"Another Day, Another Dollar." A Shadowrun Campaign Journal


First Post
The Redmond Barrens is a pretty drek place to hang your hat at its very best, but this? This couldn't be considered its very best.

Nestled so deep in Redmond that even the gangers start having second thoughts, The Bear's Den is the very definition of a dive bar. The drinks (rightfully) taste like they're cut with anti-freeze, the interior is primarily decorated with bullet holes and the old, heavily scarred, fat troll in a Hawaiian print shirt behind the counter looks like he can barely stand from dipping into his own stock.

But then that's the point, isn't it? To keep the riff-raff away.

The owner, Big Bear, prides himself on providing a very specific service to very specific clientele: The ability to speak to your client without a fear of prying ears. To that end, the place is a smashing success. Tourists don't come this far into Redmond unless they're stuffed in a trunk, after the fifth local went blind Big Bear's mixed drink they stopped coming around and even the craziest ganger thinks twice before picking a fight with a saloon full of runners.

The bar has only three patrons, though with the way they cast glances at the door they're expecting a fourth.

The most eye catching is an elf wrapped in a white wolf's pelt, a wolf-like mask hanging from the front of his belt and a katana strapped to his side, a bow and quiver of arrows draped across his back. His features are sharp and predatory, his long white hair matted and unkempt. He introduced himself as Shiro.

The next is a human wearing aging black dress clothes, a tan trenchcoat and matching tan fedora. His dirty blonde hair is slicked to the side and the combination bags under his eyes and 5'o'clock shadow suggests he's been roughing it lately. He introduced himself as Art.

The last is a young man wearing a black vest and cargo shorts, an assault rifle slung across his back. Blonde haired, blue eyed, slight British accent. He introduced himself as Helios and he's the only one drinking the complementary drinks.

The wild elf sniffs his drink, it smells like a mixture of pineapple juice and kerosene. Wrinkling up his nose, he takes a sip...unsurprisingly, it also tastes like pineapple juice and kerosene. With a gag, he spits it back into his glass and slides it away from him.

Art smirks and takes a swig from his silver flask, checking his watch and confirming that the Johnson should already be here.

"You fellas in the UCAS really don't brew for drek, do you?" Helios asks, wiping his mouth. "I swear, you need to be introduced to a decent lager before this stuff kills you all."

The elf nods his head in agreement, but before they can further discuss the proper way to kill braincells (and/or render themselves more flammable) the door opens up a party of three steps through.

The first is a redhaired man in an immaculately tailored blue suit with a light pink shirt underneath, a lit cigarette held in his hand.

The other two are a pair of that make old Big Bear look like an ork; easily 10ft tall and chromed out the gills. They're awkwardly dressed in trench coats to hide their features, but even through the coats their unnatural bulk makes it easy to tell that there's not much left of them that's natural. Even the bull-like horns sprouting from their skulls are made of steel.

One of the trolls stays by the door, while the other escorts the Johnson to their table.

"Apologies if I'm late gentlemen," Mr Johnson says, pulling up a chair to their table. "The neighborhood takes a bit of navigating after dark."

Shiro and Helios glance at each other with smirks on their faces.

"Yeah, nice robots." the young Helios says with a laugh. The troll glowers with red, metallic eyes, but doesn't otherwise react to the taunt.

"No worries, I'm sure it's worth our while." Art replies, casting an irritated glare at his new partners.

"Yeah, about that..." Shiro chimes in. "Just how worth our while is this gonna be?"

"How does one million Nuyen each strike your fancy?" The Johnson says with a broad smile. The entire table sits up straight at this figure.

"My fancy's out the fragging window mate!" Helios sputters excitedly. Art's eyes go wide, but he controls himself.

"Sounds like a lie." Shiro says bluntly.

With an easy laugh, the Johnson shakes his head. "Whether you want to or not, I'm sure you've all heard of Cherry Star." he points out, referring to a 17 year old elven pop star who's particular sickly sweet brand of music is primarily enjoyed by tweens and middle aged men not usually allowed near tweens.

"Obviously." Art confirms with a nod of his head.

"Wait...you want us to kill her?!" Shiro asks.

Holding up his hands, the Johnson replies "No, no, no. Nothing so drastic. I'd just like her concert tour to end here in Seattle; at least for now."

"What do you mean 'end'?" Helios asks.

"He means kill her." Shiro insists.

"I want you to kidnap Cherry Star, then I'll ransom her back to her label. Three million even sounds like a reasonable sum for someone of her station, wouldn't you agree?" the Johnson explains. "I have no interest in the money...well, not THIS money; so whatever they pay is yours. I only want her tour delayed and ultimately cancelled."

Helios raises an eyebrow. "You not a fan?"

"You could say that. Mostly though I'm just interested in shaking things up for her label, Yamaki Records." the Johnson says.

With a nod, Art asks "Have anything to make this easier?"

Drawing out a folder from his suit jacket and tossing it to Art, the Johnson says "Her itinerary for the week and a dossier on her security personnel. You'll need it."

"Tour dates are public record, what hotel is she staying at?" Art asks, flipping through the folder.

"She'll be staying at the Bellevue Hilton, checked in as herself...she likes the attention." the Johnson replies. "She has a handful of appearances during the week, followed by the concert itself Friday night; after which she'll be leaving town."

"Forget the appearances!" Helios cackles. "I want to fragging break into a concert; how B.A. would that be?"

Shiro bristles like an offended animal. "Don't be stupid." he spits.

The laugh dying in his throat, Helios glares at the wild elf. "What did you say?"

"What do you think I said?" Shiro replies, his hand moving to the hilt of his blade.

"I think you said that crashing a concert was stupid, but I know that can't be right, because that's fragging amazing!" Helios shouts.

"That's some Wilson drek Omae." Art agrees soothingly, trying to calm everyone down. "You want to actually live to see our credits, right?"

"Yeah, you stupid AND suicidal?" Shiro asks.

Helios grabs the Fichetti pistol at his side and starts to draw at the same time that Shiro does likewise; the Johnson's perpetually amused grin doesn't abate, but Art leaps to his feet and hisses "Fighting in a runner's bar is bad form Chummer, but fighting at a meet is going to kill your rep."

The two runners continue eyeing each other, but eventually sit back down; returning their weapons to the proper place.

"Mr Johnson," Art starts, "Let me sincerely apologize for...this, whatever this was. Please, continue. Is there anything else we should know?"

"Completely understandable." the Johnson says, his smile never wavering. "Before you go after Cherry, keep in mind that this isn't her first altercation; she has a security team that makes ME envious. Make sure to check the dossiers before you go after her."

Still holding the envelope, Art nods his head. "I assure you Mr Johnson; bypassing security is among my specialties."

"So I've heard." Mr Johnson replies. Removing a credstick from his pocket, he tosses it to Art. "Ten thousand up front, for expenses. I hope I don't have to be so forward as to remind you that if she leaves town then me and my...associates will be expecting our deposit returned. We'e had runners attempt to take advantage of my generous nature before."

"Of course Mr Johnson, if we can't bring her in then I'd say you're entitled to a refund." Art agrees, eyeing the massive trolls.

