tobyís leg. Slowly, the troll relaxed into uneasy unconsciousness.
The team leader glared around the room again. "Take him to the chopper," he barked at Megan. "Weíll meet you at the window we entered."
For once, she didnít ask anything.
September 8, 2057
Whoo! Man, I can think of maybe three times Iíve been as happy as this sunrise to sleep. Last night was unbelievable. Iíll admit I had some twinges breaking the law like that, but when I saw what theyíd done to Shannaís friend, Toby.... No more. Even the little bit of arson that capped off the night didnít really bug me that much. But really, nerve-wracking doesnít begin to describe it, and these people do this sort of thing for a living? Double cripes). Thankfully everybody but a few security guards got out okay. The corpís the only one to suffer long term losses. I guess thatís why they do it for a living.
Or they just like the guns and trenchcoats.
Anyway, I for one intend to stick around for a few more nights at least, just to get an up close and personal view of some of the TOYS! around here.
September 16, 2057
Well. Itís been one hell of a week, THATíS for sure. Things are weird here, but in a way I donít want to leave. Somewhere along the way the team sorta adopted me as the mascot or something, which means I get to go along for drinks at the bar. And except for one time, the worst I got was a few funny looks. No running, no screaming, no "AH!!!! Monster!!"
I could get used to this.
Unfortunately, there are still loonies, something called the Humanis Policlub, which seems to be the KKK and Quarrymen rejects. Pathetic, but a mob of pathetic humans can be dangerous. That little encounter was the one time at the bar that wasnít fun. And the main reason people donít run seems to be life sucks so badly theyíve got other things to worry about. Sad, but a constant, unfortunately. Weíre near the Barrens, which is the slum section of the Seattle sprawl (this isnít a city, itís a small country! Or at least state!), and.... even the worst parts of Mystic arenít this bad. Some nights I go on patrol, and itís every bad aspect and tall tale of the evils of city life wrapped into one block.
Iím not gonna miss that.
The one other major thing Iíll be happy to leave behind is Gandalf. I like him and all, but he seems determined to get a thing going with me, which is just weird. Now, mind you, I donít mind humans or anything, but dating one? Let alone a dwarf.... Itís just too weird. I think heís just watched too many shows on the trid (Tri-D TV! The next best thing to being there!). At least he doesnít mind giving me a few new spells (Bullet Barrier. Doesnít it even sound impressive?)
I finally got enough down time to look through the journal and, well, it keeps changing! First, I know I never had time to write down anything about my close encounters with Sadie and the future clan, but theyíre written down, in my handwriting in my thoughts. Eep. Useful little trick, but frightening. Anyway, when itís not new additions to my excuse of a life, I finally sat down and took a gander at all the spells (again with a few doing the disappearing act). Thereíre a few in my specialty (which is messing with the mind - or as Shanna puts it, Iím tele-pathetic) that are way cool. I could turn people into frogs! Actually, even better, it convinces the victimís mind that they just got turned into a frog, so they go bouncing around like 5-year olds in a demented game of letís pretend. Cool, huh?
Anyway, I feel the need to add that I love this time!!! I actually walked down the street last night, and while I did get a few weird looks, that was it! WHOOHOO! Also, techie toys up the yin yang that could keep me satisfied for a long time. Still freaks me out when Shanna or Toby plug something into their head, but way cool. Shanna even took me into the matrix thanks to something she called a (elec)trod rig (think weird hat made out of wires and stuff). Damn. I may not get along with computers, but this awed even me. Gods only know what Silicon would do to get his hands on this, but I know that I want one! For a sec, you blank out, then vision comes back as this impossible world of... light. All these buildings and structures (icons, apparently) are floating in blackness.... Argh. I canít explain it. It has to be experienced to be understood.
Well. Itís been a blast, but Iím stating to feel the need to move on. I donít dare take any of the really cool TOYS! back with me for fear of messing up the past/future/whatever, but Shanna and Toby managed to convince me to take a pair of handguns. Ooo, Iím not a real gun freak, like some of the others in the clan who will remain nameless, but this made even me drool. Heavy pistol, clip of what turns out to be 16 shots, weighing diddley squat, this is a Colt Manhunter and really lives up to the name. I know that when I got home, Iíll have to get more of these for the armory. We donít use lethal force often, but the times we do, we need to make it fast and overwhelming. This is one sweet little toy thatíll help heaps.
Anyway, this time when I said the magic words, the portal sent me hurtling along towards another patch of grass. I had seconds to wonder if that really had been the/my future before I tried concentrating on impact with turf and stone...
Many thanks need to be given to Datafage and Tyrethali for their comments and help editing, which kept me from looking too stupid (I hope ;). Thanks, chummers.
Just a quick note: this is not the likely future for my Gargoyles universe. This was written just for giggles, because I like crossovers, and it allows you to read the other Shadowrun fic out there(sneaky bastard, arenít I? ;) j/k). Recommended reading is at Shapcano's Shadowrun Stories, Winterhawk's Virtual Magespace, and/or DeckerM's Shadowrun Page. Either way, I hope you enjoyed reading this. Now back to your regularly scheduled program - er, credits.
The first entry Part 1
The previous entry Part 3
The next entry Part 5
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Any questions? Complaints? Screams of outrage that I actually consider myself a writer and/or dared to show this in public? Tell me! Send it all to Norcumi@backtick.net! I love mail!!!!†
Shadowrun is a Registered Trademark of FASA Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission. Any use of FASA Corporation's copyrighted material or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. *Asterixed material taken from the Shadowrun Sourcebook, second edition.
Except for a bit of lore and the gargoyle race in general (which are respectfully used from the Great Mouse/Buena Vista without permission), and the FASA stuff (see disclaimer above) everything in here belongs to me. That means you can't use it without asking me first.