Limit of Infinity: A Shadowrun RP (Game thread)

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"That's the problem, metal head, they all seem level headed, until they bite back, and anyone smaller than a full grown ork on chips and drugs won't keep moving after that bite. Statistics are bulldrek and corps looking out for themselves. You don't know the streets half as well as you think you do if you just sit looking at databases and screens. And, if you had listened to what I said before, then you would know I have no problem so long as she does her job with one of the groups, and I can do mine. If she goes to the Barrens after this is over, I'm under no such obligation, and I can spread information fast through the streets.

"Once this job is over, she's free to do what she wants, as am I. You can trust me to do my part, but can you trust whatever damn thing she communes with to not slag up the most important part of the job?"

Wulf sat back and sighed,"Nevermind, you people and your damn ethics, you don't make a deal with Lofwyr and expect everything to go your way, do you? The same situation here, a bug would just as soon rip you to shreds as notice you, and this is one of the few insane enough to worship the bastards, you don't see that, do you?"

At least LoneStar here knows what a bug can do, too bad everyone else is too wrapped up in their ethics and judging a part of a known danger group by the individual. Hmph, that machine Rodrigo really needs to get that bug out of his software, he's not going to make it on the streets much longer if he thinks everyone of a certain group is different. The streets don't run like that, and they never will, too much time in the corps back pocket, oblivious to the world, running diagnostics and reading databases, he can't function in real society, probably why no one I know has ever even heard of him, he hides himself.

Edge had been in a sorry state for the last half of the conversation, his eyes glazed over as he listened to everybody's incessant and pointless conversations. He had even let his attention fade so much that he had been unaware at a direct attempt by someone to introduce themselves to him. Everybody had been going over their plans for the attack on NeoNet for gods knows how long now, talking over infiltration, consolidation and destruction of the facility; Edge just wasn't that kind of guy.
He proceeded to dig the dirt from underneath his fingernails with his balisong again, preferring to be occupied with at least something practical. His chewing gum was turning bland again, and so he replaced it with a fresh stick from the pack in his pocket, before returning to his grooming.

Edge watched as a petty squabble arose on whether to demolish the data banks entire building, or just to sabotage their internal infrastructure with a matrix virus. If it meant he was going to get paid more, he was going to make sure that the damn building didn't end up as rubble, even if that meant silencing the opposition who may attempt to rig any explosives, after all, that cowboy didn't take well to following orders, he couldn't blame him of course, the guy was a bit of a dick. He still was right though, although Edge didn't back him up of course, best to let others resolve their differences on their own, whether that meant a fatality or not didn't matter, more money in the pot to go around, which meant a bigger cut for him.

It was then that Edge observed something as he was vaguely listening to the conversation that shook him to his very core.

"...I recommend the former option, mainly because we have an insect shaman who I am sure can spread some form of poison or another.... "

Wait... what did he say?!

"...we have an insect shaman..."

"Insect Shaman"

She's a fucking BUG?! And these guys knew about it and brought her here?! Are they fucking mental?!

Edge took another good look at the girl. She seemed too pure, too innocent to control such a destructive and downright evil force. Why did it have to be a bug? She could have been any other thing, she could have been a blood mage and it wouldn't have mattered, but a damn Insect is the worst thing short of a Dragon. She still looks so damn beautiful though...although knowing that she could at any moment turn into a ravenous, mandibled monster is still unnerving as hell.

"Okay, first things first. The Bugs. Are. Evil. This ain't a personal opinion, it's a fact. Their entire existence is based around consuming life and possessing everything they can get their feelers on. I wish that was hyperbole. Rodrigo, call me a killer if you want. I won't hide from that. But this a force you don't have a frame of reference for. Bad News with capital letters. I've got nothin' against Miss Taylor, but knowing what I know I can't help but feel wary. The last time we twigged the Bugs were around we lost a city. So I'm hopin' you can see why I feel justified in asking her why exactly she's in the city."

"...All I see, are a bunch of murderers picking on someone who seems to have hardly done anything. If I thought there was a risk to an adolescent insect shaman, I would have said I thought there was a risk. I simply said she was one because she could be useful. If you and Wulf intend to bully her more about things she can not change, this will not get anywhere. Nobody ever forced you guys to become assassins and murder people for money."

Edge didn't know where to stand on this matter. On one hand, he knew just how dangerous insects could be, there was a reason Chicago is called Bug City after all; on the other hand, he just couldn't imagine Taylor to be that nefarious, there was a look about her that suggested something deeper, something that came through when she spoke.
Or maybe he was just smitten.

He looked to Taylor anxiously, hoping that he could catch her eye and get her to at least exonerate herself of any of the things the group had her pegged for, because her overall silence at the matters being discussed only served to heighten the tension.

"Listen..." he said as he put his feet down from the table and leaned in to address the group as a whole.
"Maybe we all should just lay all our cards on the table,, so that nobody has any reason to mistrust anybody else. I'm not saying that anybody has to or nothing... Just that it'd make these procedures go a hella lot quicker if we at least knew what everybody was capable of."

He leaned back in his chair again, and blew a large bubble with his gum, before it exploded with a loud pop.

"Of course if nobody wants tp I really couldn't give two shits, as long as we crack on"

"Okay, first things first. The Bugs. Are. Evil. This ain't a personal opinion, it's a fact. Their entire existence is based around consuming life and possessing everything they can get their feelers on. I wish that was hyperbole. Rodrigo, call me a killer if you want. I won't hide from that. But this a force you don't have a frame of reference for. Bad News with capital letters. I've got nothin' against Miss Taylor, but knowing what I know I can't help but feel wary. The last time we twigged the Bugs were around we lost a city. So I'm hopin' you can see why I feel justified in asking her why exactly she's in the city."

"Why? Is it in the fact that something dies at the mouth of another, instead of living forever, or only dying of an accident or some ecological force or internal failure? Does dying of starvation because some other animal group ate all the grass count as evil? Is it "wrong" for my cells to attack and devour bacteria that is harmful to me?

