Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Aftermath: Chapter Two ~ On a distant shore

I'm never doing that again....

Crank, troll shadowrunner

The whirlpool had swept Angel into its tempest.  She struggled against the raging current, fighting for all she was worth.  I was a meter away from her when I remembered that she couldn't breath underwater. 

{How is it that of all the things you could have forgotten, you forgot I'm not a fish? ~ Angel}

{I had been able to breath underwater for more than a year at that point.  It wasn't something I thought about anymore.  Again, for the hundredth time, I'm sorry. ~ T}

My left hand found her armored jacket and I pulled myself close to her.  She started to thrash, a reflex movement against drowning, but I managed to wrap my arms around her.  Her face was a mask of confusion, fear and anger.  {At the time, I thought you had brought me there to drown me. ~ Angel}

She struggled against me.  The spells that enhanced my strength gave me the power to hold her fast as I formed the spell that would save her life.  Mana flowed into her, permeating her being.  The cybernetics in her body were like rocks in a stream, resisting the magic as it poured around them.

Oxygen began to form in her cells.

Angel continued to struggle, bubbles escaping from her mouth and nose as her body refused to allow her to hold her breath any longer.  I focused on the spell, feeding it energy and weaving its pattern into a self-sustaining loop.  Angel bit down on my shoulder, my form fitting armor saving me from her teeth. {Again, I was DROWNING. ~ Angel}

A very long two minutes passed as I continued my spell work while Angel struggled in my arms.  The spell was working, she was in no danger of drowning, but the realization of that hadn't reached her.  I finished tying the spell pattern into a self-sustaining loop, then released Angel into the tempest.

She was swept down away from me.  I stopped fighting the current and was swept after her. My feet struck the fractured stone firmament two meters from where Angel had landed, rather unceremoniously, on her posterior.  She turned to face me, her face full of confusion.

I made exaggerated gestures of swimming and pointed up.

Angel made an obscene gesture and bubbles streamed from her face as she screamed into the water.

"Yeah, she's mad." I thought.

{No drek. ~ Angel}

Angel needed a little help escaping the undertow from the whirlpools, but we made it to the surface and swam toward the island of fitted stone.  Mr. Johnson's head, still frozen in its death glare, had refused to rot.   It sat at the base of the pillar, bathed in the radiance from the totem that blazed high above.  Angel saw the head and froze.

"What the hell, Tommy?"  she said softly.  "Is that thing real?"

I nodded.  "Yes.  Meet Mr. Johnson.  The same Mr. Johnson who employed Samantha Goode and who hired me for so many fragged up jobs.  Remember the vampire attorney?  That was this guy."  I gestured toward the severed head of the dragon.  "He got mad at me, tossed me around the office a bit.  I still had time on my contract and was going to ride it out, but I made some plans in case he didn't want to play nice.  Then I received a not so subtle threat against Aria and my family."

I paused for a moment and looked at the head of the great beast.  It was easily large enough to swallow me in a single bite.  "So he had to die.  They couldn't be safe while he was alive. Samantha too, she's dead Angel."

My gaze fell upon Angel.  She had a hard look about her and was soaking wet.  "You killed Mr. Johnson.  You killed Mr. Johnson and he happened to be a dragon."

"That's right." I replied.

"And you're keeping his head here, why?"  Angel's voice carried a wary tone.

I shrugged. "He died here, the head fell into the water.  I didn't want it lying around on the bottom as that just didn't seem like a good idea, so I brought it up and put it here."

"So, it's a trophy." She said.

"No.  It's just here.  Really don't have a better place for it to be." I told her. "Think about it. If I take it back to the physical world there will be a helluva lot of questions from anyone who happens to find it.  If that person is a police contractor, I'm pinched but good."

Angel shook her head at me. "So you dumped the body here, where ever here is, and called it a day.  Ghost, Tommy.  You killed a fraggin' dragon."

