Bullet Time: The Mentoring of Tom White

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« on: <02-20-15/1441:26> »
Bullet Time:
A short story of the last time Bullet and Tom White spoke before parting ways. Tom White has reached out to Bullet to join his shadow running team, and this is some of their shared back story. Let me know what you think and if I have something that could be developed into a full length story. Cheers Omae.

Bullet places his heavy durasteel plated combat boots on the wooden table of the dingy squat overlooking acres of abandoned warehouses and factories. His tools of war are laid out in an organized fashion, like surgeons instruments, on a work station to his left, within easy reach. The Dwarf is a powerful masculine figure, who moves like an adept, and is sometimes mistaken for one. His hidden bioware is merged seamlessly into twenty hard years as a full time killer for hire. Bullet's bald head glistens in the pre-dawn light, while a white beard covers his scared face, and Siberian Tattoos adorn almost every inch of his body, a relic from his prison days, far in his shrouded past.

Tom White is seated on a worn synth leather sofa chair, his satchel of weapons resting by his right hand. Tom expected his mentor to be disappointed, angry, or perhaps even proud after listening to the tale of last night's epic hunt. Bullet had listened to the whole story, right up to the finale: A long distance trick shot that set a badly wounded Halloweener's head ablaze before the horrified eyes of his fellow 'Weeners. The young human hunter kept his hands near his trusty "Boomstick", a Defiance shotgun fully loaded with gel rounds. It's not that he didn't trust the Dwarven ex-mercenary with his life, it's just that Tom White learned to always be ready with Bullet, as the crazy dwarf taught his lessons with raw, ruthless fury. The last time Bullet tested Tom with a physical ambush was three years ago, and that lesson had ended with many bruises on both men. Since then, Tom's own combat skills have grown in leaps and bounds.

The dwarf speaks in a heavy Siberian accent, "Well kid, except for two final lessons, I've trained you in all I know of the science of war."

Tom sits back, smiling quietly to himself, replies in a dead cold tone of voice, "You finally going to teach me how to make bombs?"

Bullet leans forward, and says, "Demolitions is one of the skills I have withheld from you, yes."

Tom, "And the other?"

Bullet, "Team work."

The young human laughs out loud, "Bullet, I respect your training and all. But I told you in the beginning, I work alone."

Bullet stands up suddenly, looks at him piercingly, as if searching for the right words to say. Finally, the battle hardened Dwarf walks over to his weapons. He looks at each one with a kind of love, a kind of passion, that reminds the former gang leader of how he looked upon his tribe of urban warriors, before that night of pain and fire, all those years ago.

"Tom, each of these weapons has a name, a history, and a place on a team."

He already knew each of these names, and stories by heart. The Auto Shotgun named "Weedwacker", which Bullet had used to clear out homes in Bogata during a civil war. The Katana named "War Scythe" which was taken from the corpse of a slain South Afrikaner chromed merc who had used the blade to cut a swath in Bullet's regiment in the Ukraine. And of course, the sniper rifle named "Ghost Train". Tom loved the stories about this weapon above the others. Each and every soul sent to hell by it's ADPS rounds had their "ticket punched". The highly modified Desert Strike rifle was a gift from a Middle Eastern Warlord, a thank you for the rescue of his captured son, the heir to a tribal empire. A mission that cost Bullet the lives of over half his team. The Dwarf's job was to remain on sniper overwatch, while the rest of team cleared the path to an escape vehicle. A moment in the mission came where Bullet had to choose between saving his team, or protecting the client. Bullet chose the client, and the mission was an overall success. The casualties on his team had been grisly to an extreme.

Tom had always found that particular story most memorable, although not in the way that the Dwarven battle bard had intended. What was done to his mentor's former comrades in arms was exactly what he in turn wanted to do the Halloweeners.

Bullet turned and looked at Tom. "Please understand, I am not good teacher. You learned because you were hungry for the knowledge. You carried a loss, much like I did at one point, before I found my way in the world. You have the chance to be a gifted shadow runner. Your knowledge of the streets, the way you hunt like a native born urban commando. You are a natural born killer. And now, after all these long years, you are trained and chromed to a lethal edge. You have finally become the living weapon that you wanted most to be… But your vendetta, Tom... It is going to be the death of you."

