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.