Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shadowrun: Blood and Honor

Late January 2056

I was seventeen years old


Sapphire had died suddenly. 

She had been at a rave in Renton with some folks she knew.  Seems she drank too much, took something she shouldn't have, then tried to drive home. 

The Lone Star accident report stated she was doing 200kph on her Yamaha Rapier when she rear ended a garbage truck.  Alcohol and "illicit substances" were suspected as contributing to her crash and subsequent demise.

Grack started working at a strip club four nights a week.  A real flesh and blood place, with pretty people dancing for paying customers.  Grack seemed happy enough, but he was still nursing that left shoulder from the bullet wounds the KE guards had given him a few weeks earlier.  He was going to be out of action for while with those holes healing up.

"Angel" was busy.  REALLY busy.  Not sure what she was doing exactly, but we couldn't get her to meet in the meat around that time.  She told me she was too busy for "the next couple of days" every time I asked her to work with me on a job.  A few days after the last "next couple of days", the word got out and went public about the Chicago Containment Zone, Bug Spirits, and all that mess.  (I do not claim the two are related, merely using this for a reference on the timeline).  I wasn't able to reach "Angel" until the April after that news went public.

Pepper was always willing to work.

We did several small jobs over the two weeks after that last frag up with Zip.

He carried the sword I had given him and treated me differently.  I first picked up on this when we did little job on a fertility clinic.

A certain Mr. Johnson had a need to make a "withdrawal" from this place that kept fertilized embryos for rich clientele.  Seems you can get your future kid frozen and make sure there are none of those pesky genetic disorders in the genome, before you decide to stick them back in to gestate the little squealers.

Mr. Johnson wanted some embryos that had been on ice for about five years.  Really just a simple heist, with the twist being the targets. 

So five little frozen embryos, all of which were very suspiciously the progeny of a certain politician and his soon to be ex-wife. 

I was learning a bit about doing leg work on a job before taking it, and this just seemed weird.  So another decker I knew did some digging for me and came up with an interesting email between the attorneys on their divorce arguing over "child support" for their future kids. 

Mr. Johnson it seems, likely worked for the Mrs. Future Ex-Wife's attorney, and it seemed it was pretty important that she be knocked up really soon.  And with soon to be ex-hubby's children (of course).

Armed with the peace of mine that we weren't going to cause any harm to the little ones (beyond getting them brought into this mess of a planet), Pepper and I took the job.

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2105:   Pepper and I had been hiding, invisibly, in the little kitchen that served as a break room, for the last several hours.  I had used a spell lock to keep the invisibility running so I wouldn't wear my mental muscles out.  After the janitor left, we took the pass key we had swiped and simply walked into cold storage. 

We had been walking around all day since we snuck in.  We had been quiet and invisible, but it was still really hard to keep from being detected.  When people can't see you they will walk right into you if you aren't careful!

So there we were, in the cryo-storage area, looking for the little embryos that are soon to become Mr. Politico's dependents, when the lights go out.

Never a good sign when you didn't arrange it.

We stepped out just in time to see these four guys come walking down the hall.

They didn't look like doctors or staff at all.  All four were sporting Heckler-Koch sub-machineguns, ballistic vests, and faux-hawks.  They looked like basic, garden variety street muscle, and they were coming toward us.

"Dee," one whispered, "where 'da hell is tis ting we lookin' fo?"

The fourth guy, with a neon pink faux-hawk no less, spoke up (no whisper from this 'burglar'), "Damnit Gee!  Shut up!  You 'gun get us catched.  Shut yer hole or I'll gun-bugger ya!"

Charming.

They actually walked right by the cryo-storage room at first. Less than a foot from the tip of my nose in fact (which was not pleasant for me for several reasons).   I was just starting to whisper to Pepper when the four of them realized they had missed the room and started coming back. 

"I'll speak with them." Pepper said.

I dropped the invisibility, and the four of them froze in their tracks.

To be fair, it had to be unnerving to have a two meter tall street samurai and a young skinny me appear out of nowhere right in front of them. 

