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Cateran (ongoing)

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Critias

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« on: <07-28-11/0308:32> »
"See I've been a bad, bad, bad, bad man,
And I'm in deep."
--The Heavy, How You Like Me Now?

Then: 

"What'choo in for, new fish?"  The ork snorted at the seated elf, broad arms cross across a broad chest, sneer across his broad face.  Both of them wore orange jumpsuits, both of them bore numbers to the left of their chest instead of names.  Bellevue Correctional Facility was more concerned with experimental rehabilitation techniques than prisoner comfort, but even they let the prisoners out for an hour a day in the yard. 

The elf blinked heavy eyelids and looked up -- and up, and up -- at the standing ork that loomed over him.  Eyes on the other prisoner's scarred face, he just blinked again.  Something in his eyes was...off.

"Tuska-G axed you a question, fish."  A second ork, this one lean and wiry, a born follower, japed at the elf from one side.  "Best answer when Tuska-G axes you somethin', f'r real."

The elf's head turned smoothly, efficiently, and his eyes focused on the newer, smaller, one.  His features never wavered, his mouth never opened, and again the only answer was a blink of heavy-lidded eyes.

"Naw, s'all good.  For truth?  I already read yo' file, new fish."  The big one, Tuska-G, looked smug.  It didn't suit him, any more than clerical work did.  Still, the Bellevue Correctional Facility utilized prisoners as menial labor through a random lottery, and that meant a two-bit thug in for peddling BTLs got to sneak peeks at records and feel clever when it was time to work as an orderly in one of the BCF's many medical bays.

"I was jus' askin' to see if you wuz dumb enough ta answer."  He uncrossed his arms to jab two fingers at the elf, hand turned sideways.  The elf's eyes locked onto the hand, then slid away when he confirmed it wasn't an actual gun.  "See, I know what you in for, fishy-fish.  Some scandalous shit."

"Gon' wriggle on his dick like a fuckin' trout," the higher-pitched, higher-strung, ork giggled.  If the elf thought at all, the elf thought that this ork had certainly never seen a live fish.

"Assaulting an officer, it said.  Reckless drivin', it said.  Criminal trespassin', it said.  Possession of illegal weapons with intent to distribute, it said."  Tuska-G rattled off the sins on meaty fingers, then folded them all into a huge fist.  "Illegal weapons you swiped off o' some Sons, I heard, new fish."

"New fish done fucked up, he did!"  Another giggle.  "You gon' get fucked real good!"

The elf's eyes never quite focused all the way on either of the orks.  The pupils were strange, the tissue around his eyes still raw and pink.  He hadn't been crying, though.  They were just new. 

"I used to roll with th'Sons, new fish.  I used to hear about you daisy-eatin' fucks jumpin' 'em on the highways when they had new shit rollin' into town."  Tuska-G leaned down, face centimeters from the elf's.  He flashed yellow tusks in an unfriendly display that pretended to be a smile.  "Any brother you killed to steal yo' shit before you got busted was a brother of mine, you fucking keebla-ass."

The elf sat.  The skinny ork cackled, the big one frowned.  His threat wasn't getting through, so he reached out to reinforce it by shoving on the elf's comparatively slender shoulder.  His hand never made it to the orange jumpsuit.

The elf was on his feet faster than the security camera could track, a blur of motion wrapped in squeals of pain and horrible crunching sounds.  Tuska-G stumbled back with his arm a twisted wreck that flopped obscenely from his shoulder, and swiped up with a shank hidden where his other hand could reach it.  The elf swayed lazily away, never letting the blade get within a foot of him, and his sidestep and counter interposed his back between the camera and the action.  A split-second later the elf was standing idly, hands calm at his sides, and Tuska-G was staggering backwards with his own shiv jutting from his neck, trying to swing broken arms up to slow the arterial spray.  The skinny ork never even tried, he was pounding away and off-screen before Tuska-G's first spurt of blood hit the floor.

It had taken maybe two seconds.  There was a flash from just below the camera's lens and the point-of-view shook as the autogun below it (loaded with rubber bullets, everyone knew) chattered. 

"Pause," a soft voice said, freezing the action as the elf grabbed Tuska-G and spun, starting to swing the big ork around to take the first bursts, cold, hard, eyes looking up at the camera for the first time.  It hadn't been a threat until it had opened fire, so the elf simply hadn't noticed it.  "Chief officer's log, case seven-nine addendum fourteen.  Subject engaged in violence in the yard.  Skillwires and augmentations performed to expectations against close combatant.  Further examination required, additional camera angles needed to properly analyze and assess subject's response time to incoming fire."

The cold-eyed man in a white coat tapped the screen, rolling forward the footage from the primary camera, trying to ignore the muzzle flash and the image distortion caused by recoil.  Frame by frame, he watched the elf slip and slither away from the incoming fire, forgetting for a minute to meticulously count the bullets -- he'd have an assistant do that -- and, just for a moment, the scientist smiled. 

The process had worked, that much was certain.  It had been a full two months since the initial dosage, and reaction times were still, cliche and imprecise as the phrase might be, off the charts.  Two weeks since the second wave of implants.  The therapy was still obvious in the elf's system, well past the date when others had fought it off as foreign.  Subject 79 just might have been the one where these experiments had turned a corner...


Now: 

"What'choo want in for, elf?"  An ork in a cheap suit crossed his arms over his chest and sneered.

Cateran eyed him for a second, fighting a chuckle.  Instead of flashing his teeth in a laugh -- "Christ, but maybe my brothers back in the Black Sun were right about these fucking tuskers.  They're the same locked up as they are free" -- the elf just shook his head and shrugged out of his longcoat, sending rainwater splashing from his short hair and beard to spatter the big ork's suit and buy himself space. 

"I got business, I do," he said as the wall of muscle took a step back from the wee little elf.  His Tir brogue was thick, but then it would be; he laid it on when he had reason to, and a meet was reason enough.  He fixed his hard eyes on the trog, flashed him a smile that cut like cyberspurs.  He spat his used-up wad of CorpCandy so that it only just barely missed the bouncer's shots, and spoke just as the ork was about to take a swing.  "Ye c'n call th'Juggler an' ask him tae cover me door charge, if ye'd like."

The ork's eyes widened a bit at the Fixer's name.  The Fixer that owned the club, to be precise, and half of Tarislar depending on who you asked.  He just started to shake his head and stammer out an apology when a half-soaked longcoat got casually tossed in his general direction.

"I did'nae think so.  So be a dear an' find someplace tae hang this up, will ye?"

Cateran sauntered past him, hearing more than one snicker from the folks lined up behind him.  He'd gotten glares when he'd first strolled past the waiting revelers and gone straight to the bouncer, but they all liked to see the doormen humbled from time to time. 

"Two drink minimum," the ork said a few seconds too late, doing his best to sound like he was still in charge of the situation.

"Maybe f'r skinny fucks like you," the elf said, waving over one shoulder as he jandered into The Point.  Then slender hands dipped inside various pockets, emerging with a pack of Target smokes and a chrome-shining lighter.  "But some of us're likely tae need well more than that."

