Limit of Infinity: A Shadowrun RP (Game thread)

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Everything seemed to be going relatively well, the guards were being pushed back, the cyber arm officer had taken refuge in one of guard posts, and Rodrigo should've been close to finishing with the files transfer and data wipe. Then he'd seen something in the building that pissed the ever living shit out of him. A mage. And then some kind of spirit was summoned, great. This was turning out to be a goo-no, it's worse, a fire spirit.

Damn mages and their summons

He sped past the flame spirit, it's flaming arm almost touching him, but using his superior coordination, he was able to dodge past it and into the group of guards crouched behind a barrier, firing his last smoke grenade to cover himself ripping a hole through the fence.

He sent a message to Rodrigo and Lone Star then:

Bugging out, fire spirit I can't handle, and I'm out of ammo, I'll see if I can draw its attention though.

He fired his last bursts at the building the guard captain was in and the spirit and sped off, his part of the job was done, and with any luck, the job was over soon enough, all he could do was hope to hell he didn't get followed too far.

He sent out another message to Lone Star:

Coming back around in five minutes, be ready to jump on and get the hell out of here.

Kilmer Archive - Executive Office

Venaticus looked around, checking out the office and hallway; trying to tell if his actions had drawn attention. By the looks of things, it seemed the answer was a resounding "no". The room was barren save a desk, chair, and small table. The room was surprisingly dark compared to the rest of the building. No name had been on the door, and - though the room was stocked with a number of supplies - showed no signs of permanent habitation. The desk had a built in data-port for unknown uses. Through a window toward the inside of the building, the massive server installation was visible.

image

At the far end of the room, a computer terminal was visible - protected by a dozen automatic securities, most noticeably a spider drone, bristling with guns.

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All in all - it was a safe place, but not a good one.

Kilmer Archive - Outside

------

BANG!

------

The resounding shot of the sniper round reverberated in the streets; deafening those caught in the sonic boom. Before Nik could realize it, his enemy lay on the ground; his movements gone; the smaller of his metallic arms shattered and broken on the ground.

Not that Nik was paying attention. He was far more focused on the task at hand: banishing the rogue fire spirit. Likewise, Wulf missed it: to busy trying to avoid the dangerous, previously mentioned fire spirit.

The remaining guards, seeing their commander downed and a fire spirit that was supposed to be their ally attacking them as relentlessly as it was everyone and thing else, broke formation - retreating back into the relative safety of the building where they could mount a somewhat more respectable defense; firing their bullets

Meanwhile, the freshly liberated fire spirit, sensing the flow of magic changing in a way to banish him back, disappeared into the astral-plane for a moment; just long enough to appear before Nik. He would remain free if it killed him!

Novatech - Office

The cowboy struggled to breath in the choke hold, his arms pulling against Sebastians in an attempt to escape. despite this, his struggles were weak - his position clearly the inferior of the two. It all seemed to be over, until Sebastain took note of something odd: a drip of water on his neck. A second later, a torrential downpour began from the sprinkler systems, providing their cowboy "friend" aid in his escape. He shot up as quickly as he could, returning to cover in the elevator - his gun left abandoned where Sebastian had held him.

It was a meager, minor victory; one with no real positive effect for the man, but it was a victory none the same. The elevator door started to close, hopefully securing his escape.

Clay had just finished gearing up - his new Hushpuppies in hip-holsters, LeMat in his shoulder sling, Colt on his ankle, and Remington on his back beneath his pack - when the piece of machinery that was heard approaching had presented itself before the pair of 'Runners. Clay was momentarily frozen in place as he stared in shock and awe at the size of the thing coming towards them, and the firepower it carried was certainly something to write home about. The mech gave off an eerie gleam and emitted a chilling sound. It was oddly familiar, but Clay couldn't for the life of him put his finger on why it was. As much as he'd like to stand there and think more on the matter, there simply wasn't any time for that. The pistolier quickly turned on his heels, darting back towards his fellow 'Runner.

"Alright, Fin," Clay said aloud as he ran by Finwe, grabbing his collar and practically dragging the man along. "Can't be waitin' 'round to see what this thing is capable of!"

Once they had reached the freight elevator, Clay had frantically hammered away at the 'Close Door' button. "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon...fucking close!"

