Author Topic: Posse  (Read 1841 times)

Critias

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Posse
« on: (00:52:14/11-16-10) »
Part of my seasonal paperwork with Ares Entertainment involves renewing my bounty hunting licenses with the UCAS.  While the name of my show -- Chase: Errant Knight, maybe y’all have heard of it? – is a terribly subtle hint that I’m somehow affiliated with Knight Errant, it’s the show’s dirty little secret that I’m not.  I’m classified on my check stubs, not that anyone gets actually paper checks, mind, as just “entertainer.”  The plastic-faced actors and porn sim starlets have the same corporate classification I do, despite my armor, guns, and scars.

Oh well.  That’s life, I reckon.  It ain’t like I can really complain, all things considered.  I’ve had a hell of a ride on this particular bronco, and I’ll be honest with ya, every morning I wake up next to Rose in our highrise apartment and compare it to the sheet metal trailer I grew up in, every day I see myself fresh out of the shower and realize none of those scars managed to kill me, every time I spot the DocWagon SuperPlatinum tag and realize it cost more than what both my folks used to make in a year, every time I glance at a credstick after some incidental purchase and I remember just how well I’m getting paid for all this tridshow silliness, I want to thank the God my mother went home to.  The long and short of it, quite frankly, is that I’m a lucky guy.

Which is what makes some of the dumb shit I do particularly idiotic of me.

It’s the off season.  New tridcasts only pop up once a week and only for the regular season, so it’s not like I’ve got to saunter around Seattle drawin’ down on bail skippers and collectin’ bounties every day of my life.  Since I’m an Adept and since I’m not a real corporate security fella, the suits don’t bug me about mandatory training time or anything.  In the off season, my time’s my own.  

So why, oh why, do I still pay attention when I get a commlink call from one of my half-fake tridshow contacts, tellin’ me about a bail jumber I’d hauled in early in my first season, who’s thumbin’ his nose at UCAS law again?  There’s no camera drones chasin’ me.  Whatever nuyen I collect from the bounty is nuyen I don’t really need, and any bullets I manage to catch’ll be my problem, without Ares’ official help.  Hell, I’m even payin’ for my own biodiesel and battery charge on my big Ford as I navigate the Seattle streets in my pick up.  I’ve got plenty to lose an’ precious little to gain.  But like I said, I’m an idiot sometimes.  Rose is out of town workin’ on some new costumes, there’s nothing worth watching on the trid, and I guess my biggest excuse is that chasin’ dummies is the most fun I know how to have on a Friday night.

So here I am.  I sit in my truck on the side of the road and I watch low-level gangsters and corp kids who want to be low-level gangsters as they drag race in goofy lookin’ imports that glow in the dark.  Some of ‘em have neons all over their cars, others have little LEDs attached, some have Glo-Neo ™ paint with moving designs on it, long Eastern dragons writhing and quirming from panel to panel all over their coupes.  They all look like they’re straight out of a cartoon, to me, but I reckon I’m not exactly their target audience.  

My eyes pierce the darkness on their own, but I take advantage of the tech built into my Oakleys to zoom in real crisp, and I scan the faces of every hair-gel abusing punk as they slowly roll their tricked-out carbon-bodied toy cars to the starting line.  I chew on jerky and listen to the radio while I wait and watch, and I’ve pitched my third can of pop into the truck bed by the time I sit up a little straighter.

I’ve spotted Jang Sung-Bae, a Seoulpa Ring hanger on.  He’s insisting he ain’t in his early thirties and is still running the sort of errand bullshit jobs the syndicate gives to twelve year olds.  He acts like he’s a top ranking gangster, swaggers around in ugly shirts and popped up collars, flashes gold to pick up girls…but the simple truth is he’s, deep down inside, a never-was.  I first ran into him thanks to a Tempo bust he tried to skip court on.  No one knows what sort of deal he cut to get out so fast, but he’d gotten cuffed up for a domestic abuse charge a while back, got out of it on bail, and now?  Now here he is, racing toy cars instead of reporting to court.  And here I am, getting ready to wreck his night.

Some curvy broad with half the makeup in Seattle on leans into his car to give him a good luck kiss and the rest of us a rump wiggle.  He flashes his yellow teeth at her in a confident grin, flicks a cigarette through his open window in direct violation of UCAS anti-littering codes, and waits for the signal to start the race.  I twist the ignition and start up my Ford, but keep the lights off.  My thumb hits the button to send my driver’s side window sliding down.  Folks are lined up all up and down the street to watch the races, but they’re all busy leaning up against “cooler” looking cars and bikes that my big Ford.  No one’s close enough to my pick up to notice the hungry, low-down, growl of my engine.