How would we decide that the suffering of a human for 3-5 minutes at the fangs of an Insect Spirit outweighed the previous decades of growing, experience and community life? It is little compared to the years/decades of enjoyment and pleasure experienced in your lives. Predation itself is to be expected, in order to create the largest possible number of lives/individuals. With recycling of the nutrients, the biosphere can support an endless number of individual lives and experiences, as well as maximum biodiversity. No single individual in the system would have the 'right' to hog a patch of resources for eternity, depriving the next generation of individuals of even existence.

In a universe of physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it. The biosphere that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

But there is an objective purpose of all life. Survival and ultimately, evolution. That's the foundation of life; therefore, it's hard to say that it's not the case. If your purpose in life is to remain unchanging, then I'd suggest you aren't really "alive."

So rejoice. Wherever you came from in the past, whether you are gunned down during the mission or your world succumbs to the Insect Spirits; you are a piece of the universe come awake. You are alive right now."

---

"You are alive right now."

Wulf sighed and shook his head, angry that this child truly believed what she was saying,"Kid, you have no idea of the powers you meddle in. The bugs do not attempt to survive, they attempt - and do a damned good job of - killing anything that's in front of them. They don't try to survive, that would mean they are hunted and have to adapt, when it is the other way around. Anyone that's faced a bug and somehow survived will tell you exactly the same thing. And don't give me that watered down Native piss, because I've heard better and believed it more than I'm believing the drek you're spewing right now. And I repeat once again, and I won't warn you ever again, after this job is over, I see you in this city again, and a hunt will commence, and it will either end in your death, or being forced from the city. We don't take kindly to Insects, spirit or shaman, walking around our city and knowing about it. You took a part of the world already, now go back to it and stay there when we're done."

He hmmphd to himself and began formulating a plan for the Archives, the guards for the most part wouldn't be a problem, the chrome arm though, he was a wild card, no telling what implants and augments he'd have other than that. Though he wasn't about to underestimate the regular guards too much, this was Corp sec-teams they were talking about, but again, they were Corp sec-teams, most of them full of themselves and overpaid for the work they did.

Finwe had remained silent as he usual he was still thinking about saving his contact, and seeing as he already made 1 enemy at their last gathering he didn't want to make another one. Of course hearing the ignorant people scream about their usual crap that mages were evil and such was still amusing to Finwe. He had met many people that treated him like an monster for knowing a few spells but, when push came to shove they would scream the loudest for him to use his magic to save them. Even if he was a monster in their eyes. Finwe grabbed a small vial and looked into it. The liquid inside was purple like it had been from this morning when he made it.

Finwe grinned and looked at the vial. It seems like my new mix is finished now only to name it. How about K-11? I did use K-10 as an starting point so it only seems fair. He sent a message to a few of his clients remembering them of their payment that he had not yet received. After the mission is seemed like he had a few house calls to make. Looking around the group they had started about Taylor being a insect shaman. He didn't care in the slightest he had already decided that he did not like her at all, not because of the whole shaman thing he didn't like her on a personal level and he had already known what she was. He then looked back at his new invention. He knew the ingredients he had put into it, and it was the perfect fight and flight cocktail. It made you move faster, feel less pain , react faster, and be stronger physically. Of course you run the risk of quick addiction, death if you take it too often, or an anger attack. But the new K-11 was less addictive not to mention that Finwe was the only one who could make it. It was something he had been working on for the last year. He knew that he wouldn't fill his suit with it though. Even though he liked creating it he wouldn't use it seeing as he hated drugs of this kind.

He looked around looking a bit bored though as usual people screamed against each other, he just sat there waiting for something useful to happen. He grabbed his backpack and started re organizing it making space for the new drug to fit into the bag. He then looked back up to the others which weren't really paying attention to him as far as he could tell. He was a bit shocked about how many people hadn't shown up. Maybe they were just too scared? Well it didn't matter anyway in a firefight you don't want to have such an coward by your side. He remained quite an waited for the time to leave, or the time for some more planning in which he needed to give his opinion.

Christ, what an argument. And he was the one who had to work directly with the insect shaman. Not the upset cop or the angry Wulf, him. In a few minutes, they had gone AWOL and started spewing flak on poor Taylor. Screw all the things Marlow thought on the team's current level of teamwork, this team was being ripped apart from the seams; especially with the amount of seething going on. In the whole heated discussion, another secret burst out: Rodrigo was an AI. This was getting interesting, first an insect shaman, then an AI, whatever next?

"Whatever next indeed, set up the confessional and the truth will set you free!" Marlowe thought to himself, he was in a sarcastic mood.

Charlie watched the fight go on as a surprised and shocked bystander, hoping to keep his own secrets, secret. In a strange way, this reminded him how secret things were in a habit of being let out during pillow talk. Two for the price of one, the pleasure of sex and knowledge of things he shouldn't know. But, he put those thoughts to one side. The faint smile on his face would raise suspicions and maybe tempers. Marlowe didn't see what the other guys were so worried about, from her words, this kid was a proper star child. He sighed. At least they had graduated from nursery to primary school, from physical fights to verbal ones, but this argument had to come to an end.

"Hold on for a second, people." Charlie said, leaning into the centre of the table, "I'm the one who has to work directly with Ms. Taylor over there. I have no problem with it.

Edge was fiddling about with his gum again, it made a loud pop that interrupted his speech. Marlowe glared at him, the gum when back inside his mouth. He continued on.

"Seems to me this 'run will fail because of all of us can't decide whether hack the place with a Matrix virus, or perform a routine that'll delete all the data. Or whether we're all going to get along. If we don't pull it together, this is going to fail and nobody won't get paid anything. Look, let's just move on with the job. It's best if you guys can get this over with quickly so you don't have to work with Ms. Taylor for a long time. In return, she doesn't have to take any more flak from you, we all get paid for a job well done and we get on will our lives. So let's get on with this."