The Fire Spirit manifested before Nik. It wasn't often you encountered spirits up close and personal, and Nik was glad of that. The feeling was unique.
He felt the heat all the way through his helmet, almost as if it was about to melt his goddamn face off. It burned a brilliant orange, killing any camo the suit retained, revealing Nik as a molten filter of vibrant colours, like a distorted glass halfway through being blown.

Shit, he could even taste the damn thing - copper and charcoal.

"Ah, crap." he muttered to himself. This wasn't going to work. The spirit was too strong, there was no way he'd be able to kick it back to the Astral before it tore him a new one. Only really one other option and he didn't like the odds on succeeding. But since it was a choice between giving it a ditch effort and burning to a cinder...

He switched mental tracks. Reversed the flow of mana in his body and let the background level start ebbing towards him.

No, he wasn't gonna succeed on banishing the spirit. But binding it? Well, that was a different matter entirely...

Novatech - Shipping

Seeing the fleeing runners, the machine let loose a noise that sounded almost as though it were amused, and raised its claws; bolting forward at the elevator as the door began to close. Moments before it arrived, the door finished closing; then fractured and dented inward from the force of the strike; a large claw mark appearing through the door. They had little time to inspect the door before the elevator began to rise; running away from the... thing. Even as it climbed the tower several floors however, they could hear the disturbing howls and the sound of bending and tearing metal below; slowly growing quieter as the elevator moved higher and higher into the tower.

Kilmer Archive - Outside

The fire spirit poured its power out, trying to resist its enemy long enough to burn the mage to a crisp. The mage was strong, but not strong enough to stop it; already his magic was beginning to recede back. The fire spirit had just enough time to relish its victory and freedom, before it noticed its error; the magic recession wasn't natural. It was a spell of binding. The realization came to late however, for the power it had unleashed to bind itself to the plane only enhanced the mages tactic; tripping the spirit in its own power. It lashed out at the mage, burning the skin of his arm in a vain attempt to secure escape, before being drawn in; bound to the mage.

It was trapped and knew it; made evident by the screams of rage and indignation within the mind of his captor.

Nik hissed in pain as the fire cooked his arm inside his suit. That was going to be fun to deal with. But right now he had more important matters on his mind. He finished the binding ritual with a flourish and smiled with satisfaction.
It had worked. He really hadn't expected it to, but he'd succeeded in living to fight another day. All he needed to do now was make sure the same could be said for the rest of the team.

"Down boy." he said to the spirit, forcing it into standby on the astral plane. It would have to stay there, linked to him physically and mentally until he could find a use for it.
He picked up his rifle and did a quick sweep of the battlefield.

Wulf was nowhere to be seen. He sent the kid a quick message:
Cap'n toasty won't be a problem anymore. How far off from pickup are you?

Finwe looked at the thing, it had made the same sounds as the sound on the tape. This was the thing that had abducted his friend. Finwe looked at the machine in awe, but before he could decide anything Clay acted. "Alright, Fin, Can't be waitin' 'round to see what this thing is capable of!" Clay said while he grabbed Finwe's collar and began pulling him with him, Finwe didn't object as he ran with his fellow shadow runner. "I agree we need to get as far away form this thing as we can." Finwe sounded a bit panicked. The only he thing he could do to damage this machine, might be his acid stream spell. But not even that would be enough to bring it down so it seemed like running was the best option right now.

They both ran into the elevator and Clay began pushing the close door button again and again. "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon...fucking close!". The door started to close the robot made an laughing sound? It charged at the at them but the elevator already started closing. Finwe looked at the machine, he was worried if they would make it. The door closed just before the robot reached them, he did hit the door denting it with his claw. Finwe put out his arm and stepped back making sure Clay stepped back too. "Stay on this side, or else that thing might still get us." Finwe was worried that the elevator wouldn't survive the robots attacks for long.

Finwe looked at the door but the robot seemed to have stopped his assault. The elevator began to move upward, Finwe sighed relieved "Clay they know we are here. We will meet allot of guards and such so we need to try and stay hidden. I mean who knows what else they have for kind of defense here. You agree with my plan of staying hidden?" Finwe looked at Clay as he grabbed both his pistols.