Then he was through the entryway and properly inside.  Cateran made his way towards the bar straight away, kilt rustling around his knees.  His accent and a whole bunch of contacts weren't the only things he'd taken from Tir Tairngire when he'd left;  tartans had been the height of fashion back home in Portland when he'd left, and he'd sworn a half-hearted vow to wear only unbifurcated garments after so many years in the BFC's orange jumpsuits.  The simple truth was that the accent and the "Tir Traditional" Zoe garb got him noticed by potential employers, and that was his job after all.  To get noticed, to get assignments, to get paid.  To go to meets.  But first...

"Gin," he said, waving down the bartender with the glowing cherry at the end of his smoke.  "Nae picky.  Just gin."

He had scotch in the flask inside his suit jacket, so there was no need to order it here.  Gin would do.  The flavor wasn't what counted, the strength was.  He had to get the balancing act just right, that's why he drank in the first place.  Hell, the balancing act was why he did almost any of it.  The smokes took the sting out of the booze, the booze blurred the lines that the Betel brought into razor-sharp focus, the focus kept him running smoothly when the Novacoke burned up his blood like an engine overheating, the engine seizing up kept him from always, always, feeling like the Sideways made him crazy.  Balance.  It had to be just right.  He had to keep his edge, but dull it enough that the blade wasn't brittle.  It's not like he had a choice.

He took care of his two drink minimum in a less than a minute.  He knew because his AR overlay told him so, going from an hour-by-hour countdown (12 hours out) to a minute by minute (60 minutes out) to a second-by-second (five minutes out), as his scheduled meet got closer and closer.  He had 1:13.24 to go as he threw back his third gin, accepted a fourth, and strolled away from the bar towards the rooms in back.  He left a crumpled handful of Ares scrip to handle the tab and a cigarette in the bottom of a glass for a tip.

Cateran's optics suite swept through the shadowy back room as he stepped inside with 12 seconds to spare.  He saw Sleepy and Rourke, Carni and Angel, and an unsmiling Mr. Johnson sitting across the lot of them.  He was flanked by men in suits with mirrorshades on despite the darkness and no necks to speak of.  All three corporate men were in suits that were tailored to hide their guns, and Cateran appreciated that they'd put forth the same effort he had.  He felt his drug-sped heart pounding against the two-gun rig that rode snug around his chest, and knew company men when he saw them.

"Slainte!"  He gave a devil-may-care grin, toasting the whole table of them before gulping down his drink.  "Let's get down tae business, aye?"
« Last Edit: <07-29-11/2232:22> by Critias »

Critias

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« Reply #1 on: <07-28-11/2247:23> »
Then:

The expatriots had guns, but they wanted more of them.  Who didn't?  It said something, either about the greedy nature of man or about the harsh world they lived in, but no one got by with just a little power, a pinch of self-sufficiency, a taste of protection.  In the chaos of the insurgency back home and the influx of refugees fleeing north into Seattle or south into California, if you had a gun to defend yourself you wanted a spare.  If you had that, you wanted enough to arm your buddies.  If you armed your friends, you wanted more hardware so you'd be able to sell some.  If you had enough to sell, suddenly you were something more -- businessmen, strong, reliant upon no one, swaggering bravos with chrome and bullets -- and so you wanted even more.  Then you organized, recruited, and became something more.  Something darker.

So there they were.  A dozen of them, from all walks of life but huddled together in shadow, waiting.  They'd fought together back in Portland, and they'd fight together here in Seattle.  The influx of elves into Tarislar upset the round-ears and the other metas elsewhere in Puyallup, and last week the Spikes had done something about it, thanks to some new hardware supplied by the Sons of Sauron.  This week the elves would do something right back.  They had assault rifles, but they wanted grenade launchers.  More.  Bigger.  Nastier.

The elf wasn't cut out for serious sniper work.  He was seventeen, and no one at seventeen has that kind of patience.  He wasn't the sort to stalk his prey for hours or days, the kind to pee in a bottle as he waited for the perfect shot, the type of man who'd fire once and then fade into the background.  He lacked the discipline for that.  He was no sniper.  But he was a marksman.  He had terrific hand-eye coordination, sharp eyes, and a willingness to do murder that was second to none in their little Brat'mael band. 

Some of the others needed a taste of Jazz to build up courage before a kill, or a hit of Bliss afterwards to calm their nerves.  He didn't need them.  He just liked them.

The elf restrained himself as the Spikes did their business.  He watched through crosshairs and middle-of-the-shelf glass as one pile of dirty trogs bought guns and grenades from another pile.  His finger hovered on the trigger guard, not the trigger, as they swaggered back to their monstrous chrome bikes and roared away, heading south to prey on elves coming up the stretch of I-5 they claimed.  Somehow, he held back.  The Jazz sure as shit wasn't helping with that, but he managed it.

Then the buyers were gone, and only the sellers -- and their surplus, the elf grinned, Ares Alphas, bitches! -- remained.  Six tuskers, two huge pick-up trucks, one Bulldog van.  The elf had three more guys on the rooftop with him, another four sat in the mid-level of a parking garage next to the big lot where the trogs had swapped metal for nuyen.  They all had rifles.  The last of their crew waited in a fast car two blocks away, ready to race up when the shooting started, jump into the troll's wheels, and speed off with the goodies.

It wasn't a great plan, but the elf had to like it, since it was his. 

Everyone else liked him, so they did what he said about half of the time.  He waited until the dark-windowed sedan two blocks away called them with an all-clear, which meant the Spikes had rolled on by.  The elf smiled as he nestled his cheek against the stock of his Ruger, pupils dilated as he married his face to the gun and looked down on trolls through the scope.

They'd waste some trogs, swipe some serious hardware, and get the fuck away.  What could go wrong?

Everything.  They were halfway across town, two hours after the action, when the shit hit the fan.  There must've been a chip or something snuggled into one of the crates of assault rifles, because Hell if the cops didn't show up out of nowhere.

Lone Star came in the warehouse door shooting when the elf happened to be behind the wheel of one of the trucks -- Dizzy Jake's little sister sharing the cab with him, shrieking instead of sucking as the gunfire and the lights hit them -- and instead of surrendering he was blitzed enough that flooring it felt like a good idea.  He made a pretty good run for it for someone without a control rig, he had to give himself credit for that.  Up-armored Americars ran him to ground six miles later, but he'd jerked the wheel hard to the left right before they rammed him again, and runflat tires hauled him up and across a sidewalk and through a fence. 

He wound up on Ares property as yellow-helmeted Lone Star goons jabbered on their radios, pointed guns, and made threats about jurisdiction.  What's-Her-Fuck had tumbled out of the cab and skinned herself up a couple klicks back, and as he sprawled on Ares grass he saw her crying in the back of a Lone Star squad car.

The Ares security schmucks standing nearby shouted back at the cops through bullhorns while they held the elf at gunpoint, and when he heard words like "conciliatory agreement" and "mutual jurisdiction" and "shared credit" -- all after they'd seen the crates of hardware that filled the back of the truck, all with Ares logos on the side -- he knew he was about to get handed over.  They'd trade his bust to Lone Star in exchange for getting anti-gunrunner credit.  They were thinking about it like businessmen instead of taking Lone Star's turf infringement personally.

The elf smiled as he lay spread-eagled, face-down on Ares turf.  These guys packed rubber bullets anyways, right?  He had to make it personal again. 