Mr Johnson proceeds to slide a phone across the table. "Once you've secured Cherry then you'll need a place to hold her until I can broker a ransom. Call me on that line and I'll know to proceed. Afterwards, I'll leave your payment with your fixer and you gentlemen can ditch the girl wherever seems convenient and retire."

The Johnson stands and motions towards the troll at the door who quickly ducks outside. He reminds the runners that they've only got five days before Cherry Star becomes somebody else's meal ticket; he then takes his remaining guard and exits the Bear's Den for brighter pastures.

Once the Johnson's gone, they quickly settle their tab and move their meeting to Art's place. Since they don't know each other, they debate their preferred methods of handling this as they head to Art's small apartment on the outskirts of Redmond; Art quickly comes to the conclusion that the others are completely suicidal after hearing several plans involving burning down everything and hoping for the best.

"Running is only as hard as you make it Chummer," Art insists "Subtlety is the name of the game here!"

Shiro nods his head in agreement "Oh definitely, I'm all for subtlety, so long as something catches fire."

"Have either of you ever actually walked away from a successful run?" Art asks incredulously.

"I've done alright." Helios insists.

Shiro taps the wolf pelt draped about him, "I'd say so, if these burn marks are anything to go by." the savage elf smirks.

Art raises an eyebrow. "That's...not how I would gauge success." he points out with a shake of his head.

The rest of the trip is in comparable silence until they enter Art's home and start laying out the folder's contents. Helios snatches up the itinerary while Art goes through the dossiers and Shiro pokes and prods around what turns out to be the first apartment he's ever been in.

"Where's the computer?" Helios asks, glancing around the tiny apartment, filled with pulp magazines and not much else. "I'll case her appearances virtually before we go in meatspace."

Art explains that he doesn't have anything like that and Helios is instead reduced to checking over Cherry's blog on his phone. He already knows she'll be appearing at a local radio station for an interview, but figures that the devil's in the details.

Art quickly pores over Cherry's security and doesn't care much for what he sees. The least of their problems is a four man team from a small security firm called Olsen-Reyes; their reputation is just north of standard, but they're still professionals and should be considered dangerous.

Next is her personal driver; a man named Joseph Harlin. His relationship to Cherry is unclear but he's served as her chauffeur since before she was big; he's a quiet man with a reputation for being a rigger of some skill.

Third is her manager, Samuel Borne. He started off as a magical security consultant that somehow made the switch to agent. He accompanies Ms Star on all out of town appearances.

Last, but certainly not least, is her personal assistant Francine Charleston. Originally a B-list bodyguard primarily hired by businessmen wanting a little arm candy with a concealed carry permit, she was hired by Cherry to provide low-key protection during an awards show.
It made national news when a deranged fan charged Cherry with a phosphorous grenade and Francine leapt in the way. She suffered 4th degree burns all over her body and lost the use of her extremities...along with most everything else. Cherry paid out of pocket to have Francine put back together with state of the art chrome and ever since, she's become the center of Francine's world.

Art notices a handwritten notation that mentions losing the last four man team he sent after Cherry to Francine before the others could even get involved. They underestimated the scarred little elf and were sent home reduced to their component pieces.

As Art reads the details out loud, Shiro volunteers to handle the mage; revealing himself to be a Wolf Shaman if it wasn't obvious already. Art pulls a pack of Lucky Strikes out of his desk drawer and lights one up.

"What do you think?" Helios asks, turning his phone off.

"She'll be at the radio station tomorrow right? I say we case the joint chummers." Art replies.

It's one in the morning when they pile out of Art's Jackrabbit a block from the station and nonchalantly make their way over to it. Each of them splits up to get a better view.

Art and Helios make note of three into the six story structure; the front door, a side entrance leading into the alley where they dump their trash and the parking garage. They also note the fire escape leading up to the roof.

Shiro meanwhile Astral Projects himself into the building to snoop around. He finds only a handful of security personnel walking the halls and manning the front desk, in addition to a pair of janitorial staff and half a dozen wage slaves working on the first three floors. The 4th and 5th floors are home to the sound booths and are where the actual recording happens; the 6th appears to home to management.

None of the building is warded and it makes sense; its not exactly a high profile target, after all. Having already heard from Helios that Cherry will be appearing on Nino In The Morning, Shiro tracks down Nino's booth and gives it a more in depth searching before declaring it all clear.

With the basis of an idea in their heads, they flock back to Art's place to finish preparations, however Shiro pleads for sleep and Helios agrees, so instead they set an alarm and pass out for a few hours. They arrived at home around 4am and find themselves back outside the same radio station by eight with only four hours to go before Cherry is due to arrive.

They're exhausted, but if this goes the way they hope it does it'll be the easiest million Nuyen they'll ever see.

They quickly scale the fire escape, but discover that the heavy rooftop door is locked from the inside. They're disappointed, but weren't really expecting it to be open in the first place. Shiro Astral Projects once again and quickly glancing around, discovering CONSIDERABLY more people than last time, as well as the shimmering Astral aura of a Mage covered in fetishes and erecting a ward.

Quickly returning to his body, Shiro explains what he saw.

They convene and a plan starts to come together...

When Cherry Star arrives in her oversized Mercedes and followed by an unmarked van, the three of them immediately begin descending the fire escape to get into position. They manage to see Cherry, Francine, Sam and a pair of her security personnel get on an elevator before they rush to the parking garage.

Art positions himself near the spacious Mercedes and Helios lingers near the van; checking his watch and discovering that it's already 11:45. Only fifteen minutes until Cherry's interview.

Shiro slips behind a car for privacy and projects himself into the lobby; conjuring and directing a Force 3 Hearth Spirit to guard the front door and not allow ANYONE to leave; hoping to channel Cherry into the parking garage by blocking the entrance with a panicked crowd. He also orders the spirit to wait 10 minutes and then pull the fire alarm to get the party started.

Shiro snaps back into his body and exchanges glances with his partners. The plan is that on three Helios and Shiro will take out the men in the van while Art incapacitates and then impersonates Cherry's driver.

In all the confusion of the fire alarm and panicked crowd, Cherry should rush to the safety of her car and directly into their waiting arms. Then all they've got to do is sit back and get rich.

Of course that's the plan. Even the slightest misstep at this point could cause the rigger to call down the big guns and instead of getting rich, they could just as easily bleed to death in a Downtown parking garage, but then, that's life in the shadows...

With a deep breath they get ready.




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First Post
Everything happens in the blink of an eye. Art hauls the rigger out of of the Mercedes and delivers a couple of good shots to the chin that knocks the guy out cold. Helios sprays the van with his Assault Rifle and Shiro puts a pair of arrows into the survivor.

Before anyone has a chance to notice the gunfire in the parking garage, the fire alarm goes off and the sound of panicked people freaking out inside suggests their plan is on track. Art quickly strips the rigger of his jacket and hat as Helios and Shiro hide the bodies behind a parked car. Art then takes his place inside the Mercedes and the others pile into Van.

As if on cue a young elf girl with bright red hair and fair skin, dressed in a trendy little red dress is escorted into the garage by a human male in a neatly pressed blue suit and another female elf in a conservative suit sporting a ridiculous amount of scars and cyberware just from what little they can see.

