15 Minutes


I arrive with the second wave. The boy’s biomonitor led us straight to the rundown warehouse on the fringes of the barrens before signal was cut short. Place looks like nothing much, wouldn’t expect it to. Hidden in plain sight: bad neighbourhood and broken windows. Crumbling concrete walls, corrugated steel shutters and a flimsy chainlink fence around the periphery. But look closer. Padlocks on the doors, new. Small holes in the walls one storey up, ostensible signs of dereliction and decay, but positioned far too conveniently to be anything but pseudo medieval murder holes. No doubt a cursory sweep for wireless transmissions would have shown motion sensors on the fence. Cameras? Somewhere. They knew we were here long before we could stage any quiet assault. Luckily that wasn’t the plan. Whoever owned this building knew their business, and gunfire inside tells me they’re not afraid to protect it. I don’t want to think about what waited for the boy inside.

Ramirez had seriously miscalculated his prodigal thugs. Instead of the promised dramatic standoff under city lights they had forged an alliance with their intended rivals, and the boy’s cover had been blown, the one thing Ramirez had promised me could never happen. It had been a mistake to ever let the boy get involved, but I had no other way to keep my eye on that Aztlan snake.

The Dunning-Kruger hit was a work of art. The footage we had of the destruction of Hughes and Deaton would keep the rest of the execs under our thumb for as long as we needed them and I had Ramirez to thank for that. But this error was unforgivable.

Forgotten instincts surge through me as I step from the van flanked by my two bodyguards, and in through the still-smoking entrance. Following the hastily constructed floor plan on my commlink, sticking to zones marked safe by the assault teams, I head towards the now visible, yet weak transmission from the boy’s biomonitor, the signal blockers in the outer walls useless against internal communication.

Flatline, recent. Major trauma. The readouts come thick and fast. I block the feed, distraction from the task at hand. Haste essential.

A body, facedown in the open doorway. Large, afro-carribean. Clean overalls, clean hands. Growing puddle of dark blood. Signal very weak now, internal battery only.

“Clear!” Comes the call. I step inside. Have to fight not to turn away immediately. I take in the details. Surgical tools, used, inexpertly judging by the mess. Jars, filled. Boy… Gary, mutilated.


Jimmy 3.2

The Room – 5 minutes ago

The cast iron lampshade swung.
An explosion had just gone off outside, shaking the old warehouse to its foundations, and had been accompanied by the horrible sound of corrugated steel being torn, no, not torn, peeled back by the blast. The battle, it seemed, was getting closer. Jeremiah’s people were charging down the corridor outside, slamming new clips into their assault rifles, and hollering macho slogans to each other, the kind you heard in actions films that meant nothing, but made them feel like bad-asses, nonetheless.

Gary’s prone figure dipped in and out of the grey murk; the cone of light passing over him, as though drawn by morbid curiosity, before growing too repulsed and having to avert its one eye, looking to the inoffensive dark corners of the small room, before interest got the best of it and it returned to cast stark light over the mutilated man.
James sat in silence at the tableside.
The huge, black form of Ripper gave a nod that his work was finished, running an old, blood-soaked towel between his hands, getting the worst off, before departing, fading out of importance with the spoils his boss had been promised.
Jimmy starred at the young man; his chest cavity open and nearly empty, his augments, probably already listed on some black market site somewhere, a small collection of machines his only tie to the mortal coil now, and even they would soon abandon him.
“I want…” the seated figure began, leaning forwards, resting his elbows on his knees and running his hands through his long, black hair before looking up at the kid. Death graciously waited to take his prize, letting him finish speaking, “I need you to know, Gary; the kill is for Pierre. He warned you. The method…” he sighed, leaning back, “The method was for Ramirez”
Silence joined them, sitting close enough that even the frequent pops of gunfire seemed muted in his presence, as though they were being fired at someone else, in another back alley shootout, up the road.
“Jesus, Kid…” he said, standing suddenly, his chair stabbing at Silence’s heart as its metal legs scrapped painfully over the concrete floor, sending a shrill, jarring sound into the air, “How could you be so stupid?! You always wanted to be a Runner, that’s what you told me…a real Runner, not this shit…” he threw out a hand at nothing in particular; the men outside, the situation, his own empty chair.
He looked up at one of the drones, now under his control; they hadn’t been recording for a few minutes now, only the main event was important.

