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Shadowrun:  On The Hunt
Chapter 3

It took all my willpower not to roar with laughter.  I’ve dealt with Shapechangers for decades, but never driven with one.  It was honestly the most hilarious thing I had seen since that horrendous day when my wife died.  Here I was, in a hot ride, with a Wolf Shapechanger who was hard as ferrocrete, sticking his head out the window, tongue hanging out the side, happier than a puppy with a new chew toy and a tummy rub.  In Wolf form, it wouldn’t have attracted any attention, but he was Furless at the moment, so we got the occasional look.  He did growl at a few of the gangers, however, and no one shot at us.  They didn’t want to deal with the crazy passenger, I guess.

Over an hour passed getting to the orphanage.  I was checking for tails, paranoia gripping me as I was on duty in the Shadows now, and had to take a detour when a bridge was declared “Off Limits” when something big, mean, and nasty came out of the water, ate a few Ford Americars, and went back into the river.  Just another day in Seattle of 2070.

The orphanage was about as expected:  Decrepit, dark and dreary.  A place where nightmares were created, and childhoods lost to the system.  It was in a residential area of Tacoma, an area usually dedicated to factories, but factories needed people to work them, and thus, needed a place to live close by.  Debbie had spent the last few years of her life here, trying to make a good go of it, and then disappeared.  We had to find her, and Felix would be a good start; he’d at least tell me which direction she went, and what vehicle to track when the trail went cold.  I just hoped the rain hadn’t washed away too much.

Jet was outside waiting for me, the rain having the grace not to fall upon her, but around her in cascades, like an invisible umbrella.  Magic, it must come in handy at times.  I’d never know.  In her hands was a cheap carryall with the Seattle Seadogs logo, a parody of the Seattle Mariners Baseball team, on it.  It was most likely second-hand, or a donation after a lousy day of selling when the Mariners were playing well.  She approached the car when I rolled down the mirrored window.  “I got a few items, but we can’t track her magically.  I already tried that, you know.”  She stated matter-of-factly as Felix and I got out of the car.

“Magically, we may not be able to track, but there are more things on Earth than Magic and the Matrix, my dear.  We are on the hunt, and for that, I got a hound!”  Felix bristled at being called a hound, but moved towards the bag.  Jet’s eyes went wide as she looked into the soul of Felix and saw the beast within, and then looked at me in surprise.  It’s debatable on how old Spirits are, but Jet always seemed older than when she had been “Summoned”, and it wasn’t often she was surprised.  The fact that she was showing emotions again told me that she was relieved I was on the task at hand.  Good, I hate to see a chummer suffer.

“Nasty.  Cheap soap.  Hard to get her real scent.”  Felix said, scrunching up his nose in distaste.  “But I can get it.  Actually…”  He smelled the bag hard, “This is her bag, had it for years?”  Jet nodded.  “OK, good.  I have her scent now.”  And, with that, he started to run off down the street.  Shrugging, I followed him as quickly as I could.

I’ve hunted a lot of strange game in my life.  It’s a hobby of mine.  Snowmoose outside Winnipeg and New Boar outside Calgary are particular favorites of mine, good meat and great hides.  I even hunted Panzer Rhino once, in Africa, at the behest of my Sister, who is a Nun doing missionary work in that area.  Now that was a hunt!  This barely paled in comparison.  It was simple, really, and complex at the same time.  Felix getting the scent so quickly was a good sign.

He ran for eight blocks when I started lamenting leaving the car behind.  I should have driven after him, as he was now going on all fours, and moving quicker than I ever could.  Finally, he stopped at a corner, squatting down, looking confused.

“She was picked up here by a car or truck.  Electric-powered, midsize.  With an oil leak.”  He said, as I finally caught up.  I let the shock I felt go to my face.

“You can tell that by scent?”  I asked, honestly amazed.

“Yes.  There’s no stink of Petrol here, just Diesel from big trucks.  But the oil is used by midsized vehicles.  It could be a compact with someone putting in the wrong oil, but I doubt it.  More expensive.  I can’t scent through traffic, however.”

Jet appeared next to us at that, and looked unhappy, “Then we can’t continue to track further?”

“Jet, my dear girl, we have yet to begin!  One step at a time.  Now, find us a convenient alleyway.  I have to go someplace that doesn’t exist.”  I said, to their bewildered looks.
***
The first thing you notice about the Matrix is that it’s black as night, and filled with stars, in all directions.  There was no “Ground” or “Sky” unless you visualized it.  Some people had to, but I enjoyed the feeling of flying, which is what my Persona, the icon representation of “Me” in the shared-hallucination of the Matrix, was doing right now.  The icon was a generic one, or, rather, it would if not having been build by my Grandfather.  It was the old “Sariariman” or “Salary Man” icon, a simple man in a chrome suit, but the resolution was jacked way up, and, in this incarnation, heavily damaged, dripping molten steel from seeping wounds.  My flesh body was back at my car, laid out in the back seat while Felix drove us around.  I didn’t like someone else driving, but what I was doing was semi-illegal, so keeping on the move would be a good idea if I somehow started to be tracked.