Hopefully that will stop this...

"In return, she doesn't have to take any more flak from you, we all get paid for a job well done and we get on will our lives. So let's get on will this." Charlie Marlowe said, hoping that would stop the arguments between the party, and focus on the mission at hand. Sebastian decided to say his final piece on the matter.

"Can I just correct you on one detail Mr. Marlowe, I wasn't saying anything bad about Miss Taylor; I for one don't have a problem with her. In fact, I've been mostly neutral leaning towards trying to be nice towards Miss Taylor. But your right, we should just drop this argument, and focus on whats important, getting this mission done, and get paid for doing it."

"I'll make the additions to the NeoNet compound security registers, then I'll work on gaining access to the maintenance systems and reroute the ventilation to wherever we need it so the toxin that Taylor will provide can go to the correct locations."

"Can I just correct you on one detail Mr. Marlowe, I wasn't saying anything bad about Miss Taylor; I for one don't have a problem with her. In fact, I've been mostly neutral leaning towards trying to be nice towards Miss Taylor. But your right, we should just drop this argument, and focus on whats important, getting this mission done, and get paid for doing it."

The assassin was quick to assume that there was a target that Marlowe's rant was directed at. Assassins tend to think that way and Charlie didn't blame him for it. Contract, contractor, target - those were the terms that contracted killer lived by, no wonder Sebastian was, in terms of though, stuck in those terms. Time to correct him, for once the assassin had dropped the ball.

"I apologise, if I caused you to assume that little speech was directed at you." Charlie replied, "It was directed at those certain individuals who were calling her every name under the sun. I appreciate the fact that you see things the same way I do with this little mess."

He tipped his hat as a gesture to reinforce the apology, it doesn't pay to be on the bad side of assassins, mercenaries, contract killer and their ilk. A decade of hiding from those sorts taught him that.

"I'll make the additions to the NeoNet compound security registers, then I'll work on gaining access to the maintenance systems and reroute the ventilation to wherever we need it so the toxin that Taylor will provide can go to the correct locations."

"Very well, let's just hope that the others are done with fighting." Charlie sighed, "There seems to be a new fight with every meeting, whether it be physical or verbal."

"Very well, let's just hope that the others are done with fighting." Charlie sighed, "There seems to be a new fight with every meeting, whether it be physical or verbal."

Christ, no kidding omae. Nik thought. He remembered a couple of nights back complaining to Kodiak that everyone on the team seemed intent on chewing each other out. Now he was part of the process. Funny that. Marlowe tried to deliver an ultimatum (probably a very wise one) about dropping the subject and moving on. But Nik's eyes drifted to Wulf.

This was a subject you couldn't let go easily. And from past experience this Wulf was stubborn as hell. And to be honest Nik couldn't really blame him.

Nik held his hands up in a peace gesture and looked around the table.
"Okay, I kinda agree with Charlie here. This has gotten out of hand, and mostly that's on me. Now we're kinda going in circles here. So if nobody objects, I got a suggestion. It's pretty clear that neither me nor Wulf nor Miss Taylor are likely to agree with each other, but can we all agree that given Miss Taylor's people's past you can understand why we're on edge? I'm willing to drop the subject, but I think both myself and any others concerned would probably feel a lot more reassured if Miss Taylor would be willing to tell us her reasons for being in the city. We stop arguing, the place feels calmer and we can concentrate on the job. Sound fair?"

Nik stopped and sat back, he'd tried his calmest voice, so he hoped his argument seemed reasonable. Sure it was still pretty horrifying that a Bug Shaman was in their midst, but that was clearly another problem for another time.

"Sound fair?"

"S'ere an echo in here or somethin'?" Clay asked casually, looking around the room as if he were actually trying to pinpoint an acoustic anomaly. "I coulda swore I said the same fuckin' thing two minutes ago before you guys started up with this shit again. But maybe it's just my imagination, I tend to hear things from time to time..."

"Sound fair?"

"I don't much care why she's here, just that as soon as this is over, she gets out of the city."

"I tend to hear things from time to time..."

"Quit with the saracasm, cowboy, you can complain about our ways later. Right now, shut it or tell me who can handle the Archives. We've got it pretty much settled that we're not dropping it, so all Rodrigo and I need is at least one person that can handle the guards and keep hidden. The extra guy's just in case it all goes to hell and we have to fight our way out of it. My bike can only hold two, so if it does, they'll be on their own in that respect."

Venaticus looked at Wulf. He had already figured that he would do both jobs, seeing as how he could pretty easily walk in to NeoNET. The public floors were free access and he still had his guard uniform.

"I will actually be bringing my own car for this. It is really flashy, but I will be sure to park it somewhat away from the archive. I intend to come for the other mission as well, a few things I should secure. I have a guard uniform so just don't shoot me okay guys? Whoever comes with Wulf and I for Kilmer should be able to disable a simple magical barrier because I can't and I don't think Wulf can either."

There was one detail that Charlie was holding back from the group, from the sound of they wouldn't use it anyway. Jason Hill was an alright guy, as far as personality was concerned and Marlowe didn't want to wake him up in the middle of the night again. But this was an opportunity for easy access. Sure, Mr. Hill had told him to wait a week before picking up a shipment, but with Nik getting the Lonestar mercs out of the picture, the time was ripe.

"Before we go off about flashy cars." He began, giving a slight nod to Rodrigo, "I get easy access to the Novatech compound, namely the storage facilitates. But break a leg, you'll have to play the parts."

Sure, that plan was pretty much redundant right now. Nevertheless, the Kilmer Data Archives sounded like a tough nut to crack and this would ease up the Novatech job. Still, the offer was there. Marlowe took a deep breath and continued on.

"I'm not too sure that I can arrange the meeting to be in the Kilmer Archives." Charlie said, "But if you rather have easy access there, it's worth a shot. Your call."