Tom started to rise and speak his mind, but the Dwarf held out his hand firmly, "Nyet. Please, let me finish, and listen to me as I have listened to you. Yes?"

The young man sat back. He recognized that his long-time mentor of death and mayhem was having one of those rare meta-human moments. Not so much touched as he was intrigued, he sat back to listen, with full attention.

"I am not going to preach to you. I do not have the tongue for such things. I am instead going to tell you of the path you have before you. It will take big Nuyen to maintain your chrome, your gear, and your fancy nightlife ways. Vendetta is good training, but makes for a poor living."

Bullet pauses for effect. Tom continues to listen, unmoved.

"Tom, I am… leaving. I have reconnected with an old merc buddy. A dear brother in arms. I have been invited to join the shadow crew he runs with. They need a Dwarf with my skills and will accept me, bad rep, bad manners, bad breath and all. My friend is vouching for me,  which gives me a single run to prove my worth to the team. If this run goes well, then I won't be coming back to this place."

Tom growls quietly, "And if it doesn't go well?"

"Then I'll be dead, cause I would rather die than waste another minute doing anything other than what I have been put onto this dismal earth to do." The Dwarf's passion, and rare display of anger make it abundantly clear that a Decision had been made, and would not be unmade under any circumstance.

This finally does make an impact in Tom. For some reason, the former gang warrior had always thought that his Siberian Dwarf mentor would be there when the last Halloweener was stomped and their mangled bodies were laid out in the gutter, like last yesterday's news, like last month's trash, with Tom White standing triumphant at long last, the vendetta fulfilled, blood for blood, life for life. Bullet had implored, out right begged Tom to master the knowledge of small unit tactics, and to use his charisma to form a new gang, but he stubbornly refused. Each night, he persisted on his solo hunt of every 'Weener in his hood. Even Bullet himself was not invited on these evening vengence runs, except to listen to the recounting the morning after, and to form the training regiment that would lead to better results on the next hunt. And now, out of nowhere, the mentor is up and leaving the student?

Bullet walks over to the young human, and looks him in the eyes. Naked living eyes, hardened by wind and frost and sun, looking into cold chrome cameras, that burn like red coals when fully activated, Tom's cybered hunter's eyes. The Dwarf points to the data pad on the table.

"The squat is paid up for two more months, feel free to come and go as you like. Your cyber arms need maintenance. I set up an appointment at the clinic under the Church. Maybelle will take care of you. When you are ready to join a team, let me know. I'll put in a good word for you. But the audition…" Bullet points a thickly muscled finger at the seated man, "that will be on you to deliver."

The Dwarf abruptly walks over to the weapon table, and gathers all of his gear in one smooth motion. He walks briskly to the door, and pauses. Without turning around, his words powerfully distinct in the pre-dawn quiet, "I hope you find what you are looking for," and walks out the door.

Tom listens as the sound of heavy combat boots echo down the staircase. A motorcycle kicks into gear moments later, and just like that, Bullet, the professional ex-merc, the Siberian escaped convict, the mentor, the friend, the ally in vengeance, is gone.

The young hunter sits quietly, looking at the data pad his mentor left on the table. Finally, he reaches forward with his cybered right hand, to pick it up. The artificial hand's fine motor skills glitch for a moment, hitting home for the first time that he is truly on his own. Tom compensates for the minor malfunction, and begins to download the files. Sure enough, the appointment with Maybelle is highlighted, in both time, and location. Scrolling down the entries he finds the com link code for Bullet's fixer in Auburn, as well as a comprehensive list of potential fixers that Tom could find work with on his home turf. 

And at the very end of the list, with a symbol marked with an exploding birthday present... One dozen detailed recipes for improvised explosives made with simple to acquire materials.

Tom laughs quietly to himself as the sun rises on the Barrens.
« Last Edit: <02-21-15/2131:29> by Ravensong »
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