Last Play

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« on: <09-05-10/0215:57> »

Time crawled for everyone still alive and active in the handful of walled-off city blocks. Nuyen saw to it, their highly trained bodies riding the high of Wires or Chips or Boosts or Move-By-Wire or combat drugs. As the timer counted down, the seconds ticked away slower and slower and every Urban Brawler felt they moved faster and faster in comparison.

Tires squealed, a Honda Vector slipped as burning, peeling, rubber hit a patch of slick blood. The Outrider grimaced, sent a command through a slender datacable, and the bike gained traction and started to pick up speed. It left behind a street filled with bodies. Two lay utterly still and would until the post-game clean up. The other six's poly-kevlar armor were painted in different patterns and different colors, but at the moment each of them glowed a urine-bright, cowardly, yellow.  They’d toggled safety switches in time to trade their pride for their lives.

Two men rode on the Honda's back. Both wore tan and red armor, had blood-spattered feathers dangling here and there, had hand-painted stripes slashing over the urban camo of their Lakota Arrows armor. One was a part of the machine, another piece of hardware linked to it by cables and magnetic clamps, the tiny gyroscopes in his inner ear miniature twins to the stabilizing gyro in the belly of the Vector.

The other was just a passenger. A parasite. He rode on the back of the beast and pointed with one hand, hung on for dear life with the other. He held an Ultra Power in the pointing hand, snarled orders through the radio in his helmet. He was just a Scout, but the Outrider did what he said anyways.  They had less than half a minute left in an important game against the Ares Predators, and now wasn’t the time for disobedience.


[Peel, Convict. They're almost there!]

The Outrider's bike snarled and ate pavement like the ravenous beast it was. A block faded away. The Outrider payed no attention to the half-dozen gauges that fed him information all around the fringes of his vision. There were times to read each one and drive accordingly. This wasn't one of those times. He just felt the street beneath his wheels, hunched low over the handlebars of his Vector and sent thoughts to his heads-up display to brush the numbers aside.

The Outrider'd emptied his own Browning Ultra Power for the seventh time in the carnage that was three seconds and a block and a half behind him. He knew he'd rolled into the Brawl Zone with twelve spare magazines a million years and four points ago, but the magnetic clamps on his armor could only do so much so the extras were lying somewhere worthless. The autopistol was dead weight, so it clattered to the street as his wheels slipped and slid around a corner to the long straightaway.

He wanted to do the same to his passenger, but couldn't.  The Outrider was just a convict.  It wasn’t up to him.


[Five Predators on two of us, Convict. Get me there fast if you want to stay out of your cage.]

The Outrider'd played three games as a Scout, then four more bleeding and fighting as a Banger, then two as a Heavy. He'd been nine games deep as a Dog Soldier in the minor leagues before the assholes had given him a bike and changed the roster to make room for him where he belonged, as an Outrider. Then they'd congratulated themselves for being so fucking smart and, after seeing him in just one game, moved him up to fill a hole in the Lakota Arrows proper. He’d gotten the chance thanks to the bloodiness of a grudge match, two weeks prior, where the Tsimshian team had killed two of the Arrows’ Outriders.  But hey, a shot was a shot.

Ten games, though! Ten games, and seventeen seconds to go on number eleven.  He'd played for them for ten games, and every asshole here still called him Convict. He wondered idly if they'd ever shut up about how he'd gotten his spot.  He wondered, but didn’t really care.  It beat the Hell out of prison, he knew that much.  

The Outrider twisted his wrist and paired it with a mental command and the bike lurched forward all the faster. A block away, heat signatures dashed from behind a building out into the open, crossing the street on their way to score what would be game-winning points.


[I've got 'em, I've got 'em...]

The Outrider's cyberaudio worked overtime to dampen the roaring thunder as the asshole behind him opened fire, hand cannon held before him and blasting away not half a meter from the Outrider's ear. Dick. One of the heat signatures stumbled a bit, but the thoom-thoom-thoom-thoom of the big pistol mostly just made sure every prick in Ares armor looked their way and started shooting back.

The Outrider hunched lower as smartguns start to chew at his Vector's ballistic plating. A shotgun roared at the end of the straightaway and a hail of pellets peppered his armor and almost knocked the monkey off his back. Almost. No such luck.

One heat signature in Predators armor kept moving, didn't spin to take a knee and open fire. That one was bent lower, arm curled tight to his body and carrying a heat-neutral little ball that was the most important thing in the Outrider's world.  He had to win to stay free.


The FN rifle built into the Honda Vector's front fairings started barking and biting, spitting fire and iron and lighting up the open road with strobe-bright muzzle flashes. The shotgun didn't fire again because that red-orange blob of heat and life stumbled and fell. The Outrider's PacCyber eyes switched from mode to mode, and he saw the fallen Heavy's armor glowing I-Give-Up-Don't-Shoot-Me-No-More yellow.


His autorifle kept firing, the Vector's engine snarled to keep racing against the recoil. The Ultra Power next to his ear kept clapping, and eventually a second Predator staggered and fell. The Outrider cycled back to thermoptics just in time to pierce the muzzle flashes and darkness and gunsmoke at the end of the street and see a huge white-hot barrel lift and point his way. His passenger noticed it, too.


[Blaster, Blaster, Blaster!]

The Ares Predator’s MP-LMG roared at them like an angry dragon.

The Outrider smoothly sent his Honda into a sideways skid, bike leaning far, far, less than the driver was. His armored left knee and elbow got ground and sanded and chewed on by pavement, but he kept the bike upright, moving, and held it's ballistic-plated mass between him and the incoming fire like a plainsmen shielded by his horse. His passenger had no idea what was happening and no idea how to react to it. One arm flailed to maintain his balance, and then a dozen rounds tore into and through the Scout in the blink of an eye.