Season 3

I almost feel sorry for you chumps.
We’ve been following you for a few days now. We don’t know where he picked you up yet, don’t really care. All we need is a direct line to Ramirez to make him finally listen to our offer. Fucker went dark on us as soon as he cancelled our contract and the last lot of clowns decided it would be good for their ratings to take out the previous stars. Maybe that’s why Ramirez hasn’t told you lot you’re being recorded…
You want to know what this whole story is really about? It’s about us. You all have your parts to play, but when it really gets down to it you’re not much more than extras.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

We were originally drafted to take part in an experimental new trid show. Full hot sim immersion, REAL shadowrunning, none of that scripted bullshit on the other shows. Naturally the whole thing was very hush-hush. People don’t like it when you broadcast their loved ones and employees being shot all over the matrix. Who knew?
As the season went on we started getting more and more popular. The whole thing was distributed by word of mouth and manual rips- no streams, no node to log on to, just a file you got passed on from a guy you met in a chatroom somewhere. Say what you like about Ramirez, he knows his audience: people ate it up. Turns out the kind of people who like the thrill of watching violent criminals work their magic also get off on having to work for their kicks. It works both ways- they get to feel special just for getting to jump into the action, and we get a distribution network that does the secrecy for us.
Everything was going perfectly. We only hit small corps and gangs, picking our jobs carefully to avoid repurcussions from our previous targets, whos embarrasment at getting their asses kicked by four street thugs was never eased by having said kicking spread all over certain circles of the ‘trix. To this day I haven’t figured out how Ramirez, or ‘Mr Johnson’ as we knew him back then, monetized the whole thing. Trojans in the files, subliminal adwork, or maybe even some kind of sponsorship, all we knew is that he was hitting some serious paydirt. We were rewarded for our jobs, naturally, but aside from the guaranteed regular work we weren’t making much more than your average runners. We brought our concerns, politely, to Ramirez and made sure we recorded the whole thing. All we wanted was a percentage. Not too much to ask, no? No. Not according to that stuck up stiff. “Adequately compensated for your blah blah blah. Plenty of other runners who would bend over backwards for this blah fucking blah”.
So, fuck him, we started monetising ourselves. Sold our stories to a couple of low key bloggers, cashed in on a bit of the paydata we pulled from corp hits, and otherwise made nuisances of ourselves. We were pretty sure Ramirez would see our side of things once he saw the alternatives. So what does the prick do?
Cancels the deal.
What. The. Fuck. We had a good thing going, we really did. All we wanted was a reasonable cut of the action, and Mr Bigshot goes and throws the whole thing away. Last we heard from him was some fucking text message about how we’re “Not cut out for the decorum the work requires” and some crap about “professionalism”. Seriously, who does this guy think he is?
Luckily we all had a few Nuyen set aside for a rainy day, and once I explained to the guys what the score was they all agreed to take a little vacation time from our day jobs to either fuck up Ramirez’s little show for good or get our contract back.

Pierre 3.1

It had been two days since the ten thousand new yen had appeared in my account, and I’d spent most off that time thinking on what to do with it.
Jimmy wanted us to go back to the way we were before…
Hell we’d all agreed to make that happen, I’d even put my difference with the Kid to one side for that reason, but going back to how we were that ment harder choise that just not killing some kid who lost his nerve for a moment, and we’ve all been there.
It ment making good on a promise to June.
I thought about all that money locked away from my habit, how we’d been to niev, to unwilling to think about what would happen if that money came to me if she…
I thought about the nights out, the girls, the drugs, all that money well over 100,000 new yen wasted.
June had all was said peaple liked me using drugs becose it ment they could control me, The Spider’s, Adrienne, they controlled the suply and so they controlled me, I hadn’t wanted to Beleive her, those people had been my friend they’d looked out for me, but she was right the drugs kept’d me needing them.
There had been a lot of arguments a lot of fighting about that,but she’d made me see sense, “one last op” she’d said, it would stop the drugs hold on me, leave me with the speed the reflex’s permanently no more need for chem’s.
The bio ware would be expensive finding a doc with the skill to do the op could cost more, but it could be done.

I looked again at the ten grand I couldn’t trust me self to keep it that much I new but who then? June was gone, and she wasn’t coming back, Celeste loved me to much to say no to me if I asked, Lamche much as I liked him would probably spend the money on his own augmentations, The Kid we may of kissed and made up but I trusted him about as far as I could throw him, Jimmy?…
Jimmy just the name left a bad taste in my mouth, the thought of asking him for help!
But my list of friends was growing short and dispite being a magpie there was not thrill for him taking money freely given, and he’d not only say no to my requests for money he’d take pleaser in doing so.