I was sporting my brand new form-fitting body armor with a nice insulation mod to help suppress my heat signature as well as keep me warm in the wet and cold of a Seattle January. 

Pepper was wearing armored fatigues, and heavy ballistic vest, and a ballistic mask styled in likeness of an ancient samurai armor Menpo mask.  He kept his hand on his katana.

Pink faux-hawk guy spoke up, "OI! Whatsu' doin' corpsey?  You is in 'da way. Move its or I gonna gun-bugger ya!"

Pepper took a step.  The katana sliding out in a swift arc and catching faux-hawk's neck about five centimeters below his jaw.  The blade cut through in a blink, and a thin line of red appeared on the wall to the right.

Pink faux-hawk guy's head fell on his feet and arterial blood shot straight to the ceiling tile.

The other three dropped their guns and I was pretty sure one drekked himself.

"Let this be a lesson.  You are unworthy to speak such aloud in his presence. Such disrespect will not be permitted." Pepper said it solemnly, like the chastising of a child caught swearing by a priest.  

We zip-tied those three to their dead companion and left them in the lobby. 

I was right by the way, one had shit himself.

We grabbed the future squealers, packed up the guns the street muscle brought for us (Couldn't leave dangerous weapons with them, they might have hurt themselves) and badged out the back of the clinic.

Two hours later the two of us were in the Brick House. 

Sheila had arranged the job and the meet was going down there.  Mr. Johnson showed up nice and timely, with a fist full of certified credsticks for a job well done.

Pepper didn't say a word through the whole exchange so I accepted the pay with no fuss and watched Mr. Johnson quietly leave with the cooler full of future little dependents.

Sheila X didn't ask any questions about the run, and we certainly didn't volunteer any. 

The next morning there was a brief news blurb about a break in at the fertility clinic, but nothing about us.

I had paid Pepper his half of the money and left the guns with him (I didn't know enough about guns back then to use them without endangering myself).
------------------------------------------------

I was low profile for a few days.

"You are unworthy to speak such aloud in his presence", Pepper had said. 

I knew it meant something but I wasn't sure what.

-----------------------------------------------

The shadows in Seattle were really busy that year.


I think it's time to get some actual work done.

I'm going to summon up a fire elemental for a little project I need to get started on.  That ten meter summoning circle isn't going to draw itself.











 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tommy Gun: Wiz Kid Mage (Bloody Snow, Honor, and Pepper)

January 2056:

Happy birthday to me!  I turned seventeen years old.

Sheila X had a messaged me to come down for a face to face.

At the time, I was running with an odd crew that generally worked well together.  Seems Sheila had put the word out to the team as whole, because when I made it to Brick House I saw familiar vehicles in the lot.

Little Rickie was there, same as always.  Nearly four meters of towering troll muscle, with reflexes like a hummingbird on novacoke, and a cyberarm I knew to have a meter plus of dikote (tm) coated blade hidden in its mechanism.  Every time I see Rickie, I feel an attack of politeness coming on.

Sapphire was inside already.  Two meters of lean muscle and "I'm more chill than you" attitude.  If not for the fact that she was physically adept, she would probably have had a great career as a joy-girl.  Such as those careers go anyway.  But she was an adept and a damn good one.  Gifted with a whole body awareness that made any weapon an extension of her will, a grace that made her as quiet as a creeping spider, and a situational awareness that made her seem superhuman in her reaction, she was a nightmare of an opponent in a fight.

Grack was in line waiting to get in.  Grack was an asshole.  He took great pride in being the strongest and dumbest troll he could be.  I'm not being racist about it.  He literally once told me, "I don' have to be smart.  I troll and troll strong.  Shut face or I flatten you."  Grack didn't like me, and the feeling was mutual.  He kept calling me 'kid' and offering to change my diaper, and drek like that. I had a bad feeling about Grack.  I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But he was solid in a fight, carried a LOT of firepower, and was good at hitting what he aimed at.

