Monday, October 14, 2019

Update for folks who like Tommy's Stories

Hello everyone.

This entry is a little different, its an update on what is coming.  I'm a big believer in being transparent about my writing, production schedule and plans so this is about a five minute read.  I hope you'll take the time, enjoy what you discover and please, PLEASE comment below.

First: 

I want to thank you for reading Tommy's Stories.  These are based on game play, some real life stuff, and some artistic liberty to make the reading easier and (hopefully) enjoyable.  These stories weren't edited though.  I would sometimes make changes before making them public, things like spelling or eliminating duplicate words... things like that, but mostly these are first drafts. So it is really mind blowing to see that this fan fiction blog has almost 15000 unique views from people reading it.  I can't thank you enough for that.

On to the Update: 

Tommy's Stories will continue!  I will keep writing this fan fiction right here on the blog.  I hope you will continue to enjoy it.

I haven't been able to secure a license to produce a Shadowrun comic.  I'll continue to pursue it, but, in the meantime, I'm going to move forward with creating a new comic series based on Tommy's Stories.  These won't be set in the game universe we know, so I'll be making setting changes.

The cover for issue one is done.  I've been showing that off a bit online, but if you haven't seen it yet, here it is...


Cover of Issue One
Tommy Gun Tales comic book
Artist: Lotus Blair









































I'm going to be adapting existing stories first, then moving into new stories as we catch up to this blog.  I will be continuing with the stories here and I hope you will all enjoy what is to come.

I am a huge Shadowrun fan, so the fanfic will continue in that vein, just the comic setting will change. To be clear, the comic will not use any Shadowrun trademarks or intellectual property.

Cool stuff:   Art of Tommy Gun Tales ~ Dystopian Fantasy Art Prints & more

I've planned and scheduled a crowdfunding campaign to help move the development of the comics along.  We're starting this process by creating a campaign to fund art prints based on the stories.  I'll be conducting a crowdfunding campaign where you'll be able to get art prints depicting scenes inspired by these stories including the cover image of issue one.  There will be pledge reward options, with the basic tier offering two different prints for our main goal, a 3 inch x 3 inch vinyl sticker and an illustrated, hand written post card from me to you.  Stretch goals will add up to two more illustration prints for backers.  Presently we are expecting to launch that crowdfunding campaign during the first week of November 2019.

I'll be crowdfunding the comics starting next year and they will be made available in digital and print format.  The artist for the comic, Lotus Blair, has a good feel for the stories and possesses remarkable skill.  I'm looking forward to seeing these characters illustrated for the first time and I hope you are as well.

The timetable for the comic, its crowdfunding campaign and release are being worked into the Sinopa Publishing (my company) crowdfunding calendar.  We'll be funding a reprint of our debut comic 47 Furious Tails, Issue One (as we're almost out of copies) on Indiegogo while running the art print campaign on KickStarter.  This is because the release calendar is very busy next year so we're working in everything we can.

How you can help bring the Tommy Gun Tales comic to the world:

If you have enjoyed these stories, I hope you'll help make the comic a reality. We'll need support for the crowdfunding campaigns as well as folks sharing the links to that campaign on social media.  Your shares, retweets, blogging, YouTube comments and podcasts are a HUGE help in getting the word out about this ambitious project.

I hope you'll support this endeavor so we can all enjoy

You can follow my personal KickStarter account (where we'll be launching the art print campaign in November) by clicking on the image below:




Pic is 5 years old but the one I had on hand


Thank you so much for reading this update.  I hope you'll join me next time for more of Tommy's Stories!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Aftermath Chapter 15: Conclusion

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

~ Orson Welles

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

Cover for the first issue of "Tommy Gun Tales" the comic series
Sheila X and young Tommy 'the Machine' Gun
Art by: Lotus Blair


My vision was coming back to my right eye as Lilly and Rose worked their spells.  Rose rested on my left ring finger, just above my wedding ring while Lilly rested upon the middle finger next to her sister.  Below me the air spirit pushed itself to its fullest, racing me across the night sky. I could see the dragon's aura pulling away from us in the distance. It out paced us and vanished into the plain grey edifice of one of the downtown skyscrapers.  One I knew very well.

"Looks like we're going back to work girls." They heard my thoughts but were quiet in my mind.  Their full attention focused on the spells that were knitting my battered body back together as best they could.

"Tommy," Angel's voice sounded fuzzy in my earpiece. "What are you doing?"

"I'm getting Aria."

"Tommy, we missed our chance. The damn wiz-worm survived the blast." Angel's sickened voice stroked the anger that was burning away in my brain.  "Damnit Tommy!  Come back and we'll plan this out properly!"

"No."

"Damnit!  Tommy, you can't do this alone!" Angel's voice was full of anger and something I couldn't identify.  She was right.  But I wasn't alone.

"I'm almost there. I've got the girls with me.  I'm getting her out Angel, one way of the other she is getting out of there."  I was only a couple of blocks away from my old office tower. "Stay on the line if you don't mind."

There was a long moment where the only sounds I heard was the rushing wind.

"Drone will be overhead in two minutes.  I can't see anything until then." She said.

"I can't wait that long, but thank you." I headed for the landing pad on the 95th floor and noticed, to late, a dozen rotor drones that descended from above.

Weapon arms trained trained light machine guns on me and my earpiece crackled with a sudden spike of static.

"Machine." Zero's voice sounded in my ear. "I'm under orders to bring you in or bring you down Omae."

"If you're planning on following those orders Zero, I'm afraid we don't have much to say to each other." I replied.

A display screen came alive on the rotor-drone I was facing. Simon and Zero were on screen, while Zero's voice sounded harshly in my ear.  "Machine, land and surrender into custody.  Officers are waiting to take in you on the ground floor."  Zero pointed down while Simon held up a scribbled note that read 'Taz'.

Surrounded by little death machines and not yet even within the building I had the air spirit fly me down to the front entrance.  People on the streets gawked at my descent, no doubt because I was singed and covered in blood.  I ignored their questioning faces and walked through the main entrance doors and through a strangely unmanned security station.  Behind me, security gates came down sealing me in.

*****

"I've got the interior sensors.  All cameras and microphones." Zero whispered in my ear. "Taz is on approach."

"Father, we've done all we can." Rose's voice was gentle and welcome to my rage clouded mind.

"I will do violence." Lilly's thought voice mirrored my own anger, sounding sharp and harsh against my own thoughts.

"Steady girls, let's see how this is going to unfold. If any attack us, kill them." Somewhere in that building there was a dragon that had my wife.  I wanted her back and the dragon dead and I didn't want some thoughtless mistake to trip me up.

"Hands where I can see them, Machine." Taz's voice rang out throughout the empty grand foyer.

"You should know by now, Taz, that doesn't matter with me." I called back, turning the palms of my hands to face the area in front of me. I picked out Taz and a dozen armored men moving toward me in the darkness.

"I've got orders." Taz's voice was harsh and firm. "Orders to bring you in and to kill you if you offer the least resistance."

"I understand, Taz." I replied.  Two rings vanished from my left hand.

Taz held his left hand up, fist closed and his men stopped with their weapons trained on me.  Taz holstered his sidearm, his new cybernetic hand gleaming with fresh chrome.  "I've got orders." He repeated, taking slow steps toward me.

"You know, Machine, when I was still in the Marine Corps I swore an oath." Taz stopped two meters from me. "It's an old oath. Dates back to the old corps from back in the USA days."

"I never served, but I've heard something about that." I replied.  Rose and Lilly waited, their full angelic forms ready to spring out of the astral plane and bring wrath and death.

"Funny thing about us Marines.  UCAS, CAS, it doesn't really matter, we come from the same tradition." Taz gestured with his new arm. "All former Marines.  All picked and approved by Jazz."

"Get to the point, Taz." I replied.