So hear I was in the back room of Cal’s facing the door with Jimmy sat opposite me, I hated my self for being hear, and hated him more for agreeing to come.
“I need your help” the words felt like poison on my lips, and as I watched his practiced carm hold back a smirk, I almost left.
“If we’re going to do this i need you to look after something for me” his expression turned to one of genuin curiosity as the eight thousand yen trickled in to his account.
“you’ll know when to give me it back” I stood and headed for the door porsing only when I drew next to him " just don’t let me spend it on.. You know"
I left as hurriedly as I could and Jimmy didn’t follow, didn’t come asking any questions I didn’t want to answer.
Maybe he new more than I thought, him and June had been prity tight back then, maybe I just thought better of it, eaver way I was greatful.

Gary 3.1

So we had all kissed and made up. Beautiful. We were all feeling fresh from a few weeks off and flush from the cool ¥10K Mr. Johnson had wired to us for successfully bringing Dunning-Kruger’s relationship with the Red Hats to an end. I had used the time productively. I had upgraded the Flyspies to increase their operational radius by tenfold and had even managed to construct an entirely new drone to add to my squadron. I nicknamed it ‘Drone 5’ a bit unimaginative I admit, but it was only a temporary name while I came up with something cooler. I had also fixed Pierre’s bike and in doing so fixed our relationship. Kind of. At least he didn’t want to kill me now.

Mr. Johnson had called us all together to debrief and to give us our next mission. We turned up at an old warehouse in some industrial estate near the docks. Everyone was impressed with my new threads and as we sat down around a basic desk which stood alone in the large room there was a strange atmosphere. Almost… camaraderie? Our next mission was to be something a bit more definite and enclosed. We had 24 hours to extract a scientist from his lab against his will. Corporate espionage then. The company was a small player called Orban Inc. – not very powerful but known as a breeding ground for talent. The target was one Prof. Henry Wolfram, the current head of research for Orban. Clearly he had been attracting a lot of attention of late. The wrong kind of attention.

We moved out with an efficiency I had never seen before and without Ghost too! We all piled into Lanche’s van and drove over to Orban to scope it out. On the way I sent my newly modified drones out to scan the area and maintain a camera presence while I dug up as much detail on the target building as possible. I managed to bring up a floorplan which I distributed to the team and began to break into the node to access cameras and security measures. I couldn’t proceed too far until the team on the ground were ready to go in case I tripped an alarm. We decided to wait until nightfall to launch the full attack as we knew Wolfram liked to stay late and catch up on work.

Jimmy, Lanche and Pierre worked out their ground attack then we sat and waited in the van until the time was right. I went on a sneaky Tactical Chunder run while the others were out then we just sat there eating Chunder and chatting like old buddies as we waited for show time.


Pierre 2.6

The two figures crouched in the darkness pressing themselves into the shadows. The door was less then 10 feet away, soon it would be time to move.
The Renraku corporation was one of the big guns but this was just a small research lab. Minimal security, an easy hit.
Blinking across their commlinks came the signal: ‘Go time boys!’
Within seconds the smaller figure was at the door clamping a maglock breaker to it, the larger pressed his back to the wall looking out for signs they had been spotted.
“Hurry up Pierre..” the trolls voice came as a whisper “Patience… voila” the French man pushed open the door and slipped inside.
They moved swiftly down the corridor pausing occasionally to wait for messages that the coast was clear.

Then as they reached a corner the messages stopped, Pierre looked back at Lanche questioningly, who simple shrugged in reply, something was wrong.
Pierre looked out round the corner. His enhanced reflexes jerked his head suddenly back in as a bullet grazed across his cheek, the shot had come way too fast and accurate for your average corp guard. Red Samurai…
There shouldn’t be Red Samurai here…
Something was very wrong. With just a look Pierre and Lanche moved as one back the way they had come, returning fire to the Samurai who had moved up to the corner they had vacated.

As they exited the building Lanche sprayed explosive foam around the doorway, blowing it as they moved across the forecourt to stop there pursuer.
Reaching the the truck Lanche fired up the engine as Pierre began franticly messaging June and Jimmy to get out.
They sped away from the scene, heading for the warehouse where they had begun the night watching Jimmy and June jack into the net.

