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Underbridge

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  • Now that's some good advice, right there...
« on: (22:04:44/12-22-15) »
I started to write this is from the third person, then realized that a more personal narrative would work much better. It involves the aftermath of a Run Gone Wrong.
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We were tossed none-too-gently onto the hard cement floor, squelching against the plastic covering it. We were permitted only a moment of groans before the black bags were ripped from our heads, and finally allowed to see where our captors had deposited us. Suffice to say, I figured we wouldn't like it, and I was not disappointed. The goons left immediately, all black armor and non-descript face-masks.

Our surroundings were dimly lit with a single, buzzing flourescent 4x8 panel. The four 'runners in my crew were not alone: our sole companion was whimpering not far away, and I recognized the expensive gray suit and dark blue tie immediately--Johnson. He was similarly bound, wearing a black hood like ours, except his mouth was also gagged. This was going from bad to a full-immersion drekshow fast.

The only furnishings were a single table, on which were some baseball bats. I tested my wrists against the restraints, very tight. I looked at Weasel's wrists where she was lying on her side, sobbing, the cuffs were some sort of plasteel deal with built-in electronics and a dimly lit yellow LED. Her mouth was a bloody mess, probably broken in two places. She was missing most of the teeth on the lower left half of her jaw. "It'll be OK, I told her," whispering for Ghost-knows-what reason. Raze tried to stand up, and started shouting obscenities at no one. My crew more or less came to, the boss shaking his head. "I can't get a signal, whole area's damped." I didn't have to see the worry in face around the hacker's cyber-eyes to know he was freaking out. The last member of our little ragtag outfit, aside from myself, wasn't moving. That would be Twitch, our street samurai. From where I was sitting, she looked really fragged-over.

It was, clearly, not a room any one of us wanted to be in.

"Hey. Hey, fellahs! Quit bellyaching a sec and check out who's in here with us." I jerked my head to the right, and immediately regretted it. The throbbing pain there almost made me tip over in a dizzy heap. As the world stopped spinning I saw my crew had figured out that Johnson was in here with us, and our hoops were unbelievably fragged.

Everybody started crying, wailing, or screaming at once. "Oh, crap, oh, man." "Frag this, you fragging fraggers! Lemme outta here and I'll rip your heads off!" "Mmhlmb..."

"HEY!!!" I bellowed, snapping their attention back to me. Why did I always have to be the group's center? Seriously, if I'd known that this job would have gone so badly sour I would've told Johnson to go frag himself. "Focus, chummers, we're in a tight spot, but we've been in tight spots before. Let's see who's nabbed us and what they want, and maybe, just maybe, we might get out of here with your hoops intact, OK?"

Just then, a door on the far side of the room opened up and in walked, by himself, a troll in an exquisite dark grey pinstriped suit, burgandy tie, and a matching pocket square. Damndest thing was the raven sitting on his right shoulder. I am not entirely sure if I actually shit myself at that point, and as the only one in the group who actually watched the news I knew we were dead. Really, really dead. I mentally made a checklist of all the things I'd wanted to do with my miserable life, and was right in the middle of kicking my own ass over it when the bastard spoke.

"Evening, chums, you are here as my personally-invited guests and we are going to have a fun time, tonight. I'm really glad you could all make it. You might think I'm going to torture you, or kill you, but that would be so simple, so crass. Instead, I'm going to offer you a job. So, consider this your only interview. Please, call me Underbridge." He paused then, as if we were supposed to start wailing our fates or begging for our lives right then and there. Or maybe it was just dramatic effect.

Underbridge continued. "You were involved in a pretty good gig; bust in a lab, grab some high-nuyen mutagens, bug out. Simple, clean, and of course not as easy as it sounds--it never is, and trust me, I should know." Raze interjected with some particularly creative metaphors involving Underbridge's various body parts and his mother, to which the troll simply wiggled some fingers, cupped his hand, and flicked straight up. The greenish glow around his hand accompanied the greenish glow around the orc, who smashed into the ceiling hard enough to shake the room's only light. Then he dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I was impressed that somebody finally got him to shut up. That temper, drek, I knew it was going to land him in some serious trouble. Raze used to work for PROTOS after a hitch in the UCAS, but his love for novacoke and cyberfights cost him his job, so he took up Shadowrunning as yet another substitute for the life of violence he needed.

"Right, where was I? Oh, right, this guy," Underbridge jerked a thumb to his left, pointing at Johnson, "over here gave your crew the job, and so is really the one responsible." I realized he was talking to me, and I really did start to piss myself a little. "Your merry band of misfits absconded with nearly 320,000 Nuyen worth of mutagenic pharmaceuticals, overall a pretty good score. Add that to the files you duped after data-bombing the lab and Aztek should have enough to get started on their own essence-regenerating mutagens pretty soon."

Damn, I didn't realize we were working for those losers. Everything clicked, and our host continued: "Now, I don't mind the theft, really. That's just how it goes in the Barrens. Unfortunately, you hit a lab owned by a very close, personal friend of mine, and believe me--you are much better off with my boys nabbing you instead of his." His demeanor switched immediately: "Seriously, like, you'd be used for test subjects in some god-awful genetic experiment, or fed to Something Charming." Then he shuddered--the way he said it, I didn't want to know what "Something Charming" was.

"Uh, Mr. Underbridge, um, I'm not in charge, GlitchBob over there is," I interjected, not sure exactly why. Maybe it was that raven, maybe it was being the subject of the CEO of Underbridge Enterprise's undivided attention. Maybe it was the concussion and a growing desperate drive to be not dead. I knew from the stories that the name "Underbridge" was the street handle for a Shadowrunner who was so damned effective that his crew, the Shadow Company, wound up going legit & running the whole damned barrens. Guy was legendary. And here. And pissed.

"Right, well, I don't care which one of you little scamps is in charge, you had a simple task and fragged it up royally. Like I said, I'm not at all terribly concerned over the theft; I can get my stuff back. What I can't get back is all of my people that you killed. That, I cannot abide or let slide." He stepped forward and grabbed the swinging light. "That's why you and this corporate sleaze from Aztek are doing in a fragging basement. In a moment I'm going to press this button," he pulled out a detonator-looking device, "and release your restraints. Then, the Glitchmob, or whatever you're called, are going to pick up those bats and beat Johnson to death."

I really hate being right.

Everyone was completely stunned, even more so when Underbridge pushed the button and stepped back from the table. We all rose, except for Twitch, she was out cold, and I realized the others were looking at me. I walked over to the table picked up a bat. I was considering that four on one were pretty good odds, but something in the guy's face told us that me I was wrong. "C'mon, guys, strap up. Let's just do this and get on with our lives." Raze, to my frank surprise, picked up a bat, looked at it, and then threw it on the ground. "I'm not gonna be some corp's stooge, pal. You can take your drugs, Johnson, and shove'em where the--" His words were interrupted by Underbridge calmly drawing a very heavy pistol from inside his coat and blasting Twitch's head apart.

In the ringing of our ears he looked Raze right in the eye and said "Your insolence just got your friend killed. Pick up the bat or the next hi-ex round goes into you, peasant." Shocked, Raze did as he was told, then looked at it and Johnson. I moved forward. "Hey, boss," I said to the murdering bastard. "We didn't plan on wasting those guys, it just, you know, sorta happened." I winced as Underbridge fired two rounds into Weasel's torso. The elf dropped like so much meat and the troll aimed the gun at my face. "Your cowardice just cost you a mage, bucko. I do accept your apology, by the way. Now show me your commitment and apologize with deeds, not words." I looked at the club in my hands and walked over to Johnson.

"Sorry, bub," I said as I lifted the bat.