Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Rise of the Machine (Part three)

Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it ...  ancient proverb

Monday February 16th, 2060

0945 hours, Seattle Metroplex local time

I was on the 85th floor of a certain downtown office building.  The receptionist had greeted me warmly.  She had perfectly sculpted elven features, hair the color of molten gold, and radiated professionalism.  I took the seat she had indicated and waited for my appointment.

I was one of several professional looking people in the reception area.  Though I didn't look it, I felt confident that I was the youngest person there.  I was twenty-one, five years into my career as a professional criminal, and waiting on a meeting that would dictate the course of my life for the next twelve months.  I was out of my element, and nervous.

Aria and I had talked over the weekend and into that morning about the contract.  It represented a lot of security through the next year.  The risks worried her.  My 'normal' activities were mostly contracted through her mother, and I had come home with gunshot wounds on more than one occasion.  This Mr. Johnson had sent me on some of the most dangerous jobs I had ever heard of.  Aria's concerns were justified but having a 'legitimate' paycheck of such magnitude would set us up nicely.

I was taking a risk.  That's what Shadowrunners do.

0958 hours

I was escorted to an elevator, up three floors, and then down a lushly carpeted floor to an office at the corner of the building.  The receptionist escorted me to the door, said "Good luck", then retreated down the hall.  The door opened of its own and I walked in, my shoes striking real marble.  The room was spacious, with floor to ceiling windows as the west and north walls.  The east wall held a painting depicting a scene of demons tormenting people in a pit of flames and a low row of shelves holding busts, the bleached skulls of creatures I couldn't identify, and curiosities of many sorts.  The door closed behind me with a barely audible 'click' sound. Mr. Johnson sat behind a desk crafted from dark hardwood, Samantha Goode stood to his right, and an ork gentleman I had never seen before stood at his left.  I opened my sight to the astral plane and found that I was in room lined with powerful wards.

I was well and truly trapped.

I walked over to the desk.  Mr. Johnson rose to his full imposing height and thrust his hand out to me. I shook it and was once again confronted with the sheer power of the man.  He gestured to the one chair on my side of the desk. "Have a seat."  He said with a smile that showed off his perfect teeth.

I took my seat.

Mr. Johnson picked up an old-style paper file from his desk, opened it and glanced down.  "Thomas Michael Gunne:  Aka, Thomas Gunderson, Aka Tim Guthry, Aka Tomy Cannonari, Aka John Deeds, Aka Ash Thomas." He paused for a moment and looked at me, "but more commonly known as Tommy 'the Machine' Gunne.  Age 21. Professional criminal. Suspect in the violent deaths of no less than one hundred and forty-seven people to date, and very much deceased.  Killed when he was struck by a bus while he was fleeing arrest from an off-duty corporate police officer who later demonstrated signs of thaumaturgic mental manipulation.  Seems someone scrambled up her memories."

I sat there listening. Had it really been that many people?

"Known acquaintances: Hiro Horibe, Aka 'Pepper', Deceased;  Susanne Abigail Swiftwater, Aka "Sue", Deceased; {redacted}, Aka 'Angel', Active; Sheila X, real name 'Unknown', Active; Samantha Rodriguez Alvarez, Aka 'Suzy B', Deceased;  Tanyin Great-Bear, Aka 'T-Bone', Deceased; George Washington Brown, Aka 'Gitti', Deceased; Edward Leslie Connor, Aka 'Edgy Ed', Deceased; Wilbur Worthington the fourth, Aka 'Crank', Active; Bruce Parker-Kent, Aka 'Creep', Active; Jefferson Lane Smith PHD, Aka 'Shade', Active; Ricardo Montoya, Aka 'Little Ricki', Active; James Oliver/John Oliver/ Joseph Oliver... no known aliases... all deceased."  Mr. Johnson read off the names with a calm, non-threatening voice.  I did a quick head count and acknowledged that most of those 'deceased' runners had died on jobs I had taken from him. "And that is just in the last five years.  You've been a very busy man."

I nodded in what I thought was a thoughtful way. "I have been, yes."

"For a man who doesn't take wet-work against metahumans, you've killed a lot of them."  Mr. Johnson commented. He closed the file and handed it to Samantha.  "None of that means anything to me. Danny?"

The ork was immaculately dressed, looked strong enough to throw me out the window if need be, and had a distinguished look some men are lucky enough to age into.  "Mission evaluations indicate he has succeeded on slightly more than ninety percent of the operations he has undertaken.  With only one op we're aware of in the last twelve months that he didn't complete."

Mr. Johnson nodded and looked at me. "Care to comment?"

"No." I replied.  "I'm afraid client information is confidential."

He laughed at that.  "Danny, what can you tell me?"

Danny's face took on a look as if he had tasted something quite sour. "Not much, I'm afraid. An operation with Worthington, and the ganger we're still looking at.  {Redacted} was spotted at the hotel in Missoula with him as was Connor.  I believe they abducted a girl while they were there, and they may have been involved in a fire fight that destroyed an old strip mall, but they managed to get out of town undetected." 

"So, you kidnapped a little girl." Mr. Johnson looked at me, his expression unreadable.

"As I said, client information is confidential."  I looked back at him.  My astral sight still showed him as completely mundane.  Samantha's aura shown brightly, and she was clearly not trying to conceal her power.  She was watching me as well and I could see power gathered about her.  Danny was faint, full of cyberware, and tremendously confident. 

"I can respect that, but I don't have to like it.  While you're working for me you will not freelance." Mr. Johnson explained.  "I have the contracts for you.  Take a look at them, have your attorney look them over, and get them back to me, signed, before noon tomorrow."

Danny walked over and handed a thick file to me.  I opened it and glanced over the first page. "I'll be back tomorrow.  If there are any changes that need to be made, I'll have my guy draft a new version.  One thing though."  I looked over at Mr. Johnson. "Why offer me a year-long contract?  Why not just take things one job at a time?"

Mr. Johnson smiled at me. "I'm afraid that information, is confidential."

I took the contract to my attorney who called in two other attorneys to go over the fine print with him.  I ended up with a six thousand nuyen bill, and a contract I could live with.  I had a couple of points stricken from the contract regarding my healthcare coverage for my family (I'm keeping DocWagon, thank you), ritual sample submission, and waved the retirement /pension plan they offered to begin should I seek to renew my employment contract.  Oddly enough, I wasn't forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. After all these years such an agreement wouldn't have been valid anymore anyway.

The next day I was at the office at 0900 and was in front of Mr. Johnson and Samantha Goode by 0930.   Four signature lines later, I was a full-time employee with a ridiculously large salary and an office located on the 87th floor.  My office was in a section of the building no one seemed to be using but looks were deceiving.  There were four other people with offices on that floor.  Each had a call sign on their door, as names are precious.  The name on my office door read "The Machine".


To be continued in part four


Thank you for reading my fan fiction.

I hope you enjoy Tommy's Story as I take you through his many adventures as a Shadowrunner.  It is a great pleasure of mine to recount these old stories and to share them with you. 

Sinopa Publishing LLC operates out of Frankfort, Kentucky and is the company I release my commercial work through.  I have published role playing game material for the 5th Edition game mechanic (not Shadowrun, unfortunately) and I'm currently developing my own RPG game as well.  I fund art for my projects through crowdfunding efforts, mainly on Kickstarter.  You can follow me on KickStarter HERE  to see my projects go live.

I hope you'll join me again for part four.

W.S. Quinton

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