Stealth Mission Log 1: Minigun Boogaloo

Image9(Youtube Let’s Play Campaign Log Video is below)

The sound of van doors being slammed and the screeching of tires were the only noises that we made. Dietrich, Glory, and I sat in the back of the van as Eiger drove. She easily avoided the forces of Harfeld manor. A quick right to avoid a spike strip, running an opposing vehicle into a pristine fountain that soon crumbled under the weight of the black armored van careening right through the naked cherub, ensuring that it’d never spit water from its mouth again. Like a B grade trideo, the security forces managed to close a gate directly in our path. Eiger didn’t yell “Hold on” before she laid her troll sized boot down on the pedal. She didn’t need to tell us. Dietrich tightened his seatbelt, I held onto the seat next to me, and Glory across from us did the same. With a bang, the from of our van hit the fence and smashed through it. That sound signaled our escape. Eiger quickly merged onto the highway and blended in as best she could with the myriad of cars traveling towards the flux state. Dietrich seemed to relax a bit, but his face full of tattoos couldn’t mask his sorrow. Across from us Glory just sat. Her pale face just as emotionless as usual, except for a slight frown. Eiger was in the front, eyes on the road and hands at ten and two, only deviating every few minutes to look in the back. Right. At. Me.

Not surprised. The sound of the fence breaking brought me out of my stupor. It probably had the same effect on her. Monika Schaefer was dead and we were set up. There’s no doubt of it in my mind. We were set up. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire”, that’s what Monika would say.

A slight smile crept up on my face. Long enough for two trollish eyes to focus on me, and the shaman to my right to raise an eyebrow. I just put a sweaty hand up just enough to cover my smile and used two fingers to massage my temples, hopefully, that was enough to keep the soldier in the front from reaching for her shotgun. Here are the facts.

One, Monika Schafer died in the matrix. Two, only myself, Glory, and Dietrich were with her. Three, we found a secret lab or base of some sort.

With a sigh, I removed my fingers from my face and ran them down the hard denim of my pants. A few flecks of blood smeared against my hands, but that was the least of my concern. All eyes would point to Eiger. She was the only one missing from our trip into the manor. But, why would she put Monika or her team into that situation? Maybe the KSK knew what was down there. Or maybe we were there to provide a distraction to that orc. A slight shiver ran down my spine as I thought of him.

Slick mottled skin pulled taught around bone. He’s seen action. Maybe in an army. Or maybe security from a corp. I remember when I was with Ares there was this regional advisor who came to “evaluate” our defenses. He was chromed to the gills. Actually, I think he had gill implants. He walked with the cadence of someone beyond human. Every step shored up and body slightly tight like they were a coiled snake ready to strike. He was emotionless, like Glory.

Leaning my head back against the inside of the van I caught a glimpse of the raven haired street samurai before I closed my eyes. She was clad in a bulky pair of cargo pants, tucked into to black boots, a gray sports bra, and a too large jacket that she tied about her waist. Her stomach was cybered. Bits of metal dotted the sides of her abdomen, maybe some bone reinforcement. Not sure. But, the more obvious cyber was her to enormous cyber arms. They were bolted to her shoulders, wires running to just above her breasts. It was obvious that they were too big for her. It was old tech too. The older the tech, the less you can slap onto your body. Two cyber arms, the adrenal gland that was listed in the charts that Monika sent me and frag knows what else. With her current disposition, there probably wasn’t much else she could add. Maybe some cyber eyes, but why would someone get such obvious old tech? Frankly, my time with Ares made me question that more than anything else. If she was a mole, they wouldn’t send one with ancient chrome. They’d send someone with the right tools, but less showmanship. Then there was Dietrich.

Yeah, no. Something about him seemed genuine. Maybe it was the tattoos or maybe it was how he locked as Monika died in his arms. I just can’t think that he’d set us up. Which then leads us to what the frag Monika stumbled onto.

She was adamant, with the signs of a severe stroke and half her tongue rolling around on the floor she spoke to me. Feuerschwinge. Was that what she ran into in the matrix? A person? A decker? A new black ice program? I’ve seen Monika hit black ice before, or square up against another decker running black hammer, but that was something different.

When Monika first got her jack, she bought a crap deck from this shady dude out in the Redmond Barrens and she ran into black ice on her first run. She bled from her nose. Then her eyes. When we saw blood coming out of her ears, we nearly pulled her data jack out, but I she said: “don’t jack me out unless I message your com.” As security began to pour in and we started taking more fire than we could return, the doors behind us opened and she removed her jack. Her face was leaking blood and she just smiled.

“Come on! Wyrm talk is on tonight and the only way I’m missing it is if I’m….dead.” That what she said as we ran through the building dodging bullets, just barely able to get the package out. With another screech of the tires, the van skidded to a halt. Eiger got out and motioned us to do the same. I got out last, fully aware that there was a troll watching me closely. Whoever killed Monika doesn’t know what they’re in for. I’m not called Stealth for sneaking into facilities. Monika said that “whether I’m surprising them with a drone or a shot in the dark I could take out anyone”. If any of these runners turn on me. They’ll probably find out too late why Monika called me Stealth.  

