Author Topic: The Four Horsemen  (Read 1467 times)

MikeW

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The Four Horsemen
« on: (03:28:19/12-30-10) »
This is a short story that I originally wrote for the Dumpshock Data Haven Issue #2.  I just thought you guys might enjoy it.  

Hoi, omaes.  Iím a new patron here to Bullís, so let me give you a short download on who I am.  Street Rage is what I go by, and I am a street sam and field medic by trade.  And as of three days ago, Iím also sadly in need of a new running team.  I wound up being the only survivor from my teamís last run which, at the beginning, looked like it had the potential for a big score, but in the end, the job went sideways and I ended up losing my teammates in a matter of a few fucking hours, some of whom Iíve worked with and known for close to a decade.
 
So perhaps you are wondering just what happened to my team?  Well, as I lift my virtual glass in remembrance of my teammates, I will tell you all about it.  About a week ago, a Ms. Johnson from the Draco Foundation approached us.  She told us there were four toxic shamans that the Draco Foundation wanted hunted down and eliminated.  She said we could either choose to go after just one of the shamans, or go after all four. The price they were offering for the shamans were 100k each, or 600k for taking them all down.  Being the bad asses that we all thought we were, we agreed on going after all four.  We based our decision on the fact that the four shamans were working as the leaders of individual cells on four separate continents. The odds of encountering any more than one of them at a time were negligible at best.  Between that and the confidence we felt in what we were capable of doing as an experienced, seven man team, the price being offered for the shamans seemed mighty appealing.  We figured, if we could geek the mage before he could waggle his fingers, we would be all good.  Boy, were we way off with that assumption.  And I guess, in hindsight, the name of their organization should have tipped us off that we were biting off more than we could chew; as they called themselves the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  

We started out with the one in Amazonia, with the shaman calling himself Pestilence (like War, Famine and Death sounded any better to go after first).  Finding where he was located wasnít too difficult; the locals all indicated that he was in an area where a wide swatch of the awakened rain forest seemed sickly and the native spirits were restless.  We were told that some of Pestilenceís forces in his camp included a few mercs who knew how to handle surface-to-air weapons, so as a team, we decided to stick to the ground.  Unfortunately, given the particular, mountainous region that the shaman and his camp were operating in, ground vehicles were not an option.  We had to hike in with all our gear to the enemy camp, which was about five kilometers deep inside the rain forest (and what a chore that was.  I honestly donít think we could have made it all the way to the camp if we werenít all trolls).  The terrain was extremely treacherous and in some parts, impassable.  We would then have to backtrack and find another way.  And of course, thatís when our other problems started.  About two kilometers into the dense forest, one of our teammates got separated from the rest of us.  Going in, we were maintaining commlink silence, to minimize the possibility of tipping off the enemy base camp of our approach.  After thirty minutes of searching, we finally found him, or rather, what was left of him.  We had discovered that he had an unfortunate encounter with one of those awakened trees that are known to eat people (Sangre Del Diablo, I believe is what the locals call them).   By the time we got to him, most of his remains had been liquefied and were in the process of being digested by the tree, leaving only his gear and cyberware in a bloody heap at its base.  Even before our Op in Amazonia got started, we were one man down.  

Perhaps we should have taken that as a bad omen and walked away from the job, but we decided to forge on.  We did not want to make the last run that Anubis went on and had died for a failure (especially when he died from being attacked by a damn tree).   However, approaching the four kilometer marker, another member of our team met with misfortune.  He was stung by some unknown type of indigenous insect.  Being the medic of the group, I tried to treat the injection site, and neutralize the poison.  But, given our luck, the medkit computer returned with, ďForeign pathogen not identified. No known treatment.  Subject should be transported to nearest medical facility for advanced medical care.Ē  Given that option was not possible from where we were, we watched helplessly as Swift Blade died a mere ten minutes later.  For what itís worth, omaes, I have the dead insect as a specimen, and the analysis performed on the poison from the medkit.  From what I could find, the damn thing is currently unclassified.  So If anyoneís interested in travelling to Amazonia and would like to acquire the insect and/or the analysis data, give me a call on my commlink at 211930014.  Any way, that was our second man down, leaving just the five of us.
  