"Point is, Marines don't follow illegal orders." Taz turned back to face his men. "So I'm refusing this order.  Anyone got a problem with that?"

Weapon barrels went down. "No, we're good Gunny." I heard one of the FNG's call back.

Taz turned back to face me.  "When I took this job, Jazz told me I follow your orders. Well, the corp may write the checks but as far as I'm concerned that order still stands.  Orders, Machine?"

I stood there, a fierce smile spreading across my face. Lilly and Rose appeared beside me. "Orders, Taz?" I looked at my daughters then back to Taz.  "Rescue Op.  Target is an elf female, responds to the name 'Aria'.  Abductor is a paracritter, western dracoform, a great form example of the species. Creature is capable of shape shifting, is immune to small arms fire and is somewhere above us.  Orders are to evacuate the captive from the building. One of the angels will take her to safety.  After that we un-ass the building and G.T.F.O."

I looked around at familiar faces, people I had fought beside in that hell beneath Lac Assal.  "Taz, one more thing. You don't die on me.  I don't care if they shoot you so full of lead you sink."

Taz stared at me. "Copy that. Okay folks, rescue op. Wiz-worm in the building is hostile, we get the lady and get out. Nobody dies without permission."

A chorus of "Copy that Gunny!" rang out around me.

Simon sounded off in my earpiece. "Groovy."

"Let's go." I said as I headed for the service stairs.

******

One hundred floors is too many stairs to climb, particularly when you want to rescue someone.  Taz, the FNG's and I flew up the stairwell at a terrifying pace, held aloft by air spirits and sped on by some colorful curses.

"Bio-signs of the elf woman were last picked up in the private elevator that stops at the 104th floor.  No security cams up there, no sensors of any kind.  You're in the dark up there." Simon whispered.

"Got it. Zero, get the Osprey to the pad on the 95th if you can." I turned to Taz. "That's your exit, we get the girl and she's gone.  Take the men and scoot out from the 95th."

"Understood."

We took the stairs to the 103rd floor, where they ended in a heavy security door.  The door buzzed, unlocking at our approach.  A thin mist wafted throughout the vast emptiness before us.  The floor was devoid of interior walls, supporting columns stood with arcane scrollwork etched into the surface of the steel.  A fine mist drifted along the ceiling.

"Clouds?" Taz muttered.

"No, that's ectoplasm." I replied.

"Is it toxic?" Taz asked.

"Not really, though too much of it could drown you, I suppose." The air was ripe with raw magical energy.  There was something familiar about the feel of it that I couldn't place.  "Don't touch the columns."

We ghosted around the vast emptiness, spreading out look for any way up to the floor above us.

"Machine. I found something." A familiar voice whispered over my earpiece.  I looked and saw one of the FNG's wave to me.

I floated over and saw a line of thick, dark fluid oozing down the support column she was looking at.

"Blood." she said.

I looked up and saw it oozing down the column from the floor above.

"Taz, plant charges on that duct work above us."  There wasn't another way off the floor. "Task four to pull that window in.  We're going outside."

"Blowing holes or blowing up?" he asked.

"Up." I replied.  "Set the charges.  I'll send the air spirits to bring you guys up after me.  We grab Aria and ghost out if possible, fight our way out if we have to, then we blow the charges to cover the escape."

Taz had the FNG's moving before I was reached the window.

"Machine." Simon's voice crackled in my ear. "I've got an intrusion on the line.  Whoever is it I can't keep him out!"

"You mean her, asshole!"  Angel swore. "Damnit, Tommy!  Tell me you aren't inside!"

"Angel, keep them on the coms, and YES I'm in the building." I replied.  "Any chance you can patch in feed from your drone yet?  I need to see the 104th floor from the east side."

Angel fumed. {You were pissing me off, Tommy.~ Angel}... "Yeah, I'll splice in through that second rate firewall your people set up."

"Hey!" Simon protested.

"Stow it, you two!" The window was coming down and a blast of cold wind hit me. "Angel, I'm going up and I need to see what's there."

A minute went buy before my AR goggles buzzed at me.  I pulled them on and opened the feed Angel was beaming in.  There was nothing extraordinary about the floor above.  I could see the vacant window before me and nothing but plain windows along that level.  There was no landing pad or anything that would permit access.

"Angel, give me a look all the way around. Something's there, I know it."  I reached out to the astral plane and the trio of bound air spirits appeared. I watched as the drone did a complete circuit of the building, revealing nothing that would permit access.

"Girls, you'll bring the team up after me. I'm going to get a better look." I pulled down the goggles and was swept out of the building by one of the spirits, the other two in tow.  One hundred and three stories below me, the city street was a thin dark strip outlined in soft neon colors.  I opened myself to the astral and cast my sight up at the floor above.

Power buzzed against my senses, the 104th and the three floors above it were alight with magic.  The walls were sweating ectoplasm just as the ceiling of the 103rd floor had been.  Wisps energy broke up in the swirling winds and I was once again strangely certain that I knew the feel and taste of that magic.

At my command the spirit brought closer to the glowing walls and I examined them, looking for a weakness in the warding that I could exploit.  Instead, I found a carefully crafted latticework of spell energies comprising the largest illusion I had ever seen.  I drifted along to the southeast corner of the edifice and passed through the wall, my senses screaming at me as the spells tried to convince my body that I was being pushed through plascrete and steel.

The wind continued to beat at me as I broke through into an open air gallery of 11 pillars.  A great circle was etched in the marble floor, with four smaller circles worked into the design. Within three of those lesser circles stood one of the strange totems such as was found in the Place of Gates, and in the ruins I had helped plunder.  Ectoplasm flowed along the circles and into the great circle, tufts of the wispy ether flowed away over the rest of the space, escaping over the exposed sides of the building.

The dragon lay within the circle.  Her scales were marked with char and some patches of scales had been torn away.  Blood flowed from her wounded wing and from a number of deep cuts along her neck and tail.

Aria lay within the circle, her eyes closed and her body limp.  My rage was quenched by a sudden fear that she had been killed. I felt my heart sink and stood transfixed, staring at her until a slight rise in her chest told me that she was still breathing.

"WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, APE?" The dragon's voice rang inside my skull.  The air elemental holding me aloft unraveled in the wind as the dragon's power slammed against it, banishing it from our world with a howl of pain and surprise.

I heard Angel screaming in my ear but I couldn't make out what she was saying. The dragon's voice in my head was beating at the inside of my skull. I lay there, watching as the dragon gained her feet, a pool of blood laying on ruined marble where her tail had scored the surface.  Her head loomed over Aria's limp form and the monster bared its meter long fangs in a fiendish, gloating smile.

"FIRST, I'LL TAKE SOMETHING FROM YOU AS YOU HAVE TAKEN FROM ME. THEN I'LL KILL YOU AND ANY YOU EVER CARED FOR."  She lowered her head toward Aria, her orange reptilian eyes locked with my own.

I couldn't move from the pain of that voice.  I was screaming in agony and the fear that the monster was about to eat Aria as punishment for my own impudence.

So I screamed.

"TAZ! BLOW IT!" The dragon may have paused for a fraction of a second as the words registered in its incredible mind. 

Taz didn't.  The charge went off, sending a plume of shattered marble and slivers of steel slicing through the dragon's wounded tail.  Her bulk shielded Aria from the storm of death that assaulted the dragon's scaly hide.

The assault on my mind ended as the last half of the beast's tail was blown off.  Assault rifle fire, strangely comforting to hear at that moment, rang out in the night as Lilly and Rose brought up the first six FNG's before diving back down to get Taz and the rest.

The circle collapsed.  The totems flared in their power and the barrier between the astral plane and the world of men was torn asunder.  I saw gateways, portals to thousands of metaplanes scattered, far flung and yet within reach.  The Dweller on the Threshold, guardian of the metaplanes stood watch at each, and in every instance it was a different form yet somehow the same.  The world beneath me shook, or maybe it was just the building having an aftershock from the bomb going off.