Just as planned, they rush Cherry to the waiting Mercedes. The cybered elf, Francine, holds the door open as Cherry hops in and the mage Sam scans the garage. Too late does he notice the bullet ridden van and before Francine has a chance to get in the car peels out with Cherry inside.

Francine bolts after it, but even with her extensive modifications she comes nowhere close to catching it. Sam shouts at the two security personnel trailing behind to open fire at the van and they unholster a pair of matching Berettas to do exactly that.

Helios and Shiro follow after the Mercedes as fast as their vehicle will follow, but as they turn the corner Helios spies the mage's body slump to the ground. With a curse he slams on his breaks just as they exit the garage and slips out of the vehicle.

"What are you doing?" Shiro asks, leaping out as well.

"Mage went astral to track her." Helios calls out, readying his weapon. "I'm going to go stop him."

"Well..good luck!" Shiro calls out, already jogging away from the scene of the crime.

Art holds his gun on Cherry as he drives. "You try anything and I swear I'll shoot you." he says coldly.

Despite the fact he can't see them, he can feel Cherry rolling her eyes behind his back. "Just WHO do you think I am?" she asks incredulously. "If I thought I could yank a gun out of your hand do you think I'd hire so much security?"

Art starts to reply when he notices that the van is no longer following him. He pulls off the street and into an alley to reevaluate the situation.

With the gun still trained on Cherry, Art begins frisking the teen superstar for anything that could be used against them. Trackers, tazers, what have you... He also takes this opportunity to call Shiro and see where the hell they went.

Shiro explains that Helios stopped the car to go back and that he's booking ass back to Redmond as fast as he can. Art tells him to hang around the Bear's Den and they'll pick him up after they're clear here.

Hanging up, and finding nothing obviously dangerous on Cherry, Art puts a call into his former assistant Debra.

"Listen Deb, I don't have long. I'm in Downtown Seattle and I think I might've been made. I need a ride." Art says, snapping a set of cuffs onto Cherry's hands before hauling her out of the car and pressing his gun into her side subtly. Before she can protest he presses his fedora down over her face to obscure her identity and pushes her forward.

Debra sighs, "Art, I'll see what I can round up. Can you wait twenty minutes?"

Art glances around nervously, putting some distance between them and the car. His hand slips into his pocket and strokes the Johnson's advance payment. "There's 10,000 nuyen in it for you if you hurry." he whispers desperately.

There's a moment of silence on the other end. "I'll be there in 10." Debra replies and hangs up.

Helios rushes up the parking garage ramp, his weapon at the ready. He meets the last two members of Cherry's security team at the top, pistols drawn. They open fire, but Helios's armor easily turns them aside. Helios returns fire, killing one of the guards outright and dropping the second with a gut wound.

With a smirk, Helios advances on the wounded guard who stumbles backwards in pain. Just as Helios reaches the top of the ramp however he spots just over 100lbs of chrome and fury known as Francine. The little elf is holding a katana in both hands and tilts her head at Helios questioningly.

"Well...drek." Helios mutters. "Forgot about her."

Helios goes for his knife, but Francine doesn't so much move as flow and before the blade is even clear of its sheathe he's simply standing there slackjawed with two feet of steel in his gut.

"Tell me where they took Cherry." Francine says, her voice obviously synthetic with a metallic warble.

"She's ok!" Helios says with a pained grimace. "We won't be harmed, our orders were really clear on that!"

Francine's emotionless expression never wavers. "Drop your weapons an dlet's discuss new oders."

Helios obliges immediately. "We were hired by a wealthy fan, he just wants to meet her and she's free to go. I swear!" he hisses through the pain.

"Hope you got a name, because you're going to be leading Lone Star right to him." Francine demands.

"Oh, please." Helios says with a roguish smile. "We don't need to involve Lone Star in this. I mean, what would people say if they found out that the great Cherry Star was working with the authorities? She'd lose all street cred."

Francine twists the blade inside him painfully. "What would they say if they found out that Cherry Star's assistant left a man strewn in pieces across a parking garage?"

Helios winces, his guts on fire. "Ahh...probably that Cherry Star should have let Lone Star do their jobs?" he suggests helpfully.

Surprisingly, for the first time in Helios's life the sirens in the distance are music to his ears.

Art and Cherry find themselves hiding in a dumpster. Out of paranoia, Art has searched her again just to be safe.

"I'm telling you right now chickie, if I find out you have any surprises up your sleeve I'm going to put a bullet in your head on principle." Art warns her.

"Then I guess it's in both of our interests that you not find out." Cherry retorts snippily.

Art starts to respond when he gets a call from Debra saying she's here. Art checks his watch: right at 12 minutes.

With a truly heroic effort he hauls Cherry out of the dumpster to find Debra waiting in an old, beat up, tan van. He tosses Deb the credstick as he forces Cherry inside the windowless vehicle and fashions a makeshift blindfold just to be safe.

"Take us to my place Deb." Art says. "I need somewhere to think."

Putting the van into gear, Debra glances over her shoulder. "Who's your friend"

With a chuckle, Art replies "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."


First Post
We pick up shortly after we left off last time with Art locking himself and Cherry Star in his apartment as Debra rides off 10,000 nuyen richer. He wastes no time in cuffing Cherry to an old radiator and tossing her a mystery magazine.

The elf shakes her head and collapses onto the floor in disbelief. "Oh yeah, thanks." she says, tossing the magazine aside with a snort.

Art ignores her and pours himself two fingers of whiskey before taking a breath and calling the Johnson.

"I take it you've got her." the Johnson asks, straight to the point.

Art smiles. "That I do."

"According to the news, they snatched one of your companions." the Johnson continues, his voice soft but threatening. "Is he going to be a liability?"

"I don't know him that well." Art admits, "But I'm sure he's no stooly. Snitches don't last long in this business." he quickly adds, not wanting to throw Helios under the proverbial bus.

"Excellent." the Johnson replies. "I do so value discretion. Wait near Cherry until I call you back and give the all clear, it shouldn't take but an hour or so."

Helios wakes up with a groan, his stomach riddled with stitches and his hand cuffed to the uncomfortable hospital bed. "Well this is just fantastic..." he mutters, tugging experimentally at his restraints.

He searches everything within reach frantically but finds nothing but a paper cup of water by his bedside. Lone Star seems to be taking no chances. With a sigh of irritation, Helios begins mimicking a pain induced wail but quickly finds that Lone Star doesn't care.

After an excruciatingly long wait a tired looking woman in her mid 30's with dark hair and nurse scrubs comes in the room; Lone Star keeps the door open but lets her do her business in private. "Pop a stitch?" she asks, wincing dramatically. "Heard you all the way down the hall."

"Yeah, maybe..." Helios says, shifting slightly and finding that his side really does hurt enough to warrant a pained groan.

The nurse approaches Helios's bedside and lifts the battered runner's gown to check his injuries. "You seem alright." she says, dropping the gown once more.

Helios gives his most charming smile "They don't pay nurses much nowadays, do they? All the real money goes to the doctors." he whispers.

