Shadowrun: On The Hunt
While my C-N Jackrabbit was a sweet ride, its back seat leaves a lot to be desired. It had limited legroom, seatbelts that were next to useless, and a short seat that an Elfs skinny Hoop would slide off of. I would have fallen into the foot well while my attention was focused in the Matrix if I hadnt been stopped by the bucket seats in the front.
Will you quit chasing cars! Jet bellowed at Felix, who was yipping in pleasure at driving, I know were not supposed to go in any set pattern aside from this signal thing, but still
Still, its time to pull over. I said, I got something, and I dont exactly want to drive while showing it. Sitting up, I looked at the two in the front. Felix was watching the road carefully, we were on a highway just outside of Tacoma, and he had apparently been chasing random cargo vans, a big puppy at heart I guess. Find us a nice place to get something to eat, Matrix hunting always makes me hungry.
A quick trip to a hole-in-the-wall eatery got me some overcooked soy-burgers and a Q-Cola (The Feathered Dragons Choice!). Felix had ten soy-burgers as well, and Jet turned her nose up at the soykaf. While eating, I messaged Sensei to remind Speeder to not do too many pro-bono jobs, and edited the data packet that Speeder had gotten for me, stopping myself when I started putting in extras as if it were a Corporate Presentation. Some habits died hard, even when you want to kill them, and this was one of them. I had tried to win my Fathers appreciation by helping him with his presentations. It hadnt worked, and made things worse, really. I hadnt imagined they could have gotten worse back then, but I was only a kid
The only people here is an Ork waitress and her husband, a Troll cook. I gave them a stern look, and they got the picture quickly. They would be deaf and blind, as long as I left a big tip, and they would state to anyone who asked how they loved the company of the Dwarf trio that bought the decades worth of soy-burgers that were now going down Felixs gullet.
What are we doing here? Wasting time
Jet complained. I waved her off, however, non-verbally asking for patience while I chewed the last of my burger. Felix was motioning for more food, however. Feeding a Shapeshifter was expensive. Pulling out a mini-trid display, I hooked it up to the datajack installed in my head, and downloaded the presentation. The holographic display lit up the small table, and I had the attention of my compatriots. Felix was giving it a look, interested in a different way of tracking, or expecting an Urban Brawl game for all I knew. Jet just looked disgusted, a common reaction to things such as this. Shed have preferred to have had someone there, who later sketched what happened, as that would have Soul.
Alright, I was able to net us quite a bit of information. First, it appears that while Debbie left of her own free will, it didnt end that way. The video played as I finished talking, it was a bad traffic control camera, old, abused, with a shift to the green edge in color, but there was no mistaking a small girl struggling against being loaded into a van, pretty well considering that she was bound hand and foot. The back doors opened, revealing the small chromed name of the vehicle, which was zoomed in on, and displayed, a Ford E-250, fairly generic, nearly perfect urban camouflage.
What about the driver? Jet asked, Can this
Thing show us a face?
Nope, sorry, overwhelming tinting on the windows prevents that. A bit too paranoid in a way, far too dark for any magician to try and nuke the person inside, but it also keeps the cameras out, even high-quality ones, which are not usually used in this neck of the woods. And this was the only angle we have. The rest of the cameras in the area are either pointed in the wrong direction, out for servicing, or have been used as target practice. I scowled at that. Traffic Control was partly a job of the city to perform, but a lot of the security companies were involved with it as well. They made great evidence for carjacking and other such nefarious deeds. Not to mention makes for great Trid when the car chases happen. But Lone Star, Seattles Law Enforcement Corporation, had decided to let it slide completely into the hands of the City, which was woefully under funded for such things.
Then its useless. Jet said, disgusted and disparaging at the same time. I shook my head at that, as I let the playback continue.
The punks doing the pushing and dragging were easily enough identified, the colors they wore were shown full-on to the camera a few times, and those were blown up as well, Looks like were going to have to talk to the Bouncers, and see just how far they do bounce.
GridGuide? Felix said around a newly arrived burger. Wolf, he may be, he was still a person in the 70s. And thus savvy to technology.
Glad you asked! Yes, that was also part of the package, and next on the agenda. The van is owned by a small firm that is a numbered company. I looked at a pair of blank faces when I revealed that little bit of information, A numbered
Never mind, it cant be traced easily or quickly. Its probably just a shell corporation or a front of another sort. That got only slight recognition, which was better than abject confusion. As for where it went, it took a few trips around town, and picked up a few more people. The trid blipped into four smaller displays, each showing the van and some struggling women being trussed up and thrown in the back, just like Debbie. As before, none of the shots were able to see the interior of the van. On purpose or not, none of them showed the driver at all. The GridGuide tracks the van into the Redmond Barrens, and then, well, stops. Theres no traffic control system there, and no way to track it electronically.
So, we track other ways. Felix said, perking up.
We track by asking the Bouncers nicely to please tell us who the driver was, pretty please.
And when they refuse to answer? Jet asked.
Then, then we ask not so nicely. I said, with a cold grin of my face.
The Bouncers headquarters was an old apartment complex near the border of the Redmond Barrens, far enough away from Touristville, the only police patrolled part of the area, that anything short of a total war wouldnt attract any official notice. Felix and I decided to go in casually, with great subtlety and finesse, leaving Jet to use her powers to ensure we had a fast getaway if needed.
