Saturday, February 24, 2018

Family ~ Love and revenge in the Shadows of Seattle

Tuesday, January 21st, 2059 (2100 hours, Seattle Metroplex local time)
 
"...and then this guy," Edgy Ed grabbed my right shoulder and shook me gently "starts smiling like he's found the Big D's treasure horde. Next thing you know, we're backing up toward this alley and I'm thinking 'I'm doing to die, and I did not get paid enough for this drek' then BOOM! Fire explodes and flash cooks almost all of those scabby fraggers." 

Crank laughed, "I bet that was something to see!"  The large troll took another drink from a pitcher of beer, it looked like a small cup in his huge hands. "I got one for you!  I was at this place, doing this thing, when I see this woman.  Tall, gorgeous, with horns that really stood out." He grinned at that. "Anyway, I walked up to her and I say 'Hey, I'm new around here, what do I say to a beautiful lady if I want to ask her out on a date?' and she looks me right in the eye and says, 'You say, I'm going to take a bath and I'll be right back.  Then you go wash the stink off.'  OI!  You think a ball of fire burns!  No way omae. That burned."  Edgy Ed and Crank had a good laugh, I chuckled and wondered where ever Crank found someone as tall as himself. 

We were at the Brick Yard. I had been busy at home and decided I needed to get out for a while.  I whistled up an air spirit and flew around for a while before I surrendered to the inevitable and landed in the lot near my favorite shadowrunner haunt.  Little Rickie had looked at me hard, then waved me in.  I saw Ed and Crank at the bar and invited myself to join them.  Ed was a little drunk and in good spirits. Crank was drinking pitchers of beer and seemed to be smiling even more than usual.

"I got one for you guys," I said. "I was in Dante's, a couple of years back. I saw this red head elf lady there and I thought she was cute" Ed's smile faded and Crank's eyes got a little big. "Anyway, I walked over to say 'hi' introduce, the whole thing you know. But as I..."

Crank interrupted with, "Can I get another beer?"  I jumped a little as his voice boomed over mine.  I hadn't expected it.

"Damn, Crank, a little loud omae don't you think?" I asked. 

"Hey, I got one," Ed said suddenly. 

"What's up with you fraggers?  This is a good story, I promise" I was glancing between the two when a hand suddenly alighted upon my left shoulder.  I caught the scent of honeysuckle and vanilla and I knew right then what had two thick-skinned street samurai acting so weird. I turned and looked straight into Aria's eyes. "Hi, Aria.  How are you?" 

"Don't let me interrupt." she had a wicked grin on her face. I didn't know if she was having fun at my expense, or if she was genuinely agitated. "I know I want to hear this story.  Are you eating tonight Vanima Asinus?"

My Latin had been improving.  For those of you who didn't know this, classical Latin and Sperethiel happen to share a fair number of words whose meanings are identical, or at least very similar.  My Sperethiel was still limited to 'where is the bathroom' and 'I don't speak Sperethiel'  but I had learned that 'Vanima Asinus', a nickname Aria had hung on me, means "beautiful idiot".  I smiled as best I could and replied, "I think so.  Would you like to get dinner sometime this week?" Aria's expression didn't cool, but her cheeks and ears turned a slight shade of pink.

"Okay." she said. "Call me tonight, I'm off at 2300." then she turned and walked off without taking my order.  Like I always say, she wasn't a great waitress.

Crank and Ed had a good laugh at my hijinks.  Ed called Gitti and asked him to come down, then called Suzy B for the same.  Suzy B told Ed to frag off and die, while Gitti promised to come down in an hour or so.  Crank sent a text to Adam who responded almost immediately.  Adam showed up about fifteen minutes after my embarrassing conversation with Aria, and Gitti (true to his word) arrived one hour after Ed called him up. 

I was in good spirits and bought a drink for each of them, ordered another lemonade for myself and waved Sandy over to take my food order. "Sirloin platter please, Sandy.  Hot rolls, the mashed potatoes with that Amish cheese. Can I still get that?" I asked.  I wasn't paying attention to what I ordered really, and rambled off an old favorite. "Oh, and orders for you and kids, on me, and a triple of the best rum for Solomon." I turned and laughed as Crank told a joke about a Renraku accountant and an AI possessed sex toy.  When I looked back, Sandy was looking at me with a strange expression on her face. 

"I'm sorry, what did you order?" Sandy asked.

I repeated myself, still smiling at Crank's joke.  Sandy, looked at me for a moment then frowned and said, "Sure thing.  You want another lemonade? We have alcohol you know.  It is a bar."

"No, lemonade is fine, thank you Sandy." I said. She walked away, and out of sight into the kitchen.