"Somebody has to pay their country club dues." she replies as she begins preparing his pain medication.

"Of course, like any job it's about connections you know?" Helios continues. "Getting in with the right people...people who can provide opportunities."

The nurse stops what she's doing. "What are you suggesting?" she asks, glancing towards Lone Star to make sure they aren't watching her.

"You wanna make ten grand?" Helios asks with a broad smile. "All I need is to make a call and it's yours."

She shakes her head vehemently. "No. No way, I could get in real trouble for that. Lose my job...maybe worse." she nearly hisses at him.

"It's just a phone." Helios assures her. "Having a phone isn't illegal..."

She looks nervous. "Maybe not, but I'm pretty sure giving you one is."

Helios frowns for a second, but his crocodile smile quickly returns. "How about a phone call? Make a call for me on your next break? Same price I swear."

She glances around once more out of habit and then nods. "I could probably get a message out...who do you want me to call?"

Helios is glowing. "The local VOC office, tell whoever answers to pass along a message from Jason to Mark. Tell him 'Get me a lawyer.' alright? Everybody deserves a lawyer, right?"

The nurse seems relieved, that's not such a big deal. "I'll make the call in about forty minutes." she says with a nod.

Helios smiles despite the throbbing pain in his side, as things are about to get interesting.

Meanwhile, across town Art is sitting quietly in his favorite chair, a stiff drink in one hand and fresh cigarette in the other; a teenage pop star chained up just feet away. He tries to remember when his life became so strange.

"So why you doing this?" Cherry asks in a huff. "You some kind of perv?"

Art glares at her for a moment before taking a drag off his cigarette. "If I were some kind of perv, you wouldn't still be dressed now would you?"

She shrugs. "You never know with pervs. I had a guy send me letters asking for pictures of my shoes."

Art bristles in irritation. "Well I'm not a pervert. I'm just doing my job, so sit tight and read your magazine. I promise neither I nor anybody else is going to hurt you, alright?"

"Oh that's comforting." Cherry says with a roll of her eyes, tugging against the radiator.

Art begins to respond when suddenly there's a pounding against the door, so rough that it actually rattles in its frame.

Art slowly lowers his favorite chair to the ground and then takes up a position behind it, drawing his Beretta and aiming at the door as it finally splinters.

The gun barks twice before he even sees who it is and twice more once he recognizes the bulky outline of the Johnson's troll bodyguard; all four shots hit dead center in a tight three inch grouping.

The cyber-troll laughs and idly scratches at his torn shirt. Art curses under his breath, of course these guys would be wearing body armor.

"I'll give ya points for balls." the troll says with a thick southern twang in his voice and a predatory grin splitting his massive, chromed face. "But that's about you've got going for ya at the moment."

"What's the deal chummer, why're you busting down my door?" Art demands, his pistol still held at the ready.

"Slight change of plans." the troll says, his eyes scanning the room until they finally settle on Cherry. "Rather than whatever drek he promised you guys, he's promised us five grand a head. Thanks for gift wrapping her for us though."

"F-five thousand?" Art nearly sputters. "He promised us a million EACH, he's shortchanging you guys!"

The troll laughs. "It's a con as old as the hills boy. Who do you think was promised more, the fella that shot Kennedy or the fella that shot Oswald?"

"Didn't end too well for either of them as I recall." Art replies.

The troll shrugs. "Well that's where the similarities end." he says, a massive hand wrapping around a shot barreled shotgun at his side.

Before the troll has a chance to draw however, Art has fired off another shot that miraculously catches him directly in the eye and finds its way into the soft, gooey bits of his grey matter. The troll stumbles backwards hemorrhaging blood and collapses in Art's door way.

Cherry starts to jerk against her restraints in genuine fear as Art steps over the fallen troll and puts two more into its face, just to be sure.

Art moves quickly, reloading his gun and pressing the heated barrel into Cherry's side as he removes her bindings. She trembles as he leads her out of his apartment and down the stairs. Luckily, this is the Barrens and a couple of gunshots aren't likely to draw Lone Star's attention.

Art draws his phone, intending to call Shiro and find out where the hell his shaman has gotten himself off to when he turns the corner and finds the second Troll searching the parking lot. He curses to himself, pockets the phone and grabs Cherry by the mouth, pressing her tightly against the wall as he tries to suss the situation out.

Suddenly he wishes he was somewhere nicer, where Lone Star might actually be some help. But he's just some nobody out in the Barrens, nobody cares if a cybernetic troll tears his arms off, nobody cares if...

Hauling Cherry back upstairs more or less by her head to prevent shouting, Art knocks on a random neighbor's door. A grandfatherly ork with thick glasses and a thicker sweater opens the door, squinting past his cataracts. Before he can say anything Art's gun is in his face and the runner insists on being asked in.

With the old man and Cherry secure in the living room and held at gunpoint, Art whips out his phone and dials Lone Star.

"Hello? I'm the man who kidnapped Cherry Star. You have 10 minutes to meet my demands, or I put a bullet in her head." Art says and then hangs up. The run is a bust, but maybe he can still make it out of this alive.

It's a tense wait, but within minutes there's the sound of gunfire in the parking lot. At first it's just a couple of pistols barking off, but it's quickly joined by full-auto fire and the wail of sirens. Within moments the entire block sounds like a warzone and Art regrets this decision more and more.

Finally the gun fire dies down and as Art peeks out, he sees the troll lying dead in the street...along with almost a dozen officers and two shredded vehicles. The street is filling up with a Lone Star presence; they REALLY want Cherry back apparently.

Art hears them going door to door and and lowers his gun to the ground before they even get there. As the door bursts open he holds up his hands and says "I surrender, the girl is in the other room."

He's forced to the ground by a pair of bulky, heavily armored officers as several more swarm the house looking for victims.

Art tries to assure them that everything is ok and that he's had nothing to do with anybody being hurt, however he hears Cherry in the other room sobbing.

"A-a-and that's when he made me strip officer, and he held me down..and...and..." she bursts into fresh tears.

Art just lays there slackjawed. He didn't realize the little brat was an actress too. He doesn't even have a chance to respond before an armored boot crashes into his jaw and several more connect with his ribs, spine and head.

"Stop resisting arrest!" he hears a chorus of booming voices shout as he finally blacks out from the mounting pain.

Helios lies in his hospital bed, feeling the accumulated affects of his pain medication but unwilling to just give in and pass out; confident that his brother will come through for him any minute now.

It's nearly six o'clock when the janitor comes to empty his trash and sweep the room. Lone Star only gives the scruffy dwarf a cursory glance and the whole process only takes a few minutes. Before the janitor leaves however, he drops a plastic trash next to Helios's bedside on the way out.

Once the door closes and Helios has a moment of privacy, he snatches the bag from the ground and dumps it out in front of him; discovering a considerable amount of trash and a single combat knife.

He stares in confusion at the contents of the bag and mumbles a string of epithets under his breath. "No armor, no firearms...what does he want me to do with this?" the mercenary growls.

