Stealth Mission 18: The Lodge

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As Stealth made his way out of the sordid soykaf shop his nostrils were filled with the dingy night air. It was cold and enough to shock him out of his indignant mood. The majority of the people on the streets of the kreuzbasar paid little attention to him, but the young girls with pink hair, a servant of one of the most influential information brokers in Kiez was rapt at attention, so much so that she barely caught herself staring. Her eyes shifted from him to her PDA. Calmly she ran one hand through her multicolored locks and smiled as the dim light from her device illuminated her face. It was a good trick. It might have worked on another runner. Probably Blitz, but the elf rigger knew that the jig was up and by this time tomorrow all of the players looking to hire him would know. He was pissed. If it wasn’t for the heated conversation that he had had with Luca Derr had probably alerted every patron within the establishment of his displeasure. People had died in a well put together run and a well-known person of interest was caught in a heated conversation with another person of intrigue. Rumors would start soon, but Stealth didn’t care about that anymore. Calmly he smoothed out the finer edges of the dark blue ballistic cloth suit he had purchased during the run and fixed his demeanor. The mask of anger that had consumed the elves face was replaced by another. One of disinterest. Something he’d learned during his training in Ares and hadn’t really gotten rid of until this very day. In much the same way the informant had tried to hide her motives, Stealth did the same. One hand slid through his long brown hair and turned his control rig on. In mere seconds his vision doubled. The drone that hovered none too far from him became another set of eyes.

The process was always jarring. His consciousness had split, but that mask of disinterest didn’t crack. He had the machine hold a flight pattern, similar to how it usually does. The key difference was that every so often it angled itself so it’s cameras could catch errant reflections as he began his lonely trip back to the place the team called home. He appeared as a normal man walking amongst the others, hardly aware of the tens of eyes that glanced at him as he passed. The young woman from before had followed him for ways. The Strato drone had angled itself just enough to catch her reflection in the very soykaf shop she no doubt would scurry back into to relay her findings. Others paid attention but didn’t go to the lengths of tailing him like the human waif who attempted to stay just out of sight. Stealth took stock of their expressions. Some seemed to regard him with respect as others had a slight drek eating grin on their faces. No doubt knowing that whatever mission he had taken he’d received no pay. The situation around the deal didn’t matter, but soon word would be out that he was emotional. That was what bothered him. Monika got emotional and look where it got her. Not that he’d missed out on a substantial sum and guaranteed jobs, but the circumstances around it. Luca said that he and Stealth were just the hands and eyes of a larger collective. That had the greater good in mind. It was a bunch of Bull Drek. The same shit Ares told you after a security guard got smeared against a wall following one of their actions. The same thing that they said when an asset was killed due to their possible treachery. Same shit different people. No matter where you are you’ll be used, the only question is whether you’re fine with it. The mega corps made the rules and if you chose to do anything contrary to their plans, you were as disposable as a soykaf filter. The elf chuckled for a second.

Standing there in the middle of the street, dressed as impeccably as he was, the man drew quite a bit of attention. The strato showed the faces of those around him. The girl stood eyed him from Malit’s shop, politely browsing the wares, but sneaking up a few glances towards the rigger. Others just glared, some seemed to want to approach him, but all of them stayed far away from the chuckling shadowrunner. With a heavy sigh, he continued on his way back to Amsel’s curio shop. At some point, his stalker disappeared down an alleyway most likely not wanting to get caught on whatever security system Paul had installed. Just before he entered the building the strato drone caught his reflection in the window of his home and the image gave him pause. That mask that he had thought he’d covered had reared its ugly face yet again. His eyes had narrowed. His lips were locked in a deep frown, and everything else about his posture seemed to express a man on the edge. With considerably more effort than last time, he forced his anger and resentment down until his face was in its normal state. Neither happy nor sad, impassive and entered the establishment.

As soon as his boots hit the fake wood floors his nostrils were filled with another scent. As opposed to the pungent scent of soykaf that filled him with disgust, or the smell of the kiez that had sharpened his senses, this smell was warm. Even comforting. It was a mix of the cigarettes that Blitz chain smoked as he tapped away on his deck. It was the smell of synthol, that told him that the punk rock shaman had been partying a bit. And the smell of gunpowder that reminded him of the former special ops soldier who slept here. With control, Stealth walked past Blitz who stopped his coding slash smoking binge to call out to him.