Wulf sped out through the hole in the fence and around the corner. Easily lost in the city sounds that had awakened to the gunfire and all. Taking back alleys and the like back to the place this had all started, he received a message almost as soon as he'd set the brake down.

Cap'n toasty won't be a problem anymore. How far off from pickup are you?

He sent his own message back:

Back where we started Lone Star. Now hurry up before your little friends get here in their choppers and weapons of building destruction.

With nobody around, Venaticus gave up his human persona and got to work. A quick scan revealed the greatest threat to be a lone spider droid...made by Renraku. Venaticus snapped a quick picture of it using his eyes and got cracking.

The first step was to disable the droid. Easier than one would think though, because Venaticus worked himself into the matrix and the same way he controls his own robot body, he can also control other bodies that accept AIs. That amounted to about all of them. Once inside, the trick was simple, delete codes for walking, firing weapons, alerting guards and really every other code except for being on. Destruction of these things was always problematic as most are connected to an alarm.

Back to the actual job, with the room clear, Venaticus used a logarithm he had noticed while working for NeoNET to guess the sixty seven digit override for subsidiaries and found himself in total control. First, he found the location of Shelly, pocketing that in a file for later access. He froze for a second though as he reached the mass delete command. There was so much useful research here that Venaticus could not bring himself to destroy. He decided to copy all relevant files to his self for later use possibly. He then caused a mass server wipe. Normally this would cause a lockdown, but Venaticus also had a way around that.

Fun times began when Venaticus began destroying all automatic security, alarms, cameras, lights and everything else helpful to non robots for their day to day life. Even disabling the Matrix for the sake of ease. The whole room turned pitch black after. Everything had been deleted and even the servers had shut down.

The robot body had been originally designed for combat and as such, came standard with night vision. Venaticus rushed out of Kilmer, finding most of the guards either dead, absent or too scared to try and fight. Once outside, Venaticus spoke in his Walkie Talkie for the first time.

"This is Rodrigo. I have the data we need and have completed my objectives. Submitting the results to you all now. None of you may see me again, but I will be paying attention."

Truth be told, Venaticus's real plan was to go straight back to the mouth of hell, stare it in the face and exit whole. He had always wondered at the human dream to fly, and he was starting to understand it, to be free.

Sebastian could see that the cowboy was struggling against the choke-hold that he was in. For a few very brief moments, it looked like it would all be over; and he would collapse on the floor unconscious. Suddenly, Sebastian could feel something on the back of his neck. He briefly looked up and saw that it was a drip of water.

'Things cannot possibly get any-" He started to say to himself, before being interupted by a downpour of water. This unfortunate mishap provided the cowboy a means of escape. The cowboy shot up quickly as he could, leaving his gun abandoned where Sebastian had held him. To the cowboy, it was a minor victory; but to Sebastian, it was another thing that went wrong that should be noted.

'-worse.' Sebastian then finished off with as the elevator door began to close. Quickly turning around, he removed his pistol, and started firing controlled shots; hoping to either slow the elevator down so that they could grab the cowboy, or possibly wound him. He then began to move towards the elevator.

Nik didn't bother replying, he took off running. His suit was charred from the encounter with the elemental, so he stuck out like a sore thumb. Staying any longer would just be beyond dumb. He took the steps three at a time until he reached the bottom floor of the building and dashed out, sniper slung under his shoulder.

Pretty soon he was nearing the location, looking out for Wulf.

Come on, come on...

As the cowboy ran Roberts drew a small pellet from one of his many pouches, the cowboy was going to escape, that much was obvious, but maybe they could see where he was heading. With a smooth motion he placed the pellet into his Novastars barrel, took aim, and fired. Just as the lift doors closed the pellet his the mans leg, hopefully he assumed Roberts just missed a normal shot.

"Enough Sebastian" He spoke in a calm tone "Let him go, now isn't the time for vendettas"

Turning from the elf he drew a hand to his ear and radioed in to the others

"Office team to runners, what's your situation?"

Wulf had stopped in the alleyway, waiting for Nik to return so they could get out of there and get the job done and be paid. Clicking a few buttons, the smoke launcher and machine gun were pulled into the body of the combat bike and the second seat was readied. Seeing the human running towards him, he threw a jacket his way that had been stuffed in said seat.