Not one of their messages had been replied to, and as they stepped from the truck the silence of the night left a foreboding in their hearts.
They moved quickly into the warehouse. Even through the dim light their eyes picked up the shape of the two figures slumped on the floor.
As they rushed to them Pierre’s tomographic sight told him what he feared most, reaching June’s body he collapse in tears scooping up her lifeless form.
Lanche knew why the French man was crying, and he knew it was something he shouldn’t, feeling a pulse on jimmy’s body he busied himself pulling the half melted trodes from Jimmy’s head.
His work done he lifted the unconscious Jimmy to his shoulder and carried him out to the truck. Placing the body into the back he lifted his head, he could hear the sound of sirens in the distance.
He looked at the warehouse, there were no signs of movement from inside, then back to the truck and Jimmy’s unconfused body. The sirens were getting louder, they needed to leave.

Pierre felt a hand on his shoulder.
“She’s gone, we need to go too”
The troll’s voice came slow like treacle pouring, the grip tightened on his shoulder as the hand lifted him to his feet. June’s lifeless body slipped from his arms.
He looked back at Lanche. His hand patted the trolls and with a slight nod he released his grip and turned to leave.
Pierre stooped once more. Kissing his hand and placing it against her lips he then reached behind her neck.

I sat up my shoulder aching the room was cold and dark tears began to stream down my face just as they had done that day, how long had it been? How many time had I woken crying since then?
I looked at the clock , 5am , still early I thought reaching over to the dresser I lifted the locket by its chain and coiled it into my hand, holding it tightly I lay back in bed still crying. I was glad no one was hear to see me like this, Pierre the hard man reduced to tears by a nightmare.

I sterd again this time the clock said 11am , June’s locket was still clutched in my hand, I placed it back on the dresser, and pulled my self from my bed.
Last night had been a total fuck up, and I had a much to blame for that than any one, Lanche and Bum-Hug where they OK did they get clear, I sent off a couple of quick texts.
There was no reply from Bum-hug but Lanche came back almost immediate with an invite to Cal’s for a beer, Cal’s I thought this could be interesting!

I arrived at Cal’s around midday in a taxi not wanting to risk my bick on the streets encase the plates had been made last night, staying on the street I pushed the door of the bar open and court Cal’s eye.
“we cool?”
“That depends Pierre is there going to be a problem in my bar?” The orc’s words were stern but I new how to handle my self.
“Of course not.. and if there is Cal ill solve it for you” I said stepping in brazenly as I watched the ork drop his head and shake it.
Lanche was all ready seated and as I approched he pushed one of the two beers he had in my direction, “cheers , sorry about last night I had to crash,you cope OK?”
“not a problem mate, its all sorted the body and the car are gone”
we decust the events of last night for awiel bringing each other up to speed with what we each new.

About one o’clock Jimmy arrived having messege to find us, he sat down shaking his head, “what it all went to plan didn’t it?”
“To plan, how was that the plan? We’re lucky we’re all still hear!”
“well the Kid ran out on us what can I say” I tried to sound like I knew he was in the wrong.
“The Kid Was Scared shitless and made a mustake you on the other hand, both of you what were you thinking” my head sank a little I new i’d fucked up, I new Lanche had, and Jimmy new it to.
I try to keep to my guns “well June would..”
“June is gone Pierre… we have a Kid on his first run who made a mistake” his word cut through me.
“now we need to start working as a team if we want to sort this shit out, If we want to make a go of this again”
Making a go of this getting back to earning some real money thats what this was about, I hated to admite it but Jimmy was right.
“right so we work to gether” I watched Lanche nod his approvel “ but the kid”
“you leave the Kid… you leave Gary to me Pierre” Jimmys voice caryed a note of finality about it.
I’d let him have that point, in words at least, but thats what it would be with Jimmy just words till the chips where down.
If we were going to work as a team the Kid needed to understand his life went hand in hand with the rest of owers, and there was no room for nerves in this game, i’d make shore he under stod that.
“The R,F,I,D tags on my bike are going to need rewriteing just in case, you gat the Kid to sort that out and ill leave him to you!” I wasn’t shore if the play would work Jimmy was so good at reading people, June had recond he new most people beter than they new them selfs.
“fine I’ll get Gary to look at your bike, but I want your word you won’t kill him” my play had worked.
“ don’t worry I’ll play nice” I’d said I’d play nice I hadn’t said I wouldn’t play….

