Shadowrun: On The Hunt
So what do gangers taste like, anyhow? I asked Felix as we walked back to the Jackrabbit. The neighborhood had barely noticed our presence, the Bouncers being pretty much the only exception. A bit of a brawl like this had only whetted my appetite for more socially unacceptable violence for a good cause.
Alligator is the closest that I can compare it to, only tougher. Not as well fed. Slight hint of chemicals. Spicy aftertaste. Grandpa had always warned me about questions I didnt want answered. I had been hungry for more soyburgers.
Jet was impatiently standing next to the car, seething with supernatural effect around her. She had cloaked herself and the car in some kind of magic that prevented others from noticing her, but didnt affect us. I didnt understand it, but it worked, so I wasnt complaining. That was quick. She said, back to unemotional. The protection around her
Weakened slightly for a second. Shes very scared, cold, and wet.
This tells us shes likely still in Seattle. I said, smiling and patting her on the shoulder, And with what the Bouncers gave us, were one step closer to getting her out of there. I was running the Logo through the Corporate Courts identification computer system as I spoke, something that I had completely legal access to. The joys of having a legitimate life, to go along with the woes of things like income tax. The wait wasnt long, And the information is: Tri-Delta Disposal of Washington State.
Debbie was loaded into a van that had a drum from that company; Im getting the details on it now. They really need to make Commlinks for Spirits, wonderful tools! Now, lets see, mission statement is boiler plate for a toxic waste disposal company from the 2010s, obvious shell corporation ownership to a chemical company, financial details lost in the Internet crash of 2029, more likely deleted and blamed on the crash
Ah, here we go, was bought by Nikanomi Ecological Reclaiming Incorporated. Holdings are at
Where? Jet asked, putting a tiny amount of emotion into her voice.
The Rats Nest.
Even the worst places have their bad areas. And, in Redmond, its the Rats Nest. A dumping ground for garbage and toxic waste. And thats just the residents that live there. The stuff dumped into it over the decades by the Corporations make it even worse. Using one of the Packs connections, we were assured that my Jackrabbit would be there, mostly untouched, when we got back. Which meant that I jacked the security system to the maximum level and demonstrated what would happen with a Devil Rat. The large, furless rat jerked a few times, and then dropped to the ground, cooking. Mostly untouched became completely untouched.
Pulling the Colt Cobra SMG from the door holster, I jammed a few extra clips for it in my dusters pockets, and reloaded it with Gel rounds. It helps when you can shoot a hostage, and with the smartgun link, I could pick a shot carefully enough to ensure shed live. Shed be in pain, but alive, and safe with us.
Felix, hopefully you can scent in this? I was hoping we wouldnt have to do a box-by-box hunt for her. Jet was looking concerned, and I got the impression she was understating the amount of fear that Debbie was feeling. We were on the outer-edge of the area now, my boots crunching something disgusting underneath them.
I doubt it. He sniffed a few times, and scowled, Not quite. Wait. He stripped out of his clothing quickly and changed. A scruffy Dwarf watched with wide eyes, pulled out a clear plastic flask, which he quickly threw away, and placed a hand over his heart, obviously swearing to never drink again. I mentally gave him a week. Felix sniffed a few more times, and then looked at Jet and I, and ran off. Keeping the bullpup SMG concealed under my jacket, we followed through the area, past pathetic forms with their broken dreams and lives. Shacks made of salvaged materials flew past as we tracked a sparse scent that only the supernaturally powerful nose of a wolf shapeshifter could find. Looking back quickly, I spotted that Jet was right behind us, hovering over the filthy ground, carrying Felixs clothing. I shuddered at the thought of what Felix was stepping on.
Felix finally skidded to a stop in front of a shipping container, and pawed at it, wanting to get in. A weird bit of faint chanting could be heard, I couldnt make out the words or language even with my artificially enhanced hearing, but the sounds of it sent an ice cold shiver down my spine. I turned to Jet as she suddenly stopped, appearing confused, and then angry.
This thing is warded. I cant get it. This is why I couldnt find her. She said, changing before my eyes. Gone was the beautiful and kind face I knew so well, here was a spirit of vengeance and wrath, ready to bring down carnage like all of the Norse Gods combined being taunted while hung over on Irish whiskey.
Can you break through the ward? I asked, running the Cobra through a complete diagnostic. The barrel wear was at 97% of nominal, action at 102% of nominal, full magazine loaded, round in the chamber, and warm in my hand. Happiness is a warm gun, and a warm gun is a happy gun.
Yes, but it will be difficult.
Then Ill go in by myself. I said, standing tall, and then turned to Felix, You tracked her well, Felix. Its time for you to head home. Felix only shook his head and growled. Tracker and fighter I had asked for, and it was what I got. The streets would run red with blood if I so wished. Death to my enemies would come on four legs and with powerful jaws. I smiled at that, its good to have friends like this.
This was a stupid thing to do. It was the right thing to do, however. I didnt have the fear of magic that most people did. I knew it wasnt inherently evil, and seen it used both for Good, Evil, and Indifference, just like any other tool. But this had me worried; I had a bad feeling about what was going on here. It felt twisted and wrong. The only time I had ignored this feeling was when I went to the opera with my wife, after she told me about being nine months away from being a Father
I mentally set the Colt to semi-automatic mode and slowly entered the container. It was a mansion in the Rats Nest, large enough to house a few families, mostly watertight, wouldnt burn down, and had a door. The fact that a single person held it was a testament to his power, or his ability to inspire fear.