Our decker was already there too.  Since she is still working in the Biz (Yes, over 20 years now), and is sharper with a deck than ever before I will just call her "Angel".  Angel was a bit younger than me, fifteen or sixteen at the time, and was real wiz with anything electronic and an archmage of the matrix in the making.  She wasn't up there with FastJack's level of skill at this time, but she was clawing to get there.  She had made some waves on her own and Sapphire was working for her as a bodyguard around this time.

The two other members of the team were Zip and Pepper.  Two Street samurai who were worlds apart in their thinking.  Zip was a self-absorbed, overly macho drek-head with a penchant for assault rifles and knife fighting.  Zip had some heavy wire in his meat bod that had destroyed most of his soul/essence (whatever you want to call it), he jumped at sudden movements, and talked to his shadow (seriously, it was creepy as hell). I don't miss him, and no one I know does either.  Pepper didn't have any wire at all.  He was an ideological successor to the ancient samurai.  Lived the life of a ronin, seeking a master worth serving and coming up cold.  Pepper once stuck his pistol under Zip's chin, when Zip had pulled a knife on a little girl who was running out of an alley.  Pepper was smart, committed, precise, and professional.  I liked him professionally, respected his abilities enough not to crack wise of his philosophy, and I miss him to this day.

The job was a big deal for us, with the potential for a huge score.

Mr. Johnson wanted an item from a particular warehouse that he didn't have rights of ownership to. The pay for this widget was surprisingly nice, which should have been a big warning flag, and my cut would have allowed me to move out of Redmond and into Pinehurst (that move had to wait a while). Johnson was good for ten percent up front money, so the team decided to pull the job and off we went.

********************

From my notes on the job (its hard looking back twenty years plus and seeing the mistakes that were made... some things you only learn by surviving I guess):

1900:  Snow is deep on the ground around the warehouse except for the parking area.  Security is on the ball, with Knight  Errant sec guards sporting their environmentally adapted gear and weapons.  "Angel" was able to remotely access the security system, found a rigger in the sec system, and put him into a state of blissful ignorance with some digital magic.  (Note: With the electronic sec-systems at our control we had only the KE guards to worry about and that is where we fragged up.  We didn't take the KE guys seriously, didn't respect their professionalism, and then Zip nearly got us all killed.)

1910:  I levitated myself and Sapphire over the fence line and onto the roof.  Then levitated Zip and Pepper over. It was cold.  The snow had a thin layer of ice on top, and I just heard the soft crunch of boots breaking through that ice and snow below us.  Pepper and Zip were 15 meters in the air, being levitated to me, but were only half way through the trip.  A KE sec-guard was walking the perimeter, something we hadn't seen them do in the thirty minutes we had been watching before we kicked the party off.

He must have been good at his job, that KE guard, because when he came around the corner he saw Zip and Pepper and grabbed at his comm.

That is when Zip flipped out and opened up on him.

I don't know how many rounds Zip fired exactly.  I know he emptied his AK-97 into the sec guard with most, if not all, of the rounds striking home.  Added to that, Zip was screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs the whole time and you can understand why in seconds we had a dozen KE sec-guards slinging guns and beating feet our way.

I managed to get Zip and Pepper on the roof with Sapphire and I, while Angel sent a message over our commlinks saying she was suppressing the alarm the guards had triggered.  Zip was reloading, and swearing he was going to kill "Every slotting sec-guard in this fragged up, icebox!" (his words).  I remember I looked at him, not sure what my face looked liked but Zip shoved his AK in my face and started to say something about blowing my little magical head off, when Pepper stabbed him in the brainpan.

"Unprofessional, and dishonorable" was all Pepper ever said about it.

I had thought I might piss a little.

Grack had put the big dumb troll theme to work.  He was firing indiscriminately at sec-guards and managed to tie up about half of them in an actual, honest-to-ghost firefight on the other side of the warehouse.

Sapphire slipped into the warehouse with Pepper, and I scooted around on the roof looking for the rest of the KE guys.