Nevertheless, Helios jams the blade between two links of his cuffs and then wraps the whole thing up. Using all the leverage and muscle he can muster he strains at his bonds until the link in question pops free and he finds himself reasonably unfettered.

He immediately hops out of bed and glances outside, taking note that he's roughly six stories up. Glancing left and right he discovers a fire escape about four rooms over to the west that should lead him to freedom if he can get there stealthily.

As he's wondering how he's going to pull this off the door opens and a doctor appears, along with two Lone Star officers. All four of them stand there staring at each other for a long, awkward moment when suddenly Helios lunges toward his bed and snatches the saline bag from its stand; hurling it across the room where it smacks an officer right in the face. The man clutches at his face in confusion.

Helios barrels through all three of them with a hoarse roar and they all find themselves scrambling to stand up in the hallway outside. The desperate merc drags his knife across the back of an officer's tendon in the midst of their scuffle and the man shouts in pain and panic as his leg gives out beneath him.

Helios starts to charge towards the room with the fire escape, but notices another pair of Lone Star officers approaching from that direction and instead decides to haul ass down the stairs, taking them three at a time.

About halfway down a security guard lunges from a doorway, but Helios is to quick for him and with a practiced ease flips the screaming guard over the railing and to the floor three stories below. He doesn't even cast a glance at the crumpled remains of the guard as he makes it to the ground floor and tries to make a break for the front door.

Three more members of Lone Star rush to block off Helios's escape, but the merc barrels into one and presses his blade to the struggling man's throat. "Frag off or this little piggy gets it!" Helios shouts threateningly, drawing blood with his weapon to show that he's serious.

Lone Star responds by drawing their sidearms and informing Helios that they can do this the easy way or the hard way, but he is NOT walking out here after what he's done.

Helios sighs and looks as though he's had a change of heart...up until he throws his knife into the throat of a very surprised cop. His human shield spins and throws an elbow into Helios's jaw as soon as the knife leaves his throat, nearly knocking the merc out.

Helios responds by snatching his former shield's sidearm and bullrushing him into the gun wielding officer, bowling both of them over in the process. As the officers hit the ground the armed one fires twice, catching Helios in the side and stomach.

Tasting blood on his lips, Helios stumbles towards the exit while firing behind him. Between the deafening gunshots which follow him and the sound of panicked civilians trying not to catch a bullet he can't tell if he hit either of them or anything at all, and frankly doesn't care.

Once he hits the streets his adrenaline takes over and he barrels into Downtown traffic at a full sprint, losing blood with each step but too emboldened by the fresh air of freedom to care.

Helios glances over his shoulder only once, confirming that Lone Star is on his tail; however they don't have as much at stake as he does and simply can't summon the strength or speed to keep up with him, even in his current condition.

Pulling on all of his remaining wits, Helios doubles back behind them and takes another path, finally finding himself on the city's mono rail at rush hour. Covered in blood.... In a paper gown.... Brandishing a stolen firearm...

Helios looks around at the horrified faces surrounding him and laughs, wincing at the burning pain the action elicits in his stomach. He looks down through blurry, unfocused eyes and isn't surprised to see a literal blood trail leading from the door to his seat.

Glancing around he realizes he's having a hard time keeping his eyes open. Between the drugs and the blood loss it all just seems like a bit too much. Still chuckling at the fact that in a crowded car he's got a 10ft bubble all to himself Helios closes his eyes and lays his head back.

With a smile he mumbles "Knew Lone Star couldn't hold me..."

And his consciousness fades.

Helios never did stick his head back up in Seattle. Whether he died from his wounds as most believed or he changed his face and left town, that was the end of Helios as most knew him.

Art was sentenced to 36 years in a corporate prison for a multitude of charges ranging from premeditated murder to sexual assault. The trial was a mere formality, he was convicted in the court of public opinion well before the charges were even filed.

Shiro waited in front of the Bear's Den for six hours before deciding the rest of the team had stiffed him. To the end of his days he used this run as an example of the big one that got away.

Cherry Star's popularity exploded once the sordid, if fictional, details of her kidnapping became public knowledge (which happened within about two hours of her rescue) and starred as herself in a blockbuster retelling of her kidnapping.


Mr Jonson sits watching the news circus surrounding Cherry in the days after his failed run, a rather smug smile on his face. This was absolutely fantastic. He'd expected the trolls to kill the runners and then little Cherry, but he couldn't have expected the runners to take care of the trolls AND themselves. With nobody left to pay, he still had nearly 90% of his operations budget sitting in his pocket untouched.

When Cherry's numbers started falling he thought that a little 'Posthumous Remembrance Tour' might be just the thing to salvage what was left of their contract, but this was even better!

The whole world felt sorry for Cherry Star and her horrific experience and their sympathy translated almost directly into nuyen. With a laugh he pours himself a drink and shakes his head incredulously.

Too good to be true.

And the best part? In a year or two, after she's lost the public's attention, he can still hire some guys to dump her in a ditch and do the Remembrance Tour anyway.


First Post
An unrelated one shot I ran shortly after the above game^, we referred to it as 'Young Love".

Cast of Characters
Vlad is a human with a pale complexion and dark hair, has a neatly trimmed beard and a head full of discrete cyberware. Prefers the Remington 950 Sniper Rifle. Functions as the team's Infiltrator and occasionally the face.

Ovasta is an Ork with a fresh crew cut and twin sleeves of eye-catching tattoos, sporting everything from the traditional flaming skull to the classic hot lady making out with a flaming skull. Always carries an Ingram SMG and as much body armor as he can get away with. Serves as the team's primary muscle.

Dwarf is, funnily enough, a dwarf with long graying hair and a scruffy beard. He functions as the team's tech support, though is neither a rigger nor decker, but still likes to get in close with his trusty Roomsweeper and katana when he gets a chance.

Hayley is a slightly built human with short, light brown hair and the telltale twitch of wired reflexes. She carries an Ingram SMG though rarely looks forward to using it. Serves as the team's driver and backup muscle for when Ovasta isn't enough.

Like most tales worth telling, this one started in a bar.

The name isn't all that important, as all things considered it could have really been any bar, but this tale just so happened to start off in a run down dive out in the Barrens colorfully known as Tim's :):):):) and Tabs. It wasn't subtle, but delivered exactly what it promised and so proved exceedingly popular with the locals.

Hayley turns her nose up distastefully as they enter the bar and glances at the rest of her team with a 'Really guys?' expression on her face. Ovasta grins broadly from ear to ear and pays her no mind while Dwarf holds up four fingers to the bartender and Vlad nods casually to a table near the back of the bar.

At the table in question is a middle aged man wearing a conservative grey suit along with dark shades and a hat, as though they'll hide his identity.

Vlad smiles to himself as Ovasta casually snatches a beer off the bar and asks "That our Johnson?"

"What gave him away?" Dwarf asks with a bewildered shake of his head.

"Amateur or not, his nuyen spends the same as anyone else's." Vlad reminds his judgmental teammates as they saunter over to their prospective employer with a warm smile.

Mr Johnson looks at the four of them nervously before saying "I guess you're Mercurio's crew then? I mean of course you are, why else would you single me out....right?"