Ed, Gitti, Crank, Adam and I ate, watched Urban Brawl, and had a few good laughs.  Crank finally succeeded in getting drunk around 2230.  He told some great jokes, mostly involving anatomically impossible sex acts and wayward corp suits, and had me laughing on my bar stool. As 2300 approached I sent Aria a text "want to join me? Solomon's cooking I'm buying".  I saw her check her phone, she looked over at me her ears turning pink, and nodded.

2310 hours, the Brick Yard

Aria came out from the kitchen, a plate in hand, sat down next to me and said "Thank you for dinner".  She had the filet mignon. 

"My pleasure," I smiled at her. Aria wasn't a terrible person. Quite the contrary, she was a very nice person.  She was a terrible waitress, very pretty, and we had fun when went on our "dates", yes, even the business ones I had taken her on.  We were all having a good laugh, when Sandy came back out to check on us.  Aria smiled and talked with her a moment. I asked her to put the drinks on my bill (Aria's food and drinks too, of course), she nodded with a weak smile and hustled about among the team.  I really missed the big tusky smile I used to see back when I was 'me'. 

By midnight Aria and I were the only sober people in our group. I put out a call to Ratchet, who rolled down to the brick yard with a pair of armored SUV's and picked up the drunken street warriors. Crank loaded Ed into one of the SUV's while Ed was adamantly proclaiming himself to be "the warlord of the Willows!" I was left with a twelve hundred nuyen bar tab, which I did pay, and memories of a fun night. 

"Any chance you can take me home," Aria asked as the SUV's pulled away.  I had been to her building to pick her up before, and knew the area.

"Sure thing, so long as you don't mind flying." I said. 

Aria's face lit up, "Flying!  Can you make me fly?"

Her excitement was contagious, "Well sure we can fly, but its actually a spirit lifting us and flying us over, I just ask it for the lift."  We flew over to her building, her hair whipping in the wind. She laughed joyously the entire trip.  I dropped her off, she turned and kissed me on the cheek, then keyed her door and ran inside. 

*****

Thursday, January 23rd, 2059

0600 hours:   My breakfast was interrupted by a buzzing sound from my pocket secretary.  I recognized the number and triggered the phone on.  "Ms. X, how are you today?"  I asked.

"Tommy, we need to talk" there was a tension in Sheila's voice I hadn't heard before.

"Sure thing. I can be there in thirty minutes." I replied.

"No." She interrupted. "Not at the office. I'll be with Pepper. Thirty minutes."  The line went dead, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I paused for a tic, then got dressed for 'work'.  I pulled on my form fitting body armor, a good pair of jeans, blue button up shirt, and shrugged into my shoulder rig for my viper sliver gun. The sun would be coming up soon, so I opted for a lower profile and pulled on my armor lined trench coat.  I laced myself into my rescue rated boots (protect your feet chummers, it's important to be able to walk and run), pulled my black hair into a pony tail with a leather cord, thumbed the safety on my viper and chambered a round. I was invisible, and flying away from my back yard ten minutes after Sheila hung up. The winds tugged at my coat as the air spirit hurtled toward the church cemetery.

I landed in the corner of the cemetery, my invisibility spell wrapped tightly around me.  I opened my astral sight, and saw the familiar warm glow I had always experienced there.  I was knee deep in snow, but the same spell that let me see underwater kept me from seeing it.  I looked out across the brown grasses, searching for anything suspicious.  I saw Sheila X, alone, standing in front of Pepper's grave. I let my invisibility spell dissipate, forced my astral sight closed, and walked over to talk with Sheila.

"Sheila, strange place to meet, don't you think?" I asked her.

"Remember last Valentine's Day?" Sheila X asked me. 

I stopped not five meters from her, "Yes. Of course I do." 

"One Mr. Johnson wanted a certain person retired. Word is that Mr. Johnson crossed several lines and ended up missing.  His remains, as well as those of several of his associates, were found weeks later.  Seems devil rats ate them. Their deaths are officially listed as 'suspicious' but the investigation went nowhere fast. Lone Star has no suspects."  Sheila turned to look at me.  "Three people knew about that night, other than the dead. One of those people, Tommy "the machine" Gun was killed not long after that incident, when he was hit by a bus.  The surviving two, Rickie and I, haven't told a soul."  Sheila X stared at me.

"I don't talk about that night, and I haven't spoken to anyone about it either." I replied.  I didn't like where this was going. "Bragging about killing Mr. Johnson would be foolish, confessing to multiple homicides would be gross stupidity, and selling out your best fixer isn't professional or honorable.  I think, that by now you would know that I didn't say anything."