I found four of them covering a fifth who was working on the KE guard Zip had shot up.  It looked like a lost cause to me.  I don't know what made me do it, but I went to work.

"Stunball" they like to call it on the streets but my teacher had called it "a little sleep spell".  Whatever you call it, the spell can put down some hostiles without killing them or making a ton of noise... which fit my bill precisely at that moment.  I pushed the spell a bit harder than normal and earned the beginning of a headache I would surely not enjoy later, but the five sec-guards all fell over into a forced slumber.

A little more levitation and twelve seconds later I was in the bloodied snow next to the downed KE guard.

Healing magic is HARD!  Even more so when you have cybernetics in the meat bod you are trying to fix up.  The KE sec-guard wasn't dead yet, but he was going to be soon if something didn't change.  So I put my all into a healing spell that would surely hurt me something awful.

The other thing about healing magic, you have to keep it up for a while to make it stick.

So I'm kneeling there, in the bloody snow, surrounded by KE sec-guards who are taking a nice little nap while gunfire is raging on the other side of the building and ghost-only-knows-what going on inside the warehouse.

A minute passed.

It felt like a year.

The KE sec-guard opened his eyes. I'm sure he was going to say something, but I really wasn't interested.  So I stuck the tranq patch from the KE first aid kit on his forehead and watched his eyes roll back.  He was unconscious super quick.

Grack was shooting up the other side of the warehouse. Angel was calling out that alarms were going out to Lone Star about the shooting. I had just landed back on top of the roof; when Pepper and Sapphire came running out of the warehouse. Zip was, thankfully, very dead.


Sapphire pitched a grenade that landed among the sec-guards fighting it out with Grack.  The grenade made a loud 'hiss' sound as whisps of gas erupted in the area.  Several of the sec-guards fell in their tracks while the ones remaining fled the gas.


I couldn't lift Zip, but I could levitate him.  So seventeen year old me, aspiring shadowrunner and hot slot wiz kid, levitated the corpse and my skinny hoop off the roof and over the fence line to our wheels.  Angel popped the door on the van, then tore off to the gate to pick up the rest of the team.

We pulled a big scoot-and-fade and made it out.

Zip didn't seem impressed.

Johnson was good to his word about the money he promised.  We made the swap under the watchful eyes of several guns pointed in both directions.

We got paid.  Sapphire got rid of Zip's body.

Grack had taken three rounds in his left shoulder, and those had to come out.  Pepper and I took him to a street doc Pepper knew. She got the bullets out for the bargain price of half of Grack's share of the money.  I was able to heal a little bit of the damage with magic. Grack had so much cyberware that it was nearly impossible to heal anything at all.

This, of course, pissed Grack off.  He went to his doss and, eventually, stopped bitching about magic not working on "hard working trolls".

Pepper had saved my life.  No bones about it.  I spent a few days thinking it over, and reading up on his philosophy.  I wanted to say thank you without causing offense, and still make it sincere.

So I called up Pepper a week later and set up a meet with him at the Brick House.  Sheila let me reserve a booth and bring my "gratitude" in without a fuss.

Pepper showed up early, as was his habit, and sat down across from me.

"Thank you for my life," I said in my very broken and terribly mispronounced Japanese.

I put a box on the table.  It was a wood, real wood, carved to look like flowers.  It had cost me a month's rent.  Pepper opened the box, saw the sake bottle inside, and nodded in a gesture I took as acceptance.

I then put a longer box on the table.  It was black and had brass fittings.

"If you would be willing, please accept this as a token of my respect"... my Japanese was bad enough back then that I think I actually said "candy" instead of "token".  But Pepper seemed to understand what I was saying.  His eyes widened a bit when he opened the box though. The katana inside had cost me almost a year's rent.  To my thinking it was well worth it as I still had my favorite cranium.

Pepper seemed to think for a long moment, then took the gift, stood and offered a deep bow.  We ate well that night.  After the two gifts and dinner, I had made hardly any money at all on that run.  I had made some, I was warm, eating well, and I had good company. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew that KE sec-guard had survived.