"You guessed right chummer." Vlad says, putting the man's mind at ease. "We're here about the umm...situation you need situated."

The man nods, and glances around nervously "Good, I was worried I'd missed you. The pay's eighty large."

Ovasta coughs at the figure so hard that beer comes out of his nose and the rest of the group seem equally surprised.

"Sounds fair." Vlad says quickly before the Johnson has time to rethink the figure, "Though we were led to believe that all you needed was a little intel gathering?"

The Johnson nods. "I do, by the end of the week or it's useless."

"So you're paying for expediency?" Hayley asks.

The Johnson shakes his head. "I've hired four private investigators and they've all come up empty handed, I'm willing to pay a premium to get this done one way or another."

Reaching into his pocket, Mr Johnson pulls out a wallet sized photo of a young lady in her mid 20's with long dark hair and painfully trendy clothes. He passes it across the table and Vlad notices that his hands are actually shaking.

"This is my daughter." the man explains. "She recently has become enamored with a young elf that I fear is only using her for her money."

"Easy enough fix." Ovasta says, cracking his knuckles. "Who's the chump?"

"I only know him as Byron, I met him only once and briefly at that. Please don't hurt him, I'm afraid it'll only send her running to him that much harder." the Johnson says and actual fear is evident in his voice. Even Ovasta feels a pain of pity for the guy.

"So where can we find him?" Hayley asks, getting back on track. "You know where he lives?"

"I'll be meeting my daughter tomorrow for another handout, I'm positive he'll make sure she's there on time." the Johnson says bitterly.

"If you got such a problem with this guy, why don't you just cut the girl off until she comes to her senses?" Dwarf asks with a disgusted shake of his head.

"I tried that." the Johnson responds. "I cut her off for a month, but... A friend of mine caught her eating out of the trash. She'd rather scavenge than break things off. I've got to convince her he's using her before they run off together or something equally foolish! I can feel it coming..."

"Don't worry." Vlad cuts in. "We'll tail your daughter's floozy and find the skeletons in his closet. You say the word, we'll even put some there."

The Johnson nods and slides a credstick across the table to Vlad. "Here's ten grand up front for any expenses you might incur. She hasn't settled on a location yet, but I'll call you with the address once I know."

Vlad nods and stands up to see the Johnson off. As soon as the man's out the door Ovasta snatches the credstick out of Vlad's hand and whoops.

"Hot damn boys and girls," the ork chuckles. "Let's go get some toys!"

It's 1am on the very edge of the Redmond Barrens when they pull up in front of a dingy pawnshop that doesn't even have a name, just a giant orange neon sign in the shape of an $ hanging out front. Of course, this far out in Redmond that's about all the locals can read anyway so it works out alright.

The door chimes as it opens into a dusty room filled with junk, trash and 'antiques' and a fat dwarf with ridiculously bulky cybernetics sticking out of his face and sleeves sitting behind a counter. The dwarf manually adjusts a monocle like cybereye with a tarnished, oversized hand and beams broadly.

Most know him as Retro, not just for his own stylishly outdated appearance but the fact that the majority of his merchandise could have easily belonged to the average runner's parents growing up.

Dwarf throws a friendly hand up as he enters the store and glances around. "We're looking for a tracking device old man. Discrete, reliable and abvoe all cheap. Think you can help us out?"

Retro hops off his stool stroking his chin and nods thoughtfully. "I think I just got something that's right up yer alley." he says, almost waddling into the back room. It takes him about 10 minutes and he waddles back out, in one hand he holds a pair of cylinders about the size of his thumb and a tablet the size of a man's hand.

"This baby fits all yer needs. It adheres to most any surface, has a broadcast range of nearly sixty kilometers, completely foolproof and I could see letting go of the whole set at...oh, I dunno...eight hundred?" Retro says with a raised eyebrow.

"Eight hundred?" Dwarf shouts indignantly. "For that hunk of scrap? I didn't realize it was made of gold!"

"Hey, this is a classic piece of tech! I'd like to see YOU find a better deal ready on demand." Retro replies, narrowing his eyes.

Dwarf starts to argue further but Vlad tosses the credstick to Retro and says they'll take it, before inquiring about renting a car while they're at it.

They get out of there 1500 credits lighter all told, but considerably better prepared.

"If this doesn't work, we're coming back!" Dwarf shouts as they head out the door.

Retro laughs and throws up a hand. "You'll be back regardless."

It's two in the afternoon when the Johnson finally messages the group a name: Luciia's Bistro. Vlad recognizes the place as an overly pretentious little joint in the Seattle Downtown area known for its steep prices, fabulous outdoor dining and low seating capacity.

By the time they show up it seems like the Johnson's already been waiting for a while, sipping a soycaf and fidgeting irritably.

Since the lunch rush is over and the daughter doesn't seem to have shown up yet Vlad gets himself seated and treats himself to a cocktail on the client's dime while the rest of the team scans the street.

While everyone's getting situated a sporty little convertible pulls in front of the restaraunt, driven by a bleach blonde elf with fashionable tribal tattoos and shades. The client's daughter is seated next to him and climbs out as she's waved off dismissively before the elf pulls around the side of the building and out of sight of the Johnson.

Vlad takes the opportunity to snap a few up to date pictures of the daughter with a cybereye and snoops in on their conversation with his enhanced hearing, though doesn't hear anything that he hasn't heard already.

Meanwhile, Dwarf slips a chameleon suit on in the back of their rented van and Ovasta cracks a large grin as he saunters down the street towards the elf whistling casually.

Byron looks up with annoyance as a burly ork stops next to him and leans against the side of his car boorishly.

"Hoi chummer!" Ovasta says good naturedly. "Don't I know you?" he nearly shouts with a gratingly loud voice.

"I seriously doubt it." the elf responds coldly. "And I don't have any change, so if you would..."

"Nah, nah, nah." Ovasta says, waving the elf off as Dwarf sneaks up to the convertible's rear end. "Didn't you go to school around here? I think we had Calculus together."

"That seems less likely." the elf replies, obvious irritation entering his voice.

"I'm sure of it!" Ovasta shouts indignantly as he hears Hayley warn them that the girl is on the move. "Tell you what, let's hang out; relive the good times, you'll see. What are you doing tonight?"

Mere seconds later the Johnson's daughter appears around the corner and rushes to the car without saying a word or even looking straight at Ovasta. The mooching elf cranks the car without acknowledging the ork any further and peels out. As he does so, Dwarf chuckles.

"All set?" Ovasta asks as they jog back to the van.

"Oh yeah, it's good to go." Dwarf assures his burly comrade.

"Regroup guys and gals!" Ovasta booms over his commlink as he and Dwarf climb back into their rented van.

By the time Vlad's made it across the street, Dwarf's already brought up their target's location and once they're confident the elf has enough of a head start to not notice them tagging along, Hayley starts the vehicle and follows a little over a kilometer behind.

The elf's car stops briefly in front of a club called Beniro's and then pulls off once more. As the team casually pulls up a moment later, they notice that the Johnson's daughter sitting in front of the club with a pair of her friends, a blonde elf and a redhaired human, smoking and apparently waiting for the club to open.