The dragon roared in rage and pain, fire erupted from its mouth and engulfed three of the FNGs,  reducing them to ash.

Lily flashed through my field of vision, scooping up Aria and streaking into the night sky.  The dragon roared a word I had never heard and I felt a piece of my soul vanish as Lily disappeared.  Aria plunged toward the street as the dragon turned back to breath fire at the remaining three FNG's.

"ROSE!  CATCH ARIA! TAKE HER TO YOUR SISTERS!" I screamed, my mind reaching out to touch Rose's awareness.  I ducked behind a column, flames gushing past me on either side.  The rock of the column gave off a booming thunderclap as it cracked under the fierce heat.  Burns appeared on my face and hands as the dragon's fire gushed by me on both sides, less than a meter away.

"TAZ! HAUL ASS! GET THEM OUT OF HERE!" I yelled into my comm.

"ALL FOR NOTHING APE!  I'LL KILL YOU FIRST THEN YOUR MATE!" Flames gushed by as the dragon resumed its attack, the rock behind me was blazing hot and dragon's fire shot out for thirty meters out into the night.  I couldn't feel the presence of the air spirits anymore, they were gone.

The dragon raged, spewing death at me and cutting off any escape.

"Zero, this is Machine.  Ragnarok. I say again, Ragnarok.  Expend all available ordinance on my location." I closed my eyes and listened as Angel screamed for me to get out of there.

Zero cut into the feed. "Understood, Machine.  Ragnarok incoming, ten seconds.  It's been a pleasure."

The dragon drew in a breath and roared, "NOW! DIE APE!"

I dashed for the building's edge, running on a line of blistering marble. I passed countless doorways the Dweller guarded, and leaped off the edge falling past thousands more as I streaked past the 100th floor. I saw the Dweller watch me with placid indifference, and saw the dragon as her head loomed through the illusory walls, her eyes gleaming.  I turned and fell, narrowly missing portals that seemed to suddenly not be in the way at the last moment.

I saw a lone, unguarded portal in the distance below.  For a wild, frantic moment I wished I would fall through it. I passed through into raging seas as the missiles blew the top five floors off the building I used to work in.  I cut through the water at terrible speed, breaking the surface and soaring ten meters into a familiar sky adorned with six brilliant moons and one lone dark orb I didn't dare to glance at.

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

Thank you all for reading my fan fiction.  I do apologize for the delay in completing this final entry for Aftermath.  I've been quite busy writing RPG material, comic books and material for my Patreon subscribers.  If you have enjoyed this blog and its stories, I think you will enjoy the adaptation of them I'm creating.  You see, I'm making a dystopian fantasy comic series based on these tales, though they won't be set in Shadowrun as I haven't been able to acquire a license to do so.

As with all of the stories on this blog, this is basically the first, unedited draft.  I've cut out parts as I've written this piece to try to make the story as enjoyable as possible.  I do hope you like it.

I will continue to write Shadowrun fan fiction for as long as I'm able and people are willing to read it.  I hope you'll enjoy what comes next.

Please do comment below.  I always enjoy hearing from you.

~ W.S. "Sam" Quinton























Monday, July 29, 2019

Aftermath, Chapter 14:

There needs to be an inspirational quote here.  Something that will gift you, the reader, with a profound insight or bestow upon you a bit of knowledge.  I thought about it and came up short, so I'll just say this....

Survivors write history.  Think long and hard about that.

~ Thomas Michael Gunne

_________________________________________________________________

Fear.

That little four-letter word is pretty powerful.  I think that all of us have experienced fear to some degree.  When we are very small we may be afraid of the dark, spiders or monsters in the closet.  Throughout our childhoods we may know fear of rejection or of the terrifying entities that linger in the astral plane (magical kids do have it rough sometimes).  But most adults have come to grip with their fears to the point where they don't collapse in a heap. Shadowrunners often pretend they are utterly fearless.

I'm not going to perpetuate that lie. I was scared drekless.

"MORTAL! SURRENDER THE PRIZE OR FACE OBLIVION!" My skull rang from the telepathic beating even as blood began to run from my ears.  I felt bloody tears on my cheeks and the cold ground of Pepper's grave beneath my knees. The largest dragon I had ever personally seen was seething in palpable rage directly in front of me and there was no one around to save my hoop.  I forced myself upright, stood and faced her with my boots digging into the mud. Somehow, I didn't feel alone.

"A third time I ask and then be done:  Will you deal, or will you be barred from the Place of Gates for ages?"  I was shaking in fear, standing in a puddle of piss and felt certain that I had made a horrible miscalculation.

Her thought voice rang in my skull and blood spurted from my nose. "It would almost be worth the wait to hear your suffering.  I swear I'll ...."

The pressure on my brain vanished as I heard a pair of vehicle doors slam.

"YOU SCALY BITCH!"  I couldn't see her, but I heard a voice that filled me with a deep, soul wrenching fear that threatened to grow into full blown panic.

"GET AWAY FROM MY HUSBAND!" I had never heard her sound like that.  Rage echoed in her voice and I heard the steel of her mother's will ringing out in every word. "YOU SEND PEOPLE TO SHOOT AT MY BABIES AND TRY TO KILL MY HUSBAND?!?!  BITCH I'LL MAKE YOU INTO A PAIR OF BOOTS!"  The dragon craned her long neck over its wing to behold my wife, standing at the gate to the graveyard training a shotgun up at the monster's enormous head.

I felt an impact in the Earth as something heavy landed on either side of me.  A pair of massive hands grabbed me under the shoulder and by my thigh, hoisting me two meters off the ground in sudden jerk. "Come on chummer," Crank growled. "we are leaving.  Now, Shade!"

The night erupted like an exploding star.  My vision went white and the dragon's angry roar shattered the windows and drowned out the sound of a shotgun blasting away.  I felt a rush of air as Crank raced away, weaving about to avoid the headstones.  My earpiece chirped as a certain console cowgirl hacked my comm and brought me online with my unexpected rescuers.

"Damnit, Tommy you should have called!" Angel swore in my ear, barely audible over the hurricane of rage that roared behind me.  "Incoming! Detonation in FIVE.  THIS ONE'S FOR RATCHET! THREE."

Static blared in my earpiece as Crank raced to get us clear.  I was flash-blind and weak as a kitten from the magical and mental assault.

"Two." Angel's voice broke through the static, ringing with murderous intent. "DIE!"

Everything went black.

*****

I woke up to sirens blaring in my ringing ears, a smothering weight pressing down on me, and the smell of smoke mingled with peach body wash, blood and peppermint tooth paste.  Red and green spots crowded the vision of my left eye while my right was muddy with blood.

The church was on fire.

Crank was bleeding profusely from a wound somewhere on his head.  His blood flowed over the right side of my face, leaving me half blind.  He was limp, still and massive.

"Crank," I wheezed. "come on chummer. Get off me."

He didn't move, didn't say a word.

I flick of the wrist and a respectable dose of magical energy wrapped Crank in the same spell I used to levitate the twins.  He was far more massive though, and I felt the strain of the spell as I my magic struggled against his mass to lift him from me.  My immediate reward was the ability to breathe again.

I wove a simple spell of invisibility around Crank and myself and hurried away from the church as the fire department frantically worked to quell the blaze.

There was no sign of Aria.

I was hurrying across the street, away from the watchful eyes of the firemen when Shade stepped out of thin air before me.  "Tommy, let's get him on his feet and get the hell out of here."

"Where's Aria?" I wheezed.

"Dragon grabbed her." his voice was tense. "We've got to stop the bleeding Tommy, help me."

