After an intense firefight we finish the run with a little help from the Griff Mosier.
Out of the thick green gas popped a man, quickly grabbing Napster from behind and holding a gun to his head.
“Woah!” I exclaimed, raising my taser, “no need to do anything rash! Just let him go and I won’t shoot.”
The sole survivor of our assault looked frightened, like a cornered animal. He was having trouble saying anything to us. A gunshot from Griff’s gat punctuated the tension, knocking the man’s gun clean out of his hand. He still had a hold of Napster, but the light was already going out of his eyes as he realised he truly was backed into a corner.
Shoving Napster towards me he pulled a second pistol from inside his coat and held it to his own head. At that moment I tried to stop him by firing my taser at him. The electroshock caused him to pull the trigger.
“FUCK!” I shouted, devastated to have caused yet another death. My Defiance EX Shocker was fast gaining a reputation as the deadliest gun in the West.
Now that the firefight was over we had a moment to take in our surroundings. The gas was slowly clearing revealing a scene of utter violence. Bullet holes littered the walls, dead bodies were strewn over the floor and tables, arterial spray had coated the ceiling in places. Of even more pressing concern was the fact that the quarantine was still in effect and we had no way out of this room.
Griff calmly sat against the edge of a table and reloaded his revolvers.
“Just give it 30 seconds son.”
With the gas pretty much dispersed we took a look inside the plastic containers. They were stuffed with small brown teddy bears, not dissimilar to the type I’d bought my son for his 2nd birthday. Both me and Napster had seen enough movies to know this game. Napster tore the head off a bear and reached inside. He was pricked by a needle and managed to push it enough to be injected with something. Emptying the contents onto the floor we saw several syringes, each filled with a clear liquid (although the one Napster had just inadvertently stuck himself with was now empty).
Right on cue the emergency lighting shut off, the fluorescent came back on and the shutters rolled up. Griff set off without hesitation towards a small wooden door over by the quarantine button. He opened it and disappeared from view.
Jogging to keep up we saw a spiral staircase and headed down. At the bottom, a long dark corridor stretched out ahead, and at the end, a white door. Griff went to open it, hesitated and stepped back.
“What’s the problem?” I asked, reaching for the door knob.
Griff answered by pointing a gun at the door, which I promptly got out of the way of. I thought the sound of his explosive-round loaded gat was loud, until I was knocked back by an explosion blowing out the door and much of the surrounding wall.
Inside was a white lab, filled with tables covered in science-y things lick beakers and test tubes. Off to one side of the room was a completely sealed break room, floor-to-ceiling glass and a maglocked door. Inside, facing away from us, were two men dressed in lab coats, with rebreatheres around their necks and coffee mugs in their hands. Clearly the room was heavily soundproofed as they amazingly hadn’t noticed us.
Napster opened up an AR window and got to hacking the two guy’s links. But not before pausing to briefly wonder why the glitches and (thankfully) fainting effects of the Lead drug were no longer affecting him. He didn’t find much in them on a quick search, but they were definitely working on Lead in some form, which he discovered after he triggered another databomb in a file called antidote_formula_REALLY_FINAL(1).cml.
Griff hung back in the corridor, looking expectantly at us. Eager to show off to my husbando I pulled out my magsequencer, pried the case off the maglock and got to work unlocking the door. A moment later, with a soft click, the door unlocked and swung open.
Me and Napster rushed in, pointing tasers at the two men.
“HANDS IN THE AIR!” we both yelled, but not before one of the men managed to hit a large red button on the wall, setting off a klaxon and alerting security.
“HAND OVER YOUR COMMLINKS, NOW!” I screamed at the men, “to him, hand them to him!” pointing at Napster. Napster took their links and started browsing through their files at speeds only a semi-competent hacker can manage.
“Turn the alarm off!” I demanded.
“We can’t.” claimed the first man, the one who had triggered the alarm. I decided to show them we meant business. I fired my taser at him, knocking him out.
The second man backed his co-worker up “He was telling the truth. There’s no way for us to stop it.”
It didn’t matter. Above us we heard the telltale signs of heavy boots running in unison in our direction.
“Ah, fuck it. You can stay here and deal with these goons. They’ll probably want to know everything about us, they’ll probably question you for hours. Or you could come with us.”
Quickly weighing his options the second man said “You’ll have to knock me out, make it look like a kidnapping.”
“No problem” I fired my taser at him and grabbed him before he hit the ground. The heavy footfalls were getting closer, so holstering my taser I dragged the man to a door labelled Fire Escape.