"Put it on, and cover your head, there's a place to hide that gun in the seat behind me. Where we're going, they aren't that congenial to you cops, doesn't matter whether you're an ex-Star or not, but it's one of the safest places I know of. You got a problem with Stuffer Shacks Lone Star?"

He revved the engine waiting for the human to situate himself,"Hold onto your seat, this little baby of mine tops out at 250, and I can go near that on these streets."

"Enough Sebastian." He spoke in a calm tone "Let him go, now isn't the time for vendettas." Roberts then began contacting the others, Sebastian meanwhile reloaded his pistol before holstering it again. Sebastian then went back over to the crate, and began searching for something; not knowing he had inadvertently activated the walkie talkie that was on his belt after knocking it on the side of a crate. During all this, he was talking to Roberts.

"You know Roberts, I wasn't trying to kill him; nor was I even attempting to wound him. All I was trying to do, was to stop the elevator from moving, so we could grab him." Sebastian said calmly as he continued to search. His efforts were soon rewarded, as he pulled out several magazines of custom made .45 ACP tranquillizer rounds; made with the same kind of chemical you'd find in Narcojet weapons. He holstered them in the open slots of his ammo belt.

"Despite our recent hiccups in the operation so far, I still plan on getting Dr. Shelley out of this alive."

"Clay they know we are here. We will meet allot of guards and such so we need to try and stay hidden. I mean who knows what else they have for kind of defense here. You agree with my plan of staying hidden?"

"If things were goin' as planned, I'd probably agree," Clay said to Finwe as he chambered rounds into his Hushpuppies. "But seein' as we're a few degrees shy of 'Fucked', I don't think we have the time or the element of surprise. It's likely that thing has sent some sort of message to whatever security is roamin' around, and once these doors open, they're gonna see fit to turn us into a couple-a-sponges. Then the only thing we're gonna be sneakin' into is the bottom-a-the Sound, ridin' in boxes fulla concrete. So no, we shoot some motherfuckers, get to the Doctor, and shoot any other motherfuckers stupid enough to get in our way."

Before Finwe could answer, Clay heard a voice over his comms unit.

"Office team to runners, what's your situation?"

"Almost got a real deep tissue massage from an angry mechanical masseuse, but we're on our way up. We need to know if Shelley has started to evacuate, where she is, and, if she's on the move, where she's headed." While waiting for a response, Clay looked up to Finwe and addressed his own proposal. "So, howzat fer a Plan B?"

Venaticus had gotten in his car, set to the side for an easy escape. Now it was time to look over these files and start sending some edited information to the group. One of which was particularly interesting...she had helped make Venaticus. One of his "gods" was being sent to her grave by a team...and he could stop it. Venaticus wasn't keen on working with anyone via gunpoint and at this point, he was done with them. Now it was time for a different plan. He would still delete any information about himself inside, but now he was going to rescue Shelly.

It was then that Sebastian's walkie talkie blared off, probably by accident...but he said he intended to keep Shelly alive. Venaticus stopped for a moment, but decided to go through with what he was doing anyway. It was unlikely they would be able to do that to a technomancer. Venaticus was hoping she would listen to him better without a few armed men outside. Though he did have to wonder if he had misjudged Sebastian. Perhaps not all assassins were horrible people. Still did not excuse what he did, but Venaticus felt slightly better about being near the guy in the future.

Venaticus sent a message to the team.

"Right, I said I would send the message and here is what I know from the files I gathered.

1) Dr. Shelly (as of this morning) was located in underground Lab #15. This is on Sub level 2 and would be the seventh lab on the floor.

2) The Lab was working on something called the "Convergence Project". The data is scares on details, but the description says it has something to do with a rare metal and cyber-augmentation of sub-metahuman subjects.

3) Dr. Shelly is a computer programer for the project and has been on since the beginning. She is listed as a "non-augmented, direct link computer programmer." This is NeoNET code for a Technomancer.

I also have managed to gather a few side projects. Be sure to be careful, they aren't the biggest fans of invaders. Good luck."

Venaticus then severed his connections to the team. It wouldn't take him long at all to get to the Novatech facility.