The spell holding Crank unraveled as the full weight of Shade's words hit me and I suddenly felt sick.  Crank hit the ground and I fell beside him, 'Dragon grabbed her' kept floating through my mind.

Crank was dying in front of me.

"TOMMY!" Shade snapped at me. "Get your head out of your ass and help me or we'll lose him!"

"What?" I said weakly.

Shade slapped me.  "NOW, DAMNIT!"  He grabbed the back of my head and forced me to look at my best chummer.  His right leg was gone, just above the knee.  "We need to do this together or he'll never make it!"

Crank was pale, barely breathing as I forced myself to my knees and pulled the small vial of water from the Blood Falls. "Creo sanitatem mutato hominum de ex mystio creo sanitatem" Shade and I recited the spell, over and over as I poured out the sacred water over Crank's still form.  "Creo sanitatem. Mutato. Hominum de ex mystio.  Creo sanitatem!" Shade's invocation reached its crescendo as I struggled to focus, my magic trickling into the spell while my soul ached with worry over what may have happened to Aria.

Crank's wounds scabbed over.  He took a shallow, shaky breath.

"He's hurt bad." Shade muttered. "He needs a hospital."

"Get him there. I'll make sure the bills get paid." Shade was fresh faced, unhurt, while I was battered and still couldn't see out of my right eye.

"Which way did the dragon go?" I asked.

Shade pointed to the western sky.  With a wave of his hand Crank's limp form rose a meter off the ground.  "I'll get him clear."  Shade shook his head at me. "You're going to die if you go after that thing."

"Take care of him Shade. I'll make it up to you when I get back."

The air elemental lifted me into the night.  A block over the church was awash in flames that were being beaten back by the drones and metahumanity of the Seattle Metroplex Fire Department.  I couldn't see the dragon anywhere.  I reached out with my mind and touch the connections between Rose, Lily and myself.

"Girls, come to me." my thought command found their essence and they responded in a flash.

"Mother commanded that I watch the girls." she spoke with the tone of a guilty child. "She left father, I didn't  want her to but she left."

"The Place of Gates is unguarded." Rose interrupted. "What advantage do we have left?"

"Were going to get your mother back." I replied. I took their hands and felt their power connect to mine. "If anyone tries to stop us, kill them."

We soared out over Seattle, chasing after a monster we couldn't hope defeat and my own guilty conscious.

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

Thank you for reading my fan fiction.  Once again, I want to thank Russell Zimmerman, Stephen Kenson, Lisa Smedman, Robert N. Charrette, Tom Dowd, Mel Odom, the legendary Nigel Findley (RIP), Michael A. Stackpole and so many others who have brought the world of Shadowrun to life for all of us fans.  Each added more color, depth, and breathed life into the setting in their own way and I am grateful to each of them.

We are nearing the end of "Aftermath".  I hope you are enjoying this tale and that it in some way will breath a little more life into your own Shadowrun world and experience.

I invite you to join me for Chapter 15, the conclusion of 'Aftermath'.

Thank you.
W.S. "Sam" Quinton












Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Aftermath, Chapter 13: Shadow of the Dragon



"In death we see equality, for all that lives must surely die.  With the invention of the last will and testament, we have the means for the dead to strike out at the living one last time."

~ Attorney Lewis Dewey of the Dewey-Cheatum Law Firm (1989)

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

I woke up to Violet pushing my eyelid open.  She giggled, drooled and reached for my other eye with her tiny fingers.  I took a slow breath and savored the moment.  Tiny giggling noises, the scent of the baby shampoo their mother favored as well as the lingering scent of vanilla and honeysuckle.  It was a profound comfort, that moment of peace when my whole world was just a little elf girl smiling back at me.

"Are you awake?" Aria whispered.

"Yeah.  Violet is just checking my eyes to make sure they work." I replied.

Violet giggled at the sound of her name, her twin Jasmine peeked over her shoulder to investigate the happenings.

"Hi girls." I said softly. "I missed you both so much. Aria, Honey, how are you?"

My wife put on the ghost of a smile. "I'm fine.  Shade magicked me up almost as well as you do baby.  I have to say though, I don't know why you haven't quit the life yet.  Getting shot sucks."

I felt anger start to bubble up inside me.  Jasmine climbed over her sister and kissed me on the nose, quenching my rage in joy and drool.  I reached out and took Aria's hand.  She squeezed tightly as the twins took turns pulling at my hair, giving me kisses, and poking at my eyes.  "I'm so sorry honey."

Aria lay down next to me and put her arm over me and the squirming twins.  "Let's not talk about that right now. I'm just glad you're with us."

We lay there, playing with the twins while Rose and Lily stood by in the astral plane watching for threats.  An hour ticked by faster than I would have thought possible, before Sheila opened the door and joined us.

"We need to talk, Tommy." Her voice was softly inflected and weighted with a severity I could feel in my bones.

*****

Aria protested that her mother wanted to speak with me alone.  Words were said that surprised me and I think I may have actually seen SheilaX flinch.  The scene deescalated as a foul odor wafted up from the twins. Aria and Lily took the suddenly stinky twins out for a change and a bath while I was left alone with my fixer.

"You can't get away from this by dying again, Tommy." Sheila didn't waste any time. "You're going to have to make this right or they're going to just keep at you."

She fixed me with a stare that would melt the nerve of any sane being. "If they hurt my little girl again, or my grandchildren, I'll cut off your head and deliver it to them myself."

I didn't know what to say to that.

"You've been a great asset and Aria loves you." Sheila paused a moment, her emotionless eyes focusing on nothing. "She loves you, but she needs to keep breathing.  Last night someone shot her, over you.  I won't accept that.  Fix this Tommy.  Now."

"Any idea how?" I asked.

"Do you know what they want?"

"I think so, yeah." I replied.

"Can you give it to them?"

"Maybe.  I'm not sure about that.  I do know they shouldn't have it." I said.

"I don't give a damn if they should have it or not Tommy!" The steel came back into Sheila's voice and I found myself fixed by her glare.  "Give it to them, work out a deal, or die trying.  You have forty-eight hours." My mother-in-law left the 'or else' out.  I was certain she would make good on her threat if I didn't find an impressive solution to an impossible problem.

How do you appease a dead dragon?

*****

February 14th, 2061

Happy fraggin' Valentines' Day.  I had less than twelve hours to fix my life before Sheila would end it.

The word on the street was that some heavy hitters were looking for a certain shadowy wizard.  My family was in hiding again, I was mostly broke after paying Angel and Crank what I owed them, and the more I learned about the mess I was in the less I liked it.

SheilaX made some discreet inquiries and found the Johnson behind the hit team.  Angel hacked his commlink and left him an email.

"This is Thomas Michael Gunne.  I want to talk to your boss."

The return email address routed through more dead drop accounts thank I could count. Two hours later I had a return email.  "Where and when?"

I kissed Aria, taking in the scent of vanilla and honeysuckle and silently prayed that it wouldn't be the last time I saw her.  Jasmine and Violet were asleep on the bed.  SheilaX watched as I said my goodbyes.

"I'll get things squared away." I promised my wife.

"You come home to me Tommy." Aria whispered to me. "Promise me?"

I took a slow breath, looked right into her beautiful eyes and lied. "I promise baby."  I kissed her again, turned and walked out of the safe house.

Crank was on the street in front of the safe house, sitting on his pink scooter.  There wasn't another soul around to be seen.

"You comin' back Tommy?" he asked.

"Yeah, Crank." I lied. "You know me, I'm like one of those bum drones with a bad GPS. Always landing in the yard."

Crank's face hardened slightly. "Yeah.  I thought you'd say something like that." The big man stood up and walked up to me, looking down at me with worried eyes.

"I don't have many good friends Tommy." he said.

"That's because I've got all the best ones in town, Crank." I grabbed his huge hand and squeezed.

