Friday, May 26, 2017

SAS- Mister Johnson (Shadowrun)

Yegor was careful to clean up after himself. With his Edit app, he altered the access logs, removing his account ID. From there, it was a simple matter to create a timed script to erase his logout record, which would appear when he disconnected, erase the admin account that he had created, and then erase itself. Steeling himself mentally, he disconnected.

The world spiraled and streaked back into place around him. It took a second for him to remember how to focus his eyes and breathe. Subconscious body functions tended to get screwed around when logging out. He shook his head groggily, and saw Smith walking back his way. Sirens wailed in the distance.

“Lone Star will be here any minute,” Smith said calmly. “The target of the hit was evidently an important Evo scientist. We’re going to appropriate the van and take them all to Evo.”

Yegor nodded brusquely. “I’ll ride behind you. Hopefully they won’t fuck with us again.”

* * * * *

Evo Corporation’s Pittsburgh office was in the heart of downtown, yet their campus appeared a world apart. The corporation’s core philosophy was said to be pushing humanity and meta-humanity forward, and their philosophy was reflected in their architecture. The tower swooped upwards into the sky, a slightly crescent-shaped structure that might not have appeared structurally stable to all but the most well-trained eye.

Yegor had mixed feelings at the sight of it. He remembered a time when he had dreamed of working at a mega-corp. That felt like a lifetime ago. In a way, it was – goblinization really was like being reborn. Yeah, reborn over the course of three days of agony. Like a slow-burning phoenix, only without the awesome. All the while knowing that you’ve got a lifetime of bigotry and hatred to look forward to. Fuck.

Despite the progressive appearance of the company headquarters, Yegor noted that they still had a wall around it. An ivory colored, ornately decorated wall, but still a wall. The guard station also presented a fa├žade of pleasantry, but there was no prettying up the MP5s that the guards were carrying, nor the stoic expressions on the faces of the patrols walking the grounds. A couple of the guards were trolls. Not a huge surprise – guard duty was one role that trolls could occasionally break into with megas, but Yegor still nodded approvingly.

The beat-up brown van rolled up to the checkpoint. Yegor cringed a little at the thought of the scene through the gate guard’s eyes – a shot-up van rolls up, driven by an obvious shadowrunner, the cabin filled with bloodstains, an Amerindian riding shotgun,  and a muscle-bound orc babysitting a panicked family and a wounded man in the back… Shit, it sounds like the start of a terrible joke.

The guards reacted as Yegor expected they would. Call for backup. Guns drawn. “Show me your hands!” Circling the van. Two of them even took aim at Yegor. Yegor drummed his fingers on the wheel of the Mini, doing nothing to conceal the bored expression on his face. Fucking wage-slaves.

Once their story had checked out, they were waved through the gate quickly. Four Doberman drones joined the party, pacing their vehicles as they were led to a secure lot. Yegor was waved urgently into a parking spot by an Evo security guard, who was probably around twenty but looked more like sixteen.  Probably the most excitement this kid has had in his life. Yegor started to reach for his Mossberg, but stopped short when the kid tapped the barrel of his MP5 twice against the glass of his window.
“No weapons allowed in the offices!” the guard hollered nervously. Yegor’s face screwed into a grimace despite himself, and his resulting grim visage appeared to scare the guard even more. The guard raised his submachine gun, keeping it trained on him. His hands were steady. Point for him.

Yegor leaned back away from his gun, opened the door of the car, and clambered out. If the kid looked a bit nervous before, his expression turned downright comical as Yegor rose to his full height, towering over him. The guard took three quick steps back and raised the barrel of the gun about thirty degrees, keeping it pointed in the direction of Yegor’s chest.

Another guard approached. This one was older, an orc, his graying hair cropped in a short buzz-cut. He held his MP5 with an easy confidence and posture that indicated that he had used it many times before, and his expression offered the notion that he would be perfectly happy to use it again.

“Problem?” the orc growled to the younger guard.