Since we were so close to Pestilence, we saw no point in just hiking back out of the forest without getting what we came for.  Besides, if that damn forest was going to claim the rest of us, we figured we would go down in a blaze of glory.  We eventually arrived at their base camp, and we went in hot.  We took a few of them by surprise, gunning down their initial guards before they could even reach for their guns.   Once the element of surprise had faded, the fire fight grew pretty intense, as we laid into those bastards with everything we had.  During the fight, we left nothing to chance.  Scorched Earth, baby (sorry, Amazonians).  We peppered each tent with dozens of rounds and tossed in a couple frag grenades for good measure. We swept the entire compound with gun fire, from the vehicles to the latrines.  We shredded every person and every piece of equipment we came across, and detonated every makeshift lab we found with lots of explosives (since we were dealing with Pestilence, that may or may not have been a very good idea).  But we were convinced that if the world would be better off with one less toxic shaman, than it would be better off without all his followers as well.  Each of us took a few rounds and several slash wounds from guards attacking us with melee weapons, but nothing that would seriously stop a group of rampaging trolls on a mission. After clearing most of the camp of the two dozen or so guards and underlings, we finally reached the prize; Pestilence himself.
  
Pestilence had two spirits with him, one looked (and smelled) very much like raw sewage, and the other, like a polluted, brown cloud. We broke off into two teams, three of us to deal with the spirits, and the other two, to deal with the human shaman.  I was in the group that took on the spirits.  As our adept, Mist Walker, faced off with the cloud and Hunter and I faced off with the sludge monster, we also tried to keep a close eye on our teammates as they fought with the shaman.  We thought that their fight would be over fairly quickly, especially since Pestilence was a smoothie, but like all the other assumptions we made about this run, this one also turned out to be wrong.  

So I opened fire on the sludge spirit with everything I still had available to me until my guns ran dry, and at which point, I switched over to my trusty combat axe.  As I did so, I looked over to my friends who were fighting the shaman.  Let me tell you something, my chummers were even more wired than I am.  And that fucking shaman was keeping up with both of them.  Blow for blow. Donít think for a second all magicians are squishy, because this toxic shaman seemed built for melee.  He was wielding a machete more effectively than what I would have thought possible, and for a good, long while, things seemed to be in a stalemate between Airborne, Stinger and Pestilence, with each one parrying away each othersí blows.  I turned away for a moment to continue laying into the sludge spirit (for all the good it was doingÖdamn spirits).  It was my fourth swing at the spirit, when the spirit decided to call upon the toxic fluids in the soils to wrap around Hunter, and it engulfed him inside a liquid prison. Damnit, I can still remember the gurgling sounds he made, as he flailed around desperately, trying to free himself.  I sometimes wish it had went after me instead. Any way, my attention became totally focused on the spirit, as I attempted to distract or destroy the spirit to free Hunter, but all my attempts seemed to be in vain.
  
My concentration was soon broken moments later when I heard Airborne groan in pain.  I looked over, and saw Pestilence had cut through Airborneís armor and had sliced him deeply across his abdomen.  From what I could tell, the wound might have been survivable had there not been a toxic shaman there to make things worse.  In the same instant as his abdomen was ripped open, hundreds of gashes, lesions and boils formed all over Airborneís extremities.  I watched my friend suddenly lose all the color from his face, break into a hard sweat and collapsed to his knees into the deep forest mud, incapacitated by wounds whose severity I could only guess at.  I had no choice but to continue working on the sludge spirit that was the closest to me, but I hoped that since Airborne was down and no longer posed a threat to the fucker, that he would forget about him and focus all his attention on Stinger, who was still able-bodied and still able to defend himself.  But out of pure malice, the bastard turned and faced Airborne, and with one of the most sadistic grins I have ever seen, laid his free hand on top of Airborneís head.  Airborneís already ravaged skin literally melted away from beneath the shamanís touch, and continued down the rest of his body, releasing streams of dark fluids from his exposed muscle tissues.  Airborne screamed just once more before he slumped to the ground, with his mouth contorted and locked into an expression of lifeless horror and agony.  Insects and other bugs from the rain forest began to swarm over Airborneís body, as if he was already in an advanced state of decomposition.  God, it was the worst thing Iíve ever seen in all my years of being a shadowrunner, and hope I never see again.  With vengeance on my mind, I ferociously swung at the spirit, wanting my shot at the shaman.   Finally, after landing seven or eight more solid hits on the toxic spirit, the sludge spirit was finally disrupted, and it released Hunter.  But godÖ by that time, I was too late.  The spirit had succeeded in drowning Hunter with its own toxins, and his biomonitor sounded an audible alarm; there was no pulse.  And there I was, faced with the terrible decision to either take the time to try and revive him, or to deal with the on-going threat.  The medic inside of me screamed Ďtend to Hunter,í but my runner-side screamed Ďkill this asshole now, or the rest of you are all dead.í  It was one of the hardest calls I had to make, and its something that Iím going to have to live with.  In the end, I bull rushed Pestilence.  