"Damn, that kinda hurts Tommy." A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. "If you don't come back.  If you get lost or something.  Call me."

"I'm coming back, Crank." I told him. "I've got a plan."

"A good one?" he asked.

I looked at my chummer and shelved the bulldrek. Crank was my friend, he had earned a little chip-truth. "Not really."

"Yeah, that's what I figured." he said. "You need a good gun hand, I've got two."

At that moment I really wanted to say yes. I wanted to have my friend with me, but I didn't want his blood on my hands.  "Thank you, Crank.  I've got this. Do me a favor though and make sure Jazz gets up on his feet?  Maybe introduce him to some people.  He's a good gun hand and I think you'd like him."

"Will do, chummer."  Crank clasped his hand on my shoulder.  This time, it didn't hurt at all.  "Do your thing and duck back into the shadows omae.  I'd hate to have to train another magician to be a decent runner."

"Keep your head down, Crank. I'll see you." I paused for moment.  "Honorable and professional, two rare qualities that you've got in spades."  I stepped around my friend, wove an invisibility spell around myself and vanished from sight.

The air elemental carried me away and I soared south. "Lily, protect Aria and your sisters.  Rose, GATEKEEPER."

"Be careful, father." Their concern carried through the link we shared. I spared a moment and looked through Lily's eyes as she rocked Jasmine to sleep.  I changed my focus and watched as Rose surfaced from the waves and spread her wings beneath a brilliant, star-filled sky.

I triggered my reply email as my feet touched down on familiar ground.  I put down the address and added, "Come alone."  I stuck the commlink in my pocket and knelt down to clear some branches from Pepper's grave.

"I'm sorry to do this here." I said as I sat down in the thin layer of snow that covered Pepper's grave. I sat there and talked as if my old friend could hear me.  Maybe he could.  After fifteen minutes the wind picked up fiercely and tall woman dropped from the sky and landed with all the grace of a cat.  Her flaming red hair and bright orange eyes were luminous under the night sky.

"Thomas Michael Gunne," she said. "you actually came all by yourself.  Is it foolish pride, a martyr's conviction, naivete or a death wish?"

"Probably just hopeless optimism." I replied. "I want to resolve our differences before anyone else gets hurt."

"You betrayed and killed my servant." She took a single step toward me. "One who had served me far longer than you can imagine."

"He betrayed our contract, tried to extort something that is rightfully mine, beat me and threatened my family.  His behavior was disgraceful, dishonorable and wholly unprofessional." I took a breath and a step toward her. "So yes, I killed him."

"Proud of it are you?" There was the slightest hint of something dire in her tone. "Killed a dragon, didn't you boy?  Murdered a being of such magnificence that you can't even comprehend its true nature." She took another long stride toward me, closing the gap between us to two meters.

"I'm not proud of having killed anyone. That's a disorder for psychos like Creep." I took a single step toward the woman. With less than a meter between us I caught the scent of cinnamon and something like smoke and molten metal. "I am pretty sure dragons don't work for metahumans.  You're a dragon yourself or the agent of one. I'm no threat to you, unless you keep after my family and then I can be a real problem."

She bristled at that, her hair turning a brighter shade of red.

"I'm pretty sure you can kill me outright but that isn't what you want." I looked her right into her blazing orange reptilian eyes. "You want the Place of Gates, and you can't have it."

"Another will take your place." She hissed at me.

"No doubt." I replied. "But it will be an eternity before that happens. Even now my daughter waits your decision. If you kill me she will seal the gates and deny you access for ages. You can kill me and wait for another age to come along or you can work with me and I can allow you access, but not for free."

"You dare?!" She spat.

"Yes." I reigned in my fear and put on my best glare. "You'll find that I can dare to do anything."

Her telepathic roar echoed in my skull.  Blood trickled from the corners of my eyes as the capillaries in my tear ducts ruptured. I was knocked flat from the force of her will.

"This again?" I asked as I picked myself up and rose once again to face her. "Your servant tried the same thing.  Can we deal, or do we fight, you kill me and lose the Place of Gates?"

"I don't have to kill you little mage, I can deliver unto you such torment that you will beg for death." Smoke snaked from her nostrils as her hands clenched into fists.

"I've been tormented by an enemy of madness and night. I've faced the Hell of men and been tortured by my greatest fears made reality. I've seen horrors," she flinched at that. "that no metahuman can describe.  Do your worst and you will lose that which you seek. A second time I ask, can we deal?"

Her neck elongated as her form shifted. Golden orange scales took shape as the dragon revealed herself.  She was massive, dwarfing the one she had only named as her servant.

The ground shuddered beneath her.  I felt the tingle of static shocks as the very air came alive from contact with her naked power.  Her long, scaled tail crashed down, creating a furrow in the church yard's lawn and cracking the plascrete in the parking lot. The dragon flared out her wings and blocked out the moon and stars. The very sky itself was replaced by the shadow of the great dragon before me.

Someone pissed my pants.

*****

Thank you for reading my fan fiction.  I want to thank Russell Zimmerman, Stephen Kenson, Lisa Smedman, Robert N. Charrette, Tom Dowd, Mel Odom, the legendary Nigel Findley (RIP), Michael A. Stackpole and so many others who have brought the world of Shadowrun to life for all of us fans.  Each added more color, depth, and breathed life into the setting in their own way and I am grateful to each of them.

We are nearing the end of "Aftermath".  I hope you are enjoying this tale and that it in some way will breath a little more life into your own Shadowrun world and experience.

I hope you'll join me for Chapter 14.

Thank you.
W.S. "Sam" Quinton
















Monday, April 29, 2019

Aftermath, Chapter Twelve: Chummers

It's getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I'm knocking on heaven's door

~ Knocking on Heaven's Door, lyrics by Bob Dylan



"When you're a professional criminal, a thief, a spy and yes a murderer, people will tell you that you can't have friends or any real relationships.  You'll be told that you cannot trust anyone, that when the chips are down and the bullets are flying that your chummers will cut and run out on you.

People who say that have really poor taste in friends."

~ Thomas Michael Gunne     Alias:  Tommy "The Machine" Gun
____________________________________________________



The sun made the effort to pierce the gray Seattle sky and slapped me in the face with a dazzling sunbeam.  It was hard to open my eyes and impossible to see with the full fury of a star doing it damnedest to fry my brain through my eyeballs.  I covered my face with shaking hands and sat up.

"Hey, Tommy take it easy chummer." Crank's voice was a welcome sound.  I didn't know where I was or how I was alive.

"Crank, where are we?  Where's Aria?" I pulled my hands down and tried to force my eyes to adjust to the daylight.

"Don't know about Aria." Crank replied.  His huge hand grasped my shoulder and, for the first time I can remember, it didn't hurt.  "As for where we are, I brought you to shaman I know.  He's in the kitchen right now."

"Rose said Aria has been shot, Crank.  We have to go."  I tried to stand and found myself pitching forward.  Crank caught me easily and pushed back onto the cot I had been laying on.

"Yeah, that's not happening right now Tommy." Crank was calm but insistent. "Let my chummer get you patched up.  Then we'll find out what the frag is going on."

I heard a door open and my hand went to my shoulder rig. "Wow! Easy now, Tommy."  Crank laid his hand over my chest. "Calm down omae."

An amerindian elf walked in with young anglo human woman behind him.  I recognized the elf immediately as a street shaman SheilaX had teamed me up with once.  I hadn't seen him in over a year.  The young woman was familiar but it took a long minute for my memory to catch up to me.  She had grown a bit since we pulled her out of Missoula, but she had that same fierceness to her.

"He always such a hard-ass?"  the girl asked.

{I couldn't remember her name at the time and I'm not going to throw her under the bus by naming her now.  For our purposes I'll call her "Joy". ~ T}

{Oh, she is going to hate that Tommy. ~ Angel}

"Only when he's had his ass kicked real good." Crank replied.