My plan ain’t elegant, but I figure it’ll work pretty well.  Jang and the fella he’s racing are all set to floor it and roll right past me, same as the last pair of racers, and the one before them, and the one before them.  When they’re coming my way I’ll shoot out one of his tires, roll my truck forward three or four meters to let his goofy little car bounce off – wrecking it and scuffing my chrome, maybe – and then all I’ve gotta do is toss him in the back of the truck while he’s still stunned from the wreck, cuff him to the crash bar back there, and roll out.  The locals might not be too happy about their little races bein’ messed with, sure, but this is a corp crowd with a few poseurs mixed in, not a real underground crowd.  A few of ‘em might wave plastic girl-guns in the air or something, but I’m bettin’ none of ‘em has the salt to use it.  I’ve been watching them talk all night, seen their brittle swaggers, been reading their body language the way only an Adept can.  They don’t have it in ‘em to really stop me.

I slide one of my Cavalier Deputies – I don’t use the Ares Carnivores when I’m not on the job, they’re not officially my property – out of a holster as the two racers start to rev their cute little engines and make a big fat racket.  I start thinking and perceiving the world in what I call triggertime, and the half-naked flag girl lifts her arms with painful slowness to my eyes.  Everything I see slows down, every cough or sneeze from the crowd on the sidelines, the blink of Jang’s eyes as he gets ready for the race to start, then sudden motion from a pair of the brightly colored cars lining the street.

What the…?

Everything’s movin' slowly for me, but fast for everyone else.  Two of the parked cars, the same little corp-chic coupes it seems like half of these racers are driving, purr to life and peel out of their parking spots side by side, one of the drivers folding the flag-girl in half over the red painted hood of his car.  The glossy black car its partnered to pulls further into the street, and it’s then that I realize they’re not parked neatly next to each other so that neither car’s blocking a line of fire.  Autofire rings out – still living in triggertime, I can hear each shot instead of the chattering drone of combined fire like everyone else – but from my angle I can’t see the shooters.  I know there are four of them, I can tell they’re unloading submachineguns of some kind, and I know that I won’t be collecting a bounty on Jang Sung-Bae any time soon.  His flimsy, light, race car breaks into a million pieces under the concentrated fire, his engine dying with an ugly wrenching sound while he dies, probably, with a whimper.  

Each of the shooters empties a full magazine into him, in two seconds that probably feel like hours to everyone nearby.  Something really bad is happening, I realize, as the mirrored side windows on my side of their cars slide open.  I hear each click-clack of fresh magazines being slapped home, I watch as each shooter-driver resettles his subgun on the driver’s side window frame to start shooting again, see it in terrible slow motion as shooters from each side of the backseats point their guns out the own windows.  There are shooters riding shotgun, too, each of them with the same sleek submachinegun – theirs unfired, so far – in their hands, starting to point them out windows.  I know what happens next.

Get down!”  I shout it as loud as I can, fueling the shout with every ounce of Adept power I have, every bit of energy and force and command I can muster.  Everyone who can hear me scrambles to obey, the race-watchers towards my end of the block dropping to hug pavement or diving behind their cars.  Almost everyone, I notice out of the corner of my eye, one big guy standing tall despite the dark-haired girl clinging to his ankle from the sidewalk.  

The two assassin cars peel out again, this time spraying autofire from both sides.  They’re not coordinating their fire to assassinate one man, now.  They’re spraying it indiscriminately from both sides of their cars as they speed off – black one in front, red on meters behind – and just having fun killing everyone who’s out to watch a race.  Eight chattering subguns spit fire and pistol-caliber rounds as they roar down the street.

My Ford lurches out into the street to block their way, but the driver of the black lead car is just a hair too quick for it to be a solid hit.  My pushbars clip him just behind the rear wheels and his light-framed race car starts to spin and smash into the row of parked cars.  The red car slams the brakes and I’m just about to shoot the driver – now that he’s sittin’ nice and still, gawking at me – when he gets splattered with blood and brain.  That same hand cannon from somewhere off to my left roars again, then again, and again, and the lump of meat and skin riding shotgun slumps over and finally his corpse is out of the way after three slugs, and the driver’s surprised face turns into a red wreck as an inbound shot hits his temple.