Obviously, the smoothie saw me coming.  And he was no longer fucking around, He extended his hand at Stinger, and cast another spell, one which Iíve seen used many times before during my time in the shadows: acid stream.  It was one of those, ĎI donít have time to be creative in dealing with you, so Iíll just use something basic and effective to get you dead.í  Stinger attempted to jump out of the line of acid spray, but physically, he must have already been exhausted and a little battered from parrying the toxic shaman for so long, and he was hit square on.  I did not see how badly he was burned; as I was more focused on my charge at the shaman.  Pestilence barely had time to turn around to face me before the collision occurred.  I lowered by right shoulder and I plowed into the bastard with everything I had.  My momentum threw him backwards for at least a few meters before he rolled on the ground several times and was left dazed.  Not allowing him the chance to get his wind back and get to his feet, I brought my combat axe down hard on him.  And after I was done, I knew that there was no magic in the world that would have saved that shaman.

So, I went back to check on Hunter and Stinger.  I tried reviving Hunter, but as I had figured, it was too late.  Stinger was still hanging in there, but in bad shape.  He had acid burns over sixty percent of his body.  I treated what I could and tried to prevent any more tissue damage, even as I tried to keep the insects at bay, but I knew he needed immediate medical attention; much more than what I could provide in the field.   I contacted one of our local contacts for extraction via t-bird, and headed out to find Mist Walker.  During the heat of the battle, the toxic spirit he was fighting drove Mist Walker further into the forest, and away from any possible support.  After several minutes of searching, I found Mist Walker, lying motionless on the ground.  I attempted to revive him as well, but like Hunter, I was too late.  Mist Walker had been suffocated to death. And of course, the spirit that had done that to him had already fled.
   
And that pretty much sums up what happened to my team.  I gathered enough of Pestilence to verify the kill, and when our associate arrived, I loaded Stinger up on the t-bird, and headed back to civilization.  As we were heading back, Stinger succumbed to his burns, leaving me as the last surviving member of my team.  So thatís why I am here now. For the record, I hear the Draco Foundation is still looking for teams to hunt down the other three toxics.  As you can probably understand, I will never again hunt another toxic shaman, but I wish you all the best if you wish to collect the reward on their heads. My advice: take lots of magical support.  One adept wonít cut it.  So there you have it, my sad, sob-story.  Iíll be hanging around here if anyone wants to talk about recruiting me into their team, or you can always call me on my commlink.  Thanks, omaes.      
« Last Edit: (13:09:09/12-31-10) by MikeW »
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Wolfboy

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Re: The Four Horsemen
« Reply #1 on: (10:50:29/01-06-11) »
((ooc dude, great story))ic

Rage, sorry to hear about your team, but you're right, one adept is not enought to handle even a low level toxic, even a troll adept. Sounds like you had a really rough run, but i think i have a team i can hook you up with out of L.A. My terrible trio needs a good sammie though their adept will be a little put out.

contact wolfgar, 8507078564
May god grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the firepower to make the difference.

Suicide is never the answer, now homicide on the other hand, that has posibilities.

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