"Alright, get out Hayley." Vlad says with a jerk of his thumb.

"What, why?" she demands indignantly.

"Because we need someone to keep eyes on her while we tail the elf." Vlad replies.

"Then one of you do it!" Hayley says. "I'm the wheelman, remember?"

"We can't." Vlad explains, "She's most likely seen my face, Ovasta was already hassling her boyfriend and Dwarf, well...."

Dwarf holds up his hands in a 'What're you gonna do?' gesture. "The young ladies just don't seem to appreciate me hanging around."

She glances from one face to another and then sighs. "Fine."

Vlad pats her on the back as she slides out the door. "Don't worry about it, it's not like we're going get into a high speed chase without you; we're just going to follow his signal from a few kilometers back."

"Yeah, yeah..." Hayley grumbles, putting on a fake smile as she starts walking over to bum a smoke off the group of girls.

"Have fun!" Ovasta calls out with a guffaw as the rest of the team leave her behind.

The mark's signal leads further and further away, all the way out into the Puyallup Barrens as the rest of the team is left scratching their heads as to why anyone with two nickels to rub together would waste their time out here.

They also discover from Hayley's snooping that the girls are pretty much just cruising the bar for 'guys that like to party'.

This pleases Ovasta immensely, but Vlad forces the ork to keep his teasing to a minimum and suggests that Hayley stay put and have a drink until they've got an address to give her. She grudgingly agrees as the rest of the team slowly pull to a stop just up the road from the elf's now parked vehicle.

It looks like it was once a nice neighborhood, many years ago and the remains of several honest to goodness mansions line the street; now run down and overgrown but still eyecatching in their own way. The only one that looks livable is the one that Byron seems to call home which seems to have had some work done recently.

The convertible is parked on the street along with a pair of other similarly flashy cars. As Vlad's cybereye zooms in for a closeup he notices that the cars belong to yet another pair of lovely young ladies which the slimy elf greets with a more than friendly embrace.

Vlad smiles to himself as his eye takes a series of photos to store for later but his smile fades as he realizes his enhanced hearing can't pick up what's being said from this distance.

They quickly glance around the van before realizing that none of them bothered to bring any actual listening gear and despite their best efforts, they also realize that none of them can read lips; so they're left guessing as to what it is that the elf is saying to his lady friends.

They don't have long to figure it out however, as Byron seems to be giving them directions and while both girls have a look of excitement on their faces as they rush to their vehicles and take off, Vlad can't figure out why.

The elf himself walks into the house and spends almost an hour inside, long enough for the sun to set and Hayley to call and ask what the hell's going on, before exiting in a different suit than he went in with and seemingly refreshed. He walks back to his car with a literal skip in his step and leaps inside.

Dwarf notes that the car nearly drags the ground when the elf hops in and comments that the suspension must be shot all to hell. When the elf too takes off, they debate on ransacking the house for anything incriminating; but Vlad points out that the house will still be here in a few hours.

Ovasta and Dwarf agree that they'd like to find out what it is that the elf's up to.

According to their tracker Byron is heading further into Puyallup, so they tell Hayley to hail a cab in their direction and they'll meet up with her. The rendevous eats up valuable time, but since the elf doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry they don't stress about it.

By the time they've finally caught up with their target, it's 10pm and he's settled down out in the middle of nowhere.

They park half a kilometer away and send Ovasta and Vlad in on foot to get a better view of things. Vlad's synched his ears and eyes up to some of Dwarf's gear so that he can broadcast what he sees and hears to the rest of the team and all four of them have pulled on dark tactical armor and matching masks.

Vlad slings his rifle over his shoulder and he and Ovasta jog to what turns out to be an abandoned warehouse where Byron and a lady are helping a drunk frat boy out of a dark red Americar and inside.

"Think he's their pimp?" Hayley inquires over the comm.

"It'd certainly explain a few things..." Vlad agrees as he surveys the perimeter. "This place doesn't even have power, let alone a security system worth a damn. I'm going to get a better look." he says as he and Ovasta rush to the side of the building at a near sprint.

Once they're out of sight, Ovasta gives Vlad a legup and the curious merc just barely manages to leap and grab the wide sil of an open window before hauling himself inside. Ovasta sneaks around to the side of the building and keeps an eye on the front.

Inside the drunk and the lady are getting quite amorous and Hayley shouts "Boom, called it!" while outside Ovasta reports several more cars pulling up, two of which belong to the ladies Byron met at the mansion.

"I don't know..." Ovasta responds. "Seems a little...social for a bunch of geese."

"Hrm...well you ARE the expert." Hayley responds.

"Damn right I am." Ovasta replies, killing his mic as yet another car pulls up; this one containing the Johnson's daughter and her friends from the club.

As the ork slinks back around to the window he chuckles. "Oh, ho, ho...the client is NOT going to be happy about this. Daddy's little girl looks like she's riding double with one of her friends from the club and some drunk. Can we assume that hilarity is going to ensue?"

As Ovasta takes a running start and leaps towards the window, Vlad leans out and catches his burly comrade's hand; hauling him inside. Once situated, Vlad lays flat on the dark catwalk above the warehouse proper to get a better view.

The whole area is filled with broken and decaying crates lit with cheap tiki torches. A handful of chairs are scattered out and as the runners watch, six attractive girls lead three very drunk men to their very own special little corner of the warehouse for the time of their lives as Byron looks on, inhumanly pleased.

Ovasta places a hand against his SMG, feeling something off about all this, but Vlad shakes his head and whispers. "Be cool, we don't need any trouble here."

The ork nods, but doesn't move his hand.

"It truly fills my heart with gratitude to see so many guests enjoying themselves for this, our most sacred of rites." Byron finally calls out in a deep, resounding voice. None of the men seem to even hear him, but all of the women seem to focus on the elf exclusively; barely keeping up their carnal farce.

"Though...naturally we would have preferred a full house," Byron says and Vlad notes the look of shame that immediately hits several of the women, "We have nevertheless been more than blessed and should be thankful for what we DO have."

In unison the women shout out words of thanks an appreciation, apparently aimed at Byron himself; the majority even have tears of gratitude in their feverish eyes.

"Oh great..." Vlad hisses under his breath. "It's a fragging cult!"

"Called it." Ovasta whispers from nearby.

"You did not!" Hayley shouts over the comm.

"Well I told you that they weren't whores, didn't I?" Ovasta replies before Vlad waves him silent.

"As it would be sinful to waste our guests valuable time on mere pleasures of the flesh...let us begin the ceremony." the elf says with a flourish of his arm.

Almost as one, the three pairs of women fall onto their male partners with a bestial frenzy. One woman bites their male in the throat as the second slams a knife into the base of each man's neck while they're still reeling from their initial assault.

All four runners simply stare slackjawed as the Johnson's daughter licks her gore drenched lips while her partner in crime takes a turn biting into the man's flesh.

Dwarf quickly turns away from the monitor in disgust and Hayley actually throws up in the van while she fumbles with the ignition.

As Vlad and Ovasta look on in shocked horror the girls continue gorging themselves on the still twitching remains of their victims until most of them appear to be sick. The whole process takes only a few brief moments, but they're moments that will last the runners a lifetime.