Lanche 2.5
Hugh gone wrong

The moment that Hughes hit the deck in a shower of his own blood was stuck in my mind like a corrupted file. A download you wish you could delete and start again. Starting,stopping, starting in a vicious little circle around the inside of my head.

What the fuck did i think i could accomplish with Hughes in his new found form as a cadaver. Driving off with his corpse was probably the most idiotic thing i could do, but it was ok, i could rectify this, a quick chat with DocWagon guys my Remmington and some C4 and Hughes will be off the grid. Then we could do anything we want to bring down Dunning-Kruger. We could set up that other guy up as offing his fellow employee in some kind of sacrificial ritual or some shit.

Pulling into an alley i work through what i need to do. Its as i step out the car and the Wagon flys past that the hole in the plan rips the rest apart. It was only a moments glance, a fraction of a second. The wagon that drove past and was more akin to an armoured transport. Paramilitary, armed, dangerous. Fuckballs.

It would take a team time and coordination to take a Wagon out of the grid. Smashing in a maintenance cap on the outside of Hughes’ ride i fill the space with explosive foam, after ramming in a detonator i turn towards the approaching shit storm. Only two operatives move out the vehicle, a little silver in the lining.

Now on to the verbally dexterous part. A few moments of failed flabbergasting, finds me with my hands against the wall and a gun pointed at my head. Not the close proximity i had in mind. My fall back became my only play, and i cursed myself for it.

The second DocWagon operative got halfway through calling in reinforcements before disappearing into the cacophony of the vehicles visceral exoneration. A few seconds later and i had the gun and another corpse for the collection. By the time i made it back to my other ride, the night had been filled with the sounds of the Knight Errant crusading towards me.
Time to drive.

Pierre 2.5
The long drive home part 2

I stepped out into the cold night air angrily pulling my bike up and kicking the stand back, I winced, looking down I could see another bullet graze on my leg.
Fuck I thought as some think court my eye ahead of me.
Looking up, I started the bikes engine , as Jimmy approached.
“He in there?” “Non..”the reply was quick , curt and in French, I’d only ever head Jimmy speak French when he needed to and my English was good anoght that he didn’t need to, what was his game trying to smooth up to me?
He stood closer placing his hand on the handlebars of the bike.
“Not a good idea..” I growled back to him in French , revving the engine to remind him of the predicament he was standing in.
“We need him” need him, some stuck up rich kid playing at being a runner.
“Fucker hung us out to dry – Lanche is still out there” I swung an arm out showing the vastness of the city.
“We need him” he parroted the same shit “leave the kid to me” he said still keeping up his acsentless French.
“June would have!” “We don’t have June!” the word cut me off like a bullet shot and my mind blead back to what I had lost.
“We have a kid on his first job who is scared shitless… you brought this shit down on us, then Lanche made it worse… what were you thinking?!” I was reminded of when June had first scolded me for going off mission.
I felt my eye’s well at the thought of her, I wouldn’t cry, wouldn’t give the bastered that satisfaction.
“Get the fuck out of my way, Jimmy” I pushed my anger to the forefront of my thoughts, my anger at Jimmy at the Kid at my.. self!
“Leave the kid to me” I boded “ I going to Celesta’s”
“Now, get the fuck out of my way!” I switched to English to make it clear the conversation was over.
Jimmy stared for a moment trying to unnerve me, then stepped aside, and I dropped my mind in to the bike, feeling the road beneath my tyre’s as Jimmy faded to a dot in the rear camera.