He was on his feet while one of them was busy talking, had taken two steps before their carbines tracked him, and had smashed their highest-ranking officer square in the jaw twice and snuck in a headbutt before the second, third, and fourth bursts kicked him clean off his feet.  He laughed as they pounded their boots and rifle butts against him, because the Bliss promised him it tickled and the hexagonal pattern that impact-resistant polymers drew all over his skeleton meant his bones wouldn't break easy.

Their ranking security officer, receding hairline showing after the elf had knocked his helmet off, stopped talking to Lone Star and came over to get in on the shit-kicking.  That's when the elf knew he'd won. 

He wasn't going to face all the smuggling charges, the murder one raps for the trogs they'd killed, or any of the old shit back home in the Portland.  Lone Star might extradite him due to political pressure from the UCAS and the Tir, but Ares wouldn't.  Not when they were pissed at him as a person, an individual.  He didn't have to make the whole corporation hate him for that;  just the man who wrote up the incident report.  And, shit.  He could make one man hate him plenty.  A little more laughing, spitting some blood, and a joke about baldspots handled the rest.

Shit.  They'd give him a dime, tops, for assaulting an officer.  Ten years in some cushy round-ear prison would only help his street cred.  How bad could it be?


Now:

It wasn't a great plan, but the elf had to like it, since it was his. 

"What'cha sighin' for?"  Carni sat sprawled out on the floor next to him, wires leading straight from her sleek black SIG rifle to her smooth-shaved temple. 

"I'm nae sighin'," Cateran said with an irritated sigh.  He never lifted his face, kept his cheek wed to the stock of his Remington.

"Yeah you are," she said, giving him an impish grin.  Her hair was short and spiked in all directions, giving her a wild, fey look.  He knew her temple wasn't all she shaved;  they'd been in position a long time, and neither of them had a sniper's discipline.  Now their little nest smelled, though, so they'd split some Novacoke to help ignore it.  Just like now, as she turned to talk to him, they'd only had to leave her bipod-mounted SIG vaguely in place, and she'd kept an eye out the window through the smartgun's little camera. 

"You totally are sighing."

"Fine."  He gave a little shrug, scowling, now.  His Remington was an older model, and the clunky aftermarket smartlink was sloppily bolted onto the side and three generations out of date.  "I'm sighin'.  So th'fuck what?"

"So I was wondering why!"  She flailed an arm, mercurial-moody, and her hand razors flashed in the light.  "I mean for jeeze-oh, I'm just making conversation!"

"Well, dinnae worry about it."  He lifted his head to glance at her, trying to muster up a smile.  Christ, how long had they been up here?  He'd forgotten to reset the chrono-display after the meet.  It felt like forever.  You had to be careful with Carni, though. 

"I'm fine, allrigh'?  Thanks."

She sulked and slid into a proper shooting position, her way of ignoring him.  He watched her shift her balance, all her chrome and razors gleaming, nano-tattoos crawling across her pale skin, and let out another quiet sight.  He was glad.  A part of him liked Carni, but that part was tucked away beneath his kilt, now.  The rest of him had to handle her just right; not too close, not too far away. 

If Carni didn't like you, she killed you.  If Carni liked you too much, she might kill you, too.  She used to run with a razorboy named Vore, everyone said.  She'd gushed all over the bar about an engagement one night, everyone said.  Vore'd been caught with some skank Cat Shaman a few days later, everyone said.  Then the shamen went missing and so did Vore, everyone said.  Carni didn't talk about it, but she'd been awful busy down at Toe-Tag Pete's the last couple weeks, scoring some upgraded implants that were secondhand chrome she'd brought in herself. 

Cateran knew a cyberpsycho when he saw one, but he tried to ignore it.  She was a hell of a shot, and that enhanced articulation?  Whew.  She was a good gal to keep around, if you could keep your distance.  Folks on the street said she'd dipped into too much chrome, and come up a little chip-crazy.  Cateran was less judgemental than most about that sort of thing, even if his augmentations were less obvious. 

Truth be told, he felt like the girl was another drug.  He thought about his job, and how she (and the booze, and the Betel, and the Novacoke, and the Sideways) was a part of it.  He took enough to feel good, sampled enough to add to his edge, but not enough to let it hurt him.  Or, at least, he tried to.

Truth was, it was her rifle pissed him off.  Or, rather, his shitty rifle next to hers.  All these jobs he pulled, and he was stuck with some shitty bolt action with faux-wood furniture and a shitty bolted-on smartlink accessory?  She was just some razorgirl.  He did a lot of work.  He should have a better gun for this kind of shit.  He'd have to talk to--

Hyundais and Yamahas shrieked outside, and Cateran pushed all that away.  Rapiers and Shin-Hyungs rolled up, right on time, and only then did Cateran notice his commlink chirping at him in a faraway, ignored, image link window.  He accessed it -- fuck Carni, yeah, he was about to sigh again -- and it opened up into a one-sided conversation that consisted of a virtual Rourke yelling at him through the wonders of wireless communication.  Blah blah blah fucking druggies blah blah blah pay attention blah blah blah kill zone blah blah blah respond on time blah blah blah all in position blah blah blah now now now.

"Roger that!"  Cateran leaned over his rifle again, cyberoptics whirring softly as they replaced the scope he no longer needed.  Carni giggled as his brogue-heavy response cut off Rourke.  "Ten four, mate, over an' out!"

The shooting started.  It wasn't Novacoked Cateran or Rourke, Sleepy or Angel or even giggling little Carni.  It was the Japanese men pouring off their racing vehicles below them, and the Chinese men shooting back at them from the front of the whorehouse they were attacking.  Yakuza and Triads, tangled up in another turf war.  This one had been carefully engineered, however, by Cateran and his crew and the people they worked for.

As the syndicate gun-thugs duked it out below them, Cateran and Carni lined up their shots.  Her smartlink and small vectored fans built into her SIG did almost all the work, so she snaked an arm over from her window to hold Cateran's hand as she started killing.  He let her, he had skillwires that did most of it for him at this range.  A small red warning light displayed about his improper form, but nevertheless he kept his hand there, feeling her squeeze it every time she sent the mental kill command instead of squeezing a physical trigger.  Crazy bitch.

The Yaks shot at the Triads, then took cover behind their cars.  The Triads shot at the Yaks from the cover of their doorways and windows.  Carni and Cateran shot the Yakuza in the back from a block away and three stories up.  Angel and Rourke walked the cathouse hallways and shot the Triad goons the same way.  Sleepy sat in a Land Rover just behind their sniper's nest, pretending to be Astral overwatch as he probably dozed off.  Cateran wondered if the fat little man had been floating there, like a ghost, as he and Carni had fucked.

But, whatever.  The plan worked.

Carni giggled and licked a bit of Cateran's blood from her hand razors after, shy as a schoolgirl, she'd given him one last squeeze and then withdrawn her hand.  He glanced down and saw, not felt, the shallow cuts on his hand and just cursed.  Both of them packed up their guns and hurried downstairs, piling into Sleepy's SUV and then speeding down the street.

Rourke and Angel left the whorehouse burning as they walked away, Sleepy sped it along with a few squints, some drunken cursing, and a hastily summoned fire elemental.  Angel handed out keys he'd already swiped from suit-clad corpses, and everyone but Sleepy piled into a new Hyundai -- minor gunfire damage, but they knew a guy who knew a guy who'd give 'em good prices -- or swung a leg over a new Yamaha, and off they went.  They were the wrong sort of people in the wrong part of town at the wrong time of night;  no one would be calling Knight Errant down on their heads, that was for damned sure.