Stealth Mission Log Zero: A propisition

Monika raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms across her chest, her face in mock annoyance. “I’m a decker Stealth and since it’s all business with you. You’re gonna have to pay me for anything else.”

Mission 1 Thumb   (Adventure log for a Youtube series. Link to the video at the bottom!)

Beeop. A screen flickered to life in front of an elf in a dark room, with scarcely enough light to illuminate the elf who sat in front of a monitor. He looked a little worse for wear. His eyes were bloodshot, almost all the shine from his blue eyes was lost in a mire of exhaustion. His medium length hair had seemed to have been slicked back, but was now a mess of stray hairs and possibly singed ends. The perpetual scowl on his face slightly tipped upwards as the screen came into focus, to show a woman, who was in far better shape than he.

She had platinum blonde hair, a highlight of purple sparking itself up from the very roots at her forehead to the crest of hair at the very top of her dew. The sides were shaved immaculately. Two metal plates framed a metal plug that jutted just so slightly out of her skull. Her datajack. She was clad in a tight leather number, that exposed cleavage, and her shoulders. The elf didn’t roll his eyes until he took in the rest of her ensemble. The problem was the dog cone that wrapped around her neck and almost reached her chin. “Decker fashion”, was all that the elf could think about before he was drawn to her most startling feature. Her hazel eyes hadn’t lost their charm. Gleaming like gems the man knew he was about to get an offer he frankly couldn’t refuse.

“You look like Drek”, were the first words to come out of her mouth.Smiling she rested her chin in an open gloved palm and chuckled. In response he held up his hand, bloody bandages wrapped around his palm, intersecting between his fingers and motioned to turn off the monitor. “ Stealth, wait”, Monika yelled, just as the elves lanky finger touched the power button. “Listen, I was looking for you.”

“A lot of people are looking for me”, his voice was cold almost emotionless a stark contrast to his friend whose mirth seemed to know no bounds.

“Glad I could catch you then. I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m busy at the moment if you couldn’t tell.”

She thrust a pointed a pointed index finger at the screen and smiled. “Exactly Stealth. I know the whole lone wolf thing get’s you all the slitches you could want. But, not practical.”

A small chuckle issued from Stealth. One that he quickly suppressed, but the decker on the other side of the screen knew she had.

“I’m running a team out here in the Flux state part of Berlin. What their doing out here is beautiful. The corps don’t run anything. The Yaks and go-gangs are always losing or gaining ground. No one’s on top. It’s not just the perfect place to run, but you could be a part of something greater than….” She trailed off just as Stealth motioned again towards the power button.

“I don’t care about that Monika. You know that. After my Corp burned me I went into business. FOR. MY. SELF.”

The previously melodious voice took on a darker tone as the woman responded mockingly.

“That’s why you look like drek. Run went south. Johnson turned on you. Not to mention, the three teams they’ve got on your ass.”

“Three” he asked.

“Yeah, three” she replied all the vitriol out of her tone. “They hired another one today. They’re new, composed of mostly gangers, but they specialize in wetwork.”

“Anything else you find out?”

Monika raised an eyebrow as she crossed her arms across her chest, her face in mock annoyance. “I’m a decker Stealth and since it’s all business with you. You’re gonna have to pay me for anything else.”

Despite his bloodshot eyes the elf seemed to be reenergized. His eyes more awake and his posture reflected it. It was as if he was in a boardroom about to close a deal with a client.

“Fine. I could pay you when I’m out of this kludge.” He spoke, monitoring every muscle twitch on the woman’s face. Disappointment, but acceptance. “Or”, her face filled with hope. “I could work with you. I’ll owe you a few. But, if I’m not impressed with your quality of work. I reserve the right to quit. No questions asked….and now cyber stalking.”

Monika held her fingers up crossed, “I didn’t even have to show you the charts! It’s a deal! except for the cyber part. It’s fun following up on you. I could sell a trid script about you and make millions.”

“Then I’d have to k”, just as he was about to respond the door to his room was bashed in, pieces of synth-wood. A muscled ork with giant tattoos crisscrossing his tusked face. Grinning like a wage slave who’d just been promoted he pointed his room sweeper and lined up his shot. Before Ms. Schafer could even utter a phrase of warning, a bright light closely followed by a bang issued forth from the dark recesses of the room. The would-be assassin fell back, blood streaming down his face from the newly formed hole in his head. Within seconds Stealth was up standing over his would-be attacker, pistol in hand, checking to make sure he was dead. A small drone with a gun positioned on top of its chassis wheeled forwards, ready to fire on any who dared try to sneak up on its controller.

“Monika”, his words brought her out of her shock. “Information.”

“Yeah”, was the reply as her hands rapidly typed on the keyboard in front of her.

“He’s an Ork, right?”

“Yeah, tatted face likes room sweepers.”

“Names Jack-Be-Quick. Guess he wasn’t quick enough.”

Stealth just rolled his eyes, not even acknowledging the pun.

“What gang and are there any other enemies affiliated with their enemies?”