Byron approaches each woman in turn, showering affection on his deranged followers and tasting their victims on their lips though he miraculously manages to avoid smearing the gore on himself.

Finally, Byron settles on the Johnson's daughter and smiles. She seems the least affected by the carnage and both Vlad and Ovasta surmise that she's been doing this the longest.

"Sweet child." Byron says in a voice as smooth as silk. "I can see it in your eyes. It's time. Time for you to ascend, like your sisters before you."

The Johnson's daughter gasps, actually awestruck by the declaration. "Me?" she nearly squeals. "You mean it?"

Byron nods, placing a hand against the girl's back and leading her towards a darkened office by the front door. "I believe it's time. Don't you?" the elf asks, his smile somehow broadening.

Vlad and Ovasta glance at each other and Ovasta chambers his weapon. The elf stops in his tracks at the sound and Vlad holds up a hand for Ovasta to be silent, but the ork snorts derisively.

"We didn't want trouble, but we sure as hell found it." Ovasta says, slipping across the catwalk towards the office. "This ain't a fling, a few pictures ain't going to break 'em up. The drek is hitting the fan in t-minus 10...9..."

"Just come out from up there, whoever you are." Byron shouts as he scans the darkness above him. "Don't skulk about like some thief. Have some backbone. At least have the common decency to-"

The elf is suddenly interrupted by the front door exploding as the team's van plows through it, just barely sliding to a stop in time to keep from running over the Johnson's daughter and her murderous beau.

Dwarf leaps out while the van's still moving, Roomsweeper in hand, and rolls directly in front of Byron before opening fire. The elf moves aside with a wholly unnatural speed however and the blast doesn't come close. Before Dwarf can even react the elf clocks him with a casual blow to the side of the face that feels like it came from a sledgehammer.

Smiling through bloody teeth, Dwarf drops his gun and draws his sword into his hand. "Oh, we're going to dance pretty boy." he says viciously.

Hayley opens fire from inside the van and the elf stumbles back a step, clutching his chest and flickering like a trid on the fritz. All of a sudden the elf has disappeared and white haired monstrosity more than a head and a half larger than Ovasta is standing before them; blood stains visible upon its face and claws and pieces of flesh still sticking out from between its teeth.

The place where the beast was struck appears to have suffered a mere flesh wound, though enough to break its concentration and dismiss its illusion.

As Dwarf gawks up at it the creature smiles and with a voice dripping with malicious glee says "Oh I agree, let's dance...pretty boy."

The women shriek at the sight of their master's true form, however that brief glimmer of hope dies before it can even take hold as the team hears them shout "He's injured! They shot poor Byron!" as all six women charge Heyley, knives drawn and murderous shrieks in their throats.

The Jonson's daughter is the first to take a swipe at Hayley and the runner easily dodges aside, right into the flailing blade of a second woman. Hayley grits her teeth as she stumbles backwards, glad to note the wound isn't life threatening...yet.

Before the rest of the women can charge, Ovasta leaps from the catwalk between them an Hayley; opening fire into the group indiscriminately. Two women go down and the rest scatter behind cover. Vlad unslings his rifle and takes aim.

Dwarf takes a swing at the revealed Wendigo with his blade, however 'Byron' simply bats the katana aside and slams a fist larger than the dwarf's head into his sternum; causing Dwarf to stumple back nearly vomiting blood. Hayley continues dancing around the insane women and opens fire at the wendigo with her SMG once again. She catches the creature in the side of the throat and it roars a curse in response.

Ovasta unloads into another woman and two more tackle him while he's distracted, slamming their knives into his armored form until they draw blood. Vlad opens fire and one Ovasta's attackers collapses silently missing the majority of her head.

The wendigo throws another wild blow at Dwarf but the stubby swordsman brings his blade up at the last second and severs the monster's arm outright at the elbow. It grips its bloody stump in shock and quickly shouts "You'll never get paid if you kill me...no, the girl. She has your money! Kill HER if you want to get paid."

Dwarf grits his teeth as he fights the wendigo's control and tosses his blade to the side as he stammers into his commlink "H-he's messing with my mind! Some kinda magic. Vlad!?"

A silent pop rings out and the wendigo falls over at Dwarf's feet, the majority of its head simply missing. Vlad's voice rings over the commlink "Dispelled. And you thought we should waste nuyen on a mage?"

The three remaining women stop in their tracks and shout an earsplitting, mournful wail at the sight of their beloved monster falling dead. Before they can recover Hayley lunges forward and slams the Johnson's daughter with the butt of her SMG; knocking the girl out cold.

Ovasta casually puts a pair of bursts into the remaining cultists. They're dead before they realize they've been shot.

Vlad quickly climbs down from his perch and rushes over to where Hayley is securing the girl. He glances over just in time to witness Ovasta stripping the corpses of valuables.

"You truly bring honor to our profession Ovasta." Vlad says with a sad shake of his head.

"Not like they need it." Ovasta says with a dismissive shrug, putting another burst into one of the downed women to emphasize his point. "Now I know for a fact THAT one don't."

While Ovasta loots the dead and dying and Vlad and Hayley secure the Johnson's daughter, Dwarf jimmies the door to the office and steps inside; nearly gagging from the stench. It's a slaughterhouse.

Bloody meat hooks hang from the ceiling and a massive freezer attached to a gas powered generator (apparently out of gas judging by the smell) sits in the corner. Glancing inside, Dwarf discovers the butchered remains of at least three women; he assumes followers who had 'ascended'.

With a shudder Dwarf slams the freezer shut and busts open the desk, finding just over ten thousand credits on a credstick and a briefcase full of papers signed by more than a dozen women leaving one of several of "Byron's" aliases large swathes of property.

Tucking the briefcase under his arm, Dwarf makes his way outside where Vlad is already breaking the news to the Johnson.

To Vlad's credit he's genuinely apologetic about how things turned out and doesn't ask for even a single extra nuyen in hazard pay or hush money, though that's of little comfort to a man who just received video of his daughter eating a man midcopulation.

After the gagging has subsided, the Johnson instructs Vlad that the rest of their money will be waiting for them when they drop his daughter off.

Vlad agrees and turns to Dwarf. "Anything worthwhile?" he asks.

Dwarf nods and tosses Vlad the briefcase. "Ever wanted your own island out in Outremer?" the scruffy dwarf asks with a smirk.

Vlad's eyes widen as he glances at a stack of properties that they and they alone know about with a smile. "How about you?" he asks Ovasta as the big ork approaches, wiping his hands on his now thoroughly soiled attire. "Good haul?"

Ovasta shakes his head. "Nah, cheapskates must've drank all their nuyen....though it wasn't a complete loss."

"Oh?" Vlad asks as they load up into the van.

Ovasta slaps a bloody Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon for The Greasy Ork: Pork Ribs And Fixings onto the dash between Vlad and Hayley, eliciting another gag from Hayley at the sight of an obese ork stuffing his face full of fried food and some kind of gravy.

"It's on me." Ovasta cackles through a drek-eating grin. "I can't be the only one that's hungry."

Voidrunner's Codex

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