“Hey Stealth”, he shouted in that annoying voice of his that sounded far too comforting to the rigger at this point and time. “When’s the next job? Hope you haven’t been running solo without us!”

And just like that, the idiot had stumbled his way onto a nerve that almost elicited a passionate response from his leader. Calmly the rigger replied not even bothering to turn around.

“Soon Blitz”.

“Great Boss. You know the situation.”

With that, he resumed his activities. If Blitz was that hard to get past, the elf dreaded his other teammates. Paul sat at his computer typing away as Glory lounged on the couch. Glory looked up at him and silently nodded. While Paul politely welcomed the runner back.

“Welcome back Stealth I’ve met with another party who is interested in procuring our services. A full transcript is available on your computer.”

“Thank You Paul” was the response. For a second the savvy fixer noticed something but quickly returned his to his work. Dietrich was the next person to great Stealth. He had a bottle of synthol in one hand a plate of something in the other. Nachos Maybe?

“Hey Boss”, He smiled still evidently celebrating his nephew’s rescue from Humanis.

“Thanks again for Alex, he’s a good kid just…” for a second his features darkened. “He’s had a rough life and got thrown in with the wrong crowd. Woulda has been better if he’d fallen in with the rock scene, hell even neo jazz. At least we’d have something in common. But, humanis. That. That’s something I didn’t know how to handle. I just knew I had to get him out of there. Thanks again boss. If there’s anything I can do just tell me.”

Stealth pointed to the bottle that Dietrich clasped within his tattooed fingers and held out his hand. For A second the Shaman just looked confused, but then he understood. Without a word he passed his boss the bottle and went to rest on the couch next to Glory. The doors in front of Stealth opened and he was regarded by the figure that had given him so much peace of mind as he came back home, but now he regarded her with dread. The easily eight-foot tall troll covered in the latest in frag bullets gear was standing right in front of him. She looked down at him and before she could even speak, Stealth held up his free hand telling her wordlessly to shut up.

“I’m going to need the room for a few alone. It won’t take long I just need to work on a few things alone.”

She looked down at the elf. He wasn’t as physically imposing, but the look in his eyes was different from the last time the two were in this position. It was just after Monika had died and he was full of doubt. His eyes were determined and the drone that had carefully made its way behind her hadn’t given her time to think. Whatever it was it had to be important, and she’d seen what he could do with that drone. So, she wordlessly left the room and joined Dietrich and Glory tilting the couch slightly to her side. As the door closed behind him and the locks engaged. Stealth unscrewed the top of the Synthol bottle and took a swig. The smell of synthol burned his nostrils as it burned his throat, but that’s in part what he wanted.

“Fuck!” he yelled after taking another swig that seemed to go on for ever. On the opposite side of the door. Even Glory perked up at the sound of hearing their leader scream. The team exchanged glances as the string of profanities hit their ears. Blitz ran into the room submachine gun in hand and deck slung over his shoulder.

“We under attack?” The frenzied decker managed to ask before another word could audibly be heard from the other room. Dumbfounded Blitz raised an eyebrow quizzically.

“Boss bring a chick home?”

“No Blitz”, Paul managed to say without sounding condescending. “I think the stress of his new position has finally gotten to Mr. Stealth.”

With a sigh, the decker calmed down. He rested his smg on on top of the table next to the small television in the common room and snagged a nacho or two off of Dietrich’s plate as he lounged on the couch across from the rest of his team.

“You know”, the words somehow made it out between crunches. “If he needed to get rid of stress there’s this new novahot sim I” He trailed off as he looked around the room, obviously a tad bit embarrassed. The only face in the room that showed any sign of knowing where the man was going with this was Dietrich, whose grin was widening by the millisecond. “A friend could take care of that for him.”

The former punk rocker couldn’t contain his mirth anymore and started laughing. Paul just sighed and went back to his work paying no attention to the no longer audible sounds of Stealth or the growing fracas concerning their team leaders “stress”.

On the other side, the elf had nearly finished off the bottle when he spotted the mission computer. It was a ramshackle monstrosity. Parts and pieces obviously ripped off of machines that were not factory compatible with each other, but that never mattered to Monika. She always used to say that she didn’t care if her deck looked shit, as long as it had the power she needed. Like a moth to a flame, the man found himself sitting in front of the giant contraption. Long, dexterous fingers found themselves tapping away at the keys. First, bringng up the previous logs of Monika, she talked about him and the rest of the team as Stealth finished off the rest of the synthol. If it had helped Monika to talk about this maybe it’d help him he thought after watching her last recording. It was meant to be her message from the grave, and it had served to guide him however oddly.