"No, you didn't say anything." Sheila looked down at Pepper's grave. "Someone lifted the information from the internal security network at the Brick Yard. We had a data breach.  I tapped Angel and she has already found out who did it. I'll have that decker in about twenty minutes.  Angel confirmed that the decker made a copy of the data he lifted.  Two days ago he sold that information to Mr. Johnson's boss." 

I felt a chill that had nothing to do with the weather. "I see."

Sheila X faced me, the muscles in her face tense, "Mr. Johnson worked for Rowena O'Malley.  This morning, a dozen men penetrated my home security, and kidnapped my daughter.  One of the men lost his mask when my daughter fought back. It was Michael Corelli, one of O'Malley's muscle guys."  Sheila's voice was tight, and I finally understood why she seemed different.  Sheila X was angry, the kind of angry only a mother whose child was in danger or harmed can feel.  "I've got a job for you.  One you wouldn't normally do.  But I need you to get my daughter back, alive and whole, and to send a message to that O'Malley bitch."  She strode over to me in a flurry of quick steps. "You'll do it?"

I looked into the eyes of a Sheila X I never knew.  A well connected fixer in the Seattle shadows, a mother to a daughter I had never even guessed about, and a woman possessed of an anger I could feel from a meter away.  It may surprise you to know that I didn't think about money.  I also didn't doubt Sheila. She had never given me any reason to.  Trusting in the shadows is foolish, but sooner or later you have to trust someone.  "I need a picture of her, and if you have her hair brush or anything else I can use for a ritual link it would help."

Sheila X, nodded "I've got a guy there now, collecting any samples he can."

"Does he know what he's doing?" I asked.

"PHD from MIT&T, doctorate thaumaturgic arts, full magician, enchanter, and occasional shadowrunner.  Good enough?" she wasn't being sarcastic, she was genuinely asking.

"Good enough." I replied. 

"One thing, Tommy." Sheila X fixed me with a stare, and I saw the anger insider her boil out.  Her usually calm, emotionless face was flush, her teeth glaringly white.  "Priority is getting my daughter out alive and unhurt. If she has so much as a bruise on her, burn them down! If her people raise a hand to stop you, cut that hand off. If she's hurt, make them die screaming. Leave O'Malley herself alive, but burn her kingdom down. Make sure she knows she's helpless against what I can bring to bear.  Do this for me Tommy." 

"She owned Mr. Johnson?" I asked Sheila.

"Yes."

I felt a hot flush of anger and the phantom pain of old heartache.  I thought about Sue laying dead in the tub, her neck broken. I remembered her, and the kiss she gave me as she said goodbye when I confronted the Dweller. I needed to keep my mind clear, and focus on the task at hand. It was hard.

"Time for Tommy 'the machine' Gun, to come back from the dead." I said.  "I'll need images of your daughter and those samples. I hate to ask, but some expense money to get a team together would be good.  People who aren't affiliated with the mob, of course," I paused as a thought crossed my mind. "and I'll need some incendiaries.  I need to burn her house down." 

Sheila X handed two platinum credsticks to me.  I didn't bother to check the amounts. "You don't need a photo, Tommy.  Aria is my little girl."

I looked at Sheila X in disbelief.  I had been taking Aria out on dates, and never imagined the elf girl was related to Sheila.  I liked Aria, we had fun together and she made me laugh.  It wasn't a blazing romance or passionate affair, but we went places and had fun.  We laughed over dinner, and watched seals play in Puget Sound.  She was there, on my arm, when I faced the most frightening Mr. Johnson I had ever met.  I looked at Sheila X, and felt another flash of anger.

"O'Malley certainly likes her mistakes.  I'll try not to kill her, and I WILL get Aria back." I walked around Sheila and stared down at Pepper's grave. "If they've hurt her," I looked up and felt my face flush "you'll be able to see the fire from orbit."

*****

I was at my home an hour later, gathering materials I needed, and thinking things through. I didn't have any information yet on where Aria might be or who actually had her.  I didn't know how they knew to kidnap her or what they actually wanted.  I didn't know what kind of strength they might have to bring to bear.  I did know I was furious. I gathered up my materials, stormed up to my kitchen, put pen to paper and started a list.

Gitti had a contact in the mob, so I couldn't risk pulling him in.  Edgy Ed liked to gamble at a place owned by the mob, so he was out.  Suzy B was suffering from vertigo and a host of other problems.  She wasn't ready to work at all, so I scratched her off my list.  I didn't know enough about Adam, so I checked him off the list. Ratchet bought vehicles from Rebecca Benatelli, so Ratchet couldn't ever know about this.  Angel couldn't be involved for a number of reasons, so I marked her off my list... {Tommy, are you sure you want to publish this? ~ Angel}
... I had a few words with Crank, he didn't have a problem with bloodying the nose of the mob, so I pulled him in.  I hated to, but I sent a message to Creep.  He met me in Kelsy Park, reeking of tacos, and wearing a paper hat.  He agreed, wanting money and some spell instruction after the fact. I pulled him in, and almost instantly had second thoughts.