Rourke let the autopilot take his coupe along in the middle of their little caravan as he scowled into his commlink until he found their file.

JOHNSON DIDN'T FUCK US, a blinking text box displayed into Cateran's imagelink display, as Rourke's meaty fingers prodded at his keyboard.  WING WAS THERE.  GOT FILE FROM HEADWARE.  Cateran rolled his eyes, and he knew Angel was doing the same.  Every one of them knew Rourke couldn't get shit from someone's headware commlink, unless punching it out of their skull counted as a download.

Cateran fiddled with the AR display of his Shin-Hyung as he drove along with the rest of them, ignoring Carni as she laughed and tried to do a wheelie next to his new car.  Fucking girl was crazy.  It was hard to adjust his radio and hold a blood-spattered handkerchief to his hand all while steering with his knees, but the Betel made it seem easier.

AWESOME.  CALLING JOHNSON NOW.  PAYDAY MOTHERFUCKERZ!!!

Cateran sighed, finally finding a decent blues station as a failed attempt at a stoppy sent Carni giggling and tumbling to the pavement.  He spared her a glance in his rear view and watched her bound to her feet and clamber back onto her bike, revving the engine to catch back up to the rest of them.  Crazy bitch.

Another sigh.  It was almost time to go to work.
« Last Edit: <07-29-11/2248:07> by Critias »

Critias

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« Reply #2 on: <07-28-11/2256:59> »
I'm bored, excited about Gencon (and my Shadowrun Scramble character), and trying to put off a research paper until absolutely the last minute. 

End result?  I open up a window, type until I think it's cool, and hit Post.  Ta-da, fiction!

DWC

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« Reply #3 on: <07-28-11/2355:00> »
Fun so far.  Just the thing for procrastinating packing up my kitchen, seeing as the movers show up Saturday morning. :)

Critias

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« Reply #4 on: <07-29-11/2100:01> »
Then:

Well, it beat prison.  Maybe.

The elf was wrapped head to toe in ballistic plating, had a big Browning autopistol in his hand and an assortment of bladed weapons magna-locked to his armor.  Sometimes his off hand held an axe or a combat knife or a sword, sometimes a ball, sometimes he just used it to reload as fast as he could (which was, according to SPORTSNET: THE SCOREBOARD's broadcast, the second fastest speedload in the league).

Urban Brawl.  He got shot at a lot, stabbed a few times, and almost run over by a motorcycle at least a couple times per game.

This was why the doctors had implanted him like they had.  This was why he had a cell over in E Block and didn't get yard time unless they wanted him to try out something new.  This was why so much of his seven years behind bars had been spent in the E, or in a recovery ward, or under a las-scalpel, or drinking special shakes and eating special foods or working out or drugged or all at once.  Something about his record had caught someone's eye, something about his medical files had earned a second glance, something about his luck had kept him alive this long.

Bellevue Correctional Facility worked on rehabilitation, sure.  But they also worked on control.  He'd been implanted, on a genetic level, with a hunger.  A need.  A craving.  The Novacoke made the itch stop, but it made the other gene-treatments howl in his brain when he stacked everything together.  Two hours of an Urban Brawl game stretched out in slow motion to him, time distortion doubled and redoubled by Synch and Move By Wire and adrenaline and Novacoke and Reakt until every match felt like it took days or weeks or months.  The crashes after the fact made the week between games feel like years, full of cold and the shakes and a hum-drum, grey, life that held nothing but an ache for more.

The Urban Brawl, leasing him and other inmates out to the Screamers, was just a way to recoup some of the money.  The doctors were pleased with his progress, were content with how his life on the razor's edge had fallen together, so they felt like loosing him on the world in order to make some of their money back.  They got to show off to other doctors in other facilities, got to write journals about Subject 79 and gene-therapy integration with biogenetic manipulators, got to show off to the warden and get increased budgets...why wouldn't they like him?

So here he was.  Signed up to play as a Scout for the Seattle Screamers, running and jumping and shooting motherfuckers in the face under the stage name Snow Falls (who his teammates, when they bothered to talk to him, called Snow Falls Sideways).  He kept his big black Browning in one hand, the ball or a blade or a reload in the other, and his pupils were wide and black as sin the whole time.  He sweated and shaked and snarled his way from game to game, then felt the rush and the buzz and the jet engines roaring in his skull for two hours, then went back to moaning and wishing for more until his next hit.

It beat prison.  Maybe.


"And I'm telling you, I ain't never gettin' locked up."  Rourke just had on his wifebeater, armored jacket slung over a chair, preaching to his choir about the wonders of freedom and the dangers of incarceration.  "I know what kind of shit goes on in those fucking places.  Ain't no trog givin' it to me up the ass."

Cateran knew the last bit, the whole bit, was a joke at his expense.  He knew Rourke didn't like him much, knew Rourke looked down on him for having gotten locked up, knew Rourke had some need to make himself feel bigger than the people around him.  He ignored it, and kept playing pool.  He was used to it;  the longer people knew him, the less they liked him.

The elf had stripped off his top layer, too, but where the big adept just had a Predator tucked sloppily into his waistband, Cateran kept on his two-gun rig.  His heavy Guardians were snug in their holsters, wrapped around his rumpled white shirt, his sleeves were rolled up and collar undone against the heat, his black suit jacket and tie hanging off a spare cue over on the rack by the wall.  He pocketed another ball as Rourke's cronies laughed and raised glasses and shot him scornful looks.

Pool was so, so, easy now.  Sinking balls was like pulling triggers, but with less mess.

"But seriously, you guys want to know the worst thing about killing a bunch of Chinese guys?" Rourke said, all stubble and bad breath, yellow teeth and surrounded by a flock of wannabes.  "You just want to do it again in a couple of hours!"

It had been a couple of hours, and they'd dispersed around Rourke's favorite old bar after chatting with Mr. Johnson and handing over the file.  Angel was in a booth near the back with his 'link plugged in, but no one knew if the hacker was scouring the Matrix for news reports like he always said, or just running a BTL.  Cateran knew which way he'd bet.  Sleepy was at the bar, flirting with someone he probably didn't know had started this life as a man.  Carni was, all of a sudden, blocking the light for Cateran's next shot.

"Score!  Eight double-doses of Enn Cee!"  She giggled, throwing her hands up in the air, light catching the razors, the spur ports.  When she slapped her hands down on the torn green felt of the stained old pool table, an assortment of slap patches scattered across the felt.  A local dealer's stylized sun, his personal Novacoke logo, glowed softly on the flimsy wrappers around each patch.  "I told you I'd get us a good price!"

Cateran blew a little smoke in her direction to back her up a step, banked a shot off the far side of the table to avoid her mess, and nodded.

"Ye suck dick better'n I do," he grinned sourly.  She'd lie to him about just how good a deal, he knew, and keep a little on the side for herself.  Fuck her, anyways.

"I didn't hear you complaining earlier," she snatched up the patches and pocketed half, sashayed over to his jacket to slip the other half into a pocket for him.  "When it was yours being sucked."

The elf scowled, eyes on his jacket, those pockets, and her hands;  not her ass, the way half the bar was.  She produced his pack of smokes from his jacket and held up his lighter, trying to give him a pouty, flirty, look.  All her own shit, her gunbelt and her sleeve-torn jacket and her own pack of cigarettes were hanging from the wall not ten feet away, but she'd rummaged in his pockets instead, just to try and show she could.