The container was filled with strange scents and sights, hung herbs and barrels of toxic waste. In one corner was a cage of welded steel, holding a variety of whimpering women, just watching what happened in the center of the room, on an altar of welded steel drums. In makeshift robes stood a human with a heavily scarred face, his right eye white and sightless, chanting, oblivious to the physical world as he worked in the astral plane, gathering magic, and held a wickedly curved blade in a bruised right hand over the girl bound to the twisted altar, Debbie. She fought against the restraints as he cried out, and plunged the dagger down.
Thunder rolled through the container like an eldritch Gods bellow, and I realized that I had aimed and shot the dagger without even realizing it, having forgotten to turn off the enhanced reflexes afforded by my cybernetics. The bullet hit the blade, skittering off as the madman shimmered for an instant, his arcane powers protecting him from the projectile. He gazed up, rage filling his good eye, and gibbered with madness and hatred, waving a hand at me. I had gotten his attention away from Debbie. A wave of sickeningly green liquid flushed up from the floor right in front of me as I draped my duster over my head, hoping that Felix had gotten out of the way. The liquid hissed wherever it hit, sending forth choking fumes. I suppressed the urge to gag and vomit as I moved the SMG out from the protection of my jacket and mentally commanded the view from the smartgun to by the primary view for my eyes. The insane magician ducked quickly behind his steel altar as I triggered a three-round burst at him, and the chanting began again. Pain then suddenly exploded in my left hand, the liquid had eaten through the leather of my glove, and was now working on the flesh beneath.
I was moving while spraying over the altar, tagging Debbie as a Friendly in the smartlink, preventing the gun from firing when aimed at her. Felix was barking loudly, and the chanting ended with a growl and a curse. The scarred magician ran past, waving his right arm, stabbing into the Wolf attached to his leg. I hoped that the blade wasn't silvered as I aimed the SMG at him, and cursed myself. With the pain in my hand, I had gone buck crazy on the mental trigger and let loose with the entire clip. Further proof that I wasn't any real warrior, just played one on the Trid.
The magazine dropped with a puff of compressed gas as I moved for the altar, reloading without thought, jumping up on it, covering Debbie with my body and, more importantly, the armored duster. Jet sent me. I told her, as she attempted to continue biting through the gag. I was right about her being a fighter. Quickly pulling my arms through the sleeves of the duster, I pulled out one of the concealed switchblades out, thanking the Gods that it was plastic binders holding her down. I quickly had her free when I heard a loud, animal yelp of pain.
Leaving the duster on Debbie, I grabbed the Colt and dropped off the alter, spinning quickly to get a view of the situation. Felix was in a furry pile next to the cage of young girls, and the freak was chanting while holding his left leg, blood seeping from a ragged wound. A mound of garbage was flowing forth, the barrels marked with Tri-Delta's insignia forming a chest and forearms. I aimed at the simple lock on the cage, and set off a pair of rounds, steel jacketed rounds this time, which snapped the lock open. Hopefully the women weren't badly hurt, but it beat being a sacrificial victim even if they were cut.
We're leaving! I shouted, picking Debbie up, keeping her wrapped in the duster, hopefully protected by a combination of synthleather, Kevlar and trauma plates, Get the others! Debbie fought against my hold, until she looked behind me, the monster roared and stood at full height. A spirit of some kind, made up of the earth around us. Ground seeped in toxic waste of chemical, physical, and spiritual nature. It's bellow froze my blood, but didn't stop my pace. I simply pointed the gun behind me as I moved, triggering the picture-in-picture view and aiming that way. As big as the monster was, I could hardly miss as I triggered a full-auto burst, emptying ten rounds into it's chest before I even got a step forward.
I might as well have been firing paintballs for all the effect the .45 rounds had on the drums. I watched in the smaller view as it charged towards me, the miniature magician grinning wickedly. I felt more than saw Felix beside me, a number of bodies right behind him. While large, the sentient garbage pile moved inhumanly quickly, even more inhumanly than I. We weren't going to make it. It was then that I stepped in something hard that shattered like glass under my weight. The gentle shatter was like a signal, as a series of loud tings went through the container, around the monster. Then, with a sound of sheering steel, the wind and rain came in. I dared a look, and saw a figure of beautiful rage, reminding me of my long lost love. A creature of wind, rain, and thunder came into the container with Jet's face, twisted in hatred, lifting up the mound chasing us, and the twisted man that summoned it, into the air. The screaming was soon drowned out by the continual clap of thunder and the patter of hail.
Not a soul bothered us as we ran back to the Jackrabbit, Debbie sobbing on my shoulder. And suddenly I had a sportscar, and a half-dozen young girls in various states of distress in need of attention and returning to their families. The 'Rabbit's bodyguards just looked at us as the battle still occurred in the air above us.
You guys wouldn't happen to have a minivan handy, would you? I ask, putting on the smile that got me through so many board meetings and almost bar brawls.