Those long fingers typed away again, not quite achieving the speed at which Monika had blazed the keys and not even close to the unskilled banging of the team’s newest decker, but there was still a mad fanaticism to them that made every stroke echo in the riggers mind. Soon his reflection played out on the main monitor and Stealth could barely stomach it. It was him. Although it looked like he’d been on a week long binge. Alcohol. Drugs. Chips. Something like that. His hair was mussed and his eyes were red. Had he shed tears? With the same measure, he had had on the streets. The man was put back on again. His hair was moved back into place and he adopted a posture the exact opposite of the sad state that he’d been in for the last twenty minutes.

“Hello”, he addressed the camera. “I’m Stealth A Shadowrunner, who is between a rock and a proverbial hard place. I don’t know if this will reach Eiger or Dietrich, hell if this all goes to drek Blitz might be leading the team. If it’s Paul. I vote for Eiger to take lead on the team. She’s calculating and efficient, but she still has some emotions. It means she still has some morals.” He paused trying to collect himself. A lump began forming in his throat as the images of tonight’s events blended in with the horrors of working security at Ares. All those years ago he had been a puppet, that was as disposable as A soykaf filter. Undertaking the now gargantuan task of keeping all of his emotions in check, the Elf forced down whatever had tried to bubble up and continue.

On the other side of the door, a heated conversation had sparked up between Blitz and Dietrich.

“So you think he’s into robots”, Dietrich roared in laughter as Blitz stumbled trying to find the right words.

“Look, man, I’m just saying I haven’t seen him check out any chicks on our runs.”

Dietrich arched an eyebrow slightly distorting the tattoos on his forehead. “So you think he’s gay.”

“Or just a professional.” Eiger chimed in from across the room, lightly blowing on a fresh cup of tea, that looked like it was a child’s toy in her hands.

Dietrich just threw his hands up in annoyance. “I’m just saying I’ve never seen him check out anyone maybe he’s into bots.”

Dietrich just laughed and the troll sat down on the couch with him trying not to spill her drink.

“Remember Silky. He seemed to like her.”

Glory came into the conversation from out of nowhere despite her position next to Blitz on another coach. During the deep discussion about their team leader’s sexuality, she seemed aloof. But she had apparently been paying attention the entire time.

The three sat dumbfounded by the team medic’s words.

“I think it prudent to divulge the reasons that pertain to my message. Today I participated in A Shadowrun that upon completion would have resulted in A series of lucrative opportunities to our team. I trust that I need not explain to you the gravity of our current situation there is a dragon known for ruthlessly incinerating her enemies, some insipid program within the matrix that was capable of killing multiple highly skilled deckers, and a security contingent of unknown size that may worship said dragon.” There was a deep audible sigh that filled the room. With another exhale fingers became interlocked.

“We would be fragged if it weren’t for the hope of finding Dr. Vauclair, the dragonslayer. But, that is not the focus of this message. Whether you are a shadowrunner or apparently an electrician, you will have to make certain inevitable choices compounded by the cold hard realities of life. Time is of the essence and with an opportunity to make more than our standard endeavors, I let myself be used. This Black Lodge hired me, threw me into the fire with a team of runners unsuited to delivering a package, let alone to conduct a complicated infiltration mission. I got it done, just like I’ve done for other less than reputable organizations. But, there was always an air of professional courtesy between us. Make no mistake I’m a murderer, A Thief, and A fairly deplorable person. But, I am not a mindless drone!” For a brief second then came facade disappeared and the true anger that Stealth had come out again. This time it didn’t go back down.

“Back at Ares I disposable and I knew it! I was something that would receive a certain amount of pay and in return give the corporation myself in exchange. It’s for the best of the company. They say. It’s for the best! Just like Luca said in the shop. We are expected to allow the Lodge to exploit us for a fee. Never to question the higher ups, because they knew what they were doing. If they really gave a damn, why would they put a bigot on the team, knowing my race and that of the other members? For the same purpose, they included a man who couldn’t speak German. They didn’t care. Only that their task was accomplished. The collateral damage, pain, and loss of talent would be considered a net gain, not a loss. But, then again the test was more than that. It was to ensure my docility. To make sure that I would always follow their rules. I was desperate and they used that. Monika was a heavy proponent of the flux state and that was used against her. Monika once told me that freedom was having choice. And in this line of work you have the choice to accept a job or to not. Once you give up that option, once you lie down for the money or some hypothetical greater good. You’ll lose that choice and just become another drone in the shadows.”