A quick search gave the decker what she needed.

“Jack belongs to an ork group that has issues with the Ancients and the Cutters. There are two former cutters who are the first team that was hired against you. An elf and an ork.”

“Good”, the elf responded and he searched the dead body, finding a knife. He then began making quick incisions on the body. He could feel the decker begin to protest, so he explained as he went about his bloody work. “The cutters are known for, cutting people. I’ve seen some of their work. If I can make it look like a cutter did it, then I can at least move suspicion from me to one of their rivals. While their busy killing each other or at the very least leery of the other groups. Then I can either evade or deal with the second group.”

Monika couldn’t doubt his reasoning, but the visible look of disgust on her face said it all. Just when he finished his work another sound issued forth from the area. It was a person asking if Jack had killed the keeb. Silently Stealth got up, looked at the screen and spoke, this time his voice a hushed whisper.

“I’ll send you a message when I’m finished, so you can send me those graphs. I’m going to have to do something on the plane ride over.”

Monika smiled, her eyes gleaming again. “Sure thing Ace”, she said, before cutting the transmission. Stealth finally smiled as he slinked through the shadowy corridors of the abandoned building he’d made his home. It had been a long time since he’d been called that.

Indie Darlings: Renowned Explorers: International Society

Hey, people! I know that it’s been a while and I’ve been busy as of late, but I’m back with an Indie Darling! I present to you a fun little strategy game developed by Abbey Games that not only has a surprising level of depth but, a litany of interesting characters. All with their own unique skills and stats that are integral to exploring the world and becoming renowned explorers.

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How do you measure the skill of an adventurer? Is it the physical strength that you can use to dominate your foes and take ancient treasures with force. Maybe you’d rather be devious, lying and stealing your way to greatness. Or perhaps, you’d rather make friends with everyone. Here you can do any or all of those options on your way to glory. In fact, I’d recommend a varied approach, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, let’s get into the adventurers that will form your intrepid band of adventurers.

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The screen above is where the tactical depth of the game starts to take shape. Your perspective team members are broken down into four classes scientist, scout, fighter, and speakers. Up above, we have Dolores Garcia in the captain’s role. Here the team gets a bonus from her being a wrestling star. You will gain status tokens from the money tokens you make. So, in later parts of the game where you can increase the worth of certain tokens, or have to chose one over the other you can work towards a goal. Underneath the captain, there is room for two other members. Despite Dolores being a fighter, she also has a devious mindset. Not only do you need to pay attention to the various ways in which a character excels in, you also have to pay attention to their skills. Dolores is an athlete who already comes with a red skill and the quick thinker perk. She can handle physical challenges, but can she fix a steam engine in order to escape a collapsed cave? Not really. Maybe you might need a scientist to take care of that, or a speaker to make nice with those natives.  Once you think you have a good mix for a team, then you can head out into the world.

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You’ll be spending quite a bit of time here on a screen that resembles a board game. Here you can see a number of tokens you have and the two precious resources you need to continue on adventuring. The exclamation is your resolve. You can use it to revive fallen comrades, but when it reaches zero, your team won’t die. They will just give up their adventure.  Across from that is your supplies icon. You really need to focus on this particular resource, due to the fact that for every space you move without food, you will take negative effects which will make it even harder to hold on to your resolve. The good thing is you can see where you need to go, the tokens you will get to moving to a space, and whether or not you’ll face a specific challenge. The bottom right has an encounter. But, there’s gold and campaign tokens. Doesn’t Dolores get a bonus? Off we go then.

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This is where you’ll fight. The hexagonal based grid will have certain spaces that offer benefits, but that’s not the most important thing. You see the top red sign that reads “Hostile” that’s the mood. Our team has gone all out physically and now has a bonus to devious abilities. Each encounter will give you benefits based on what type of mood you’ve used. Here we get bonus campaign token for knocking the blocks off of these Scotsman.  Certain abilities can be used to change the moods of not only enemies but teammates. This can cause you enemies to be susceptible to the damage that your team excels in or, the damage that you currently have a buff too. This is probably the most distinct part of the game, calculating what you can do to change either your team or the opponents moods to best win the encounter.

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That’s not all though. Before I talked about athleticism and the perks that you might want on your side. Well in order to gain certain rewards you will have to pass certain challenges. Above a Saxon, the druid has challenged us to pass a test. We have three options. Push the statue of Tyr. pass the trial in the monastery’s basement, or intimidate the man. Since Dolores has a red ability, she might just excel in the physical.

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Wheel, wheel, wheel, turn turn turn please let Dolores not get burned.  With the trial passed, we receive the gift from the druid. Despite having an advantage in this challenge, there is still a chance of getting a skull and failing. This is what makes Renowned Explorers fun game. You could pass a challenge and gain the treasure you need to become the best or fail and need to pull yourself together and attempt to manage your resources adequately. Hopefully, you enjoyed this little spotlight on an indie darling. Renowned Explorers: International Society is available on Steam for twenty dollars.