"Can I suck on something else?"  Someone over by the bar almost choked on his beer.

"No," Cateran said, suddenly standing a hair's-breadth from her in less time than it took his pool cue to clatter to the ground, her wrist caught in his hand.  "At least nae somethin' of mine."

For a second, her chromed eyes widened, then narrowed, and he thought about going for one of his guns or her throat.  She thought about it, too, but then she shrugged and her eyes went half-lidded and catty. 

"Fine," she said, and he let her wrist slip out of his grasp.  He put his smokes away and ignored her as she stomped off, peering into the pack before he tucked them back into a pocket.  "Your loss, prison bitch."

That got another laugh from Rourke and his crew, who Cateran knew wouldn't have survived, wouldn't have stayed sane, through a tenth of what he had in Bellevue Correctional.  He stooped to pick up his cue and went back to his one-man pool game, mood dark.  He took one of the slap patches with him.  He hadn't had any Novacoke since in their shooter's nest, which wasn't doing his amiable demeanor any favors. 

The night passed.  Carni went upstairs a few times, with a few guys.  Angel sat in the corner and fucked his commlink.  Sleepy went upstairs with his new girl, and Cateran wondered just how new at being a girl she was.  Rourke kept up his bullshit -- "...so I told her, 'Yeah it's big, baby, but don't worry, Chinese bitches don't feel pain like people do!'  And then it was rape time!  Haw haw haw!" -- until his audience drifted out, and soon enough they had the greasy dive to themselves.

Cateran sighed as he sank the eight ball on his millionth solo game.  He spat a chewed-up wad of Betel gum into the pocket after it; he was done playing.  It was time to go to work.

He slipped his coat on and sauntered over to the bar next to Sleepy.  Cateran leaned and reached over, getting a giggle from Carni somewhere behind him thanks to his kilt flaring up, emerging from behind the bar with a bottle of whiskey.  It would suck, but so did this job.  He'd drained the silver flask full of good single-malt hours ago and tucked the empty thing back into his sporran, it was time for a fresh drink.

He rummaged carelessly for his smokes, tugged out the pack of Targets, thumbed them open.  He gave the pack a little jostle to flick a few cigarettes out, then offered one to Sleepy as he thumbed his lighter to life.

Geek the mage first.

The fat fuck made it halfway to the filter before the laes-laced tobacco tumbled him from his chair, out cold.  The sound of Sleepy's head thumping onto the wood floor sat Angel up to blink bloodshot eyes and look around, made Rourke sit upright and try to see through a haze of beer and Bliss, widened Carni's chrome eyes.  Cateran stood up from his stool, grim-faced.

The elf's Guardians leapt into his hands like magic, and even as one black-on-chrome gun swung lazily down to put a pair of explosive rounds into Sleepy's drugged form, Cateran's right arm thrust out at Angel like the finger of an angry god.  Cateran had spent almost ten years inside, and didn't know fee-fie-fiddly-fuck-all about how commlinks really worked, what they could and couldn't do, and Angel had set up the firewalls and other shit for him anyways;  he didn't want any tricks, so the decker got it next.  The Guardian roared and a burst tore the hacker's skull apart and painted the wall behind him a sickly shade of red, spattered with grey and bits of electronics.

His left gun swung over towards the razorgirl, his right the adept.  The guncam mini-screen showed him Carni double over and fall backwards as two EX-slugs tore into and through her dermal sheathing to send her tumbling to the ground.  Rourke twisted as he was shot, too, but the adept managed to keep his feet and flail his arms a bit. 

Cateran swung both guns over, squeezing the triggers as he did.  Betel and Novacoke and Synch and Reakt all stacked on top of one another, making his eyes catch the flash of chrome and the way the light fell along the front and rear slide serrations, marveling at the gorgeous amber color of Rourke's hastily thrown mug of beer as it sailed overhead, watching the way his shots tore through the adept's upturned table, bits of detritus going flying.  He pumped shot after shot into that splintering, shattering, slab of cheap polymer even as his attention slipped away to watch how the bowl of peanuts had scattered, trying to make out some pattern in the random tumbling of salted snacks. 

Somewhere behind him, finally, the stool he'd kicked away two lifetimes ago hit the ground.

Blood seeped out from behind the table, but Cateran sauntered over and kicked the ruins of it away to get a clear finishing shot.  Rourke coughed red and tried to muster up the strength to flip him off, so the elf shot him in the head twice, point blank.  He'd never really liked the guy, so he kept going even after that.  He squeezed triggers until his slides locked back and ammunition warnings blinked into life over his field of vision, leaving the loudmouth's chest a red ruin.

"Aye."  He spat his cigarette onto the mass of hamburger where lungs and a heart used to be.  "Ye're ne'er gettin' locked up, ye fuck."

Cateran sent a mental command to shove aside the empty magazine pop-up messages, but a hair too late.  Lunging at him from behind them, Carni slashed and swiped with razors and spurs, snarling in anger and pain as she tried to gut him.

Cateran swayed from side to side, fighting instincts and habits and half-remembered commands from skillwires he hadn't slotted that day.  Her second-generation reflex chips just weren't fast enough to keep up with him.  They'd seen to that.  He twisted and leaned, half-spun, got his guns up to catch on her wrists and elbows and forearms, diverting her blows just enough, every time.  She swiped and thrust at his centerline, every attack a killing shot, and he just got out of their way and sighed in exasperation.  While she flailed and slashed and bled, he got an idea.

He slipped away from her last slash a little too slowly, and razored nails sliced the sleeves of his suit coat to ribbons and drew lines of blood from the backs of his forearms.  A split-second later one black-and-chrome Guardian slammed into her temple, just near her datajack, to stagger her and buy him half a second.  He stretched it out because time didn't work for him like it did other people, and by the time she blinked and shook her head he was halfway across the bar with two tables in her way.

"Wait," he said, both guns twirling in flashes of chrome and suddenly holstered.  He held his hands up at her, ignoring how the blood was pouring from the slashes in his arm because it's not like he felt it anyways.  "Jus' fuckin' wait!"

That and the holes in her belly bought him long enough to keep talking.

"Everyone'll blame ye," he said, eyes on hers.  "Since Vore an' his bitch.  They know what ye did, why ye did it.  They saw ye flirtin' wi' me earlier, saw me turn ye down."

He saw her chrome eyes narrow, saw her skilled little tongue swipe at her lips.

"If ye live, they'll blame ye.  All th'bastards in here earlier, kissin' Rourke's ass.  Everyone that heard 'bout you an' Vore, everyone that Sleepy owed money to."  He ignored another popup in his cyberoptic display, kept his voice firm, flicked his gaze towards the back door pointedly.  "They'll blame ye.  Ye'll die either way.  Juggler'll see tae tha', an' ye know it."

"So run.  Jus' go.  Ye get a new name, a new face, an' murder stupid cunts somewhere else.  Ye go now, or ye'll die slow."

She looked him in the eyes, saw how much he meant it.  She went.