Three guys against the mob is a horrible idea. A slightly worse idea was killing my girlfriend, then kidnapping the daughter of Sheila X, who also happened to be the girl I was dating.  O'Malley's mistakes were adding up and I meant to collect with interest.  I was boiling with anger. I sat there thinking of all the runners I knew and I couldn't come up with even one more I trusted enough to take on the job.  Hell, I didn't trust Creep as far as I could throw him but he worked out against Nick, and that was good enough for this job.  That I could find good reasons not to bring in any others was frustrating. 

Crank and Creep were going to meet me in the Willows, so I packed up my gear and soared off under cover of invisibility.  I landed in that same lot and noted, with a smug satisfaction, that I didn't detect any ghouls in the area. Creep was already there. He wore a trench coat that looked like it was made from real leather, blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a blood red shirt.  He had showered, thankfully, and had shaved his head.  Crank came speeding down the pot-holed street on that little pink scooter and pulled into the lot. 

"Oi!" Crank called out, "Just us?"

"Yes," I replied. "Just us."

"Money?" Creep asked.

"Brick Yard." I said. "We meet here first to go over a few things.  First, we don't talk about this with anyone.  Last of us left alive can talk about it and deal with the fallout from it.  Until then, no one says a fraggin' thing." Both runners nodded. "Second thing, this is a rescue op first with a side order of hot revenge afterward. This is personal to me. If anyone makes you talk, you point them to me. Thirdly, first one to find the target, you cover her like your life depends on it. Fourth, if target is dead, then they all die. You kill every fragger you see, and consequences be damned. Finally, none of us die.  I don't give a damn if they shoot you until you sink! You don't die on me."

"Easy omae," Creep drawled.  "Don't get all emotional on us."

"No." Crank nodded. "I like this 'lets not die' thing. I'm excited about it in fact. Lets do that!  I'm all about 'not dying'" Crank's smile did very little for my disposition. 

"Target," I showed Creep and Crank an image file from my pocket secretary. "Kidnapped this morning by mafia hard boys owned by O'Malley. We get her out, they die screaming."

"Oh! I get it." Creep said.  "They snatched that girl from the Brick Yard you've been out with." The slimy little fragger nodded as if he suddenly comprehended a great secret of the ages.  Did I mention I really didn't like Creep?

"Okay, but just to be clear, are we sure she was 'kidnapped' and just didn't run off with a mob guy?" Crank, asking sensible questions.  I felt certain it was the first sign of the apocalypse.

"Yeah, image files and all." I responded.

"Well then," Crank said. "I think we have a girl to pick up."

"She got a sister?" Creep asked. 

I resisted the urge to shoot him.

"Do you know where she is?" Crank, still asking the right questions.

"No idea.  I should have a way to find her by magic once I have a ritual sample, but I'm not really wanting to wait around for the sample to arrive.  They just grabbed her a few hours ago, and I have a name for one of the muscle-boys, Michael Corelli. I've got a decker looking for his phone now." I called up an image taken from Sheila X's home security camera. "This drek head. We grab him and hurt him until he talks, then we kill him."

Crank looked at Creep, then back at me and nodded.  Creep smiled broadly and said, "I like working with you."  I just nodded. I didn't really like working with Creep, or being near him for that matter.

Twenty minutes later I received a text message with an address. 

Creep gestured and one of the demoness fire spirits he favored materialized.  Crank sat down and revved his little scooter.  I called out to the astral plane and the air spirit I had bound the month before appeared before me.   "Still got that good luck charm?" I asked.

"Never leave home without it," Crank smiled back.

"Capitol Hill chummers, lets go ruin someone's day" with that, Creep and I took to the sky, while Crank followed behind on the tiny pink scooter, flower stickers and all.

*****

Thursday, January 23rd, 2059

1037 hours:  We stashed Crank's scooter, and blended into the crowd on the streets.

The O'Malley mob had been holding Aria for almost six hours.  The only lead I had, until any ritual samples became available, was a muscle guy named Michael Corelli.  Aria had knocked his mask off as he hauled her out of her bedroom. I had never heard of or seen the man before that morning.  Our first meeting was going to be memorable, of that I was certain.  I texted the decker I had hired, who confirmed that Corelli was in the club we were approaching.  The club was closed, but staff was restocking the bar, polishing the floors, and Corelli was seen on the security cams overseeing some of the work. 