Pepper and I did a lot of work together over the coming months.  But those are stories for another time.

I've got a good bottle of sake I think I'll open.

 I feel like toasting to an old friend.






Friday, May 26, 2017

Tommy Gun: Wiz Kid Mage (2nd story)

October 2055

I was sixteen years old:

I had managed to catch the attention of fixer named Sheila X.  She was a fixture in the Seattle Shadow scene, operating out of a refurbished bar and grill in the Redmond Barrens.  Back then, she had a huge troll named 'Little Ricki' who manned the door, a couple of girls who tended bar and waited tables, and a Rastafarian Dwarf cook with a hell of a lot of talent.

The place is called the 'Brick Yard' but most of the shadowfolk those days called it the 'Brick House'.  Even though it is in the Barrens, the power works and the water flows.  The patrons at the Brick Yard are an odd assortment of up and coming shadow talent, runners in the biz, and the occasional nova-hot musical act.  Wannabes, upstanding citizens, and informants didn't make it past Ricki.

So one morning sixteen year old me is sitting in my shitty little doss, trying to meditate while the couple across the hall are screaming at each other over their crying baby.  My comm beeped and I had a text, from an unknown number, asking if a certain young magician might be available for a short term freelance assignment.  There was an address in Redmond and a figure that seemed pretty tempting at the time.

I made my way to the Brick Yard in broad daylight.  I spent much of my time invisible as my part of Redmond was in the middle of a gang war at that time and I didn't want to look like a good candidate for a drive by shooting. I remember Ricki was at the front door and he was the honest-to-ghost largest person I had ever seen.  He had a wiz cyberarm and a hand cannon on his hip I didn't think I could lift easily much less fire.

I dropped the spell about 10 meters away, intending to have some polite words with the large gentleman.  Ricki spun quicker than a cat on nova-coke and that big gun was suddenly pointing at my favorite cranium.  "Chummer, you almost got dead!  Don't never sneak up on me!  Never!" It came out as a growl and I was really impressed that I didn't piss myself.

Between one blink and the next Ricki holstered his cannon and waved me in, "She's expecting you."
I went in, and right politely at that.

Inside there were about a dozen people at tables. Most of them alone and facing the door I had walked through. The place smelled of foods I had not yet tasted by that time in my life, but I knew right then I wanted to try them.  It was then I made a stupid mistake, completely by reflex.  I looked into the astral.  Like I said, it was stupid.

I must have used up a lot of luck at that moment because I was the ONLY magically active person in the Brick Yard at the time.  No spirits floating around other than some watchers who shook their 'heads' disapprovingly at me.  I forced my astral sight closed (something that has always been hard for me to do, even today).

I didn't know who I was seeing or why, which just goes to show how green I was, so I sat down at the bar.  The ork girl behind the bar gave me a big, tusky smile, "Mr. Gun!  First time in and boss lady says to feed you.  What will you have?"

I honestly had no fraggin' idea what was going on.  But the smells from the kitchen were making my stomach growl at me for not rounding up whatever it was.  "What's good?" I asked.  I was trying for frosty cool indifference but I don't think I pulled it off.

"Everything Mr. Gun.  I'll get you a menu."

Two minutes later I was looking over a menu that would cost me a week's worth of grocery and rent money to cover a meal.  I remember I picked a sirloin (not knowing what a sirloin was), mashed potatoes, and rolls.  I was planning on skipping out on the check.  Since no one was awakened in the place other than me, I figured I would just turn invisible once I finished and never come back.

Thirty minutes and the best meal I had ever had later, the ork girl cleared my dishes and told me "Boss will see you now."

A couple of minutes later I was sliding into Sheila's booth for the first time.

The run was already a go by the time I was sitting with Sheila X.  Apparently, the team that was working the job lost their mage the night before from a slight case of death.  Sheila offered me 2k nuyen to provide astral over watch for the team for the remainder of the run (which was just for that night), but I cleverly (I thought) negotiated another sirloin platter on top of it.