Yegor’s temper boiled over, and his booming voice overrode the kid’s. “Yeah, we got a problem. We saved the ass of one of your best scientists and delivered him right to your fuckin’ door, and we’re being treated like fuckin’ gutter trash.”

The orc eyed Yegor, his expression neutral. “If you did, Evo will take care of you. Our boss will want a word with you and your friends.” His speech was more articulate than Yegor had expected.

Yegor looked over at the van, which had parked only a few spots away. A swirl of activity surrounded it. An Evo doctor and two medics were carefully removing the injured scientist and loading him into a med-drone. Two other people, psychologists maybe, were steering the wife and kids away from the chaos. Eight armed guards held Smith, Joe and Lokk at gunpoint. The three men stood at ease, Lokk with a bemused expression on his face. Yegor snorted. Heh. Check out these badasses. They ain’t even mad.

Yegor leaned against his Mini Cooper and stewed quietly. He felt twitchy. He hadn’t ever been in a gunfight before. He hadn’t expected it to twist him up so much. His chest ached from the shots he had taken, although he was sure that he wouldn’t have anything worse than an ugly bruise from them.

It didn’t take longer than two minutes for the Evo team to sweep the wounded scientist and his family off in the direction of their company clinic. Maybe it was even a company hospital – no way to know unless you worked there. Yegor tapped his foot impatiently, glaring at the young, blond-haired guard. The kid gulped loudly enough to hear.

After a couple of minutes, the orc paused and cocked his head slightly. His nodded to himself twice, and said “Yes, sir.” Then he spoke, loudly enough for everyone to hear. “Mr. Johnson would like to speak with you all.” He looked over to the large group of guards and drones watching the other three men and made a quick gesture with his gun. Then he looked at Yegor and pointed his gun barrel in the direction of the other group. Yegor got the message, and moved to join them.

Despite his irritation, Yegor was impressed with the precision of the guards. They didn’t look like they would hold up to a heavy assault, but it wouldn’t be for lack of discipline. They formed up around the group, with the orc taking point. Yegor noticed for the first time that one of the other guards was an elf, and another a dwarf. Interesting bunch of troops they’ve put together here. Wonder if they’re hiring.

The group marched into the building. Yegor felt apprehension building. He could feel those dreams of working for the mega-corps tickling the back of his mind again. When he had goblinized, he had known those dreams were dying, unless he wanted to work a dock or security beat. He shook his head, as if the act might dislodge those old hopes.

The group came to a cargo elevator, where the orc waved Yegor and his friends within. Yegor’s eyebrow twitched with surprise upon realizing that the orc and the four Doberman drones were the only ones coming up with them. The rest remained behind. The sandy-haired young guard looked visibly relieved to be leaving the group. Yegor chuckled evilly at the kid’s expression. Kid still needs some work. Hope he doesn’t get himself killed in the first corp raid that hits this place.

The elevator rose rapidly to the twenty-second floor, opening with a gentle ping. The orc led the four men out and down a short, white-walled corridor into a large lobby. Yegor’s eyebrows went up.

The lobby’s glass panel windows offered a spectacular overlook of the Pittsburgh sprawl. The design of the building left Yegor with the feeling that the office was flying. Yegor felt a touch of vertigo for a moment – he had never been this far from the ground in his life. He turned away from the window and towards the receptionist’s desk, and was immediately glad that he did.

The woman seated behind the desk could have stopped a train with a come-hither look. Long, curly red hair, light tan skin, swept back pointed ears, curves in the all right places, and a conservative green dress that conceded slightly to sexiness with a narrow but deeply diving neckline. Her green eyes actually seemed to glitter – Cybernetics? Tech-contacts? Bioware? – as she appraised the group for a moment and turned her attention to the orc. “Erickson,” she said with a small smile. “He’ll be right with you.” The smile left her face as she turned to the rag-tag group. “Please, take a seat.”