We sat down at a metro stop a block away. "Creep, give me a walk around" I whispered. 

"Be right back", Creep leaned back, and slipped away into astral space.  He came back just five minutes later.  "No wards, no awakened, all norms.  I counted ten people in all.  Corelli has a little cyberware in him.  No watcher spirits either. 

"Mob doesn't have a lot of magicians." I responded.  I looked down the street and squared my shoulders. "Time to make them regret that."

"How is this going down?" Crank asked.

"We go in, I put the staff to sleep, you and creep put any tough guys down. Grab Corelli as soon as possible.  We take in into the back and find a quiet place to make him scream a bit, at least until he talks.  Then we whack him and go get Aria."  I looked at the two shadowrunners. Creep had a disturbing smile on his face, and Crank looked pensive. "Thoughts?"

"Needs to be real soon. Bus will be here shortly and we'll draw attention if we don't get on." Crank had a point.

"It can take time to torture a person into telling you something.  If he doesn't give it up, what do you want to do?" even Creep had a point. 

"If he won't cooperate, we whack him, get on the bus, and ride to next stop. Crank goes back for his scooter, we all meet back at the Brick Yard and hope those samples are good." I stood up. "Lets go."

Crank and I walked down to the club's front door while Creep walked around to the delivery door.  I wove my spell to silence the area, and Crank opened the door.  We walked in and surprised the hell out of a lot of innocent bar staff. 

My sleep spell flooded the room ahead of me, and eight people slumped to the floor.  Behind the bar, an elf shook off the spell and pulled a shotgun up from under the counter.  I saw the elf's head snap back and he disappeared behind bar, falling without a sound.  I looked up and saw Crank's silenced Ares Predator above my head.  I let the silence spell fade away, and checked the elf behind the bar.  He was alive, a huge bruise forming on his forehead.  His face was splattered with a colorless gel.  I heard the action on Crank's predator cycle and looked up in time to see an ork with a broom hit the floor.  I nodded to Crank, thankful for the gel rounds he was using, and walked toward the back of the club. 

I found Creep, and three of his demoness spirits, with Corelli in the beer cooler.  Stacked kegs, and pallets of bottled beer took up most of the area.  The spirits were holding down Corelli, who was playing the part of the mafia tough guy to a 'T'.  "We're going to kill you Corelli," Creep crooned. "If you talk though, we'll kill you quick and painless.  Otherwise, its going to take a very long time for you to die."  I got the impression Creep was looking forward to hurting Corelli.  At that time, I didn't care. 

"I'm going to get out of this you slimy little fragger, and when I do I'm going to rip your balls off!" Corelli spat back. 

Creep brandished a serrated knife and smiled down at the hapless mob guy.  I put my hand on Creep's shoulder, pulled my viper sliver gun from its holster, and shot Michael Corelli in his left calf.  The small gun made a slight 'pop' sound but the flechettes blew half of his calf off.  Corelli screamed.  I pulled a small bottle from my pocket, and poured out a little water from the Blood Falls onto the wound, speaking softly as I healed most of the damage. 

"Mother fraggin' son of a slitch!!! I'll kill all of...  Corelli was rudely interrupted when I shot him in the gut.  He screamed as the pain overbore him.  I waited a minute, then poured out more of the waters and healed almost all of the wound.

"I can do this all day, Michael." I said. "The pain is only going to get worse, and I'm not going to let you go into shock so you can escape it.  Tell me where the girl is, and I'll give you two minutes to make your peace with God before I blow your damn head off. Try to play hard and this is going to be worse than anything you've ever done to anyone, I promise you that."

Ten minutes, and three gunshots later, Michael Corelli gave me an address.  I stuck to my word, and game him two minutes to make his peace with God.  "Crank you're with me. Creep, make it quick." Crank and I walked out of the beer cooler.  Michael Corelli screamed for two minutes before he suddenly went silent.  Creep came out of the beer cooler without a drop of blood on him.

We walked out under my invisibility spell.

Crank recovered his scooter.  Then we all headed toward the address Corelli gave us.

*****

Rowena O'Malley had her fingers in a lot of different pies in the Seattle Metroplex.  She had dozens of businesses, hundreds of people working for her, and powerful connections throughout the 'plex and beyond. Michael Corelli 'volunteered' that they had stashed Aria in a warehouse in Puyallup.  O'Malley, or her people in charge of kidnapping Aria, had put her there because it was well guarded, out of the way, and stray sounds went unnoticed.