 

 

Capcom Cup 2016 Rundown/Predictions Match 1: Razer Infiltration VS HuomaoTV Human Bomb

capcom-cup-2016-splash(Image fromshoryuken.com  http://shoryuken.com/2016/11/30/capcom-cup-2016-qualified-competitors-and-bracket-updated/)

It’s finally time ladies and gentlemen! For months the World Warriors of Street Fighter V have been battling it out in tournaments across the globe to gain entry into the second ever Capcom Cup.  There are some legends in the bracket, but also some new faces that have taken to the latest iteration in the Street Fighter Franchise. I’m going to run down, the bracket and give you all my opinions on the first matches. Then I’ll tell you who I believe has the biggest chance of causing an upset and forcing me to tear up my brackets in shame.

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So the first match is against the Razer sponsored Infiltration and Human Bomb, who is sponsored by HuomaoTV. Infiltration is quite possibly the front runner in this tournament. The number one seed has been earned by being incredibly solid, which is how he won EVO 2016, which was the largest Street Fighter V tournament. I feel as though Infiltration has always had a battle plan and has backup plans and more importantly backup characters ready. He will go down as one of the best Akuma players in Street Fighter 4 and will most likely go down in the annuls of Street Fighter V history as one of  the best Nash players. There is something about his decision making with Nash, that just seems to be on another level when Street Fighter V came out. I mean he did manage to win the first Premier Tournament to gain entry into Capcom Cup 2016, with an impressive win over Tokido.

Yeah, you can thank Infiltration for all the online Nash players who have chosen to emulate the “chase me and get frustrated style”. That’s how I feel at least. I’m salty. But, Nash is not the only character Infiltration has in his arsenal. Infiltration won MSF with his Rashid, who is a character that has gained popularity in recent months. We also have to remember that Infiltration is capable of almost anything. I mean he did break out a Hakan in Evo 2013 to beat PR Balrog. The counter pick is certainly possible with Razer’s Infiltration!

Now it’s time to talk about his opponent HumanBomb.I remember him best for his Sakura play in SF4, but his Chun-Li is no joke. Chun-Li, like Nash is a character that is very strong right now. Despite the thirty-second seed Human Bomb lives up to his name, by being incredibly consistent. If you make a mistake, he will capitalize for as much damage as possible. That skill with a character that is well suited to offensive play and defensive play makes him dangerous. He battled one of the world’s best Bonchan, and despite a few problems managed to get the win.

So, who’s going to get the first win in the 2016 Capcom Cup?

 

 

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(Image from 12up.com, http://www.12up.com/posts/3477086-infiltration-battles-from-losers-to-become-sfv-evo-champion)

Infiltration

Why? Despite not winning everything. He’s still the 2016 SFV EVO champion. I’d love for the number thirty-two seed to destroy the brackets, but I just don’t see Human Bomb beating Infiltration. Infiltration has already proven that is he feels uncomfortable ing the Nash VS Chun-Li match up, he could just switch to his Rashid or whatever character he’s practiced to use against his competition. Are you with me? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KOF XIV Refreshment

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Hey people! What’s up? I’m going to be real with you for a second. I’m a fighting game player, but also a PC player. The selection of fighting games aren’t great, but I’ve been playing Street Fighter V for a while. For quite some time I followed the scene a lot more than I do now. I would always try to tune into a tournament or if I couldn’t I’d just catch it later. Then I found myself not playing as much Street Fighter as I used too. Interest in tournaments dropped as well, until one lazy Sunday morning when I caught sight of some amazing KOF XIV play. I’m going to share a few matches that I enjoyed, but first I’ll hit you up with some info!

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The character roster is frankly massive for a fighting game and that’s because of its style of play. Instead of the one on one fights, that fighting games like Guilty Gear and Street Fighter are known for, it’s a team based game. Not in the way of the Marvel VS. Capcom franchise, where you have a three person team that can tag in and out of battle. King of Fighters has you build a team and then engage in one on one fights. If your character wins, then you face off against your opponents next character. Depending on how much time is left on the clock you’ll get a little health back for defeating your opponent. You also need to be weary of the amount of meter your opponent has, despite the amount of health you have. You’re opponent might be able to make a devastating comeback. These factors can make a match incredibly exciting as two players battle back against each other. Down to their last characters. One technically does better but is injured and lacking the resources that the another character has. Needless to say, that when this game comes out on PC, I’m picking it up immediately.

Starting off at around 16:44 we have a match from ECT we Have PAG OneTrueNicoMaki VS. CoinUpLud. Lud has been known for his Chun-Li play and he may have a team that represents that. Another thing that I know him for is his solid play. This first match is fairly awesome. There are combo drops, but I think this match shows some interesting points of King of Fighters. Movement is paramount. That and not dropping your combos. But, there is this constant movement. Jockeying for the perfect position for your character to challenge the other. Lud manages to land an anti-air super with Yuri at an incredibly poignant time. Nico jumped when he was in range and got caught. Then with the meter advantage, he turned things back into his favor. Then he positioned himself in a space where Lud could jump in and punish his activation. Now we have the adjustments to your team.