Yegor snorted. He hadn’t been in a business yet where there was a chair that could accommodate him. And yet, when he turned, there was an array of comfortable plush chairs and sofas, including a massive white recliner that was obviously sized for trolls. You gotta be fucking kidding me. He walked over and sprawled out on the chair, relishing the comfort of sitting in a chair that fit for a change. His worn-out armored jacket was probably going to make all kinds of scuffs on the furniture, but Yegor didn’t give a shit. I have GOT to get me one of these. Damn.

The seat had the added benefit of facing the receptionist. Yegor didn’t even try to hide his staring. Her desk was more like a translucent table, doing very little to obscure her as she worked. Her nimble fingers darted rapidly across several projected AR displays. They looked like reports of some kind. Her dress covered her knees, but not much farther. What he could see of her slender legs was as perfect and unblemished as the rest of her. She tapped a foot idly as she worked. She had to know she was being visually devoured, but she didn’t give any indication that she was bothered by it.

Yegor glanced over at the others and snorted. Lokk was drooling over the elf as hard as he was. Joe and Smith looked calm and collected, although both of them allowed their gaze to linger on the elf several times as well. The orc guard, Erickson, kept his eyes trained on the group, his weapon still cradled easily.

They weren’t waiting for long. A large mahogany door behind the receptionist swung open silently, and a man emerged. He smiled briefly at the receptionist, who spoke a few quiet words to him that Yegor could not make out. He then turned his attention to Erickson. The orc spoke briefly, nodded at the man’s response, and turned his attention back to Yegor’s group as the man approached them.
This guy’s got money, Yegor thought grumpily.  He was nattily attired in a neatly pressed suit that looked like it cost more than Yegor’s Mini Cooper. His long, dark hair was combed back neatly, and partially obscured his long, pointed ears. Most of his hair was clipped in place with a polished silver clip of the sort that was growing popular among elves, although several strands fell forward to frame his face, lending him an air of mystery.

“Gentlemen. I am Mr. Johnson, and I represent Evo Corporation’s inter-corporate interests. Elandra and Mr. Erickson have informed me of your recent heroism. It appears that Evo owes you a substantial debt.” The elf’s voice was resonant and melodious, like a blues singer. Yegor hated it. Why is it that I want to fuck every elven woman with a pulse, but punch every elven man in the face?

Mr. Johnson produced four certified credsticks from the inner pocket of his suit jacket, and passed one to each of the men. “We insist that you allow us to offer you some small compensation for your intervention. And, if you are interested, our company would like to offer you additional compensation to investigate this incident further.”

Yegor gave the credstick a quick once-over and smoothly popped it into the datajack in his skull. It registered as holding one thousand nuyen. Not an insignificant amount of cash, but nowhere near worth getting shot at for. Yegor snorted, and spoke up before any of his friends could. “That’ll barely pay for ammo, much less pay the rent, buddy. Not interested.”

Mr. Johnson eyed Yegor for a moment, expressionless. Yegor was impressed by his poker face. Not many people kept a straight face while within arm’s reach of a disgruntled troll. He turned his gaze to the others. Lokk was looking at Yegor and nodding – he knew a raw deal when he heard it. Injun Joe had looked as though he was going to say something before Yegor jumped in, but now he appeared content to wait for the elf’s response. Smith’s poker face was even steadier than the elf’s. Johnson nodded.

“Point taken, Mr…?”

Yegor shrugged. “Crowbar.”

“Very well, Mr. Crowbar. It is true, you have done us a great service.” Mr. Johnson turned toward the secretary, Elandra, and held up three fingers. In seconds, the credstick in Yegor’s skull blanked out and re-registered with three thousand credits. Nice trick.

“Now, to the other matter. It is obvious that someone intends a great deal of harm to one or more of our top scientists. This is the sort of matter that is very difficult for Evo to investigate through conventional channels, but the four of you have proven to be very capable gentlemen.” There was the barest pause before the word “gentlemen”. Yegor chuckled. The elf continued.

“This is what we have in mind…”

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Creating Poetry

Seduced by a Laugh

Falling through Darkness
Without Wings
Chasing a Moment
Already left Behind