The offer was now on the table. Any takers? Charlie felt a twinge of guilt; this should have been mentioned first. Still, sometimes he could play his cards too close to his chest.

On the night of the run, Charlie Marlowe had readied himself and had made his way to the determined point for pickup. At the arranged time, Taylor arrived.

But not an adolescent girl.

She was perhaps six feet long and twice that across. Each of her legs was as thick as a man's wrist. The eyes were fractal spheres, dark and sheening. Her body was covered with soft fur, and from the head two fluffy, feathered antennae protruded.

And the wings- two sets of great wings, a pair on each side. They were made up of millions of tiny scales, almost like the skin of a reptile, but smooth and flexible. These scales glimmered with patterns of color.

image

The moth- Taylor- was settled on the wall, and Charlie became quite sure he was hearing words she made- a young, feminine though-speak. Telepathic, he thought.

Taylor could see again. Colors. Like some lunatic artist run nuts, spraying everything in brilliant, iridescent, glowing, insane colors. Compound eyes. And antennae that tasted and smelled all the delicious smells of the world.

Kilmer Data Archive, 7:23 A.M.

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The block of cement that posed as a building, stood there - dark as could be. It would have seemed imposing, were it not for the dozens of other, similar, buildings surrounding it. A large white van was parked at the building, NeoNET logos covering its side, moving crates of material to and from the building - their purpose unknown. A handful of guards covered the building, each a powerful specimen of meta-humanity, dressed in the latest and greatest of armors, weapon gleaming from their sides and back. A large fence surrounded the complex, with but a single hole in the front for entrance, protected by a guard house of significant size. Beyond the van lay their one entrance - a pair of sliding, plasti-steel doors, currently propped open for the benefit of the movers - currently inside with one of their many boxes.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Novatech - Roof, 7:23 A.M.

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As Charlie and Taylor landed, the sun was just beginning to rise over the industrial landscape beyond. For this height, the sun reflected off the water below, creating a beautiful, all be it blinding, array of colors. The sun appeared red in the sky - a sure sign the clear skies the weatherman had promised would turn dark and gloomy again soon.

The roof was empty, save for a small VTOL on the landing pad, unoccupied. The roof, unlike the rest of the blue-concrete and steel structure, was grey and worn with use. The roof was a place for business and emergency use, not a place to take customers - it didn't need to look good. A handful of birds rose into the air in protest to your landing, viciously guarding their nests from the unwanted invaders. Aside from the landing pad - raised slightly from the roof proper - the roof was empty; save two items of interest. The first was a doorway. The door was made of thick metal, clean of dibris unlike the rest of the roof, and bolted shut with powerful magnets.

The second item of interest was what they had came for - the ventilation system. The vent lay beneath the helipad, a massive hole nearly six feet across, covered in metal plates and spewing hot air to keep the building inside at a comfortable temperature. a series of metal gratings kept the many wild creatures free of the system - acting as a sort of filter for the more annoying residence of the roof. around the grate however, was the evidence of a more difficult problem - the chard remains of a number of birds, who had tried to roost on the grating. Contrary to the plans Rodrigo had supplied, the roof was well protected now, by a fence with significant electric charge.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Novatech - Shipping Dock, 7:23 A.M.

image
Already, the shipping dock was hard at work, trying to keep the building well stocked with all the supplies it would need. a large queue stood in wait before the building, trying to get their shipment in early so they could make other deliveries. From here, it was easy to see the large, modern-industrial park that made up the buildings grounds and the bay beyond it. Despite it's beauty, the park was vacant - a result of the early-day state. In a few hours, it would likely be filled with tourists here to see the sights and business men and women here to make some deal.

The number of guards at the dock seemed strangely low and particularly disorganized - more so then their reconnaissance would have suggested. The lack of former-lonestar goons seemed the most apparent - Nik's little warning seemed to have done the trick. Unfortunately, the action had also slowed down the guards ability to get trucks through - hence the significant delay in deliveries. What more, the guards were clearly on edge - desperate to make no mistakes while their colleges were out "sick." They were searching every truck they could, but for every truck they searched, four more slipped into line, and another two slipped into the docks without "authorization" - it was chaos for the guards - and perfect for the runners.

Or so it seemed, until one guard - a particularly large Troll with a mustache - waved their truck over.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Novatech - Lobby, 7:23 A.M.

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The lobby was sparse, even by NeoNET standards. The walls shown of polished chrome, with AR advertisements and programming covering the walls. A large VR clock hung over a desk, as the men and women behind it directed traffic in all manner of directions. Said front desk was overflowing with people and as a result the attendants were rushing around, desperately trying to keep pace. Of course, this was only expected when half the guards were out with "the flu." However, all of this was secondary to the rather troubling new detail. With half their security forces out, NeoNET seemed to be supplementing their force with shadowrunners.

Hundreds of shadowrunners. Hundreds of shadowrunners who were currently flooding the front desk with questions of where they were supposed to go. Hundreds of shadowrunners who were currently flooding the front desk with questions of where they were supposed to go, wearing more guns of more types then they could count and wearing armor no shadowrunner should rightly be able to afford.

Venaticus stared at the gleaming oasis surrounded by dull, plain buildings. Venaticus was in his NeoNET guard's uniform and assumed the most plain, boring face he could find. Wulf already knew he was an AI and Nik figuring it out by now, assuming he never caught on to Wulf's constant hinting, would not matter. Venaticus figured that the best way to enter the highly guarded compound would be as a guard. Simply, he would walk in, jam their communications, lights and anything else that would give them some form of an edge. By the time Venatcius was done, the place would be a hollow glass and metal shell with worthless terminals.

Venaticus had seen Wulf and Nik near the compound and met up with them to fill them in. They both looked alarmed and were about to kill him before Venaticus said, "It is Rodrigo guys, don't shoot. The place is heavily guarded, but they won't be able to override my authority if I get in. My SIN is probably expired so I am not sure if that would work. Simply, if you all add a distraction, I will be able to slip in undetected, move quickly, inspect one of the terminals and if I just get a couple seconds alone, I will be able to easily destroy their little building's interior. Did it to NeoNET, Kilmer should be doable. Any objections?"