At that Stealth hastily ended his recording and left the room. The file was left in a folder that was labeled “in case I die”. As soon as the door that separated him from the rest of the team opened with a pneumatic hiss, his nostrils were filled with the smell of soy cheese and herbal tea. Not wholly unpleasant, but the looks on the faces of his allies were slightly disconcerting. All of the people in the room save from Paul regarded him with wild looks. Even Glory was slightly off. She was blushing slightly. They hastily excused themselves from the room each, in turn, measuring him with their eyes. Blitz handed him a note when he passed. As the room cleared Stealth finally felt like he could relax. The weight of the world was on his shoulders, but he felt refreshed. Until he opened Blitz note. There were several dubious sites that offered hot elf on ork action. Silky number and contact information, the burned out girl from the club. Also, A list of sims that included said elf on ork action with an offer to alter the sim to resemble Silky.

For the first time in what felt like years, the elf laughed. It wasn’t a chuckle but a full on gut busting laugh.

“Paul”, he asked. “What the hell went on out here?”

“I’d rather not say”, was the response.

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Stealth Mission Log 5: Past Kindness

“Look”, he threw his hands up in mock surrender. “I’m just saying. I’ve seen a lot of drek. People who don’t look out for people, let alone other metas. I’m just happy I’m with decent people for a change.”

The woman’s anger dissipated as she looked down at the person directly next to her. For a few seconds, it looked as if she was about to say something, but stopped herself just before the words got out of her mouth. Eventually, she managed to pull the right words together.

“I’ve seen it too. I grew up out here. Seen the way people look at us. Seen how they treated us. As soon as I was old enough I joined the KSK.

The slightly dusty curio shop’s room was silent as Green Winters, the brother of the man who bested a dragon told us the chip truth. Feuerschwinge, the dragon that had laid waste to Germany was alive! She wasn’t just alive but actively hunting down those who knew too much. Some decker Hellebore had found some matrix crumbs that pointed in the scaled terrors direction. A corpsec team responded, killing her. Not before she was able to capture her attacker’s face. A large orc with skin grafts, just like the one we’d met in the basement of Harfeld manor. But, evidence suggests that since Hellebore found the trail leading back to the beast’s den, she had hired some new matrix security. Clockwork, Hellebore, Monika, and even Green Winters were all eliminated within the trix. “Ghosts” of deckers who had disappeared were appearing to others. Apparently not talking, but they had spooked enough people in the digital world that those who frequented the net knew about the rumors. That was something that struck Stealth hard. Whatever was in the matrix was bleeding edge. Be it a decker or a new IC something that could eliminate so many skilled individuals was as dangerous as the dragon that had set her sights on them. You could hide from a dragon. The man who had survived the attack was a slight testament to that, but could you hide from something that held it’s domain in the matrix? All of our communications could be compromised. Winters was destroyed by his reliance on his web of digital contacts. The elf looked over towards Paul Amsel. He was a skilled johnson. The graying man was old enough to remember when DVD’s were a thing, so he had to know how to handle things face to face. Hopefully.

The look on his face, gave the rigger some hope. Despite the news he didn’t seem as scared as he was angry. You can’t really blame him. Monika was used. Monika loved the F-State. She believed in this anarchistic state form and that was what killed her. Above all else she would protect it. Stealth smiled a bit at the thought. She was childish, slightly insane, and obsessed with trideos, but her conviction drove her and made her one of the best deckers he’d ever seen and this piece of drek used that to turn her into bait! Then he got his hoop fried!

Blitz fidgeted nervously next to his new boss and who could blame him? He had gone from a former gang decker, to being hunted, to a shadowrunner, and then wound up being hunted again. But, this time by a dragon. By all rights he should have been catatonic, but he hadn’t freaked out. He hadn’t immediately run out of their base screaming “I’m out of here”, so maybe the human was sure of himself. As if on cue, the former ganger rose his finger up towards his nose and scratched it slightly. He looked to the left to the right and plunged it not so smoothly into his nose. Or maybe, he was just too much of an idiot to grasp the situation.