Nico decided to switch the lead of his team from Mai to Iori. Iori managed to put in some decent work for his team and perhaps Mai will better deal with Yuri in the future. There is a fair amount of strategy within choosing your team and Nico felt that one character would match up against Lud’s Luong. Iori managed to take her out. But, despite the health gain from winning the first part of the match, one read and one meter was all it took to tie things up! Lud managed to take out Mai, but then that meant that Nico’s strongest character was coming in with a ton of meter. But, thanks to some skill Lud managed to deal as much damage as possible, before his character was taken out. The final part of the match was a scramble. Nico desperately trying to deal damage and Lud attempting with all his might to make a few pivotal reads. In the end, Nico’s haste lead to his defeat. Think this match and this tournament might turn some people on to the game that renewed my interest in fighting game tournaments! Tell me what you all think!

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Life in The Shadows: Nightmare (Part 3)

(Shadowrun is owned by Catalyst Game Labs.)

     Light issued forth from the maniacally laughing head. Before Executioner could move out of the way, the exploder program did what it does best. The shock of the digital blast didn’t affect his physical form much, but his mental state was a different story. Was he being hunted? The sight of his impaled villager gave him all the information he needed. A long almost scorpion-like stinger appendage had skewered it. He wrenched his eyes away from the villager to the forest of data. There was a cloaked figure, its face a mixture of bandages, open sores, and burn scars. Red eyes ablaze with hatred, smile foul of mischief. Quickly the stinger retreated back into the cloak to join whatever else was causing it to sickeningly bulge out sporadically in different places.

    Ax turned to bow and arrow for the second time as the Executioner fired his killer program. A hand covered in bandages produced a ball-shaped nest and crushed it. Hundreds of tiny little creatures formed a protective barrier around him. The killer program met the shield program head on and canceled each other out.With the shield of his foe down the executioner wasted no time charging at his new enemy. With a swing of his weapon black lightning arced out straight towards the cloaked persona. The figure produced another hive and chucked it high, just as the bolt struck him. His opponent was down, but the incoming hive stalled Executioners’ advance. His own protective program in the form of a  shield blinked into existence just in time to absorb the impact of the nest and resulting explosion. He chuckled a bit, believing that this was the best his foe had to throw at him, but then his persona registered the sound of buzzing. A torrent of bugs emerged from the digital smoke the blast had created. They quickly swarmed the persona ripping through what was left of his shield. After ripping it apart the digital insects turned their attention toward the shield’s owner. Chaotically they ate through the persona, eroding and weakening its form. The attack was unexpected and devastating.

    However, the Executioner’s attack had also hit its mark. The cloaked assailant was still recovering. His thoughts went to his black ax program. With a good strike, he could kill the deckers physical body. With his mind made up, the executioner made a mad dash towards his opponent, the swarm of bugs followed nipping at his very form. Halfway through the charge, the other persona’s scorpion stinger lashed out He sidestepped appropriately and soon found himself within striking range.

“Time to die!” He screamed.

“No!” The icon screamed back.

    As if that were a trigger word for the ensuing attack, the personas constantly shifting cloak lashed out. Large gooey black strands ensnared the Executioner. Both wrists, both legs, and even his neckk were all binded gooey material.

“Who are you?” Executioner asked, frantically trying to exit the matrix only to find that the node had been altered after his initial lockdown.

The persona was immediately in his face, smiling from ear to ear, with teeth glinting like sharpened razors as it spoke.

“I’m Nightmare!” It roared in laughter as it held it’s hand up.

“Your Nightmare!” It said, still cackling like a mad man as the arm began to change.The appendage grew bigger and bigger until the bandages exploded off, revealing the horror they hid. Multiple eyes opened and closed along the severely burned flesh. Each elongated finger revealed sharp bonelike protrusions jutting out from the palm and each digit. With his entire arm glowing black Nightmare threw his head back again and laughed. The eyes on the Executioner’s avatar bulged for a millisecond. They screamed out much like Yvonne’s did before her death. A swipe of his claw ended that.

    James brought up a red screen with his free hand. A familiar password screen popped up and quickly disappeared, replaced with cameras. Within a few swipes, he found the image he wanted. A rotund man, eyes rolled back into his head, one hand frozen at the side, anther atop his balding head. One of the images in the back caught managed to divert his gaze. his attention. A quick tap increased its size. There was a tall, skinny, orc in the elevator. The nightmarish persona grinned again.

    Skinny was waiting for Executioner to call him on his comm. The decker was good but needed him for wetwork and protection. There was no shortage of trouble and getting the deckers’ hoop in and out of trouble was good yen. Couple a months ago he’d finished the run for him that almost went south. The setup was good, but you needed someone who could fight. His partner was wiz in the trix, but not in the real world. Here you had to geek someone the old fashioned way. Just like that pretty little biff a few months ago. With a ding the speakers turned on. The voice was sweet and robotic at the beginning.

“Thank for coming here today now if you would please die!”  At the end of the sentence, the elevator went into freefall.