I rented a tube in a coffin hotel for an hour, crawled in and astrally projected to the warehouse.  It was warded, but no spirits patrolled about.  I probed the wards, found a weak point, and slipped through.  From the astral plane the warehouse was a bland, colorless place. The pallets and crates of materials laying about were grey and insubstantial.  There were dozens of people inside. 

I floated about searching for other awakened people or Aria's familiar aura.  I found her in a room on the second floor.  She was unconscious, but alive.  Her aura was oddly bland, and I had the feeling she had been drugged.  I turned and floated back out through the warehouse, through the weak point in the wards, and rushed back to my body.  I opened my eyes, and crawled out of the tube.  Crank and Creep were waiting for me.

"Found her. Time to party." I said. 

We walked out and down the street, the entrance to the warehouse was just visible about half a kilometer ahead. Sheila X sent me a text saying the samples had arrived, and were waiting at the Brick Yard.  I replied, "Found her already, moving in now"

"How do you want to play this?" Crank asked.

"There were wards on the building but I couldn't find any awakened in there. She's on the second floor.  I'll land on the roof and tear my way in.  You two go through the main entrance,  I'll have the decker try to silence their alarms." I sent the text and hoped the decker was up to the task. "I'm assuming the alarms go down. So once you go through security, hit the warehouse.  Creep, no fireballs until I have the girl clear. If we don't have confirmation that their alarms are off within ninety seconds, you two take off and I'll meet you at the Brick Yard. " Creep nodded grimly. "Remember what Corelli said. These aren't innocent bystanders. Lethal ordinance, shoot straight and put them down hard."

"Time to make noisy," Crank put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed.  It hurt. "don't get killed." 

I nodded at the both of them. Then I vanished from sight, my air elemental carried me to the roof of the warehouse.

*****

Thursday, January 23rd, 2059

1546 hours:  The O'Malley mob had been holding Aria for eleven hours. Every minute of that time was a minute to long. I landed on the roof, thumbed my mic and said "I'm on top, call up your lady friends Creep. We're on." I sent out a mental call into astral space and the spirits I had bound responded.  Three air elementals were joined by a water, fire, and an earth elemental.  I pointed and the earth elemental tore into the roof.  Another command had one of the air elementals vanish back into the astral plane, watching over me and providing protection from a magician I was certain would show up soon. 

My pocket secretary beeped, and a text flashed across the screen "security systems are down, locked out local wireless, cameras offline".  I nodded and keyed my mic. "Security systems are down.  Execute plan one."  Then I jumped down into the hole the elemental had opened in the roof. 

I fell through the roof, passed a large duct, then plummeted through ceiling tile to crash to the floor below.  I rose to see a woman reaching for gun.  I shot her in the throat, and glanced around the suddenly empty room. 

My astral recon trip was fresh in my mind. I was just two rooms away from Aria.  The door to the next room opened suddenly and burly ork in a nice suit came barging in.  I shot him but his armored vest held up.  The flechettes from my gun shredded his suit jacket but failed to draw blood. He pulled his own gun, a heavy revolver and fired. His shot went wide, missing me by maybe a centimeter.  My little sleep spell wrapped around his mind and squeezed hard.  He fell over, suddenly unconscious.  I shot him in the back of the head and stepped into the room he came from.  It was empty.

I called down my spirits. One air elemental remained in astral space, providing some coverage for my narrow hoop.  The earth and water elemental manifested in the room with the dead bodies. Their orders, kill any one who entered (other than me, Aria, Crank or Creep).  I tried the door to the room Aria was in.  It was locked.  I grabbed the handle firmly and tore at it with my spell enhanced strength.  The door rattled and the frame shook.  Two more violent jerks were enough to tear it open.  Aria was laying on a couch.  Her face was bruised, and blood was caked around her mouth and nose.

I keyed my mic, "I've got the girl, I'm getting her out now."  One of my air elementals manifested.  I gave it a final order, releasing it from its service to me with this last duty.  It lifted Aria from the couch and flew her out the hole in the ceiling and away from the violence to come. "Target is out. Weapons free."

The booming sound of shotgun fire was strangely muted in the vast warehouse.  I heard screams of anger, pain and terror from below as I moved through the second floor.  I wrapped myself tightly in an invisibility spell and moved like a ghost, room to room.  I found armed hard case mob guys in suits.  They died from close range gunshots to the head.  I had to reload before I finished clearing the floor.  I didn't keep track of how many of them I killed, but I got them all. 