Cateran slumped his shoulders, tired but too strung out to actually feel it.  He strolled back over to the bar to right the stool he'd knocked over.  Blood dribbled freely from his slashed-up arms and his biomonitor chirped in his ear, annoying him, so he did his best to keep himself hydrated with the whiskey bottle.  Three Knight-Errant squad cars rolled up in front and uniforms got out to storm the entrance, then a pair of officers came in from out back, too.  The backdoor patrol was still alive, which meant Carni'd gotten away without them spotting her.  Good.

The elf leaned against the bar, drinking from the bottle as he bled all over the countertop.  A woman in a suit sauntered in behind the guns-drawn patrolmen, ignoring them as they stomped around in their uniforms and shouted 'clear' and muttered 'oh my god' under their breath.  Cateran gave her a cheery toast, splashing a bit of whiskey from the bar as he slapped it down;  it mingled with the blood, his and others', but she didn't spare it a second glance.

"Excellent work, Mr. MacGregor," his parole officer said, her high heels carrying her through the mess unscathed.  "Once facial recognition pinged their Mr. Johnson for us, the file was recovered quite handily."

He ignored her to light up, but like always, the bitch kept talking.  Idly, he wondered if the scotch was high enough proof to burn or if he'd mixed too much blood with it.

"Triad and Yakuza forces lost a number of soldiers today, a classified Wuxing file is secure in Ares hands, and an assortment of unsavory criminals are off the streets.  Knight Errant, the justice system, and the people of Seattle thank you for your efficiency." 

She bared her corp-perfect teeth at him in something that was meant to be a smile but wasn't.  He hated her suit, hated her curves beneath it, hated how she owned him.  Hated her.  Hated himself.  He took another drink as one of the uniforms came scurrying over and spoke to her.

"Mr. MacGregor, where's the last one?"  Her perfectly groomed eyebrow arched just enough to make it clear it was a demand, not really a question.  Her shark-smile was gone.

"Portland.  Or LA.  Or Denver."  He shrugged, bled, and took another drink.  "Did'nae ye hear?  Somethin' set her off, maybe tae much coke.  Th'crazy bitch slashed me up, then went an' killed her whole crew before she lef' town.  I won' be needin' a new face or name.  This time."

All you have to control is the person writing up the incident report.  She gave him a cool stare, and since she didn't order anyone to cuff him or shoot him, he assumed his logic made up for his impertinence.  Fuck her, either way.  He tossed the half-full bottle to shatter on the bar's floor and spill out with everything else.

"Th'sole survivor, I am.  I'm jus' lucky, I guess."

It beat prison.  Maybe.
« Last Edit: <07-30-11/0334:30> by Critias »

Critias

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« Reply #5 on: <07-29-11/2258:44> »
"And Not A Single Fuck Was Given That Day."
--Internet Meme.

So, there's Cateran's backstory and intro-fic.   8)  He's a total sociopath, Essence hovering at about 0.09 or so, strung out with multiple addictions (and a pinch of Distinctive Style), really doesn't care much if he lives or dies so long as he gets his next high, but he's pretty danged quick and good with a pistol.  He's a Tarantino flick or a 100 Bullets character much more than most of my lovable scamps, but I think he'll be a good time for the Shadowrun Scramble next week.

Heck, he might even survive and get a couple karma points and a handful of nuyen.

Patrick Goodman

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« Reply #6 on: <07-30-11/1049:22> »
Yeah...good luck with that last bit.... ;)
Former Shadowrun Errata Coordinator

Neurosis

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« Reply #7 on: <08-07-11/2150:17> »
He survived.
~"Pirates and bankrobbers, not lawyers and CEOs
Stockbrokers ain't no heroes!"~

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Devon Oratz//CGL Freelancer
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CanRay

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« Reply #8 on: <08-07-11/2150:44> »
He survived.
And does the living envy the dead?  :P
Si vis pacem, para bellum

#ThisTaserGoesTo11

mccleverly

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« Reply #9 on: <08-07-11/2208:53> »
He survived.
And does the living envy the dead?  :P

Dunno, but last I saw, he did bag way more than a handful of nuyen while he was at it. So at least that's something :)

Critias

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« Reply #10 on: <08-09-11/1203:45> »
He not only survived, he thrived!  Not a single box of damage taken the whole weekend, he bagged enough in-game cash for some new skillsofts, two more months of High Lifestyle, and a new car, and he got 18 or so karma, all told, in the three Missions he ran through.

I'm juggling a few grown-up writing projects at the moment, but I plan on tossing together a few post-game short fictions as kind of a highlight reel.

Critias

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« Reply #11 on: <08-12-11/0523:00> »
SPOILERS: Shadowrun Missions - Live And Direct

"I'm on a boat!
I'm on a boat!
Everybody look at me,
'Cause I'm sailing on a boat!"
--The Lonely Island, featuring T-Pain

"Jesus ruttin' Christ, I'm bloody bored." 

Cateran sprawled on a futon in a cramped apartment, hands beating a staccato rhythm on his bare knees.  Sitting in the corner was Belle, her tusks catching the light and cyberoptics rolling behind closed eyelids as she worked, slender cables linking her temple to the bundle of electronics Cateran didn't understand.  Across the room, stretched out in a reclining chair with torn faux-leather seats, Long Tom napped away summoning exertion while still wearing his rumpled longcoat.

"Huh.  'Summoning exertion.'  I bet mages made that shit up jus' tae fuck wi' us." 

The room's other occupant didn't seem to hear him, or at least didn't answer.  Espectero had Cuban-dark skin that ended where his synthetic arms began, and the obvious augmentation had ceased being interesting to Cateran about three seconds after the samurai had shrugged off his armored coat.

Cateran saw things.  Little things that other people missed.  Between the Sideways, the Betel he chewed incessantly, the slim Novacoke patch nestled under his sleeve, he saw everything.  The muted stains left from whoever had rented the room before Tom.  The traces of dust and animal hair tumbleweeded up in the corners of the room.  The lazy way Belle's hair got ruffled by the ancient fan that whirred cheerfully away in the center of the living room.  The precise folds on the crumpled, discarded, burger wrappers and fast food bags he and Espectro had brought back for everyone, including the burger he'd eaten 'for' Belle since she was too busy to notice.  The scuffs and scratches on Espectro's armored arms, the food stains on Long Tom's coat, the secret patterns in the stray handfuls of leftover bullets that lay across the bare synthwood table from when he and Espectro had run out of magazines for them.

Everything.

It had been a long, muggy, Seattle evening.  They'd traveled what felt like halfway across the Sprawl, most of it on foot, trying to catch up with Johnsons and contacts and MacAllister again and clues and rocks and Who Knows What Else.  He'd given a couple of Halloweeners a proper what-for down in the Underground, but Cateran was still too sharp.  Still on edge.  He'd done what he could since then to stay productive -- made some calls, talked to some friends, made and discarded a dozen hundred thousand million plans at the speed of chemistry -- but it felt like Tom and Belle were taking for-fucking-ever to get their own shit done.

The digital display on the cheap clock atop the cheap autocooker mocked him with the unsteady rhythm of its blinking.  The Sideways and the Novacoke swore that sometimes it took it an hour or two before flashing green.  Time crawled and leapt and...

"Jesus ruttin' Christ, I'm bloody bored."

"You said that already," the Cuban's smooth voice responded this time.  Cateran favored him with a glare.

"I'm just sayin', how long does this shite fuckin' take, mun?  It's a computer.  Aren't these fuckin' 'commlink' things supposed tae work fast?"  Cateran fumbled with his own, all thumbs like he always was.  God, he missed calling them pocket secretaries.  Everything had been so much simpler before he'd gone inside.