A glance shows me the big guy from three seconds earlier, who hadn’t obeyed when I’d commanded everyone nearby to get low.  He’s still standing over the girl he was with – not leaving her, not advancing as he fires – but now his feet are apart and balanced, with him leaning forward, sights lined up, firing double taps from a textbook flawless shooting posture.  No one in the red car is shooting any more, but I can’t tell if they’re reloading or he’s killed them all.  

I stab the down arrow on my armrest and my passenger window whirs down.  I work the hammer on my Deputy, then again, then again.  The glossy black car has recovered from my unorthodox PIT maneuver and his little wreck.  I thumb my hammer to work my Deputy’s cylinder another time as it starts to burn rubber, peeling out and away from the roadblock of my Ford.  There aren’t any more double taps coming from my left, and I know that four bad men are dead.

I ignore all that and worry about my other target car.  I line up the sights as it races down the street, racer-quick.  I breath and aim.  Rear sight notch, front sight blade, down the long barrel, glasses projecting a smartlink targeting pip for me.  The smartlink pip is lined up on a blur of motion I see in the back seat, and I know if I pull the trigger a shooter will die.  The little coupe is almost at the end of the block, tires squealing again as it starts to turn.  

I aim a little lower, pull the trigger.  A bullet hole appears on the already-scuffed sheet metal of its trunk a split second before it rounds the corner and speeds away.

I slam my Ford into park and get out, cocking the hammer on my Deputy and chambering a round as I saunter over towards the bloody red coupe.  I trust myself to snap off a shot if I need to without aiming it at ‘em all proper-like.  I know how fast I am, and I’m pretty sure they’re all dead any damned way, so I ain’t too worried.

Women – girls, really – are screaming and crying, and so are a few boys.  I’d interrupted ‘em, but not before they’d mostly emptied their guns again in their crazy drive-by after Jung’s murder.  Lots of folks were dead, lots of ‘em bleeding.  The whole thing might’ve taken eight or ten seconds, and it had taken everyone else this long to really react to what was happening.

I bend way over to peek into the car and – yup – they’re all dead.  Head shots, two for each of 'em.  Straightening up to my full height, I look around.  I’m just about to shout out for someone to hit a PanicButton, when a glance shows me the big guy from earlier, smoking Colt in his hand, already talking into his commlink.

I look into the car again.  Japanese.  Young.  Slicked back hair.  I lean back into the car and tug at cheap suit sleeves and unbuttoned silk-shirt collars.  I know what I’ll find before I start.  Tattoos.  Old fashioned ones, prob’ly done with bamboo and natural ink, unless my guess is real wrong.

“Yakuza,” I saw, just loud enough that I know he hears me.  The big guy’s got his gun holstered, now, says a few more words into his commlink, then folds it shut and pockets it.  I decide to give him a minute when I see a little blood on his girlfriend’s face, climbing into my Ford to back it up out of the street to make sure I won’t be in the way when more grown-ups arrive.  

I sit there and go back to my jerky, listening to the sirens get closer and closer.  His girl looks okay, just cut by some flying glass instead of actually being shot.  He sits her down on the hood of their car and rummages in their glove box for a compact medkit, and I chew smoked beef while he patches her up and kisses her cheek.  It’s maybe a minute later, and I’m pretending not to have been watching all along, when he strides over and knocks politely on my door.

“Howdy,” we both say at the same time.  I have to fight a grin, ‘cause I don’t hear it very here in Seattle.  His has almost as much drawl as mine, and that’s countin’ the times I twang it out extra for the cameras.

“Chase,” I break the half-awkward, half-amused, silence first, twisting in my seat to hold out a hand.  He’s got a firm shake without trying.  “Thanks for the assist.”

“Assist?”  He’s chewing what smells like Betel gum, not tobacco, but otherwise his tone of indignant disgust reminds me of a dozen ranch hands I used to know.  “It kind’a looked to me like I took out four Yakuza hitmen, while you shot one round and didn’t do much at all.”

His jaw sets just so after he talks, chin and cheeks dark with reddish stubble.  It’s only then that I even notice he’s an Elf, same as me, but I bet he’s twice my size.  I’ve got a lean, gunslinger’s, line to me, but he’s a Mack truck that just happens to have pointed ears.  Human bulk plus Elven height, he’s not even really looking up all that much to talk to me, despite how high my truck is.  

It’s his eyes I really notice, though.  The optics are top-end jobs, with implanted brushed chrome quarter-frames above and to the outside of his eyebrows.  I know protective lenses are hidden in those little frames, memory polymers that will snap out when he wants them to.  Implanted eyeglass lenses just waiting to happen, I’d seen them on a Vory hitter not long ago.  It's a shooter's suite, but the way he'd handled his Colt had alrady told me that much.  When he deploys the covers, they’ll protect a set of cybereyes, almost but not quite human looking.  The color’s a little too bright to be natural.