"It's been a while, Machine." the elf said.

"Too long.  Sorry if I've put you out." I replied.

"Not at all. Besides, you helped put down the Reapers.  I can't have you falling dead because of some schmucks from Everett."  He winked at me and smiled.

{I miss him. ~ Angel}
{Me too. ~ T}

"How bad is it?" I asked.

"Magicians shouldn't use stims." he said sagely.  "That said, you're basically just suffering from the after effects.  Your body purged the toxins very quickly.  Nice spell work with that Machine.  I'm truly impressed.  Most hermetic magi don't think about their bodies and health, they're too busy trying to compare fireball radius measurements."

"That's a penis joke." Crank whispered to the young woman.

"Yeah, not a good one though." She muttered back.

The elf shaman smiled at the two of them. "Everyone's a critic. Machine you can go if you like, but you should rest first if you can."  His expression changed as he asked, "Unless it's that serious?"

"Too important for me to wait to heal." I replied.

"Ah."  He shuffled over to a messenger bag that was hung on the wall.  He rummaged around in it before pulling out a few vials.  "Well, then you shouldn't go out unarmed."

He placed the first vial on the cot next to me. "Holy water, from the River Jordan in case you run into demons."  The second vial he proclaimed as "Water from the Blood Falls.  Good for healing magic." I nodded in the affirmative at that. "And distilled peppermint oil blended with honey."

"What's that for?" I asked.

"It'll help with the jitters." He replied.

"Thank you." I said as I fumbled open the vial. I sniffed at it, inhaling the sweet scent before I took a taste.  It was sweet with the kick of concentrated peppermint behind it.  "It's like candy."

"Well, of course.  Not all magic has to be fire and brimstone, you know."  His smile was infectious.

*****

Crank and I walked out in broad daylight.  Rose had told me where I could find the family.  She and Lily had suggested that I have them come get us but I told them to stay with their mother and sisters.

Crank looked like hell.  His clothes were torn, burned and smudged with strange new stains.  He looked down at me, smiling with those perfectly polished tusks and teeth.  "Redmond.  We spent way to much time here omae."

"Thanks for getting me out, Crank." I looked up into the big man's eyes. "Seriously, thank you."

Crank shrugged.  "We fight monsters. Can't have you dying on me.  Besides, it would be unprofessional to break our deal. I told you I'd help you get your family.  I'm sticking to that."

"I've got good taste in friends." I said.

"Yes, yes you do." Crank replied.  "Shall we get vehicles or what?"

"Frag it." I said. "This is Redmond.  If folks around here don't know to leave us the frag alone by now, then they haven't been paying attention."

Crank squeezed my shoulder. Yes, it hurt.  "Frag it then."

We turned west and strode down the middle of the street.  Crank's good luck charm rode easily in his massive hands.  My sliver gun  stayed in its holster, my hands out and open.   Squatters watched us with wary eyes.  We took a left onto 156th and ran headlong into a dozen elf gangers on sleek racing bikes.  Crank looked at them, smiled and called out "Well?"

"You Crank?" one asked.

"Damn right." he replied.

"Sub-zero.  I'll let them know you're coming." The elf tapped out a message on his comm and cycled up his engine.  "Go on.  Don't keep the lady waiting."

We were halfway down the block when the door to one of the ratty houses swung open.  Little Rickie ducked under the doorway and out into the sun.  "Tommy. Get your ass in here boy before someone shoots it off."

The outside of the house looked like any other rundown place in the barrens.  The inside had been cleaned of any debris, the walls were free of holes and graffiti, and I heard water running from somewhere within.  Rose and Lily were standing in a living area playing 'levitate the babies' with the twins.  Jasmine and Violet giggled and cooed, and didn't notice me slip past them and into the hall.

I found Aria lying in a back room on an inflatable bed.  SheilaX sat next to her daughter, my wife, running her fingers through her hair.  Shade was motionless on the floor, his breathing so weak as to be almost undetectable.  I opened my eyes and saw the magician floating above his own body, a weapon focus blazed with a pure white light in hand. He acknowledged me with a nod and then gestured about the room.  I spotted four powerful elemental spirits, each occupying a cardinal point in the room.

Shade wasn't taking any chances with astral security.

"They shot her Tommy." Sheila's voice was cold enough to make goosebumps rise on my body.

I looked at my wife and noted that her aura was strong and healthy.  There was a lingering sign of magic that clung to her abdomen, the remnants of a healing spell.  A drug coursed through her, growing weaker as I watched, holding her in a dreamless slumber.

"They drugged her?" I asked.

"Stun gas."  Sheila replied. "Gas grenade, pitched at us when we went in to pull her and the babies out.  My cyber and bioware mods shook it off.  Same with Rickie.  Aria though, it hit her hard."

"I'm sorry." I started.

SheilaX cut me off with a wave of her hand and fixed me with a stare. "Don't. They came after her and you tipped us to it.  We got her and the twins out.  You don't apologize for saving your family, Tommy.  You get razor focused, go out and kill the people responsible."

I stood there, my relief at seeing Aria alive and whole being battered by my own guilt.

"Knock it off, Tommy." Sheila said sternly. "Wash up, get some food in you, then come get some rest with your wife.  She'll be happiest if she wakes up next to you."  Her tone made it clear, it wasn't a request.

The bathroom had running water and clean towels.  I took a hot shower, wiped out my body armor and ran my fingers through hair to tame it.  I stepped into the hallway feeling clean and tired down to my bones.  As I walked into the living room I saw Lilly and Rose rocking the twins in their arms.

"Nap time." Their voices said in my mind.

"Thank you girls.  Go on back and lay them down with your mother.  Please wait there as well." I replied.

Lilly and Rose padded silently down the hall and disappeared into the bedroom. I found Crank in the kitchen with Angel.  Both looked solemn.

"Ratchet?" I asked.

Crank's head shook as Angel turned to me. "No.  He went up with his ride."   Her eyes shone.  Angel was, and always has been, a professional. She wasn't going to let anyone see a tear fall, even for a good friend and ally.

"Did you get the one who killed him?" Crank asked.

"I don't think so, but I've got the recording of the fight plus feed from Roy and his bunch.  I'll have her ID soon."  Angel's voice carried an acidic tone that would cower a wise man.

"Good." Crank replied. "Then we go kill her."

"Yes." I said. "We'll start with her.  Angel let me know when you have something.  I'm going to keep an eye on Aria.  Crank, get some rest omae, you've earned it."

"Tommy," Angel interrupted, her expression fierce. "We kill this one for Ratchet.  You are going to help us.  Ratchet was our friend, all of ours.  We put her down for him."

"For Ratchet." Crank muttered.

I've got really good taste in friends. I nodded in agreement. "This ones for Ratchet."

I laid down on the air mattress, my sleeping daughters between me and my wife. Lilly lay on the floor on Aria's side while Rose lay near mine.  I draped my arm over the sleeping babies and put my hand in Aria's.  Her fingers closed over over mine and I drifted off to sleep with my family.

In the living room Little Rickie was watching an AR overlay from cameras hidden around the house.  Crank was sleeping the utility room once held a washer/dryer.  Angel was sitting in the kitchen, furiously stalking the woman from the vid.  SheilaX sent payment to the elf gangers then fired off a series of messages to shadowrunners, assassins, thieves and information agents all around the 'plex. Someone had sent a hit team to kill her daughter and SheilaX was not going to let that stand.

I dreamed of fire and death.  Seattle burned while my wife slept and my daughters laughed.  Words reached my ears, a distant echo stretching out from my past. "If they've hurt her you'll be able to see the fire from orbit."

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

Thank you for reading my fan fiction!