That run sucked.

The team I was providing astral over watch for wandered straight into a pair of weapon focus wielding physical adepts with a grudge about twenty minutes into my astral jaunt.  A pair of spells down their foci gave them a good jolt.  They tried to disengage, and the team let them run off, but I knew if they got away there could be some serious problems.  So I killed them.

I'm not proud of that. There really wasn't any reason for it other than I was green and a bit scared.

I had an air spirit bound at the time and so I had it manifest and hide the bodies and their gear behind a dumpster.  ( I went by there the next day and stole their stuff... again, not proud of that)

When I went back to the team they were mixing it up with a security patrol that happened to have a hell hound with them.

For the record, I like dogs. I do NOT like dogs that try to kill me with fire.  Not one bit.
As I was in astral space and didn't want to blow this run off.  I stayed in astral and had a nasty fight with the doggie.  I didn't kill it. For that I'm glad. But it did manage to hurt me and I was getting tired from all the time in astral space.

Ten minutes later the team had the whatsit in hand and were fleeing the scene.  I followed until they got to their safe house, then went back to my meat body.

I sent a text to the number Sheila gave me, got a countersign back, and responded appropriately.

The next morning I collected my money and my steak platter.

-------------------------------------------------

No.  I don't know what the whatsit was, and I don't really care.

Those runners were sloppy and probably would have been killed pretty quickly if I hadn't been along.

I met them when I picked up my money.  One troll, big and dumb as a bag of rocks, tried to pull that macho "I'm a troll I'll mess you up little man" routine on me.  Didn't like him.

But Sheila seemed to like that I didn't let them provoke me, that I maintained my cool, and that I was available. Back in the mid-50's being awakened was even more rare than it is now. This was particularly true in the shadow community, and full fledged magicians (even wiz-kids like I was) were hard to come by.

It wasn't long before I was on another job.

But that is a story for later.  I feel like grabbing a steak and I know just the place.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Beginning: A Story about Tommy

Kentucky:  Sometime in 1991

A novice gamer is introduced to the near future dystopian role-playing game that would cement his affection for gaming.  Here is the tale of those stories, written from memory, by the surviving player.

Told from a first person perspective.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the beginning, there was the first edition.

Everyone died

Then there came the second edition:

Character:  Thomas Michael Gunne  Alias: Tommy "The Machine" Gun
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The year was 2055, and I was 16 years old.

I was born in Seattle, UCAS to parents who weren't bright enough to hide the fact that I was an awakened child.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved my folks.  Its really a shame what happened to them.  I would have probably been a legit wage mage if only they had lived.

When I was really little, three or so, I had an imaginary friend.  Her name was Isabellix, and she was tall and pretty and glowed at night so I wouldn't be afraid of the dark.  We played great games of chase all over the house, much to my mother's chagrin, and she kept the monsters out from under my bed.

Isabellix and I played a lot.  We played checkers and with my Roshi Red Samurai action figures and we generally had a blast. My folks thought it was cute, and maybe annoying, but they didn't think anything of it.  I mean, a lot of kids have imaginary friends, right?

So when I was five, I was playing over at my cousin's place.  He was older, nine or ten I think, and he was a real jerk.  My aunt, his mom, had to run out to the stuffer for something and left us in the doss for just a little bit.  But my cousin (Jerk) decided that he was going to stuff my favorite cranium in the toilet for a bit of flushing.  He didn't seem to mind that I started drowning in the toilet from his hijinks.  I remember I was panicking and trying to scream and cry and was drowning from the water and then things started getting dark....

I woke up laying in the floor, with water and vomit all around me.  My cousin was stuck to the ceiling.  Just stuck, hanging like he had been glued up there.  He was screaming like someone had pulled his ears off.  I remember I saw Isabellix sitting next to me, which was weird because she usually went away when other kids were around, and she said "He's not nice".  I had to agree.  My cousin fell from the ceiling, banged his head against the bathtub and lay still on the floor.  My aunt must have been opening the door when he fell, because she came running in about a tick after he hit the tub and flipped out.