Nik gratefully snatched the jacket and slid his rifle into the compartment.
"Buddy, I love stuffer shacks." he said, climbing onto the bike.
"They're convenient. Quick. Cheap. Sometimes even edible. And best of all? They ain't here. Get us outta here man."

At the message from Rodrigo Nik frowned. 'Cyber augmentation of sub-metahuman subjects' sounded awfully similar to some nasty rumours he'd heard on the 'net of cyborg experiments. He didn't say anything right away, but he hoped the other team were doing okay. Even if it was only so that they could get paid at the end of this more than anything else.

He sighed inwardly. Why was nothing ever simple?

"Get us outta here man."

"So long as you hold on and don't fall out, the last thing we need is Star roadkill out here."

He started off a bit slower than usual, letting the human get his balance in the back before quickly speeding up, making turns no normal metahuman could without the help of chroming or magic, all the while speeding along at a pace almost unmatched in its class of vehicle.

Soon enough, they were back in his part of town, the Redmond Barrens, no Star influence, nothing but a few dozen corp big suits at any time, and all the ruins and alleys in the city to lose patrols in.

"Keep to yourself here, Stars aren't welcome around here that much, so if you get marked, don't come looking for me, my name only carries so much weight around here, and I can't go standing up for every dreksludge that gets cornered."

They stopped in one of Wulf's garages, devoid of any life, but he still put it in one of the corners where the Ancients' symbol was the first thing seen if one were to stumble upon it.

"This way Lone Star,"He walked along, and decided to make some kind of small talk, he might be called on to kill this man at some point,"You're not the average slinger are you? What'd you do with the you know what?" Wulf stopped in front of a slightly run-down Stuffer Shack, the same one he'd had the "talk" with the ork manager a few days before, the same one his contact lived behind. He went inside, leaving the door open behind him, leaving the option up to the human to follow him in.

Novatech - Offices

Luckshot frowned as the door began to close, not that anyone could see him. It wasn't that he disliked having his ass pulled from the fire, it was the simple fact he would owe a certain hacker one. He knew that no part of his escape had been any part of his own skill; the use of the sprinkler system had been a nice touch. But all said and done, he really hated owing someone; especially since he was supposed to be the "luckiest guy on the street". Worse, while he tried to pay all his debts, his debtor wouldn't let him forget it.

Kodiak never let anyone forget anything.

In any event, he'd done his job; more then half the doctors had escaped thanks to his little distraction, so all he had to do was live long enough to get payed - something the elevator door seemed to be quiet skilled at accomplishing. He heard the bullets clank off the door; leaving him thankful for the one thing he knew was true of NeoNET - they built their elevator doors to last. After another half second, the door had closed enough to prevent any others from joining him; giving him a moment to breath a sigh of relief. Then a rogue bullet slammed into his thigh; shattering the bone.

MOTHER FU- could be heard from the elevator, before the door cut him off. As soon as it closed, the lift began descending down to Sub-Level 1.

"You're not the average slinger are you? What'd you do with the you know what?"

Nik still wasn't sure he trusted this guy. Sure they'd helped each other out and made it clean away but "trust" was already a dirty enough word without him handing any out. And now he was in Ancients territory, if they picked up on any cop mannerisms he still hadn't shaken he'd be screwed. Best to play it safe.

"Didn't know you got average slingers." he said jokingly. "I ain't that special man. I know a few spells an' I can use 'em well enough but mojo really isn't my strong point here. If I get my way, the bad guys won't even know I was there an' magic's a little... "
As if to make his point for him, Nik felt the elemental still screaming in the back of his head. It would calm down eventually, he was sure.
"Flashy. Anyhow, what's that old saying? A good mage never reveals his secrets." he tapped his nose and grinned, friendly as he could muster.

This wasn't going well, the elite guards were cornering him, approaching ever closer to the helipad. He wasn't cut out for one-on-one battles, let alone firefights. If those shots had killed Taylor, he would be out of an escape route. Or he could try to pilot the VTOL and crash in a blaze of glory. He gritted his teeth as the wave of doom moved ever onward, reloading the gun. The fact that he was running out of ammon didn't help either - it was hopeless. Charlie holstered the gun, he would have to rely on the possibly dead Talyor or the other 'runners, or if they just split and left him to die, Mr. Marlowe would have to fast talk his way out of this mess. Just then, Roberts' voice came over through the comms.