Below me, the mob guys were fighting Crank, Creep and his demons. I heard the sound of pistols and sub-machineguns as well as demonic screams and the booming roar of Crank's good luck charm. I cleared the last room on the floor and unloaded a small box from my satchel. It massed around two kilograms, and had a timer.  I set it for two minutes, hit the red button, and ran back to the hole in the ceiling. "Fire in the hole! Ninety seconds!"  The air elemental carried me out of the building, and into the sky.  I saw Creep and Crank run out of the building just a tic before the bomb went off. I watched as Creep turned and a fireball erupted among the vehicles in the parking lot, cooking off fuel cells and battery packs.  I cast out a handful of magical dust and my first powerball spell hit the north end of the warehouse.  The structure buckled, so I hit with another powerball and watched as a third of the warehouse collapsed.  Fire erupted along the south end of the building, the demonic fire elementals breathing jets of flames and raking them across the area. Inside the warehouse the flame found something explosive.  The detonation blew a twenty meter hole in the roof and collapsed the eastern outer wall.  The warehouse was a suddenly immolated, a column of smoke was blowing out to the east. I turned, wrapped my invisibility spell around me and flew towards Redmond. 

I caught up to the spirit carrying Aria as it was descending toward the Brick Yard's parking lot.  The spirit handed Aria over to me.  "Thank you." I said.  The spirit considered me for a moment, then faded away into the winds.  I carried Aria around to the front.  Little Rickie held the door open for me as I carried Aria in and back to the booth where her mother awaited her arrival.

*****

Rowena O'Malley's yacht burned in the harbor that night. A nightclub she owned exploded in the wee hours before dawn the following day. Her house caught fire, and some miscreant stole her car.  Over the twenty-four hours that followed the explosion and fire at the warehouse, another forty of her people, (loan sharks, pimps, enforcers, and one accountant) went missing.  The accountant actually vanished on his own.  I didn't kill him. 

Saturday morning, around 0500 Rowena woke up to me sitting on her bed.  The head of her bodyguard laying on the pillow next to her.  "We should talk, Rowena." she reached for her gun. I let her have it. She pulled the trigger and nothing happened.  I had taken the bullets out. "I can get to you. Anytime I want, anywhere in the world.  You can't hide from me." I held up my left hand and showed her the lock of her hair I had cut off while she slept.  My right hand blurred and I shoved my viper sliver gun under her jaw.  Rowena O'Malley, one of the most powerful mob bosses in Seattle, became very still.

"I don't know what you were thinking, and I don't care.  You or any of your people even look at Sheila X or her people again and I will feed you to devil rats like I did your friends."  It took a lot of effort but I suppressed the shapechange spell that remade me into an elf.  Rowena's eyes widened. "You remember my face Rowena.  Remember that I WILL come back from the dead if I have to, just to end you. You made this personal twice. You're all out of chances." 

"You kill me, and you'll never have a moment's peace." Rowena said.

I shot her in the right shoulder.  The flechettes blew her arm off.  "Shut up Rowena. You better pray you never see me again."  I vanished under my spell.  Rowena hit the panic button in her room before she went into shock.  I used a handy spell I knew to sterilize the scene.  I took Rowena's arm and flew back to Redmond before DocWagon showed up to save the mob boss.  I left eleven dead mob enforcers behind me.

I delivered Rowena O'Malley's arm, wrapped in a trash bag, to Sheila X.  She opened it and raised an eyebrow at me.

"She raised a hand against Aria. So I blew her fraggin' arm off."  I said.  "She'll live though"

Sheila X nodded. "I think I'll keep this.  Never know when it may come in 'handy'" I laughed.  I couldn't help it.

Sheila X let me laugh for a moment, then said "Creep and Crank picked up the money you left for them.  Creep wants you to call him.  Crank says he's going on vacation and he'll leave word when he gets back."  I nodded.  "Are you going to 'die' again?"

"I think it may be best.  I've got a spell or two to teach to Creep, though I'm afraid for what he'll do with them. I think I owe Aria an explanation though."  I looked around the Brick Yard. "I'm not sure I should come back here though. It may be bad for folks if I do." 

"We'll talk with Aria together. She likes you, and I feel she's as safe with you as she is with Rickie.  Though, admittedly, I know Rickie wouldn't lay a finger on her whereas with you..." Sheila let her words trail off a moment, "with you, she's happy and safe. But no one can know she's my daughter Tommy. No one."

"I understand." I looked at Sheila X and saw the same cool professional I was used to. "Do you think Rowena will go to war?"

"Rowena has her own problems. She looks weak, and her best people are dead or missing.  If she decides to start something it will be after she heals up.  She can't afford to war with me now, her own people would chew her up." Sheila looked me in the eye. "You're a frightening young man Tommy Gun.  Its good to work with you."

"You scare the drek out of me Sheila X." I answered. I smiled back at her, "Its good to work with you, too."