I instructed Napster “Grab the other one, here, prop him up against the door on the inside, that should help bar the door.”
“Where’s Griff?” Napster asked?
Looking around we realised we had no idea where Griff had gone. We were at the bottom of a flight of stairs. We didn’t wait up. Napster took the lead, lugging White Coat up. I covered the rear with my assault rifle pointed at the door. We clambered up through a trap door as we heard the lab doors kicked in by the pursuing goons.
We found ourselves in an old theater, clearly abandoned if the mold and cobwebs were any indication. In fact we’d come up right under the stairs. “Strange place for a fire exit” I thought.
“Stay here, watch this guy.” I whispered to Napster as I pulled out my taser and scouted ahead. I stalked through the aisles of broken seats and towards the entrance. I saw a faint flickering light and heard muffled groans.
Peering around a corner I found myself looking into the lobby of an old abandoned theater. The pipes on the wall were broken, the carpet was torn up and a couple of homeless had taken up residence, warming themselves around an oil drum fire. I quietly leaned my rifle up against the wall and made sure my taser was concealed behind my jacket. A quick ruffle of my hair and crumpling of my shirt had me looking the part (well, not really but I was working with what I had).
“Hey fellow homeless people” I grumbled, putting on an air of what I hoped was homelessness and trying to fit in. “Good night to be homeless, ey?”
I got a grunt for my trouble.
“Listen, my buddy’s been in the sauce all night, mind if I take him on through? We got a warm doorway with his name on it.”
“Great. Listen, no big deal but we kind of pissed off some err… rich, homed people and their hired, well paid thugs. If they come looking for us, think you could tell them we took a right out of here?”
A moan this time.
“Thanks, I really appreciate this.” I headed back through to the theater, slinging the assault rifle onto my back and beckoning Napster over. Together we dragged White Coat to the exit. Across the road we saw the building we must have been in. There was an alley to our left that we were about to book it down when we heard a shout.
“It’s them, outside the theater!” then a smash of glass from a second storey window, made by the butt of a rifle which was hastily pointed at us. As it opened fire, the shots going wide, a familiar looking van screeched to a halt in front of us, the sliding door already retracting.
“Get in son!” Griff calmly said over the back of the driver’s seat. With bullets pinging off the side of the van we loaded White Coat into the back. Napster jumped in and slid the door shut as I clambered into the passenger side seat. Griff was already pulling the van away at breakneck speeds.
“You saved our hides!” I exclaimed.
“You stole our van!” Napster shouted, seeing the smashed driver’s side window.
“Yep, I saved your hides.” Griff smiled and nodded.
Griff explained the van had been taken to a shielded lockup, explaining why Napster hadn’t been able to find it’s node, being vague on the details of how he came to be driving it.
“Hey, who’s this guy?” Napster piped up, for the first time noticing another white coated scientist type, sat in the back of the van next to him. The scientist waved meekly at him.
“That’s your mark son. The Lead Researcher right? That’s who the Johnson had you extracting, isn’t it?”
“Er, yeah I guess.” I said.
“Who’s the scrawny one?”
“A tag along, he might prove useful” I claimed in an attempt to sound like I knew exactly what I was doing.
Griff drove us to my apartment building by the canal, jumped out and bid us farewell, tipping his hat at me.
“Come on, let’s get you inside.” I said to the Lead Researcher. “Napster, stay here and keep an eye out. See if you can find out anything from White Coat when he wakes up too. We’ll rotate shifts, but I’ve got to take care of this wound before anything.”
After applying a medikit and letting the autodoc software start to take care of my bullet wounds, I got to chatting with the Lead Researcher.
He told me his name was Alfred Von Stiff, a professor of medicine at Universität Düsseldorf. He had been picked up by a Scrubs Medical team in Germany and brought here, forced to work on developing an antidote to the Lead drug. From what we managed to piece together between us, Scrubs Medical were going to continue selling Lead as a street drug. But it suddenly clicked into place for us why Napster’s debilitating Matrix blackouts stopped after he pricked his finger on hypodermic bear innards. So Scrubs Medical were planning to smuggle an antidote to a dangerous drug they developed across a border into Germany? I’m assuming a lot but that’s the only thing that seems to make sense, and even that’s sketchy at best.
Well our job was done. We had a Lead sample (hell, a live test case thanks to Napster) and we had the Lead Lead Researcher who was asleep on top of my bed. We’d make the exchange with the trilby wearing Johnson, get our money, cover our tracks and hopefully never hear of Scrubs Medical again.