"Office team to runners, what's your situation?"

"Taylor is possibly down. Elites are swarming the roof. And all sorts of chaos is going on. It put it concisely: help would be nice." Charlie replied with a mixture of panic and snark.

He when into the vent to check on Taylor, expecting the worst. Poor kid...

Clayton, for some reason he'd yet to put his finger on, the mech seemed to familiar to him. Any response that Finwe had would've went right over his head, both literally and figuratively, for the 'runner was preoccupied, deep within his own thoughts. He knew he'd seen that gleam somewhere, that distinctive metal, something that unique shouldn't be hard to recall. Then, it hit him. It was the same metal as his father's pendant. He remembered the way it shimmered in the light, and the mech gave off the same glow. He was trying to put the two pieces together, but there was much more to this puzzle that he needed before things could become clear. However, before he could theorize over the connection any further, his datapad went off; he'd just recieved a message.

Right, I said I would send the message and here is what I know from the files I gathered.

1) Dr. Shelly (as of this morning) was located in underground Lab #15. This is on Sub level 2 and would be the seventh lab on the floor.

2) The Lab was working on something called the "Convergence Project". The data is scares on details, but the description says it has something to do with a rare metal and cyber-augmentation of sub-metahuman subjects.

3) Dr. Shelly is a computer programer for the project and has been on since the beginning. She is listed as a "non-augmented, direct link computer programmer." This is NeoNET code for a Technomancer.

I also have managed to gather a few side projects. Be sure to be careful, they aren't the biggest fans of invaders. Good luck.

"Awh, fuck!" Clay exclaimed at the status report, realizing they were going in the opposite direction. Suddenly an idea hatched in his head, he knew he wasn't going to get below ground fast enough at the rate the elevator was moving. Quickly, he propped open the top hatch to the elevator and looked for the wiring for the brake system. He found a small electrical box near the central cable and shot the locking mechanism with one of his silenced handguns. After holstering his makeshift lockpick, he pried open the hinged door and looked that the mass of wires within. The 'Runner switched on the mic to his comms, knowing he'd need some help with this. "Yo, execs. Gonna need to know if one-a-ya knows anything on these elevator cables. More specific-"

The rig jostled when Clay shot through one of the pulley cables and was nearly sliced as it whipped around before rapidly being yanked up the elevator shaft. "Ahem. More specifically, which one happens to control the emergency brakes."

Clay snapped the remaining cables with a few more rounds, which dropped the elevator half a level down before being stopped by the automated braking system. "Gonna need it fast, else we're all goin' home with empty wallets."

Or a bullet in the brain, the less-than-optimistic part of Clay thought.

Taylor moved through the vent. The moth's wings were tattered and full of holes where the shots had pierced her. She scooted along in the dark, a tempest of wind flowing over her. She could hear the assailants on the roof firing, closing in on Marlowe. They were overwhelmed. Taylor couldn't get back up the vent, not without being killed. Charlie would die in moments, surrounded by the black-armored troopers. She would be trapped in the vent. In her mind, she wondered if this would be her last day on Earth.

She wanted to flee, to fly away into safety. But she couldn't relinquish herself from the need to act. Never.

On the astral plane, she was aware of a spirit to the physical world. Far beneath her was a glow, a vibration. She joined it, reaching out from within the vent, drawing a link. She felt herself carried into this other world, emotion plucked from the depths of her soul and brought to the fore as she wound her way into the Irreal. She wanted to beg and then cry, and then she felt an anger build, before it bled away and a great sense of the universe's vastness settled upon her. Her soul shone like a lighthouse, trying to materialize Insect Spirits, breathing them into existence at a point in physical space, at the opening of the vent.

The roof's air seemed to shudder under energies pouring into the world. Alien spirits writhed and weaved among a black-armored troopers, seeking his body as a vessel. Lights blazed around him, throwing off flashes of sparks and lightning while an unknown power flowed through him. The trooper thrashed like a lunatic, jabbing and slashing the air with his fists as if he sought to be free of the constraints of the human frame. Fires blazed in its eyes.