*****

Afterword:

I kept my side of the bargain and taught Creep the silence spell,  the spell to detect vampires, and the spell to detect ghouls.  He learned quickly, often speaking to the elemental demoness spirits and working to refine his castings of the spells. It was a bit disconcerting that he learned so much faster than I had.  I chalked it up to my teaching technique and the help he received from the spirits.  But it was bothersome nonetheless. 

I arranged a gift for Crank.  When he got back from his "vacation" Sheila had him come down to pick it up.  The light machine gun was customized, with a pink frame, and small flowers adorning it. It matched the scooter, and I thought it was both practical and a really funny gag gift.

I never told anyone about these events, until now.  Creep died a long time ago, but Crank, well Crank isn't here anymore either.  Word got around somehow though. It always does.  Rowena's people stayed away from the Brick Yard, and soon moved out of Redmond altogether. She lost a lot of face and never was able to build her empire back to what she had lost. No one working for the mob ever crossed Sheila X again. 

Suzy B stopped answering her phone. I went to check on her, and found her dead in her apartment on February 1st. She had been reliable professional. She had fought ghouls and vampires and, in doing so, helped save countless lives. She's buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery and I hope she rests in peace.

Aria came over to my place for dinner and her mother came with her.  I cooked, it wasn't great, we ate and talked.  We talked about a lot of things.  I showed her my true face and she didn't care.  She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and I asked her out on another date.  She said yes, and we made plans for a night out after my death. 

On February 4th, 2059 I sold my house to a nice elf gentleman.  He was two meters tall, had platinum white hair, silver eyes and, like me, was a licensed magician.  I took the money from that transaction and bought several books I wanted, some spell formula, and alchemical reagents.  I reserved a moving van for March 1st, and put down a deposit and first month's rent for a posh apartment downtown. 

On February 8th, 2059 I was walking out of a Stuffer Shack when two men walked up and gunned me down.  Witnesses described the men as white, human males wearing masks.  Paramedics arrived and I was pronounced dead on the scene.  The detective assigned to investigate my murder didn't have much interest.  My case went cold with no suspects.  I was cremated and my ashes scattered in the Pacific. I watched the ceremony. Crank was there, as were Gitti and Edgy Ed. 

Gitti and Ed received packages from me, shipped from my estate.  Each received twenty thousand nuyen in certified credsticks. Angel knew I was still alive, as she did much of the work setting up my new identity.  At least this time I wouldn't have to move.

I broke the mana loop that held my shapechange spell in place.  I cast the spell again and wove a new mana loop to sustain it.  My new self, the tall elf with great features, and platinum white hair; moved in as soon as the legalities of my estate were done.

I hired Angel to go through and 'clean' any of the electronics I owned.  She made sure there wasn't anything left to tie them to my previous identities.  I had re-register some software, buy a new chip reader and e-reader, and I picked up a new pair of AR goggles (I even bought a cool AR-MMORPG game from Sinopa Publishing). 

Starting a new life is expensive, but well worth it.  It burned through the nuyen from my last big score, and the little money I kept from the two platinum credsticks from Sheila.  I was dead again, and the new me would need to get to work if I was going to keep the house. The shadows of Seattle were about to get a "new" magician. 


__________________________________________________________________________

From the author:

Thank you for reading my fan fiction blog!

As I mention above I do not own Shadowrun.  These stories are derived from game play, fictionalized for ease of reading, and are something I enjoy doing.

I have been making an effort to go back and edit the content of this blog, to clean it up and make it more presentable.  If you're new to this blog I invite you to go back to the beginning, and experience the development of Tommy as his shadowrunning career progresses. 

Tommy began play as a second edition character and was retired during the third edition. He was brought back as an NPC during the current fifth edition campaign, and has been a fun addition. 

If you enjoy these stories, please do take a moment and share them to social media channels for others to enjoy as well.

I also write, develop, and publish role-playing game materials (for other game systems under open game licenses or the equivalent) and I'm working on my own original game system as well.  You can find my currently published works on drivethrurpg.com  HERE and you can follow me on KickStarter to support my projects (adventures, source books, comic books, and that RPG I mentioned). 

You comments are most welcome!

W.S. Quinton







3 comments:

  1. Wow! Thank you all for reading my fan fiction. I checked this blog's statistics and the number of views for the blog doubled over the last month!

    I can remember approaching the Christmas holiday (2017) and wondering when I might reach 1000 views. Now these stories have been viewed over 2k times. I'm grateful to you all, for taking the time to read these. I hope you enjoy them and I look forward to writing more of Tommy's story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice plug ~Angel

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Thank you for your comment chummer.