At least, that was the original idea.  I had a better one after I hit the ‘Trix.  I often tell the Shadowrunners that I work with that “You are your contacts”.  I was now taking my own advice.  Dropping downwards, I moved past the glowing buildings and personas that made up the digital cityscape of Seattle.  The Emerald City that was Seattle’s nickname was apparent in the Matrix, the city offices a glowing green and designed out of a storybook.  The generic personas for public users at Data Terminals all over the city is a Green Golem.  But not everything was green in the virtual landscape, the Lone Star building was an ancient adobe fortress with the iconic star above the gates, the Aztechnology pyramid was there in all its glory (And secrets), and then there was the Dark Emerald, the underground community of Seattle’s Matrix, ShadowSea.  Descended from the infamous ShadowLand BBS, it was the premier Hacker Hangout, filled with dirty secrets that people didn’t want to be let out, there for the reading, and, occasionally, commenting by the peanut gallery, people like myself.  It also had the Matrix’s version of a few bars in it.

There was no access codes issued, no permissions given, except what you can take yourself.  In order to get in, you have to hack it.  Can’t break in, you shouldn’t be in there in the first place.  The security isn’t exactly tight, but it’s not a cake-walk either.  If it weren’t for my Uncle Jack, it would have taken some effort.  He often gives me a copy of one of his older masking programs that allow me to slip by a lot of medium security items, often better than the “Drek Hot” programs the rest of the Hackers were using as well.  Contacts come from the strangest sources, especially when you grow up with an “Uncle” that lives in a computer.

ShadowSea, like ShadowLand before it, was run by Neo-Anarchists, and it showed in its design.  The place was sculpted and designed by extremely ingenious people, but they followed no set design idea, things firing off left, right, and center.  It was chaos incarnate.  I loved this place.  Looking at all the icons denoting all the documents here, paydata from runs gone bad, articles written by “residents” explaining things that Shadowrunners were expected to need to know, as well as items that were just interesting.  And, sometimes, information that couldn’t be trusted to anyone else to ensure that it got out, such as the giant dragon icon that was Dunkelzhan’s Will, designed by the Presidential Dragon, and put into its read-only place by the infamous Captain Chaos himself.  The Will had survived even the latest Matrix Crash a handful of years ago, and a few items still hadn’t been fulfilled, despite over a decade passing.

Much as I had wanted to peruse the articles, I was on a timetable, and jumped into another node, The Blue Box.  Despite the name, it wasn’t based on the old Blue Boxers of old, but, rather, the oldest (And still going) science-fiction show in history.  The Blue Box was an old British Police Box that was bigger on the inside than it was the outside.  A “Control Console” in the center dispensed drink programs that’d give you the same effect of alcohol, yet allow you to kick off the effects at any time.  Ironically enough, the program was based off of Black Intrusion Countermeasures (IC or “Ice” to use the slang term) technology, the same kind the Corporations used to kill anyone going after sensitive paydata.  As usual, it was a hopping place, filled with the Hackers and hangers on that practically lived in the Matrix.  I was bound to run into at least one of these professionals that could get what I needed in half the time I would have needed.

I was partly right.  I didn’t run into one, one ran into me, with a huge Glomp and a cry of “MONEY!”  The Tackle-Hug dropped my Persona in a flash, but not in any kind of attack, it was sheer affection.  Speeder was her name, and her icon was a generic “Girl” icon that was boosted up in the resolution, and vibrated at a fast speed.  A lot of people thought this was homage to her hero, the infamous FastJack, but I personally think it’s just how fast her brain worked.  And the only thing faster than her brain was her fingers and her mouth after that.  I didn’t even try to understand the blather coming out of her, catching only one word in five, if that.  I think it was about her latest shopping trip and the wonderful dress she got that matched her Commlink.  Or perhaps about some new shoes.  Or a wiz new program she just made.  Or a hack she just completed.  Or all of the above at the same time.

Speeder was a good kid, making as good a life as she could in this world.  Her mother had been a JoyGirl, and Dear Old Mom’s Pimp had decided that Speeder would make a good one as well.  Starting at ten, Speeder had been jacked full of hormones to make her grow up fast, physically at least, in the areas that mattered.  Realizing what had happened, she’d run away, and was in rather dire straights when she was found on the streets by Sensei, an older hacker, breaking into a vending machine using nothing but the keypad.  That was three years ago, and she now had a solid rep in the Shadow community, if considered a bit strange.  I had hired her for a few runs, and, aside from being as hyper as humanly possible, she was as good a hacker as one could ask.  In any other community, there’d be outrage with letting one so young do such dangerous things, but the Shadow Community had an old saying, “Old enough to be shot at, old enough to shoot back.”  Not many Shadowrunners had children, but those few kids learned to shoot as soon as their wrists could handle the recoil.

“Sowhatbringsyouhere?” she finally got out, slowing down enough to finally allow me to understand her.  She didn’t get much slower.