Then, in some horrible, terrifying morphing disaster, the man's face split horizontally and lips opened wide in a silent scream as massive, serrated fangs erupted from the red flesh. His entire lower face and jaw burst outward, revealing a fanged maw ringed by insect-like pincers. The lethal tips sprouted full-length, spasming and jerking beneath human eyes and nose. It writhed and jerked, body parts melting then hardening from human to cockroach. It looked around, eyes bulging with panic, the legs breaking and reshaping into an insectoid form, while the tips of his fingers swelled and his hands and split open to unleash a storm of barbed claws.

image

It was terrible. The host opened its mouth in a roaring shriek. He staggered back, stumbling awkwardly on two legs, clapped his shifting hands over his face, tried to shut out the unearthly shriek of his own voice as it morphed into a inhuman chittering click.

For a moment, his comrades were struck speechless. They felt almost as if passive observers, looking down at one of those horrendous worst-case scenarios they used to run through in virtual reality. As the Cockroach Spirit came into full being, they had never seen anything so simultaneously beautiful and repellent, an alien creature that evoked both a potent loathing, and a perverse sense of power that gnawed at the pit of the stomach.

All traces of humanity gave over to an insatiable hunger for flesh. It attacked. The other troopers turned on it immediately. The suited man next to him raised his gun and shot the monster four times in the head. The first bullet went through his eye socket, ricocheting through the brain while the next shots hit the top of his head straight-on, avulsing his brains. It staggered backwards, antennae waving madly and pincers snapping like the jaws of a steel trap, shrugging off the loss of it's head

image

Even before the Cockroach Spirit was gunned down, the astral presence had grown stronger and stronger. The leader saw the members of his squad spasm and twist as the first trooper had, the same ghostly, unearthly auras transforming five of them into more of the Spirits. They flailed as husks, drained of their essence, as though merely fuel to power the transformation of the Insect Spirits that leapt from their forms in a flurry of slicing claws and mandibles.

The rest of the squad was torn to pieces. The six creatures moved with fearsome relentlessness, their razor sharp claws opening arteries and severing limbs with every movement. Their commander was the first to die, a monstrous claw impaling him from behind and lifting him into the air in a fountain of blood. Even as he died, his trained fingers were locked down on the trigger of his weapon, blasting away. At last, the rifle fell silent as his magazine reached it's end, though the roof was still deafening with screams and gunfire. His unit were slaughtered in the caress of razor claws, their lives torn from their quivering flesh. They tore bodies asunder, rended flesh and drank the blood from their veins. The killing continued unabated, though the shrieks of terror and death as blood ran in rivers and flowed as waterfalls off the side of the building.

Before Roberts could respond to Sebastian's comment, a call came out over the team's communicators; it was Clay, and he appeared to be in quite a spot of bother. "Yo, execs. Gonna need to know if one-a-ya knows anything on these elevator cables. More specific-" There was a brief interruption as the elevator jostled, and the sound of one of the cables snapped.

"Ahem. More specifically, which one happens to control the emergency brakes." He then added, before the sound of several gunshots was heard. "Gonna need it fast, else we're all goin' home with empty wallets." Clay then finished with. Sebastian went over to what was Vougner's desk, activating the computer and started to go through the hacking protocols. Meanwhile, he noticed that his radio had been switched on.

'Strange, didn't know you were on. Must have activated whilst I was searching the crate. Better turn you off.' Sebastian thought to himself as he deactivated the radio, then looking through the schematics of the building, and soon started talking to Clay over the comm link.

"Alright Clay, Sebastian here; just give me a few moments, and I should have complete control over the elevator you and Finwe are in."

Sebastian soon started to get to work, hopefully this hack job would be as successful as the last, but not draw attention like it did. He accessed various system control nodes, going down the path which would eventually lead to the elevators. Whilst they were an important part of the building's infrastructure, their security wasn't as high on the priorities list. After some detours, he found the one Clay and Finwe was in, and triggered the emergency brakes.

"Right, I managed to gain control, have you stopped moving now?"