    After editing a significant amount of camera footage and silencing a few alarms James jacked out, his head throbbed from the biofeedback he’d received in the matrix and blood steadily streamed down his nose.He took a few moments to center himself and then went on the move.  A deck cleaning cloth functioned as a makeshift tissue to dam up the torrent of blood as he packed up his deck and tidied up the surrounding area, making sure nothing was left behind, namely blood. James couldn’t help but walk over to his nemesis. He was dead frozen in place. He winced upon seeing the horror his black hammer program had wrought. Images of his coworkers briefly flitted through his mind, but he hoped that this would end the nightmares, and more importantly make up for leaving Yvonne like that. Then a particular clock on the wall of interest it read 12:30 A.M. One single solitary thought pushed the images of death and revenge from his mind.

Oh god, Val is going to kill me!

    The former wage slave made a mad dash for the stairs, deciding not to take the elevator. His thoughts were full of an angry troll at home, whether or nor stuffer shack had a few giant chocolate bars. He pushed himself hoping downstairs doing the worst parkour because the headache he had now was nothing on what Val could do to him.

    With a bang, the door swung open before James, who held within his hands every chocolate product available in Stuffers shack, two bags full of burgers, and whatever else he thought would appease his girlfriend. She was there standing in the middle of the room. Arms crossed, tapping one boot clad foot on the floor, Her trusty ax lying on the ground in front of her. For a second James wondered if he could get the ax first, but he decided against.

“I’m sorry Val, there was this crazy accident that happened, massive car pile up, I had to help and give a statement……”

Huge arms enveloped him, making him drop the bags on the floor. He looked up at her through bloodshot eyes.

“You talk in your sleep.” The troll managed to say before she began tearing up.

—————–Finding next instance of “corp” “hit” “RedFire” “dead”————————————-

You hear about those two guys in the corp building. A human runner and an ork fragged up big… Or somebody fragged them.                                                                                                                -Ripper

1.Someone fragged them, not the other way around.2 There were no alarms so it had to have been a double cross. 3. Was most likely a corp decker protecting their corporate overlords’ turf.                                                                                                                                                  -Twilight

I saw it. The tail end of it. I’m sure a few deckers snuck into the node providing freelance help to the corp. I spotted at least one working. Anyway, I made a nice little backdoor for myself to sneak in and steal some pay data when I encountered two deckers going to town on each other. One was a medieval guy with an ax. The other was this horror movie monster with bugs and weird bits. Just when I thought he was gonna get hit with a supercharged black hammer, the monster pulls a killjoy out of nowhere and black hammers him right back.                                                                                                                              -Titania

WIZ SOMEONE FRAGGED EXECUTIONER!!!                                                                                            -Ripper

This guy is > us all. I want to thank him but I’m kind of afraid to look into him.

-Twilight

Your welcome.

-Nightmare

Thanks, chummer!

-Ripper

Now I want to break into something. Think I’ll go hit up Crazy Mo’s node for some pay data. Easy hit.

-Ripper

Wouldn’t think about it boyo there’s wiz new decker there and a ton of new IC. Almost got me. It’s not worth the dump shock.

-Lady of The Lake

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Life in the Shadows: Nightmare (Part 2)

“Have a good day! You picking up dinner right?”Val said in that cute sing-song voice she had when she was happy.

 “Yeah, I’ll pick up some burgers on the way back.” James replied as he finally managed to get the impossibly large door open. He was garbed normally and had a cyberdeck carrying case slung over his shoulder. Two train rides and a cab later he was standing in front of a large building dwarfed by even larger structures in the background. People of all meta types were making their way to work. Some dressed in suits and ties, others in more casual clothing. A dark skinned woman with neon green hair, that slowly changed color to a purplish blue, walked past him. Then an orc security guard, pistol holstered at his side, requested a few gutter punks to “get the drek out of here.” James soon found himself amid the sea of bodies. Just another worker in one of the massive hives.

 

    The colorful was soon replaced with the bland. A lobby that could only be described as sterile reminded him quickly of the negative aspects of corp life. He walked up to the elf secretary clad in a cream-colored suit and stated his business, rather nervously.

 

“Um excuse me, mam.” She just ignored him.

“I’m here for the temp work. Program construction.” She just absentmindedly held out her hand. It was evident that staring down at the monitor in front of her was more engaging than actually looking him in the eye. He just looked at her not knowing what to do. Finally, she rolled her eyes and actually managed the herculean looking at him.

“I.D., temp agents have to provide a valid SIN stating that you are cleared for work. I could do it. Or…” she pointed to a large female orc guarding a door at the far end of the room.

“She could do it. She likes humans.” As if on cue the orc winked at James and blew him a kiss.” The motion sent James digging into his pack quicker than Mo told you that you weren’t under warranty.

  As if on cue, the orc blew him a kiss. The motion sent James digging into his pack quicker than Mo told his customers that they should have gotten the warranty.

She scanned the ID that James fished out of his pack. “Jacob Weatherly.” she read. “Go through those doors. Take the elevator to the ninth floor. Then take a right. Three doors down, you’ll find your assignment. James headed to the door quickly, but not quick enough to avoid seeing the orc security guard gesture towards him in a manner that would have had Val foaming at the mouth.