I hold up my left hand, commlink held in it, screen towards him.  He sees my GPS, sees a small triangle that represents our position, sees the softly glowing, steadily blinking, dot that shows a tracking beacon still moving away from us.  All around us, flashing lights start in as Lone Star squad cars pull up.

“I tagged ‘em, just like I meant to.  Ain’t no way I’m keepin’ up with a car like that in a truck like this, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost ‘em, does it?”  If the drones had been around, I would’ve looked square at one and said, just so, The Chase is on.  Instead, I nod towards the hood of my Ford.  “That fella scuffed my paint some, which I ain’t real pleased with.  I’m bettin’ you aren’t too happy with those boys, either, huh?”

I lift my eyebrows, glance over towards the car he’d left his girl in.  She gives me a little smile, nervous still.

“She’ll be fine,” he says, arms uncrossing with visible reluctance.  “She’s just a little rattled.”

His brilliantly green optics, glowing just a little when I look into them just right, flicker back to my commlink and the tracker broadcast.  His body language shows hunger.  He wants ‘em.  Bad.  Whether she’ll be fine or not, they shot at his girl.  A thing like that stings to a man like him.  I can see it in the set of his jaw. 

“You got a name?”  I ask it just so, a little Adept inflection in it, all my supernatural body language showing that I’m relaxed, friendly, out to help him.  I thumb a button on my armrest, and the passenger side doors unlock loudly enough I know he hears it.

He half-turns to wave and nod to his girl and her sedan, who flashes the high beams at us in return.  He circles my Ford and climbs in, shutting the door before reaching across his body to shake hands again.

“Call me Hop,” he says, then nods down the street in the direction the car of shooters went.  “Let’s go get ‘em.”
« Last Edit: (23:40:31/11-16-10) by Critias »

Angelone

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Re: Posse
« Reply #1 on: (15:10:06/11-16-10) »
Well done, love Chase. Him and Hop are going make a terrible twosome. Can't wait for more.
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Patrick Goodman

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Re: Posse
« Reply #2 on: (23:35:31/11-16-10) »
Oh, this oughta be fun.... ;)
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Raventrickster

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Re: Posse
« Reply #3 on: (23:39:53/11-16-10) »
I knew there had to be a reason you reposted those Chase stories.  I'm still looking forward to more Rook, but Chase and Hop together ought to be interesting.

Critias

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Re: Posse
« Reply #4 on: (23:41:38/11-16-10) »
I actually just posted the Chase stuff 'cause I hadn't posted it here yet.  I know plenty of folks are here that have never heard of Dumpshock, or that don't frequent it for some reason -- and I enjoy letting folks read my stories, so I'm posting 'em up as I come across 'em on my hard drive.

Usda Beph

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Re: Posse
« Reply #5 on: (08:11:18/11-17-10) »
You know this gives me a nasty idea. Do you think it'd be kinda cool to have a thread with our characters posted up so they can be used as NPC runners in other players games? It'd be cool. kinda like the old Marvel Two in One comics!


BTW Great Stuff Crit! I love your characters and setting naratives. Your style reminds me a bit of Weber.
« Last Edit: (08:12:55/11-17-10) by Usda Beph »
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Critias

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Re: Posse
« Reply #6 on: (05:10:47/12-18-10) »
I had some big plans to get back to this story this week (to celebrate my semester being finished)...and then Bull was all "Oh, no!  Help us Obi-Wan Critias, you're our only hope!  Please, please, write us a totally awesome Missions adventure!"

And I just can't say no to that tiny little hologram Bull, y'know?

So between trying my hand at my first Mission write-up and running all over the internet trying to answer questions and share ideas about War!, I'm just all damn typed out, today.  The good news is I've got this Mission just about hammered out, and I've got my regular gaming group lined up to playtest it for me tomorrow evening instead of our normal game...so hopefully I'll be able to send it off, and after having a day or two to unwind with my XBox instead of a keyboard, maybe I'll get around to some more zany misadventures with Hop and Chase.  ;)

Angelone

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Re: Posse
« Reply #7 on: (12:16:10/12-18-10) »
I heart you. Hope you do get the time to relax. If you could point me at the War! topics that would be great (if they are on sites other than here or Dumpshock, I'll get around to digging through those someday...)
REJOICE! For bad things are about to happen.
la vida no vale nada