Wulf barely stopped himself in time to not shoot Rodrigo, his hand only grasping the handle of his flechette Predator, on account of it being quieter.

The streets were relatively empty despite the hour, a fact that surprised him as well as the lack of Stars on the guard. Sure some of them could be rookies moonlighting, but the lack of that walk and strut down there he didn't like. He still didn't trust the cop beside him and the lack of Stars only served to heighten his suspicion.

"It is Rodrigo guys, don't shoot. The place is heavily guarded, but they won't be able to override my authority if I get in."

"You have anything in particular in mind on that, Rod? Distraction's a pretty vague descriptor. You want it loud,messy, a combination of the two, or something else entirely?"

"You have anything in particular in mind on that, Rod? Distraction's a pretty vague descriptor. You want it loud,messy, a combination of the two, or something else entirely?"

"Since NeoNET won't hire AIs as guards, I just have to slip in undetected and the SIN will carry me the rest of the way. I would prefer that the whole confrontation remain bloodless, but if you guys have to kill, I just never heard it. Wulf, you make a loud noise far to my left, Nik will disable the magical barrier and let me pass through. After that, he will aid you in removing anyone who follows you. With that distraction, I can easily run through and get inside. Once inside, I will work as quickly as I can and get to a security terminal. Once I have a security terminal, I will get our information and cause a mass system wide wipe of every single file in the archive. After that I will disable all lights and electric systems, as well as their communications and automated drones. This will buy me time to overload their systems. Once overloaded, the whole computer network will be down long enough for me to escape and begin heading to NeoNET. I have something important to do while the others do their job."

The speech was long winded and he hoped that there would be no interrogation as to why he needed to actually go to NeoNET. However, he was comfortable divulging a small bit of secrets to those two. Neither were friendly with gangs, and if he did try to bring Nik back to the right side, he would have to tell him everything anyway.

His mask secure, Charlie held on to her back with his arms wrapped around her. His equipment pack dangled behind. Taylor began scaling the vertical wall. Minutes later she was flying. She opened her wings, flapped them up and down, tucked the legs up beneath her and lifted away. She was no longer tied to the ground.

They flew between high rises. She rose to a hundred feet, high enough to escape the notice of early commuters. Carrying a man on her back, Taylor reached the structure exterior just as the sun was rising.

The Helipad was unoccupied. She could see- literally see, like a glow- the heat coming off the vent. It mixed with the cool morning air.

She touched down, letting Charlie slip off the fuzzy abdomen so her could draw his gear and secure the VTOL. As she was drawn to the aperture, Taylor could sense the magnetism of a live current somewhere before her- a barrier to the entrance.

Does silk conduct electricity? No. I'm pretty sure it doesn't.

She needn't have worried. Marlowe had drawn a set of thick gloves and pried apart the wire. The current left darkened lines across them, and Taylor could taste an acrid smell of burning polymers. But the man was undaunted. With that, she tucked her wings behind her and began the hazardous process of climbing inside.

Novatech - Roof, 7:31 A.M.

Taylor and Charlie crawled through the hole in the electrified grating, hot wind in their face being spewed from the air system. It was slow going - trying to avoid the electrical conduits designed to keep animals and thieves out - but it was going; a positive if nothing else. Eventually, through their diligent efforts, they reached their first goal: the vent.

image

Time had corroded the metal within in ways animals could not have. Hot air, water, and time had discolored the steel pipe into a mix of reds and yellows, unbecoming of such a modern building. Looking down, the drop in the piping ended at a grating some 40ft down, then split off into a dozen other directions to reach the rest of the building.

As they stared into the abyss, a sound graced their ears. A light clicking from behind them - in the direction of the doorway to the roof. A second later, the door opened and through it walked a pair of feet, the rest of their forms hidden by the helipad.

Mr John Vougner was sitting at his desk in one of Novatechs many high rise offices, surveying the city below him watching as people ran too and fro in a vast display of organised chaos.

"No wonder Vougner was so up himself" Roberts thought "Seeing people like ants is bound to cause some delusions"

It was a day after he'd assumed Vougners identity, after the affair in the warehouse he as ordered his goons to driving him home and then spent the rest of the night perfecting the character. That morning he'd walked into the office at 6am, Vougner always arrived early, Stacy the receptionist had handed him a cup of black coffee and given him the days schedule fumbling over almost every word.

"Defiantly not hired for brains" He thought once more

Once in the office he'd thrown the coffee out the window, sat on his executive sized chair and waited for the rest of the team to call in with what they wanted him to do.

Novatech - Lobby, 7:33 A.M.

Today was the day of the run, at this moment everyone was getting into their positions. Sebastian had made his way to the Novatech Lobby, and watched as various people went in and out of the buildings numerous security checkpoints. He himself on the other hand was dressed in a rather fine suit and glasses. He was now posing as Caspian Blake, a gentlemen who had an appointment with Mr. Vougner, now Roberts in disguise. Most of his equipment would be arriving via a package that would be sent to Vougner's office, he did however keep his pistol on him, passing it off as having at least some form of protection. Noticing an opening emerge, he went up to the front desk.

"Hello there, my name is Caspian Blake, I believe that I have an appointment with Mr. Vougner in about ten minutes." Sebastian said polite voice as he took a brief look at the watch he was wearing.

"Let me just verify that for you sir." The receptionist responded with, checking the computer screen in front of her; fortunately for Sebastian, his contact and friend Abigail had helped in setting up a fake appointment as so to provide a believable cover story.

"Yes, there appears to be a appointment with that name on it. There is also a mention of a large package as well."

"Ah yes, its a present for him. A collection of rare art works, after all, he is a man who enjoys the rather finer things in life."