Ninth floor. Take a  right and three doors down, you’ll find your home for the next ten hours. The decor immediately went from sterile to claustrophobic. People scurried back and forth, in a hurry to only go a few feet. Right in front of him a young dwarven woman fell dropping a stack of files after three humans bumped into her. With a sigh, James proceeded into the mess, blending in perfectly with the chaos of corporation life. A man well into his sixties took a second from berating an employee to signal over the man who just walked in with a cyberdeck case.

“Hey you! Programmer! Your workspace is the corner cubicle to your right! You ain’t union so no breaks. You scan?” James just nodded and continued to his new cubicle. As he sat down in his eight-foot by eight-foot holding cell, he thought about the spaciousness of his new job. Crazy Mo didn’t exactly splurge on the amenities, but at least a chummer didn’t feel trapped. Noticing the prolonged glare from his boss, James decided that the best course of action would be to read his instructions and jack as immediately as possible. The sheet on his desk gave him a number and a slight description of the task. Just finish some code that a former employee couldn’t. Not too difficult from the looks of it. So James removed his Renraku kraftwerk-1 from its case and jacked in…

 

White on white. Typical. That was what this area of the matrix was decked out in. Small streams of blue data broke up the monotony, but the overall design was lacking.The persona icons scrambling about helped fix that, somewhat. Most were blue. Their bodies all had a stock robotic appearance, with numbers on their chests. 076589 glided past him in a hurry, not even acknowledging James’s presence. The true standouts in the sea of similarity were the freelancers. A bright red dog strutted around the corner carrying a bone in its mouth. A green fairy, with rainbow colored wings, was putting some form of code together. A few others strung lines of code together. Any one of them could be Executioner, so patience and recon would be the name of the game for now.

For a moment James regarded his personas form. Just a silver robot, admittedly a little huskier than the standard corp ones.There was no way he was using the one from Mo’s or the other one he had prepared. He had to blend in.  Showing up with the persona icon that guarded Mo’s stuff by fragging quite nine deckers this week probably wasn’t the best way to go. But, using the security camera codes he previously lifted from the companies matrix was certainly the right move.

He guided himself to a helpful program in the form of a white floating orb and questioned it. It asked him for his number and then passed him an unfinished program in the form of a glowing white orb. James took the orb to his own little section of the node and cracked it open. The code flowed out of it’s broken shell, like the yolk of an egg. It then reformed before him into a long almost nauseating string of code.  With a crack of his robotic knuckles, James created a silvery board in the air alongside the text, then began placing the text into it. Every so often he would change them slightly by physically writing new code with his fingers. Soon he opened another box, where he wrote a few lines of test code, then another one for with the coding for a similar program. Cutting, copying, pasting and deleting with abandon the time flew as he worked.

About three hours in one of his robotic hand rested on the example board.Suddenly the lines of code were replaced by one word. Password. Under it was room for a series of numbers to be entered. 4-7-5-6-8 filled the spaces below after a bolt of silvery light. The  screen faded out to be replaced by dozens of smaller screens, that didn’t show the neon world of the matrix, but the offices in the real world.One of the images grew larger superimposing itself over the others, it was the gray-haired office worker, screaming at the same employee. The employee shriveled at every wag of his bosses finger.  A quick swipe left revealed the feed from a different security camera. It was of A young woman sitting down in a cubicle similar to his own. Her outfit said business casual, but the rest of her was far from it. Long hair streaked with red, yellow, orange, green, and blue was tied up in a tight ponytail. Her cyber eyes constantly shifted between all the colors of the rainbow, and just peeking  out from the cover of her blouse was a neck tattoo. It was the tip of an A reminiscent of the Anarchy symbol. Someone else was here for a job, but she wasn’t who he was looking for. Eventually, he found his target. A large human man sat tapping away on his cyberdeck. Not tall in the way of Val or Mo, but large in width.

    Been a while Executioner. I see the male pattern baldness and double chin are still in effect. You’d think a guy who sleazes his way into corporate offices and kills their workers would change his appearance, but no he’s confident. He’s a good decker, who’s done this how many times before? Six months ago he popped into our offices. Snuck in under the radar after someone runner shot up half our department. Odd how it happened during the peak of a big project that required a lot of matrix work. My development team got a message telling us to work late. Jackie said she wanted to see the more dangerous programs I used, when I was younger. So I brought a few examples to slice through IC. You see, Sunny used to make me help her help mom out with rent. Mostly just opening doors, but every so often I’d have to rip apart some code. Even though I didn’t have much use for them now, I still kept them. More for sentimental reasons than anything else. We first noticed a problem when Jacki couldn’t jack out. She was the first. Then Cedrick told us there was a decker, who’d done something. Locked us in. After that, we lost communication. Then the attack programs showed up. They yelled and screamed as they chased us throughout our own node. We tried to fight them off. I managed to slow them down with a tar bomb program, but just when we thought we were clear an arrow pierced Yvonne’s icon. Grinning, the Executioner showed up, his persona screaming bloody murder as his glowing black ax severed her head. I was too late with the killjoy program, but it hit. Froze Executioner in his digital tracks. Then I made my escape. Just managed to crack the node and jack out, before he found me.  As soon as I reached the meat world I saw them. My boss, my coworkers, my friends, killed by biofeedback. Their eyes rolled back into their heads and copious amounts of blood leaking from various orifices. Cedrick was frozen in place, his body trapped mid-convulsion. Jackie was the same. Yvonne was different, though. She had blood dripping from her eyes, but it looked like she was still alive. We made eye contact for a few seconds. Silently she pleaded for me to help her, to rip the data jack out of her skull. The only thing stopping me was the sound of footsteps.