Stealth let out a loud sigh. The team had gone from a Monika to this guy. As odd as it was his mind wandered away from imminent immolation from dragons fire to Monika.

The tell tale sound of fingers tapping on plastic keys filled a dingy warehouse room. Monika Schafer sat clad in a white t shirt and camo pants. Her face illuminated by the screen in front of her. An open bag of soy chips to the right of her and an empty soykaf cup next to her. The woman’s eyes were bloodshot. The quickly flitted every few moments trying to give them some type of break. Stealth leaned up against a wall just far enough to avoid the light that the small trideo cast. He was wearing what he wore on most runes, his former ares gear. All Ares iconography had been removed of course, but it still made him itchy. Not that he couldn’t afford better armor. He and Monika had had a steady stream of runs since the accident. It was the fact that he was so comfortable with it. He didn’t want anything else. The thought was almost enough to make him sick, but if that didn’t do it the smell of those damn incense that monika burned to “improve the smell”. The place smelled like motor oil, mildew, and possibly devil rat droppings. But, adding cinnamon to the mix hadn’t “improved” drek. It smelled like the world’s worst bakery.

Monika didn’t talk much about the smell after she’d blew out the flaming sticks, just sat down, jacked into the jackpoint just under the trideo, gulped down her kaf, and began her work. That was two hours ago. Every now and then she would grab a chip out of the bag or wince a bit. Stealth just tried to relax. It was a basic mission, part of a run that they were going to be a part of next week. That hadn’t stopped the ex-corpsec man from having his drone make rounds around the warehouse though. The way that the group of runners were organizing the op was that they got the info on the location of the target and the other two runners were gathering the supplies and running down contacts. They were new didn’t have much of a street reputation. Couldn’t be trusted. Unlike Monika who was currently seizing. In seconds the Elf was halfway to ripping her datajack out of the jack point, but the decker stopped him. Her hand was trembling slightly, but there was enough strength to it to stop the larger man. Her hazel eyes were marred by their condition. If he had thought her eyes were bloodshot before, that was nothing compared to now. Her face as a whole reflected her eyes, red and flushed. Blood trickled down from her nose and her teeth were clenched hard. Despite her pain, the woman just wiped away the blood and and smiled. Her grin was enough was bright enough to make what had just happened seem like a scraped knee.

“Sorry Stealth”, she spoke her voice harried and her breaths labored. “I hit some Black IC, but I’m almost through.”

He responded to the woman’s words by returning to his position. Just as he began turning the trideo perked up, blaring louder than it was previously “Tune in to Wyrm Talk where Dunkelzahn will talk about Anarchy the principles behind the F-State.”

For the second time that grin made it’s appearance.

“Gotta get this done quick! Can’t miss wyrm talk and Stealth”, there’s something up with this one. Just like that her eyes began staring at nothing. The man removed his gun from it’s holster and redoubled his drone’s rounds.

True to her word Monika got done quick. Within the next ten minutes she had finished her jaunt into the matrix and passed the rigger A dataslate with info on the location of the run and a as she put it a “secret agent”. It was the other elf who was a part of this run. He acted as a face, but apparently he was dirty.

As Stealth perused the information the program, that Monika waited for with baited breath began. She waved over her companion, who’s head was too busy memorizing data to mind. They sat next to each other on the cold damp warehouse floor. Monika enraptured with the “riveting” talk on politics and the climate that Berlin was in. Stealth was busy plotting the demise of their mole. Perhaps, he could takeover the elevator and have it unceremoniously drop or just shoot him. His ears would pick up something every once in awhile.

“That is why the Flux state will never last. People have a tendency to act in their best interests. At some point an individual will irrevocably affect the balance of the delicate nature of it’s anarchy. Which will lead to it’s demise.” The great dragon spoke strongly and assuredly, but the person sitting next to him was so into the program that she was yelling at the screen.

“That’s why someone has to protect the F-State. If there’s someone there shielding it, protecting it from misuse, then the state will live on.”

“So, what you want is controlled anarchy”, He couldn’t help but chime in.

She thought long and hard about her answer as a supporter of the new state of Berlin began speaking. After a few seconds the grin returned for a third time.

“Anarchy helps ensure that no one is in charge of everything. These corporations only have competition from themselves. Governments can’t even touch them. It’s suffocating. But constant shifts bring uneasiness. So someone will try and destroy the state, but if enough neutral parties act as guards against control then the state will flourish.”

“So to ensure chaos, you have to actively combat control.”