"So, howzat fer a Plan B?" Finwe shacked his head. He had spaced out, something which he had become famous for in a few shadow runners circles. He looked at Clay, he was unsure what to say. "Awh, fuck!" Clay said. Finwe wondered what else could have gone wrong, to make Clay react like that. Suddenly Clay stepped forward he opened the top hatch and he shot the brakes. "Yo, execs. Gonna need to know if one-a-ya knows anything on these elevator cables. More specific- Ahem. More specifically, which one happens to control the emergency brakes." Clay began shooting the remaining cables. Finwe watched dumbfound, the elevator dropped half a level. Finwe looked around bewildered, he looked at Clay. He hoped that Clay knew what he was doing. "Gonna need it fast, else we're all goin' home with empty wallets." Finwe stepped forward, he looked at Clay "Mind explaining what you just did? And why?" Finwe looked confused.

"Mind explaining what you just did? And why?"

"We're gonna take the 'express car' down," Clay called down the Finwe. He analyzed the box of wires, completely lost as to which controlled the brakes. "I'm gonna drop the elevator, get us to Sub Level 2 faster'n this thing normally would."

"Right, I managed to gain control, have you stopped moving now?"

Pressing his finger on the call button again, he turned his attention to Sebastion. "Yeah, it's been stopped. I need to know the wiring layout. I need complete control over the brakes."

"Yeah, it's been stopped. I need to know the wiring layout. I need complete control over the brakes." Clay requested, wanting to take control of the lift. Sebastian had overheard his intention as to why he'd want to do this.

"Okay, although I can see this as being a little suicidal, since you severed all the pulley cables to that elevator, I can't bring it up to our level so all four of us can ride it down together. Fortunately, due to a little encounter we had earlier; Roberts and myself have a means to reach the sub basement levels." Sebastian remarked, whilst he was finding the schematics for the elevators wiring system.

It took him a few minutes due to the building plans and schematics being on a different security level; that meant he had to go through a different series of sub-routines and protocols. However, something strange was going on, it seemed like every time he got close, something was diverting him elsewhere; almost as if...

'Someone is following me, watching my every move, no doubt you were the one to trigger the sprinkler system. Oh well, must carry on and not have myself linger in doubt.' Sebastian said to himself as he managed to work his way back to his objective.

"Right, your going to have to reconfigure several of the control wires that allows the elevator to function. The switch panel should slide open once you give it a little force. Once inside, switch around the wire that activates the brakes, to the one that would have triggered the pulley system; that should give you control over the brakes, and allow you to steady your descent, although there will be a couple of second delay between each press. You got that Clay?"

He peered into the vent and saw that Taylor was in fact, to his surprise, still alive and kicking. But as soon as he turned his head to check the situation outside, he was greeted with a scene from some sort of horror movie. The guards' faces had broken into an insectoid mess. Charlie chastened himself for thinking she was just another waif that had clung onto magic for self-defence - powerful but easily overcome once somebody had sealed her magic. But no, this was an Insect Shaman, ready and willing to turn Seattle into another Bug City. No wonder the other guys were spooked. Charlie had just realised what a mess he had landed himself in. He had to get himself out of there before he became one of those mindless husks that the Insect Spirit had infested. But how? The stairway was blocked by the stream of escaping scientists that had unwittingly stumbled into this scene of horror. The VTOL was a tempting option, but there were some problems. Namely that most of the guard were concentrated there and the fact that Charlie didn't even know if he could pilot the thing. He sunk into head and looked to the floor.

How the fuck am I going to get outta here!?

The question rang through his mind, if Charlie still had his hat, a dearly missed casualty of the firefight, he would have torn it off his head and stamped on it. Then he noticed something. Beneath the blood, there were discarded bits of the guards' weapon straps. Some in the pools of blood that covered the roof, some on the dead guards' corpses. A slither of white interrupted the seemingly uninterrupted red as well - strands of silk from Talyor's arthropod antics. An idea popped in his head and Marlowe began the gristly work of picking the dead for weapon straps and picking the silk threads from the never-ending pool of blood. He twisted around together, creating some sort of makeshift rope. They said that silk was strong, but would this mashup of silk and straps be enough? Marlowe had no idea, but it was worth a shot. Then he began to climb the electric fence, ever thankful for the gloves that protected him from its sting, rope in hand and as soon as he reached the bottom, He tied the rope to a seemingly secure bit, a metal post of the electric fence. Before he began the descend, he tipped an imaginary hat; reminding him ever of the lost of his fedora, which was still raw in his mind; to the dying guards and began to abseil downwards, as low as it would go.

Top Floor. Going down...

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