     Just as the door opened I managed to close the gate, that I had opened up to make it into the ventilation system. A male ork with a figure far different from the Executioner’s strutted in. Tall, skinny,  armed with a Baretta Model 70. He took stock of the room and then Yvonne.Her gaze stayed on her assailant. With sickening ease, he looked into her eyes and leveled his gun. A single burst from the weapon was all it took. If the complications from dump shock weren’t enough to kill her, the bullets would be. The ork paused, reached a hand up to his ear and adjusted a device. That’s when I noticed the camera staring me dead in the face. I crawled for dear life. Just managed to make it out of the rooms ventilation shaft before a spray of bullets tore up the area behind me. It was a game of cat and mouse for the rest of the damn night.

     He shot and cursed, I hid and dodged behind copy machines. Eventually, somehow, I was able to escape. Guess I got to an area with security guards, I didn’t see them, though. Not like I stopped moving to check either. After you avoid certain death it’s generally not a good thing to stay in the area where you narrowly avoided getting geeked, but I had to see this guy. I had to know who just murdered my friends. After a spending a decent amount of time enjoying myself in the Seattle rain, they popped out of a side door. My experience as a street kid paid off. Kept to the shadows so I could see them and they couldn’t see me. Even managed to hear their conversation.

“Drek we’re going to miss the bonus.”

 

“We get the main payout for geeking that one biff. You got her right?”

 

“Yeah, but what about the one that got away.”

 

“Fixed. I doctored the footage a bit and changed a few files. Even if he escaped, won’t be long before the star or some gutter punk kills him.”

 

    I was a “bonus”, that’s all I was and my boss was a paycheck. That’s all we were. I knew we’re just part of the machine and so were they, but this….it was personal. There was a lot of anger. Mostly directed at me. I was on the verge of something I’d rather not think about when this woman fell from the sky. Taking care of her brought me back to my senses. I’m not a street samurai or a ganger, I’m a decker and I’ll settle this in the Trix.

 

“Hey, you finished with that part of the code?”

 

    The robotic hand twitched at “Hey” changing the image on the board back into lines of code. Behind him was the fairy. James copied some finished code and then she left. Not before giving him a knowing wink. It seemed that he and Executioner weren’t the only ones pulling double duty.

 

    Later that night A pudgy man produced a key card for the night guard. The guard just scanned it and waved him in after it cleared. While scratching his balding head he inquired about the other programmers working late. After taping lazily on the terminal in front of him, the guard replied that four programmers were working late. He thanked the guard and headed inside, grinning while adjusting the strap on his cyberdeck case.

    Executioner past the third room from the right and kept going. No one needed to know why a freelancer was working late. Certainly not the main programmers who had been called in specifically for emergency work. Casually, he strolled into the closest room with matrix access, pulled out his  Fuchi Virtua X and jacked in.

    The world went red. His virtual reality program showed the matrix in a far different light than any other decker would see. Instead of the bland white of the corporate world, his vision was made up of red, gray, and black hues. The node was turned into a tricolored forest, perfect for hunting. Lifting his mighty ax above his head, he summoned his attack programs. Mist formed near his feet and as it dissipated, two attack programs in she shape of villagers from the medieval era took its place.

“Command us, master.” They implored in unison.The response from the being that towered over them was simple. Hunt.

Torches alight, they ran through the forests calling out for their victims. Telling them that their end was neigh. It wasn’t long before the executioner got a message that one of his targets had been found. Almost immediately he traveled to the location, only to find the corpse of one of his programs. Ripped apart at the seams. Nervously the hunter looked back and forth. Had one of the deckers been moonlighting as a runner? Maybe they were just a hobbyist with a few programs? He didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to lose out on his payday. A quick command had the remaining program at his side. Together they traipsed throughout the node.  Eventually, they came upon their quarry. A persona dutifully working. It looked as if it was a medieval prisoner. No shoes, no pants, just a long strip of ripped fabric covering its malnourished form. It had the numbers 076589 emblazoned on its chest. Silently, the ax within the executioner’s hands turned into a bow, with an arrow already nocked. The killer program sailed towards its target with unerring accuracy. Bullseye.

The target fell back after screaming in pain. Ax in hand Executioner left his program behind and leaped at his quarry. The blade turned jet black just before it severed the head of the badly damaged persona before him. The body slumped and the head rolled towards the victor. An almost exact copy of the grin he had given after talking with the guard played out on the Executioner’s face. Then the eyes of the head at his feet opened.