I hope you'll check out my latest project on KickStarter the Sinopa Omnibus, Volume One which contains stories, characters and stats for the 5th edition (not shadowrun unfortunately, but for Gary and Dave's game). Please do check it out at the link below.  I hope you'll pledge your support if you can and share the link with others to help us reach out goal.

Thank you!










Thursday, April 25, 2019

Aftermath, Chapter Eleven: Run through the Concrete Jungle

Sometimes we need to lose the small battles
                    in order to win the war
~Sun Tzu, The Art of War
**********************

A howl echoed off the plascrete as Crank race past the dilapidated storage units.  His heavy footfalls resounding like the opening beat of a troll thrash metal concert, Crank ran for all he was worth, his chummer Tommy slung under one arm.  Behind him a beast snarled and howled in frustration as Crank's fierce pace maintained the distance between them.  Sweat ran freely and his breath came in heavy gusts as his pink machinegun beat against his back, dancing on its reinforced leather and nylon sling.

"Damn'it Tommy!" Crank swore as he raced down the broken pavement. "Wake up!"

Tommy hung limply under Crank's massive arm.

A burst of gunfire thundered and bullets raged after the fleeing shadowrunners.  A round struck Crank's left horn, blowing half of the carefully manicured and polished growth away and tearing open Crank's scalp.

"DREK! " Crank's yell rang out as he spun to his right and crashed through a barely substantial bit of fencing, his legs churning to get back up to speed.  Behind him, the howling sound grew louder, closer.   "Lil' help here!  Ratchet! Angel! Respond!"

An explosion boomed in the distance behind him sending a plume of fire and smoke into the night sky.  Crank spared a glance to the fireball before ducking around a stinking dumpster.   The veteran shadowrun changed course, heading north as he tugged the priming pin from a grenade he saved for emergencies.  He skidded to a stop and pitched it into the dumpster before turning back and dashing toward a run down apartment complex.

Crank was breathing hard as he dashed past a bullet-riddle sign that once read "Welcome to Camelot."  The beast's howl was interrupted by grenade detonation.  Bits of flaming garbage rained down on the potholed street.

"Frag it!  Sorry chummer." Crank dropped Tommy behind the sign and threw himself down next to him.  "Getti always said, bring a medkit. 'Crank, what happens when you need it and don't have it?' he said.  'Always good to have' he said." Crank pulled a battered nylon case from his pocket.

A howl shattered the night, making the hair on the back of Crank's neck stand up.

"Thank you, Getti." Crank whispered as he tore open the stimulant patch.  Crank slapped the patch on the back of Tommy's limp hand then unslung his pink light machine gun and worked the action.  "Sometimes, it ain't easy being your friend Tommy."

The barghest was bleeding from a dozen injuries.  The beast barreled over the street, fangs bared and eyes fixed on the old sign and the two blazing heat sources behind it.

Crank leaned into the stock, forced his breath out in a slow, controlled exhale, and squeezed the trigger.  His light machinegun sprayed a dozen rounds into the oncoming monster.  The barghest tumbled forward, yelping and baying in pain and anger.

"Shoot straight." Crank whispered as he rose from behind the sign and sighted on the writhing barghest.   He took three long, quick strides toward the monster.

"Conserve ammo." The words crossed his lips unheard as he put six rounds into the barghest's skull, splattering bone and brains across the plascrete.  There was a sudden silence that fell on the night as Crank jogged back to his friend.

Tommy "the Machine" Gunn opened his eyes and took in deep rapid breaths.  The magician bolted upright, gasping for air while his eyes darted about.

"Never, EVER make a deal with a dragon." Crank finished the old street proverb, extended his hand to his friend and pulled him to his feet.

{Gaiman-Zimmerman app used to describe what we pulled from the feeds. ~ Angel}

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

I came to with my heart hammering in my throat.  I was laying on broken pavement and felt like I had been beaten to death. Crank thrust his hand out and I took it, pulling myself upright and trying to get my bearings.

"Where the frag are we?" I asked.

"North of the safe house.  We've got angry people chasing us."  Crank replied.  He ducked down behind a bullet-riddled sign and trained his pink light machinegun toward a rundown storage facility. There was a dog-like creature the size of a small horse twitching in the street, its head blown apart.

"My family?" I asked.

"I don't know chummer." Crank replied.  "We came rolling up and you were falling out of the sky.  The whole neighborhood was up in flames like hell had opened up to swallow the block. I managed to catch you but people were shooting at me and then they turned the dog loose on me."

"Thank you." I said.

"Don't thank me yet.  Angry people with guns coming.  Thank me later." Crank's eyes never wavered but he smiled, revealing those perfectly polished tusks.  "And pay me.  Don't forget to pay me."

A quiet little laugh escaped me.  "You got it, omae."

The first shot nearly took my head off.

The tip of my right ear was torn away as bullets streaked out of the night.

"Told you!" Crank called out.  He returned fire, sending a storm of death downrange.

"Yeah, yeah. I hear you!"  I called back.  My ear was a sharp pain piled atop so many others.  I was wrung out, my body coursing with a chemical cocktail that made me jittery.  Spell casting was a bad idea. I whispered into the astral plane and felt the spirits respond.   "Get 'em!" I shouted.

The fire elemental manifested, instantly causing the placrete it stood upon to melt and bubble.  It gave a curious little curtsy before it rolled away leaving a molten trail to mark its path.

"Good one, lets roll!" Crank shouted.  He clamped his hand down on my shoulder.  It hurt.

We ran past rundown apartments, rusted hulks of ancient automobiles and abandoned shops whose vacant windows stared out at us like the skulls of dead men.  The spells woven to my senses detected a ghoul to the west but I ignored it.  Crank was running and his longer legs gave him a huge advantage in speed.  His own spell enhanced reaction time and speed, courtesy of my own magic, made him faster than me.  As I began to fall behind he slowed, allowing me to keep up, as we broke out to the east and headed back toward the I-5.

My commlink was fried, killed in the initial attack that had knocked me from the sky. I reached out with my thoughts, praying my family had survived. "Rose, Lily, are you girls safe?"

"Father!" Rose replied. "Lily and I are well. Jasmine and Violet are fussy.  Mother has been shot."

My blood ran cold, my vision swam and I collapsed in a heap on the street.  The stimulant patch's chemical cocktail had finally been purged by a spell I had laid upon myself years ago to protect against poisons and stun gas.  The last thing I remember before the darkness engulfed me was a flare of panic as Rose's words struck home.

********
Thank you for reading my fan fiction.  

I hope you'll check out my current project on KickStarter, Sinopa Omnibus Volume One which contains characters, creature and monster entries.  These are written for the 5th edition game mechanic (not Shadowrun unfortunately) and each entry consists of a story, stats, treasure information and more.  I like to think it’s a lot like the old dungeon magazine, though I may be flattering myself a bit.   Please do take a look (link below) support it if you can and help spread the word by sharing it out on social media.



I hope you'll  join me next time for Chapter Twelve as Aftermath continues.  As always, your comments and questions are most welcome!










Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Aftermath, Chapter Ten: It's a Trap!

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Mana surged through me.  Raw, angry power shaping the mystical forces into an inferno that seared flesh from bone, ignited ammunition and transformed the street into a molten plascrete hell.  I had given in to my fear, to my rage and lashed out with all the magic I had at my disposal. In the astral plane I shone like an exploding star, making myself an easy target for the magicians waiting for me.  

They didn't wait long.

Mana flared as half a dozen spells slammed into me.  I felt my breath forced out of me from concussive force, saw a kaleidoscope of colors as magic assaulted my mind, a lance of raw spell energy impaled me from the astral plane and blood splattered the inside of my enchanted ballistic mask as the capillaries in my lips, nose and tear ducts exploded outward.  The raw power of the attacks sent me tumbling through the sky, held aloft only by the spirit that still faithfully served my last command.  My vision clouded, my body went limp and the air elemental suddenly vanished as it was banished from our world.  