“Got a problem” Napster subvocalised to me from the van, “He’s wired up, got a detonator, says he’ll blow it if I don’t let him go.”
David, the White Coated man had woken up, and under questioning from Napster had pulled out the only piece of control he had left over his life. “I’ll blow it, take you with me!”
Pulling up an AR video feed of the situation, I responded to Napster “Lower your gun, remember the guy in the quarantine room? Don’t back him into a corner, he’s scared.”
Napster did that and David eased off a little. “What is that David? A bomb? What purpose would blowing yourself up serve?”
“I have to, if they think I told you anything they’ll go after my family again?”
“Put me on speakerphone Napster… David, can you hear me? Yes? Good. I heard a similar story from Von Stiff up here. He said he was kidnapped and forced to work for Scrubs Medical. Tell me, did they hurt your family?”
“Yes, and they said they’d hurt them if we betrayed them. They made sure they had assurances. I don’t want my family to get hurt.”
“Are your family safe now? Right now? Can you reach them?”
“Let him go Napster, no conditions.”
David got out of the van, looking up at the early morning sunrise and yanked the pig tail cord out of his lab coat and threw the button into the back of the van.
“It wasn’t connected to anything…” said Napster.
“Oh no.” I ran to the bedroom where Alfred Von Stiff was asleep, fully clothed on top of the sheets. I rummaged around in his lab coat, where sure enough I found another detonator, again connected to nothing.
Running a scan on my commlink quickly confirmed my fear: “Cranial bombs. They’re wired to blow. The ultimate insurance method.”
“What does that mean?”
“I’m not sure. It could be designed to injure him, kill him, or blow up anything near him. They were clearly instructed to detonate it themselves on pain of their families lives, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these can be remotely detonated. You think Scrubs will trigger Von Stiffs when they confirm that we took him?”
Von Stiff was still alive and kicking the following morning. Napster was again taking watch in the van, while myself and the ex-lead researcher were enjoying a Saturday morning trid about a comedic group of shadowrunners and eating Maxiblast Sugar Bombs.
Napster, dozing after a long watch, missed the Johnson entering our building. My first indication he was there was the knock at the door. Slipping on my AR glasses I quickly pulled up the security camera feed and saw it was the trilby wearing Johnson. Hurriedly putting my pants on and sticking a holdout pistol in my pocket, I opened the door to greet the Johnson.
I’m sure Johnson’s typically don’t knock on a runner’s door, at least that’s now how they do it in the trids.
“Please, come in.”
“I’d rather not. My business here will be brief. You were seen by no less than 4 eye witnesses. You killed 7 men. You started a Lonestar investigation into the event.”
“And we got you your man! Not to mention a couple of other pieces of info you probably could do with knowing. Like the fact that Von Stiff here has a nasty cranial bomb in his head.”
“Well, we also found the file containing the chemical formula for the Lead Antidote.”
“My employer does not need this information. Now I will take the Lead samples you were tasked to recover and of course Mr Von Stiff.”
“Napster, wake up! Get up here with the Lead samples now!” I subvocalised to the dozing hacker.
“Mr Von Stiff, Mr Johnson. Mr Johnson, Mr V-”
“Yes yes, now please Mr Von Stiff, if you’d like to accompany me down to my automobile, we’ll be off shortly.”
Napster arrived with the envelope containing the lead and handed it over. The Johnson tucked it neatly into his inside suit pocket and nodded.
“Ahem” I muttered, expectantly.
The Johnson looked at me pointedly and then notifications popped up in AR windows for both of us alerting us that we’d each received a deposit of ¥5,000.
“Hey, this is short!” we both cried in unison.
“Need I remind you that I specified this job was to leave no casualties and no witnesses? Due to the large mess you made, I would like to remind you how generous my employer is being in granting this sum.”
After a doomed attempt to wrangle the rest of my money out of him with my charm and wit, we resignedly slumped on my couch. Then we saw another transaction alert pop up.
¥2,500 – Anonymous – “Good running with ya, son.”
There it was, our first real run over and done with. Helped by a gun crazed madman to kill 7 men, secure our objective and no doubt get us on god knows how many people’s shit list. Thinking back to how disconcerted I was that this Johnson kept walking up to my front door unchallenged, I decided then that it was time to find a new apartment. Perhaps somewhere without the leaky ceiling. Napster decided that as the official team hacker he should invest in a half-decent commlink.