The Vector righted itself as the shooter's eye caught by the falling, sprawling, package of meat and polymers and kevlar and blood that used to be a person, and kept his machinegun targeting on the tumbling corpse for a half-second that saved the Outrider’s life. The bike juked left, then right, while the tak-tak-tak of incoming fire gnawed at armor plating whenever the hosing LMG was able to line up the stream of tracer rounds with the jinking Honda. One grazed the Outrider’s helmet and nearly broke his neck, turning half the faceplate into a hundred shards of ballistic plastic.

Precious milliseconds bled away before the Outrider was able to override the eight distinct emergency warning lights that tried their best to block his field of vision. Mental command after exasperated mental command flicked them away. When he could see -- ignoring the flames that licked at his bike's flanks, the uneven gait of his shredded wheels, the emptying fuel gauge, the temperature warnings, his own pain -- he dragged the smartlink for the FN onto the incessantly firing Ares Blaster, and loosed a burst of retaliatory fire.

Two rounds pockmarked the street in front of the enemy Blaster. One tore through an armor-plated ankle, then one into his knee, and one into his hip. The hardmounted rifle let the recoil just drag the smartgun's point of aim higher and higher...only for the reassuring, murderous, FN to fall near-silent with a sudden klaklaklaklaklaklak. A fresh emergency heads-up window blinked into sight, politely warning the Outrider that his primary firearm was empty.


He just kept the engine redlined, racing straight down the street.


The Ares player howled as his leg buckled under the oncoming motorcycle. He stopped screaming as the Vector's front tire rolled up his good leg and folded him beneath it a full three-hundredths of a second before his armor blazed surrender-yellow. It was a legal hit. The Outrider smiled.

Only one heat signature was left, the one with the ball. The one that counted.  The one running away too, too, slowly.

His cyberoptics suite blinked back to standard mode even as he felt himself stutter-step and stumble, felt the bike lurching and failing beneath him. The ball carrier was too close to the goal to ignore, but too far from the bike and his empty gun to do anything but rush at. He growled and his engine snarled with him, giving all it could like a loyal, dying, horse. It lunged forward because the Outrider willed it to, and because he sent that will through the cable that connected his right temple to the fading machine's stupid little dog-brain.


Over one hundred kilograms of muscle-augmented Elf and near-triple that of armored uniform, ballistic plating, engine, chassis, and wheels slammed sidelong into the sprinting Ares Predator Scout. The Vector had bled too much momentum while crossing the last meters, though, and he didn't just crumple and break like the last one.

The three of them – Ares Scout, Lakota Outrider, and Honda Vector -- skidded and tangled and slammed into a graffiti-slashed brick wall scant meters from the goal. The wall crumpled.  Amidst the dust, both of the living players grunted from the impact, staggered for precious milliseconds as chipped reflexes and enhanced bodies fought to overcome concussions and send muscles screaming into action. The Outrider's shattered helmet tumbled and bounced on pavement, long raven-black hair swung free, delicately pointed ears poked through it, and proud bronze features twisted in anger and determination even as blood streamed down from his forehead.

Both players raced for weapons.  The Outrider sent his gloved right hand down to tug a matte black tomahawk from its magnetic mountings on the side of the Vector’s ravaged chassis. The Ares Scout twisted and lurched, ball still in one arm, gleaming twin spurs snakting from special ports in his opposite gauntlet to swipe at the Outrider's exposed face and neck.

The Outrider leaned and twisted, turning a kill-slash into a slice that just sent stray locks of hair fluttering to the ground. His left hand whipped up from the dead bike's handlebars to snatch the Predator's lethal wrist.


Both men grunted and strained. The Elf twisted and wrenched at the other man's arm, straightening it and hyperextending the Ares player’s elbow. His combat 'hawk lashed out with chip-quick swings and all the strength behind them that nuyen could buy. It only took two before the bicep separated from the shoulder amidst a horrific river of crimson.

"Hoka hey, bitch!" The Outrider threw his head back and howled, laughing, waving the trophy overhead as the Ares man got busy bleeding to death.  He activated his Brawler-down yellow plates just a little too late.





[Final Score: Arrows (7), Predators (6)]

Another win. Another week closer to freedom.  The Outrider smiled.
« Last Edit: <09-05-10/1500:29> by Critias »

Patrick Goodman

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« Reply #1 on: <09-05-10/1053:06> »
Other than a timestamp at 11 seconds that you didn't get bolded.... :) This was a lot of fun. You're so much better than me at this short stuff....
Former Shadowrun Errata Coordinator


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« Reply #2 on: <09-05-10/1500:54> »
One of the hazards of copy-pasting on this scale...format gets mucked up, have to add the tags for bold and italics, etc, etc.

Thanks, though!


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« Reply #3 on: <04-26-11/1422:32> »
Very nice!!! I could really feel myself like I was there! Awesome writing, the rythm of the storytelling so tight! That was amazing!


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« Reply #4 on: <04-26-11/1551:07> »
Glad you like it!  It's one of my favorites.


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« Reply #5 on: <05-01-11/1933:27> »
Nice! Swear to spirits , when I read the part about the bike getting hit I smelled burning methanol here in my living room. *grin*
As night descends upon the city
The streets are cold, the lights go by
And in the stories of the people
A million faces, a million lies
They'll never say they feel what you feel
That they can see the world you see
And in their faces, their expressions
A million faces, a million lies... VNV "Chrome"

Bio ex Machina

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« Reply #6 on: <05-11-11/1920:43> »
love the countdown. really feel like i'm watching everything with hightened senses, observing the slow tick of the timer that is the end of the world...awesome story man