“I need someone to do a simple hack, Traffic Control cameras.  I’d do it myself, but am on a timetable and…”

“OKgreatIcandoit!  Wherewhen?”  I gave her the location and the estimated time, and she ran off without any further discussion.  I had just gotten a Beer 2.0 from the console (After giving it a good, traditional whack with a hammer) when she came back, file in hand.  “OKhereyougo!”

“We didn’t negotiate a…”

“That’sOK!  Easynothingtoit!”  She explained, throwing the packet at me.  It was the camera recording, GridGuide™ records, and schedule of cleaning from the automated street sweepers.  My persona looked at her with wide eyes.  “Silly!”  She said to me, smiling, and then ran off.

I quickly downed my Beer 2.0, and zoomed back to my own CommLink that I was interfacing the Matrix with, and jacked out.  I owed her a whole box of pixie sticks for this, but owed myself a great amount of distance when she got them.  Maybe it was time for another hunting trip in Africa again…
2070. Seattle.

How to hunt in the Modern Jungle.

Shadowrun is a registered trademark of WizKids Inc. All Rights Reserved. This work is not intended to infringe on any copyright, and is used without permission.

Just a bit of Fan Fiction, folks. Please consider it free publicity!
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:iconghostbaine:
ghostbaine Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013
"I owed her a whole box of pixie sticks for this, but owed myself a great amount of distance when she got them.  Maybe it was time for another hunting trip in Africa again" classic absolutely classic :)
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional Writer
Thank you very much!  :D
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:iconghostbaine:
ghostbaine Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
not a problem mate, it was a great short series if the muse strikes you i would love to read more :)
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Busy writing for the actual game now:  rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.p…
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:iconghostbaine:
ghostbaine Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
oh wow well done mate!
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Thanks.
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:iconnikitatarsov:
NikitaTarsov Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
WizKids and Wizard o.t.C. are no pleasant people......with the 4th Edition SR is falling to a capitalist mafia.
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional Writer
Fifth Edition is looking a whole lot better.  :D
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:iconnikitatarsov:
NikitaTarsov Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Yeah maybe, but made from the same mafia who gives a fuck on the fans or the world - maybe they react on the bunch of pissed fans, but thatīs a consideration of the marketing, not a way back to good old style. The new authors are mainstream, not like the smart guys who was allredy bullyt out of the editorial stuff. 
Could be that it looks better, but they wouldnīt get my money nevertheless. And not a single good word. 
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Professional Writer
Oh, well, as one of those new authors...
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:iconnikitatarsov:
NikitaTarsov Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Nothing personal but yourīre in a pool of sharks. These guys arenīt nice, i know some storys what let me warn you. Shurly your work isenīt nessecary bad or something, but i wouldnīt buy it of course of this guys.
See, i think ther is a little need for responsibility, the company for its product, the authors for ther company and so on. I understand if you would say, itīs the money iīm living from, and itīs ok. But i donīt gain money for saying anything good to a product from people who destroyed the game world of SR. So - i have the freedom to say that i donīt agree with ther acting against some of the authors(maybe not against you, maybe you can live with it)and ther acting against the fans(even if the most of them not even mind, or would if you nail it to ther heads). 
As i was joung, roleplayers was a scene with some rules. Social minimums. If a company had done something like this, reedit all rules just to sell new books(and, the new rules are more stupid and with more mistakes than ever before(and i saw 1th edition!)), they could have selling collapse of 40%+

Today roleplay is popular, every idiot plays it or buy SR novels on trainstation shops for long journeys. Iīm a relic in some kind, but if i see the option - itīs absolut okay. 

And - i still know youīre one of the authors, i think itīs one of the most respectable ways to be honest to a person. Btw. i canīt judge your work, just your company. 
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:iconbenzie:
Benzie Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007
Awesome! <3
I love how you have touched on so many aspects of the shadows... and the era in so few chapters. This would make a really great introduction for a SR newbie..then it's all sprinkled with shadow geeky goodness for those of us that go all warm and squishy when you mention Captain Chaos and Fast Jack!

I am in love with your description of the matrix version of Seattle too... all emerald and story book...

and major kudos on the chew toy tummy rub bit... I lol'd. =p
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007  Professional Writer
I tried to capture the universe without too much to confuse a reader that had never heard of it before.

And, what, no props for including Dunkie's Will? I'm stealing bits out of that if I can ever get a campaign going!
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:iconbenzie:
Benzie Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007
Sorry! Credit where credit is due! kudos on the onclusion of "Dunkie's" will.

lol... I think just once someone should have called him Dunkie... to his face.
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007  Professional Writer
Well, had they ever met, "Money" would have.

In my head, Mr. Johnson's Grandfather did meet the Great Dragon online once, and did call him Dunkie. Old man like that has seen five kinds of Hell, and come out the other side. A Draconic Hell would only be another trip down memory lane for him. :P
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:iconbenzie:
Benzie Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007
Sounds like quite the backstory! WIll we be privy to it at some point?
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:iconcanray:
CanRay Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2007  Professional Writer
Jon "Money" Johnson has been a long time work for me. One of those characters that just stuck in my head.

I have a long history for him, but am not likely to write it. After all, he's not the type to publish memoirs.

Well, until the statute of limitations runs out...
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