"Very well then sir. Just sign here, and I'll notify security of your arrival." After dealing with the initial entry, Sebastian was directed to which elevator he needed to use to reach the office. He soon passed the elevator checkpoint, and was on his way to meet up with Roberts.

On his arrival, he was met by Mr. Vougner's personal secretary.

"Ah Mr. Blake, its a pleasure to see you. Mr. Vougner has just entered his office and is ready to see you now. Also the package that was to be requested has arrived and is in his office. I'll just inform him of your arrival." The secretary said in a friendly and overall polite voice, then again she was probably paid to act like that. She briefly spoke with a man on the other end, and soon directed Sebastian in. Once the door was shut behind him, he removed the glasses.

"Good Morning, Mr. Vougner."

"Mr Vougner there's a Caspian Blake here to see you, shall I send him in"
A voice over the intercom spoke. Roberts looked up from the cat he'd been drawing on some of Vougners official documents and pressed the speck button

"Yes please Stacy, and get us two coffees please"

"Right away sir"

Roberts leant back in his chair and watched the door, Sebastion strolled in wearing the nicest outfit Roberts had seen him in so far.

"Good Morning, Mr. Vougner."

"Casper!" He exclaimed, standing with his arms open "so good to see you again. What brings you to Seattle?"

With purpose Roberts marched up to Sebastian and grasped him in a firm handshake, his back to the rooms security camera

"Play along" he said in a hushed tone quiet enough to remain unheard by a mic "they're watching us"

"Casper!" Roberts, posing as Mr. Vougner exclaimed, standing with his arms wide open.

"So good to see you again. What brings you to Seattle?" With a sudden burst of purpose, the man marched up to Sebastian, and grasped him in a firm handshake, his back to the cameras that were obviously watching the pair of them. Out of earshot from the microphones, Roberts whispered a few things into his ear.

"Remember John, there was that important project I wanted to discuss with you. But also I have come back from a recent trip to Britain, and managed to acquire those paintings you were looking for the last time we met. I tell you, it took a several days worth of discussion with the dealer, but I think you'll enjoy them." Sebastian remarked with a slight chuckle, gesturing over to a large crate that was just out of the camera's field of vision.

Taylor lay motionless at the rim of the vent, watching and listening. Marlowe ducked so that he was level with the raised platform before scrambling behind it on all fours.

The footsteps stopped. From her viewpoint, she couuld just make out the shape as it partially came across the cockpit. A uniformed figure- tall and slender. An elf, who had stopped to listen while the other security personnel gathered behind.

Zanfretta had heard some disturbance from the roof. In addition, there was an alert from the tension-sensor of the electric wires; that something had brushed against it and moved it out of place. Any sort of pressure sensor was prone to false positives, especially at this altitude where winds and weather can alter the reading and make the computer think something is there. That's why we're here, the elf thought. No matter how advanced the sensor, someone else must respond to it.

But something seemed different about this one. There hadn't been a storm (well... for Seattle, anyway.) and the birds had shifted. Something had spooked them.

It was at that moment that they saw a man in some kind of mask, slipping behind the VTOL. Zanfretta called out, revolver and cell phone at the ready. The other men filed past him. They had pistol firearms, handcuffs, personal scanners, light armor. But one of the men had something much more dangerous- an automatic shotgun. Committed to protecting their client's structure, they slipped around the landing pad to where the masked man had disappeared. They spread along the platform and crept along the fence in an effort to get the jump on the intruder.

It was then that he got a shock. Just as he was preparing to leap out to confront the unknown trespasser, Zanfretta felt something touch his shoulder from behind. He spun around, revolver in hand, but instead of finding another masked man illuminated by his flashlight's harsh glare, he saw an entity with fur dully striped with whites and browns, great wings and fluffy face with massive compound eyes.

Zanfretta was stunned by the sight before him; for a split second, just enough.

<Take the rest of the day off.>

He hastily turned his gun on the bizarre creature. The next thing he knew a wing slapped across his face, painting his suit and skin with dust. He was shoved backwards, as though shoulder-charged by someone invisible. He stared up in amazement at the thing, which he now recognized as a moth. While his hands felt the damp surface under him and the great drop through the links of the fence.

'You-' he said, trying to stand up. He was shoved back down again, and sat there incredulous, simply unbelieving. He heard gunfire and saw the rest of his men scattering or holding their hands up, dropping their weapons while the man in the gas mask fired- lying flat on his belly- from atop the parked aircraft.

He went limp. The shout died in his mouth. He felt himself flop back onto the concrete. He lay there, looking up into the clouds overhead. He could move his eyes. Nothing else. He imagined being bound and rendered immobile. This was worse. This was paralysis. He could do nothing. He worried about his breathing stopping, his heart stopping, his tongue blocking his throat, his bowels relaxing.

The noise died down. The moth sat silently for a moment or two as Charlie climbed down off the VTOL. Then Zanfretta felt the ground scraping his back through his clothes. He became frightened that they would throw him off the building, and wondered if this was his last day on Earth. Then, he heard a feminine thought-speak. The moth was 'talking', like a girl. And not for a second did the elf doubt it's words.

<Hi. My sincerest apologies. I'm just going to put you in the shade over here. There shouldn't be any lasting neurological damage, and you should be able to walk by tonight. I suggest waiting at least a couple of days before driving or operating heavy machinery.>

"I think you'll enjoy them."

At this Roberts opened the crate, inside was a pile of his preferred gadgets along with his Novastar, Sebastian had even managed to track down a "Sasquatch".

"Wonderful" he said softly as he picked up a small golf ball sized orb, slipping it into his pocket. It was a small device designed to shut down the security cameras in his room; giving him and Sebastian long enough to arm up before the main event. Activating it now would seem suspicion so he and Sebastian would have to make chit chat until the time came.

Suddenly he heard the latch click on his door, Stacy with his coffee,as fast as he could he placed the lid back on the crate and turned to Sebastian.