“To an extent”, she replied as flowery as ever. If the right parties fought together no corp not even a dragon could control the Flux State.

Now standing amongst a group of runners, being hunted by a Dragon. Stealth could only hope he had the the right neutral parties.

Stealth Mission Log 3: Addicts in the past

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(Youtube link down below)

The pounding music, blaring lights, and “activities” reminded Stealth of Monika as he walked into the hotel/dance club’s elevator. Attempting to leave the cacophony behind he hastily pressed the first button that he could reach on the patchwork console. With a slight tilt of his head, he noticed that the rest of the elevator was surprisingly unoccupied. Behind him Dietrich, Glory, and even more importantly Eiger with her fist held up to signal the team to stop stood sizing up the lift. There were obvious marks that would suggest that the hostile takeover of the only decent part of DrogenKippe. Bullet holes dotted the closed off section of the elevator enough to see a bit of the shaft. A look up would reveal severe damage. The place where someone would escape in case of emergency was hammered quite rudimentarily into place. Scorch marks that couldn’t be buffed out formed an outline around the hatch. “A grenade, perhaps?”, was what he thought.

“If we have to get the fuck outta here, I’d go with the stairs” Dietrich spoke as he pointed to the carpeted floor below Stealth’s boots. Among the plethora of stains and years of dust was a fresh new blemish. It was a dark brown, the color of oxidized blood.

Dietrich was observant, Stealth had to give him that. In his discomfort, he had hastily rewired the elevator and got on. It wasn’t going to collapse, he could tell that, but the rest of the team couldn’t. Combined with the obvious signs of struggle, they were a tad hesitant. Instead of asking Stealth about the unsafe conditions, he merely stated a question, not to discredit their new leader, but to draw attention to his concerns. The surprising social graces of the tattooed shaman was what was surprising. The elf took immediate action to alleviate his team’s worries.

With the grace of a trained engineer, the shadowrunner pulled out a small tool box from his pocket.Gloved fingers deftly opened the case and gently lifted out a small screwdriver. In seconds it was buried just behind the elevator panel. With a pop, the plate slid out to expose the horrific wiring. It looked far worse than it really was. Despite the veritable rat’s nest of crisscrossed wires, exposed copper, and general clutter it was functional. But, the team didn’t know that. Another tool appeared within his hands. The silver rod issued a small red flame from its tip, that quickly began cutting through wiring. Dietrich looked upon the elf inquisitively, Eiger with a slight disgust that hadn’t left her face since Dante barked at her, and Glory just started. Disarmingly Stealth smiled as the elevator panel slid back into place. The buttons came aglow clearly showing the floors that were available.

“That’s fixed. Now Eiger could you help me with something?” The troll frowned at the question, but she stepped into the elevator slightly ducking down as not to hit her head on the metallic ceiling. “Could you open that”, he requested. The troll just rolled her eyes, while bringing the butt of her shotgun to bear against the already dented metal. Despite her size, the force that was used was perfect. Enough, to knock it upwards, but not enough to cause a disturbance. Behind them, Dietrich and Glory formed a bit of a wall in an attempt to hide what was going on from the club’s patrons and more importantly it’s owners.

After the soldier was done with her work, she regarded her commanding officer. Stealth made eye contact with her and pointed upwards. Her face scrunched up even more severely. Before there was an air of annoyance even anger, but now there was only contempt on her face. But, she again followed orders. She dropped down to one knee and interlocked her fingers to give the elf a boost. Silently her leader climbed up through the now open path to the top of the elevator, flashlight in hand. He shined it this way and that, not really expecting to see anything, but it was more to establish knowledge. After a few seconds, he climbed down and beckoned his team to step in. This time, there was no hesitancy. The now glowing one was pressed and the doors behind the team with a standard bing. Dietrich broke the silence with a question.

“So, what was that check for anyway?” Stealth waited a second before immediately answering. Sure enough, Eiger answered for him. “A standard tactic used to protect corporate installations and military facilities where a rigger will take control of a building’s elevators and other mechanical components. Not standard for gangs running a business out of old factories.”

“First thing I’d install”, was the elf’s comment. Almost immediately he could feel the soldier’s angry eyes bore a hole in the back of his head, but that wasn’t where his mind was. The ork Silkie had brought back memories. Her sunken in eyes reminded him of Monika, back in the day.