Scalp wounds bleed like crazy.  That fall cost my cousin sixteen stitches and a really solid concussion.  But he never tried to flush me down the toilet again, and Isabellix was always around when he was around.  It was about this time that I realized people weren't kidding, and they really couldn't see Isabellix.

When I was nine, I took that test they give you to see if you might be magically active.  I didn't want to do it, but my parents said it would be good for me and that if I did have magic it would be good for my future.  Honestly I think they thought I was insane for talking to things I was seeing that they couldn't see, and were just hoping against hope I might be a magician instead of being a lunatic.  Unfortunately for my folks, I am a magician, and the test showed that pretty definitely.  Isabellix told me before I went that I should run and hide and not take the test.  I should have listened.

So there I was, a nine year old who talked to things that most people didn't see only I had been seeing them my whole life.  I had, somehow, been astrally perceiving most of my life and had managed not to go crazy.  So my imaginary friends weren't so imaginary, and my mom developed a weird habit of looking under my bed and behind doors (I have no idea what she thought she might find).

So a few months before I turn ten, a corp recruiter shows up and offers my folks a really sweet scholarship and a career path that would have landed a cushy corporate wage mage job for me in just a few short years.  My parents were all for it and that would have been that, except it wasn't.  After the corp recruiter left things got weird over the next few days.  My folks suddenly got fired from their jobs.  Our apartment building caught fire.  When I went to my school for the first time, they said I wasn't welcome anymore.

My folks called the recruiter who swore he would look into it and not to worry.  So my folks and I were squatting at my aunt's place, and Isabellix and I were playing checkers (my cousin had gone to his room), when pizza arrived... we hadn't ordered any.

The pizza guy shot my dad, walked in and shot my mom and my aunt.  When he turned to point the gun at me Isabellix just appeared in front of me, and a moment later the "pizza guy" was a molten puddle of goop on the floor.  It was all over. My parents were dead, my aunt was dead, and my cousin had apparently died from lethal feedback from a btl he had slotted in his room.

I was alone.

When the social workers turned me over to the corporate orphanage I thought everything was going to be okay.  I was crushed that my parents were dead, but Isabellix stayed with me the whole time.

Then I went to school.

It was the first day of class and Isabellix had been telling me all morning we should leave... I  wish I had listened.

When I went to the class room Isabellix came with me and sat next to me.  The other kids stayed away from that seat and I got ready for my first day at magic school.  When the teacher came in she took one look at me, then at Isabellix, and said "No Pets allowed!"

I remember I looked at Isabellix, stood up and said, "She isn't a pet. She is my best friend."

The teacher went stone cold, then pointed a finger at me and said something I don't remember.  I know now she was trying to cast a spell on me.  But Isabellix jumped on her and the two started fighting.  I remember Isabellix screaming at me "Run Tommy!  Run!"

So I ran and I never went back.  I never saw Isabellix again.

Living on the street and hiding from the corp I was lucky to live a week. I was also lucky to make friends with a street mage, and I became his very own apprentice.  I was a real pain in his ass most of the time, but I learned as much as he could teach me.

On that night in 2055, three nights after I got pissy with my teacher for last time, I took on my first shadowrun and survived.  It wasn't much, but it was a job, and I made enough to keep me from starving for a week or two. I made a point of seeing my teacher when I could.  I really was a pain in the ass to him and he taught me a lot.  He had a heart attack and died in 2056, but he was the best person I had met since my folks died.

Turns out, my parent's misfortune was "facilitated" by my corporate recruiter.  Seems orphans become more dependent on their corp and are considered more loyal.  So they murdered my parents.  Now I take any job against that corp.  I've made a lot of money over the years hitting them.

I'm done talking about this tonight.

Lets go get a bourbon and check out the urban brawl.  This personal stuff is depressing as hell.