"Theres are going to look wonderful in my bedroom, thank you." He turned around feinting suprise "Oh Stacy. Yes yes bring in the coffees"

Charlie blinked. The last moments were like a dream, flying to the site on a giant moth, a giant moth, which was, a few minutes ago, a waif-like girl with a fondness for Insect Spirits. In addition to the trademark suit and fedora, he wore upon himself the hallmarks of a burglar - a mask and gloves. But this wasn't just a burglary, while this particular job might fall under the definition of burglary, if Charlie remembered correctly was illegal entry into a building for the purposes of committing an offence, this was a shadowrun. After all, he reasoned, this was out of bounds for the courts of Seattle and if all when well - no one but the faceless corporation, NeoNET would be hurt. Such a shame.

Mr. Malowe blinked again.

He was at the Novatech Data Archive, on the roof and had just about finished climbing off a VTOL while Taylor flapped her wings and caused a magic powder, full of neuro-toxin, to spread into the air like confetti. He hadn't realised that he was in the middle of a fire-fight, even thought, as if automatically, the brand new Beretta 101-T was in his hand and was giving fire while lying down on the floor. Most of the mob that had arrived had scattered, dropping their weapons. Even though the gun was a joy to use - the recoil just the same as he was used to, even with the added bunk of the laser-sight and the twelve round magazine - firing on unarmed persons wasn't necessary or enjoyable. While he wasn't sure how to communicate with the Taylor-Moth, he spoke into the communicator.

"Finished with these guys, Princess?" He muttered, "We've got more to do here than just playing a bit of rough 'n' tumble."

Novatech - Roof

image

Zanfretta struggled against his paralysis to no avail - he couldn't feel or move anything. Combining that with the feminine voice of a moth inside his head - no doubt a Bug Shaman - all he wanted to do was be anywhere but here. He would have wet himself, if not for the paralysis.

That the moth could speak directly into his mind was perhaps the most disturbing of things. Zanfretta tried to banish any thoughts for Novatech and its security from his mind - just as he had been trained to do. He may have been a disposable foot soldier, but he was at least a loyal one. Using what NeoNET had taught him about magic, he buried his inner thoughts behind images of metal walls, miles thick, to stave off any intruders. When he felt secure, he began to "speak" to the creature via it's presumable telepathy. "Who are you and why are you here?"

Behind his mental fortifications, he knew the creature was unlikely to answer - but it made for a good delay tactic; a delay in communication he hoped was long enough to raise the alarm and maybe stop the miniature mothra from dropping him off the side of the building.

Novatech - Office

Stacy placed the pair of warm drinks on the table beside the pair carefully, then - smiling - asked her question. "Will that be all Mr. Vougner?" The words barely escaped her moth before she turned and exited. Truthfully, Stacy didn't give a damn about whether Vougner had anything else - the man was a jackass, and one she had no desire to put up with any longer then her job required.

Novatech - Shipping Dock

image

The troll stared at the unmoving vehicle, mildly irritated. Why was it that every time they had a hiccup in the system, the delivery men got so uppity? Annoyed, he was about to just wave them by, too pissed off to care, when he felt a splash hit his head. Normally, this wasn't such a big deal - after all, this WAS Seattle. But this drop was much larger, burning hot, and smelled horrible. Touching his hand to his head, he tasted some of the liquid, trying to figure out what it was.

Coffee... I hate this job.

Having no had the final straw hit him, he was not about to make their day easy. "OPEN THE BACK!" he yelled, marching to the back of the delivery truck; unknowingly to him filled with guns, ammo, armor, and shadowrunners.

Kilmer Data Archive - Outside

The guards continued to watch as the people moved in and out of the building with dozens of boxes - all labeled with unknown strings of numbers - meaningless to those that were unaware of the system.

"Who are you and why are you here?" The elf called out. There was no expectation of a response, but one came nonetheless.

< Someone immersed in another's conflict, like yourself. Why I'm here... well, that's harder to answer. Your organization has upset some people, and it was important enough to them to send runners to assail the building. I shouldn't name them, but you can probably figure it out. The evidence is there, you are always welcome to search for it. >

"Finished with these guys, Princess?" Charlie remarked, out loud. "We've got more to do here than just playing a bit of rough 'n' tumble."

<Yes. Call the team and tell them I'm ready as soon as the filters seal off. They'll have to work the fans to route it wherever they need.>

It was a long drop from the roof opening. Almost 40 feet down to a grating before leveling in a cylindrical chamber. From there the vents branched off. It was spacious enough- the main ducts nearly enough to stand- but enclosed, like the entrance to a three dimensional maze, a grid running through every floor of the building.

She was bombarded with air- a tempest that whipped around the fur of her body. There were fan arrays, shutters and filtration screens. She moved far enough from the drop that they couldn't just a toss a grenade down before coming to rest. And in the wind that enveloped her, Taylor expanded her great wings; laden with a fine particulate dust, and- slowly at first, but with an increasing beat- flapped them in place.

He looked around the roof, collapsed guards were everywhere. He figured that it would be too cruel to just shoot them in the head and finish them off. After all, from the look of it, these guys wouldn't be using their minds and magic to summon a giant fuck-off fireball into existence anytime soon... NeoNET magic training was minimal at best. As he was assessing the situation, the ethereal voice of Taylor popped into his head.

<Yes. Call the team and tell them I'm ready as soon as the filters seal off. They'll have to work the fans to route it wherever they need.>

Even with the dawn of the Sixth World and growing up in it, he wasn't comfortable with telepathy and the like. He just didn't like the idea of people getting inside his head, there should be some piracy law against that, but then again, this was the world he lived in. Hell, Charlie was glad that this 'runner group consisted of mostly Adepts and not a person that read minds for a living. Sighing, he set the communicator to 'TEAM NOVA' and began to speak.