It was late when I arrived at Celeste’s I pulled my bike up at the back of the building and pulled an old tarm other it, to keep it hidden.
Walking round to the front the two bullet wounds seamed to hurt more now, I pulled my coat off and inspected the wound to my shoulder it was little more than a graze but was bleeding profusely.
Folding the long coat under my good arm I pushed open the door and stept inside.
“I’ve been expecting you” came a warm voice from the far side of the large wooden desk.
“Expecting me?” “Jimmy was worried about you” she said stepping from behind the desk to meet me.
“Yer right! He has other things to worry about” she smiled as she reached him placing a hand to his cheek “you used to be friends?”
Her hand moved quickly to his shoulder “you’ve been wounded?”
“Perhaps you need some one to play doter’s and nurse’s with?” she smiled coyly as a young girl with shoulder length brunette hair and big blue eye’s stepped foreword nervously, but Celeste’s hand waved her back.
“Nicole” Nicole had been at La Maison Rouge since before I had come the Seattle and mainly just helped at the bar and cleaned rooms now.
“would you watch the desk for a while” Celeste lead me by the hand towards the stairs and I followed with out protest.
“Vous devreiz ente plus prudent” her French was warm and comforting a Parisian her self she sounded like home.
“I know… but things happen” I continued in French “Things always happen to you?” she said reaching the door on the third floor that lead to Pierre’s room.
She unlocked it and stepped inside “You should trust your friends more, you can’t do every think your self” “you don’t know what happened back then!”
“Only because you won’t tell me! And besides I can guess.. take off you shirt and trousers so I can clean those wounds properly” her words came as a request as she pushed me back onto the bed and pulled the med pack from my belt.
“Jimmy’s a good man.. there was a time when you’d have taken a bullet for him with out a thought”
I dweled on her words, she was right, I blamed Jimmy for what happened back then it wasn’t his fault, I new that and he couldn’t have saved her, but I blamed him just the same!
“There all patched up, you know one day your lucks going to run out it might be an idea to have some one there to help you when it happens?” she smiled and ran a figure across the top of my sinfetic hair.
“thank you” my words seamed less than worthy of my deat to her.
“you have no need to thank me Pierre you know that” she smiled warmly as she left the room closing the door behind her.

Crackdown in Columbia
Hughes: Aftermath

Crackdown in Columbia

Columbia has seen an unprecedented rise in Knight Errant activity after a night of bloodshed and destruction in the district. An official statement has pointed the blame for the violence at an ‘unchecked gang culture’ in the city.
Columbia, a predominantly residential area, saw a night of what is being reported as gang warfare, leaving at least 7 dead and thousands of nuyen in damage to property. Among the victims were Marcus Hughes, a prominent member of the Dunning-Kruger Corporation board of directors, as well as two Docwagon rapid response agents who were first on the scene after Hughes’ injury. It is believed that the three men were tragically caught in the middle of a battle between rival criminal groups, as several other bodies found nearby have been linked to an as yet unnamed bike gang.
The Knight Errant Group released a statement this morning:
“The culture of unchecked gang activity in this city will be tolerated no longer. The citizens of this peaceful city have endured for too long under the threat of random violence from these low-life thugs, and the Knight Errant Group intend to put a stop to it. Starting immediately the district of Columbia will see a doubling of patrols, and we are introducing a zero tolerance policy on gang activity in the area. Anyone found wearing known gang colours will be arrested pending further investigation, and officers have had response sanctions upgraded to maximum.
Knight Errant wants to reassure the good citizens of Seattle that they have nothing to fear.”

However, some Columbia residents are sceptical over the security forces commitment to their word and reasons for the upgrade. Marlon Davers, head of the Citizens Action group for the district, said “It might come as a surprise to some of your readers but we see this kind of violence all the time around here. There are days when living in this town is like being in a war zone, but we’ve got along just fine without Knight Errant until now. Hell, some folks around here see them as just another gang to worry about. They never gave a damn about these streets before today, and we’ve seen far bigger shootouts than this in the past, what’s so special about this time?”

Davers’ scepticism isn’t unfounded. According to official records there have been over thirty multiple shootings in the last 6 months, with most being reported as being ‘gang related’. Critics have pointed the unusual response at the potentially high profile nature of the victims: Marcus Hughes’ wife, tennis star Jenna Halton, is known as a campaigner for stricter government regulations on private security forces. The deaths of the two paramedics gains prominence in the light of an ongoing lawsuit brought against Knight Errant by a conglomerate of private health response firms, DocWagon amongst them.

With the true reason for Knight Errant’s response to the situation up in the air, all that remains to be seen is whether their newfound zeal for cleaning up gang violence sticks or whether it turns out to be just empty promises.

Gary 2.5

Jimmy and I sat there talking for a while. We covered the job, the good points, the bad points and the things to do differently next time. We talked about the team- Pierre, Lanche, Ghost and T-Bear and how they would react to the different situations. We talked about our personal lives to an extent, Jimmy clearly had some issues about his past specifically one woman named June and I thought better than to press him on the matter. Patrons drifted in and out of Cal’s through the night but before we knew it 4am had crept up on us and I was getting damned tired. I headed to the john and popped a few cheap energy pills from the vending machine to keep me going.