Everything went black as I plunged toward the pavement.

******

I don't have Tommy's gift for fancy story telling but I'm going to give you the scoop on how things went down that night. Fair warning: if you tamper with this I'll burn your deck to ash.  This is a night that should not be forgotten. ~ Angel 

"FRAGGIN' WIZARDS, MAN!!!!" Ratchet screamed as he applied an unsafe level of breaking force.  The big vehicle went into a skid. Ahead of us the plascrete was on fire and bubbling.  Metahumans screamed like the damned as their lives were snuffed out in the inferno. 

{No gift for storytelling, eh? ~ T}

{I used the Gaiman-Zimmerman storytelling app to make it more interesting. Now frag off and let me tell this, Tommy. ~ Angel}

The sky exploded in multi-colored light and a deafening roar.  The roadmaster screeched to a halt barely two meters from the firestorm.   Crank vanished through the open back hatch, darting through the night far faster than a man that size should have been able to move.  

The roadmaster's sensor suite detected an object falling from the sky and several small aircraft on approach. I watched as what looked like a hundred elves brought their motorcycles to stop and sprang toward us.  A dozen vehicles squealed to a stop behind them.

"BAANGG!!!" The interior of the roadmaster rang like a church bell.  

"OH, HELL NO!  YOU DID NOT SHOOT THAT DREK AT MY RIDE!"  Ratchet's scream didn't reach my ears.  I 'heard' the synth version over my feed.  My meat body was suddenly laying in the vehicle's floor as the cannon round's impact had knocked me loose.  Warning indicators flashed the damage report and I cringed.  "FLOATING THE BIRD!  ANGEL! FIND THAT SLITCH!"

A second round struck home and warning indicators flashed red as the roadmaster's frame buckled from a direct hit.  Passenger side ablative armor had been blown off leaving the primary hull exposed to fire.  I queued the tactical computer's threat analysis and prayed it would find the fragger before he killed us.

A red targeting icon appeared on my overlay.

"There she is ratchet!" My synthesized voice was loud and enraged, or maybe scared drekless. "Target is fifty meters, elevation ten meters.  Weapon identified as Ares Mark I BFG!  Acquire target and kill same!"

"DIE YOU SLITCH! DIE!" Ratchet triggered the loudspeaker, not realizing it had already been blown off. His two roto-drones poured fire onto the suddenly located assailant.  I saw a new warning indicator flash as the recessed grenade launcher failed to deploy.  "YOU WRECKED MY BOOMER!"

"Ratchet!  She's got some cover, keep on her!" I triggered my log off and woke up in the smoke-filled cabin.  "Drek! Ratchet we're on fire!  Sensors are bugged."  I couldn't hear myself over the ringing in my ears.  "RATCHET! GET OUT, WE'RE BURNING UP HERE!" 

A hand clamped down on my arm like a vise and yanked me out into the street.  The tall elf ganger tossed me like doll into the arms of one of his chummers.  I felt myself hit armored leather backed up by rock hard muscle and looked up just in time to see the ganger's head explode.  I crashed to the ground atop the corpse, still deafened, and covered in blood and brains.  All around me pistols flashed in eerie silence as the gangers returned fire.  

I saw Tommy falling like a dead bird out of the sky.  Watched as Crank jumped a full three meters and plucked him out of the air. The two disappeared behind a blazing van.

A hand covered in bony growths and larger than my head grabbed onto my ballistic armor.  I was jerked up from the ganger's corpse and saw a huge, familiar looking cyber arm.  Little Rickie backpedaled, pulling me clear.  I spared a glance back for Ratchet just in time to see the roadmaster explode.  I was passed into a pair of arms and watched as Little Rickie fell in behind Sheila X, her mouth silently screaming as she blazed away with the heavy pistol in her hand.  

I saw my best fixer running toward a burning house before Shade's body blocked my line of sight.  The magician's mouth was moving but I couldn't hear him.  He placed his hands on my face and a tingling sensation flowed into me, followed soon thereafter by a horrific pain in my ears and eyes.  I screamed as feeling came back to me and agony assaulted me.  It passed suddenly, and I opened my eyes to see a worried look on Shade's face.

"Sorry about that, Angel.  Nerves knitting together can do that sometime."  He was shouting to be heard over the hammering gunfire. "Lay still.  This will take a minute."

I lay there, praying I wouldn't catch a stray round or suddenly burst into flames.  Explosions roared.  Firelight danced in the night.  Guns sent hot death blazing all around.  The night reeked of burning plascrete, vehicles and metahuman flesh.   Elf gangers were everywhere, shooting at enemies and dying in the street.  

Little Rickie's heavy footfalls sounded like hammers as he ran up with Aria cradled in his arms.  "Shade!  Ass-up boy, we're leaving!"   Lily and Rose appeared beside him, holding Tommy's daughters and shielding them with their own bodies.  SheilaX came up behind them, snapping off shots as the moved.

"Right." Shade replied.  "Arisleia bocut'al ...." Shade's eyes glowed with a soft white light as he spoke a litany of words I had never heard before.  I floated up, his hands never leaving my face. 

"Haul ass!" Sheila growled.

Shade pushed me along, hovering on nothing. He pushed me into a vehicle and I felt leather as I was lowered to the seat.  My comm chirped as it finished rebooting and brought the chatter to my ears.  

"This is X, we are leaving.  Breakout now. Drinks are on me." Sheila's voice sounded tense to me. 

"This is Roy." said a voice I didn't recognize.  "I'm in position. You're covered."

"This is Goldie," another voice I didn't know, sounded out over the comm. "Get going little lady, we'll educate these hombres."

"Ghost protect you." this voice was quiet, calm. "Spirits are engaging the magicians.  I'll illuminate their positions."

"Copy that and thank you." Roy's voice.

"Reminds me of Chicago. Any of these Fraggers start spouting Atzlan Spanish I'm dumping the C12 on them." laughed another voice.  

The vehicle lurched forward and I felt Shade's grip tighten on my head for a moment.  

"Splash one." Roy said calmly.

"I got one." the cheerful voice replied.

“Splash two.” Roy replied.

“Now you’re getting greedy.” 

"Fivers are pulling their people out before they leave." Sheila interrupted. "Keep them covered."

"Copy that." Roy replied. "And one more makes three.  Come on Goldie, catch up."

"Anyone have eyes on Tommy or Crank?" Shade asked.

"Negative." Roy replied.

"This Goldie, I don't see the big guy or the little one either." there was a little less cheer in the reply.

A handful of voices replied with the same sentiment.  No one could see Tommy or Crank. We sped off as the twins began to cry, their mother laying limply in Little Rickie's arms.

"Ratchet?" I asked weakly.

"No.  I'm sorry Angel. He went up with his ride." Shade replied.

I felt my eyes get damp as the tears slipped silent away from me.  Shade kept the healing spell working its magic on me.  I didn't notice that my comm and deck had finished rebooting and synching up with Tommy and Crank's feeds.  We wouldn't know anything about what happened to them until it was too late.

{Rest in Peace, Ratchet. You earned it Omae. ~ Angel}

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Thank you for reading my fan fiction.  

I apologize for the delay in getting this chapter of Aftermath out.  I've been busily writing and developing role playing game books and comic book titles for the last few months and time got away from me.  

I hope you'll check out my current project on KickStarter, Sinopa Omnibus Volume One which contains characters, creature and monster entries.  These are written for the 5th edition game mechanic (not Shadowrun unfortunately) and each entry consists of a story, stats, treasure information and more.  I like to think it’s a lot like the old dungeon magazine, though I may be flattering myself a bit.   Please do take a look (link below) support it if you can and help spread the word by sharing it out on social media.


Thank you!  I hope you'll join me next time for Chapter 11 of Aftermath.