"Charlie here. Roof's secure and Taylor's ready as soon as the filters seal off. You'll have address the problem of working the fans to route the 'toxin where you need it youselves, though." Marlowe said, addressing the whole team on the Novatech operation, "I'll be on lookout here, until further orders."

Clay, dressed in a khaki button-down shirt and matching shorts, even a pair of gloves that hid his second thumbs, sat behind the wheel of a Postal Express delivery truck that was hauling a rather expensive cabinet set. Though the real value of the package wasn't the mahogany furnishings, but what lied hidden inside them. Inside the cabinets were enough military-grade gear and weapons to equip a small team of Runners. That very team of Runners sat inside the cab of the delivery truck that was pulling into the shipping dock of the Novatech facilities.

"Alright, looks like this is gonna be easier'n a Taiwanese tranny on a two-dollar Tues...day..." Clay trailed off when he saw the large Troll with a mustache waving the truck over. "Oh, look. This guy's even uglier'n ol' Wulfy. Just act casual, I'll do the talkin'."

The runner reached for the khaki baseball cap with the delivery company's logo on it and placed it atop his head. He was about to speak up when he noticed the Troll reacting to what appeared to be hot coffee falling from the sky, obviously none too happy about it. Practically roaring at them, he told them to open up the back as he went to the rear of the cargo truck.

This can't be good, Clay thought as he reluctantly climbed out of the cab, making sure to grab the mock shipping manifest as well. He walked all the way to back, looking up at the Troll that practically towered over him.

"It's just one o' those days, ain't it?" Clay asked the guard, forcing a large, friendly smile as he begun to unlock the hatch in the back. He slowly slid the truck's door open to reveal the fancy, polished cabinets secured in the rear of the truck. Looking from the furnishings to the Troll with the same smile on his face, then reviewing the manifest, reading off the details as if he hadn't already had them engraved into his mind. "Yeah, we're shipping these in for a mister, uh...mister Voo...Vow...Vogue? Vogue-ner? A mister Vougner. Apparantly one of the higher-ups who feels he needs some fancy schmancy mahogany cabinet set for an office remodeling. Can you believe this? I mean if I had that kinda money, I'd find somethin' better to do with it, know what I mean?"

Novatech - Shipping Dock

The troll stared at clay for a long moment, before he sighed - the hint of a laugh in his throat. "I can think of a few interesting purchases I could get for the same cost as this damned wood stuff." the troll said, before digging through his shipping manifest - looking for some hint of the delivery on his end. After a few minutes he gave up and looked back at the man. "Can't seem to find your papers, but that's no surprise, and this certainly sounds like Vougner a'right. Bastard has tons of stupid stuff delivered here - this shits pale by comparison. You know that guy bought some ancient Aztec or Mayan or Incas or some shit statue, just because he thought it would make a good "coat rack." - self righteous prick." he said, his anger being redirected at Vougner. After a few more minutes ranting, he gave clay a once over and said. "Well, I can't just let you through - I'll need to call Vougner to see if he ordered this shit." he said, before punching in a number into his comm-link.

Novatech - Office

Sebastian and Robers continued to talk in code phrases, until they heard a strange sound. Footsteps - heavy - coming up the stairs down the hall. Before either had a chance to look however, the sound was overshadowed by the ringing of a Vougners office line.

Finwe dressed in a delivery suit was hiding in the back of the truck. He had even dyed his hair blond and was wearing special contacts that he placed on his eyes those lenses couldn't fall off wouldn't want to leave behind evidence. They changed his eye color so that he appeared to have green eyes. He also wore his hair different he was wearing a blue trucker cap with the logo of the moving company, and had hidden most of his hair inside the cap. He didn't want to be recognized by anyone from previous missions. He was surrounded by hidden weapons and other things they needed for the mission.

"Alright, looks like this is gonna be easier'n a Taiwanese tranny on a two-dollar Tues...day..." Clay looked at the person standing outside."Oh, look. This guy's even uglier'n ol' Wulfy. Just act casual, I'll do the talkin'." Finwe hadn't talked to Clay before. He seemed like a decent man though. "Sure I will just keep quite." Finwe hid behind one of the crates just in case they would open the truck.

Oh no... if he opens the truck there is a change he will find out what we are really transporting. Finwe sneaked to the back of the truck he sat in a dark spot near the door if that troll was to enter he would shock him and then they could go in. That was unless Clay manged to talk his way out of this. He listened to the conversation between the 2.

"It's just one o' those days, ain't it?" Finwe then heard the door open he was still hiding ready to strike should it be needed. "Yeah, we're shipping these in for a mister, uh...mister Voo...Vow...Vogue?...I mean if I had that kinda money, I'd find somethin' better to do with it, know what I mean?" Finwe was surprised by this mans social skills. He hoped it would work on the troll. "I can think of a few interesting purchases I could get for the same cost as this damned wood stuff." It was then quite for a few minutes Finwe was getting worried then he heard the troll say. Can't seem to find your papers, but that's no surprise, and this certainly sounds like Vougner a'right.....Well, I can't just let you through - I'll need to call Vougner to see if he ordered this shit." Finwe was hoping that Robert was in position if he wasn't he would probably search the truck. And that would probably go horribly wrong.

Roberts was sat at his desk face Sebastion. The two had spent the last few minutes in in friendly conversation reminiscing about school days and past adventures, all of it was nonsense but vague nonsense that killed that kept their minds off the mission. The two were professionals and use to the line of work but it takes many years of the anxiousness to fade. the two had very little to do beyond helping the rest of the group through the building but that did little to calm their nerves.

When the phone rang they both become tense, eyeing the thing as if it was some crouched cat. The phone showed that the call was coming through from the shipping dock, Roberts forced himself to smile.

"Excuse me Casper, I have to take this"

He spoke in a kind tone; keeping up the facade of friendship. When he answered the phone his tone changed to one of complete contempt

"This better be important Stacy, I have work to do and I don't need to be disturbed but some petty internal politic"

After a few seconds the call was patched through.

"Vounger here, what do you want?"

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