When I got back, Jimmy was staring intently ahead at something. I followed his gaze but the dusty shelves behind the bar were not revealing any clues as to his fascination.

“Jim?” I asked

“Shh..” was his only response as he sent me a link to a matrix page that he was viewing in his contact lenses. It was a news site and it was showing footage of a street covered in blood. Four dead gangers lie sprawled amid the wreckage of their bikes and Knight Errant officers were picking over the corpses looking for clues. The reporter announced that they were the latest victims of an ongoing gang war in Columbia. The district we were in.

“Lanche?” I asked

“Pierre?” Jimmy replied. Before we could think further, the large projector screen behind us which was also showing the news (albeit from a rival channel to the one we were watching discreetly) started showing footage of a different incident which had occurred very recently during the night. The flaming wreckage of an exploded sports car lit up an alleyway where several bloodied corpses were scattered about in various stages of dismemberment. Either one of the crime scenes could have been the work of Lanche or indeed Pierre. The vid feed that I had watching Pierre showed no sign of movement from Célèste’s so maybe he wasn’t implicated in either of these events unless they had happened earlier. Lanche may have been responsible for both counts of bloodshed as he escaped the Doc Wagons but it was entirely possible that both events were simply co-incident with our night of frivolities and thus were unconnected.

Ghost seemed to think otherwise. He called shortly after to ask which incident was likely to be Lanche so he could head over and help him out. Jimmy and I decided that the exploded sports car could very well have been Mr. Hughes’ and so suggest that Ghost head there. Our suspicions were proved correct when Lanche sent me a message minutes later. He had re-entered the matrix zone and confirmed that he was on foot. I told him Ghost was en route to the scene but I thought he could use a bit more back up. I headed outside with Jimmy and hacked into Lanche’s van. The vehicle was huge- troll sized and then some! The electronics were laughably simple but the physical operation of the vehicle would be impossible for anyone less than 8 feet tall so I had to enter full VR to drive the machine.

The drive through Columbia took around 20 minutes. We arrived at the designated meet spot- just a quiet crossroads near an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of town. Lanche was sitting on a wall deep in concentration, clearly accessing one of his matrix programs. Ghost pulled up on his impressive sports bike not long after and we discussed the night’s events. Lanche had indeed blown up Hughes’ sports car along with multiple Doc Wagon staff but the gang shooting was not him. It seemed that we had escaped the debacle at the casino unscathed and now we had to concentrate on finishing the job with Dunning-Kruger. Our easiest target was Deaton, we didn’t want to go causing too much trouble with the heat from Hughes’ death still tickling our asses.

Lanche took us to one of his contacts, a blackmarket drugs dealer to collect some burned out BTL chips. The plan was for Ghost to sneak into Deaton’s apartment and leave them lying around before causing a disturbance and getting the police involved. The chips had to be good ones, class A shit or the media wouldn’t care. Lanche and Jimmy went inside. They weren’t in there long before Jimmy stormed back out with a pissed off look to his face. Clearly the meet had gone sour and he wasn’t too happy with the part he played in it. Jimmy sat in silence for a while, just sitting with his back to the cool glass of Lanche’s van window chain smoking and brooding to himself. Lanche himself emerged after about 10 minutes with a small bag of chips. He handed them to Ghost who sped off on his bike.

We followed Ghost’s route in Lanche’s van- my drones couldn’t really keep up with the bike but they monitored traffic and Knight Errant patrol cars to get us through town quickly as well as picking up a few dynamic shots of our vehicle on the move which I’m sure Mr. Johnson would appreciate. He always likes the wide shots the drones take as they circle over us, he says they’re good for ‘expositions’ although I prefer to leave that side of the editing process to lesser men. I’m on the ground where the action is.

The action caught up with us soon enough as a call came from Ghost asking us to help him apprehend some low-grade cleaners who were headed to Deaton’s apartment. I had hacked into the cleaner’s van before Ghost had finished speaking and forced it to pull over by overloading its’ GPS with false data. Ghost was true to his name. In and out in under a minute with the uniform he needed to gain entry to the building.

The rest of the night was Ghost’s show. I sent a drone to follow him as best I could but inside the apartment, there were few places to hide even small Flyspies. Before long an alarm was raised- gunshots heard on the 17th floor. As a parting gift, Ghost left the hob in Deaton’s apartment on. A nice touch, and it gave me a great parting shot of a gas explosion with Ghost walking away and definitely not looking at it.


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