"I already used mine, and I'm not th'team's fucking expert with the damned things.  I mean, really.  I used th'silly piece of crap to get ahold of a local contact from a bloody international terrorist organization, arranged for the rental of a nautical vessel from said smuggling and arms-running comrade o' mine, an' decided upon a mutually agreeable drop-off point, all in like five bloody minutes."

One hand twitched out, Move-by-Wire making it almost too fast to see.  For Espectro, that was pretty fucking fast.  The elf-slender limb just kind of flailed, gesturing in Belle's general direction.

"What's she done?  Sat there and hit some buttons, that's bloody what."

"Which is still more than I can say for Tom!"  Cateran's other arm flicked out, pointing at the other elf just as accurately as he was the orkish hacker. 

"Him and his bloody 'summoning exhaustion.'  Pfft.  Likely bloody story.  How do we know he even summoned a spirit?  Huh?  Tell me that!  You an' me an' Belle, we sure as fuck have'nae any way tae know, do we?  All of us with our chrome eyes an' shite.  I bet he did'nae even summon anything.  He jus' felt like a fuckin' nap, that's all, an' here we are, fallin' for it.  I'm nae even sure if he can summon a spirit that'll help us taenight, what wi' the plan bein' what it is an' all -- "

"Do you even know how to handle a boat?"

The question caught him mid-tirade, but Cateran never let that stop him.

"Wha' the fuck kind of question is that?  Sure I can!  I c'n do fuckin' anything, an' don't let your round-ear ass self forget it."  Grammar had never been Cateran's strong suit. 

"Can I handle a bloody boat.  Pfft!  How hard can it be to fucking handle?  Same as drivin' a damned car, only there's no fuckin' traffic lights tae worry about, an' naught out there tae run into.  Bunch o' water, that's all.  An', I mean, shite.  Th'type of little thing I got us, so what if I do find summat tae ram?  Bloody thing's made of rubber an' air, nae glass or paper mache or summat.  'Oh no, the thing made of rubber and air bumped into something!  Look out!'  Pfft!"

"I know how to handle a boat."  The Cuban shrugged.  Cateran hated him right that second.

"Aye, an' so bloody well do I.  Now it's my fuckin' plan, an' my fuckin' contact, an' my fuckin' deposit, so I'll drive the fuckin' boat."

The Cuban just shrugged those polymer-metallic shoulders again and sat back in his chair.  Belle's cheerful voice piped up from the corner, even as she rubbed at bleary cyberoptics.

"Hi guys!  I got into their security system!  I could see through all their cameras, and cross-referenced your drive-by look at the place with all their official stuff.  I know where all their guards are, and found out they're leaving with the sword at 3:00 this morning, and know where all their cameras are, and know how to access their system again once we're on-site."

Long Tom sat up and yawned, listening.  Espectro gave the ork a little smile.  Cateran threw up his arms, flailing.

"Well, whooooooopdy doo!"

For someone that saw everything, he didn't catch the ork's hurt, questioning, look.  Cateran kicked the futon over backwards as he spasmed to his feet in an eyeblink, snatching up his suit jacket as he flicker-twitched towards the door.

"I've got tae see a guy about some stuff.  I'll be back later."

While he drove, he hated Seattle.  He hated the way he saw everything thanks to the Sideways and the Betel, and hated the incessant rain that had come too late to cool down the evening.  He saw individual raindrops fall and knew he could dodge them if he weren't in his car, and hated the way his car smelled after other people rode in it.  He hated the interstate that would take him anywhere near the Bellevue Correctional Facility, he hated the streets and sidewalks they'd walked half the damned night, he hated the empty flask and half-empty box of smokes in his pockets.  He hated the way he hated the way he hated the way the Novacoke left him feeling when it wore off, and hated the way that hatred made him yell at Belle, who'd done a terrific job. 

He handed over some crumbled scrip, and got back a handful of new patches.  Then he didn't hate anyone but himself.

He was back thirteen minutes later, with a fresh bag of UCASizzling Burgers for everyone -- two for Belle, she was a growing ork -- and a new little patch snug against his inner elbow, just barely hidden by his rolled-up shirt sleeve.  He smiled as he sauntered in, cigarette hanging lazily from his lips, bumping the door shut behind him with his kilt-clad butt.

"'ello, everyone!"  Cateran's elf-perfect teeth lit the room, and he waved bags of greasy fast food at them by way of greeting.  They looked up from an impromptu planning session, eyebrows arched. 

"Whooooooo's hungry?  Eh?  Eh?"  The elf smiled brightly as he settled the bags onto the table, gesturing for his only friends in the world to dig in.

"Are you sure you can drive a boat?"  Belle didn't like being the one to ask, but they'd decided she was the one he was least likely to try and kill, if he was still feeling low and mean.

"Oh, those old things?"  He waved his hands, smiling still.  "That'll be nae problem.  I c'n handle it, believe you me!"

"Have you ever done it before?"  Long Tom rummaged in the bag, still hungry from his summoning earlier that night.  He sounded skeptical. 

"Not exactly, but I'm sure tae figure it out," Cateran waved away their concerns, then pointedly tugged his commlink from his pocket to give the screen a tap-tap.  "But I think we're wasting moonlight, lads an' lassies!  We shoul' really get this show on th'road, aye?"

There was no point in arguing with Cateran when he was harsh and low, because he'd punch you in the neck as soon as look at you.  There was no point in arguing with Cateran when he was on a fresh high, because he treated all of life like it was a game -- like the whole world was in on his high, and understood that he saw it the way a child did, with brighter colors and easy victories -- and you ran the risk of wrecking his buzz (so then he'd punch you in the neck).  As exuberant as he was, they all knew it would be best to just go along.

The Atlantean Foundation had a sword their Mr. Johnson wanted, and they'd been paid good money to get it back.  They piled into his car and took a drive, finding the promised dinghy waiting for them, matte black and with the outboard motor muffled and repainted.

"Yarr, maties, we be on a boat!"  Cateran leaned in to whisper at the rest of them with a triumphant grin, guiding them smoothly, effortlessly, across the waves.  Long Tom's spirit hid them just like the plan called for, Belle's electronic wizardry looped their only security camera threat just like the plan called for, and -- infuriatingly -- even Espectro had to admit that Cateran slipped the boat into place just like the plan called for.

The whispering hadn't been part of the plan, but their armored security opposition hadn't seemed to notice.

"Three," Belle counted down for them quietly, holding up three fingers.  Long Tom fingered a small talisman and readied himself.

"Two," the ork's tusks caught the moonlight.  Espectro leveled his Ingram, smartlink reticule dancing on an unsuspecting guard's torso.

"One," Belle held up a single finger.  Cateran stayed sitting in the aft of their tiny vessel, one leg tucked up under him, elbow resting on that knee, silenced Remington resting on that hand.  He was as steady as the waves would let him be.

Several acts of violence occurred all at once as the countdown ended, and the security camera whirred away above their heads and saw none of it.  Their bullets had still filled the aquatically-accessed storage facility with the sharp crack of their supersonic travel, but neither security man had lived to notice it.