My head jerked to the right as I kicked in part of my modifications, and my reactions seemed to speed up as the world seemed to slow down just a bit. My step got just a tiny bit bouncier. The door guard was in the middle of asking who the frag I was when I was when I introduced myself with a right hook. He crumpled hard when my flesh-wrapped and titanium-laced knuckles impacted with his stock face. Fast and hard was the only way to play something like this, and I had a lot of anger to work out of my system. I figure if I kept going at the rate I was, I might get it out of my system in an Elfs age. Probably for the best, Id be bored out of my skull in a week with my wife in Valhalla. Well, a week after were doing reuniting.
With Felix at my back, I went thorough the building, kicking in doors, punching in faces, looking for the leader of this band of reprobates, a Troll named Doorman and his equally large and horned brother, Matt. Most were just kids, barely teenagers, but dangerous despite that. A lot of them were busy chipping, living their pathetic lives in a fantasy of digital perfection. Others were busy with the other form of income the gang had, joytoys. Those I kicked in the crotch as they struggled to disengage from the partner of choice and pull up pants, I had little respect for Pimps, especially ones that obviously didnt properly care for their Product.
I was on the last door on the third floor when I found them, three meters of ugly each. Matt replied to my gentle knocking with an aluminum baseball bat. I parried it with my left forearm, the ceramic plate built into the Duster kept the bruising to a minimum, even if my bones hadnt been laced with titanium it would have still hurt otherwise. A quick kick shattered his right knee, dropping him face to face, whereupon I introduced my forehead to his. Trolls have thick skulls, in addition to their horns, but I was far from standard specifications, and (Door)Matt dropped like a stone. I dragged him into the room as Doorman stood up, working at an AK-97 in pathetic condition. Bad enough that he couldnt even chamber a round.
Pulling out my own equalizer, the Browning Ultra-Power, I felt it go through the half-second diagnostic as my body interfaced with the smartgun link. The condition of the pistol appeared in my sight, along with a picture-in-picture view of where the muzzle was, zooming around until it rested upon the unconscious Trolls skull, Just the Trog I want to see. I said with a smile. The useless Kalashnikov dropped with a clatter.
What chu wants? Doorman asked, gruff and emotionless even for one of his Metatype. He was trying to figure out who I was, as he asked, and his Adams apple worked, sub-vocalizing to his Commlink. Felix had my back, so I hardly worried.
Oh, nothing much, just looking for a little lost lamb, which one of your boys had seduced and betrayed to the streets. Open your Link and Ill send you who I want back. After I see her condition, well talk about how youre going to pay her back for any pain she has gone through. Well start with your brother, I think. I said, digging the flash suppressor into the top of Matts head. Matt decided that was the time to stir, so I twisted at his horn a bit with my modified muscles, he whimpered at the ministrations.
Ju know how menny slitches we do dat to? Doorman asked, exasperated. I stared at him, my emotionless golden eyes hidden behind mirrored plastic lenses, but my face shifted slightly. It was only a micrometer between frustration to outright rage, and I showed it in a textbook way. I let my nostrils flare a slight amount, just to show how hard I was at suppressing the urge to ventilate everyone here. I
a'ight. Send it.
Commlinks were amazing things. They are personal computers with immense computing power in a compact form. They handled a good portion of the life matters of a person. System identification number, bank accounts, address book, data storage, key to your apartment, controlling your trid, everything. They were as necessary an item as a wallet and photo ID back in the 20th century. I sent Doorman the recording of Debbie being dragged to the van; her face zoomed in on as she struggled to get out of the gag. I liked her already, her eyes said shed only stop dying in death, and even then might continue. I was the same way.
He watched the recording as his re-enforcements arrived at the doorway. Felix growled and went at them. He had started whining that I was having all the fun half-way through the second floor. The screaming started a few seconds later. Doorman swallowed as he finished watching. Dont know noffin bout dis.
Really? It was at this point when I wished that the Browning had a hammer to cock back, that was a great intimidation trick. But the caseless rounds were electrically primed, and didnt need a physical shock to set them off. Well then, maybe Ill just get the information out of Matt. Matt
Do you know anything? Matt groaned, No? Oh well, too bad I dont believe you, guess Ill just have to open your mind to it.
My hand jerked as I gave the command to fire, the .45 round impacted into Matts right horn, shattering it close to the skull. Hed likely have a concussion as well. Matt screamed in agony; awake, but not wishing to do anything. The scent of burned hair and cooked flesh filled the room as the flare compensator shifted the muzzle blast to the right and left of the mouth of the barrel. Steam rose from the top of Matts head and my left glove. I missed? Well, Matt, youre lucky that your brain is so small. Im sure my next shot will hit however
WAIT! Doorman yelled. Blood was thicker than water, and he probably didnt want to consider what would happen to him after I was done with his brother, Dont know her
But van. Know da van! Crazy guy, he come here, he pay us fer women. But not joygirls. Guud qal-ity he say.
Notin else. Paid fer no questions, too. Doorman was worried now. The screaming had stopped, and a very satisfied Felix came back, putting on his loose vest, blood was wet and fresh on his face and chest. I gave him a hard look, and flipped the pistol around, aiming at the gang leaders kneecaps and then back to his brothers head in a movement quicker than naturally possible. Wait, wait, wait! He have drum in van. Green, wit logo. I take pic, tink it make great tag! Sending now!
The picture was poor quality, 2D only, obviously from the cheapest Commlink on the market. Doorman got more than just the Logo of a drum, but also part of the face of the driver. It was a lead. OK, Doorman, guess your artistic flair just gave your gang some grace period.
Gotta know. Why yews care?
Because being an orphan doesnt mean she doesnt have family, Doorman. And if you think my compatriot and I are dangerous, then you really better hope we find our lost sheep in good condition, because when our employer is done with you and your gang, the next group to use this building wont find enough of you to bury.