Bullets soared past him and Monika’s heads as the ducked around a corner. Monika was lacking her trademark data jack and decker gear, though she had an AK slung over a bare shoulder. Clad in a sleeveless white shirt, camo pants, and black boots. She huffed and puffed as her eyes regarded the man next to her. He wore a standard security guards uniform, the “Ares” symbol slashed so many times, that almost no one could recognize the mega corporation’s symbol. They silently communicated. Monika unshouldered her weapon and readied it, while Stealth reached up to turn his control rig on. A scream issued forth from the hallway they had just come from. The woman went to speak to her companion, but he just held up a single finger to his lips, while the other turned on the control rig. Within seconds he could see everything his slightly damaged drone could. A few armed gangers were stalking their prey, a woman with multiple wounds on her body. Through her blue rags, the drone’s camera could clearly see the defined red spots that were growing larger with every passing second. Despite the dire wounds, she was attempting to crawl away.

“What’s the situation”, Monika damn near screamed in his ear. Unfazed Stealth calmly told her the of the situation and that he was readying to “take the shot”.

“At what”, she screamed. A sudden realization came to her as her face became pale.

“Blue?”

The elf nodded and he attempted to move his drone without drawing their attention of the machine gun wielding enemies.

“Why”, Monika asked adjusting her grip on her own weapon.

“She knows where the meet is. If they capture her, they’ll inform their employers who will at best make our mission more difficult.”

“At worst ruin, the run” Monika asked already knowing the answer. The elf just nodded.

“Cover me”, the shadowrunner yelled as she simultaneously slung her AK over her shoulder and dashed down the hallway, with a grenade in hand. The entire scene played out before the elf’s mechanical companion.

With a fury, Monika threw the explosive while running towards Blue. The gangers took aim, but one yelled to take cover. Two managed to take some form of cover, while two were caught within the full blast. With Blue in tow, Monika made a mad dash back towards Stealth, but she wasn’t as fast as she was without the ninety-five pounds of dead weight. The two who hadn’t been injured in the blast fired frantically at the duo.

Frag repeated itself multiple times in Stealth’s head as he tried to realign another shot. The drone had been heavily damaged. Most of its hull had been exposed and multiple wheels were out of commission. He’d only have one shot. An Ork ganger advanced managing to clip Monika in the leg. She stumbled nearly falling, but the familiar sound of a doberman’s mounted gun spurred her on.

The shot was perfect. The Ork’s head exploded. Stealth could swear he saw a tooth bounce off of the machine’s hull before the remaining ork opened fire. Despite having experienced it dozens of times before, the feedback through his control rig was something Stealth was never prepared for. From the tip of his skull to the bottom of his toes, not a single piece of him didn’t feel a shock. Disoriented and in pain the elf managed to get to his feet, just as his companions rounded the corner. Together the duo carried a half conscious mage down the stairwell. “Nice shot ace” was all she could say through hurried gasps and winces of pain.

Just when the two got to the bottom of the staircase Monika began giving first aid to the bullet-ridden mage. Stealth held his pistol up covering the only route the ganger had.

“I’m hurtin Monika. I need it”, Blue spoke in a harsh whisper. She stopped her bandaging to exchange a look with the former security guard who had lost it at this point. “Frag”, he said aloud, not giving a damn who heard him.

He leveled his gun towards Blue, who Monika immediately got up to protect.

“Calm down”, were the best words that she could come up with at the moment.

“She showed up to the OP high! She’s a junkie Monika! What secrets do you think she can keep? You think she won’t rat you out to that Go Gang you stole from? Or me to Ares? It wouldn’t even take nuyen all it’d take is some product at half price.”

Monika just gave the smile again. Her eyes were twinkling as she slowly walked up to her partner and put one hand on his gun.

“A bullet doesn’t solve an addict’s problems. She needs help, that’s all.”

Zap. A lightning bolt flew past the duo as their eyes followed the trajectory, the found the last ganger, fresh smoke issued forth from the hole in his face. With the smell of ozone still fresh, they helped Blue to her feet and made their escape with renewed vigor.

“See”, Monika said grinning from ear to ear. “Even an addict could be useful. All we need to do is get her some help and she’ll be back to running with the best.

“Us?”

“Of course”, was the response.

The ding of the elevator broke Stealth out of his memory, just as Eiger began to step forward. Stealth walked out in front of her and surveyed the area. His thoughts immediately flooded back to his past, but at least he had a troll this time.

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.