"I'm on a boat," Cateran whispered cheerfully to no one in particular as he lowered his rifle, feeling terribly piratical.  He'd never killed anyone from the open sea before.  He'd also never been told if bobbing in the water inside a boathouse, but not being tied to anything, counted as the open sea.

Maybe he could ask that guy!

Cateran was moving before most of his body had registered the sound, but he'd heard the engine thrum deeply, seen some secret pattern in the rippling water disturbed by the churning propellers.  The Atlantean Foundation mini-sub surfaced a split-second later, but by then the elf's Move-By-Wire and Sideways had launched him up onto a dock at a run, throwing his Savalettes into his hands as if by magic.

He heard a hatch unbolt as he heard the rest of the team clamber, trot, and sprint after him.  He saw a hatch swing open before he realized he was in mid-air.  He looked down at a surprised face just as he felt his feet land atop the submarine's angular hull.

"Hey, Joe, did you guys hear somethi--"

Cateran stuck one black-on-chrome Guardian into the seaman's eye and pulled the trigger.

The body fell like the 100 kilograms of meat and gristle and blood that it was, and Cateran hopped neatly down the hatch to land atop it, feet first.  He'd never used a silencer on his feet while not bothering with one on his pistol, before.  What an exciting day!  The elf landed and spun to the fore, muzzles leading the way.  Long Tom scrambled down behind him, Espectro hopped down to lead the way aft, and Belle followed the other razorboy.

Cateran holstered one Guardian to work a hatch open, just as he heard fully automatic fire from behind him.  Unsuppressed fire, which meant it wasn't Espectro.  A man in a Captain's hat and an itchy-looking turtleneck distracted Cateran as he tried to idly count the precise number of shots fired, and the elf swayed back -- irritated -- as a massive wrench missed his face by centimeters.

"Bloody rude," he muttered, just before reality shattered behind him.

Long Tom's bolt of mystical energy staggered the submarine's Captain, sending the man reeling backwards a split-second after it flashed past Cateran's suit-clad shoulder.  The shaman spun away after that, responding to a frantic flurry of text messages Belle was sending them;  Cateran's cyberoptics were still dilated and focusing strangely, his imagination elsewhere, and he simply hadn't noticed them yet.  His Guardian swung out and rapped very neatly on the Captain's temple and the man fell like a poleaxed cow.

More shooting rang out somewhere far behind him, echoing eerily through the hatches and hallways of the cramped submarine.  Cateran whistled a cheerful pirate tune to himself as he stooped to fetch the man's hat and wrench, holstering his Guardian as he did so.  He straightened back up with the hat jauntily perched atop his head, the wrench held loose in one hand and the heavy business end of it bouncing lightly from one shoulder.

More shooting -- then an ominous silence -- came from a million miles behind him, as Cateran sauntered around a corner to find the muzzle of a Colt America L36 shaking in the air just in front of him.

He snorted.

"Don't come any closer, or I'll shoot!"  The crewman's voice broke as he waved the gun in trembling hands.

"Och, put tha' thing away, boy.  Ye shoot me wi' it, ye'll jus' make me cross."  Cateran gave him a good-natured, but cheerfully stern, glare, wrench still resting lightly on his shoulder.  He held out a hand.

The boy looked into his eyes, and saw nothing but death and promises in them.

Colt firmly in hand, Cateran tssk-tssked down at it.

"That's a woman's gun, anyways, son."  He leaned the heavy wrench against a wall for a second, using both hands to nimbly drop the magazine to the deck, rack the slide to empty the chamber, and cheerfully fling the pistol somewhere over his shoulder.  "Ye should'nae go wavin' something tha' small around, or folks'll talk."

"Now."  He smiled a cold, hard, smile as he snatched up the wrench again.  "Let's see tae th'controls, shall we?"

Short minutes later, Cateran ambled backwards through the ship, wrench long forgotten.  The Captain and one crewmen lay sprawled out, concussed and unconscious, towards the fore of the small vessel.  Cateran found Long Tom's spirit savaging a corpse in a cramped armory, and saw that half the team was sleeping on the job again.

He prodded at one of Espectro's cyberlimbs with  a sword.  He carried it like a cane, tap-tap-tapping at the decks of the sub with the blade's tip every couple steps.  He'd found it belowdecks while Long Tom tended their wounds, helping the pair of them recover from the bruises and cracked ribs left by sustained Ares Alpha fire;  if the submarine crew hadn't used rubber bullets as a structural integrity precaution, things would have gone worse.

"Look wha' I found," he waved the blade around cheerfully, casually, nonchalantly.  And why shouldn't he?  He was holding onto the business end, it was all the rest of them that had to worry about the sharp bits.

"I think we're good tae go."

He'd gotten a handle on the controls -- and Long Tom had gotten a handle on the artifact sword -- by the time they cut through the shallows and back to the Black Sun's rendezvous point.  Long Tom's spirit dragged their comparatively shabby raft after them, then hauled it up onto the shore for Cateran's elven friends to deflate and load into the back of a Gaz-Willy.

"Do we have tae?"  Cateran wasn't particularly pleased with this last part of the plan.  He hadn't told anyone about the pair of completely unconscious crewmen squirreled away near the control room, but that wasn't the part that bothered him.  They were throwing money away.

"I told you guys," Belle shrugged apologetically.  "I can't be 100% sure I cleaned off any RFIDs.  In fact, uhm, I'm actually pretty sure I didn't.  So we should really get moving."

Cateran didn't feel just like neck-punching anyone right that second, so the elf just shrugged instead.  The mini-sub churned off north into the deepest stretches of Puget Sound, then followed automated commands and submerged;  all while the main hatch was wedged open with a bloody wrench.

Evidence scuttled, they sped away, Cateran at the wheel -- he could drive anything, after all -- and hurried off to make a very lucrative delivery.  They'd spent a few handfuls of ammo and had invested some pain into the retrieval mission, but none of them begrudged it;  they'd gained a magical sword, and would be paid, and handsomely, for the night's work. 

The Draco Foundation had deep pockets.
« Last Edit: <08-13-11/0353:57> by Critias »

Critias

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« Reply #12 on: <08-12-11/0526:45> »
Had a half hour to kill (in order to celebrate this term paper getting e-mailed in), so I threw this one together.  It's more or less how I remember the latter half of the adventure going, albeit admittedly with a Cateran-specific angle (since it's HIS short fiction thread, after all). 

Thanks go out to my long-time buddies who played alongside me in the Scramble, and to the new friends I made in the process of LARPing the night away with 'em.  By the end we were all pretty loopy and dehydrated (and exhausted, because it was a loooong day of Genconning), so I'm sure Cateran came off as more cartoony than I'd planned;  but when someone with a Novacoke-modified 8 Charisma is being cheerfully sociopathic, I think "cartoony" is more fun than the alternative.  Everyone had fun, everyone got a few chuckles, and we still got to roll dice and tell a cool story.  That's a win, even if he ended up being less grim than I'd had planned.

mccleverly

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« Reply #13 on: <08-12-11/1114:12> »
Boats can make even the grimmest of men a little cheerful. Can't say the combined dice luck of the party could have hurt any either :) But really I'm glad Belle managed to stay on Cateran's good side, all things considered.

Excellent job! Was a fun read and I'm looking forward to more tales :)

Patrick Goodman

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« Reply #14 on: <08-12-11/1436:59> »
Okay, that was fun!!
Former Shadowrun Errata Coordinator