"I did. I killed the Johnson who paid me more than anyone else ever had."  I didn't even try to feign regret. "He was a threat to Aria and the girls. I did my job, lived up to my end of the deal, and he tried to strong arm me.  When he didn't get what he wanted, he had Samantha drop a word in my ear about it being better for my family if I went along."

"Sounds like the mob running a protection racket.  Once you give in, you're theirs. Same thing goes for dragons I guess."  Angel said.

"My thoughts exactly.  It was dishonorable and unprofessional." I said.

"You sound like Pepper." she said.

"Thank you."  A strange sense of satisfaction came over me and I smiled in spite of the deep drek I was in.

Angel's face cracked into a smile of her own. "You're crazy, chummer.  You know that, right?  You don't let other people know you killed a dragon.  That's the kind of thing you don't tell anyone."

"I have to trust someone.  I choose you." I set the rucksack Crank had handed me down next to Mr. Johnson's head. "By the way, sorry about the water.  I've sealed the magic, so you can breath underwater now."

"Will I be able to, once we leave this place?" she asked.

"You'll be able to breath underwater until someone dispels the magic." I told her.  I remembered a lie I had told Crank once and added, "Or until I die."

"Wiz.  I've never been a strong swimmer." Angel sat down on the stone and pulled her boots off.  Water poured out as she turned them up.  "Any hope for a fire?  I'm cold after the swim."

"Oh.  Yeah.  One tic."  I made a mental note to store provisions on the island at some point in the future, then sent out the mental call to the fire spirit I had bound.  It appeared at my command, a living bonfire of elemental energy.  "Best I can do right now." We sat there, basking in the warmth of the fire spirit, and talked about the trouble I had landed in.

There are so many things that follow you in life.  Your electronic trail is one of them. Purchases you make, stores you visit, the different commlink contacts you've had, social media information and all the little things that let savy tech-types know way too much about you.  Angel I talked for hours about how to clean up the electronic side of my mess.

I told her about the information Mr. Johnson had in my file.  The known associates he had named during the meeting when he made his 'employment offer'.   Angel frowned at that. "That's a lot of very specific and hard to find data.  Any idea who fished it out?"

"No.  Danny seemed well briefed on the information but I don't think he collected it.  He drove Mr. Johnson around as sort of a second aide-de-camp.  He's got a lot of cyberware in him, had access to plenty of information and sat in on several briefings." I paused a moment as I searched my memories. "Come to think of it, I don't know where Danny's office was, never emailed him either.  Weird that he was around so often but never really seemed to do much more than gofer stuff."

"Shadow gofer?" Angel's eyebrows quirked up while her smile betrayed the humor she found in the idea.

"Yeah, something like that."  Danny was loose end. "He may know something or he may just be close muscle."

"You'll need to decide on that one." Angel said.  "But there is no doubt you'll need to find out what they know about you, and clean it up, before you can have any hope of a normal life."

"What if the corp turned over my information to the FBI?" I asked.

"If they did, you're fragged chummer.  Sooner or later, they'll find you." Angel's tone was plainly apologetic.  "Sorry, but I'm not taking a run against the FBI host.  Their cyber crimes guys are way too good."

I understood that.  There were times I had been asked to face off against things I didn't dare to.  I had walked away from those jobs.  If you work in the shadows for any length of time, you learn to respect your limitations.  You also learn to accept it when people whom you respect tell you they've reached theirs.  "I hope they kept it in-house then.  Looks like I've got a run to plan against my former employer."

"Chummer, now you're talking my language."  Angel replied.


Thank you for reading my fan fiction. I hope you enjoy it! I do NOT own Shadowrun or make any claim to copyright material.  These stories are based on game play and have been fictionalized to make them (hopefully) fun to read.

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I hope you'll join through the coming entries for "Aftermath" as Tommy's actions give rise to consequences he never imagined.  "Aftermath" is being created in chapters as it is a longer story.

Thanks again for joining me here.

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